Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Wings,Dungeons, Wilderness,& Death In UK5 Eye of the Serpent By Graeme Morris For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition For Your Old School Campaigns

"Gazing down form the pinnacle of Hardway Mountain, who would not be drawn by the far-off glint of the Serpent's Eye? The descent will be hard, the mountains know neither mercy nor compassion. Many are the lessons to be learned, but fate has left you little choice - are you equal to the challenge?"

UK 5 is quite literally going to drop PC's straight into the middle of the setting & events of the Hardway mountains.
Eye of the Serpent is a lower tier adventure that is meant to be a one on one adventure between between the dungeon master & the player. I have never used UK5 ever in that capacity, instead I've run this adventure straight out of the box as an introduction to the UK TSR series of adventures with the PC's being picked up and dropped off into the roc's nest. Also I modified the Rocs to be two headed creatures straight up as a sort of Celtic tribute to the Seventh Voyage of Sinbad From 1958 By Ray Harryhausen. Because of the unique arrangement of NPC's this adventure can be run for a larger group of players.

Because this is a lower tier adventure & the PC's have to survive against adventure elements & monsters of The Eye of the Serpent players quickly become invested in their characters.
The Eye of the Serpent is meant to showcase the PC abilities of
Rangers, Druids, & Monks.
This is a work together or die sort of survival wilderness romp. How this works is tied directly into the wilderness adventure system that UK5 uses;"The perils of Hardway Mountain are unchanging, but the routes between them are not. This module includes a unique route planning system with different of routes linking the encounters to challenge the abilities of druids, rangers, or monks. Alternately, Dungeon Masters can change the routings to create their own original and exciting adventures."

UK 5 is a bit too rail road driven for my taste & I began using it as an introduction to the world setting of UK4 'When A Star Falls'. A sort of pseudo Celtic mythological world with overtones of Ray Harryhausen style Sword & Sorcery elements.

The events of UK5 could be placed within a unique Keltic landscape for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea echoing some of the themes that Clark Ashton Smith set out. There's a lost other world aspect to this rather rail road style adventure with a great treasure in the offering. Again this adventure would have to take place within the confines of its own unique Keltic environs in Hyperborea.  The reason why many of the TSR UK adventure would have to take place within their own separate setting is the use of the Fiend Folio & Monster Manual II monsters; including several al-mi'raj, blood hawks, bullywugs, a denzelian, a gambado, giant bats, a needleman, a necrophidius, and haunting  poltergeist. But the necrophidius gives a Clark Ashton Smith Keltic cross point to mix UK 5 with Hyperborea. Its just the sort of thing to appear in some back water region of Hyperborea where the humans tribes of Keltics & Picts have taken over the region after the Hyperboreans have died out or gone extinct. Echoes of CAS's Zothique anyone? Like Zothique UK5's setting has to stand alone and slightly apart from Hyperborea

Diving back deeper into UK 5's background the Rocs have always reminded me of giant eagles are very present in Welsh & Celtic mythology. They remind me of Culhwch and Olwen tales.
"Culhwch and Olwen (Welsh: Culhwch ac Olwen) is a Welsh tale that survives in only two manuscripts about a hero connected with Arthur and his warriors: a complete version in the Red Book of Hergest, ca. 1400, and a fragmented version in the White Book of Rhydderch, ca. 1325. It is the longest of the surviving Welsh prose tales. Certain linguistic evidence indicates it took its present form by the 11th century"

There are deep connections with Arthurian legends & a possible connection with the treasure of UK 5 in the form of the Eye of the Serpent. This otherworldly connection has very dark & sinister overtones for Dark Albion with Chaos oriented fairyland forces suddenly coming alive with the conflicts of the War of The Roses.

For Lamentations of the Flame Princess UK5 is a prime introduction to the world of England of the coast. The forces of the module might need to modified and far more sinister background being spun for the eye of the serpent. But again this 'treasure' could easily be connected with the Cernunnos or horned god of Celtic mythology.  Cernunnos was a Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld. It was also like all gods very alien & deadly to cross plus the connection with monks, rangers, & druids becomes even more heinous. See Clive Barker's Rawhead Rex story for some possible LoFP connections from the third volume of the Books of Blood. Avoid the cultclassic movie Rawhead Rex unless that's what your looking for in your LoFP game adventures

UK 5 Eye of The Serpent's wilderness system also offer's some unique encounters for players to keep adventure events moving. Modules are meant to be modified & tinkered to fit your home campaign settings, player's expectations, & offer hours of game play!
For now keep em rolling folks.

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