Friday, July 13, 2018

Review & Commentary On The Free OSR Adventure Resource - ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos by Joseph Moar For Your Old School Campaigns

I'm eternally on the look out for ways of getting the maximum utility out of classic old school modules. Is it because I'm a cheap or shabby gamer? Well in fact no I'm not a gamer at all but an OSR  hobbyist. What's the difference? The hobbyist is always looking to expand the hobby & the gamer is always in the middle of the infinite sea of play & product that washes around the shoals of the whole affair. Which brings me to today's free download, it was only just yesterday that I mentioned Night's Dark Terror, T1 The Village of Hommlet, B2 Keep of the Borderlands & T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil.

While doing some research on Dragon's I happened across an adventure for PC's levels two through four. The set up is simple, after clearing out the dungeons of B2 Keep Of The Borderlands the action isn't done. The priests of Chaos are in full effect in the free adventure continuation of Keep, ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos by Joseph Moar.  Clocking in at forty three pages this module is a perfect adventure extension for B2.  There's a lot of Sword & Sorcery action with Gnolls, lizardmen, zombies & worse out to rip the faces off of your PC's.

So what's the story with the cover having the classic demon idol from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook on the adventure cover? Well its more then simply an old school  homage in this adventure;
"In this module the “priests of chaos” have returned. Now they have their own temple. I
am also ripping off the lovely demon idol  temple from the cover of the PHB. This idol I have determined is of a god of chaos named Simaru. Simaru is a chaotic evil deity devoted to murder and mayhem. Many
creatures have been converted to worship this new demigod and some of them are neutral in the Monster Manual. Naturally the priests are out to convert new members to this new demigod and are conducting ritual
sacrifices and other atrocities in order to satisfy their new god, gain power, spells, and
otherwise cause chaos in the land."
The interesting part is that while this is an extension of the original adventure module  principal plot its got its own vibe that runs the entire OSR course of the adventure.  There's a good chance that working their way through ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos one or more player's PC's are going to die.

There are several reasons why
ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos works hard at charting its own OSR path;
  1. The adventure itself isn't merely an extension of B2 Keep of The Borderlands. This is a wholly separate adventure with its own adventure path squeezed into forty three pages. 
  2. The maps & cartography are not at all bad for a free adventure. There's more then enough dungeon in here to act as a campaign stepping stone for a retroclone game system. 
  3. The monsters & NPC's are very dangerous although in keeping with the vibe of B2 they are still very dangerous & shouldn't at all be underestimated. 
  4. The treasure level is right in keeping with the solid construction of its source material. 
  5. I can see using this module with both classic AD&D systems & OSR foundation retroclones such as the Advanced Edition Companion (Labyrinth Lord), Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition, even the Basic Fantasy rpg 
  6. I can also see  ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos  being the jump off point for an OSR campaign unto itself. 
I can even see ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos  being a perfect insert into a mixed David A. Hargrave Arduin Grimoire. All of the heavy lifting has already been done with the other adventures in the Arduin line of products. There's just enough material in ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos to suggest that this adventure could be used as an unorthodox introduction for another OSR setting such as Dark Albion. Hear me out here folks. The fact is that with a quick fitting of B2 Keep On the Borderlands into the world of Albion on the edges of civilized Europe.

ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos makes the plight of the priests of chaos all the more desperate & dangerous. The adventure has lot to offer to advance along the state of degeneration happening throughout the political system of Albion & Europe. The temple is at the very edge of Albion's reality & the chaotic horror of a pagan laden Fairyland. Make no mistake
ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos is going to be a very dangerous adventure to drop Lion & Dragon or Dark Albion adventurers into the mix of play.  The fact is that the conversion charts in the back of Dark Albion should make using ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos
with Dark Albion's setting a snap. The dungeon master is going to have to adapt overcome the placement of the adventure within the bounds of Europe. For myself, I'd place ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos right on the borders of Bohemia & the rest of the Eastern European countries. The bastardized version of the 'Old Faith' of the  priests of chaos is a welcome weird twist on the usual dungeons & dragons fare.  I do hearlity recommend
ZA1: The Temple Of Chaos  for down load by the OSR dungeon masters looking for an adventure that is simple of use, easy to drop into existing adventure campaigns, & very well put together for a free adventure package.

ZA1: The Temple Of ChaosFrom Here.

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