Saturday, September 15, 2018

Review & Commentary On DDA 1 Arena of Thyatis By John Nephew For Your Old School Campaigns

"DDA1 Arena of Thyatis  is designed especially for the DM who want to sharpen his interactive skills. * Presenting the detailed layout of a Thyatian noble's mansion and maps of the multi-level Coliseum of Thyatis * For four to six characters, levels 2-3 * Brief guide to Thyatis legal system * New optional class, the Rake * Fast unarmed combat system, including disarming attacks * Special appendix on creating Thyatian names * Featuring The DM's Guide to Winging It""
If I asked if you knew about a BCMI adventure that centered around gladiators, corrupt senators, desert kingdoms, & ancient legacies most likely someone would point me to the second edition Dungeons & Dragons Dark Sun setting. But what if all of the above actually was connected with the ancient late Greco Roman lands from the Dawn of the Emperors setting?

Well DDA1 Arena of Thyatis has all that & the charm of the pit fighter days of the Conan film when Conan was coming up through the ranks to win his freedom. The idea here is that PC's are gladiators & more dealing with the ins & outs of the world of  Thyatian senator and end up fighting in the Coliseum of Thyatis.

DDA1 is a classic but a flawed one because this module should be run by an experienced dungeon master. He or she will be juggling lots of balls with this module from the relationship of the PC's with the senator to the ins & outs of pit life in gladiatorial area. I ended up modifying this module to expand out the origins for several PC's over the years when dealing with the Dawn of the Emperors gazetteer setting material. Getting involved with the affairs of the senator in DDA1 left a very sour taste in the PC's mouths for the faux Rome of the campaign.
The incredible history of Thyatis and Alphatia are on full display here & the party gets a full dose of it scattered throughout Arena of Thyastis.

The PC's become embroiled in the comings & goings of the gladiatorial life as well as all it holds. While not an adult title. I had several fans of the show Rome scattered among our players & there were several indiscretions that happened off screen during the running of DDA1. These weren't simply adds on but events strongly connected with the royal senatorial affairs of Thyatis and Alphatia.  Stephen Fabian's style of the Dawn of the Emperors box set really adds a certain something to the over arching Greco Roman weirdness of the setting. As I said even though Arena of Thyatis isn't an adult title the cruelty of the adventure is there written in blood between the lines. There's lots of potential to really embroil the PC's in some real trouble. Echoes of a Roman style adventure with blood & the dark decadence of Rome is right there.

DDA1 Arena of Thyatis is the gateway drug for low level PC's to get themselves into the dangers of Thyatis life right from the start. DDA1 Arena of Thyatis isn't a classic but its a solid module for beginning PC's who have an experienced DM who wants to run the player's PC's through a whole blood bath of a module without simply knocking off the player's PC's with a simple pit trap.
There are even a few little world building bits thrown into DDA1 to set the stage for Thyatis life such as a name guide, maps of the  colosseum, & even the new class the Rake which actually fits the nasty side of Thyatis life. All in all DDA 1 Arena of Thyatis By John Nephew is a very underappreciated module in my humble opinion. If your looking a BCMI module that has a strong Roman flare then DDA 1 Arena of Thyatis By John Nephew just might be up your alley!

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