Wednesday, May 15, 2019

S1-4 Dungeons of Dread By Gary Gygax & Lawrence Schick

"Dungeons of Dread is a collection of four classic, stand-alone Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules -- S1: Tomb of Horrors, S2: White Plume Mountain, S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth -- complete with original black-and-white interior art."

This is one of the reprints that I've been considering for a long time now. Its sort of a revamp of the 
S1-4 Realms of Horror collection but this time done right. The reprint seems expanded & altered a bit to actually have all of the full modules this time instead of cut down versions that were in Realms of Horror super module. But let's talk about what's really at stake here for me? Could we take the supermodule approach to an adventure chain?! Taking the PC's from 1st level all the way to the dizzying heights of let's say fifteenth or beyond if the party was incredibly lucky?! Yeah I think it not only could be done but we'd have to add in another adventure!

So let's say that the party of adventurers were coming into the Keep of Gary Gygax's  B2  Keep on the Borderlands module overlooking the surrounding adventure evirons & ruined kingdom. Now let's assume for the sake of this thought exercise that the keep was built to keep watch over the evil wizard Acererak's kingdoms. The keep has fallen into almost ruin after the disappearance of the  the wizard Keraptis & his lot over into the interior of a volcano some twenty miles away. S2: White Plume Mountain represents one wizard's obsession with the art of enchantment & the funhouse aspect ties right into the ironic sense of humor displayed by the Hyperboreans in AS&SH. Now let's assume that I'm using my favorite AD&D style retroclone Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea to run this campaign then let's go down the Clark Ashton Smith rabbit hole here. The evil wizard Acererak was royal advisor to the Hyperborean court in the dismal City-State of Khromarium. When the Green Death came he was already a hundred years gone. 

Near the Spiral Mountains a great light falls from the sky & the events of Gary Gygax's 
S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks proceeds like clock work. The real question is who or what on Hyperborea is pulling the wrecked spacecraft onto the surface of the world. The so called future tech of S3 isn't going to overwhelm Hyperborea one iota.. 

The question becomes why would something bring the module's Warden  down onto Hyperborea? The answer might be found in 
S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth when the PC's are brought face to face with  Drelnza, the vampiric daughter of long-deceased archmage Iggwilv. She's the face of the lost age & world of Hyperborea. These two modules connected back to back allow a mini campaign to form. 

The dread false  gods of S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth  are the latest in a chain of events which began when the demon Graz'zt, whom Drelnza, had "imprisoned and forced into servitude" rebelled. The real horror is  Iggwilv & her Demonomicon which might well represent the sort of magic seen on Hyperborea before the coming of the Green Death. She awakens on Hyperborea from Greyhawk then all Hell will break loose. Oh this is nothing new & I've talked about retooling  S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. 

What I haven't talked about is the idea of  the evil wizard Acererak  & the other worldly wizard Keraptis keeping these forces at bay from the Hyperborean royals & the court of  the  City-State of Khromarium. Keraptis stole several legendary weapons from the Vault of Szazz Tam, the most powerful of the Red Wizards. This makes him very dangerous & highly unpredictable. All of these rivalries & dust ups began before the Green Death & now with the crashing of the Warden the stage is set once again. The Dungeons of Dread certainly makes this whole adventure cycle fun & easy to accomplish. But there's more too it then that. The events of The Beasts of Kraggoth Manor adventure by Tim Callahan  could also slide into the mix here providing an observation post for the celestial horrors that were inflicted on Hyperborea in the past. 

The cults in the area of the spiral mountains may have brought the Warden down to cause as much mayhem as possible. Could they be trying to revive the mysterious plague that killed off the crew of the Warden? Would the 
the evil wizard Acererak possibly have the answers?! The demi lich might be willing to share answers with the player's PC's if they survive his tomb..  The Dungeons of Dread  seem rife with possibilities & its a classic super module to adapt to your own home campaigns. I've got to think more on this module & ponder its uses in my current game campaign so expect more OSR commentary in the near future. 

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