Sunday, June 30, 2019

Exploiting The Hollow World Setting & OSR Games


Within the sphere of the Know World is another world, the Hollow World. There your characters will meet ancient Nithians, long disappeared from the surface world and thought extinct: Blacklore Elves, living in a magical valley and served by automatons-devices that take care of everything, from serving their food to trimming their grass: Azcans, terrifying, war-mongering natives whose taste for battle extends even into their favorite game-the loosers always die- and many more. Monsters abound as well, from dinosaurs to aurochs. "

I love abusing The Hollow World box set by 
Aaron AllstonKaren S. Boomgarden, &  Bruce Heard. It is such a fun setting to drop PC's into & best of all its adaptable to both Advanced Dungeons & Dragons as well as BECMI Dungeons & Dragons . But can this wonderful setting be attached & used for other old school & OSR D&D style settings.

Different caverns & tunnels of the Hollow World have planar gateways into other D&D settings even though many of these are monitored & very dangerous. There's also the 'spell of preservation' issues along  lots of other weird bits & pieces.  Plus one has to deal with the Council of Intrusion ( the council is a party of immortals whose job is to eject any demons, devils, aliens, or cosmic entities from Mystara) if you were going to do a large scale otherworldly invasions you might be in trouble. But smaller parties,lone travelers, adventurers, etc. are not even going to be noticed. This got me thinking about Trey Causey's Dreams From the Sorcerer's Skull blog post 'Atomic Age riff on Operation Unfathomable'. What happens when some modern day adventurers blunder into 'The Hollow World' from a Fifties Atomic Age Operation Unfathomable? The Immortals are not going to bat an eye for one.

illustration by Nik Poliwko

The spell of preservation is going to cause all kinds of havoc with said adventurers. But let's take this further shall we.. If the door swings both ways then, what happens when Hollow World adventurers are exposed to the wilds of such a setting? 
Jason Sholtis's setting already has a science fantasy flavor about it & the Blacklore Elves might not be that shocked. But the races from the Hollow World? Well that's another matter entirely.  The Azcans who make it back to their lands inside the Hollow World after experiencing Sholtis's science fantasy fueled nightmare vision will prepare for war!

Let's not even mention  t
he Nithians or the Milenians both of whom have experience with the entire spectrum of occult techo science fantasy magicks & artifacts. What's really gonna be shocking is the array of inhuman & other worldly entities that rule the Operation Unfathomable setting itself.  But let's take the planar gate way bit even further & use Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The Hollow World lines up with Underborea & we have several serpent men scientists or ophidian adventurers visit. This isn't going to be a major issue as the serpent men already have a foot hold within Mystara. Well that's not a problem because of the Vaults of Pandius B4 Lost City Sourcebook. Adventurers from Hyperborea are going to feel right at home with the prehistoric beasts & lost nations of The Hollow World.

The kings & queens of Hyperborea would see the Hollow World as an incredible resource to be exploited & also a possible location for trade. Maybe conquest but I doubt it because of the military resources of  
the Nithians or the Milenians could be a nightmare to deal with. But I can also see the setting being a perfect opportunity for some brave & very foolhardy adventurers from Lamentations of the Flame Princess stumbling right into the Hollow World & then dying. This is especially true of England Upturn’d campaign adventure By Barry Blatt & its use of the English civil war. This is very desperate England & a party of adventurers could make some dangerously inane diplomatic decisions. 

By the same token but a completely different side of the coin an adventuring party from  Albion from Lion & Dragon might have a very different experience. They've got experience with many kingdoms & lost lands. Albion is going to play it very cagey & learn as much as they can about the lands, religions, cultures, etc. before they set up trade or commit to a military objective. Albion is in the grip of its own civil war & can ill afford to deal with a planar war.

Finally there's the fact that with the Amazing Adventures fifth edition book winding down in less then forty hours I'd be remiss to mention that the Hollow World could easily be plugged into Jason Vey's baby. The Hollow World has a lot to offer AA! & could open up an entire can of worms for adventurers. I don't want to think of the ramifications of this meeting because its beyond the scope of this blog. But with the kickstarter winding down this classic setting seems primed for another look by AA! Rpg fans.

Moving back into the Hollow World for a moment the 

HWA1 Nightwail (Basic) adventure could be used to rope in otherworldly adventurers into the setting. Because its a relatively mundane adventure. NWA1 could be adapted for any of these settings & systems. 

The Stars Are Wrong - Using 'the Astrologer' NPC Class From The Dragon 45 January 1981 For Your Old School &OSR games

Last night I went hunting for Dragon issue #45 after diving into one of the later issues in other blog entries. Issue #45 is one of those issues that's mixed back into one of the transition eras of the magazine. Wayne from Wayne's Books feels the same way; "My favorites are what I deem the "Golden Age" of Dragon Magazine: Issues ranging in the 50s and 60s. They had some of the most inspired writing, including great essays by Gary Gygax, examinations of the Planes, the whole range of demi-human articles and deities, and so much more!

Now the big draw articles for this issue seems to be 'Dragon Dungeon Design kit' article,the 'Write Way to Get Published' By Kim Mohan,"Ways to Handle High Level Headaches' by Lewis Pulsipher & this goes hand in hand with 'Magic items For Every Man' By Philip Meyers.  This last article was one for out fitting high level PC's & NPC's. I'm gonna tackle these in another blog article.

Why is this? Well because this is the era when Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was codifying the grand game as we know it. And this issue reflects that & it contains one of my favorite but most underutilized NPC  classes within its pages 'the Astrologer'. There's also a decent NPC 'Alchemist' class as well within the same article by Roger E. Moore & Georgia Moore. Now these are quick & dirty rules that would later go on to be quantified & spun into more fleshed out articles later on. But for the OSR dungeon master the Astrologer NPC class has lots of potential. Astrologers have been getting a lot of press in the OSR with Lamentations of the Flame Princess's Tower of the Star Gazer adventure. 

Not only can I see the Astrologer being a useful NPC class but I can see them being used as a great source for weird tales style adventures. There is a tie for Mystara right out of the gate I found from a post on RPGnet's site thanks to poster's

"The Poor Wizard's Almanach for Mystara (BECMI in this case) had an astrology option; each week of the month tied to one of the elements, and each month to a creature of the Mystaran zodiac, and you could use these to give you ideas about the personality of a character." We can also see a tie in with the classic Greyhawk box set which has all of the celestial data on Oerth itself. 

Astrologers in setting such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea would be key to so many things. Locating dungeons, favorable star conditions for dungeon exploration, times of royal birth, the correct times & alignments for Mythos rites, & possibly locating the hidden signs of the Old Ones among the stars. One of the adventures from AS&SH that could benefit from consulting an astrologer would be THE BEASTS of KRAGGOTH MANOR by Tim Callahan The adventurer's chances need the help of the stars on their side cracking this module. There are several celestial related adventure elements here but I really don't want to spoil the adventure.

Alternatively if the player's PC's are high level enough to have settled into a tower or castle an astrologer might be consulted for the best dates to conceive a son or daughter to continue a PC bloodline within a game. In fact this might be critical to a retro clone such as Adventurer, Conqueror, King.
The Lion & Dragon Rgp & Dark Albion setting books  do  have some solid  
'Astrology' resources but RPGPundit Presents #18: Advanced Medieval-Authentic Astrology is a great choice for adding in an astrological background to your OSR games.

In Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique setting an Astrologer would be a welcome addition. Not only could he benefit  the PC's by locating the old stars & possible favor conditions for exploration but he might be able to locate the ancient abodes of some of the 'Great Old Ones' among the changing stars. In CAS's Shapes of Adamant (1935)we get a taste of this in the fragment of this story. Astrologers play a key role within  Averoigne
These specialists are also key in predicting the destruction of Hyperborea in the ancient past. 
 B3 Palace of the Silver Princess's events might be fore told by Astrologers & wisemen giving the DM yet another way of drawing the player's PC's into the spider's web of that classic adventure. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Dragon Issue #138 (Oct ’88), Deities & Demigods, & The Religions of Shub-Niggurath

Its been a long while since the pages of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea was cracked open. But last night I returned to my lair in the wee hours of the morning after a successful game night only to have a Dragon magazine slap me in the face. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea often seems to me to be the perfect blend of B/X D&D and AD&D. The issue of Dragon Magazine in question is issue #138 (Oct ’88). In which we've got the Call of Cthlhu rpg article The Black Book and the Hunters by Craig Schaefer which introduces The Black Book of Shub-Niggurath & the Hunters of Shub-Niggurath (Greater Servitor Race). At four A.M. weird thoughts swirl in one's head & my copy of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition's Deities & Demigods was open to the 'Cthulhu Mythos' section. My eyes happened to catch this entry on Shub-Niggurth. 

Now at first this looks like Clark Ashton Smith's 
Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness") & perhaps it was originally going to be. But then I started to think that perhaps it actually is an avatar of Shub-Niggurth. Maybe there's a far deeper connection between the cynical Abhoth & the 'mother of a thousand young'. A quick scan of the HP Lovecraft wiki revealed;" Of all the mythos deities, Shub-Niggurath is probably the most extensively worshipped. Her worshippers include the Hyperboreans, the Muvians, T'yog of K'naa, and the people of Sarnath, as well as any number of druidic and barbaric cults. She is also worshipped by the non-human species of the mythos, such as the "Fungi from Yuggoth" (the Mi-Go) and the Nug-Soth of Yaddith.(EXPThe Encyclopedia Cthulhiana) With the proper occult paraphernalia, Shub-Niggurath can be summoned to any woodlands at the time of the new moon. However, the place from whence she comes is not known." In my AS&SH this puts a very different spin on what might be residing with the bowels of  caverns of Y'quaa beneath Mount VoormithadrethAbhoth could be part & proxy of a greater network of 'mis' creation that connects with the both Shub-Niggurath & Ubbo-Sathla. Abhoth is one source of many of the abominations that one finds within my dungeons; 

"[H]e described a sort of pool with a margin of mud that was marled with obscene o
ffal; and in the pool a grayish, horrid mass that nearly choked it from rim to rim... Here, it seemed, was the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination. For the gray mass quobbed and quivered, and swelled perpetually; and from it, in manifold fission, were spawned the anatomies that crept away on every side through the grotto. There were things like bodiless legs or arms that flailed in the slime, or heads that rolled, or floundering bellies with fishes' fins; and all manner of things malformed and monstrous, that grew in size as they departed from the neighborhood of Abhoth. And those that swam not swiftly ashore when they fell into the pool from Abhoth, were devoured by mouths that gaped in the parent bulk. 

Clark Ashton SmithThe Seven Geases
Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness") resides in the cavern of Y'quaa beneath Mount Voormithadreth. It is a horrid, dark gray protean mass and is said to be the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination."
All of this puts a very different spin on the cults, covens, witches, & human institutions within Hyperborea or at least my version of it. 
All of these deities & their cults are going to be very important to the respective fertility & production of crops especially on Hyperborea. The glaring red star in the sky is very unforgiving & villages are going to need all of the help they can get.

So let's  go back to Clark Ashton Smith's 'The Seven Geases' which gives us some of the best slices of Hyperborean royals, court life, & a complete tour of the underworld of Mount Voormithadreth. But this story is  also the source for Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness"). These 'avatar  pools' spawn life, fertility, & uncleaness in equal measure but what if their all interconnected. What if these avatar pools are all part of some high dimensional 'Cthulhu Mythos' birthing bio occult birthing mechanism for life. These avatar pits might in fact be the source that were used by the Elder Things for the creation of both life on Earth & the Shoggoths.

Shoggoth artwork by 
Nottsuo - nottsuo.deviantart 
This puts a very different spin on the 'fertility rites' of the druids, shamans, & other human races of Hyperborea. I think its advised to not visit certain villages or towns at certain times of the year during the festivals. This is clearly the sort of a rite or invocation that we see in HP Lovecraft's 'The Festival'.

But there maybe much more going on here then we know, lately I've been rereading 
H. Rider HaggardAyesha, the Return of She  .
The novel is a  squeal to H.Rider Haggard's She in which the  character Ayesha, returns to life from the depths the afterlife. A mysterious occult force from the depths of the book's volcano known as the Pillar of Life which grants immortality. Now Ayesha is the inspiration for  "Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings – Ayesha's reflecting pool seems to be a direct precursor of Galadriel's mirror."  I 
Could these 'avatar pools' also grant a type of twisted immortality to their high priests & priestesses? I think so & in my version of Hyperborea this is only one more rung on the ladder of damnation that the Mythos gods inflict upon their charges. A twisted form of this style of immortality can be seen in Clark Ashton Smith's 'The White Sybil'. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Some OSR & Unorthodox Thoughts On Dragon Issue #211 An Underground Extravaganza

So last night I dug out my copy of Dragon issue 211 & began to go through it. Dragon 211 is significant for a number of reasons. This is a really good issue if your doing dungeon construction & contains a number of articles that centered around dungeon ecology. Not much has really changed since 1994 when this issue was published.

The article 'Dungeon Ecology'  By Buck Deason Holmes. is worth the  price of admission alone because i talks about using natural caverns as dungeon design fodder. 
Jeff Grubb's early experiences with role-playing games, in his artitcle First Quest Mammals & Dinosaurs has some nice ideas for creating prehistoric settings.The author's early experiences with the ideas of dungeons are pretty nice.  Roger E. Moore. doesn't get any credit today for creating some of the best articles on Dungeons & Dragons & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons to ever grace the pages of Dragon. 'Sight in the Darkness' is a great article on the uses of infravision in the dungeons. 'Fungi of the Underdark' by By Chris Perry. Illustrated by Terry Dykstra is the stand out article featuring :

These are perfect additions to an OSR game or adventure as players would have no idea what type of horrors their adventurers would be facing. I can see 
'Fungi of the Underdark' to be a great addition to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea for the Underborea setting & dungeons. 
Then there's a quick overview & article on 
Topkapı Palace By Steve Kurtz.which is perfect for adding a very nice curve ball of an adventure location to any OSR campaign. Here the author talks about using it for  Al-Qadim . But I can see using this location for Lamentations of the Flame Prince as an other worldly dungeon destination. "The Wizards Three: A Night of Shadows' finds The archmages ElminsterMordenkainen of Oerth and Dalamar of Krynn exchange spells in Ed Greenwood's house. So here's what I find interesting three of the most powerful wizards are hanging out on the prime material plane. Could there be other times when these types of wizard's councils are held & could Oerth be far more strongly connected to a prime material Earth then we realize. 

For that matter could such mini wizard councils actually be recruiting cells of adventurers for missions, dungeon raids, & other tasks across the planes? Do dungeons themselves often have portals that connect into other ground realms on the prime material? So how do these high level mages connect with Mystara?  Well  since the 'Council of Intrusion' takes down the god level threats are there cells of lesser mages that watch over the plane of Mystara? Well in the Vaults of Pandius article 
Mages of Mystara, AC 1000 by Marco Dalmonte we get an overview of powerful wizards & mages of ninth level & above. These well might be the sort of mages that could be recruiting adventurers for the tasks that the immortals can't be bothered to handle but that still pose a threat to Mystara. This might well be another way of recruiting adventurers besides the usual we all meet together in a bar routine. It also provides a way of cementing a BCEMI Dungeons & Dragons campaign together using the setting. 
Dragon Issue #211 An Underground Extravaganza remains to me one of the quintessential dragon magazine issues because it addresses one of the broader concerns of the game namely the ecologies, issues, & other minutia of the game. This issue of Dragon magazine still has relevance today because its contents are still being used at the table top level.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Deeper Cuts into DDA2: "Legions of Thyatis" (1990), by John Nephew,

The corrupt Thyatian senator, Helenites Osteropolus, his latest scheme smashed by the adventurers and their gladiator allies, hatches a new plot to destroy the influence of the Order of the Sands (even, perhaps, to attack the Emperor himself!). Yet greater dangers lie ahead. If his plot succeeds, it will remove the guardians that protect the city from the creatures that lurk in the caverns and catacombs below. Can the players block his gambit? Will the wheels of justice grind small, or will the greasy palm of political corruption reach out and save the senator once again? YOU decide, in the chaotic swirl of the Thyatian capital's politics."
DDA2: "Legions of Thyatis" (1990), by John Nephew, is an adventure for the Basic D&D game. It was published in August 1990. Taken as a whole this is a module that's like a ticking time bomb with a campaign coupled with DDA1: "Arena of Thyatis" (1990), by John Nephew. These  two books should have been one product in my humble opinion.
But back to the blog entry because what DDA2: "Legions of Thyatis" (1990) represents is a mini campaign waiting to happen. I've used this series of modules with Greyhawk, Dark Sun, Astonshing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, and many more. But for the moment let's concentrate on Mystara.

"The player's PC's have to venture into a labyrinth of catacombs to prevent the senator from eliminating the wards that protect Thyatis City from the monsters in the subterranean realm beneath it." And this is where things get very interesting because DDA2: "Legions of Thyatis" (1990) catches, codifies, & twists the expectations of the setting of The Empire of Thyatis like a rag doll. There are monsters below the empire & all of this ties directly into the history of the empire. According to the Thyatis wiki entry;

Karameikos is ruled by a Thyatian nobility, but the Empire's territories consist of the western half of the Isle of Dawn, the island realms of Ochalea and the Pearl Islands, and the Thyatian Hinterlands on the southern continent of Davania, in addition to its mainland territories on Brun, which are the smallest of the Empire's territories by geographic size, but the most heavily populated and developed of them. The total land area of the Empire is approximately 800,000 square miles (2,100,000 km2). Because of its political geography, Thyatis can best be described as a thalassocracy.
In its long history, Thyatis has ruled other lands, including Traladara (which became Karameikos), the islands of Ierendi, the southern half of Ylaruam, and the city of Oceansend in Norwold. Thyatian settlers have colonized part of the Savage Coast and also the Heldannic Freeholds, which are ruled by a religious order devoted to the Thyatian-descended Immortal Vanya.
Thyatis has a historic rivalry with the Alphatian Empire, and the two imperial powers devote much of their energy and attention to each other. At the start of the official timeline (AC 1000, or thousand years after the crowning of the first Emperor of Thyatis, in the Thyatian calendar), they are locked in a struggle resembling that of the Cold War, and several published high-level modules have their territorial disputes as a backdrop (notably CM 1, M1, M2, and M5)." This struggle ties directly into the material of the Hollow World itself.

So what happens if the events Wraith of the Immortals box set  never happened?! Well the Wiki entry hints at that much & possibly more saying; "The adventures of the boxed set Wrath of the Immortals takes place within the context of a great war between the two, climaxing in the weakening of Thyatis and the sinking of the continent of Alphatia. Subsequently, Thyatis conquered a few formerly Alphatian territories, suffered setbacks and plague, and by the final official publication that made much mention of Thyatis (Joshuan's Almanac) seemed to be on the road for a gradual recovery. Many campaigns did not use Wrath of the Immortals and the development of their versions of Mystaran countries, particularly Thyatis and Alphatia, may have diverged greatly. In particular those who used earlier published modules, such as CM1 Test of the Warlords or M5 Talons of Night, which involved different conflicts and possible resolutions, could have ended up with very different versions of the Empires than what occurred in the Wrath timeline.
In a review of the adventures Arena of Thyatis and Legions of Thyatis, game designer Ken Rolston called Thyatis "a D&D-game version of ancient Rome", and the city of Thyatis itself an "ancient Roman city", saying: "You have your basic criminal syndicates, debauched and corrupt senators, sinister intrigues, big parties, and lots of hearty Spartacus-style gladiators.""
All of this is wrapped up with a spectacular issue of Threshold magazine #11v2 that addresses this & several other issues tied in with the altering of the Mystara timeline 

The real issue is the strong adventure connections between 
Arena of Thyatis and Legions of Thyatis, with 'The Milenian Empire' of the Hollow World. What if the same basic criminal syndicates, debauched and corrupt senator's network extends down into the Milenian Empire. Could it actually be that the Merry pirates are working with the this corrupt network & thieves guild in disguise?! Think I'm kidding?! Think again.

In History of the Thyatian People by James Ruhland the secrets are laid bare for all to see. The corruption & horror of the gladiatorial game of the Thyatian people is laid bare. The Merry Pirates line their pockets with the gold of the Milenian Empire while new gladiators are brought into the capital. While above on the surface a minor gladiator revolt revolves around the empire of Thyatis? No this isn't going to end trade at all because the pirates are part of the smugglers of Mystara. That tight network has been ferrying goods, contraband, slaves, etc. for centuries.
What does any of this have to do with Mentzer edition BECMI Dungeons & Dragons? Everything because the Expert set's rules build on wilderness & sea adventures. This raises the stakes a bit if the PC's are going to carry the fight & revolt into and about the Thyatian empire.

Taken as a whole these two modules make an excellent start to a mini campaign that can lead to epic campaign lead ins.  Arena of Thyatis and Legions of Thyatis, are classic BECMI Dungeons & Dragons adventures that expose the dirty underside of the Thyatis empire & remain a favorite of mine. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Taking a Deeper Slice of DDA1: "Arena of Thyatis" (1990), by John Nephew

"And simply everyone is going to the magnificent Villa Osteroplus, home of the wealthy old senator, Helenites. Raucous fun, exotic food, and even advanced betting on the upcoming Arena games are expected. Even adventurers just in from the outlands may meet the powerful here. So don your festive togas, for in Thyatis City there are important connections to be made and deeds to be done, duels to be fought and fame to be won. 

This module is designed especially for the DM who want to sharpen his interactive skills."
DDA1: "Arena of Thyatis" (1990), by John Nephew is one of those modules that puts the PC's at the far end of Thayatis. For Mystara Thyatis a major player think late & early Roman empire with lots of decadence & dark issues. There is a solid Wiki entry that fills in some of the gaps; "Thyatis (the city) is the capital of the Empire and the largest city on Mystara. It is on the southeastern coast of the continent of Brun, situated between the trade lanes of the Sea of Dread to the south and the Sea of Dawn to the east, alongside a canal ("Vanya's Girdle").

Conceptually, Thyatis is a mixture of different parts of the various historical Roman empires. It is governed by an Emperor and an Imperial Senate as per the classical Roman Empire, but enfranchises a feudal noble class similar to that of the Holy Roman Empire. The Emperor himself is akin to that of the Byzantines (as is the capital city's placement on a major strait). The Imperial Bureaucracy as described in Dawn of the Emperors is clearly inspired by that of the British Empire, as is, at least in name, one branch of the Thyatian Armed Forces, the "Retebius Air Corps" (RAF), which consists of cavalry on flying mounts (Pegasi, Hippogriffs, Griffons, Sphinxs, Rocs, and Dragons).
Karameikos is ruled by a Thyatian nobility, but the Empire's territories consist of the western half of the Isle of Dawn, the island realms of Ochalea and the Pearl Islands, and the Thyatian Hinterlands on the southern continent of Davania, in addition to its mainland territories on Brun, which are the smallest of the Empire's territories by geographic size, but the most heavily populated and developed of them. The total land area of the Empire is approximately 800,000 square miles (2,100,000 km2). Because of its political geography, Thyatis can best be described as a thalassocracy."
What this module does is puts the PC's center stage into the role of gladiators & not unlike Conan they begin to deal with the ranks of that & "Arena of Thyatis" is strongly  tied to Dawn of the Emperors: Thyatis and Alphatia (1989),

This module isn't going to put the PC's center stage instead its going to put the PC's on the edges of the empire with the themes of  "political corruption &  drug abuse taking center stage." There is a Spartacus feel to the adventure. Survival is dependant on being clever & cagey in the backdrop of this corner of the empire. Yesterday's blog post put the PC's square in the middle of the Mystara urban kingdoms. But what happens if you want to bring the action on the outskirts of civilization? The PC's are going to have to navigate NPC's, opportunities, & a refinement of the rake class. Indeed many of the advantages of DDA1: "Arena of Thyatis" (1990), is that it takes full advantage of Mentzer's Dungeons & Dragons Basic. 

 Helenites Osteropolus, a Thyatian senator, is the pig that makes makes life for the PC's utter Hell. DDA1 is worth the price of admission because of the extensive details on the gladiators of Thyatis. They can play an important role in the PC's lives in the days of the campaign yet to come. DDA1: "Arena of Thyatis" (1990) is one of the key modules for Mystara's Hollow World. The ancient caverns beneath the collusium directly tie into the Hollow World itself. In fact in recent years I've had these tunnel systems & ancient lava tubes connect with 'The Milenian Empire' book's setting  by  Anthony Herring from 1992. This gives the material a nice sly but contemporary connection between these two very different empires with common ground.

The NPC's of 
DDA1: "Arena of Thyatis" (1990) are well thought out & clever to cause the NPC's trouble. This is literally their reason for being & keeping an eye or two on the issues plaguing the PC's is a fantastic idea. 

An Alternative Campaign Path For B10 Night's Dark Terror by Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, & Phil Gallagher

"Barely one day's march from Kelven, the uncharted tracts of the Dymrak forest conceal horrors enough to freeze the blood of civilized folk. Those who have ventured there tell how death comes quick to the unwary - for the woods at night are far worse than any dungeon. 

But you are adventurers, veterans of many battles, and the call of the will is strong. Will you answer the call, or are you afraid of the dark terrors of the night?

This campaign adventure is for characters just beginning Expert play (levels 2-4) and hurls them into the exciting outdoor world which awaits in the Expert rulebook. "
B10 Night's Dark Terror by Jim BambraGraeme Morris, &  Phil Gallagher show cases everything that Mentzer's Expert Dungeons & Dragons set was meant to do. That is drown the PC's into a situation that will test the players to their limits. DM'ed correctly & this adventure could take the PC's into some solidly dangerous situations & could result in a TPK.

This module premiered in '86 & there's a unique history behind its publication; "B10: Night’s Dark Terror (1986), by the TSR UK crew of Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher, was the tenth adventure produced for the D&D Basic Set (1981). It was also a return to basics after the home office in Wisconsin had stopped producing new Basic Set adventures in 1985. It was published in February 1986."
B10: Night’s Dark Terror (1986), presents the wilderness as both foe & setting for a mid range party of adventurers & it does an excellent job of presenting the adventures with an 'edge of the  frontier' setting that reminds me of the best of Robert H Howard's "Beyond the Black River" The player's PC's are literally up to their necks in the depths of a hostile environment. They'll need to be fast, quick witted, & wily to survive the machinations of the module. The DM needs to pay attention to the contents of this adventure & yes I said contents; "With a 64-page booklet, 2 double-panel covers, and complete scans of the orioginal double-sided mapsheet, this super-module provides all you need for epic wilderness and dungeon adventuring." The journey across the Grand Duchy of Karameikos is a very dangerous one indeed for the players are going to need their wits about them. There are several instances where the updated fan made maps available from the Piazza are a must.  Created by 
Sarastro Magnifico
The module is basically an adventure tour of the campaign setting of the 
the Grand Duchy of Karameikos & the DM has to keep the action moving. Done correctly & this module goes like an 80's action movie. All of the while it show cases many of the advantages of Mentzer D&D Expert Rules highlights & really showcases the streamlining of the systems. 

But I want to bring up the 
Graeme Davis review of Night's Dark Terror from White Dwarf No. 78 from the B10 wiki entry

"Graeme Davis reviewed Night's Dark Terror for White Dwarf No. 78. Davis felt that the farmstead in the adventure's opening was nicely detailed, and that the counters to play out the action on the 25mm scale map for that location were a nice idea. He commented on the plot of the adventure, "There is enough here to keep the fastest-moving party going for some time, and a section of suggestions for further adventures can help the GM to open out a long-running campaign in the area."[2] Davis did note that the numbering system for wilderness locations was confusing, with an example where a location has one designation at one part in the module, and at a later point the location has a different designation which does not correspond with anything on the map. However, Davis felt that everything else in the module was written and laid out very well, and that the module would be a tremendous help for any game master learning the Expert rules"
This confusion with the wilderness locations on the maps has been corrected in that fan made maps from the Piazza by Sarastro Magnifico. The Dragon's foot site has a good thread of suggestions for running B10 as well.

 But now I've got an idea for slipping in B8: Journey to the Rock as a campaign shake up before continuing onto X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield By  Michael Dobson. Not only does this give the player's a more even adventure path but it gives them time to go up the levels needed to tackle some of the challenges seen in X10. 

Of course this is going to depend upon if they survive the horrors, weirdness, events, & weather of 'B10: Night’s Dark Terror (1986)'. Because B8: Journey to the Rock builds upon the foundations of B10: Night's Dark Terror's wilderness exportation in spades & aces.
There are several reasons to do this: 

  1. Using B8: Journey to the Rock with B10 Night's Dark Terror gives the module a frame work to build the campaign upon. 
  2. There could be a connection between B10's baddies & the wizard which gives the PC's more puzzles. 
  3. The deeper one goes with this there could be ties with X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield By  Michael Dobson's forces. 
  4. The campaign context makes the armies of the humanoids very dangerous especially if coupled with B2 Keep on the Borderlands. 
  5. The war depicted in this module, The Grand Duchy of Karameikos, has all of its moving parts & pieces in place. 
  6. The forces of  Karameikos, are going to need all of the outside help they can get that's where the PC's form the internal chain. 
  7. The wizard of B8 might have vital information to the cause of the PC's and done correctly this might spur them on. 
  8. The wilderness of both B10 & B8 could hide any number of mini dungeons & these are the perfect bits for any campaign side quests. 
  9. Be sure to take full advantage of the random encounter & weather tables when running these two modules. 
  10. The PC's could become military spies or assets for Karameikos,& the DM should take full advantage of this.