Monday, June 17, 2019

Review & Commentary On M1 Into the Maelstrom (Basic) By Beatrice Heard & Bruce A. Heard

"Alphatia, the most ancient empire, land of arcane and obscure secrets. It has grown for centuries and its might now overshadows the cauldron of civilization. Some say the Alphatians come from elsewhere, but no one knows for sure.
Beyond the scope of mortals broods an evil mastermind, still in darkness. Once a betrayed emperor of ancient Alphatia, now an entity of the Sphere of Entropy, he seeks revenge on the greatest empire and on the race of man. His plots brought a deathly fog on all of Norwold. Perhaps it will extend to the southern nations. 
The matter is grave, so much that lords of the spheres have now to show their might. For them, it is time for mortals to intervene. Man defends his cause for him to earn divine favor. 
A great armada has been raised and able commanders must be found. Prove your worth, and the eternal portals of the spheres may open for you.
For four to eight characters of levels 25-30."

M1 Into the Maelstrom isn't your typical BECMI Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Its a weird beast of an adventure owing more to Homer's The Odyssey then many other adventures. But there are some fantastic adventure ideas. Man, this is an adventure steeped in Mystara lore. Now Beatrice Heard, & Bruce A. Heard both come into this adventure leveling the country threats in spades. If your into Glantri and Alphatia then this is the module to get. Lots of info & background on these two Mystaran super powers. This all about large fare warfare & even with that in the forefront there's still some solid adventure to be had here. But the truth is that you as the DM are going to want the  D&D Rules Cyclopedia to run this one. Why? Because many of the adventure idea & the rules to run them are refined in the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia. 

The threats, adventure ideas, encounter materials & Mystara background are all classic but to really run this one the 
 D&D Rules Cyclopedia is needed. This is solid Mystara adventure  goodness with PC's really dealing with the machinations of the gods, getting squeezed by countries & getting hosed by circumstances. Even with this being a high level adventure there's a real sense of the adventure playing with the party. Koryis (lawful god of peace), Vanya (neutral goddess of battle), and Alphaks (chaotic god of death) even score points during the adventure after each encounter.  Did I happen to mention that their also the ones who set this hot mess ermm epic level quest on the party? This is a module with personality & Mystara style. The floating continents is worth the price of admission alone. There are so many great campaign ideas that some of these could be ported over to an air ship or Spelljammer campaign.

But here's the problem with the 'M' series of adventures including 
M1 Into the Maelstrom by Beatrice Heard, & Bruce A. Heard feel a bit rushed & not as well play tested as they should have been. The dungeon master is going to need a huge amount of patience & preparation to run this one. 
  1. The PC's should be of the level appropriate for the campaign but have a backup PC ready. 
  2. The encounters should be gone over & maybe adapted by the DM as needed for their campaigns. 
  3. The Star Kingdoms should be expanded upon for later use & perhaps the DM might want to look at Bruce Heard's CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies to help fill in some of the gaps. 
  4. Pay very close attention to the maps & perhaps redesign some of the adventure locations as necessary for your own Mystara & OSR campaigns. 
  5. Retro con some of the ideas for the Alphaks as an off shoot culture & maybe place them in another part of the Hollow World after this adventure. 
  6. Don't let the high level label fool you there is a solid adventure here but it will require a bit more prep time like others in the 'M' series. 
  7. Dungeon masters should be prepared to have the PC's back track to clean up after themselves once this adventure ends. There are lots of loose ends that could occur
  8. Everything about this adventure screams Mystara till its throat is horse. So be prepared to raid it for other settings just like X2 Castle Amber 
  9. Forget Fury of the Immortals instead M1 Into the Maelstrom by Beatrice Heard, & Bruce A. Heard has some solid ideas on Immortal behavior that can be used as the basis for other Mystara interactions. 
  10. Make sure that if running M1 Into the Maelstrom that the adventure has consequences on your version of Mystara. There are events that could be very key later in a campaign. 
Do I think that M1 Into the Maelstrom could be run with other OSR retroclones & settings?! Yes but it would require a Hell of a lot of preparation on the dungeon master's part. This is an adventure that belongs on Mystara. I'd say a 31/2 outta five. But a four outta of five for Mystara campaigns

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