Friday, July 26, 2019

Using CM1 Test of the Warlords by Douglas Niles For Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigning

"The king requests your presence in the honorable kingdom of Norwold. If you're worthy, you may be appointed lord of a dominion filled with friendly villages, sturdy fortresses, and raging band of monsters.

Raging bands of monsters?

Well, yes, and you may have to lead your forces into a war or two. But you'll be ready for the challenge. You'll be ready for treacherous spies who conspire to steal you land. You'll be ready for a foul band of giants that raids your dominions. And you'll be ready for the inevitable clash of empires, the outcome of which may alter the fate of millions. You'll be ready! Won't you?

Test of the Warlords includes a complete campaign setting, several new NPCs, and dungeon and wilderness encounters, and guidelines for running a war between empires."

Even though CM1 Test of the Warlords by Douglas Niles is a BECMI Dungeons & Dragons module  I've done very bad things with. A bit of history on this classic module;
'CM1: "Test of the Warlords" (1984), by Douglas Niles, was the first of nine Companion-level adventures for Basic D&D. It was published early in 1984.' We actually have to thank   Frank Mentzer BECMI series for Basic D&D (1983-85) for raising the level of PC advancement and expanding the scope of Dungeons & Dragons.
What CM1 Test of the Warlords does allows the player's PC's claim domains of their own & this makes the module very flexible in what it does. It puts your PC's center stage for the events of carving your own domains & empires. Make no mistake your PC's are going to be in the middle of vicious monsters & only the their king's purview to help hold things together.

This high level adventure makes the fortunes of PC's change with each encounter with winner takes all. Grab all of the maps from Atlas of Mystara. The PC's are going to be right in the eye of the storm to take all of the resources that are going to be up for grabs. "The Adventuring in the Northlands "by Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 6 puts the layer of adventuring in the Northlands theme to the next level giving the dungeon master the advantage they need when dealing with this level of play. This high level adventure contains everything that's needed to have the PC's  establish baronies of their own, build castles, rule a populace, and explore the wilderness. All of this is because the king of Norwold wants to expand the boundaries of his empire. But the mini empires of the PC's are going to be dealing with a coup back home. They'll have to step into the big shoes now once the coup happens. 

Let's talk about the fact that this module is the merest skeleton of a campaign. Coupled with the war machine system this module makes it an empire building adventure that the dungeon master can use to customize their own campaign setting. Your PC's are going to have to deal with slicing the monster's throats & then building civilization assets.  According to Timeline of Norwold  by members of the Italian MMB on the Vaults of Pandius website you get a fan overview of the history of the area.
Using this module with OSR systems there be adjustments in  
the details and levels are going to have to be made. For Test of the Warlords will be a simple matter of  fifth grade mathematics in three places: the levels, the combat, and the domination systems.
Just like playing in a game of King Conan's era, the PC's here are going to be doing it all, from wilderness exploration to two wars and dealing with the machinations of several high level enemies across the board. The sword and sorcery vibe is strong along with the war gaming aspect of CM1. Your going to be dealing with a cast of characters straight out of a Shakespeare play all of exceptional level. Here's your cast of characters and their wonderful positions on the chess board of Test of the Warlords:
  • King Ericall of Norworld: lawful 28th level fighter ()
  • Lernal the Swill: neutral 6th level fighter
  • King Yarrvik the Just: lawful 9th level fighter (Oceansend)
  • Tarn Oakleaf: neutral 24th level druid
  • Madiera the Counselor: lawful 21st level magic user
  • Christina Marie Alanira: Neutral 25th level magic-user
  • Alak Dool: chaotic 19th level magic user
  • Sir Ernest Day: lawful 16th level fighter
  • Rutger Dag: neutral 15th level fighter
  • Sandralane of Glantri: lawful 16th level cleric
  • Max the First: chaotic 15th level fighter
  • Alissa Patrician: lawful 15th level fighter
  • Longtooth: chaotic 20th level thief
  • Mequisa, the Lawful:
  • Bethidia, the Neutral:
  • Chasandri, the Chaotic:
Oh don't worry only a few of them want to slit your PC's throat or get you into a bind or two or perhaps make sure you owe them a favor or two. All of the politics and intrigue give CM1 a bit of a back room good old boys aspect to the war that comes your way folks. The PCs must fight an epic war and go on several adventures to assure the survival of their newfound lands  which will take months to play out in its entirety. Highly recommended!

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