Thursday, March 5, 2020

Mystara, T1 The Village of Hommlet By Gary Gygax, B2 The Keep On The Bordlands & More Campaign Fodder

"The Village of Hommlet has grown up around a crossroads in a woodland. Once far from any important activity, it became embroiled in the struggle between gods and demons when the Temple of Elemental Evil arose but a few leagues away. Luckily of its inhabitants, the Temple and its evil hordes were destroyed a decade ago, but Hommlet still suffers from incursions of bandits and strange monsters. "

Earlier today on my lunch break I was reading through the Vaults of Pandius site  article Modules and Adventures in Mystara. I've referred to & referenced this article so many times over the years for dealing with classic TSR era modules & Mystara. But it was this little tidbit by by JTrithen
"I placed T1-4 (Temple of Elemental Evil) southeast of Selenica. Hommlet was not far from Reedle; Hommlet and the temple/Nulb area wouldn't be too far from that northeastern spur of the Altan Tepe Mountains there. The campaign ended up in a TPK, unfortunately. I have yet to start establishing more repercussions of their failure to stop that menace, in the game world.
As the temple forces start to branch out, Selenica will be the first obstacle for them to overcome, of course.
Before that, I ran the one-on-one AD&D adventure "HHQ1: Fighter's Challenge" in the same area. The town of Sturnheim was placed north and a little east of Reedle, I believe (and Hommlet would have been further north of that). That fighter ("Sig," by name, short for Sigurd) was a mainstay of the campaign, who went on with a party to the Temple of Elemental Evil.
Also ran "HHQ4: Cleric's Challenge" in Thyatis (northwest of Thyatis City). That Cleric (Tia) went with the party to the Temple of Elemental Evil, with Sig, too."
I can't tell you the number of times that I've used T1 The Village of Hommlet instead of (more like beside )  the B2 Keep On The Borderlands as a the PC's first beginning & starting module as an introduction to Original Dungeons & Dragons, Basic, or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. There's something about the village that screams Sword & Sorcery for me as both a dungeon master & player.
The player's party would then pursue the loose adventure  threads into the environs of the lands surrounding the Keep & get the players ready for the head trip of the Caves of Chaos. This isn't anything new & dates back to May 21, 2016 when I had a blog entry about B2.

All of the adventure elements fit the rise of the evil elemental cults & the gathering of  humanoids in B2 The Keep of The Borderland as background material for T1-4 Frank Mentzer & Gygax's Temple of Elemental Evil. But let's get back to Hommlet for a moment & its influence on parties.

T1 Village of Hommlet in Mystara shows just how shaky & delicate the landscape is as humanoids, bandit lords, & cults  begin to stretch their military claws across world. The two modules point up the fact that there is a far older order at work in the world then the player's PC's know about. This is especially true if these two modules are used as lead ins for 'T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil'. There's this sense of a legacy of evil about the temple in Mystara. I've also used certain rooms of the temple as gateways into other OSR game setting such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

 Porting over entire Mystara parties into Hyperborea then ramping up the action by returning them when the players have run into X2: Castle Amber (Chateau d' Amberville) By Tom Moldvay on Hyperborea. 
The evil of  The Temple of Elemental Evil is palpable in the module & comes across as a haze of corruption that oozes into the undercarriage of Hommlet. The 'Caves of Chaos' from B2 The Keep on the Borderlands are merely a preview of coming attractions. The Village of Hommlet makes an excellent headquarters for a party of adventurers with the NPC's of the village forming the framework for the adventurers to cleave too for support, equipment, food, & a warm bed against the wilderness of evil that surrounds them. Flipping back to Mystara this combination shows the stupidity of the political squabbles of the setting compared to the cosmic ire of the elemental cults & horrors  that surround the PC's.  Marco Dalmonte did a write up on Demogorgon it confirm's some suspicions that I've had on converting Zuggtmoy from Temple of Elemental Evil,& really dressing up some adventure & monster elements up for Mystara.
This confirms something I've felt about Mystara for a long time, that despite the 'BECMI D&D' label Mystara is rotten all  of the way down to its Hollow World core. This isn't a setting that should be taken lightly. 

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