Thursday, June 18, 2020

OSR Commentary & Review - The Quest for the Silver Sword Adventure By William W. Connors For Basic Dungeons & Dragons

"Evil magic is afoot!

On what should be the hottest day of the year, snow blankets the tiny village of Torlynn. The winter weather wreaks its havoc week after week, and the people of Torlynn are forced to abandon their homes. Only a few hardy souls remain in the village, one being Burgomaster Gustovan.

So far the burgomaster's plans to save his town have failed, and now he has but one chance left to save his people. Gustovan seeks the aid of a band of young adventurers. If they can uncover the force lurking in the ruins of Barrik's Keep and destroy the cause of the vile curse, all will be well again. If they fail, no one will be left alive in Torlynn to mourn them."

"Quest for the Silver Sword" (1992), by William W. Connors, is the first Thunder Rift adventure. It was published in January 1992. But what is it really?! Simply another forgotten BASIC Dungeons & Dragons adventure or is there far more too this adventure then what it seems to be?!
This is an adventure designed to attack the PC's where it hurts in the players. This adventure was/is part of the black box Basic Dungeons & Dragons adventuring packages. According to the Drivethrpg blurb," This adventure is suited for a group of four to six characters of 2nd or 3rd level." Well, this was a part of the '92 revision of Dungeons & Dragons into the black box Basic edition of the game;
"In April 1991, TSR released The New Easy-to-Master Dungeons & Dragons Game (1991), an introductory D&D game better known as the black box. It was wildly successful, introducing many new players to the D&D game. So, TSR had to figure out how best to expand it. A series of black-boxed "adventure packs" (1992) were the most obvious expansions because they matched the style and contents of the original box. However, TSR also released some more traditional supplements, of which "Quest for the Silver Sword" (1992) was the first."
This is one of the adventure packages that actually manages to sneak in how to run an investigative dungeon crawl into the Basic D&D game. Back in the 90's I got roped into running Basic Dungeons & Dragons for a number of much younger  kids after school. Those kids are now dungeon masters of their own & we still get together for adult beverages from time to time. That's how much of a sense of social play & comradeship that the 'grand game' can create. You see  Black box Dungeons & Dragons is one of the best kept Basic secrets.  I picked up my copy for less then ten bucks back in '04 for five bucks at a Toyworks in Torrington,Ct.

So why is this one of the best kept secrets in the hobby? Because it came packed with everything you needed to get started in the hobby except players. According to the Board Game Geek entry   the contents went something like this;
"The new D&D Basic revised edition that guides the RPG rookies through the first 5 levels of experience. It features pull-out cards detailing basic monsters and dragons, a dungeon map and cardboard stand-ups to play in a boardgame way and a simple dungeon adventure for inexperienced players and Dungeon Masters.
64 page rulebook, Dragon Card learning pack DM Screen, 48 stand-ups, dice and maps."
The Quest For the Silver Sword  has concise writing in an attractive & well made package. It complements the The New Easy-to-Master Dungeons & Dragons Game (1991) quite well as an expansion delivering some really cool twists & turns.

Curse of the Silver Sword adventure package came with stand up minis & two excellent maps, the adventure basically about a village that was descending into Eternal Winter because of a magical curse. But we get a lot of background on "Barrik's Keep" & the town of Torlynn. There's lots of hooks here to connect into both the setting of the Thunder Rift & back history of Mystara. The monsters of the module were nasty pieces of work that attacks add to the player's grief  about failing their saving throws!
You can get a bit of the feel of the setting from here but if your a player of this adventure stay the Hell out! Seriously don't make the dungeon master's job any harder.
The Thunder Rift region and Timeline  by HÃ¥vard  from the Vaults of Pandius has some very nice deeper background. And the Whose Who of Thunder Rift has some of the major NPC players of the area mapped out & its from Kyle Knight.
There was a question about Lizardmen on Facebook for old school or OSR Dungeons & Dragons. Lizardmen in the Thunder Rift get a bit of the lime light in this article by phoneixmcl.

The Quest For The Silver Sword presents a mini dungeon & adventure setting perfect to get players started a bit further down the path of level progression & into a higher standard of Basic play. The adventure itself is quite nicely laid out for an investigative game with a bit of action on both sides of it. The monsters are interesting & the region has lots of potential for dungeon master exploitation.

Could the Quest For the Silver Sword be used in OSR retroclone systems?! The answer is yes! Because of the very modular nature of the adventure package set up & marketing there's a bit of prep but a clever dungeon master could use both this adventure & the entire Thunder Rift region within their home games. The fact is that the Thunder Rift is so prototypical of a Dungeons & Dragons region that I've had players want to take it over for themselves as a domain.
 If you want to introduce the kids to Dungeons & Dragons then I highly suggest Black Box, its easy to get into & lots of goodies to keep the play going for years to come. Quest of the Silver Sword does the job of being a mid point adventure without being overly twee or stupid. It hits the high points & keeps things going without talking down to its audience or taking steps back with the players.

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