Sunday, June 21, 2020

Retro Review N3 Destiny of Kings By Stephen Bourne For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition And Your Old School Campaigns

"When Treason Walks the Land...

Trouble stirs in Dunador! The King lies dead of a wound received during a hunting expedition. His brother, Lord Edrin, challenges the rightful Crown Prince, a half-trained young man named Edmund, for possession of the throne while Edmund travels on a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Nevron. Forces throughout the kingdom vie for control of the realm. Can the player characters find the Crown Prince and protect him from the treacherous forces at large in Dunador?"
Given the almost Hamlet style of sword and sorcery politics N3 Destiny of Kings isn't the first choice that leaps to mind. But there are reasons why this Advanced Dungeons and Dragons module is a perfect fit besides cross compatible old school systems. Stephen Bourne wrote this module back in '86 and we were well on our way towards far more villina corporate D&D back then. N3 out of the 'N' series is one of the best of the bunch, this is a module I've had some experience with as both a player and DM. This is the third in the novice series and one of the better adventures for PC's on the one through fourth levels, that being said this is an adventure for the more experienced players. Basically this adventure takes the PC's out of the dungeon and places them into the back end of a royal plot of assassination and intrigue with monsters.


 This module can be thought of as one part hamlet, two parts AD&D, and a whole ton of intrigue revolving around plot.  The PC's must find the prince of Dunador and return him home safely. Elements of investigation and detective work with a light smattering of wilderness adventure make this a solid AD&D module but it can be easily customized to suit a sword and sorcery campaign such as Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Marvel Conan from the Seventies has a tradition of using King Conan for a great deal of its plots and political maneuverings. We saw this in the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties. By using this as a base Destiny of Kings can easily be back slotted into any number of game campaigns. The maps alone are worth the price of entry.  Given the plot this module could be placed right within the central parts of Hyperborea.

 Given the Byzantine structure of politics in Dark Albion and Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Destiny of Kings has some very dark points behind it that can easily be adapted into the frame work of a Shakespearean adventure. It has an excellent castle ambush within its frame work. It is however like many Eighties adventures from the late Eighties heavy on plot. Not that this has ever stopped me at all from gutting using and folding its systems to suit my needs. This module gets the PC's out of the dungeon into the back end of deep court politics and  it's crappy to prepare, and not a very good story, unless you spice it up. Once this is done then the module shines through. I've taken Destiny of Kings routed out its back plot and transported it into Romanian and Russian setting where it worked as advertised. Given the backstabbing, murdering, poisoning, and other political frame work that surrounds Hyperborean politics, Destiny is a good mirror to use when creating a structure for your royal families in AS&SH.  There are several reasons why this toybox should be used for working through old school campaigns. One this is believe it or not a good primer and introduction  for 1st AD&D edition domain play to PC's and the importance of dealing with royals throughout a sword and sorcery campaign.  Because of the investigation and dealing with wilderness outside of the dungeon the central heart of this module is one part Arthurian mini campaign and two parts Hamlet style adventure in the heart of the royal politic.
"King Halfred of Dunador has died in a mysterious accident. As the heir has disappeared, the wicked Lord Edrin intends to seize the throne. Hollend, head of the Royal Council, asks the player characters to seek out the missing Prince. The characters must contend with scheming Dukes, raiders and corpses as they trace the pilgrimage the Prince took before the King's death. They must uncover and rectify ignoble deeds, bringing traitors to justice" Basically plots within pulpy plots. Which brings this image to mind.

Not only are your PC's in the middle of all of royal political intrigue their center stage and in Destiny of Kings the protection that a domain offers is made really evident because of a party's numbers game. The PC's as they raise in levels suddenly becomes a far more creditable threat and a danger to other minor royals around them.  Thus Destiny of Kings can actually serve as a stepping stone within a sword and sorcery campaign as a leg up onto the road of domain play. This makes this a module that can be used for an Adventurer, Conqueror, King style of play within an old school gaming system or retroclone rpg.
 Here's a bit from Wiki on the contents;  "N3 Destiny of Kings was published by TSR in 1986, as a 32-page booklet with an outer folder.[1] The module was written by Stephen Bourne, with cover art by Keith Parkinson and interior art by James Roslof.[3] 
The module includes a fold-out cover including a color area map.[2]"   Because of the fact that its not that well known the module is easily available on ebay and other outlets and can pack a punch to surprise players. Spoilers ahead so consider yourselves warned. Here's a quick wiki overview " In Destiny of Kings, an assassin kills the King of Andevar, and the King's brother seizes power. A loyal retainer hires the player characters to find the missing prince, who is held by agents of the usurper. They are charged with bringing him back to claim the throne.The module includes descriptions of a citadel, a castle, an abbey and an inn."  This is not a well known module and its one that can be sprung on players, it is in my mind in line with some of the material of Marvel  Conan style play by default but with a bit of work can work with other old school systems. 

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