Tuesday, October 6, 2020

OSR Review & Commentary On the Beginning Castles & Crusades Adventure 'A Blaze in the Northern Sky' By Scott Myers For Your Old School Game System Campaign


Never let it be said that circumstances can make one take a break between breaths. Recently a friend came to me looking for a beginning adventure recommendation for his home Castles & Crusades home  game. Now sure there are ton of beginning adventures out there but for something that really flies in the face of convention?! I strongly recommend A Blaze in the Northern Sky by Scott Myers . This is a bit of a different matter & while I have covered Mr.Myer's adventure before with a review of  'Under a Funeral Moon'.   I paid for A Blaze in the Northern Sky  out of pocket for the chance to take a look at the adventure. 
Believe it or not beginning OSR adventures can be absolutely easily screwed up. And this isn't one of those. Instead its a straight forward set up & take down with very nasty twist in the middle of it. The set up goes something like this;"The people in the village are weary but still worried. The village was raided by Hobgoblins and a large Ogre that wore a collar and chain last night. The local ranger fought and killed 3 Hobgoblins before succumbing to his wounds. The Hobgoblins took most of the town’s supply of grain and with winter around the corner they fear they will go hungry come years end. Several men in town got together and decided they would go after the raiders. They gathered their weapons and followed the Hobgoblins into the woods north of town. About a half hour later the villagers noticed the woods north of town were on fire. It rained here around sunrise and the forest fires died out, which is strange because the players noticed no signs of rain on their travels to here." 
This is a straight up action set piece from beginning to end & starts with a bang! And it keeps going! Hobgoblins & horrors are here aplenty & they don't stop. This is war right out of the gate with the village caught in the middle & a mini crawl right in the middle there's enough here to start the PC's in the deep end of a C&C campaign. 


I don't want to give too much away but this module picks up the action in the old school of the sense that the PC's are gonna be a part of something nasty because out in the bigger world there's lots going on beyond your level. 
 Not only could this be set up in Greyhawk but A Blaze in the Northern Sky   could be used as a prelude to a classic TSR module. You got combat & you've go dungeon crawling happening in one very short module but those adventure elements could be used to connect 
 A Blaze in the Northern Sky   right into the back door of Gary Gygax's T1 The Village of Homlett. The events of a A Blaze in the Northern Sky   could have the PC's stumble right into the village very much the worse for wear! 

Adventure events unfold from there but they lead right into B2 Keep on the Borderland! Why?! Because they can that's why?! This all sets the stage for Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer's T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil!  A Blaze in the Northern Sky   isn't a 'Scooby Doo' crap sack of an adventure that doesn't deliver. In stead this is a solid & carefully crafted little slice of violence & degeneration for the PC's as they navigate through a shark tank of weirdness. 

A Blaze in the Northern Sky   could be set within  Castles & Crusades Aihrde because it has all of the classic elements within it for continued play! The history of  Castles & Crusades Aihrde fits easily the back story of A Blaze in the Northern Sky  . This is exactly what I wanna see as a dungeon master. A miniumist approach to an adventure so that if need to modify it then its easily done. Again this is the hallmark of a good adventure. And one that could take its 'p's & ''q's from classic gaming. Is  A Blaze in the Northern Sky   a good adventure?! Yes as a beginning adventure that puts the PC's into the hearth & then adds logs to the fire. 

Could A Blaze in the Northern Sky  be added into the weirdness & background of  the Haunted Highlands with the menace & adventure plot really lending itself as a possible beginning for the highly venerable C&C setting? The answer to this is a quick yes! 

But let's talk about yet another setting that would fit the plot of  
 A Blaze in the Northern Sky   adventure. That setting is the Castles & Crusades version of Judge's Guild's The Wilderlands of High Fantasy. The adventure plot is down & dirty,the violence very much in the vein of Sword & Sorcery. So everything neatly fits into the dovetailed weirdness of the 'Wilderlands'! The monsters are all provided for the dungeon master, the encounters are laid bare, & everything is ready to go from outta of the tin A Blaze in the Northern Sky  ! This is good adventure & way to start a Castles & Crusade campaign! 

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