Thursday, March 25, 2021

OSR Sword & Sorcery Commentary - CM2: "Death's Ride" (1984), by Garry Spiegle

"A King's Commission leads to danger!

All communication with the barony of Twolakes Vale has ceased. King Ericall, worried about the security of his border and angered at the loss of tax revenues, has commissioned you, a delegation of powerful adventurers, to investigate. This is not a petty problem to by solved by the armies of local nobility. Indeed, the king's forces are desperately needed elsewhere. Twolakes Vale is, after all, only a small barony on the far frontier of Ericall's domain.

"And yet? The cloud is there, its nature and cause unknown. None have returned for the barony for weeks. Furthermore, the cloud is spreading, and vague reports of unrest and mysterious disappearances are starting to trickle in from nearby baronies.

Can you discover the secret of Two Lakes Vale?"

 So over the past couple of days the module CM2 Death's Ride has come up again at the table top level because of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg Bundle of Holding &  campaign from a couple of years ago. A bit of background & history on CM2: "Death's Ride" (1984), by Garry Spiegle, the module was the second Companion-level adventure for Basic D&D  & was released in 1984

 CM2 is  one of those modules that has several things going on at once & its one that over the years has graced my table several times. Looking over the module again, we can't honestly say that we'd run it as is in Hyperborea at this time.  Now you'd need a setting that's Sword & Sorcery but has the necromatic backstory too it. That's the easy part I'd set  CM2 Death's Ride within Clark Ashton Smith's  Zothique as a possible back story for the wizard's nercomatic heritage. 

DM Steve's version of Zothique based on Rodney Mathews fantastic artwork.
Used without permission no breech of trademark or copyright is intended.

But with CM2 Death's Ride needs to be set within a world that can support both the Sword & Sorcery elements & the High Fantasy elements without loosing the Companion-level adventure elements  for Basic D&D. Fortunately we've got all of those elements within the Wilderlands of High Fantasy setting! 

What about the Sphere of Death?! This strange overlap plane of entroptic energies & source of undeath?! Now I've said before that Frank Mentzer doesn't get half of the credit he deserves. And when it comes to BECMI this is most certainly the case. Are these planes or sphere?! Why not both?! We've got the death leech an alien creature that certainly seems right in line with the negative energy plane. Hmm The death leech seems like its straight out of Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg. Hell if you want to Flame Princess the module further add in the Random Estoretic Creature Generator to add some off the wall spice to critters in CM2 as needed. 

Alright so let's say that we want to keep the sphere of  Death & Entropy using it as the shadow of the negative plane along with immortals & the like.But let's keep the OSR vibe going. A strong possibility for CM2  is using the Dark Dungeon Retroclone by Bucky The Black Ball. 

The Twolakes Vale is a Northern land locked barbarian kingdom state within the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. We've got all of the information about the state & we could theoratically use AS&SH system as the engine to drive this. The necromatic elements including the sphere of death are intact. And we've got a setting that not only can support a dragon but the Sword & Sorcery PC classes from AS&SH. 
And then there's the fact that PC's could take over the Twolakes Vale as their own kingdom in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. All of the required stats are within the module. 

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