Monday, June 21, 2021

Retooling N2 ' The Forest Oracle' By Carl Smith For An OSR Sword & Sorcery Campaign

 "The land lies under a curse. Fruit drops to the ground, its pulp black and rotten. Leaves curl and wither on the branches. Animals flee the parched vale, or starve. Long ago, the Downs prospered under the care of Druids. But the priests of nature have retreated deep into the woods and rarely show themselves. One old man claims that the Druids have the power to save the valley, if only someone could find their Oracle to seek help. Will you reach the Forest Oracle of the Druids in time? And if you do, can they really lift the curse? Or does the answer lie elsewhere? Only the most daring and cunning adventurers will save the Downs. For character levels 2-4."

If you've been paying attention then over the last couple of days I've gotten to play in a friend's AS&SH game. And last night I reposted my module commentary on N1 Against The Reptile Cult by Douglas Niles. So last night we thought we'd take a look at N2 The Forest Oracle By Carl Smith. Umm, many folks consider N2 one of the worst AD&D modules ever. Could it be retooled for AS&SH?! 

So time & again I've seen review after review on 
N2 ' The Forest Oracle' By Carl Smith as one of the worst AD&D modules to come out according to the Drivethrurpg review by Sean B; "

"Poorly written adventure from the grand old days. Ran my group through it for a lark, but there were definitely things that needed to be re-tooled in order to make some actual sense.

Seems like it was written by a 13 year old, with no attention to consistency or logic."

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Module N2 ' The Forest Oracle' By Carl Sargent came out in '84  has vastly different connotations for an Swords & Sorcery OSR retroclone such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg?! Why?! Because AS&SH's Hyperborea  setting is unlike anything in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  But this module is actually very workable for AS&SH! Let's hit the historical high notes according to the N2 Wiki entry; 
"N2 Forest Oracle was written by Carl Smith, with a cover by Keith Parkinson and interior illustrations by Jeff Easley, and was published by TSR in 1984 as a 32-page booklet with an outer folder."
The basic N2 plot is perfectly suited for AS&SH; "In this scenario, the player characters try to lift the curse which has brought death and drought to the land known as the Downs.[1] As they travel to a Great Druid to ask for his help, they travel across the mountains and through the forest where they encounter brigands, goblins, bugbears, gypsies, and a yeti" 
The Downs situated in Hyperborea might be analogous to a volcanic temperate zone of Iceland.This marks the area as extremely valuable farmland  to the royalty of Hyperborea. Originally the Downs may have been a bread basket area belonging to the native Hyperboreans. The Green Death easily took the Hyperboreans out leaving behind the Downs. There could well be several hidden Hyperborean vaults. That's another avenue to explore later on. The Downs here are the key possibly to this module according to the wiki entry;"
The Downs, a lush valley on the edge of the Greate Olde Woode, are dying. Livestock and crops simply rot and drop to the parched ground. The druids who have protected the area have retreated into the thick forest, and the party must find them to undo the evil that's happening in the Downs." The secondary key to N2 The Forrest Oracle is the druids which are a key class in AS&SH's inhostilable Hyperborea.. 

Druids are the farmer's best friend on this far future Lovecraftian world of the dying sun. They can predict crops seasons, village fertility, signs of nature, native wildlife,etc. So the druids of the Downs are key to survival in this region. And what about that 
  Greate Olde Woode?! Given that it sounds like the American California Red Wood forrests to our group. The Downs as a region on the edge of an ancient or possibly still active volcanic area makes sense. The Downs are pulsing with elemental energies. And this in turn attracts the Yeti to the mountain passes & they could possibly be related to Voomis of the area as rival tribal enemies. 

But what about the bugbears & the goblins?! These are by far the easiest adventure elements to adapt. The Downs are a rich bread basket farmland area & the bugbears are displaced dimensional travelers. New world same old need to survive & conquest. The goblins are easily simply lesser chaotic shock troops attached to the bug bears. 
And as for the 'problematic' Gypies?! Simply make them one of the numerous Hyperborean human races. Or keep them as is & make them also time displaced travelers with some actual real world historical background. A noble Rom people who have adapted to the world of the bloated red sun. 
One of the campaign elements that AS&SH's Hyperborea actually needs is a setting area with a generic European / Old World European feel to it. A place that seems like an AD&D campaign setting but look a bit closer & its very alien. The Downs might provide that very Sword & Sorcery adventure campaign element to it. There could even be more too it then this. We'll get into that coming up! 

Expanding on the Downs

DMed correctly & N2 could be used as the basis for an entire Sword & Sorcery campaign especially one featuring a faux Norse overlay to it. The downs are a valuable land commodity. And they feature as a part of  the jewel of an AS&SH campaign. 
N2 could be an actual follow up to the events of N1 Against The Reptile Cult. The reptile cult's actions have shaken the Downs & its surroundings. The local royals have become a bit too complacent. So N2 follows it up with the bug bear forces seeing an opportunity & the PC's encounter is merely a scouting party for a bug bear army. 
The druids are definitely an opportunity for the DM to exploit in several very unconventional ways. They could be far more integrated into the Downs society with them taking apprentices on at a very young age. The PC's esorting some charges to them and then things going very wrong. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.