Monday, July 5, 2021

Retooling the Free Module HM6 The Equinox Demon by Todd Hughes For A Sword & Sorcery Campaign

 "On the Equinox, a sacrifice of grain is offered to the Nature Goddess. However last year, during the ceremony, a horrid demon arose, demanding tribute. It did not want grain, but gold and gems! The friar made a stand, but it was not enough and now the hamlet is terrified! Will a band of heroes have the guts to face the Equinox Demon? An adventure for 4-6 characters, level 1-3"
Today we're gonna pick it up with module HM6 The Equinox Demon by Todd Hughes. Why this module!? 

So the idea here is to pick up right from where the last blog entry left off. Namely that the Downs, some of the other adventures in this campaign thread are indeed an actual Sword & Sorcery campaign. We've been using Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. With a bit of imagination that can & will continue in this vein. The 
HM - Village of Rashtan Modules are by Todd Hughes & are specifically centered around the village of Rashtan. This really isn't a problem at all because of the fact that Hyperborea is an artificial campaign world setting. That is to say that its a created world out a patch work of cultures, peoples, etc. from Old Earth. 
So why are we using this particular module?! The author's introduction sinks it; 
This module is designed for novice and intermediate level players. The number of player characters should be between four and six. The recommended level of character experience is from first to third level. Magical items available to the party at the start of the adventure should likewise be restricted. Players may either bring in existing characters of the appropriate level with the DM's approval, or roll up new characters as suggested in Appendix P of the Dungeon Masters Guide" 
So right off the bat we've got the level perfectly established for the fishing & breadbasket region of Hyperborea which already resembles a volcanically fed rich late Roman England/Icelandic hybrid region. There are other perfectly good reasons to use HM6. Four reasons why HM6 The Equinox Demon is a nice fit for AS&SH. The module deals with Pagan sacrifice, this is a nicely put together low level module, & it has a Weird Tales factor written into it. This is put forth right in the introduction; 

"The Hamlet of Stallington is not preparing for the customary spring celebration even though it is nearing the spring equinox. Typically, a sacrifice of grain is made to the nature goddess, on the equinox, at the mouth of a cave in a forest glade. However, last year when the elders gathered to make the sacrifice, a great fog arose, and a horrid demon emerged from the cave entrance. The demon had many smaller servants with it, and they surrounded the elders. The demon spoke in a frightening voice that seemed to rise from the bowels of the earth itself. It demanded tribute or it would destroy the hamlet and slay the residents. The demon did not want grain however, it wanted gold, silver, and gems." 

For Hyperborea the village of Rashtan feels like its a million miles from the middle of everywhere. But given that HM6 The Equinox Demon by Todd Hughes uses many of the familiar Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition monsters, NPC classes, and AD&D angles. This is an easy module to cast into the mold of AS&SH. The adventure elements in HM6 feel like they came out of a Clark Ashton Smith story specifically his  Averoigne stories

For my money move the module  in a completely different direction & make HM6 feel more like late Roman Britian when the empire has left. The whole of England felt vulnerable to raiders. There's an uneasiness to this module & it shows. You've got Hyperborea's bread basket established in 'the Downs' & with the Kroten area itself pirates & privateers. So then the village of Rashtan is one of the commodity distributing points. But all bets are off when the coffers run empty; "The local priest Friar Dane went, along with his acolyte Tames, to confront the demon. The Friar’s body was discovered outside of town the next day and Tames was never seen again. The elders gathered the villagers together and it was agreed that the tribute must be paid. In so doing the village drained most of its coffers and the people were left with very little to pay for this season’s supplies. As a result, the people are hungry and have very little food and much of the livestock died over the winter from lack of feed." 
So we've got all of the classic Sword & Sorcery elements. Starving villagers, a desperate situation, Weird Tales monsters, & no money in the coffers for the Winter. Winters on Hyperborea are beyond cold & again the Iceland analogy fits here quite well. This means that the people here in 
the village of Rashtan are fodder for any of the horrors of AS&SH. These people don't need a miracle they need adventurers fast! HM6 also sinks rather nicely with N3 Destiny of Kings which we've covered on this blog as a counter adventure to book end adventure & campaign events. 
HM6 The Equinox Demon by Todd Hughes is a perfect beginning adventure for AS&SH. The module has all of the classic AD&D elements but all of these can easily be turned into a get up for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. 

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