June 21, 2012 by deadorcs
With DnDNext using an old adventure called, “The Caves of Chaos”, it was easy for me to take a look through my own archives for classic modules I might want to run; either during the ongoing playtest OR when the game is complete. One of my favorites is a group of adventure modules collectively titled, “Scourge of the Slave Lords”.
In these adventures, a group of heroes has to rid the local region of marauders that have been raiding the coastal towns and capturing slaves. However, the slavers are highly organized, and so the heroes have to infiltrate various strongholds of these slavers, defeat them, rescue slaves (if possible), and find out who is behind the campaign of terror.
Originally run as tournament modules at GenCon in 1980, the adventures are designed to be fairly difficult, rewarding groups that use ingenuity with their environment and their party’s resources. This is especially true in the last module of the series, “In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords” where the party is stripped of their weapons & gear and tossed into the caverns underneath the slavers’ city.
These modules aren’t a cake walk. While they’re not deadly in the “Tomb of Horrors” sense of deadly, as infiltration scenarios, a party can become quickly overwhelmed if they don’t use subtlety and misdirection. There’s nothing good about defeating some pesky ghouls, and then opening the door to find that EVERY GUARD HAS HEARD YOUR BATTLE. That said, I love the modules because the aforementioned danger of being caught allows for awesome opportunities for hostage negotiation, subterfuge, and desperate moments of bravery.
As far as game play goes, this series of modules is linear, as one is designed to progress to the next. However, within each module, enough territory has been laid out, that the experience actually becomes more sand-boxy. Do note, however, that this is the result of additional information provided in each of the module’s publication form. As tournament modules, they were pretty linear.
One of the things I enjoyed most about these modules (and for a great deal of the modules that were set in the World of Greyhawk), is that each of them contained additional creatures. At the time of their original publication, unless you had a subscription to Dragon or White Dwarf magazine, the only real source of new monsters was your own head or adventure modules. Of course later, many of these monsters found their way into compendiums such as the AD&D Fiend Folio or the AD&D Monster Manual 2.
This brings me to something I’ve wanted to talk about for awhile concerning DnDNext. We’ve heard for several months now that the design of DnDNext will be “modular”. Every time someone suggest a rules grouping, someone else says, “I hope that’s a module.” By that, these folks generally mean a “piece built to snap into other pieces interchangeably”. For me, this isn’t what module means AT ALL. I’m sure this will label me as a serious grognard, but Module (in reference to anything DnD) is a short name for “ADVENTURE MODULE”. That’s right. Modules are ADVENTURES. Can we call these new rule “things”, “SUPPLEMENTS” instead? I like that better. Do it for me, people. Do it for…AMERICA (or Europe, or Africa, or Australia, or China – where ever).
HOWEVER, despite the above rant, there is a way that we can combine these two uses of the word module for DnDNext. What if each adventure module also contained a supplement to the rules? For example, in the Scourge of the Slave Lords, each of the modules had additional monsters. I want this in my future DnDNext adventures as well. At the same time, if an adventure like, “In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords” comes along, throw in a rules supplement regarding the Underdark. Or how about this example? Say you’re really hankering for tactical combat rules. Why not release an adventure module that takes place at a gladiatorial arena. That way, you not only provide the players (and DM) with an exciting new adventure, you also introduce new rules at the same time? This could be done with almost every rules supplement I can think of.
If you get a chance to pick up either “Scourge of the Slave Lords” or any of it’s component adventures, “Slave Pits of the Undercity”, “Secrets of the Slavers’ Stockade”, “Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords”, or “In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords”, please do so. You’ll find the adventures great fun (or at the very least), excellent fodder for your own campaigns.
Also, you’ll get to fight these guys. (Many thanks to Ms. Sloane for providing the awesome Aspis Drone image).
My name is Randall Walker and This Is My Game.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the writers of these various modules. Many of these names you’ll certainly recognize: David Cook (Slave Pits of the Undercity), Harold Johnson & Tom Moldvay (Secrets of the Slavers’ Stockade), Allen Hammack (Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords), & Lawrence Schick (In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords)