Day 7 - A Module I Wish I Had Written: X2 Castle Amber by Tom Moldvay
Several somewhat-conflicting interpretations of Kellri's Day 7 module topic immediately came to mind when thinking through the question of which module I wish that I had written:
- What published adventure is so cool that I wish that I'd written it?
- What adventure that I've written do I wish had been published by TSR?---the snarky rejoinder is, of course, "NONE" since then I wouldn't own my adventure anymore ;)
- What unpublished-but-known TSR manuscript/adventure idea do really I wish I had written so that it was, in fact, published?
- What module do I wish that I had written so that the flaws I see in it would have been fixed (i.e., I think I would have done a better job than the original author)?
- What module do I wish that I had written that I haven't written yet?
So, for the purpose of answering Question #1, I think that I'll go with WG4 Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, since it add so much interesting lore to Greyhawk (despite it being the bald-faced "you must buy the Fiend Folio to run this adventure" con that it is), and has a fabulous atmosphere that is the culmination of the various lost and forgotten temples to Chaos and/or the Elder Elemental God in Gary's other works. However, WG4 is not the answer to the question for the module that I'm addressing in today's topic, it is...:
Why I Love X2 Castle Amber by Tom Moldvay
The short answer is that don't, in fact, love X2, but I do love several of the pieces within X2, in particular:
- The Wilderness of Averoigne: Averoigne is probably my favorite Clark Ashton Smith setting (although I'm also very fond of Hyperborea and Zothique too), and I wish that Tom's entire module was devoted to Averoigne's environs. Some quick resources if you're interested in designing this on your own:
- Eldritch Dark, the home for CAS on the web
- Worlds of Cthulhu issues 1, 2, and 3 (Pegasus Press, 2004, 2005, and 2006) feature the Averoigne setting for CoC; they're out of print, but worth tracking down
- Some excellent discussion at ODD74, Dragonsfoot, Hill Cantons, and Beyond the Black Gate
- The Indoor Forest encounter: I'm not sure why, but this always reminded me of A1's Cemetery encounter on level 1 (key #8), even thought they're nothing alike. In any event, I like the various new monsters, as well as Moldvay's usual touch to provide a broader palette of encounter types than just combat-solved ones. (Some of the other encounters remind me of ones from Moldvay's Seren Ironhand module series, so I'll need to go back to re-read them later).
- The Puzzle-Riddle-Prophecy To Those Who Would be Free: recovering the four proper magic items to escape Averoigne is fun, and I have a soft spot for multi-part artifact/magic item sets
- The Wild Hunt: In this case, Harry Quinn's frontispiece beats out the front- and back cover art by Erol Otus and Jim Roslof:
The Wild Hunt by Harry Quinn
- The Map of Averoigne:
Averoigne Across the Planes
The right-third of the above image is the work of Thorfin Tait, and both versions of his high-resolution, colorized renderings of Averoigne are worth downloading!
I considered listing X2 under Day 10's topic, but decided that other modules contained much greater problems, and just because Moldvay didn't write the all-Averoigne-wilderness adventure that I wish he had written doesn't put X2 into the same category as other, much more flawed modules!
Three Runners Up
I think I sketched out more possible ideas for this day's topic than any other day during the challenge, with the possible exception of Day 10's Module with Big Problems theme; in any event, here are three other worthies you should give due consideration to:
- Broken Covenant of Calebais by Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein-Hagen (Lion Rampant, 1991; for Ars Magica): a nine-level dungeon (the levels are smaller than those in Rappan Athuk, so don't get too excited) haunted by the ghosts of powerful wizards, and their surviving magical minions; a dungeon that beckons the PCs to solve its mystery
- "The Garden of Nefaron" by Howard de Wied (TSR, September 1981 in Dragon Magazine #53): a two-level dungeon for PCs of level 7-10 to explore; also introduces psychogems, a new psionic magic item (they also later appear in Spells with a Twist from Spellbinder Games)
- WG4 Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun by Gary Gygax (TSR, 1982): what's not to love about the end of the known multiverse should Tharizdun escape his ebon slumbers? I wish there had been more about Tharizdun and his cult in the adventure, which is how I would have written this Lovecraftian classic, inspired by Rob Kuntz's concepts!
My other posts in Kellri's 18 Day Module Challenge:
- Day 6: DMG Monastery Dungeon by Gary Gygax
- Day 5: S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks by Gary Gygax
- Day 4: "Deep Shit" by Jeff Barber
- Day 3: A Fabled City of Brass by Anthony Huso
- Day 2: Masks of Nyarlathotep by Larry DiTillio
- Day 1: Empire of the Ghouls by Wolfgang Baur
- Day 0: These are a Few of My Favorite Things...