05 October 2018

Kellri's 18 Module Challenge - Day 7: X2 Castle Amber by Tom Moldvay

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:

  1. What published adventure is so cool that I wish that I'd written it?
  2. 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 ;)
  3. What unpublished-but-known TSR manuscript/adventure idea do really I wish I had written so that it was, in fact, published?
  4. 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)? 
  5. What module do I wish that I had written that I haven't written yet?
For the most part, I assume that folks responding to this topic are answering Question #1.  Question #2 is an interesting one worth thinking a bit more about, but I think my snarky answer remains on-target for the most part (although I had planned to submit my old "Valley of Pain" wilderness adventure to the RPGA for consideration as a high-level tournament at some point in the early 1980s...).  Question #3, while somewhat convoluted and strange, is the most interesting iteration to me, and I'll return to that concept later after the challenge concludes.  Question #4 overlaps with Day 10's topic, so I'll address it there rather than here, and while Question #5 might be somewhat interesting-ish, it seems rather self-serving, as well as lazy, so it's right out!

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:
  • 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 (from X2 Castle Amber, TSR 1982)
    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:

  1. Day 6: DMG Monastery Dungeon by Gary Gygax
  2. Day 5: S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks by Gary Gygax
  3. Day 4: "Deep Shit" by Jeff Barber
  4. Day 3: A Fabled City of Brass by Anthony Huso
  5. Day 2: Masks of Nyarlathotep by Larry DiTillio
  6. Day 1: Empire of the Ghouls by Wolfgang Baur
  7. Day 0: These are a Few of My Favorite Things...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be respectful and civil in your commentary. Inappropriate comments may be edited or deleted as dictated by the whims of Balo, Chief Jester and Editor for the Lords of Chaos.