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Author Topic: Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso  (Read 4428 times)

EOTB

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« on: April 07, 2019, 07:27:41 PM »
A lich's sanctuary tumbles through astral space, proof from anyone powerful enough to pose a threat. For reasons unique to the DMs campaign, the PCs are enlisted to travel the astral and penetrate its interior.

Did I mention it's for levels 2-3?

Low level adventures suffer from the funnel effect. Not the death funnel, but the possibilities funnel: the ratio of the game system a DM can bring to bear in an adventure is necessarily reduced for low-level characters, for their practical preservation; increasing again as levels come.

Many DMs favor tried-and-true foes at low level - pass the humanoid gauntlet to level 5, with some splashes of color here and there. This adventure takes the opposite tack - contriving a narrow reason requiring adventurers of meager levels to ply the exotic playgrounds of the mighty and powerful.

B2 is remembered for teaching many DMs how to run the game with its structure and advice. In addition to the scenario at hand, this module takes a similar wide view towards teaching what is presumed a DM without much experience running planar adventure; removing the mystery from their eyes while advising how to maintain it in the eye of the player.

It does all of these very well indeed. If the party makes it back (and even if they don't), I guarantee the players will remark on this adventure long after it is finished. The orc holes from before and the lizard men swamps after ever contrasting with this trip to the light fantastic. Anthony's module is vivid and compelling; even the journey through the astral looking for the entrance is composed of encounters a DM will look forward to running; demons and devas, monks and anti-paladins. Once the final location is reached, reward only falls to groups negotiating all of tactical, social, and mental challenges with aplomb in 3-d environments.

Did I mention that Russ Nicholson contributed some art?

One aspect of Anthony's writing I really appreciate as a DM, is the understanding that low-level play is littered with save-or-die, and yet most DMs employ mundane deliveries of a mechanic which is already scaled to the ultimate price: dead is dead. Would you rather your character have died from a centipede bite, or by an inky black sword wielded by an anti-paladin cutting your silver cord?

Which is the stuff of whoa?

The lich's home is a series of seven chambers linked by magical sands of time. In addition to each room being its own challenge, different objects, or how well PCs solve various puzzles and obtain info, will open up different chambers. It's likely there will be some loops back and forth among the chambers before players deduce the end-path. The rooms are dense with information to uncover, so I expect these loops to result in further discovery as opposed to mere annoyances.

But PCs who think decisively and quickly in the final room may escape with both their lives and such riches as to fund any new group objective they could imagine. Or they could die.

There are four new spells for use on the astral plane, and an equal number of new magic items. These are very well done, and worthy additions into a DM's campaign world. I especially liked the spells Incubus Fire and Hag Ride; the soul resonance weapons and potion of rapturous visions are magic items likely to enter regular use outside of the module proper.

The new monsters are likewise itching to be ran; nightmares from Somewhere Else. I especially like how the Cniopuhr is equally fearsome to the paladin lord and the prestidigitator.

Other high points:

The pudding oracle is memorable non-combat
The useful formatting of monster stats for encounters
The art is evocative. It isn't art-heavy, but every piece works.
The interaction between the guardians' attack form, and the time PCs have in the final location

One part that didn't click with me:

The 5th area: it seems to me the PCs end up on a balcony immediately, and I don't see any reason why they would leave it from that point, which seems to negate many of the room's hazards.

Of the hazards mentioned, they are largely environmental and long-developing, but it would seem the room would destroy this environment every time it operated. I feel like I'm missing something, here.

FINAL VERDICT

Buy it, the value is undeniable and entertainment factor high. It might change your perspective on what's possible for low-level parties.

Link to blog/point of sale below.  


https://www.thebluebard.com/blog-1/zjelwyin-fall-release-day
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 07:03:48 PM by EOTB »
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JeremyR

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2019, 10:49:29 PM »
This reads more like a press release than review
http://osrnews.blogspot.com/ All the news about OSR products I can scrape up, including a weekly roundup of new OSR stuff at RPGNow

Spinachcat

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2019, 04:02:23 AM »
This is very interesting. Thanks for the review.

The link is good stuff too. Even more details and some pics. Nice stuff.

I do love the idea that Only the Meek can enter as the reasoning for the adventure.

I fully agree that low level adventures deserve to be more than Orcs and Rats. It's something that I appreciate from DCC's funnel concept where you see several 0-level adventures that would normally be for 7-9th level PCs in other games.

mAcular Chaotic

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2019, 02:37:10 PM »
You sold me on the product. Can this be adapted to 5th edition D&D well?
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

EOTB

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2019, 02:54:33 PM »
Someone else will have to answer as to 5th edition.  I'd presume so, but I'm lucky enough that I've never needed another D&D ruleset than the one I've always used, and so can offer no commentary from experience.
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mAcular Chaotic

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 08:47:22 PM »
I'll take my chances on converting it.

Is this the kind of adventure that you complete in one night, or ten? How long does it run?
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

mAcular Chaotic

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2019, 10:46:06 PM »
I went ahead and bought it. Giving it a read over, my impressions: it sounds just as good as the review made it out to be! My only difficulty is imagining what some of the descriptions are trying to convey with some of the esoteric rooms. It's a bit hard to actually figure out what it's saying. I have no idea how exactly the first room with the black cubes is set up. There's sand, and a tunnel, and black cubes... this isn't necessarily the fault of the module, as I noticed a lot of "old school" modules take this writing style where they pack in a lot of floral description that is hard to parse into actual meaning without taking some leaps of faith. But I want to know what it's -supposed- to be.

That and parsing old 1E stat blocks or whatever they are. It lists AC, so that makes sense. But then it also lists THAC0. Which is it? I bet I can convert 1e AC to 5e AC by just flipping the numbers, ie., an old school AC of 5 is just a 15 AC in 5e. (Subtract it from 20.)
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

EOTB

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2019, 03:11:36 PM »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1083392
I went ahead and bought it. Giving it a read over, my impressions: it sounds just as good as the review made it out to be! My only difficulty is imagining what some of the descriptions are trying to convey with some of the esoteric rooms. It's a bit hard to actually figure out what it's saying. I have no idea how exactly the first room with the black cubes is set up. There's sand, and a tunnel, and black cubes... this isn't necessarily the fault of the module, as I noticed a lot of "old school" modules take this writing style where they pack in a lot of floral description that is hard to parse into actual meaning without taking some leaps of faith. But I want to know what it's -supposed- to be.

That and parsing old 1E stat blocks or whatever they are. It lists AC, so that makes sense. But then it also lists THAC0. Which is it? I bet I can convert 1e AC to 5e AC by just flipping the numbers, ie., an old school AC of 5 is just a 15 AC in 5e. (Subtract it from 20.)

I believe you're right about converting THACO, which is simply descending armor class.

Glad you like it!  As for the 1st room with black cubes, the author has a post on his blog play testing it, where you can see how he has set up clear plexiglass stands that the black boxes are "elevated" on to.  It's a 3-D environment, which is why I really like it for the extra tactical dimension.

EDIT - also, I've found Anthony to be very friendly, so if you ask him a Q as a comment on one of his blog posts, you might get all of your questions answered.
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mAcular Chaotic

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Zjelwyin Fall - an OSRIC/AD&D adventure by Anthony Huso
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2019, 03:23:48 PM »
I did check that out and it helped, but it would be nice if the document itself was able to convey the idea. I will take your suggestion though.
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.