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B4 The Lost City (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2013 16:27:20
Another great Moldvay module. This one is so strange, but so much fun. I remember playing this one in 8th grade and honestly I had a blast. It wasn't though till many years later while running it for my own kids did I see it's Pulp fiction roots. Plenty of great influences can be seen in this from Robert E. Howard to Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith.

To me this one was always on the edge of that B/X divide. Sure it was a B series module, but it could have easily been one of the X series.
Unlike some adventures I played or ran in the 80s I went back to this one appreciated it more now then I did then.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B4 The Lost City (Basic)
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X2 Castle Amber (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2013 16:20:57
This adventure had always been something of a Holy Grail for me. I was a huge fan of Tom Moldvay, I had heard this adventure took place in Glantri and it was full of horror elements. As time went on and I still never found a copy I began to hear more; that it was a crazy dungeon full of crazier NPCs. That it is was more of a thinking module and not a hack and slash one and finally it was heavily influenced by Clark Ashton Smith, whom I always felt was superior to Lovecraft in many respects.

I did finally get a copy, paid a lot for it and I also got a copy here.
The module lives up to the hype. It is not a particularly easy module to run and you better spend a lot of time with it. But for me at that time (the mid 90s when I finally got a copy) it became a great addition to my growing Ravenloft collection. It was not officially part of Ravenloft mind you, but so much of it feels the same that is would have been a crime not to bring them together.

This is one of the last of the truly classic modules.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
X2 Castle Amber (Basic)
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B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2013 14:36:45
This is my "go to" adventure anytime I want to start up a new group or game. It's a ritual for me, roll up characters and run them through the halls of the lost Castle of Quasqueton. I still have my copy that I bought all those years ago and it was also one of the first PDFs I purchased from WotC. I never really expanded on Roghan the Fearless or Zelligar the Unknown save that they were long dead and their Castle was now overrun with monsters.
It is one of those adventures I can run with zero prep time and each time I learn something new or remember something I forgot.
This module is simple, easy to use and can adapted to any campaign world and even any game.
It is a perfect module for the Basic game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
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X1 The Isle of Dread (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2013 14:23:23
Maybe second only to B2 and B1 in terms of numbers of players, but The Ilse of Dread lasts as one of the best Basic-era adventures out there. In today's frame of mind the adventure is equal parts Pirates of the Caribean, King Kong and Jurassic Park. It is a heady cauldron of tropes, ideas and just plain crazy fun. It was included in the original Expert set and it still had expanded maps and more creatures. I never understood why the creatures where not just in the main book, but it did make the module special.
What was so nice about X1 over B2 is you had the feel it was more integrated into the Expert rules; it felt like a logical extension.
I ran it again recently with 20+ years between the last time I had ran it and it felt like a very different adventure. There is a lot of untapped potential here. Enough for several adventures.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
X1 The Isle of Dread (Basic)
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B2 The Keep on the Borderlands (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2013 13:49:04
I once read that more people have played through the Keep on the Borderlands more than any other adventure. Of that I am sure. I have run scores of new players through it myself including a new generation of gamers.

The module hardly needs an introduction and it really is almost immune to review. Who cares that the Caves of Chaos look like some sort of Monster Condo where all these different creatures live together until those meddling humans show up from the Keep.

Going to the Caves is rite of passage. It is the hallmark of a real honest to Pelor adventurer.
If you don't have it you can't really call yourself a D&D player.

Just remember, "Bree-Yark" means "I surrender" in goblin. Yell it out really loud.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B2 The Keep on the Borderlands (Basic)
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B3 Palace of the Silver Princess (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2013 13:41:21
Another classic. B3 has had a storied history, but the module we all actually played has a special place in many gamer's hearts.
For starters it is a Basic module, and lot of material in it is aimed at new DMs working on their craft. While the programmed text of rooms 1 to 6 might look quaint by today's standards, there is a lot of good things here.
For starters the basic premise of the module is a fun one. An Evil artifact, an innocent princess, a dashing rogue on a white dragon. Lots of the cliches of fantasy gaming, but all are played earnestly and not a hint of irony is here.

The module itself is not without issues as mentioned. The map of the castle is enough to drive a sane mapper crazy and some of the NPCs (like the green elf "Protectors") are annoying. But all that fades when you discover the Eye of Arik and destroy it.
I recently re-ran this one for my kids using the D&D 3.5 edition rules. Worked great.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/07/return-to-palace--
of-silver-princess.html

If you are new to the Basic D&D game (B/X flavor) then this is a great adventure to get.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
B3 Palace of the Silver Princess (Basic)
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CM2 Death's Ride (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/01/2013 12:54:10
Death's Ride is one of a few adventures I have had the privilege to both play and to run. While overtly for the D&D Basic rules, Companion set, it can be run (and we did) under AD&D. Though some of the special features were lost I think.

The Barony of Two Lakes Vale gave us ample room to move about and try different things, but the it was the NPCs that captured my attentions the most. Ulslime, Wazor and Korbundar lived on in my games for many more years with both Ulsime and Korbundar even threatening my players in the 3rd Ed. game. One, and I am not sure if he was an NPC in the game or one my DM made up, went on to torture my characters for many more adventures after this.

The Death Portal was an interesting bit of necromantic trickery to get the players something to focus on and the new monsters were a lot of fun (the Death Leech nearly took out my characters back in the 80s.)

Calling it a "High level dungeon crawl" is fair, but it leaves out a lot of what made this particular adventure so much fun.
I still have my original copy of this and it holds up well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CM2 Death's Ride (Basic)
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JD1 Cess-Pit of the Bog-Mother
Publisher: UNIgames
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2013 16:38:20
Fun little adventure for characters level 1-3 for your favorite Old-School game.
At just under 10 pages it is perfect for a quick afternoon game. It would work great while travelling to another adventure or in-between towns. The map is repeated in b&w (blue and white) and full color versions.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
JD1 Cess-Pit of the Bog-Mother
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Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
Publisher: F. Douglas Wall Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/24/2013 15:16:10
Ever since I was little, I mean really little, I have enjoyed "The Wizard of Oz". I can recall being about 4 or so and being frightened of the flying monkeys, the Winkies and of course the Wicked Witch. I also remember we had this old copy of the Wizard of Oz book in the house and I remembered how different it was than the movie.

Oz is a fascinating place really, and I was amazed the first time I learned how much of it was there beyond Dorothy and her friends. I learned about names like Mombi and Ozma. I will admit I have always wanted to put a "pumpkin head" in my games largely in part due to "Journey Back to Oz". In my WitchCraft games we also used to call witch hunters "Dorothies".

I think Oz is a bit under rated to be honest. It's not the drug referenced lands of Alice or even the purely fantasy of Peter Pan, it is, in a way, pragmatically American. But it is fertile land as well. It gave us "The Wiz" and "Tin Man" and of course, "Wicked".

So I was thrilled when I heard of F. Douglas Wall's Adventures in Oz RPG.
It is, like the literary Oz, a great game for the younger set. The rules are fast, simple to learn and you can be up and playing in no time at all. They game is also really, really fun. If you never play it, the book offers a good resource to using Oz in your own games.

The game is simple, fast and fun.

If you have kids and want to introduce them to the world of Role-playing then this is a great bet. Just like Oz you get a fantastic land that is kid friendly with characters we all know (or at least, mostly know) and like Oz there is a lot more to this game than seen at first glance.

This is also a great game for adults. I would recomend a game of Oz as a palette cleanser. There are no Tolkien dwarves or elves in this game, but plent of Muchkins, Winkies and Gilikins. There is magic, but it's not the same as all the other games you have played. Plus it is rules lite so Narators and players can get up to speed fast.

All in all this is a great game and worth picking up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
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Fate Worlds: Worlds on Fire
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/23/2013 14:31:29
I will be honest here. I bought this JUST for White Picket Witches and consider it money well spent.
To get all the other settings is icing.

WPW is a perfect setting and really shows off the sort of thing Fate can do well. If you enjoyed The Witches of Eastwick, the short lived Eastwick or even Charmed, the Craft, Beautiful Creatures and any other number of old families steeped in dark magic dramas then this is a perfect choice for you.

Basically you get six "mini" games, campaigns to use with Fate. White Picket Witches is only one of these. Of the others Tower of the Serpents and Wild Blue are great fantasy but Fight Fire really shows off something you can only do with Fate.

Honestly. If you like Fate then get this. You will be happy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate Worlds: Worlds on Fire
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Basic Arcana
Publisher: Tom Doolan
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/11/2013 14:25:46
Full test here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2013/09/review-basic-arcana.h-
tml

The idea of Basic Arcana is simple. Create an "Unearthed Arcana" for the B/X rule system. Via the OGL and OSR this can be done for Basic Fantasy or Labyrinth Lord. The result of this idea from Tom Doolan is this book.

The style is very much in the feel of the old B/X books. The text and most of the art is by Doolan himself, so kudos in that regard.

We start off with some class variants. The obvious parallel here is when the UA expanded the classes demi-humans could take but it also fills a niche. Not all elves use magic, not all dwarves swing an axe. While we can see some of this in ACKs, this has a tighter feel with the B/X design. We get two new races, the Half-elf and the Half-orc and two new classes, the Barbarian and the Martialist.

There are some rule additions including various to hit bonuses, rules for Followers and the Mass Combat rules.

Mass Combat is interesting since it is a backwards evolution of what D&D took from Chainmail.

On the down side I did not see a declaration of open content. The OGL is there, but not the copyright for this book or how much open.

Also while the book feels packed it is only 17 pages total or about 14 pages of text. I am of two minds on this. First the book does feel packed, so a lot was crammed into these 14 pages of text. On the otherhand is $3 too much for 14 pages?

In the end I judged the price fair, but I would have liked to have seen some more. Some special spells for the Dwarf Priest and the Elf Sorcerer would have been nice.

Who should buy this?
If you are a big B/X fan (like me) then there is a lot of value here for your buck. If you play any of the "Basic Era" games then there are things you could use here.

UPDATED: So how is this for service? The document has been updated to include the proper OGL declarations AND a page of new spells!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Basic Arcana
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Knowledge Illuminates
Publisher: GM Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/09/2013 11:01:58
Knowledge Illuminates is a 28 page (24 pages + 1 cover, 1 toc and 2 end pages) adventure for Swords & Wizardry complete, though it could be used with any OSR game.

This adventure is designed to be the start of a campaign or the first S&W adventure.
There is quite a lot of information here in case the players want to go off exploring on their own. There is also a fairly detailed XP allocation chart in back, helpful for new GMs.

This adventure is also released under the Pay What You Want feature. So if you have some spare change and need a good starting S&W adventure then this might be exactly what you are looking for.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Illuminates
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The Mini Manor: Faces Without Screams
Publisher: GM Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/09/2013 10:52:15
The Mini Manor is a free adventure made specially for Swords & Wizardry appreciation day. If you are familiar with the adventures found in the Manor zine.
The adventure is somewhat reminiscent of a horror movie setup but works well.

If you want a good free adventure then grab this.
If you want an idea on how the adventures in The Manor feel like, then grab this.

Note: this publication DOES include the OGL.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Mini Manor: Faces Without Screams
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The Manor, Issue #3
Publisher: GM Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/09/2013 10:46:37
The Manor #3 increases to 32 pages. Though it feels like there is more here than that.
The main article is the Mine of Rot and Disease, a great little old-school adventure. Stats are 1980s era D&D, but easily converted to anything.
The art is fair, but perfect really for the feel of this issue. The maps though are quite nice.

Another poetry slam. It is what makes The Manor unique and I hope it does not go away.

Pog Nog the Goblin is a great little NPC/resource and one I am going to use in my next adventure with my kids.

There are some, self-admitted, dumb jokes. Again, perfect for a zine.
Ending with a new god of Monster Hunting.

If you remember the zines of the 80s (and some of the best ones I remember from the late 80s even) then this a very nice stroll down familiar, yet new, territory. If you were not around then but enjoy oldschool games, then this is also a great find.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #3
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The Manor, Issue #2
Publisher: GM Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/09/2013 10:36:09
The Manor #2 keeps right on going with another 24 pages of material. This one is setup to allow you to print it out and then fold it over and staple it for that "real zine feel", nice, but sometimes I prefer to read these things on my computer. (edited to add: There is a regular version as well!)

In this issue there is Hugo's House of Healing. An encounter/resource.
An inn which would be great to use anywhere and a random table of 20 things you find under the cot.

The inn and Hugo's house (that is Hugo on the cover) take up most of this issue.
One other minor quibble, and this is more me than the zine itself. There is no OGL license. Granted, it doesn't really NEED it (and I am not taking off for it's omission) but it would have made it play nicer with the likes of Basic Fantasy, OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord.

Still though. Top notch effort and results.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #2
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