I should point out, for the record, that I don't write AD&D; modules; I write concept modules which sometimes use the AD&D; system because that's the one that the most people play. These are NOT TSR dungeon-crawls and do not in any way use AD&D; except (curse it) for the system. I don't like AD&D; and write for it under protest.

Why the daughter of the chief should wear no trinket

The Ice Queen

Darkness in the New Day


A tale of the river-people

by Philip Anastasiadis and Jessica Tiffin

Dragonfire 1995, AD&D; module, 4 hours, 4 players.

This was our stab at mythic Africa; we raided a whole bunch of African myths and legends, making no attempt at all to remain consistent to any one culture. The characters are variously based on a San hunter, Zulu warrior, Pondo rain queen and Shona chief's advisor. I love this module and am still proud of my part in it.

After the heat of the day, the cool evening air is welcome. Cooking smoke rises peacefully from the grass huts of the village, and only the deep-throated cough of a hunting lion drifts over the darkened grassland. The meal is over; firelight flickers off the faces of the villagers as they sit on the dusty ground around the old storyteller.

He laughs, and takes a deep draught of his beer. "A story, that's what you want? One of battle, and glory, and many spears taken to our enemies to steal their cattle? I tell you, our village is as we know it because of a very different battle, one fought by only a few, and only one of those a warrior."

He settles himself more comfortably, and waits as the gourd of beer is refilled. Behind him, in the dark, a single drum begins a quiet beat.

"Those were the days of Chief Mulaba, the grandfather of my grandfather. In those days, the village served the river-god, as they do now; and, as they do now, they paid him a tribute, that the rains might fall, and that he might not rise up with the river and flood their lands and houses. He is not a greedy god, for the tribute is due only in every fiftieth season of rains, and there are those among you who have lived their lives without seeing it paid. Yet when it is paid, it must be exact: at the first new moon after the start of the fiftieth rains, the river-god demands every bull and heifer born in the village in the previous rains.

"In this year of which I speak, the village gave gladly, as they always did, and it was eight strong bull calves and nine fat heifers which were set aside for the god, for none wished to see the god lashing the river-water to foam with his great coils."

A murmur of fear runs around the gathering as the old storyteller pauses for breath and sips his beer. The drum beats softly.

"It was still three days before the new moon when the terror struck the village. The herd-boys, going out to the animals at dawn, brought the news, running in horror from the pens where the tribute was kept: the animals were not there. Nor could the best hunters and trackers in the village find where they had gone. It was as if the earth had opened and swallowed them up into the underground kingdoms."

The firelight dances, and in the crackle of the flames the listeners can hear the cries of the herdboys, the shouts of the villagers, the weeping of the frightened women.

"All day the village searched, and at evening the chieftain called together his councillors to discuss the disaster. Great was the argument in the chief's hut, and many the disagreements, for the council was in many ways the same then as it is now." An appreciative chuckle runs around the circle of listening villagers.

"And, at last, agreement was reached. No wise man or sangoma in the village could say what had become of the tribute cattle. All agreed, however, that if they could be found, the old witch woman who lived in the great baobab tree, half a day's walk away, could find them, for her powers were great.

"It was clear that the chief must send some of his people to the witch woman, to find out from her where the cattle had gone, and then to fetch them back, for the village's danger was great.

"Four of the chief's people were given this task. Of his warriors, he chose the young man Mbewu, a skilled hunter and warrior whose bravery had been proven many times against the enemies of the village. Of his own councillors, Liva of the honeyed tongue and quick mind, whose thoughts were never on the surface. As a guide, Kogaza, the hunter, whose age and wisdom would give counsel, and whose knowledge of the animals and the spirits was unequalled in the village. And finally, Temana, the young priestess of the river-god, whose powers as a rain-maker were very great."

The four figures stride out of the flickering firelight: Mbewu, a tall and powerful man whose face is simple and honest; Liva, slender and attractive, with a hint of slyness; Kogaza, a small man whose wrinkled face shows a gentle good humour; and Temana, a young girl in whose proud bearing there is a consciousness of power. The old storyteller tilts his flask of beer to catch the last few drops, and the figures dissolve into shadow.

"And so, the following day, when the dawn showed its first faint signs of light to follow, the four left the village, moving swiftly under the guidance of Kogaza, and bearing tribute for the witch-woman, hides and meat and bracelets and a good milk-bearing goat.

"And behind them the villagers moved their herds, their stores of food and their treasures to higher ground, fearing failure even while they longed for success, and waiting in terror and hope for the return of the tribute ..."


by Jessica Tiffin

ICON 1996, AD&D; fairytale adventure, 4 characters, 3 hours.

The apotheosis of my quest to write AD&D; modules that look nothing like AD&D; modules. This looks, feels and tastes like a fairytale. Players who've read a lot of Grimm will have an advantage here. The characters are stock fairytale characters, the situations and problems are solved in fairytale ways. This has entailed rewriting the magic system entirely, something which can only improve AD&D; anyway. Oh, and what character classes? Pshaw.

Once there was a rich merchant who had three sons. The two eldest were fine lads who made themselves useful in their father's business, but the youngest was more fond of wandering about the forests, playing his pipes.

In those days, the King of the country was a wise and just man, who ruled with the help of a mirror which showed him all things in his realm. His only daughter was a princess as beautiful as the moon. But one day a wicked faerie from the frozen North flew down and stole away the mirror and the princess from the King's palace. There was great sadness in the land. Then the king's son, brother to the princess, rode away to the frozen North in search of his sister and the king's mirror. And the months passed, and he did not return.

Then the King issued a proclaimation, that whoever went forth to the frozen North and returned with the princess, the prince and the mirror, would be rewarded with great wealth and the hand of the princess in marriage, should he have a mind to her. And many heroes and lords and ordinary men rode away to the frozen North, and did not return.

Then the eldest son of the merchant said to his father, "Give me food and money and a good horse, and I too will go and seek for the princess in the frozen North." He paid no heed to the sorrow of his parents, but took with him the golden sword which was an heirloom of his house, and rode away. And the months passed, and he did not return.

Then the second son of the merchant said to his father, "Give me food and money and a good horse, and I too will go and seek for my brother and the princess in the frozen North." He paid no heed to the sorrow of his parents, but took with him the silver flute which was an heirloom of his house, and rode away. And the months passed, and he did not return.

Then the youngest son, who was called Hans, said to his father, "My brothers do not return - let me, too, go to the frozen North in search of them, and perhaps I will find the princess." His father said, "Why should you, who are so much less wise than your brothers, succeed where they have failed?" And Hans paid no heed to the ridicule of his father, but put bread and cheese in a satchel. There was no heirloom left for him, so he took the old tinder-box which had always stood on the chimney-piece. Then he kissed his mother goodbye and strode away, whistling merrily, to the frozen North.

And the first thing he met, as he walked through the forest, was a pretty peasant maiden in a torn skirt, sitting by the road and crying most piteously. He stopped, for he was a kind-hearted lad, and asked her why she cried so. And she replied, "My brother set off for the frozen North, and has not returned, and I wish to go in search of him, but none will guide me." Hans said to her, "I, too, seek my brothers in the frozen North - let us go together." And she dried her tears, and they walked on together.

Further along their road, Hans heard cries for help from within the forest; and, going towards the sound, he found a fox, with its foot caught in the snare of a hunter. He released the fox, who said to him, "I know where you are going, and you will need my help; I will go with you." And the three of them travelled onwards together.

And as they travelled, they passed an old soldier, asleep in a ditch. And he awoke as they passed, and called out, "Where are you going?" Hans replied, "To the frozen North, in search of the princess." The soldier leaped to his feet and said, "That sounds like a task for a military man; I'll come with you." Hans said, "With all my heart; and the princess may choose which man she likes best, when we find her." And they all four journeyed on together.

And on the way...

Characters:

Hans, the youngest son of the merchant. A fine young man with a kind heart.
Jorinda, a peasant girl. A determined and strong-willed person.
The Fox, a cunning animal.
The Soldier, a tough old veteran.

A Dungeons & Dragons module set in the 4th Age of Middle-Earth

By Philip Anastasiadis and Jessica Tiffin

ICON 2004, AD&D; module, 3 hours, 6 players.

Sauron has fallen, and the Fourth Age has begun. Gondor has a King again; King Elessar is on the throne with his queen, Arwen of the Elves. Across the Realm the peoples of Middle Earth are slowly recovering from the horrors of the war. Barad-dur lies in ruins, and the remnants of Sauron�s vast army have scattered, driven by the avenging forces of Gondor and Rohan. The Southrons have returned to far Harad, and the black ships of the Corsairs ply the Anduin in the hands of the folk of Minas Tirith and Dol Amroth.

Twelve years after Aragorn�s coronation, the realm is almost at peace. Treaties with Rohan, Esgaroth and the Haradrim are in place; Dwarves and Elves are welcome guests in Minas Tirith, strengthening its walls and filling its streets with song and beauty. However, an army such as Sauron�s is not destroyed in an instant. Orcs, trolls and fell creatures have fled to the corners of the realm, and even now some remain to be tracked and hunted down by Gondor�s guards.

New rumours have come to the White City, a return of a nameless fear. Ithilien, between the Anduin and the mountains of Mordor, is in the wise hands of Prince Faramir and his lady Eowyn, but his work has been mostly in the south, shunning the fell memories of the Black Gate. To the north, the Dead Marshes and the Emyn Muil loom still as places of foul repute, and now there are whispers of something more. Winged creatures are abroad; Elves of Mirkwood report orcish spies in the southern fringes of the forest; there are glimpses of a rider in black. The herds of the East Emnet have been raided on several occasions by parties of orcs, who have apparently crossed the Anduin from the Emyn Muil, returning laden with plunder and the carcasses of horses.

Before dispatching a force to deal with the northern rumours, King Elessar must know more of their truth or falsehood. Thus a scouting party is sent northward, including Riders, Rangers and an Elven archer, all under the leadership of a Guard of the Citadel.

Characters:

Hador, Guard of the Citadel of Minas Tirith.

L�od and Gram, Riders of Rohan, sent as emissaries from �omer to Aragorn.

Bergil, Ranger of the White Company, Faramir�s guard of Ithilien

Artam�r, Ranger of the D�nadan

Gwindor, an Elf of East Lorien, Celeborn�s kingdom in Southern Mirkwood.

NB All characters can be assumed to be able to read and write; ignore D&D; restrictions. All skill bonuses, saves and weapon stats can be assumed to include relevant bonuses, unless otherwise stated.

PLEASE NOTE: we have tried to keep as accurately as possible to Tolkien�s Middle-Earth, which means we have ruthlessly sacrificed the D&D; system at various points. You�ll see this particularly in the drastically reduced spells available to characters, which reflects the almost total lack of casual magic in Tolkien�s world (we�ve substituted extra skills instead). We have also largely ignored things like class weapon proficiencies and skill picks, and have removed or substituted for class skills which are out of place in Tolkien�s characters. Please do not try to wrench things back into normal system channels, it won�t work. If, at any point, you run into a conflict between Tolkien and D&D;, assume Tolkien wins.

A further note: we wrote this module because the recent films should have made the story and the landscapes particularly clear in everyone�s minds. We loved the films. However, there are several deviations from the plot of the book in the cinematic version, and we will have no truck with that. In all cases, the authority of the book, and of Tolkien�s other writings, has been the guiding one. Sorry, Peter Jackson. On the other hand, landscapes and details such as the look of creatures, can mostly be assumed to follow the film, since hey, a strong visual sense of the scene is really helpful for role-playing.


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