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A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords by…
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A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords is the final adventure in the "A" or Slaver series of classic AD&D tournament modules. This adventure follows on the heels of the railroad fest of A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, which ends with the characters captured by their enemies. As one might expect, the characters begin this adventure imprisoned and stripped of their gear. Eventually, they are dumped into a network of sandy tunnels and left as a sacrifice to the "earth dragon". Then the adventure begins.

The players have to try to escape from the dark network of tunnels before the "earth dragon" erupts and kills them. Lacking in equipment, light, or much in the way of prepared spells, the characters are at a severe disadvantage. The bulk of the adventure is directed towards the characters finding or making makeshift equipment and either negotiating with or fighting the motley assortment of inhabitants of the labyrinth until they can find one of the escape routes. Except for the fact that some of the monsters introduced in this module appear to be solely to screw with the players' heads (myconids and sandlings being the prime offenders) and the advice that it is the players rather than the characters who will determine success in the adventure (why does anyone bring a character then?), this portion of the adventure is quite good. Gone is the regimented lockstep railroading of the previous adventures, and except for the time pressure (taking the shape of ominous tremors and rumblings) the characters are free to pursue almost any course of action in their quest for freedom.

Once the characters escape, they have to try to get off the island, a task complicated by the fact that the local volcano has erupted and poison gas and magma are spreading across the island. Amidst the panicked residents trying to escape, the characters can try to confront the Slave Lords for a final showdown and recover their equipment. This seems to me to be a very difficult task, even with the assistance they get from a few unexpected sources - they don't have their equipment, they are probably somewhat beaten up from their experience in the tunnels, and they probably don't have access to much magical support. The Slave Lords, on the other hand, are pretty geared up for battle, and supported by a cadre of minions. It just seems that with the deck so stacked against them, anyone with any kind of sense would let the Slave Lords go to pursue them another day, and take one of the other presented avenues to cross the lake to safety. In some ways, it seems to me like this would be a superior way for this adventure to end in a campaign, as it would leave the probably now hated Slave Lords available as continuing villains.

In the end, this is a market improvement on the previous modules, with only the drawbacks of requiring some of the railroading in the previous modules to make the characters' prisoners (and get them into the set up for this adventure) and a couple of elements that simply seem too stacked against the players, this is an excellent conclusion to the series. Unfortunately, unless a DM is willing to modify the previous adventures, it is quite possible that the players' will have given up in disgust before getting here. However, if a DM can get his players to this adventure, they are likely in for quite an enjoyable time. ( )
  StormRaven | Apr 17, 2009 |
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