Saturday, April 9, 2016
A to Z of Adventure! H is for High Level / Bloodstone
The H series is an odd one, even in a group that includes a lot of odd ones. There is a connecting story, of sorts; dealing with the interference of Orcus, but there are other things going here.
The first adventure, H1 Bloodstone Pass was for 1st edition AD&D, but was also part of their new Battlesystem mass warfare rules. H2 Mines of Bloosstone is more of a straightforward adventure. H3 brings us back to Battlesystem and finally H4...well, let me get to H4 in just a bit.
H1 Bloodstone Pass 13–17
H2 The Mines of Bloodstone 16–18
H3 The Bloodstone Wars 17–20
H4 The Throne of Bloodstone 18-100
H4 The Throne of Bloodstone was fairly notorious back in the day. It was another adventure I bought and then gave to my DM with screams of "run this!" We ran it the first summer I was home from college.
The basic plot is that all the trouble caused in the previous modules was not just due to a cult of the Demon Prince Orcus, but Orcus himself. In H4 the characters went to his lair in the Abyss and killed him. Ok...where to begin with this one!
Well let's start with that cover.
This is the only adventure in the series that is labeled for the Forgotten Realms. The first, H1, assumed any world. There is Orcus himself coming out of the mouth hell or something (the Abyss really). Oh and the recommended levels...let's see, 18 to 100! 100th level characters?
I have to admit that was one of the reasons why I grabbed this. We had been playing a LONG time and I have many characters well past the by-the-book levels. AD&D at the time really only went to about 25th level, but figuring out higher levels was not that big of a deal. Generally speaking adventures topped off at 20th level.
So I took some characters, right around 20th - 25th level...and a couple of them died right away! This was not an adventure to screw around with.
The other thing you notice with this adventure is that it is long. The module itself is like 96 pages and tons of maps. I seem to recall it took us a while to get through it too, most of the summer I was home from college.
You do get to fight Orcus in the end, as well as Tiamat, Baphomet, a giant Red Dragon, and potentially Asmodeus. It is just a deadly, deadly module.
After this I retired all the characters that went through. After all what was left for them to do?
Fighting Orcus is a theme that D&D would come back to again and again. The HPE series for 4e, especially the Epic modules. In 2nd edition the events of this module would later play out as part of the Dead Gods adventure.
For me, today, this adventure is a template for other high level adventures. While the module said up to 100th level, there are not really many qualitative differences between a 25th level character and a 100th level one. Fighters top off in attacks. Clerics top off on undead turning at 14th level and so on. I was a little disappointed that the AD&D designers did not take a page from the D&D team in this case. At this point in time AD&D and D&D were two different, but similar, systems. D&D characters could go to 36th level and even become immortal. Some of that would have been helpful here.
Much like the E modules, this module is likely to use as a source of material, but not so much as the adventure itself. Still...running it could be a lot of fun.
In truth fighting Orcus is a always a good idea. He is a demon, he wants to destroy everything AND in the E series he desires to become a god. In truth this H series and the E series only scratches the surface when it comes to fighting Orcus. And even if you do kill him there is still the Dead Gods adventure that deals with him coming back from the dead. In fact there are no lack of products out there to let you match up against the Demon Prince Orcus.
This is certainly an end-game adventure, after this buy that castle in southern Nyrond, hang your +5 Holy Avenger over the mantle, hire some Valley Elves to make some wine and kick up your heals and smoke pipe weed to end of your days.