Saturday, May 4, 2013

D&D Classics: A Surprising Source of History and Trivia

Some of you may be aware that some of your favorite D&D classic rulebooks and modules are available online on DriveThruRPG and

However you may not know that the descriptions of some of the products (I haven't gone through them all -- I have a life, really!) have a write-up on their historical significance and some trivia associated with each.

From (WG4) The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, for example, we learn that

Though "Tharizdun" was labeled as WG4, there were no previous "WG" adventures (and never would be). In the Glossography for the World of Greyhawk boxed set (1983), TSR indicated that T1: "The Village of Hommlet" (1979) was meant to be WG1 and that S4: "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" was meant to be WG3. Meanwhile, in Dragon #71 (March 1983), Gygax revealed that the adventure formerly known as T2: "The Temple of Elemental Evil" was to be WG2 - but he now said it was to be published in two parts.

There's more there with some behind-the-scenes history and speculation on what might have been.

This, of course, piqued my curiosity and I check out one of my own favorites from the Mystara collection of modules: (B10) Night's Dark Terror. I found out that:

the TSR UK office wanted to code the adventure "B/X1," making it clear that it was a transition from Basic to Expert. The home office demurred, though, so the adventure went out as "B10" in the US and was stickered as "B/X1" in the UK. The "B/X1" copies of the module are much rarer (though an original printing of the adventure is pretty expensive on the secondary markets in any form).
Furthermore, it also turns out that

"Night's Dark Terror" marks the start of the second wave of Known World creativity, following the period from 1981-1986 when it was primarily the vision of Zeb Cook. The adventure details many of the wildlands of the Grand Duchy of Karamekios and also introduces new peoples such as the ancient Hutaakans and the Iron Ring slavers. It extensively describes several major locations, such as the city of Threshold. A magic tapestry of the lands that appears within the adventure really helps to define B10 as the gazetteer for this part of the Known World. 
No surprise, then, that this module was the major source for GAZ1: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos (1987), which got the second wave of Known World publication really going.
Also, further justifying some of my ripping off of The Enemy Within for my old Mystara campaign:

Authors Bambra and Gallagher both left TSR UK to work for Games Workshop in 1986, where they coauthored Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1986). Ironically, they brought a little bit of "Terror" with them: A map of Sukiskyn from B10 reappears in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay as "Map 7: Typical Farmstead."

Which I suppose ensures that I'll eventually pick up a PDF of this module that I already have in print form... somewhere in my dusty collection of RPG material.

It turns out that this material is written by Shannon Appelcline, who worked on the highly recommended book Designers & Dragons -- a history of the RPG hobby!

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