Monday, September 21, 2009

TSR's B9: Castle Caldwell and Beyond (1985)

I picked this up on a visit to Ancient Wonders near Portland recently. What a cover! The author seems a bit shy, unless he was seriously cursed with the name "Harry Nuckols". One of the things that appealed to me about it was that it contains five mini-adventures. From the back cover:
  • The Clearing of Castle Caldwell - A local merchant has recently purchased a small castle...but when he tried to move in, he discovered that the castle was already inhabited!
  • Dungeons of Terror - A strange trapdoor in the floor of Castle Caldwell leads to a terrifying challenge!
  • The Abduction of Princess Sylvia - One the eve of her wedding, the beautiful princess has been kidnapped! Can you save her in time?
  • The Great Escape - Imprisoned in an enemy fortress, without armor or weapons, your situation seems hopeless. Yet there may be a way to freedom...
  • The Sanctuary of Elwyn the Ardent - A mystical chime of great power has been stolen - but by whom? In the wrong hands, the chime can cause untold harm! But can you find and defeat this mysterious and powerful creature?
I'm not even sure if that last line fully makes sense to me. Still, check out that front cover! :-) I can't remember ever playing any of these.

I was a little sad to see the pencil and pen marks on the map of Castle Caldwell...but then realized I could easily touch it up in the GIMP. In the process of doing so, I found that a previous DM had discovered an error in the map numbering, and corrected it in pencil. I verified this from the room descriptions, and went ahead and added his correction (seems only fair to share it here).

Update: Just to add that having read through this a bit now, it looks pretty weak...Still might be good for a quick session or two though.


Anonymous said...

Great blog- keep up the good work!

I think B9 was among the worst of the B modules as written. The backstories are hackneyed, the maps are unimaginative (especially the Castle and dungeons), and some things don't make much sense (Elwyn's dungeon and all those bells).

But, that said, I think it's one of the most USEFUL of all the B modules. It's really very easy to use the pieces in a pinch for a bandit hideout, evil temple, etc. And the terrible backstories are, in a stroke of luck, pretty short and easy to ignore totally.

Don't give up on it... I bet you'll be able to use at least part of it one of these days.


Anonymous said...

I picked this up back when first published and used it for some new 2e players. They went through all 5 adventures.

Recently, I dug it out and have used the first four again in Labyrinth Lord.

With a little tweaking they're just fine for simple, basic, quick adventures.

Chris said...

Castle internal room layout rage RISING!

What was it about TSR cartographers (and more recently WOTC and Paizo ones) that they couldn't get their heads around how castles worked? Is it the whole "America has balloon frame architecture, not castles" thing?

(rant, rant, rant...)

Lige said...

@Chris - I'm an architect and a historical architecture nerd and I'm right there with you. But sometimes the blantantly unrealistic game layouts work pretty well for game purposes - sort of a little of the old form follows function. Though in this case where's the courtyard and what's up with the diagonal passage ways?

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