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Saturday, July 11

Chapter 56: Castle Ambrose - Introduction

This scenario is adapted from Dungeon Module X2, “Castle Amber” by Tom Moldavy. It was adapted for 3.0 rules by Ronald G. Hopkins. I in turn updated it to 3.5 (and tweaked it considerably) for the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

When I realized that one of the PCs would have to sacrifice himself at the end of Tatters of the King, I knew there had to be a way to get him back. The problem is that Carcosa is such a screwy place, few adventures could do it justice. So I searched and searched, and I kept coming back to an adventure that had a direct connection to the Cthulhu Mythos: Castle Amber.

Castle Amber has it all. A horrible tragedy happens in the throne room, trapping everyone in the castle and making them insane? Check. An opportunity to set things right through heroic quests in a strange land? Check. Lots of bizarre monsters, ridiculous traps, and magic items that you’d only find in an old school adventure? Check.

Because Moldavy got permission to add in snippets of Clark Ashton Smith’s stories, there are Cthulhu-esque elements throughout the adventure, scenes I completely missed when I DMed this adventure over twenty years ago. With Sebastian wearing the Pallid Mask and by switching Averogine to Carcosa, I now had my Stranger in a Strange Land.

This adventure is mostly a long slog of relentless battles. I got to play with miniatures and monsters I never normally would use because they simply don’t make sense in most adventures. But here, in Carcosa, everything makes sense and nothing does.

Much to my dismay, I discovered that the original author, Tom Moldavy, passed away the same month we played this adventure. So this story can be seen as our tribute to his work. Tom drew on many sources for this adventure, and I return to those roots in this story hour. You will see references to the fairy tale of the Billy Goat’s Gruff, the poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and the works of Clark Ashton Smith: The Colossus of Ylourgne, The Enchantress of Sylaire, The Beast of Averoigne, and the Holiness of Azedarac. The flashbacks of the play combine Thom Ryng’s King in Yellow with James Blish’s version.

In the end, everything that was done is undone, and a major chapter of the dreaded play comes to a close. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:22 AM


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