Basic D&D B9 - Castle Caldwell & Beyond (TSR9143) 1985

by Hawke Robinson published 2019/08/11 19:36:00 GMT-7, last modified 2019-08-11T19:54:10-07:00
Evaluation of Basic Dungeons & Dragons (BECMI line) 5-adventure module compilation B9 "Castle Caldwell and Beyond".

Overview

To reiterate for some that recently expressedmisunderstanding/confusion, regarding your GM level 1 training, the adventure in the Basic D&D DM's manual is meant for training to learn the game in our training lab "bubble", it is not intended for us to run in our programs outside of our lab/studio. Sorry if I didn't make that clear enough to everyone previously.

For running games in our public programs, another adventure more aligned with our goals and requirements is more appropriate than the DM training adventure in the rulebook. There are a LOT of adventures to pick from the B1 series, but B9 looks very promising.

Some weeks ago I had suggested we look at B9 for the intro adventures of BECMI for new players outside of our "bubble". It has 5 short adventures each potentially playable in a single session.

We'll need to properly play test all of these to make a final determination. I will gladly DM these first during our applied gaming sessions, so we can get a good assessment of each and decide which Tiers to apply which adventures in training requirements and our program offerings.

Adventure #1 - The Cleaning of Castle Caldwell

Clifton Caldwell, a local merchant, has recently purchased a small castle, located a few miles out of town. The castle had not been occupied for some time. Clifton had purchased the castle for a ridiculously high price, since he had always wanted to own one. But when he went to visit his new home,
he found that it was overrun by monsters! He was lucky to escape with his life.

He has hired a party of adventurers (the player characters) to rid the castle of its monstrous inhabitants so that he can move in.

"Each adventure is designed to be played in one session of three to four hours, not including the time needed to roll up new characters."

"The five adventures in this module are designed for a party of four to eight player characters of levels 1-3. The adventures are arranged in order of increasing difficulty."

"The first two adventures are connected, the other three are not. They can be used as a series of adventures for a single party, with all characters beginning at first level, or they can be used independently. It is not necessary to use the same Dungeon Master or the same group of player characters for all five adventures. If a party of player characters completes all five adventures as a series, each character should reach at least third level"

Evaluation Summary

Taking a look at it, it may be a PERFECT FIT for our programs. While on the surface it looks like "just another dungeon crawl", the first adventure repeatedly states early on, and reiterates in many rooms that most of the intelligent creatures/NPCs want to avoid a fight as much as possible.

If seeing/hearing/encountering the PCs, the NPCs "...like the other intelligent monsters in this castle, will try to escape with their lives and treasure, in that order."

Encounters have a variety of alignments, so the players will have a challenge knowing who is to be trusted or not, it isn't consistent.

Adventure #2 - Dungeons of Terror

This is the second part of the adventure in Castle Caldwell. When the characters cleared out the first level of the castle, they found a mysterious locked room (room 21) that could not be opened by any means available to the party. Clifton Caldwell, concerned about the mysterious room, hired an Enchanter to unlock the door.
The room behind the door was totally empty, except for a trap door in the floor. The windows in the room had been bricked up. The trap door in the floor opened easily, but the area below was totally dark. When the magic-user cast a light spell through the trap door, she saw an empty room with an
opening leading to a corridor. She was not willing to explore further, either on her own or in the company of a larger party. So, Clifton has once again contacted the adventurers who cleared out the castle to tackle the dungeons down below...

Evaluation Summary

Adventure #3 - The Abduction of Princess Sylvia

Evaluation Summary

Adventure #3 for B9 "The Abduction of Princess Sylvia", has some nice political intrigue components, but mostly just ends up being about killing monsters, so unless modified, the second one is not such a great fit.

Adventure #4 - The Great Escape

Evaluation Summary

adventure. Great fun for mature players, and good for teaching frustration tolerance, but inexperienced players could potentially get stuck for the entire session and not have a rewarding experience for hours, so this is problematic and definitely requires an experienced DM's "gut feel" for whether to run it or not. The module includes appropriate caveats about introducing this type of adventure. Once they get out of the cell, there is great sneaking and potential role-play, even at the beginning ideas for fooling the not-to-bright Gnoll jailer.


A LOT of potential for a lot of fun, but definitely have to be careful about the group doing this with. Definitely NOT appropriate to run in any of our programs with incarcerated populations (since the superintendents forbid exactly this kind of material).

Adventure #5 - Sanctuary of Elwyn the Ardent

Evaluation Summary

#5, "Sanctuary of Elwyn the Ardent" has real potential to be a _lot_ of fun and rather tough for low-level party. Would not throw it at first timers, as per the B9 design, it makes a nice peak of challenge. But I would tweak the adventure to be less heavy combat (which it is a lot in addition to a lot of puzzles to solve too), and more role-play than it is written.

Overall Evaluation Summary

The first adventure seems like an appropriate introductory adventure providing lots of options for the players to choose or avoid combat. It is quick to come to action, no long period waiting for events to unfold, has clearly defined adventure parameters, and tests the players in many different ways.

This initial evaluation is only based on skimming through the highlights, and not a thorough read-through or play-through (yet).

At this point I would like to at least run the first 2 adventures for evaluation in comparison to some others for the first adventure in our public programs

So:

  • Adventure #1/#2 so far is the best intro candidate so far.
  • #3 too hack and slash.
  • #4 good for a group that would enjoy a break out of jail type adventure.
  • #5 needs some tweaking but then could be a blast.

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