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2 Posts

S2: White Plume Mountain» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Quirky, deadly and enjoyable rss

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Merric Blackman
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Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
Apparently, Lawrence Schick took the best bits of the dungeons he'd designed, stuck them all together, and gave the result to TSR as a sample document in order to persuade them to hire him. It worked, and his sample document was published as S1: White Plume Mountain, much to his surprise.

It's also one of my favourite adventures of the era. James Maliszewski has discussed the idea of Gygaxian Naturalism, being how Gygax designed AD&D and its modules to be a more realistic world. This is most obvious in adventures such as The Village of Hommlet and Keep on the Borderlands - although the Caves of Chaos have a few too many different monsters living in proximity, it's not completely unbelievable.

When you get to White Plume Mountain, with its collection of turnstiles, inverted ziggurats, cursed wishing rings and ogre magi, the world doesn't look that realistic. However, it's a lot of fun. Astonishingly, despite the deathtraps and difficult encounters, the adventure feels light-hearted. This is a long way away from Tomb of Horrors, which feels a lot more grim.

The hook of the adventure is this: the wizard Keraptis has stolen three powerful weapons from their owners in the Free City of Greyhawk. The heroes need to travel to White Plume Mountain and reclaim them. Keraptis is never seen in the adventure; instead, the group only needs to survive his traps, tricks and monsters.

The module is quite short: 27 encounter areas in 12 pages. It introduces the Kelpie (a malign, shapechanging form of seaweed) to the game. When it was reprinted with a colour cover, it was expanded to 16 pages by putting in more artwork. The artwork in the original printing is by Erol Otus, Darlene Pekul and Dave Sutherland. For the revised version, Jim Roslof, Jeff Dee, Davis LaForce and Jim Willingham add their skills. I really like the artwork in this adventure, which adds a lot to its charm.

However, despite its brevity, it is packed with incident. There are logic puzzles, riddles, strange environments, deception and rather deadly monsters. Fighting a giant crab in a bubble that if punctured will bring boiling hot water down on you? Yes, this adventure has it.

I ran part of White Plume Mountain on my 33rd birthday, and it was a memorable experience. This isn't an adventure to obsess over how to integrate it into your campaign world. Instead, it exists to challenge your players and their characters, and to let everyone have a good time when doing so. You might not always be in the mood for an adventure like this one, but if you are, it delivers the goods.
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Ray Pascalis
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This is one of my favorite modules! Great review! Thanks Have you tried the 3rd edition version? I haven't but I think I'll give it a try soon.
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