Last year, I blogged about four overlooked classic TSR modules I thought you should run as soon as you can. While reorganising Raging Swan Press’s Global HQ, I made a serendipitous discovery that immediately forced me to write this—a somewhat related—blog post!
There are loads of well known high-level adventures: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Tomb of Horrors and so on. Such modules are part of the fabric of the hobby; everyone’s played them. However, in the good old days TSR released scores of other high-level adventures; many are nowhere near as famous as the aforementioned modules. That does’t mean they aren’t good!
For me, though, one old classic high-level adventure stands head and shoulders above the others.
CM 1: Test of the Warlords
Test of the Warlords by Douglas Niles, is my all-time favourite overlooked high-level classic from the good old days.
I ran this adventure twice: once for myself during a long summer holiday (my characters did—unsurprisingly—very well) and once for my school chums. In fact, I love this adventure so much I picked up another copy when my first fell apart.
Designed for the Companion Rule set, the adventure opens when the 15th-level PCs travel to Norwold in answer to King Ericall’s summons. The king wants the PCs to help settle the wild borderland of his new kingdom and he gifts each a small barony.
Without wanting to spoil the adventure—because you really should run it—high jinks inevitably ensue over the following two game years. The PCs are not the only adventurers summoned to the frontier and some of their peers are far from pure-hearted. Of course, monsters already claim much of the borderlands—and they must be subjugated—and even worse than that, the PCs’ domains get caught up in the intrigues and machinations between two great empires.
It’s a great adventure. Think of it as a high-level Kingmaker adventure path. I highly recommend you grab a copy today. Amazingly, as well as being available on Ebay it’s also available at Amazon (which given it was published in 1984 surprises and delights me somewhat).
And the even better news? If you really like Test of the Warlords you’ll be delighted to know it’s the first in a series of linked adventures!
- 4 Overlooked Classic TSR Modules You Should Run
- 2 More Overlooked Classic TSR Modules You Should Run
Already Played It?
Have you already played Test of the Warlords? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Alternatively, is there a better, forgotten high-level adventure out there? Let me know in the comments below!
11 thoughts on “1 Overlooked High-Level Classic TSR Module You Should Run”
I’ve run this twice – it is rare a party reaches this level of experience. My first run was using 1st ed. rules & my second run using 2nd ed. rules. Conversion is relatively simple. This module also ties in quite nicely to the following CM modules; I’m a fan of CM3 Saber River and CM6 Where Chaos Reigns. For my money CM6 is the high-point of this series – it inspired an entire campaign.
Always a favorite of mine. I own several copies, as we used to track the domains on the inside cover map
We’ve got a near mint copy for just £15 in our Winter Sale! http://www.shopontheborderlands.co.uk/product/test-of-the-warlords-cm1-adventure-for-companion-dd/
I encourage anyone in the UK to immediately buy Mark’s copy! It’s a cracking module.
I’ve run it, many years ago, sticking to the 1ed system. I made a few minor adjustments – broke the map down into duchies and made the PCs and NPCs dukes and duchesses, played with the potential queen, added in intrigue and politics a bit closer to the Sparhawk books, included a more visible threat coming from the mind of Lernal The Swill, and set up a much more satisfying end with a far more intense land war. (Completely dropped the whole three witches bit. Made no sense to me.)
Among other things, this allowed my players to play out a wider range of character types and how they would respond to reaching “retirement” age. Two of my players wanted to build keeps, and I had them not only design them and place them, but explain how they would pay for it all. (Dungeoneering only pays so many bills…) Plus we had border disputes between players, and had that in the mix.
Also, this is now available in PDF from online gaming resource businesses. (Approved by TSR/WOTC)
Douglas Niles’ work is all very good in my experience. Not surprised to read that this is a less well-known gem of his.
I enjoy everything that Douglas Niles wrote, whether it be an adventure module or a novel. Great choice, Creighton!
Mr Broadhurst, I had never heard of this module. I saw this article randomly on my Facebook news feed and bought the PDF on your recommendation.
This is phenomenal. I wish I had more hours in the day because this served as the seed for an entire campaign idea, one I am afraid I’ll never have time to run. Thank you for the heads up.
I hope you have as much fun with the module as I did!
DriveThruRPG offer this module(PDF) at a bargin price…
Get it now! … Walts
I’ve got that one! When I came back from the military, many years ago, my siblings had done a number on many of my modules, books, etc. Many survived and I’m happy to say this is one.
It’s truly a test. Fun for the players and DM. Great choice to showcase. 🙂