Cover For M1 - Into The Maelstrom

M1 - Into The Maelstrom

System: Dungeons & Dragons

Code: #9159

Type: Adventure

Levels: 26-36

Author: Bruce and Beatrice Heard

Year: 1985

Publisher: TSR

Format: 32-page book w/tri-fold cover


M1 Into the Maelstrom Module - General Review

This module is set in the region known as Norworld. If the player's characters have been going through the Norworld campaign, then they are probably lords with lands and titles. If not - they are powerful adventurers who have answered a general call that has gone out to heroes to help the King of Norworld - or whatever name you'd like to give it. More specifically, the King of Norworld is having a problem with poisonous gases being sent over the sea. The the Baron of Qeodhar has sent two emissaries demanding that Norworld submit. King Ericall of Norworld is organizing an invasion force to put an end to this attack. Unfortunately, through various treaties, this will ultimately lead to war between Thyatis & Alphatia - the two powerhouse empires in this part of the world. And Norworld will probably be the playground for the armies and will be ravaged as a result.

Character Levels

This module is recommended for characters that at least 25th level with a total of a minimum of 150 character levels. Very quickly characters will be pushed well beyond the original mission and into brand new realms. If they pay attention they can learn something of the origin of the Alphatian Empire on their planet. It seems the Alphatians actually come from a distant part of the sky. There are some very challenging encounters throughout this module and interactions with the Gods truly brings the characters into the high levels of achievement here. OK - enough about the general stuff - how about the game itself? Let's dig into this adventure!

Introduction

The introduction presents the backstory as well as describing the immortals that are working behind the scenes either for or against (or both) the characters. As the characters perform deeds during the various encounters, each of the 3 immortals - representing Law, Neutrality, and Chaos - score points. The points are tallied in each chapter and throughout the adventure to determine what happens at the end of the adventure. In addition to this immortal scoring system, there is also a simple system introduced for naval battles which are almost certain to occur during the module.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 serves as a quick prelude to draw the characters into the main adventure. The characters are tasked with taking the Norworld fleet and sailing to confront the Baron of Qeodhar - and of course to destroy the source of the poisonous fumes that are causing ruin to the Northern part of Norworld. After confronting the Baron, for better or for worse, and determining that he is not in any way involved with the gasses, the chapter ends with the characters descending into a giant maelstrom in the middle of the ocean, which is actually a portal to a distant part of the galaxy, and the original home of the Alphatians.

Chapter 2

In chapter 2, the characters fleet has just been transported to the star kingdoms. In a series of adventures that appear to be inspired by the Odyssey, the characters and their fleet must travel from island to island. The characters are in the ships and float along with the sky winds over vast distances, with the ultimate goal of getting back to a portal which will transport them and the fleet back to their home world. The perils include an island of paradise, a sheep tending gargantuan beholder, a mysterious and immortal keeper of the sky winds, a clan of gargantuan cloud giants, a polymorphing sorceress, a gateway to the underworld, a group of sea hags and a gargantuan hydra. And that is not everything (but close)!! It is a pretty engaging tour that is required for the party to get from the entry point to the center of the large area via the solar winds at a several thousand mile distance. There may be some immortal aid necessary to survive certain parts of this chapter. But that shouldn't be a problem!

Chapter 3

In chapter 3, the characters are now at the stage of their journey where they must travel across the skies of the original kingdoms that made up Alphatia in order to get back to their own world. Only, the kingdoms aren't quite so willing to let the character just cross their air space with a huge armada. None of them trust that the ultimate goal of the characters is to return home, and why should they - an entire armada just suddenly showing up on their doorstep!! There are 3 kingdoms, along with a powerful merchant guild and a less powerful hidden bandit base, some or all with which the charactes will have to interact. Trying to cross any airspace is considered an act of war and the "invaded" kingdom will immediately attack with their full force. Certainly the characters can figure out a way to get across - maybe there will be a huge awesome naval battle involved - maybe not. The stats for each of the corresponding fleets and armies is given in the module, and this is pretty much a free form unless the DM decides on a course for the characters to take.

Chapter 4

The final chapter details the characters armada traveling through the mists and reaching the fume spewing volcano back on their world. The entire journey has been for this - to destroy the volcano and save Norworld! And the characters have quite a challenge! Oh yea - and there is an undead fleet protecting the volcano - and this fleet is pretty damn stout. In fact, the character fleet will probably not win this one. But they can try! Once the naval battle has been concluded, win or lose, the characters find themselves on the volcano itself - time to put an end to this evil plot to throw the world into a lengthy and bloody war! The characters must battle through the underground base in the volcano and put an end to the poisonous fumes. And they'll have to deal with Alphaks - yea - an immortal.

Epilogue

Hopefully the characters win, and peace is restored to the world! Upon a successful conclusion and the utter defeat of the demon immortal, the characters are returned back in time to just BEFORE the armada from Norworld was supposed to set sail. No one else on the planet has any memories of the volcato. In fact, since the characters just went through a time warp, there technically was never any volcano to begin with! And all those dead marines and sailors? Still alive and safe back in their respective ports. All's well that ends well!

My random notes and reviews

DON'T LIKE - I'm starting with one of the last paragraphs in this adventure. Actually it isn't even in the actual adventure, it is part of the Roaring Demon New Monster Description at the end of the module. I read it and I'm like - What the HELL? And I quote:

If the demon survives or if it flees to its plane, several weeks later it mercilessly stalks the party until they are all dead or bound to its will. If this happens, Alphaks becomes a Celestial.
Uh - what? Anyway - M2 Vengeance of Alphaks fully deals with, well, with the vengeance of Alphaks. Why this was even included I have no idea. I ignored it.

DON'T LIKE - At the very beginning of chapter 2 there is this fruit called zzonga that the marines supposedly smuggle on board ships and causes them to not care about life and just kind of chill - kind of reminds me of pot I suppose. Anyway, the DM is told to just have random bad things happen and blame it on zzonga. Um - as a DM - no thanks. Maybe I could create a table that I roll against daily - a zzonga table - where random things are listed out - could be a d100 table even - and these things happen due to this epidemic of fruit that has infested the fleet. But I just ignored the fruit completely. Maybe have an early run in with it and the eradicate it on every boat. These are boats - things can be searched. I just never really liked this twist.

DON'T LIKE - During the entire adventure throughout chapter 2 there is supposedly just this crazy food shortage (except for zzonga) as Alphaks is cursing and spoiling all the food that the party brings on board or creates. What a hassle. I'm sure DMs out there liked adding this extra challenge for the characters to overcome. I didn't and I ignored it. It is an entire ARMADA - there are naturally going to be food shortages sooner or later.

LIKE - I personally like the scoring system for the immortals, the seemingly random aid (or opposition) the immortals supply the characters, and the way the total score determines the ending to the story. Maybe the point system didn't always make the most sense to me, but I still like it. Sometimes the reasons I like things just can't be explained.

LIKE - I like the island hopping approach. Clearly this entire section was inspired by the Odyssey - and that is OK. In fact, the next time I run this I am going to add additional stops along the way. Let your imagination run wild and free! The neverending sailing armada adventure!!

LIKE - I like the 3 kingdoms in chapter 3. Of course I created a very clear path for the characters. In my game, Delthar, the "lawful" kingdom, ask the characters to take out the hidden & secret pirate base as a show of faith and to earn passage across their air space. And yes - it could take quite a while to figure out where it is. However, upon defeating the pirates, the documents mentioned in the module are discovered which exposes the plans of Gammar, the "chaotic" kingdom, to join forces with the pirates and invade Belthar, the "neutral" kingdom. Upon this discovery, Belthar and Delthar join forces with the PCs armada to destroy Gammar. Then the characters go on their merry way - with reinforcements. Not saying this is necessary for your campaign, but this is my approach and I like it.

LIKE - Time warp? Everything back the way it was? I love it! So you can basically kill off the entire fleet, you can develop these intense relationships between the characters and whichever members of the naval forces you want, and kill those guys off. But guess what - they are still alive in the end! Of course they don't remember what happened - actually it never really happened. But the characters can keep their experience, keep their loot, and keep their memories. But that means that everything that transpired between Delthar, Belthar, Gammar, the Merchant's Guild, and the Pirates never happened. I'm cool with that - it is still fun to run it. And maybe one day the characters will get back there - and this time they know exactly where that pirate base is...

LIKE - Immortality! Yes - a path to immortality is opened up to the players. I like that - easy to incorporate and good to go. Now what exactly that means - well - we have to read the rule books!

Conclusion

A decent module with plenty to do along with a very happy ending - if the players are successful - and they will be - right? And it leads directly to module M2 - Vengeance of Alphaks. This being the first module in the M series (not to be confused with the basic M-series of 2 solo modules), and if your campaign made it to these levels, this was a great module to start figuring out what the hell to do with the 26-36 level characters that have been developing. Not to mention that a clear path to immortality is presented at the end, along with a direct tie in to the next adventure! Full sails ahead!

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