Cover For M5 - Talons Of Night

M5 - Talons Of Night

System: Dungeons & Dragons

Code: #9214

Type: Adventure

Levels: 26-36

Author: Paul Jaquays

Year: 1987

Publisher: TSR

Format: 48-page book w/tri-fold cover

M5 Talons Of Night - General Review

M5 Talons of Night is the final installment of the Master's series of modules in the D&D Mystara campaign world. A peace summit is called between Alphatia and Thyatis after the various skirmishes that have occured between the 2 empires throughout the Companion and Master level modules. Will the characters be able to help establish peace between the 2 empires or, as stated in the module, will it come to pass that "...the war continues to escalate until all civilized countries under the control of the empires or adjacent to them are involved. Lasting 20 years or more, the war ultimately drains the involved nation's resources, slays most of most if not all of their human and demi-human populations, topples their governments into anarchy and plunges this portion of the world into a dark barbaric age." No pressure on the PCs right?

Part I - The Quest For Peace

An ancient artifact has been lost to the forces of entropy for many hundreds of years. Known as the Periapt of Pax, the immortal Koryis is working behind the scenes to prod the adventurers to travel to the Isle of Dawn, under the guise of the Peace Accord, but truly to free the Periapt from the clutches of the Sphere of Entropy.

Stalking Shadow

The adventure starts with each PC receiving a mysterious offer to buy their domain. That is immediately followed by a summons from King Ericall requesting the presence of the PCs at court, ready for travel. Once the PCs arrive, they are told that they are being sent to the Isle of Dawn ahead of a peace accord. They are instructed to search for an ancient agreement between Thyatis & Alphatia regarding the ownership of Norworld and The Isle of Dawn. After harrassment by a nightwing during the ocean journey, the party finally arrives at Helskir - the actual site of the meeting between the 2 empires. The characters must now travel to Edairo, the location of a great library, where the ancient agreement may exist among the many documents and books therein contained.

Spider Dreams

After arriving in the Egyptian inspired Edairo, the characters have some trouble finding the library, only to be turned away at the door. They must obtain the permission of the Queen of Edairo for entrance. Depending on how that encounter goes, the characters may well find themselves hunted by the city guard. One way or the other, the characters should make it into the library to search the documents for whatever is needed. At some point, Queen Aketheti will confront the PCs in her true werespider form along with several of her offspring. At this point the characters should realize that they indeed need to find the Periapt and free it from the clutches of Entropy.

The Valley Of Kings

After escaping the libary, the clues the players have found should lead them further inland to the Valley of Kings. The party will encounter friendly giants, and during a banquet the compound is attacked (and most likely destroyed) by forces of entropy. The players will have to settle things down with the giants, and then will continue their journey - which has now become both a quest for the periapt and a rescue mission. The journey up the river continues.

The Temple of the Dawn

This is the next destination of the PCs. This section describes the pyramid and how to get inside. Once inside the party navigates the dangers until they meet the current master of The Temple of the Dawn.

The Spider's Web

The Spider's Web details a game that is played between the players and the master of the temple, Ramenhotep X. The game of course is more than just a board game. The players will obtain further clues and insights as to where the Periapt lies and what they need to accomplish in order to free it from the clutches of entropy. This entire section outlines the game encounters. And of course at the end of the game, the party is attacked by a nightwing, a nightwalker and a dozen mummies, while Ramenhotep disappears in a cloud of smoke.

Part II - Against Aran

Foreign Forest

This first section takes the players from the temple to the forest south or Aran, where the spider god awaits the characters. The characters first meet the Phanaton who should hopefully be friendly. When the characters first try heading north to locate Aran, the party discovers that Aran is well guarded by hordes of Araneas - intelligent weapon weilding spider creatures. And unfortunately, the players are sure exactly where Aran is. The Phanaton know of villages of Araneas - but have no idea where Aran itself is. So after 1 or more fruitless attempts to get through the Araneas, the players will have to come up with a new idea.

The Battle Of Many

The new idea is that the players are going to start a war. The Phanaton are all excited about it, and recommend that the players recruit the tree people and the wood people - treants and elves respectfully. While there is a war raging and the Araneas are busy fighting various battles, the players can go in with a small army and search for Aran. After some pitched battles, and various other encounters, Aran is finally located.

She-Who_Dwells-In-Darkness

The Night Spider, a powerful immortal creature, waits for the character party in her lair in Aran. Once Aran is located, it is relatively simple to get to this Night Spider. However, a lengthy pitched battle awaits the characters, in the form of a live action version of the game the party played against Ramenhotep earlier. After the players achieve their victory, the Periapt is theirs, and they can journey back to Helskir for the peace summit between Alphatia & Thyatis.

Part III - Journey Into Night

Night Strike

So now the characters are back in Helskir, with the Periapt, and ready to foster peace across the known world! Except the leaders of both Alphatia & Thyatis have been kidnapped, with each empire blaming the other, and war has broken out between the 2 empires in Helskir. And there was some equipment dropped that belongs to the PCs along with some shapeshifters that looked like the PCs that planted the equipment (that game against Ramenhotep apparently served a deeper purpose). However the characters are quickly exonerated, and tasked with a new quest - save the emperor of Thyatis and the Empress of Alphatia.

There are a series of gates the party must travel through to save the 2 leaders. First they pass through a gate on an island in the middle of a large underground lake in a giant underground cavern. This gate, the gate of Avernus, leads to Thorne. Initially they will make some more allies on their way to the Fortress of Thorns, located on Thorne. They will have to battle a small army led by the Spider Queen, Ramenhotep X, and Aketherti. After defeating this challenge, the characters pass through another gate to the World of Chasm.

The Tower Of Night

In Chasm the players must enter the Tower of Night and solve the Maze of Night in order to enter the gate leading to the Isle of Night. Oh yea, and time is sped up by about 10,000 to 1 on the Isle of Night so the leaders are good and dead for hundreds of years, and since the players are entering realms near the Sphere of Entropy, they are slowly losing their life force and becoming undead creatures. No rush. This sections concludes with the players successfully return of the remains of the 2 emperors back in Helskir on the Prime Plane.

Epilogue: The Helskir Summit

With the time difference, the players can potentially be gone for years, yet still come back only a couple of days after they left. The undead-ness will be removed from them, and the peace summit can begin. In the epilogue, the various interests are represented by the players as they try to come to a deal that will avoid a future war. It shouldn't take too long to wrap the negotiations up - depending on how ruthless your players are. The world has been saved - again.

My Random Notes, Thoughts & Reviews

This is a pretty epic module. I'm glad to be introduced to the Isle of Dawn and all the various interests and settlements there. When I ran this module all the various holdings on the Isle of Dawn and on Norworld were freed. That meant that Norworld could invade The Isle of Man. LOL - that didn't happen. But now I have the information I need, without creating all of it from scratch, to run that kind of campaign if I want.

Nightwings, nightwalkers, nightcrawlers - these are pretty powerful creatures! They can definitely put a dent into PC forces when used correctly.

The time thing and the undead thing at the end where the characters are getting closer and closer to entropy. That was pretty interesting. I don't know if I like either one or not - but it definitely presents something new and different for the players to deal with.

I would require the players to complete some kind of side quest individually for the elves and the treants for them to join in battle with the Phanaton against the Araneas. No idea off the top of my head - but something. Something more than just rolling on a table to determine the reaction of the leaders.

I would also develop a war campaign on Thorne to take out the Spider trio and gain access to the next gate. If not a war campaign then at least a major battle between the new allies of Thorne and the forces of entropy led by the Spider Queen along with Ramenhotep and Aketherti. Yea, a nice big pitched battle.

I'm not a big fan of the game thing that the players have to play against Ramenhotep. And that thing keeps popping up throughout the module. Just not a big fan of that.

There are some rules introduced for squad combat. This serves as a bridge between big battlesystem type battles and the typical individual battling the characters generally perform. If the players are battling 200 orcs, these squad combat rules definitely speed things up. As a DM I'm not looking forward to rolling 200 times - but 20 times split up between the various players - yea - I can do that.

In Conclusion

This is a pretty major module. It is long and some of the areas are kind of glossed over just due to the fact of how big this thing is. There is plenty to do, plenty changes of scenery, plenty of allies to recruit and enemies to vanquish. And hopefully the characters are able to establish peace in the world for many years to come. In fact, according to the module, "peace in this area lasts 1d6 years". 1d6 years? All that for 1d6 years of peace? How about 1d6x10? Ah well, such is Mystara...

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