Today we proudly introduce our newest product line: It's an OSR Thing! This will be a series of adventure modules for games in the old-school renaissance, beginning with Lair of the Shorlee Wyrm, available on Drive-Thru RPG. Whether it's OD&D, AD&D, or any one of their great retro-clones, these scenarios aim to be as universal as possible (already a feature of the old-school movement) by sticking to D&D's System Reference Document, upon which all others derive. Labyrinth Lord? White Box? B/X, BECMI? There's nothing here a referee can't understand or make use of. Call it the common language early gamers spoke back in the day, the Common Tongue for dungeon delvers everywhere...
What you get with each is a detailed adventure, easily inserted into an existing campaign setting, with seeds for future, offshoot scenarios and original content (monsters, magic items, the works) to extend the product's value and usefulness. Each will be designed for lower, medium, or higher-level parties. Beyond that, the referee will need to read the product and gauge their group, making adjustments to enemy size or strength (hit points) as needed, because with the wrong luck these scenarios are dangerous. We think the referee is in the best position to know the needs of their group and how to challenge them!
Lair of the Shorlee Wyrm gets the show started with this conundrum:
Years ago, a dragon was slain in the Shorlee hills, or so said the one
surviving warrior who made it back, only to succumb to his wounds before the
morning came. But the attacks ended, so
it must have been true. Dead men tell no
tales, and the lone warrior died before revealing the location of the beast’s
lair. Who knows what riches it held; who
can guess what treasures lay unguarded for the taking? There is an old saying in Shorlee: riches lie
not for long, and who knows what dangers – and rewards – await those brave
enough to go in search of them, for the site of the old lair is forgotten no
longer. Its long-sought depths await the
plundering hand of adventurers seeking their glory – or inevitable doom…
If you played D&D in the late 70s through the 80s, those pre-packaged modules were ubiquitous - and pretty damned convenient. Here were adventures you didn't have to make yourself. How cool was that, although I always did prefer doing so. But these scenarios were also instructional, not to mention inspirational. I learned everything I needed to know about setting up a dungeon and nearby settlement from Keep on the Borderlands, the ultimate tutorial for new referees. It was more than that though. The monochrome cover of Steading of the Hill Giant Chief conveyed all the action (and terror) of a combat encounter, proving again that a picture is worth a thousand words - or a thousand games.
D&D promised a pseudo-medieval, semi-silly storybook universe, and these early modules were a master class in how to make it happen. Imagine all the promise of our pastime preserved in amber like a luckless Jurassic insect. Modules are that. It's felt good to step back into my 14-year-old self with the advice of my beloved and capable partner (and indispensable voice of reason), and to engage in the central act of the referee. We stand on the shoulders of every DM who ever made a homebrew adventure, and hope that we can come at least half as close to re-capturing our hobby's spirit. Lair of the Shorlee Wyrm is available as a digital download from Drive-Thru RPG. We hope we got it right...