CM 1 Test of the Warlords and other Companion modules

I'm considering running a campaign based on the old Companion-set adventure CM 1 Test of the Warlords, with the PCs carving out new dominions and dealing with high-level threats and wars and such. I'll probably use a lot of the core material from Test of the Warlords, ported over to 3.x and with some modifications and adjustments and such.

I have Test of the Warlords, but I'm considering picking up some of the other adventures in that series as PDFs. But I don't really want random high-level adventures that aren't really connected to the Norwold setting-- I have a copy of CM 8 The Endless Stair, and while it might be a fun game, it won't help me run this campaign. Does anyone know which of the other Companion modules are tightly integrated into the Norwold setting and the "setting up new dominions" premise? Are any of them particularly good, so I should definitely get them, or alternately no good at all?

Does anyone have advice on running these modules from their experience?
 

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ScottS

First Post
From what I recall, 2 and 3 are more "Norwoldian" than the others because they involve rescuing dominions from various bads. 4 takes place entirely within one "dungeon". 6 is a time travel adventure on another planet... I never ran any of them, but based on the reads I liked 3 and 6; 2 and 4 were OK. (I don't remember any of them being especially terrible, but then again it's been 10 years since I've looked at them.) I don't think any of them specifically involved using the War Machine rules, or anything of a "Norwold-shaking event" nature like the end of CM1. They may have had Norwold references sprinkled about, but overall they were somewhat setting-neutral, because you were supposed to be able to plop them down in/around a PC's dominion regardless of where that was.

I'm trying to stay non-spoilery, but if you want more detailed summaries I can do that.
 

Thanks, that's very helpful. I wouldn't mind spoilery things-- I've asked my players to stay out of this thread, and I suspect that most people reading it would be aware that they might hit spoilers (or you could spoiler tag it). It looks like for what I'm interested in, 2 and 3 are the real possibilities.
 


S'mon

Legend
CM3 seemed very Norwoldy to me.

In some ways I think CM1 might work better in 3e than in BECMI. A 45 hp BECMI Frost Giant doesn't look much of a threat to a 15th level BECMI PC to my mind; a 3.5e Frost Giant might well threaten an equivalent (ca 10th?) 3e PC.
 

Yeah, I'm thinking that I'll start the players at right around 9th or 10th. The frost giants should be scary, but also within the range of what the players can fight (at least if they are clever). I may tone down the numbers a little, or make sure they split up-- an army of thousands of giants may be too much of a threat in 3e. But hundreds should still work.

9th or 10th is also convenient because it means that Raise Dead and Revivify are available for the random deaths in combat sorts of things, but that assassinations that require a Resurrection can still take out (or at least require serious work to get a Res) a character.

It sounds like CM3 is the must-buy if I run this campaign.

Thanks Triskaidekaphobia for the M1 reference. I happen to have that one (for little apparent reason). It does have some useful stuff, but a lot of it is, as you say, a wee bit beyond the scope of a Norwold campaign. :) I read that as a deliberate transition from Companion to Master level play-- it starts off with Companion style, domain and mass combat stuff in the region of the PCs' dominions, but then it leaps into outer planar weirdness and focuses on conflicts among Immortals, which I think of as the core of Master-level gameplay as conceived of by TSR.
 

ScottS

First Post
Death's Ride:
[sblock]A nearby NPC dominion drops out of contact with the outside world. The PCs go to investigate; it turns out the entire place has been crushed by an undead army. The party roams around the dominion destroying the invaders. (I don't recall if there was a specific justification for the PCs not being able to just march their army over, other than the time pressure of trying to beat the bad guys before they eat more helpless townsfolk etc.)[/sblock]

Sabre River:
[sblock]A river running through one of the PCs' dominions was the site of an ancient Teutoburger Wald type battle (with I believe the Alphatians playing the part of the Romans). The defeated commander cursed the river and the land around it, which leads to an "environmental disaster" of sorts in the present day (anyone drinking the water randomly dies, goes crazy, etc.). The party has to figure out what's happening, recover the commander's sword, and stick it into a "tumor" at the source of the river (so at least two major dungeons as part of the quest plus assorted minor adventures).[/sblock]

Earthshaker:
[sblock]Gnomes bring a giant steam-powered robot to the PCs' lands as part of a travelling circus. The party gets a guided tour of the inside of the robot; while they're there, an evil party (+ minions) infiltrates the robot and tries to steal it. PCs have to figure out what's going on and stop the baddies (again, don't recall how much limitation there is to the party teleporting in/out, whether there's any time pressure due to the baddies possibly sending the robot on a rampage, etc.). This one is sort of problematic in that it's obviously somewhat more 'whimsical' than the others, e.g. the pregen characters are all sort of old-and-fat-yet-still-capable Watchmen types (the wizard in particular is so senile that he has to be continuously led around by a low-level apprentice).[/sblock]

Where Chaos Reigns:
[sblock]The PCs get "volunteered" by the Immortals to save another world. The far future of this world is somehow corrupted by a high-tech civilization, which uses time travel to intervene in their distant past and make the future world "less magical" (usually by strengthening human nations and eliminating non-human races in some fashion). The party gets taxied through the various historical eras when these interventions took place, defeating the baddies at each step and transforming the world into something more D&D-like the further they go.[/sblock]
 
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S'mon

Legend
Yeah, I'm thinking that I'll start the players at right around 9th or 10th. The frost giants should be scary, but also within the range of what the players can fight (at least if they are clever). I may tone down the numbers a little, or make sure they split up-- an army of thousands of giants may be too much of a threat in 3e. But hundreds should still work.

I think hundreds is more plausible anyway. Given that frost giants are 15' tall and live on the frozen tundra, I wondered how thousands could sustain themselves in one place. Mastodon burgers, maybe.

I think CM1 should work very well with PCs starting at 9th or 10th under 3e rules. Their magical resources should be powerful but not overwhelming.

Edit: How about hundreds of frost giants commanding thousands of human barbarians (who are mentioned in CM1)? If the human minions are enslaved and ill-treated that raises the possibility of interesting politics as well as hack & slash, with smart PCs inciting a mutiny among the slave tribes.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'm considering running a campaign based on the old Companion-set adventure CM 1 Test of the Warlords, with the PCs carving out new dominions and dealing with high-level threats and wars and such. I'll probably use a lot of the core material from Test of the Warlords, ported over to 3.x and with some modifications and adjustments and such.
I'd love to see your notes when you are finished; this is one of my favorite adventure modules of all time.

For the mass combat, are you going to convert all of the forces over to the Chainmail rules, or crib together your own rules?
 

I think hundreds is more plausible anyway. Given that frost giants are 15' tall and live on the frozen tundra, I wondered how thousands could sustain themselves in one place. Mastodon burgers, maybe.

SNIP

Edit: How about hundreds of frost giants commanding thousands of human barbarians (who are mentioned in CM1)? If the human minions are enslaved and ill-treated that raises the possibility of interesting politics as well as hack & slash, with smart PCs inciting a mutiny among the slave tribes.

I agree on the plausibility point. CM1 (and lots of the subsequent Mystara stuff) has some unnecessary and silly big numbers. ("Alphatia is ruled by a council of 1,000 wizards, all of whom are MU36." Really? It had to be 1000? And they all had to be 36th level? A council of 200 wizards, all over 20th level wouldn't have been crazily bad-ass enough?) I plan on toning some of that down, trying to keep the cool and the feel but not have my players thinking, how is that imaginable?

Re enslaved human minions: that is an awesome suggestion. I'm very likely to crib that. Making Frosthaven a more complicated area with minions and internal structure and the possibility of revolts makes that much cooler, especially because my players won't want too much hack'n'slash.

Clever, I'm probably going to crib together my own mass combat system-- fairly abstract, with the players mostly A) doing strategic level movements and B) doing "special mission" type things to get a little extra edge, and the rest of the battles resolved with a quick set of dice rolls.

I'm happy to post my notes such as they are after I run it, assuming that I do run it, but I often have very cursory notes, so they may not help much-- I have a pretty good memory and rely on it a lot when GMing. I might also swing a storyhour, but no promises.
 

Evilhalfling

Adventurer
I really enjoyed CM1 and CM2
CM2 in particular had a great breakdown of a barons dominion expenses and staff that filled some holes in the rules. CM3 I remember as just dungeon crawls, with a few hooks or side notes on how it effected the dominion's owner.

I actually ran a Galantri campaign that started with players getting a land grant and stole liberally from CM1 for ideas and CM2 for rules. Lasted about 6 months but was remembered for years.
 

Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
The players in my OD&D campaign just passed 15th level not too long ago, and I've been running them through CM2 and CM1 (in that order, since I had to drop clues in Twolakes Barony as an incentive for the PCs to travel to Norwold). Instead of Mystara, though, I set these modules in my own campaign world, which is Victorian gaslight. The Alphatians got replaced by my setting's version of the British Empire, while the Thyatians were replaced by a Spanish Habsburg/Holy Roman sort of empire. I just dropped Twolakes Barony (the setting for CM2: Death's Ride) inside the borders of the second empire, let things run their course, and by the time the players had taken out the gate to the Sphere of Death, they were 17th level, and itching for the voyage to Norwold! Last session, they finished the land-grab for dominions, recieved their titles from King Ericall, and started attracting settlers. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out--especially since the player characters are a tinker gnome and a raptorian.
 

S'mon

Legend
CM2 - I don't have this, sounds like I better go looking on Ebay.

Those of you running or prepping CM1, please keep me posted here! I acquired CM1 a few weeks ago and I'm considering running it in 3.5e rules with PCs around 10th level. I've been running a 3.5e campaign since July, currently the PCs are only 2nd-3rd level, and my current campaign is planned to run to around 9th (using old Basic and Expert modules BTW, plus some C&C ones!), concluding with X5 Temple of Death. So CM1 is potentially an excellent follow-on and I've sketched in how it fits into my new campaign world.

I agree strongly about the Mystara 'excessively big numbers' problem. Thyatis for instance had an island with a couple hundred 36th level Magic-Users. Meanwhile a couple hundred miles from Thyatis city (pop 600,000) lies the unexplored wilderness of the Dymrak forest to the west, and the sparsely populated Alasiyan desert. I GM'd Mystara for a good few years to ca 1045 AC and it ended with a golden age ruled by a unified Empire of Thyatis-Alphatia; Thincol's daughter married to Eriadna's son. Now I'd much rather use CM1 in a different, more rugged and lower-powered setting, where there's no 1,000 36th level Magic-Users just over the horizon.

My ideas for using CM1 - I am setting Norwold to the north of the current campaign area. My setting resembles early medieval Europe, with Norwold taking the place of Scandinavia. The major powers are:

1. "France" (Arda) - the France area resembles France pre-Battle of Tours/Poitier; wild and disunited, with several minor kingdoms. The current campaign area is a large valley north of the 'Pyrenees'. This area could become unified into a strong power.

2. "Russia" - currently off-stage, the Grand Kingdom of the Rus is a new, rapidly expanding power in the east.

3. The Church of Baphomet - the bad guys, a Satanic religion which dominates large swathes of the world, including 'Spain' (Kalara) and 'Britain' (Alba).

I have basically two possibilities. Either:

1. The PCs unify 'France' in my current campaign and go on to settle Norwold, in which case the rival 'Thyatis' empire could be either the Rus, the 'British' Alban Baphomites, or both.

2. 'France' remains weak and disunited, or is conquered by the Baphomites, in which case the Rus are the good-guy settlers of Norwold, and the British/Alban/Ardan Baphomites are the villains.
 
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phindar

First Post
This is weird, but I'm also prepping "Test of the Warlords" for my 3.5 game. I'm going to start the PC's out at about 6th level and run it up to 10th, adjusting the rest of the module accordingly. (So I probably won't be using all 2000 frost giants.)

What sort of dominion rules are you thinking about using, if at all? I'm hoping to make the dominion running be a fairly large part of the game, even if we handle the bulk of it in downtime. I picked up Classic Play: Strongholds and Dynasties, and the Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe and Silk Road, and the old D&D Companion Set (although the pdf of that was only $4) and hope to boil those down to something usable. (My group has been playing a lot of Settlers of Catan, so that has had an influence on us as well.)

I haven't really thought about it, but it seems like you can justify almost any number of frost giants in Frosthaven based around fishing and whaling. Being Cold subtypes, they can dive into the frigid seas and hunt with spears. This is separate from any sort of crop that can grow in arctic conditions (being a fantasy game, we can add ice-pears and ice-apples, or edible lichen) as well as the higher-fantasy idea that certain subtypes can subsist on their elemental link; like a red dragon who lairs inside a volcano or a frost giant who resides in a glacier, they might require less sustenance due to their connection to the site. Food for thought, so to speak.

I am admittedly a bit of a wonk, but I'm hoping that the economics and management plays as much a part of the game as the adventuring. I haven't looked at any of the later modules in the series, but I might pick them up depending on how the game goes. One thing I haven't really looked at what sort of-- if any-- mass combat rules I'll be using. But I'm going to reserve the big combats for later in the game, so it's not something I have to look at right now.
 

S'mon

Legend
Dominion rules - In principle I like Mentzer's Companion Set dominion rules and War Machine mass battle rules a lot; because they support roleplaying rather than become a game in themselves (Fields of Blood, I'm looking at you). Mentzer's actual numbers for income seem way too high, though, except for very sparsely populated territories in a Calfornia Gold Rush type situation. The Rules Cyclopedia's recommendation of only 1 resource per family, and resources by hex, are a partial solution, as is eliminating the "10 gp worth of Service per family per month" rule.

Actually, for a real feudal feel I find the best approach is not to give the PC any money, or just a token amount with which to equip his personal guard. Real power comes from getting subordinate nobles to fight for you.
 

S'mon

Legend
This is separate from any sort of crop that can grow in arctic conditions (being a fantasy game, we can add ice-pears and ice-apples, or edible lichen)

I have trouble seeing frost giants farming their pear orchards or lichen fields, though. Something like the Lapps' reindeer herding, only with woolly mammoths, might be ok, though.
 

Evilhalfling

Adventurer
Dominion rules ... Mentzer's actual numbers for income seem way too high, though, except for very sparsely populated territories in a Calfornia Gold Rush type situation. The Rules Cyclopedia's recommendation of only 1 resource per family, and resources by hex, are a partial solution, as is eliminating the "10 gp worth of Service per family per month" rule.

I nver had a problem with domion income, mostly because so little of it is in cash, and so much money is needed for dominon improvements
i don't give pcs enough money to fund a country out of thier own pockets.
both my players for a dominion game cut taxes to increase immigration.
 

crash_beedo

First Post
Dominion rules - In principle I like Mentzer's Companion Set dominion rules and War Machine mass battle rules a lot; because they support roleplaying rather than become a game in themselves (Fields of Blood, I'm looking at you). Mentzer's actual numbers for income seem way too high, though, except for very sparsely populated territories in a Calfornia Gold Rush type situation. The Rules Cyclopedia's recommendation of only 1 resource per family, and resources by hex, are a partial solution, as is eliminating the "10 gp worth of Service per family per month" rule.

Actually, for a real feudal feel I find the best approach is not to give the PC any money, or just a token amount with which to equip his personal guard. Real power comes from getting subordinate nobles to fight for you.

There was an old column in Dragon called 'Known World Grimoire' that expanded Mystara's known world; some of the articles revised elements of BECMI and I know Dominion Economics was one of them - I think there are some posts over on Pandius.org as well.

Cool to see people still using the CM series - CM1 was revolutionary!
 

Delta

First Post
Dominion rules - In principle I like Mentzer's Companion Set dominion rules and War Machine mass battle rules a lot; because they support roleplaying rather than become a game in themselves (Fields of Blood, I'm looking at you). Mentzer's actual numbers for income seem way too high, though, except for very sparsely populated territories in a Calfornia Gold Rush type situation.

Strongly agree. Also, I couldn't deal with the War Machine because it's got lots of wonky effects that don't resemble how normal D&D opponents would match up.

Giants should herd any of the giant/dire animals that have appeared in D&D over time. I like giant goats.
 

phindar

First Post
But then what will the goats eat? (My vote is for the ice-pears.)

My only real beef with the "Test of the Warlords" module (aside from the fact that 90% of the NPCs are fighters, which is understandable since it's Basic D&D) is that I find it unsatisfyingly black and white. When it comes to the NPC lords and ladies, pretty much everyone who looks villainous is, and everyone who looks righteous is. So in addition to adjusting the levels and classes of everyone involved, I find myself wanting to flesh out the peoples and conflicts more as well.

Anyway, when I started poking around for information about Mystara, Norwold and the Known World, these were some of the links that were kindly provided to me:

Norwold Region

Norwold Locations

Monstrous Atlas- Norwold

Economica AC 1015

Collected Articles of Bruce Heard
 

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