log in or register to remove this ad


5E Test of the Warlords- A Retrospective


I thought I would start this thread to look at an adventure I suspect most people would not be familiar with.


Its a level 15 Adventure fo the the C part of BECMI the other D&D line that overlapped with 1E and 2E. Broadly speaking there have been 7 editionsof D&D in effect alpha, beta and 1-5 and BECMI is the equivalent of Beta. BECMI went to level 36, the characters are tuned at a lower power level (conversion roughly half level -1 or 2/3rds of an AD&D character). A side effect of lower tuned characers is the game is more playable at higher levels (a level 15 cleric is roughly a level 10 AD&D one), but the game might be a bit boring by modern standards.

High level D&D adventures tend to be rare, they don't tend to have very good reputations either because they suck or no one played them. Not many of the classic D&D adventures are level 10-14 almost none are level 15+. Test of the Warlords is designed to show off a high level character who decides to found a domain, raise an army and basically become a lord. It removes the focus from hack and slash and personal power more towards the political and social side of things, the expert modules were more heavily focused on exploration. 1E AD&D was more focused on dungeon hacks while 2E was more of a toolbox and settings/narrative focus IMHO.

So how does Test of the Warlords stack up. I have not played this module so I will have to rate it on how fun/interesting it is to read. Merric also reviewed it here.

So the basic guts of the adventure is you are in Norwold which is in the far north and is roughly equivalent to the North in say the Realms. There are elements of hexcrawl here and the backdrop is a war between the Empire of Thyatis and Alphatia with Norwold in the middle. If you are familiar with Kingmaker in Pathfinder the basic idea is not to dissimilar. The game includes several level 15 pregenerated characters which is nice as I doubt a lot of players would have characters of those levels. If you bought the PDF now to use with a clone such as Dark Dungeons or the BECMI Rules Cyclopedia you can play. There are 2 fighters, a cleric, magic user, thief and an Elf (Fighter/mage basically). The characters have 31-58 hit points, as I said the power level is lower and none of them have an 18 in their prime ability score and back then a 17 counted as a +2 modifier. ACs vary from 14 to 24 in modern terms, the AC 14 wizard has a whopping 32 hit points. Te old scholl balance mechanism, glass cannons.

The 1st 13/32 pages basically set up the adventure and are almost a miniature campaign setting. If you bought this for 5E it could almost be worth it just for that and the hex maps and it only costs $5.There is a wedding, lots of small encounter, 5 small dungeons and you would probably have to make extensive use of wandering monsters. SOme example of what you can encounter.

AC 23
HD 20 Hp 112
At 3, 2-12,2-12, 11-3 (misprint 3d10?)

8 Trolls

1 large Red Dragon (adult in 5E)

7 Fire GIants


Interesting use of advanced monsters as well such as Gargantuan Gargoyles.

AC 19
HD 32 (twice as many as the large Dragon)
Attacks 4 Damage 4-12, 4-12, 4-24, 4-16

Those low hit point totals start to make a bit more sense now some of these critters hurt. Fairly typical high level D&D stuff, giants, Dragons, Beholders not to different than 5E. There are also 3 hags packing spells as a level 23 cleric (level 13-15 in 5E terms I suppose assuming 5E PCs are around level 11).

You explore, found kingdoms, roll wandering monsters, and then at the end the war starts. There are several armies scattered around the map and you can presumably engage them piecemeal. You also can pick a side, Thyatis or Alphatia (or go it solo IDK). And there is a future epilogue with some adventure ideas.

So is this a bad or good adventure? IDK to be fair I would have to play it I think and there are things you can't really do in 5E and it is designed for a very different style of game modern gamers might not get. I did not play a massive amount of high level BECMI back in the day but we did do some silly things like build an army and invade Thyatis in 1995 or so. The adventure is also a bit bare boned and I think its a skeleton of a high level campaign more than an adventure in the modern sense.

Impressions are its not bad and could be great if you put a bit of work into it as a DM, it would be hard to translate to 5E but you might be able to do it ad hocing and using the old domain and battle system rules. Its not a bad adventure at least in terms of comparing it to the Forest Oracle, several of the Dragonlance modules or perhaps Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Its trying something fairly unique though which does make it interesting IMHO. It was designed 30 years before 5E though and was designed for a very different style.

Recommended Stuff to Try Test of Warlords (even if you want to convert it)



Clone (level 1-36)

log in or register to remove this ad

I have run this adventure in its native system and it was a blast. To really make the adventure click, the players have to really want to invest in their domains and see them grow and thrive. If you have a group that just wants to be wandering murderhobos forever this adventure will NOT be enjoyable. Domain management and the War Machine system were the best parts of the Companion rule set and this adventure showcases those elements well IF you have a group that wants to invest in it. There are still plenty of opportunities to personally kick butt in this adventure but the overall focus is on establishing political power which requires a different level of investment into the world from the players.


Yeah thats what I thought if the players are into ye olde army its good. Noticed that in Kingmaker, not all the players cared about the kingdom side of things. Any stories running this adventure?

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters