X is for X10: Red Arrow, Black Shield, a 1985 adventure module by Michael S. Dobson, using characters and concepts from Dave Cook's earlier modules X4 and X5. I’ve never owned or run X10; it was published long after my home campaign moved to AD&D and its own (non-Known World) setting, and long before I ever considered going back to BECMI and (later) B/X. Having never given it a shot (as a DM or a player), I won’t comment on whether or not it’s any “good” as a module. I will only say that while I really dig the (Cook invented) “Juggernaut” monsters, I’m not a fan of bugbear forces (again! These evil Wookiee are everywhere...even Hule!), and I wish there was some faction using war elephants. I could find no such force upon a quick skim of the module.
The part that’s pertinent to this series is how the adventure interacts with the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. X10 is one of those “campaign changing” adventures, in the same way as Wrath of the Immortals or (possibly) Death Frost Doom. Depending on how the war goes, the entire Known World will be radically changed for good or ill (though it’s still D&D...couldn’t a wish or two put it back the way it was?). As such, GAZ1 (and all subsequent Gazetteers take an interesting tack with regard to X10: they state that the events in the module take place 200 years after the “present day” of Mystara. Specifically:
"This adventure theoretically takes place 200 years in the future of this world. (It was originally written for the current day, but later pushed further ahead in the chronology because of the massive changes that the war described would create.)"
I don’t get this. Why? Because the stuff in the ideas and NPCs in the GAZ are so sacrosanct? Maybe that’s the case...after all the information of Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure has hardly changed after a decade’s distance between it and GAZ1. Anton Radu is still alive (and running the Veiled Society), despite being murdered and outed in adventure B6. Lady Magda Marilenev is still waiting to “snap.” Sacacia of Luln has yet to be knighted (or landed) despite the fall of the Black Eagle Barony and the evidence of Ludwig’s “evil villain” status.
But So What? If you don’t want want the Master of Hule wrecking your joint, just don’t run the adventure! Why make it a part of the “cannon” timeline of Mystara? It doesn’t appear any other adventure is! Is it just SO AWESOME that it needs to be included in a Mystara campaign?
|Now with additional |
What a bunch of rubes they took us for, huh?
If you want to blow up your campaign setting (with it without BS), I say just go ahead and do it. A well-run campaign should be constantly evolving anyway due to the action of the PC adventurers wrecking the joint and blowing up the local economies and power structures. If you don’t want a massive invasion (especially one that includes bugbears and no elephants), then don’t. Personally I like the idea of crushing the Five Shires under the massive stone wheels of rolling juggernauts and making western Karameikos a haven for halfling refugees (flood those Iron Ring slave pens with hairy footed wretches!).
Heck, maybe you’d like to make Hule a nation that worships death and convert the entire invasion force into a massive “army of the dead.” That would be kind of neat, too...if not terribly original.