Marooned on a barren isle?
The Island of Viledel, the mighty Sea King, was sacked by a pirate army 60 years ago. It's destruction was so complete that even the location of the island was lost and forgotten. Despite rumors of immense treasures still hidden in the ruined stronghold, no one ever found the Sea King's island again
Until now. Through a cruel twist of fate, a small band of unwilling adventurers are washed ashore on a small, barren island, and discovers what remains of Viledel's settlement. But they aren't alone; marauding orcs and goblins have found the island too, and are frantically searching for the lost hoard. In this desperate treasure hunt, the real payoff may be survival.
"Treasure Hunt" is different from other AD&D adventures: The player characters begin the game at 0 level, without choosing a class, and must work their way up to 1st level. It is perfect for a group of beginning players or experienced players looking for a new and different challenge.
N4: "Treasure Hunt" (1987) is the fourth adventure in the novice (N-) series for AD&D. It was published in January 1987.
A 0th-Level Adventure. "Treasure Hunt" was commissioned specifically as a 0-level adventure. It was the first AD&D adventure ever to present general rules for 0-level characters. Uniquely, the GM assignments classes and alignments to characters at the end of the adventure, based on their actions.
Apparently players liked how 0-level characters worked, because in Dragon #129 (January 1988), James M. Ward asked readers what they wanted to see in an upcoming Greyhawk hardcover, and they told him "rules for zero level characters" - even though that had nothing to do with Greyhawk. Ward dutifully included an appendix about 0-level character in Greyhawk Adventures (1988), expanding on some of the ideas found in "Treasure Hunt."
A Truly Introductory Adventure. Though this was the fourth novice adventure for AD&D, none of the others were actually "introductory": That is, they didn't help players and GMs to learn how to play AD&D. Of course, TSR's scant other low-level adventures for AD&D - such as T1: "The Village of Hommlet" (1979) and U1: "The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh" (1981) - weren't really introductory in that sense either. That isn't to say that TSR hadn't written introductory adventures before, but they were all over in the Basic D&D line - particularly B1 through B4 (1978-1982). For "Advanced" D&D, TSR had previously assumed that players knew how to play.
Allston changed that all in "Treasure Hunt" by offering up one of the most carefully written introductory adventures ever for the D&D games. To start with, both the players and the GMs can read some introductory notes on D&D, which matches what TSR did in the early B-series adventures. However, Allston goes far beyond that, advising GMs on how to run their game throughout the adventure text; he talks about everything from addressing questions from the players to timing the game and staging different combats. There's even a two-page appendix on what to do if the adventure starts going wrong.
TSR was probably thinking about introductory adventures for AD&D at the time because AD&D was slowly eclipsing Basic as an entry point for new players. As a result, TSR's publication of Basic adventures began to waver after the publication of B9: "Castle Caldwell and Beyond" (1985), so new introductory adventures were required.
An Episodic Adventure. The adventure is broadly arranged into six ordered episodes, showing the increased focus on plot at TSR in the mid to late '80s. Despite that, there are still three major set locations: a temple, a manor, and a catacomb.
Expanding the Forgotten Realms. This adventure is set on the Korinn Archipelago, which when written as a "generic" location that any GM could fit into his own campaign - just as was the case with the previous two novice adventures (and unlike N1: "Against the Cult of the Reptile God"). However, after the Forgotten Realms appeared the next year, the Korinn Archipelago was officially located in FR2: Moonshae (1987). It was just one of many previously distinct settings that was subsumed into the Realms in 1987-1988.
About the Creators. Aaron Allston got his start in game design working for Steve Jackson Games, eventually becoming the editor of Steve Jackson's The Space Gamer from 1982-1983. He went freelance in 1983, and afterward mostly wrote for Hero Games through 1985. Allston's Lands of Mystery (1985), a Hero Games supplement, got him noticed by Michael Dobson at TSR, who mentioned Lands in an article in Dragon #106 (February 1986). Shortly afterward, TSR got in touch with Allston and asked him if he'd like to write a 0-level adventure for AD&D.
N4: "Treasure Hunt" was just the first of many supplements that Allston would produce for TSR.
About the Product Historian
This history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.