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UK4 When a Star Falls (1e)

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Description:

The power of prophecy is given to few. Wise are they who guard this gift well, for those who thirst after such knowledge are not always men of principle.

Bastion of destiny, the Tower of the Heavens stands silhouetted against the star-studded night sky. From within his darkened observatory, perched like an eyrie on the highest turret, a figure in white charts the course of a shooting-star as it disappears behind the snow-capped peaks of the Tegefed mountains. The old man smiles grimly to himself; the event foretold has come to pass!

Power, glory, riches - it takes years to acquire them. The uncanny accuracy of their predictions has brought all these and more to the sages of the Tower of the Heavens. But what is hard to win is often easier to lose, and the future of the tower now hangs in the balance.

Product History

UK4: "When a Star Falls" (1984) is the fourth UK-series adventure. It continues Graeme Morris' work as the newest UK author and was released in 1984.

Introducing the Union Jack. "Star Falls" was the first TSR UK adventure to place a Union Jack flag next to the UK code on the cover. This was probably because the TSR UK authors were now also producing Basic D&D adventures, the first of which was X8: "Drums on Fire Mountain" (1984), and a new way was needed to identify all of the production of the TSR UK office.

In all, nine major products from TSR UK did not feature the Union Jack: the Fiend Folio (1981); the little-known AD&D Fighting Wheel (1981); the first six adventures, U1-U3 (1981-1983) and UK1 through UK3 (1983-1984); and AC9: Creature Catalogue (1986), which was one of their last releases.

Improving Graphical Design. This was the first UK adventure to show an improved graphic style; the introduction nicely integrates graphics and text, while running heads mix images and quotes. Some of the adventure's other layout work probably continued to trail the work done at the TSR US office, but these graphic design elements were more innovative that some of the graphical work being done in the US.

Introducing the Memory Web. Almost everyone who's read this adventure talks about its unique introduction. There are no rumours in a tavern here. Instead, players kill a memory web (a monster) and get images from the monster's last victim imprinted on their own brains! (An adventure ensues.)

The UK Feel. As continued to be the case in Graeme Morris' UK adventures, this one features a strong plot. That plot overlays a pair of "find quests", where players must first locate a fallen star, then some smiths. Nonetheless the plot is intricate and well-considered (and probably Morris' best work to the date). Machinations among the sages that are at the heart of the adventure also produce a richly textured setting of a sort not very common in the time period.

As usual, this UK adventure pulls monsters from the Fiend Folio, though other than the svirfneblin, most aren't that important.

Not Quite the Underdark. Though not explicitly set in the Underdark (which was still two years from being created), large lairs for derro and for svirfneblin feel a lot like the Underdark (and could be used in that context).

Not Quite Greyhawk. Where the previous six TSR UK adventures had been set in Greyhawk, this is the first one that instead has a generic setting. It's somewhat surprising that it's not placed in Pelinore, the official Imagine magazine campaign setting that debuted in #16 (July 1984), right around the same time.

The rest of the UK series would be generic as well, though one of them has since been moved to Greyhawk.

About the Creators. Though Grame Morris authored this adventure, Phil Gallagher, Tom Kirby, and Graeme Morris all get credit for "storyline", showing off how collaborative a lot of the work was at TSR UK.

This adventure was also the first to credit Jim Bambra, who had both playtested earlier TSR UK adventures and reviewed them for White Dwarf magazine. Bambra was the last member of TSR UK's star team of adventure writers to arrive. In this first adventure, Bambra only did production work. His first published work would be UK6: "All That Glitters..." (1984).

About the Product Historian

The 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 shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

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Product Information
Copper seller
Author(s)
Artist(s)
Pages
32
Edition
1.0
ISBN
0-88038-123-X
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9120
File Size:
24.64 MB
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Scanned image
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File Last Updated:
March 11, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on March 12, 2013.
Publisher Info
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast
Publisher Average Rating