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CM1 Test of the Warlords (Basic)

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The king requests your presence in the honorable kingdom of Norwold. If you're worthy, you may be appointed lord of a dominion filled with friendly villages, sturdy fortresses, and raging band of monsters.

Raging bands of monsters?

Well, yes, and you may have to lead your forces into a war or two. But you'll be ready for the challenge. You'll be ready for treacherous spies who conspire to steal you land. You'll be ready for a foul band of giants that raids your dominions. And you'll be ready for the inevitable clash of empires, the outcome of which may alter the fate of millions. You'll be ready! Won't you?

Test of the Warlords includes a complete campaign setting, several new NPCs, and dungeon and wilderness encounters, and guidelines for running a war between empires.

*****

Product History

CM1: "Test of the Warlords" (1984), by Douglas Niles, was the first of nine Companion-level adventures for Basic D&D. It was published early in 1984.

A Basic First. With the release of the original J. Eric Holms D&D Basic Set (1977), characters topped out at 3rd level. The Zeb Cook D&D Expert Set (1981) upped that maximum level to 14th. However, it wasn't until the Frank Mentzer BECMI series for Basic D&D (1983-85) that players got the opportunity to rise any higher. "Test of the Warlords" was thus the first Basic D&D adventure ever for 15th-level characters, following in the footsteps of the D&D Companion Rules (1984).

A Campaign Adventure. This adventure describes itself as a "campaign adventure," something that had never previously been seen in the Basic D&D line. Though it has individual encounters, "Test of the Warlords" is intended to act as the skeleton for an entire campaign that will last roughly two years of game time.

Supporting the Companion Rules. Just as the D&D Expert Set changed the scope of the Basic D&D game by moving it from the dungeon into the wilderness, the D&D Companion Rules similarly moved adventures into a political setting. In particular, it introduced two major new game systems: a "Dominion system" that allowed players to run their own kingdoms and the "War Machine" mass combat system that let them fight great battles with armies. 

"Test of the Warlords" supports both of these new rules systems and thus shows a new direction for Basic D&D adventures. It lets players claim their own dominions - to be the focus of many future "CM" adventures - and it uses the War Machine mass-combat rules both for super-high-level encounters and for an oncoming war.

Expanding the Known World. "Test of the Warlords" is perhaps the most important Basic D&D module for the evolution of the Known World. It introduces the "vast lands of Norwold," to the north of the Expert level D&D world, including the kingdoms of Alphatia. It also revisits Thyatis, which was briefly mentioned in X1: "The Isle of Dread" (1981) and now appears as a rival to Alphatia.

Norwold would be the setting for most the "Companion" and "Master" level adventures, moving away from the traditional "Expert" lands near the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Alphatia, Thyatis, and their conflict would be better described in Dawn of the Emperors: Thyatis and Alphathia (1989) and would remain important into the 1990s, past the original run of Basic D&D adventures.

Mark Bertenshaw notes that some of these primordial details of Alphatia and Thyatis that are found in this adventure are later contradicted by Dawn of the Emperors, including the age of the two countries. "Test of the Warlords" also claims that Alphatia is secretly the empire of Atlantis, something that's repeated nowhere else in the literature on the Known World.

About the Creators. Niles was the co-author of the War Machine mass-combat system in the Companion Rules, and thus it's natural that he makes use of it here. He'd also coauthor CM3: "Sabre River" (1984) later in the year, but most of his 1984 was spent on other game systems like Indiana Jones and Star Frontiers.

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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Customer avatar
Shannon S September 22, 2013 5:59 am UTC
I love this setting! It is a truly wonderful game. I have a hard copy. The whole CM line is awesome. But this is my favorite setting of them all. To both run and play in.
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Product Information
Copper seller
Author(s)
Pages
32
Edition
1.0
ISBN
0-88038-116-7
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9117
File Size:
31.77 MB
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File Last Updated:
July 02, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on July 02, 2013.
Publisher Info
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast
Publisher Average Rating