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CM2 Death's Ride (Basic)

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Description:

A King's Commission leads to danger!

All communication with the barony of Twolakes Vale has ceased. King Ericall, worried about the security of his border and angered at the loss of tax revenues, has commissioned you, a delegation of powerful adventurers, to investigate. This is not a petty problem to by solved by the armies of local nobility. Indeed, the king's forces are desperately needed elsewhere. Twolakes Vale is, after all, only a small barony on the far frontier of Ericall's domain.

And yet? The cloud is there, its nature and cause unknown. None have returned for the barony for weeks. Furthermore, the cloud is spreading, and vague reports of unrest and mysterious disappearances are starting to trickle in from nearby baronies.

Can you discover the secret of Two Lakes Vale?

*****

Product History

CM2: "Death's Ride" (1984), by Garry Spiegle, was the second Companion-level adventure for Basic D&D. It was released in 1984.

About the Cover. JB at B/X Blackrazor notes that while there is a blue dragon in the adventure, no one ever rides it as is shown on the cover.

Not a Typical Companion Adventure. Companion adventures tend to have more of a focus on politics and warfare. In "Death's Ride," however, it's apparent that TSR hadn't yet settled on that format; instead, it reads like a high-powered Expert adventure.

Players are presented with a mystery and given a sandbox to explore in the form of the wilderness surrounding the Barony of Twolakes Vale. Somewhat inexplicably, the wilderness is laid out on a square grid, rather than the much more common hex grid, but beyond that it's a fairly typical wilderness; high-power encounter areas are scattered across the map.

With that said, there's some focus on new elements from the D&D Companion Rules (1984); there are, of course, new spells and new monsters. The rules also encourage the PCs to wrestle with each other at one point, highlighting a new Companion ruleset. Finally, the adventure suggests the use of the War Machine rules for a particularly large battle.

Expanding the Known World. "Death's Ride" introduces the Barony of Twolakes Vale to Norwold - the Mystaran setting of the Companion- and Master-level D&D adventures. The Barony is actually described in pretty good detail, including not just its dominion stats and a big map, but also information on numerous NPCs.

Unfortunately, "Death's Ride" doesn't actually note where Twolakes Vale is located within Norwold. The Vaults of Pandius has placed it in "a small valley nestled between the Icereach and the Mengul Mountains, in the southern part of Norwold." Other fan sites seems to agree with this.

Expanding the Outer Planes. "Death's Ride" also introduces the Sphere of Death, an extra-dimensional realm that's not quite an outer plane, but which is said to be the source of death and entropy.

More information appears in the D&D Master Rules (1985), which state that the Sphere of Death (or the Sphere of Entropy, the preferred name) is one of five Spheres of Power - the others being Matter, Energy, Time, and Thought. Together they comprise the entire multiverse.

You wouldn't realize from reading the Master Rules that the Spheres are physical places that things can travel to and from - but based on "Death's Ride," that's apparently the case. The five Spheres of Basic D&D thus form a pretty big addition to the game's cosmology, one that you won't find in AD&D. 

About the Creators. Garry Spiegle worked at TSR, writing supplements for several different RPGs, from 1983-84. "Death's Ride" was one of his last publications from TSR before he jumped over to the short-lived Pacesetter and co-authored the Star Ace RPG (1984).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and 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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Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
-
October 1st, 2013
Death's Ride is one of a few adventures I have had the privilege to both play and to run. While overtly for the D&D Basic rules, Companion set, it can be run (and we did) under AD&D. Though some of the special features were lost I think. The Barony [...]
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Product Information
Author(s)
Artist(s)
Pages
32
Edition
1.0
ISBN
0-88038-117-5
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9118
File Size:
8.01 MB
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File Last Updated:
July 15, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on July 16, 2013.
Publisher Info
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast
Publisher Average Rating