You have been chosen.
Throughout the land, the omens of some cataclysmic change are clear for all to see. The flowers are blooming out of season, fish fall like rain, and a blue moon hangs in the night sky. Yet the danger is not of this land, nor even this world. Far away in the infinite planes lies Aelos, a world of peril. A world where time itself has been corrupted and where chaos reigns.
Even the mighty Immortals who watch over the planes are powerless to help Aelos. Hope rests in you alone.
Come then, journey through the swirling Nexus, to a world beyond the stars. You have been chosen, and Eternity beckons!
CM6: "Where Chaos Reigns" (1985), by Graeme Morris, is the sixth adventure in the Companion-level series for Basic D&D. It's copyrighted May 1985, but it was actually published around October 1985.
From TSR UK. TSR UK is best-known for the U-series (1981-83) and UK-series (1983-85) adventures, but they also did work scattered across TSR's other lines in the mid-80s. Most notably, they created several Basic D&D supplements, from O2: "Blade of Vengeance" (1984) to AC9: Creature Catalogue (1986).
About the Cover. Neanderthals riding war mastodons!? Yep, and it's even in the adventure.
The Return of Science Fantasy. "Where Chaos Reigns" focuses on a technological group of peoples called the oard, who have conquered the world by traveling back in time to keep both the major races of the world and (perhaps more importantly) magic from developing.
Because of their futuristic basis, the oard introduce science fantasy into "Where Chaos Reigns." Science fantasy was heavily used in D&D in the 70s, but had largely faded away in the 80s. However, it was now making a resurgence in Basic D&D through CM4: "Earthshaker!" (1985), this adventure, and the DA series of Blackmoor adventures (1986-87).
Morris offers a rather unique take on these science fantasy elements, though. He gives complete rules for oardian science fantasy devices, and he uses equivalent Basic D&D monsters to represent science fantasy monsters. Thus, a "power robot" is statistically identical with an "iron living statue"; a "maintenance robot" is an obsidian golem; a "purple chemical" is a green slime; and so on.
A Different Sort of Companion Play. Many of the Companion adventures focused on politics, intrigue, and warfare. This one leaves politics and intrigue behind - yet it does include War Machine warfare in the third part of the adventure, "Bronze & Iron." Otherwise, the adventure replaces these standards with an epic adventure that's worthy of Companion-level play: The PCs fight for the fate of a world itself, traveling through time from the distant past to the far future.
A Massive Campaign. While the main adventure book is only 24 pages long, it packs in a huge amount of campaign play. Perhaps that's not surprising given the fact that the adventure covers five different time periods. However, even within those time periods, the text is tight and provides many overviews that will get filled in through play. As a result, "Where Chaos Reigns" probably represents one to two dozen sessions of actual play; in those terms, it's one of the longest Basic D&D campaigns available.
The UK Feel. Because of the epic scope of the adventure, "Where Chaos Reigns" is pretty heavy on plot (and largely a railroad - albeit a beautifully described and imagined one). This sort of plot-heavy adventure was rare at TSR in the 80s until after the publication of Dragonlance (1984-86). Yet it wasn't so rare at TSR UK, where most of their adventures had well-considered plots that were integral to the adventures.
Expanding Aelos!? Rather surprisingly, "Where Chaos Reigns" is not set in Mystara. Instead it uses the same formula as X2: "Castle Amber" (1981): the players are whisked away from Mystara to another world, and then returned at the end of the adventure. It's a bit of a pity, really, as marching through the epic scope of Mystaran history would probably have been fabulous for players of the setting. Unsurprisingly, some fans have worked to make "Where Chaos Reigns" fit into the Mystaran setting. The Vaults of Pandius has one of these adaptations, suggesting how the maps, locations, and time periods of the adventure could fit in the world of Mystara.
There is one actual connection between the two settings: the caveman-like "garls" from "Where Chaos Reigns" reappear in DA3: "City of the Gods" (1987).
About the Creators. Graeme Morris was one of TSR UK's star writers. He authored or contributed to the first five modules in the UK series. After that, he spread his wings and went a bit further afield, contributing to multiple game lines, including the Basic D&D line, where he authored or coauthored X8: "Drums on Fire Mountain" (1984), CM6: "Where Chaos Reigns," and B10: "Night's Dark Terror" (1986).
Two of TSR UK's other core writers - Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher - are credited with work on the storyline of "Where Chaos Reigns."
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 email@example.com.