Come and take a look at one of the most influential low-level adventures of 1st Edition, come take a stand against the cult of the reptile god.
Terror by night! The village of Orlane is dying. Once a small and thriving community, Orlane has become a maze of locked doors and frightened faces. Strangers are shunned, trade has withered. Rumors flourish, growing wilder with each retelling. Terrified peasants flee their homes, abandoning their farms with no explanation. Others simply disappear. . . No one seems to know the cause of the decay — why are there no clues? Who skulks through the twisted shadows of the night? Who or what is behind the doom that has overtaken the village? It will take a brave and skillful band of adventurers to solve the dark riddle of Orlane!
With these words, Against the Cult of the Reptile God calls adventurers to action. Module N1–the N is for novice–isn’t the most innovative module, but it provides a fantastic template for newbies to the game on either side of the screen. Let’s get a quick summary of the Adventure:
The adventure takes place on the border between the Gran March and the Kingdom of Keoland in the western Flanaess. It is one of the most challenging of the early AD&D modules, featuring a mystery that leads to adventures in town, the wilderness and a dungeon. The scenario details the village and the cult’s dungeon caves. The player characters arrive in the village of Orlane, where they are met with mixed reactions. Some villagers are friendly towards the characters, whereas some are distant and others are very suspicious and guarded. The characters realize that something is amiss, and have to find out what. They find that Orlane is being plagued by an evil cult, and the characters have to stop the cult.
It’s a pretty standard format: heroes arrive in town, investigate rumors and track down clues, before setting off into the wilderness and winding up in a dungeon where they have a showdown with a monster whose shadow has been cast over the adventure as a whole. And yet, this one continues to hang on to its place. Part of this comes down to how well it shows off the pieces of its adventure. You can see how the parts of the adventure fit together, but that’s working in this adventure’s favor here. Let’s talk about what makes this work.
For one, the cult itself are fantastic villains. There’s a lot of hidden surprises as players are drawn into the mystery of the cult. They feel like active villains. The encounters aren’t just waiting around for the players to stumble into them, the cult will take action if the players sit around fumbling in the dark, or arguing over how much they’re going to play for a mug of mead.
And, though the wilderness trek is exactly what you’d expect, it’s a fantastic template for the “journey to the dungeon” and you also find all kinds of ways to set tone and mood for the showdown. There’s a lot happening in this adventure, and it’s well worth checking out, especially if you love stories where there are hidden cultists, and a lot of action waiting. It’s an adventure meant for novices, so it’s got a lot to teach if you’re new, and is a fun piece of D&D history otherwise.