River of Cradles (1992)

River of Cradles, released in 1992, is Avalon Hill’s attempt to collect all the background information from Chaosium’s Prax box sets – Pavis, Big Rubble and Borderlands – into one book. As with other Avalon Hill productions, I find the layout friendlier to my eyes and the Dave Dobyski maps to be lovely. As a replacement for those boxes, though, it is wanting.

There is only one scenario included – Troubled Waters – which takes place along the length of the Zola Fel river as the players attempt to stem an infestation of gorp – RuneQuest’s chaotic answer to the gelatinous cube of D&D fame. It is a travelogue adventure, as much concerned with introducing players to the river valley and its inhabitants as it is providing them with danger and derring-do. It is good, but it simply can’t match the weight of all the scenarios from the earlier boxes, especially the epic campaign in Borderlands, which casts the PCs as a civilizing force for an entire region. You have to appreciate the chutzpa of an adventure that goes all in against giant, acidic Jell-O molds, though.

It is worth noting that even though this book is inferior to the Chaosium boxes, it and every other supplement covering the same ground commands a high price for collectors. Just look up the Gloranthan Classics reprint of Pavis and Borderlands on Amazon if you want to have a heart attack…

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