X3: Curse of Xanathon (1982)

Adventure Module X3: Curse of Xanathon was written by Douglas Niles and features a sweet chimera on the cover. Unfortunately, the biggest illustration in the book features a manticore, with wings, which manticores shouldn’t have, so points deducted.

There’s a lot going on in the scenario. The Duke is making strange proclamations (all dwarves must be clean-shaven!) because he’s under a curse. The party has to do some detective work to find out who placed the curse and how to lift it, as the Duke is needed to lead his soldiers against an approaching army. The detective angle is a novel one, but mishandled – rather than presenting the case organically, with clues scattered in an open world (you know, how mysteries usually are), the detection takes place linearly over five short scenarios. It’s a bit on rails. And short on art, despite some nice smaller illustrations by Tim Truman.

(Look, I know that D&D manticores have always had wings, but I don’t care – it is straight up wrong and I will frown at winged manticores until my dying day and you will never convince me otherwise).

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