N4: Treasure Hunt (1986)

N4: Treasure Hunt (1986) is the stuff, an actual novice adventure aimed at teaching both players and the DM how to play! There are lots of modules that purport to do this (B1: In Search of the Unknown is probably the most well known and gets the job done well enough) but this one is the best of them by a larger margin. It is also, to my knowledge, the only explicit teaching module for AD&D.

The big innovation here is starting players as zero level normies on a slave ship, torn from their regular lives and tossed upon the seas of fate to chart a new destiny. There are lots of guidelines for the DM to determine both class and alignment based on player action. I think this is super novel for starting players (not so much for experienced ones) and it reminds me a lot of the basic philosophy and framework of Dungeon Crawl Classics’ funnels.

The slave ship gets wrecked early on, but the players must find their way through a conflict between two pirate groups (goblin pirates vs. orc pirates is pretty wonderful) before reckoning with other issues on their castaway island. The module is divided into chapters to make it more manageable for new DMs and, perhaps most interestingly, provides incredibly detailed guidance on how players can pull the plot off the rails while suggesting ways to get things back on course. The whole thing is well done and thoughtful — consider it if you’re going to introduce new players to D&D!

Nice, if not spectacular, Jeff Easley cover. Interiors are all Stephen Fabian, still in his stipple mode. <3 <3

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