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X1.5: Dead Men Tell New Tales (2019)

X1.5: Dead Men Tell New Tales (2019) is to X1: The Isle of Dread what Caves of the Unknown was to Keep on the Borderlands. Sort of. B2.5 attempts to naturally blend its content with the tone of the original module. X1.5 is less concerned with that, which might rankle some readers. I dig it.

Broadly, the module adds two islands to the Sea of Dread. One, Forbidden Isle, has a number of important hex locations and a cave complex. The hexes have a good variety — tombs, villages, a temple, a volcano — and a number of NPC factions. The second island, Cursed Tree Isle, is much smaller and really is the stage for one central encounter played out across a couple locations. All of this is interesting and well-realized.

The controversial bit is the storyline, and how these locations are keyed to it. I think it all works quite nicely, but it does push against the emergent storytelling of the original X1. In short, a local big wig’s wife runs off with a swashbuckler. They flee town with a pirate and the PCs are hired to retrieve them (another rival group is also hired, and is distinctly more murderous). The players must track the couple, deal with the multiple messes they leave in their wake and, ultimately, save their lives and figure out what to do with them. It’s a nice little pirate age yarn!

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