H2: The Mines of Bloodstone (1986)

H2: The Mines of Bloodstone (1986) calms the connection to Battlesystem. There are still a couple mass combat scenarios, but this isn’t a box, there are no chits; it is mostly a standard, if unusually high level, adventure module. It’s mostly a dungeon crawl, in fact, exploring the Deepearth laid out in the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide (the module uses some of the rules from that guide, and the wilderness guide, as well; lots of synergy happening here which, I gotta say, is both unusual and surprising for TSR).

The dungeons and caverns are…OK. The monster selection is all over the place. It feels much more like a fun house than I’m really used to seeing from this period of TSR’s history. You’d think it would settle down somewhat at the end, with mostly thematic encounters in a temple dedicated to Orcus, demonic lord of the undead. But no. It turns into a zoo of sorts, a kind of greatest monster hits playlist that includes a frickin’ Tarrasque. And Orcus himself could show up in person, if things go really badly. It’s a lot, but then I guess the module IS rated for levels 16 to 18.

Graham Nolan does the interior illustrations, which are pretty solid throughout. Keith Parkinson cover. Always loved it. I’ve been enamored of the priests of Orcus, with their goat headdresses, almost as long as I have been into D&D. The color palette is classic Parkinson and the composition anticipates some of his later work for Rifts. I also like his skill flex with the mirrored surface of the statue. A+ cover painting.

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