I12: Egg of the Phoenix (1987)

Oh, huh. I didn’t realize until I flipped through this to write about it that I12: Egg of the Phoenix (1987) is a super module. It collects the first four of Frank Mentzer’s R-series modules — R1: To the Aid of Falx, R2: Investigation of Hydell, R3: Egg of the Phoenix and R4: Doc’s Island. Sort of. According to Shannon Appelcline’s write up on Drive-Thru, the collection was overseen by Jennell Jaquays, who rethreaded the four scenarios into one long campaign. I have no idea how weird that is—the R-series number among the rarest D&D modules, so I’ve never read them. I’ve no idea if they were meant to be connected, but here we are, with them connected!

No, they are definitely not meant to be connected. The sequence is different here. I gotta admit, the whole thing is hard to parse. There is no real narrative frame to reference, events and machinations just unfold along with the encounters. There is a good deal of political stuff going on that also works to connect everything, but… We start out with a slaver selling zombies with permanent illusions (and killing folks to keep up with demand) and then there are the caves of time and a trip to the domains of the evil elemental rulers (no Cryonax, though, what a rip-off). There are several good environments to explore, mostly a variety of dungeons—caves, crypts, castle, volcano lab, a well-realized cityscape. Individual encounters range from quite good to downright baffling. I don’t understand the final chapter on Doc’s Island at all. I dunno, not having read the source material, I can’t say for sure, but despite a mighty effort, I think Jaquays might have whiffed on this one.

Keith Parkinson cover. Nice. Moody. I like his dim light color palettes, and this is no exception. Tree man is pretty cool, too. Tree wight? I dunno. Interiors are credited to Graham Nolan, but that’s a fib. Nolan’s in the mix, but so is Jim Holloway and someone named Walters and a couple others I can’t quite ID. Such are the perils of anthologizing. Good variety in terms of tone and quality, though.

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