CM6 Where Chaos Reigns (1985)
Graeme Morris, Jim Bambra & Phil Gallagher (TSR)
Lvl 17 – 19
A BECMI high level adventure that is close to acceptable. It does everything it can to sabotage itself just before the finish line but somehow at the end of it you have something that is close to good. The all star panel behind B10 and Warhammer Fantasy doesn’t hurt either. How did we get here?
Old OSR guys, especially AD&D guys, have a problem with B/X and its idiot cousin BECMI. The general sentiment appears to be that in the before time, everything was good and dandy and they grazed OSRIC on the plains and there bloomed OD&D as far as the eye could see and then the B/Xman came, spoke with a serpent’s tongue, and took all the land and all the OD&D and soon there was no more OSRIC. As a result High level D&D has gone extinct and now everyone is stuck playing a game that, while certainly playable for a while, will desintegrate at around level 7. This take is more or less correct.
Its all about spells and magic item caveats. The more advanced versions have all sorts of modifiers and drawbacks and caveats that limit and diversify the types of tactics you can use. Spell interruption, system shock rolls for haste, material components for powerful spells, high casting times and the ability to interrupt spells, item saving throws so magic items might get damaged if you use brute force, tiny drawbacks in magic items. In the simpler versions, there is a lot less of that. The monsters don’t have magic resistance and a lot less of the nasty surprises that the game can throw at you, there’s not as many spells. In the early levels you don’t notice that much of a difference, but at about level 5 onward, things start to change, and you will notice the differences in the arsenals of both players and monsters. There is something about the scale too which feels off, where 20 levels have been stretched out into 36 levels so you will regularly find the commander of some army to be a 14th level fighter which seems absurd but we roll with it.
I say this so you understand high level AD&D combat and high level BECMI combat are likely to differ substantially, and high level BECMI is going to be a bit more straightforward and employ more brute force and this adventure reflects that. It is not elegant, it is not even complex. But all that said and done, when CM6 is on (which happens only halfway through the adventure), it is properly on.
The premise of the adventure is very good, and has that indefinable moorcockian vibe that permeates 80s Brittbong era TSR/WD DnD and would eventually congeal into Warhammer Fantasy. In almost all planes, the development of humanoids and magic goes hand in hand and follows certain patterns. In one world the Oard, magic-hating cyborgs from the end of time, intervene in 4 periods of the worlds history to disrupt the development of sorcery so they can retro-actively cause their own existence. The PCs are sent as agents of the Immortals to rid this other world of their loathsome presence. So! Big ideas! Big scale! Terrific art!
There are a number of ways in which this adventure undercuts the power of its own premise. Despite its eternity spanning scope it feels very small and contained, and the heavy railroading funnels into this. The lack of mystery does not help. The PCs see some dire omens and are soon directed to a nearby sage, who neatly explains the plot to them and then invites them into his hut, which contains all the items they might need, before travelling to the far off world of Aelos, which has the same conditions as Earth btw, and also everyone speaks the same language.
There is something to say for not dragging out the adventure but at the same time a build-up, a cryptic hint here and there, a gradual discovery of the Oard menace, first foreshadowed through omens and visions, would have given the awesome premise the gravitas that it deserves. Have the players cast Contact Higher Plane or Commune, use Sages, seek out a portal. Cement the alien-ness of the other world by changing some detail, introducing some complication. Instead, nope! Here you go! Convenient travel to another world, and also here is all your equipment you might need, wouldn’t want you to forget anything!
The PCs are brought to 4 time periods where the Oards have influenced the development of sentient life on Aelos. The first one is the Stone age, the distant primieval past. In a homage to Fire & Ice, the Oards have press-ganged the Garls, a brutish neanderthal-like race, given them the secret of forging metal, and are using them to exterminate humans, elves and dwarves from the region (presumably they have not yet spread very far). They start in medias res when the Garls (who have 6 HD and +4 to damage each, making each tougher then an ogre) are attacking an elven village. If the PCs are slow to intervene, villagers will be killed, but there is no consequence in the form of XP or treasure lost later on. 13 Garls on 13 small rocs, one of them a disguised Oard (in a manner not dissimilar from the Therns in John Carter of Mars), armed with fortified burning oils. Not much in the way of tactics, but something meaty that requires the PCs identify priority targets and smash the rest. Large groups of tough enemies is CM6’s most common solution to the high level problem.
A second problem of CM6 is that it often feels small. The valley has 3 other settlements (treant, human and elf). There is no sprawling random encounter table meaning the PCs will have to wander for days (although there are a few tasteful random encounters that should be used ‘at the GM’s discretion.’ What could have been a massive 5-part odyssey is compressed to fit a single module of 38 pages. At some point the Garls send out a war party to chase the survivors and the idea is that the human and elf tribes find some sort of safe refuge, but as written there is no consequence if they get slaughtered or the PCs simply ignore them and make a straightforward attack. The treants defend their grove against attack and are actually nurturing several Trees of Life, a powerful magic object that in BECMI forms the centre of every community of elves, but again, if the Garls overrun the stronghold, one of the Treants gets away and the Elves still get the Tree. Distasteful Illusionism.
Encounters proper until you get to the fortress look okay, even a bit weak against a high level party. 5 Saber-tooth tigers attack with surprise. That can get a spellcaster if he is not being protected. A combo of ghost + vision (one of these inflicts permanent ageing and can magic-jar and is therefore at least a little scary) in a ruined village is nice, as is the appearance of an ODIC (a bizarre sort of tree-inhabiting undead spirit unique to BECMI) that stalks the party from a distance and employs various unwholesome tricks to fuck with them. 10 6 HD giant leeches, 3 15 HD giant crocodiles? It seems formidable but this all melts away before 17d6 fireballs, 9d6 magic missile swarms and unlimited hasted karate chopping. In a rare turn of events (pun!), powerful BECMI undead have a type of turn protection that allows them to save to resist instant destruction, and in some cases stun the one attempting the turn attempt. The fact such abominations wander the earth is another matter, but in this case the prehistoric world offers a lot of leeway. Only no random encounter table for this era, which is a curious omission considering there is a time-line going all the way to Day 70. A pitched battle with Garl in a howdah riding mastodonts, flying on Rocs and using domesticated Sabertooths and commanded by an Oard is good stuff. What the adventure lacks in subtlety it tries to make up for in large, pitched battles.
The Oards proper are a recurring antagonist throughout the adventure and here too we have something of a missed opportunity. The Oards themselves are quite formidable. They have no magic but they are protected by a force field (giving them AC 0, levitation and elemental resistance), artifical gravity, immune to ESP and resistant to mind-affecting magics and they carry various devices, ranging from gloves that fire rays (3/round as magic missile against AC 9) to self-propelled gemstone bombs (as fireballs) and blasters. The lameness factor sets in when you figure out the characters cannot use them (they require integration into Oard physiology) but a bit of an elegant consolation prize is won when the characters figure out they can at least sell them, as all manner of precious substances are incorporated into them. It probably works but it is all very straightforward, no Telekinesis or disorientation, (almost) no deception just firepower vs firepower.
Tactics are rare, but at least the Garl stronghold is provided with some. The type of WG4-style complicated muster, with fallback points, flanking, auxilliaries and traps, that’s too much to ask. But! A simple description. The Garls don’t bother to guard their stronghold very well beyond a gate and a high wall. There’s theoretically 60 humans you can free but they don’t do anything and freeing them nets you no reward. This will not be an infiltration, this is an invitation to cut loose, levitate over the walls and cloudkill/fireball everyone. A note on how many rounds the Garls need to respond to an attack and, say, man the walls would have been exceptionally useful. As written, dividing them into groups with set locations should require SOME amount of tactical finesse. Treasure is a crude necklace of uncut gems worth 33.000 gp ‘somewhere on a ledge in a cave’ and a few jars of ointment. Another missed opportunity, there are no major hoards, making everything feel small. After this you can either elect to return immediately to the second period or you help escort the refugees to a new safe haven. Actually doing this nets you a nice reward (some sort of amulets worth 4.000 gp) but more importantly, the amulets help you recruit the elves to your cause in another time period.
A weakness of this section and most of the adventure is that very often people are threatened but there is no game benefit to saving them, no XP or other reward. It would have been possible to make this and the following so that saving people in the first two sections provides some sort of benefit in the mass combat section in Three. These sort of time-travel shenanigans are almost expected, but here they are employed exactly once, where getting the amulets from rescuing the villagers helps you recruit the Elves in section III. It feels like a missed opportunity.
Section II: Forge of Power
Among the weaker sections but there are some high notes. A Hephaestion, a powerful giant with near total control of fire, iron and the forge, has created the first Forge of Power (the Dwarven clan relic) and wishes to bestow it on the dwarves. Instead the Oards, in the guise of the messengers of the gods, convince him he should kill the dwarves instead. So it is said, so it is done. The PCs arrive onboard a sailing ship crewed by captain Selios, on route to an oracle. Unlike the previous section, nothing of the above is explained and the PCs are likely going to end up murdering some guy and then going like oh…I guess he was important.
Maybe the weakest section in the entire book. No map of the sea, a set of encounters that can take place in any order and in any amount of time (though the oracle implies that at least 1 day between each encounter is recommended) and then a smackdown with the Hephaestion and his retainers on an island. Section over.
Its not even that the individual parts are bad, they are actually quite good, drawing inspiration from the Odyssey. You come across an island with giant sheep, guarded by giant rams and by two cyclopses, who arrive in response to pillaging. Fun, but it would have been much better if there was an actual food supply that had to be maintained and the PCs could explore some sort of inner sea. Other encounters are good too. You have the Sirens, only this time it is actually a modified Vision, there’s a ship of shadows that merges with the extant ship (and begins destroying it) and 40 shadows flood the boat, there’s a sargasso with a giant bone golem and 400 skeletons, the adventure’s heart is in the right place. But random encounters only, no map, no exploration ai ai ai.
Dimlak the Hephaestion’s Island is not bad. You arrive on the island, get attacked by yet another massive wave of greek themed creatures (16 harpies, 2 chimeras, with a back up attack directed against the sailors) and then it is Hephaestion smashing time. Even though the map is simple, the 25 HD murder machine uses actual tactics, heating metal and levitating characters from a distance while a pack of animated statues holds off any fighters, retreating using a wall of iron after being reduced to half hit points, and then falling back to its inner sanctum for a last stand with the Oard and two robot tigers. With the Bronze golems in the beginning, it is starting to feel more like actual D&D is being played. Treasure is again a single hammer+4 and jewelry on the order of 66.000 gp, no big hoards, feels bad man. The dwarves show up from a convenient hole in the ground to go THANK YOU FOR GETTING US THE ANVIL.
Section III: Bronze & Iron
The designated mass combat section. With their plans foiled twice, the Oards have backed one of the human empires (Kolmedes), granting them the gift of iron, while everyone but the dwarves is still slumming it in the Bronze Age. The characters are transported to the continent of Arqwen to unite the disparate human and demihuman tribes in defence against a powerful invasion force.
Premise is consistently good, execution is consistently lacklustre. So what this does have is a timeline, a complete army list of the various strongholds, terrain that can be utilized, several rules that make combining the armies challenging, a scenario where each settlement has to be convinced to join the combined defence (ah la X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield) and an assymetrical scenario; The PC armies are numerically superior but scattered and of inferior quality while the enemy is concentrated, numerous and powerful. The sea-side attack is a nasty surprise that adds a bit of variety to the scenario. There is even a provision for individual heroics, a robot dragon, escorted by Oards and 20 elite soldiers, makes for a tempting target, and an assassination attempt by several 14th level thieves (pathetic in their BECMI incarnations and bereft of magic items but easily able to penetrate any NPC guards) could maybe be troublesome if the PCs have taken no precautions. There are clear victory conditions for the PCs, but little consideration of what happens when they lose, or under what conditions this happens.
I am not well versed in Warmachine so it is hard to read the orders of battle and reach a conclusion about the balance of the forces. There are however, some vestigial notes: There is no random encounter table. This means that, despite the timeline going well into Day 70, the players can wander the entire continent and encounter nothing. The idea is that the PCs travel to each city and unite the human, elf and dwarf tribes. The humans have only a minor note and though the GM is given the option of making it more difficult, they essentially always join. The elves join only if the PCs helped them out in the past. The dwarves will join if the PCs smash two wyverns, a challenge that is ludicrously simple for a party of 17th level characters. Levels in BECMI feel stretched out, most army commanders are level 14 or higher, the party gets attacked by 14th level thieves etc. Scale is off.
As it is with Section I, you feel as if the premise could have been much larger then the actual adventure, and it is not hard to see how it could be expanded into a full blown standalone scenario along the lines of X10: Red Arrow, Black Shield. Instead, it feels halfhearted. Nice touches here and there like adding descriptions of the personality traits of each commander help flesh out the scenario a little bit. Its not bad, but it feels more like an outline then a full blown scenario.
Section IV: Sorcerer’s Isle
Once again, it is almost good. The idea is that since the Kolmedes have been vanquished magic is starting to develop on Aelos and all of the fruits of researches into it have been collected in the Bibliotheca, on a remote island warded by the greatest Sorcerers and a device known as the Luminance. The Oards have stolen on them unawares (not strange since operating some of the devices renders one unaware), disabled and hypnotized them with weird tech, taken their place, and are planning to slowly replace all the wizards that travel to the library. Bad shit.
You are immediately air-dropped onto the island, wham bam, thank you mam, into the villa where the ‘wizards’ are residing. This is one of the rare few times that I feel CM6 is actually willing to throw a left hook. In the old Gygax modules and those that follow his lead, the old todger is always slyly setting traps, throwing curve-balls, and otherwise testing how observant and prepared you are. If you simply blunder into everything, you are going to be in for a nasty surprise. Despite Graeme Morris showing that he does in fact know how to throw a nasty left hook (consider Xitaqua in B10), all of the challenges in CM6, while occasionally formidable, have been very straightforward.
This is the first nasty trap. You arrive, are greeted by an unwitting human wizard, and invited to dinner with the other wizards. This time there is no warning that shit is about to go down. 8 of the wizards are Oards. They will not do something stupid like fight immediately. They inform their comrades in the Bibliotheca (as written this is hard to avoid, I would have enjoyed some possibility of approaching the Bilbiotheca unawares), its defences are then activates, the island is surrounded by magical storms and the OH SHIT light comes on.
Again, there is a bit of a missed opportunity by not going into detail on the Oards’s ambush but the outline is sufficient; They attack at the worst moment, preferably when the PCs are split up. A follow up attack (and again this is a missed opportunity, it would be much better if the Oard commander dispatches a response force while the Oards are preparing an ambush) with 2 djinni and 8 invisible stalkers is dispatched, which is again nasty and given appropriate tactical notes. The Bibliotheca proper is in a vale, now covered in magic webbing and guarded by two GARGANTUAN BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS COVERED IN ELEMENT-RESISTANT GOLDEN BARDING. Now we are cooking with gas. There isn’t anything preventing the PCs from resting after that but I would fully expect the PCs to figure that they are going to get brutally mauled if they try that so this is arguably forgiveable. And then you see the map.
This section is almost good. The Outer protections of the Bibliotheca are guarded by a platoon of elves (remember that each is a spellcaster), who can be convinced of Oard mischief and will help bypass the first 5 levels, but who will attack if the PCs simply barge or break in. Good. Tactics. Each area is based around the 9 levels of spells. That is a cool concept that is not really investigated further, and there is a tonne of magic research material that allows you to ‘discover local variants of spells for different planes’ but is otherwise inert. Strange. Some interesting design that is easy to figure out if you are paying attention. Each gallery is ‘safe’ for a magic user or elf capable of casting the spells it is devoted to. If you can use that you can bypass the wards, disable the 5 Obsidean Golems in each gallery and generally get through without a hitch. The party MU being between 17 and 19, this would mean you could actually bypass almost all of the dungeon except the final room. If not, cutting through the rooms will be laborious, and arguably monotonous. The last guard room has a beholder in addition to 5 obsidean golems. In BECMI these are not as formidable as they are in AD&D, but the Beholder should prove challenging. Presumably the Anti-magic ray does not interfere with the golems. The final battle with the Oard leader goes extremely hard and is also interesting, there’s 8 oards, some of them employ magic items??? as he has in his control a hypnotized wizard that can be directed to cast certain spells. Again, a minor detail, there is not actually any penalty for killing the charmed wizard, although presumably you would need him to be alive.
You at least get your pick of some nice magic treasure from the DMG, a rare gift, nothing to sneer at. The idea is now that, according to magic research, the Oards have been vanquished, but some remain in an Enthropic Bubble, capable of existing outside of temporal continuity like the Locust things from Viriconium. One last smackdown awaits.
Section V: The Enthropy Bubble
This is where CM6 damn near gets good. The gloves are off, the chips are down. Its do or die. The PCs get ported to a pocket plane, containing the Oard stronghold, a soulless, blasted, sterile realm of desert and machinery, with occasional wandering Spectral Hounds. Yeah it feels small here too, but what the hell, this is the last redoubt, Cijal, Hitler’s Bunker. There is proper use of Pressure here.
For whatever reason you arrive in one of the Oard outposts, with a skeleton crew, and after you have fucked them up, the alert is sounded and the Oards know you are coming. Again, stealth elements would have been appreciated. What would have been great is some sort of response force and ticking clock as soon as the PCs arrive, neccessitating stealth. What also would have been great is being able to use the imagery in the screens of the outpost to home in on a teleport spell. No it doesn’t do that.
What it does do is give you this weird ass fucking dungeon, FULL FORCE random encounters representing Oard responses to your intrusion as they rally in a panicked fashion and fend you off. There’s a video system in each room that, if disabled, makes encountering the Oards much less likely, again something that would have been great if there was an area of the fortress that could be targeted specifically. Encounters are no joke. Mixed groups of Oards, Talaks (bio-slaves that are like trolls) and Robots (like golems or statues). Some areas are chemical, mechanical or Power plants, meaning that combat in the form of explosives (reminder that almost all Oards here carry Firebombs) has all sorts of fucked up environmental effects. Also a reminder that this can probably be turned against the Enemy if the PCs are smart. Then a few specials: A room with 30 holograms with an Oard hiding among them, a room where the Oards are setting up a heavy duty ray cannon, a fucked up decanting chamber where all sorts of half formed protoplasmic horrors are being prepared, robots that throw molten plastic at the characters, it goes pretty hard. Its properly maze-like too, incentivizing something like Passwall, dig or rock to mud to make progress. The last fight is cute, probably too hard, but does the thing where they fight in the generator room so it is possible, perhaps to make a pass at destroying the enthropic field, instantly ending the adventure. Unlike almost any other section, I can see characters being worn down and dying in this gauntlet.
CM6 is very sloggy and straightforward. Maybe this is a problem with BECMI vs AD&D in general. In high level AD&D the monsters would have all sorts of fucked up disorientation and maneuvering powers like teleport, levitate, telekineses, fear etc. Your party gets scattered and then isolated and picked off. Then there’s all the off-beat counters to that. CM6 is very much a direct approach type of adventure. Straightforward damage, monsters with more straightforward damage of various types, levitation which is a thing and only a rare curve ball or exception like the Hephaestion. I can see the last part wearing down the characters hp pretty quickly and everyone is probably thanking their lucky stars this version of the game does not have item saving throws. Trolls and successive characters with fireball abilities are going to wear down even very powerful characters eventually.
I’m thinking this thing is missing a lot on the reconnaisance front, the exploration front and the interaction front (with the exception of Part III & maybe IV), but the actual combat parts are often not bad, and while the scale is still a bit rickety, it is nowhere near as bad as, say, CM1. I feel CM6 is really an opportunity missed. If properly expanded, it is easy to envision a large, epic adventure. The premise is certainly strong enough, and there are moments of quality, particularly in the later half. As is, given that most of its flaws come down to missed potential, I think the most appropriate judgement is a low ***. A stellar premise, and something that is not great, but it is ok, and a rare example of a science fantasy adventure done somewhat competently. You can probably play this for most audiences that are interested in this sort of thing and they will get at least a little kick out of it. The last section does require capable and decisive play, and the major smackdowns should prove satisfying. If its the choice between this and the next OSE module (that is not Peril in Olden Wood or the POuR sequel) I’d pick this.
10 thoughts on “[Review] CM6 Where Chaos Reigns (BECMI); Skirting Quality”
REVIEW M5 BY JAQUES
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY ITS THE MASTER DOING HIGHEST OF HIGH LEVEL
THEY WROTE DARK TOWER FOR TAMS SAKE
PRINCE I PLEAD
talons of night
The master doing high lvl af
Just as long as you are mentally for it not being that good.
Oh i amprepared
There is no greater evidence of the challenge that awaits us than seeing even masters fall beneath the weight of high level dnd
Good review, I’m inclined to agree: great concept, not enough pages to do it justice. And finally a viable high level adventure type that isn’t (just) the commando raid behind enemy lines. I’d like more consequences in later parts for how well you did earlier. A good candidate for a remake. Three stars seems right.
I do wonder how much playtesting some of these high level adventures got. In the case of WGA4 Vecna Lives, the report must have arrived after publication.
I reviewed this one back in 2009:
I liked some of the premise, too (and the oards), but the thing is a terrible, utter railroad which…even back then (when I was far less knowledgeable and sophisticated in my analysis)…was pretty much a deal-breaker for me.
“I am not trying to re-claim “magic” or get “lightning to strike twice.” But I sure would like to fill in some of the missed potential of this classic RPG.”
Its like I’m reading myself.
Please comment on my analysis r.e. the actual gameplay parts. You are correct it is a railroad, but once that is accepted, I wonder how well it holds up.
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Re Reading Yourself
Haha. Well, I was 35 at the time I wrote that so probably closer in age to where you are now. However, you have acquired far more knowledge about all things Dungeons & Dragonsy than I had back then. A general lack of shared (or collated) info might be blamed, but I was also stubborn and closed minded about a great many things.
Re Analysis of Actual Game Play
That’s tough. Mainly because I haven’t played/run the adventure. That’s the problem with reviewing adventure product…it’s really hard to judge just how something might work in practice without the actual play part. One can hazard a “best guess” based on experiences with similar elements, but…who knows?
Still, here’s the main thing: I really don’t want to dig out my old copy of CM6 and go through the maths (treasure counts, average damage output per encounter, etc.), mainly because I know that even if seems like the appropriate amounts of for the level range given, I KNOW (already) that the game play will be unsatisfying based on the railroad. “Ah, yes,” you say, “it IS a railroad, but discounting THAT, how does it play?” No, no…you see, once the railroad is acknowledged, the adventure must be acknowledged as broken, a sham experience. This is NOT Dungeons & Dragons. Or rather, it is a “particular type” of Dungeons & Dragons, but not one I find worth playing. Quite the contrary…it disrespects and disregards all that makes D&D great and better than, O Say a clever computer RPG.
‘Why are we here?’ That is the question that (generally, usually) goes unasked by the participants who sit down at a table to play D&D. Is it to run through some creator’s scripted story? Is it to indulge in improvisational acting to the entertainment of our fellows? Is it to engage tactically with a gauntlet of challenges laid out in linear fashion? I know that, for some, the answers to these questions is a resounding YES…and that’s fine. Some people like stuff I don’t. Whatever.
But for me…mm. No. That’s not why I play the game. That type of play…as the point, as the objective of play…holds no juice for me. Quite the opposite: it makes me not want to play at all. It makes me DISengaged, rather than engaged. The script can be original, the acting can be world class, the encounters can be fiendishly clever…but if the end all I did was show up and roll 20s to complete the scenario as intended, the experience will leave me feeling (mostly) hollow and empty. I know this from many past experiences.
The problem is not a lack of player agency…it’s the lack of player possibility. Why can’t my high level cleric bring his army of fanatical followers on the mission? Why can’t my warlord enslave the primitive Garls and create his own mastodon-stocked empire? Why can’t my wizard make an alliance with the oards, helping them succeed in their mad plan in exchange for high-tech weaponry with which to conquer my own dimension? It’s not like I’m some sort of “elf-friend” or something.
D&D is a game that allows us to indulge in our wildest fantasies of mythic adventure. Putting the game on rails converts it to a board-less board game. I like board games; played two tonight with my family. But I play D&D for different reasons…D&D is something a bit more than the pleasant diversion/light entertainment that other parlor games provide.
CM6 provides some interesting ideas, some clever concepts. But it is a railroad…the best it can provide (the BEST it can provide!) is a sham D&D experience, both shallow and superficial, with clever ideas just being lipstick on the pig. So sorry, but…yeah, no. Not my cup of tea.
Heck, even if you filed off the rails, I’m not sure it works all that great as a “high level” adventure. This, to me, is more of an Expert set adventure with all the challenge ramped up to 11 (or 12 even). But high level characters (or, rather, their players) are looking for more than just step-and-fetch quests in another dimension. High level characters want to have IMPACT on their own home sphere. And CM6 doesn’t provide them with ANYthing that will give them a lasting impact on their environment. Which means the adventure is…kind of a waste of time? I’d rather be working on the conquest of that next domain in my own world so that I could claim that title of “Count” instead of “Baron” (see Mentzer’s Companion rules for details).
I agree with about 85% of the sentiment. Analogous to funhouse dungeons or other limitations, railroading represents a weakness of design that makes it very likely the adventure will be shit. But then you think of something like Taomachan or Ravenloft and you accept that in rare cases, it is permissable to curtail the players freedom. However, in this case it is true (and I point this out in the beginning) that the railroading makes the adventure much weaker.
But then I think, how would this go over if I ran it for some randos on the internet, and my answer is, it would probably be okay.
As for the scale, the scale in BECMI is already distorted from what you would expect in AD&D. Level 17 wizards cannot even cast a single 8th level spell. Madness. The presence of anti-magic shell, dispel magic and Silence gives a man hope though.
> In one world the Oard, magic-hating cyborgs from the end of time,
> intervene in 4 periods of the worlds history to disrupt the development
> of sorcery so they can retro-actively cause their own existence.
Sooo… what we have here is that the hivemind of Morris, Bambra & Gallagher discovered Roko’s Basilisk one generation ahead of time?
What sorcery is this?!?
This only could have happened if a LessWrong edgelord from the future travelled back in time from the XXIc to 1985 to apply some inception to… Ohwait
If you want to get technical, the idea can be traced back to Barrington J. Bayley’s The Fall of Chronopolis or whatever that Harlan Ellison story was that Terminator was based on.