Review of Secret of the Slavers Stockade

Review Summary
Playtest Review
Written Review

February 23, 2007


by: Lev Lafayette


Style: 2 (Needs Work)
Substance: 2 (Sparse)

The low point in the famous Slavers series; overpowered for most characters with many instances of thoughtless design. Lacks any narrative reason for its existence. Can be integrated with a fair bit of work.

Lev Lafayette has written 130 reviews (including 11 AD&D reviews), with average style of 3.18 and average substance of 3.16. The reviewer's previous review was of Slave Pits of the Undercity.

This review has been read 5867 times.

 
Product Summary
Name: Secret of the Slavers Stockade
Publisher: TSR
Line: AD&D
Author: Harold Johnson, Tom Moldvay
Category: RPG

Pages: 40
Year: 1981

SKU: 9040
ISBN: 0-935696-26-1


Review of Secret of the Slavers Stockade
The sequel of Slave Pits of the Undercity and also run at Gencon XII in 1980, Secret of Slavers Stockade is standard TSR fare with but this time with a hefty 40 pages to go with the cardstock cover with maps. The pretty average cover art depicts a scene of noble adventurers within the Slavers' Stockade being stalked by guards and a purple critter known as a "boggle". The interior art is fairly sparse, not particularly great, but appropriate to the text. Also included are the same characters from the the tournament play, tournament scoring and maps.

The backstory, such as it is, is a bit of a goose chase. From the slavers hideout of the undercity the PCs find clues that lead them to the stockade. The tournament version of the map is very slight indeed, but has some vague semblance of actually being a stockade, insofar there is plenty of open-space between buildings as one would expect. When this is filled out to become a dungeon, most of the space disappears with a design more akin to a single building with multiple rooms. A DM who wishes to retain the feel of a stockade will turn many of the connecting corridors into open-air laneways, and get rid of the southern wall on corridor 14.

As expected, there are two levels to the module. The upper stockade level and a lower dungeon level. The upper level has more hobgoblins than you can poke a stick at, along with a small supply of other "giant-class" humanoids and a fairly substantial haunted area. A sensible DM playing the hobgoblins as an organised and intelligent band of defenders (as the module quite sensible recommends), will have the PCs on the ropes pretty soon after the alarm is raised, which it probably will. The lower level, which is pretty sizable in its own right, has another group of humanoids and some rather unfortunate results of the stockade leader's experiments.

Several instances of the module are annoying, or rather, just plain daft. It's not giving anything away mentioning these, as a good DM will replace them with something sensible: the stuffed bear trap, the hobgoblins who pretend to be mummies, the giant magnet trap, and the bees. Especially the bees; after all, as every beekeeper will tell us, bees love to live in a dark, dank, cold dungeon far away from such hippy things like warmth, sunshine, fresh air and nectar. Now, don't get me wrong. How an AD&D adventuring party deal with a swarm of angry bees is an interesting game challenge. But for goodness sake, put the beehive *outside* (DMs take note section 5 would be a good spot)

Overall, this is probably the low point in the famous Slavers series. Whilst this is a massive module compared to the Secret of the Slavers Stockade, it is not an improvement by any stretch of the imagination. It is *significantly* overpowered for characters around levels 4 to 5, tough for 6 to 7 and probably about right for levels 7 to 8. The artwork isn't particularly good, the floorplans are below reasonable standards, and there are too many instances of thoughtless design. Further, apart from having the necessary clues to go on to the third module in the series, it lacks any narrative reason for its existence. However - and here is the one positive - it is of sufficient size and potential importance that it could fit into a longer term feature of a DMs campaign with a fair bit of work.

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