* This review follows the designer's advise to run the Thunder Rift series (along with game07: B10 Assault on Raven's Ruin) in a particular order.
* Party rolled: Human female Paladin LG, Dwarf male Cleric LN, Centaur male Ranger NG, Gnome female Magic-User NN, Halfelf male Cleric/Magic-User CG, Halfling male Thief CN -- Ray's Realm allows such racial classing as part of the adventuring package and encourages his Realm players to mix in as many races and classes so as to enjoy the breadth and depth of any given adventure... so's I dids!
A word about the Thunder Rift modules: these adventures were created in 1992 (when some of us were youngers just starting to explore the game) and were meant to be a sandbox of sorts for DMs and players both new to the game. They allowed for a lot of modification and were interconnected only by threads, to be filled and fleshed out by the DM running things, adaptable to any of the gameworlds. As such, there is ample opportunity for Ray to put his Realmstamp upon them, which I am pleased to find to be the case. I didn't think I would recall as much as I did about the wilderness spread of the adventures, but it didn't affect my play of them in the least. Ray's done the project a fine service in his importation to the Realm, with custom music and graphics detailing each design individually. On to it, then!
After an enjoyable week spent with the dwarven envoy from Hearth's Home along with rewardbearers from the gnome burrows which had just been emancipated... these folks and more from all over Kleine opened their homes and their tables for us to feast and fest at, and so we did! Gorged with local cuisine and Bolder's new collection of corks from all-too-many vints of a variety of bottlestuffs, our party magic-users finally completed their mystic ruminations over the trio of magical staves we now possessed, sharing them between themselves as well as taking time to scribe several new spells we'd also been lucky enough to collect. Our vacationing was soon ended, however, with a summons from Sascia, the spellcaster advisor of the bailiff down at Knacker's Knob. At least, that's what some of the folks called it... others mentioned Darrow, but we assumed that Darrow was the name of the wilderlands near the Knob... ah well, if we wanted to be cartographers I suppose we would have brought atlas-making and place-name-recalling equipment with us. Regardless, Knacker's Knob was a good deal more interesting this time around, and bailiff Wortley promised our newfound dragonhunting abilities would be well-rewarded. Again.
This adventure has the largest scope yet I've played in the Thunder Rift series, and there are interesting ways to being your own exploration if you poke around first. Two days away from the hospitality of the Knob, it is suggested you make use of a good, fireless camp before proceeding: there is more to fear within the caves and caverns of Darrow than simply enemies. As my prior adventure, this module contains some great new (to me) sprites and combat icons, and an even greater assortment of enemies.
At the close of this game, my party was all 5th level and 6th level: both my pure cleric and pure magic-user gained addition 3rd level spells, which makes certain combat spell gambits possible that gives us a huge advantage tactically against opponents singular or in groups. The end of the modules, at this point, are also getting more and more descriptive, which I really appreciate. My party can tell it's getting close to the end of their Thunder Rift adventures, so I eagerly hit the training hall to [R]emove everyone individually for importation into the next title.
This adventure has been the most memorable yet, especially with the artwork. Thanks Ray, and great job especially with your celebratory texts here.