Author Topic: REVIEW: Game50: League of the Red Serpent (by Ray Dyer)  (Read 323 times)

Offline hans

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REVIEW: Game50: League of the Red Serpent (by Ray Dyer)
« on: April 04, 2017, 10:57:30 PM »
The final of Ray Dyer's ten! entries into the One-Week Challenge (, Game50: League of the Red Serpent ends the "Thunder Rift" campaign on a enjoyably satisfying note.   

While not as big or as challenging as the previous design in the campaign, Game47: The Haunted Tower, League of the Red Serpent provides a nice sense of closure to the Rift's final farewell. 

There are a number of wonderful touches within the story, not the least of which is having a spy who is, for now, a Bugbear.  And the interaction with an even shadier NPC places the PCs in a refreshingly rare position.  It all leads to an end of celebration and rewards that elevates the party to a fond position of high esteem in Knacker Knob. 

While this design would work fine as a small, stand-alone adventure, it works much better as the finale of the whole "Thunder Rift" campaign.  Playing through all eleven mods, in the order proscribed by Ray on his Realm site (, is equal to playing a full epic.  One that I've greatly enjoyed! 

I am truly amazed that in hardly more than a month's time, spending far less than a week on each individual mod, that Ray could produce such a cornucopian turnout as part of the One-Week Challenge! 

My hat's off to you, Ray, with much gratitude!   :notworthy:

Offline steve_mcdee

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Re: REVIEW: Game50: League of the Red Serpent (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2017, 03:05:30 AM »
Yes, amazing! Well done Ray.

Offline Ray

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Re: REVIEW: Game50: League of the Red Serpent (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2017, 09:16:46 AM »

Thanks, guys!  And, back at you in all sincerity--you know that we designers crave feedback!  I'm so glad that you enjoyed the series!   :D

Offline Kaz-Keith

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Re: REVIEW: Game50: League of the Red Serpent (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2017, 06:42:11 AM »
 * 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!

 Knowing this would be our last adventure in the Thunder Rift (foreseeably), my part set forth from Knacker's Knob with their most important mission yet and one that would come to affect the futures of many of the peaceful settlements throughout the Rift.

 This adventure, while interesting, is far smaller than the last and can be played through in about an hour.  The foes, however, are a proper challenge for my party's final foray, and if I were less careful I would certainly have lost one or three along the way.  As it were, there are some decisions the player will be left in charge of, and the outcome still left somewhat to the player to guide.  Not being the sort of player to -not- pull every lever or challenge every orc, I stuck to my shortswords once I'd decided which way I was going to play the tale out and went for it.

 There was a hidden place to rest, which was nice, and by the end of the adventure my party ranged in levels of 7,7,7,8,5-6 and 6-6.  Even our party's npc leveled :)

 As this is the finale for the Thunder Rift, I will leave you, Ray, with the vestiges of one player's adventurers gone done:

spoilers might be, so caution:

Avalaigne, the level 7 paladin, seemed to have rubbed off somewhat on the bugbear-cum-spy.  During the journey home, she persuaded Gorol to aid her in outfitting the rescued prisoners and giving them a bit of field training.  Not used to such a generous lead, Gorol (who admittedly was *charmed* by one of the enemies they faced and had to be *charmed* back to the party's disposition by Jaspartine) warmed to the idealistic woman.  By the time they'd all returned to Knacker's Knob, Gorol had 'confessed' to Avalaigne his past misdeeds and the true reason for his service as an agent.  Avalaigne paid for Gorol's training (he'd leveled to 5), whereupon Gorol changed his class from thief to fighter and pledged squireship to Avalaigne.  Gorol was handsomely rewarded by the party with new arms and plate armour from their latest collection, though he still preferred to sport a noticeably-deep red cap of leather and cloth.  Avalaigne herself, stymied by the deep treachery of the 'nobles' in Thunder Rift, decided to head up a new group to pay visit to this Black Prince.  Gorol, having sworn a debt to her and seeing the world with new eyes, immediately pledged his service as well.

Bolder, the dwarven cleric of Clangeddin, was sorely tempted to break with all adventuring for a time and join his brethren at Hearth Home.  He had attained the 7th level, and was feeling a certain stirring that meant trading dungeons for a sturdy wooden pulpit.  He had suffered a grievous wound from Anandak the Red, and though the mangled leg was healed, he would have a slight limp from then on.  It was Bolder who first noticed the strange symptoms of the prisoners they'd rescued, and it was with the aid of several other priests (including Redfeather's elven herbal knowledge) that he helped to rid them all of the lycanthropic curse their captors had gifted them.  Eventually, the dwarf priest remained with the core group.  It was also his idea to gift Avalaigne and Gorol with both of the magical dragonslaying blades they'd accumulated, for he simply could not imagine not using his trusty hammer.

Fletcher, the centaur ranger who replaced Fanta in the party when she was unexpectedly killed in the Red Hand goblins' lair, was the first of the party to break from them.  He had had more than enough of what he called 'hoofing through low places' to last him a lifetime: he would journey back to his home in the great grasslands that border the Gauntlin Forest and resume his seeking of a mate.  During his time with the party, he had attained the 7th level, and a far greater respect for the twoleggers of the lands.  Though his preference still remained staunchly among the elves and halfelves if given a choice, his experiences with both Bolder and Pinchadorious had given him a deeper understanding of not only his place in the ranks of things but his duty as a protector of them all.

Jaspartine the gnome magic-user, upon reaching the 8th level, now bore items of power and knowledges that would shape her future: she was the only one of the party to be invited to train specially with Sascia, and together the two pored over old tomes and strange items well after the others had retired for most evenings.  Together, Sascia and Jaspartine formulated a plan to restore the Wizardspire, which coincided with Avalaigne's intention to confront the Black Prince.  Eventually, it would be Jaspartine's many wands and rings that would prove to be the undoing of a certain wicked spellcaster... but the time between, she stayed with the party and served as they went about it.

Redfeather, half-elven cleric-mage, reached level 6/6 during his latest adventure: it was his enchantments and quick-thinking that sealed the doom for several of their greatest foes... he *silenced* Huararra the harpy, unfortunately not before she'd charmed Gorol with her song, but he prevented her from affecting any others; he *stinkclouded* the orc captain Baglips, effectively ending that entire battle before it even began; he paralysed the hill giant Mort, even after he'd been struck with a thrown boulder.  Cautious and quiet, Redfeather was always the dependable but least-noticed of the adventurers.  With Avalaigne fomenting a new direction for the group, Redfeather thought it best to take his leave at that point.  He eventually made his way back to bucolic Kleine, to fish at the lake there and live a life of quiet ease with the gems and treasures he'd a share of.  At some point, Redfeather came into contact with the noted Raven, either by accident or revenge by Raven's design or by some deeper path Redfeather was following, and the half-elf disappeared without any other trace after.

Pinch, the halfling fighter-rogue, reached level 6/7 during the last adventure.  Of all the party, Pinchadorious was the only one to embrace bailiff Wortley's rewards to their group:  Pinch started calling himself Lord Knob wherever he went to, and began insisting others address him so as well.  This was harmless fun until Wortley was actually granted dukedom for his role in liberating the various peoples and was christened Lord... no one ever claimed responsibility, though it was certainly Bolder's handiwork, but someone gave Pinch the nickname Bonk the Droll.  Once that particular title had been bestowed, it caught on and soon even Pinch came to wear it proudly.  Bonk remained with Avalaigne and her group, mostly to pester Bolder and play tricks upon Gorol (as he was the only human in the party he would dare to), and in that group's future would play an incredibly important role in an undertaking at Valane Castle to the far south and beyond... but until that time, Bonk would continue to make great use of the ring of invisibility he'd found and be the first to remind any inn or tavern the party visited that they would be hosting the Heroes of Thunder Rift and Lords of the Knack.

 Thank you, Ray, for this finale and for the Thunder Rift experience in total.  A superb and sublime culmination of your skill at conversionating our favourite adventures to FRUAdom format - may the Realm live long, indeed.

Offline Ray

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Re: REVIEW: Game50: League of the Red Serpent (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2017, 10:12:37 PM »

These reviews have been extremely humbling.  I've noticed some things that I could have done better, and I'm taking them to heart for future projects.  Overall, I am so happy that you enjoyed your time in Thunder Rift enough that you not only shared your thoughts, but that you have done it in such a creative and fun way.  Thank you!

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: REVIEW: Game50: League of the Red Serpent (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2017, 04:33:40 AM »
A much shorter and easier design than the one that came before it (The Haunted Tower). I enjoyed it very much. I think the Dragon's Den trilogy, of which this is the third installment, might be my favorite among the Thunder Rift adventures (although I also loved the standalone adventures Game41-43). The stories are simple but detailed and consistent, and the dungeon crawls in search for the dragon are always exciting. Like hans, I really liked the NPC spy companion (finally someone to share my surplus items with) and the condescending nobleman, as well as other memorable encounters like the one about bugbears trying to teach a troll how to hold a club. :D The only thing I can think of to improve this design would be nicer bugbear icons, or at least a red cap for the bugbear NPC to better distinguish him from the other bugbears in combat. Well, and a better economy, but that was my complaint with all the later Thunder Rift designs. This time, I completely ignored any platinum coin reward. If only there was paper money in the Realm - my party could have found *some use* for that at least, during longer stays in the dungeons. :P

Anway, a grand adventure!  8)