Deluxe D&D Reprint Against the Slavelords Gains a Bonus Adventure

It is a brutal test of your D&D skills, a gauntlet of sudden-death traps and bizarre monsters strewn across countless dungeon levels. The DM will show no mercy. The dice will grant no quarter. It's just you Against the Slavelords.

In the early days of D&D, TSR held huge tournaments at gaming conventions to see who could defeat the most monsters and survive a gauntlet of deadly traps. One of the adventure series written specifically for such a tournament, Against the Slave Lords, got the deluxe reprint treatment recently. All four of the original adventures, known as the A-Series since they're labeled A1 through A4, are together in a deluxe binding with all of the original art at a retail price of $50 (my review copy is bound backwards and upside down, but this seems to be a single printing error and not a systemic problem).


Wizards of the Coast did more than just slap the old adventures into a fancy cover. There's a section of fan art based on the adventures at the back of the book, and the original author's of each adventure have contributed a new introduction explaining how and why it was written. Best of all, there's an entirely new adventure, A0 - Danger at Darkshelf Quarry, written by Skip Williams. A1 - Slave Pits of the Undercity, requires 4th level characters to play, so A0 is a 1st level adventure that will get you most of the way to 4th. This allows you to run the whole series as one mega-adventure.

Nothing has been altered in the original adventures. They appear exactly as they did in 1980, and they use 1st Edition AD&D rules. Their origins as tournament adventures are evident: a roster of preconstructed characters is included, along with special tournament rules and a scoring system. While you're free to explore the various fortresses and dungeons as you wish, there's really only one path to victory — slaughter everything. The primary villains' identity as slavers is a nod to slightly more mature approach to adventure design in the early 80s. I wouldn't exactly call it post-modern, but there's at least an attempt to justify the player's hacking and looting.


Tournament adventures were designed to chew adventure parties up and spit them out. Modern RPGers may find the body count startling. I've personally never played through Against the Slavelords, so I asked a gaming buddy who has. Ryk Perry: "All in all it is a pretty neat concept. A party of relatively tough adventurers gets captured by slavers, taken to the slavers home Island — which is also an active volcano and contains its own pirate/slave city, as well as the Slavelord’s stronghold. I have fond memories of my time playing Against the Slave Lords, particularly my struggles in the belly of the slave galley. It’s one of those more poignant moments that can just stay with you. Plotting and planning to overpower the slave masters with nothing but the manacles that keep you chained and knowing that even though you have a decent amount of hit points your armor class is basically nothing, and wondering if you can pull it off before they beat you down."

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