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Can you run the Classic TSR Scenarios in Barnaynia?

Dated: 03 Jan, 2021

The short answer is YES.

Like many, my own understanding of what makes a great scenario was influenced by the original publications by TSR way back in the day; from the Keep on the Borderlands to Queen of the Demonweb Pits – they were all great inspiration.  In fact, we were playing U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh when the idea of the city of Dunromin and the whole world of Barnaynia started to germinate in our minds – way back in 1986.  You can obtain downloads of all the scenarios described below and more here or here.

Over the years since then I have probably run most of the classic TSR adventures on Barnaynia and I thought it might be fun to share how I did this with you all.  To this end I have got a map of about a quarter of the Upper World of Barnaynia (above), including the Land of the Young and Dunromin, and marked the various locations I have used on it.  Here’s the key to the locations given:

  1. U1-3; the Saltmarsh series.  The start of it all, beginning in the Barony of Saltmarsh and working down the coast through the Lizardman lair and the Final Enemy (no spoilers!).
  2. A1 The Slave Pits of the Undercity.  This was a bit of a kludge, placing the Slave Pits in an old abandoned city rather than Highport.  The idea was that it was a node on the Slave network where all the slavers who are pinching people from the west of the Land of the Young brought their prisoners to sell to the Slave Lords.  It spawned the idea of a whole “nation” of Humanoid groups occupying the north-eastern Wild Lands.  Alternatively, you could replace “Highport” with Gorgola and run the whole Against the Slavers series in the lands around there – off the eastern edge of the map above but detailed in SM05 The World Guide to Dunromin.
  3. A2 Secret on the Slavers’ Stockade.  Putting the headquarters of the Slavers’ network north of the mountains here made most sense.  The network across the whole of the Borderlands and Wild Lands feeds into this base and then into the Dark World and the Deep Elf civilisations beneath the mountains.
  4. A3 and A4 The Erie of the Slavelords.  And so the campaign comes to a head in the island city where the Slave Lords themselves live in debauched luxury.  The maps we are developing for this area even have a volcanic island (to be included in SM09 when the maps are finished).  You could even say the Deep Elf name for the Hellmarch Mountains is Drachenscrab if you wanted…
  5. G1 starting the Against the Giants series.  The Wild Lands west of the Land of the Young can hold all sorts of general wilderness/dungeon settings.  This seemed a good place to locate this classic adventure as it led on neatly from the Slavers series.
  6. G2 and we are into the icy tops of the Hellmarch Mountains’ frozen western reaches.  I would have liked to put this classic module way out in the frozen wastes beyond the west of the map but that wouldn’t have fit with the larger story-arc of the series (no spoilers!).
  7. G3 completes the series and keeps the party in the right locale at the fiery heart of the Hellmarch Mountains.  It means we have ice and fire in the same mountain range but they are a few hundred miles apart…
  8. D1-3; the Descent into the Depths and the Vault of the Drow.  Of course, the term “Drow” comes with a lot of luggage and the Deep Elves of Barnaynia are different to the classic “Drow” in many ways, being based more on a cencept of Tolkein's elves but given to a life underground and followers of different gods, turning away from the light of the sun and the stars and looking to the Moon instead.  The primary belief of the "Drow", being that of the Spider Cult, is only one of many cults that exist among the Deep Elves of Barnaynia.  In fact it’s not really a major religeon if one looks world-wide, although pretty major local to Dunromin.  The term “Drow” only exists in Barnaynia as the Old Elfish for dirt or filth, hence the Drow Hills in the north don’t actually have any Deep Elves in them at all; mostly dwarves in fact, at least at the southern end.  But, returning to the theme of the blog, the Deep Elves are similar enough to Drow that you can use them equally, but Deep Elves are a LOT more sophisticated and cultured than the classic TSR Drow…  No, really, they are!
  9. UK1 Beyond the Crystal Caves can be set among the islands and sparsely populated lands east of the Land of the Young, along with a good many other adventures; Castanamir for instance…
  10. I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City - In the Jungles of the Urdum Empire or in the maze of foothills and low Vilsact Mountains you can place this classic.  There is space to have the snake people infiltrate the old city of Greywall too, if the fancy takes you…  There are other jungle scenarios you could place here too; Tamoachan for instance.  Likewise moving further east you are into endless shifting deserts that can be the setting for the Deserts of Desolation, possibly based north of Gorgola.
  11. I2 the Tomb of the Lizard King fits nicely into the drab and swampy landscape south of the gnome city of Constantan – the place is even called the Kingdom of the Lizard.
  12. N1 the Reptile Cult and the whole T series starting in the village of Hommlet (famous for its cheese) fit nicely in here.  South of the River Greyflood are marshes and rough terrain poor for farming.  Legend tells of an ancient temple ruin there, once the base of an Elemental Cult.
  13. All sorts!  The Grim Mountains can be the home of many ancient controversies, like Tharizdun, Tsojcanth, and Inverness as well as some horrific tombs.  The peoples of the City States around Gidrall sometimes even call this mountain range the Barrier Peaks; ripe for an expedition.  This last one, S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks is a little problematic though, as the suggestion of an object from a technological race from another planet doesn’t fit with the Barnaynian model of the Universe, so the travellers will have to be from another plane, really (trying to minimise spoilers here – tricky).

And that’s just the lands reasonably local to Dunromin.  There’s more, but I think I have made my point.  Even a casual glance through SM05 The World Guide to Barnaynia will have any GM spotting some locations that will fit very easily with almost any scenario you fancy.

I hope you find this list interesting, it is a blatant advert for the classic AD&D adventures that Wizards of the Coast are still offering.  I can’t recommend these enough!