Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

[DSA] Black Boar Inn

I have to admit I was wrong. I thought Elfenblut was the reason why there were Neanderthalers in DSA, but that turned out to be false.

Only after I got my hands on module B1: Das Wirtshaus Zum Schwarzen Keiler (Inn of the Black Boar), the very first regular adventure published for The Dark Eye (if one does not count the strange Silvana’s Rettung (The Rescue of Silvana) from the basic game) I realized that: hey, there are Neanderthalers in there.

And even though this blog lately is getting a lot of prehistorical content I have to admit: I don’t have a clue what they are doing there and they make no sense at all; and that in a module that is not really an epitome of inherent logic in any case.

This of course only comes up  because I plan to run this module  this evening, otherwise I would have read over it and maybe not even noticed that much. Contrary to what this blog might show you I am not really so fond of cavemen. But when faced with the tast of preparing the module for a game I  noticed it and it annoyed me. The module is comparatively good actually, contrary to what other people might say.

The biggest problem it has is of course the strong influence D&D modules of that time, and by Kiesow’s artistic aspirations. Which means loads of monsters of different kinds in the dungeon and silver-plated railroad tracks to get there. The adventure did not really age well, but for the time it was published I can’t say it was really bad. People were still learning how to GM and how to play. Nobody had a clue how this stuff worked, so having nice long introduction texts  might have helped. Only today they seem a bit jarring.

For the first few pages the players get told who they are, where they come from, where they go, what they do in the inn, and what they experience. And then the Duke comes in, and they get sentenced to be executed for some flimsy reasons they can’t even defend themselves against.

On the other hand: it is a pretty good beginning for beginners, it gives the setting and the antagonist in easy steps. It needs to be played out with all the hamminess of bad B-movie villains though. And afterwards there needs to be a reason why they should just leave the Duke alone isntead of ending his rule of terror (or what seems to be rule of terror).

In between we get treated with a decent single-level  dungeon that gets even better with the retcons of later years. Maybe I’ll get into that after the game. The only thing that bothers me from the position of a modern Aventuria is the bizarre variety of races in this dungeon. Orks and Goblins, okay, maybe even the Troll… but the lizardmen already strain my belief.  Of course back then nobody knew anyhting about the surrounding world, not even the authors. All that came later, and all that might have invalidated what came before, but hindsight always is 20/20.

But then we meet the neanderthals. They don’t fir in there. Not from the perspective of the mid 80s, and not from any other. It makes no sense why they are there, why they are watching over a Tatzelwurm, and how exactly they actually got the name Neanderthal in a setting without a river Neander.

Years later this actually got an explanation in the supplement for the far north, and as usual for DSA it was a bad, old joke (which makes it oddly charming though): When the first explorer met the apemen she asked where they lived, and the apemen answered with a vague description of a valley. So she described all the valleys in the are she knew, but the apemen always said “Ne, ander tal.” (Naw, udder glen) until the explorer gave up and just called them after what they had repeated to her dozens of times before.

But lets get back to the Inn, so what exactly does a dungeon do right under an Inn? There are a few explanations to that. One is the one from the module: it’s slave labour camp and counterfeit operation instigated by the Duke. The orcs and goblins have been hired so nobody who matters can talk about it, and the place has been chosen because there seems to be silver in the walls.

Another explanation came a bit later in a short story: The  Duke went absolutely bonkers by a miracle of the god of law and the sun and decided to build walls and fortifications that could fend off the evil that would come  from the east. Of course he was completely mad, as was apparent to anyone who talked to him more than two minutes. He also was completely right, but who could have known that?

And the third one came later, in a return-t-the-roots module a few years later: the Duke had the dwarves dig there because there were dwarven runes in some of the cave chambers that he thought might lead him to a treasure if he just had them dig long enough. And while there certainly was something hidden under there it only was found out later what: It was a containment facility created by the legendary white mage Rohal, containing a number of powerful and very, very dangerous demons.

I guess I can make something out of this story, if my players let me. The normal ending of the adventure is rather abrupt: the heroes fight their way out of the dungeon either by the entry of the Duke’s guards or they find a natural exit. End.

Not very exciting, is it? What about the fact that they were injustly imprisoned? The duke might have the power to do that, but no bad blood because of this at all? What about the dwarves that just decide to stay there and toil away until they die? Slavework is canonically forbidden in that part of “modern” Aventuria. And with a bit more canon: what about the fact that an outspoken adherent of the god of law decides to make counterfeit money, declare random travellers traitors and string them up just because they don’t know the proper code? And what about the fact that the heroes disappeared from the inn’s cellar, just after the waitress brought them their last supper? What will happen to the innkeeper and his family?

Let’s see.


2 responses to “[DSA] Black Boar Inn

  1. Pingback: [DSA] Session I: Black Boar Inn « Stuffed Crocodile

  2. Pingback: [DSA] Mapping Aventuria « Stuffed Crocodile

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