Monday, October 7, 2013

TFT's Master of the Amulets - Review and Revised Map

In 1981 Metagaming released their 7th MicroQuest, Master of the Amulets. Unlike the previous six, this one attempted to get away from using a pre-programmed adventure, relying on random placement of objects and die rolls to make each adventure unique. The main flaw of the pre-programmed MicroQuests was that they could really only be run through once and then all the mystery is gone. Since everything was random in MotA, there was no chance of that happening.

Of course, this meant that there wasn't much of an adventure, either. Worse, there wasn't much variety in encounters, with only a relatively small selection of critters (dragons, giants/ogres, gargoyles, giant snakes, wolves, trolls, bears, and "serpents", the one original monster introduced for this MicroQuest) and a limited number of random Fighters and Wizards. At barest minimum, then, the random encounters should have had a wider range of creatures that could be encountered.

As written, this MicroQuest seems to have been geared more towards basic Melee and Wizard, or perhaps the Dragons of Underearth summary TFT ruleset, then the Advanced modules and In the Labyrinth. There are some references to certain spells and talents, but overall it appears that ITL was an afterthought.

In his review in Space Gamer No. 49 Stefan Jones comments that had this MicroQuest come out before the release of ITL and the advanced combat/wizardry modules, this would have been "...state of the art adventure technology." But being released after put it in conflict with, for example, existing overland travel rules, along with some other small but important rules in ITL, such as how experience is accumulated, the use of gold bars for treasure (after the manner of Death Test), the nature of the amulets themselves, which does not comport with magic item rules as given in Advanced Wizard, and a few others.

This makes me conclude that this adventure was written and submitted for publishing prior to the release of ITL, but was delayed for some unknown reason. This explains not only the rules conflicts, but also the lack of any mention of Cidri, the giant game world that is home for most of the adventures written for The Fantasy Trip, sort of like "Greyhawk" for early Dungeons & Dragons (the main exceptions being Grail Quest, which is Arthurian Britain, and the Treasure of Silver Dragon and Unicorn Gold, which take place on the Dragonodon Earth).

As far as adventures go, this Master of the Amulets is only so-so. It could be improved, though, with the addition of more varied encounters, as noted previous. Optionally, if using the ITL Talents rules, one could include rules for gathering food and so forth by means of the Woodsman talent, with parties not so supported having issues finding food, etc. Another possibility might be to have hexes with ruins that could be randomly generated for type and accopanying encounters, with perhaps more challenges but better chances for treasure. Maybe have special encounters near river hexsides that allow the party to capture a boat. Lots of possibilities, really.

One improvement I will share, though, is a corrected map. As released the "ENTER" hex, along with the "X's" on four of the hexes where one places the amulet counters, were missing. I have through various diabolic means corrected these problems, and make available here this map. Be sure to go into the options when downloading it to get the full size version. Enjoy!

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