Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Retrospect: The Apocalypse Stone

(Here's an obligatory SPOILER ALERT! even though if DMs let their players see the front cover of this module, the players should know what they're in for. And I really find it hard to talk about this module without revealing part of its plot).


"Warning: This adventure will end your campaign and destroy your world!" --The description right under the heading, "How to Use this Product."

In honor of the Mayan Calendar coming to end and what all that could possibly entail, here is a retrospective of a module that happened at the AD&D Second Edition end times: The Apocalypse Stone, by Jason Carl and Chris Pramas, published in the summer of 2000, right before 3e came out.

Ah... the Millennium. Remember Y2K? Remember the television show Millennium? Of course, the Left Behind series was still in their hayday. UFO cults. Fun and interesting times.

Now imagine the Apocalypse happened, and it was all your fault, and you didn't know it.

That's the premise of this module: you've been duped.

Basically, your patron hires you to get the Stone of Corbinet  from its ancient resting place. This first part plays like a quest for the Holy Grail, with a crazy Fisher-like King and all. Once retrieved and brought back to patron, the world has been pushed out of tilt with the rest of the multiverse. Have a nice day.

What's even more insidious? The module tells you to run the players through another adventure (the Tomb of Horrors is suggested). This way, as the Signs of the Times unfold, the players won't immediately know its their fault. And then there's the cannibalism scene which the players have to redeem themselves before going on to save the world... or not.

The DM has a "ha ha... fooled you!" option. Or he can have the world end no matter what the PCs do.

Either way, I'd only run this module if I wanted my campaign world to end and if I had some trusting players who wouldn't get too upset if I deliberately dupe them this once.

Overall, I'm not sure if this is a good module. Some of the ideas are neat, but you can fabricate your own apocalypse by consulting the Book of Revelation or Ezekiel. One of the module's strong points is the slow sense of doom the characters might feel as the countdown to the world's end commences. As I said, the basic premise of the module requires the DM's deception. Even astute players, aware that their patron might be not all he seems, would still be railroad for their efforts if the DM follows the module as written.

I guess in the end, your mileage may vary.

Finally, I don't know anybody who's run this module. It was meant to be the wrap up module to AD&D Second Edition, along with the less impressive Die Vecna Die! Though the modules wrap up D&D in different ways (perhaps I'll compare the two modules in an upcoming post).

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Have you run The Apocalypse Stone? Or were you a player who went through the module? I'd love to hear your experiences with the world and edition ender. (Heck, if even you've read through the module I'd like you to share your thoughts).


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