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Against the Slave Lords: "A" Series Classic Adventure Compilation: (A0 - A4) (D&D Adventure) Hardcover – June 18, 2013
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There are a few drawbacks to this edition. Because of the reliance on black-and-white printing for the entire contents, none of the original cover art is reproduced, which is a bummer on the nostalgia level. At the level of play, the publication suffers because unlike the originals the maps are not printed on the back of a DM's cardstock screen. Which means the DM is constantly flipping pages to track the map and read the module. Not a fatal flaw, but this is what prevents the product from being 5-star.
Overall, it is the same style and quality as the S1-S4 reprint previously released. It lacks the gold leaf edging and the cloth bookmark of the original core book reprints (both features that I really enjoyed in those books), but is on the same heavier stock, glossier paper as the previous reprints.
Of course, what makes this reprint different than the S1-S4 book, is the addition of adventure module A0 (a prequel to the other modules) by veteran writer and game designer Skip Williams. This adventure is the only part of the book that I have had time to read in its entirety at this point, and the adventure is an excellent way to get low level characters connected into the plot of the slave lords. Alternately, I know TSR back in the day recommended using T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil as the jumping in point.
The A0 module has the "old school" feel, and the artwork is spot on with the art of the other modules from the early 80's. The bugbear on page 21 is an especially nice touch as it looks just like the bugbear from the original Monster Manual...only in an action pose. Another nice touch of the A0 module is that a new monster, the Mudtiger, is given at the end of the module with stats in the original Monster Manual format. The only complaint is that the maps for A0 are a bit compressed and small, but my old eyes still managed them without too much trouble.
Modules A1-A4 appear to have been reprinted in their entirety. It does not say if any errata was included, and I don't even know what errors may have occurred in the original printings. Hopefully they fixed any glaring mistakes, but I don't recall any from my old copies.
In the very back, WOTC included fan artwork that was submitted during development of this book, which was inspired by the original modules. I felt like this was a nice touch as well. Many of these amateur artists are very talented and draw with an "old school" feel.
Overall, I enjoy this book so far. I was letdown by the S1-S4 book, but that was in part due my expectations not being fulfilled. Knowing better what to expect (e.g.: no gold leaf or bookmark), this book better meets my expectations. WOTC addressed some of my concerns regarding the S1-S4 book by releasing PDF's of the maps and illustrations booklets on their website. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4dnd/sseriesbonus
I am hoping they do the same for this book (at least the maps) because it is not always easy to use bound in maps when playing. However, I still have my old modules and maps as backups for play...but not everyone will have those, when they buy this book.
A good book, worth the money (got it cheaper than cover on Amazon.com), and I am very happy with my purchase.
So if one is a D&D type of person who loves this type of thing (& many of us are!) than grab this & the Dungeons Of Dread. You won't regret buying both of these!
The new module, A0, doesn't stray far from the path the older modules take, despite being written 30 years after the fact. The art and visual design is consistent and the product oozes that classic D&D flavor. If you obtained the premium core rulebook reprints and want something ready to go that doesn't involve a lot of overhead or extreme difficulty, this is a perfect release.
You may wonder why I've rated the product with 4 stars if I haven't played it. I've decided to rate this as a collector's item and piece of RPG history instead of a game. As the first balanced tournament adventure set it's basically the template for the D&D World Game Days and other events, such as D&D Encounters, that have emerged in recent years.
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There are all the modules he was looking for plus an extra 1st to 3rd level one at the beginning.