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XSOLO Lathan's Gold (Basic)
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XSOLO Lathan's Gold (Basic)

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Kidnapped! The cursed Baron von Hendriks has kidnapped your betrothed. Now the madman wants as a ransom your Alandah's weight in unrefined gold! How are you going to pay?

The baron himself has been kind enough to provide you with that answer: streams of raw gold gush from a burning mountain somewhere in the Sea of Dread. All you have to do is find this mysterious mountain.

Unfurl the sails! The3 open sea awaits you and your crew as you sail from the city harbor. But beware! The Sea of Dread has more than earned its title over the centuries.

Can you survive the perils of the sea? Will your crew mutiny before you reach the Burning Mountain? Or will you have to throw crewmembers overboard just to make room for the gold? It's all up to you in this D&D Solo Adventure.

Lathan's Gold is for one player only, but that one player may choose between several different characters and quests. The adventure includes city, voyage, and island encounters, as well as a complete solo combat system.

Product History

XSOLO: "Lathan's Gold" (1984), by Merle M. Rasmussen, is the first in a new series of Solo adventures for Basic D&D. It was published in February 1984.

Origins (I): New Basic D&D Lines. Frank Mentzer's updated Basic Rules (1983) and Expert Rules (1983) brought a resurgence for Basic D&D, resulting in a few new module lines. O1: "The Gem and the Staff" (1983) debuted the idea of "one-on-one" adventures, then AC1: "The Shady Dragon Inn" (1983) kicked off a set of accessories. Now XSOLO: "Lathan's Gold" marked the first in a series of new solo adventures for Basic D&D.

Origins (II): The Summer of '83. "Lathan's Gold" began life as a proposal from Rasmussen that was approved by Brian Blume in the summer of '83. At the time it was called "Land Ho!". Rasmussen took about three months to design "Lathan's Gold", beginning in August 1983. Another Rasmussen project, "Quagmire" was approved at about the same time, but "Lathan's Gold" ended up beating "Quagmire" out the door, when the latter was delayed for about half a year.

Origins (III): Continuing the Solo Books. Solo adventure books were hot in the '80s, with Bantam's Choose Your Own Adventure stories (1979) and GW's Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (1982) being two of the leading series. TSR got into the genre early with their own Endless Quest books (1982), which were story-focused adventures. Afterward they tried to push into the denser field of gamebooks by publishing a pair of D&D solo modules, M1: "Blizzard Pass" (1983) and M2: "Maze of the Riddling Minotaur" (1983).

Both of the "M" solo adventures used a magic marker technology that required that paragraphs of text (and later, dice results and even a map of a maze) be revealed using a special marker. This damaged the replayability of the game, and also made the books vulnerable to the pen drying out and (eventually) the ink becoming unresponsive. Today they're not well-loved, because few if any still work.

TSR clearly saw some flaws in the methodology too, because in 1984 they moved over to gamebooks without the gimmicks, reflecting the sort of solo adventure found in the new Basic Rules (1983). They would eventually produce three games for the Basic D&D line in this format, XSOLO: "Lantham's Gold" (1984), BSOLO: "Ghost of Lion Csatle" (1984), and XS2: "Thunderdelve Mountain" (1985).

Adventure Tropes: Choose Your Own Adventure. "Lathan's Gold" is a real innovation in solo adventure design, considerably more complex than any of the gamebooks then being produced. Though the adventures uses the typical trope of numbered paragraphs, its paragraphs are divided into six types: "S"pecularum, "U"rban", Island "E"xploration", "C"oastal", "T"rade Routes, and "V"oyages. Players can jump between the sections, then return, in slightly freeform ways. Players are also required to keep track of hit points, money, and treasure (which were typical for the more advanced gamebooks), and rations, days remaining, and hull points (which were not). Another freeform element, quite unusual for gamebooks, is the "wandering monsters" table, which introduces semi-random encounters.

The combat in this adventure is clearly based on D&D, but largely abstracted and surprisingly non-random. Attacker and defender stats are cross-referenced on a chart that reveals the efficacy of the attack, then the tables are turned.

The core adventure in "Lathan's Gold" is Lathan's quest: he's collecting gold, and has a time limit. However, five other characters each have their own quest, creating a very open-ended adventure.

Exploring the Known World. "Lathan's Gold" starts in the city of Specularum, but quickly moves into the Sea of Dread, providing one of the best references for the scattered islands of that area. (Mind you, converting all of the paragraph entries to a more useful map would take some major work, but even without that, many of the individual paragraphs would be great adventure seeds for a campaign setting in the Sea.)

Future areas of interest like the Kingdom of Ierendi, the Minrothad Guilds and the Empire of Thyatis all appear as well, as part of a filled-in coastal map. There's one notable omission, though: the city of Athenos. A trade route runs right up to where the city should be, but the sole label in the area reads "Malpheggi Swamp". This could have been accidental omission, but it also could have been a reflection of how the Known World was more sparsely populated before the "GAZ" era (1987+).

NPCs of Note. The Dwarven PC is named Elrem Nessumsar, a reversal of the author's name.

About the Creators. Rasmussen worked at TSR for about two years, and was very busy in 1984 writing Known World adventures, also including X6: "Quagmire!" (1984) and BSOLO: "Ghost of Lion Castle" (1984).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Discussions (2)
Customer avatar
Radim H October 18, 2016 4:11 am UTC
PURCHASER
I still hope they will update it with tha page 14. :-/
Customer avatar
Douglas B September 27, 2016 1:37 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Page 14 is missing from the scan.
Customer avatar
Jeff E September 27, 2016 4:37 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I can confirm this. But, it's a non-essential full page illustration. My original copy is missing pages, but not that page, so I could look it up. Now, after several decades, I can actually play through the thing.
Customer avatar
Douglas B September 27, 2016 5:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the follow-up, Jeff. I'm still hoping we get a corrected scan including that page, but it's good to know it's not essential.
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Product Information
Author(s)
Artist(s)
Pages
32
Edition
1.0
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9082
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5.17 MB
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File Last Updated:
September 12, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on September 27, 2016.