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FRE2 Tantras (1e/2e)
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FRE2 Tantras (1e/2e)

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Elminster has been murdered.

And to make matters worse, the player characters who helped to save Shadowdale from the armies of Zhentil Keep in Shadowdale have been sentenced to death for killing the old sage. They're innocent, of course, but in this time of troubles in the Realms, truth and justice are not always served. Imprisoned in the Tower of Ashaba, the heroes must escape if they are to survive.

Later, when the heroes start their quest for the first of the mysterious Tablets of Fate—mighty artifacts stolen from the overlord of the gods himself—they come up against an even greater peril: Bane, the God of Strife, and his ally, the God of Death, have set in motion a plot to capture the heroes and their companions. They must face deadly assassins, nightmarish monsters, and violent storms on their way across the Dalelands. And the worst threat of all is an unexpected one; the man who helped the heroes earlier has now joined the side of Bane and the forces of Zhentil Keep.

"Tantras" is the second of a three-part series of adventures for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition roleplaying game, but it can also stand alone. Set in the popular Forgotten Realms game world, this adventure is loosely based on Richard Awlinsons's Tantras, the second novel in the Avatar Trilogy.

This adventure is designed for four to six player characters of levels 6-9.


Product History

FRE2: "Tantras" (1989), by Ed Greenwood, is the second adventure in TSR's first "Realms-shaking" event: Avatar. It was released in June 1989.

About the Cover. The cover shows Mourngrym of Shadowdale sitting judgement over the player characters, as depicted by Clyde Caldwell. Unfortunately, the cover art was created well before the module was written, and at the time no one knew who would be holding court over the characters; as a result, it's not actually a good depiction of events. Mourngrym shouldn't be a menacing cultist surrounded by slave girls.

The model for this version of Mourngrym was probably TSR artist David (Diesel) LaForce.

Event Origins. "Tantras" continues the Avatar event, which depicts the Time of Troubles, when the gods fell to the Realms. It parallels the second Avatar novel, Tantras (1989). Unfortunately, there was a bit of trouble with the novel: the original author was replaced very late in the process, forcing Scott Ciencin and James Lowder to take over. They replotted the novel, then Ciencin rewrote it and Lowder revised that. In turn, this all meant that Greenwood was hearing about changes to the storyline at a very late date.

One other change occurred at a somewhat late date: the novel was moved from its original location of Raven's Bluff south to the town of Tantras, because the RPGA had been given Raven's Bluff for their Living City campaign.

Later events such as Empires (1990) differentiated their novels and adventures more. This was probably in part to give payers more free will, but it also helped to avoid the problems of such tight coordination.

Adventuring Tropes. "Tantras" is one of the most heavily plotted adventures in TSR's entire catalog, with no random encounters and very little opportunity for players to go their own way. Instead, it's entirely composed of plot events, with the single small dungeon crawl encapsulated in a short event itself. Off-stage events even describe what's going on elsewhere! This all set the standard for how AD&D 2e (1989) adventures were written.

Expanding the Realms. Despite its name, about half of "Tantras" occurs in the Dalelands: in Shadowdale, along the river Ashaba, in Mistledale, and in Scardale. This continued the expansion of the Dalelands as a place for adventure, begun in FRC2: Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989), and FRE1: "Shadowdale" (1989).

The eponymous Tantras was a new locale, found just across the Dragon Reach from Scardale. This was another part of the Realms undergoing rapid expansion, as LC1: "Gateway to Ravens Bluff, The Living City" (1989) would detail the nearby city that was almost the setting of this adventure just a few months later.

Amusingly, Greenwood first used the word Tantras as the name of a scholar interested in icky, wriggly things in "The Ecology of the Rot Grub" in Dragon #122 (June 1987).

Future History. The Avatar event concludes in FRE3: "Waterdeep" (1989).

About the Creators. Greenwood is the creator of the Realms, and so was the perfect person to herald in a new era. He also wrote FRE1: "Shadowdale" and FRE3: "Waterdeep." 

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on August 26, 2014.