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CM3 Sabre River (Basic)

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You are a guest of the count, one of your allies and the strongest man in the region. Your sojourn has been pleasant, a nice change after weeks of battle. Suddenly the courtyard below your window is filled with the noise of galloping horses. More guests?

You yawn as you look out. But these people arriving look more like tax collectors than guests. You decide to give your attention to something more interesting, like dinner.

Relax while you can, friend, because these new arrivals are about to lead you to a crimson sailor, a cozy Tower of Terror, and a river with an aching heart.

Sabre River includes a complete campaign setting, new NPCs, dungeon and wilderness encounters, and a mysterious story.

Product History

CM3: "Sabre River" (1984), by Douglas Niles and Bruce Nesmith, is the third companion-level adventure for Basic D&D. It was released in 1984.

Not a Typical Companion Adventure. The D&D Companion Rules (1984) laid out a standard format for Companion adventures involving politics, warfare, and the rule of domains. "Sabre River" doesn't involve mass battles, nor does it give players the opportunity to take control of domains. In fact it's a series of pretty standard dungeon crawls.

However, "Sabre River" cleverly manages to fit those dungeon crawls into the Companion style of play by turning them into a solution for a dominion-level problem: the curse of Sabre River is a dominion-level event.

"Sabre River" also includes one other Companion-level favorite: wrestling rules! Multiple 4 hp villagers try to wrassle the Companion-level heroes!

Exploring the Known World. "Sabre River" depicts (as you'd expect) the Sabre River, a long river in the lands of Norwold from CM1: "Test of the Warlords" (1984). Unfortunately the setup for the adventure also reveals its biggest problem: the River is assumed to be in the domain of a player, acting as a new domain-level problem for them … so the designers couldn't explicitly define where the river fit in the lands of Norwold! Most fans have identified it as one of the two major rivers running south of the Alpha Peninsula, from the Wyrmsteeth Range to the Great Bay.

"Sabre River" also reveals additional historical information on Norwold. The adventure's core problem is ultimately the result of a Alphatian invasion of Norwold that occurred sometime in the past.

NPCs of Note. The Crones of Crystykk, who debuted in CM1: "Test of the Warlords", make a return visit here. They're once more mysterious and cryptic.

Monsters of Note. "Sabre River" introduces one new monster, the Sabreclaw. It's not a major D&D monster, as it's only reappeared in various monster collections. Nonetheless, the sabreclaw is a notable addition to D&D lore because it's a hive creatures that shares its hit points among a group — making it an early form of the swarms that became popular with the advent of D&D 3e (2000).

Future History. The events of "Sabre River" got some further attention in a trio of recent fan magazines: Threshold #6 (2014), Threshold #7 (2015), and Threshold #8 (2015).

About the Creators. Niles had been writing for TSR since his debut on N1: "Against the Cult of the Reptile God" (1982), while Nesmith made his debut in 1984 with X7: "The War Rafts of Kron" (1984) and CM3: "Sabre River" (1984). They'd both continue with TSR into the '90s.

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

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Matt B May 24, 2019 7:14 pm UTC
Great POD copy.
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This title was added to our catalog on November 17, 2015.