A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade is part 2 of four classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules that form a series -- A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity, A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade, A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, and A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords -- complete with original black-and-white interior art.
A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade: The battle against the slavers continues! You and your fellow adventurers have defeated the slavers of Highport, but you have learned of the existence of another slaver stronghold, and you have decided to continue the attack. But beware! Only the most fearless of adventurers could challenge the slavers on their own ground, and live to tell of it!
For characters of level 4-7.
A2: "Secret of the Slavers Stockade" (1981), by Harold Johnson with Tom Moldvay, is the second of the "A" Slave Lords adventures. It was published in July 1981.
About the Title. The Acaeum states that the original name for this adventure was "Stronghold of the Slave Lords".
Note the missing apostrophe from the name that TSR picked instead, keeping in line with other AD&D 1e books like Players Handbook (1978) and Dungeon Masters Guide (1978).
Origins (I): From Tourney to Book. Like all of the adventures in the Slave Lords series, "Stockade" started out as tournament adventure that was run at Gen Con XIII (1980). It's based on the third and fourth of the five initial rounds of play. Though TSR planned to sell the adventures right after the tournament ran, all of the "A" adventures for delayed. In fact, "Stockade" seems to be the last of the four "A" adventures published, trailing A3: "Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords" (1981) and A4: "In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords" (1981) by a couple of months. Whoops!
Origins (II): Take Their Stuff! Harold Johnson was the GM who got the whole "A" series going by coming up with the idea of an adventure where players had to escape from a dungeon without their stuff. However it would instead be Lawrence Schick who wrote the finale with that plotline, in A4: "In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords".
About the Book. "Stockade" may have been delayed because it was so much longer than its predecessor. A1: "Slave Pits of the Under City" (1980) came in at just 24 pages, typical of the short length of D&D adventures at the time (and of D&D tournaments!), but "Stockade" jumped all the way to 40 pages, making it the longest adventure in the whole "A" series.
Adventure Tropes. Like the other initial rounds of play, the two in "Stockade" are tightly constrained with set numbers of very specific sorts of encounters (though that's somewhat relieved by the expansions that appear in the published module). This time around hobgoblins are the base monster in the first round of play, The Hill Fort, then that shifts to goblins in The Dungeon. (This was part of a purposeful trope of making the monsters weaker as the PCs climbed in level.)
Because of its tournament constraints, "Stockade" is largely a hack-and-slash dungeon crawl, with just a little puzzling and trickery on the side. Like "Slave Pits" before it, the two halves of "Stockade" are very shallowly connected (because they weren't connected in the actual tournament play).
Exploring Greyhawk. "Stockade" theoretically continues to detail the humanoid-infested Pomarj Peninsula in Greyhawk. It does so by revealing a fort in the Drachensgrab Hills, just a few hexes south of Highport. However, as with "Slave Pits", there's actually very little world-building detail here. The wilderness of the Drachensgrabs would get a little more attention in A1-4: Scourge of the Slavelords (1986), but for the most part this is a dungeon and little more.
Monsters of Note. Four monsters make their debut in "Stockade": the boggle, the cloaker, the haunt, and the phantom. The boggle and the cloaker were the monsters that debuted in the original adventures — following the tournament's requirement that each initial round have one new creature.
All four creatures reappeared in the Monster Manual II (1983). Afterward, they were more successful than almost any of the other new creatures in the Slave Lords adventures. The cloaker migrated to the Forgotten Realms, while a variant haunt was seen frequently across the Basic D&D line. Versions of the haunt and phantom also returned for D&D 3e (2000-2007).
About the Creators. Harold Johnson had once been the youngest hire at TSR. As manager of editing, he fell behind in finishing up the module, so handed it off to Tom Moldvay who finished typing the project (and adjusted it along the way).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.