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S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1e) $6.99 $4.19
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
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by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/10/2021 15:55:54

Originall posted here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan-
.com/search/label/Classic%20Adventures%20Revisited

One of the first adventures I ever bought via mail-order was S3 The Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. I had already latched onto the idea that the S series of adventures were going to be mine to run in our extended group of players that crossed many DMs and groups. I grabbed it without really knowing a lot about it. I knew there was crashed spaceship central to the adventure and I knew that it was a larger adventure. Since I was spending my limited paper route money on my new D&D addiction I had to make every dollar count. S3 had two booklets, at 32 pages each, and color inserts. There were two covers with maps. So even my young mind all of this was more valuable than a simple adventure that only had half that material. I got it in the mail one summer and took with me on a family trip to the fish fry my parents loved to go to every year. It was hot, and July and all I wanted to do was sit in our van and read my adventure. This was also the first time that I encountered what I would later call the "Gary Gygax" effect. This would be the "E.G.G." on the map of Level II. I remember not liking it at the time because if this was a real spaceship then why was that there.

Sci-Fi gaming was not new to me. I had picked up Traveller and I knew about Gamma World. I also had learned that Gamma World and S3 had a shared parentage in Metamorphasis Alpha, though I will admit I wasn't 100% clear on what that meant at the time. Without knowing much about the size of the Warden (MA) we always assumed this was the Warden. Given the shape of the ship that landed on Greyhawk and it's size this was more obviously some sort of smaller scout ship with a prison or brig. One thing everyone in my groups agreed on was this is how Mind Flayers came to Greyhawk.

S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

For this review, I am considering my printed copy from 1982 or so (not my original sadly, lost that one years ago) and the PDF from DriveThruRPG. This adventure was written by Gary Gygax himself and was the official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Tournament scenario at Origins II in 1976. The adventure was updated and published in 1980. Cover art and art book art by Erol Otus, interior art by Jeff Dee, David "Diesel" LaForce, Jim Roslof, David Sutherland III, Gregory Flemming, and Erol Otus.

The adventure comes in two 32-page black and white booklets. The first covers the adventure and the second covers all the weird animals, plants, and gadgets found on the ship. There is also four pages in the center of book two with full-color art of the animals. I have one copy where they are glossy and another where they are matte. I have no detail on what the differences mean.

Book 1 covers the adventure. The preface sets up what this adventure is about and gives some background on how this adventure came to be. The rest sets up the adventure, placed in the Grandy Duchy of Geoff in the World of Greyhawk. There is a bit of explaining the nature of this "dungeon," really a crashlanded ship, and how to read the maps.

While one could call this a funhouse dungeon it is a bit different than the other Gygax funhouse, Tomb of Horrors. There are a lot of new and weird monsters here and some older ones (like the Mind Flayer) that are given a new life so to speak. What is most interesting to us, and to the players, were the new tech provided. The tech items were designed not really to be functional, but to confuse the players as much as possible. There really seemed to be a fear that D&D characters would run around with laser rifles. Of course the design makes no sense from a human perspective, so we tried to figure out how they might been created. One idea was that these make sense if you are a Mind Flayer.

The adventure itself is a pure dungeon crawl into an unknown structure.

Book 2 covers all the visual aids for this adventure.

The adventure is a must-have really to say you have had the complete D&D experience. My oldest hated it though, saying he hates mixing sci-fi with his D&D. My youngest loved and wanted lasers for everyone.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1e)
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