18 Day Module Challenge Day #1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh



Today's topic: A module that's part of a series. And my selection is TSR's Module U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh by David J. Brown and Don Turnbull. I've loved this module for a long time. This was the first of the AD&D U-series (U for UK) and as a huge anglophile I just could not help but like it. Let's get into my reasons:

(1) Like with several of the classic 1st edition modules, there is some expectation that the DM will have to put some time into preparing the thing for his or her players. And this is no exception. The town of Saltmarsh itself is only briefly described and, if the entire U-series is to be used, it will have to be developed, and indeed the module itself encourages this. Saltmarsh is a "small respectable fishing village" ruled by a town council. As with any settlement, I would say at the very least you'll need some local businesses, a temple or shrine, an Inn, a tavern or two, and several NPCs. For those interested, I would suggest you take a look at this link to see what Dragonsfoot member Turgenev of Paratime Design has done with the place. Right off the bat, you'll notice he's expanded it into a small town and placed several interesting features like a Thieves' Guild amongst other things - more than suitable for an entire short-campaign!

(2) U1 is rated as suitable for 5-10 characters of levels 1-3. From my own experience with the module, 5-10 players is a little bit on the high end of things and most of the challenges within are more than adequately dealt with by a smaller group of 3-6 PCs. Unlike the other classic 1st-level module B2: Keep on the Borderlands, this is not a combat heavy meat-grinder of an adventure and a smart and careful investigative style of play will work much better than a dungeon-delving approach. Indeed, some have likened the module to AD&D's answer to Scooby Doo.

(3) Just as Saltmarsh itself is a fishing village, the bulk of the adventure takes place in and around a 'haunted house' along the coast a short distance from the village. This maritime feel will only continue if the DM chooses to follow-up the adventure with the rest of the series U2: Danger at Dunwater and U3: The Final Enemy both of which feature significant waterborne and underwater adventuring - something only rarely touched on in TSR-era modules.

(4) Despite being explicitly designed for 1st edition AD&D, there's really not much here that would preclude it from being used with Tom Moldvay's Basic D&D, Labyrinth Lord or the Basic Fantasy RPG. Again, the GM may need to do a bit of preliminary preparation work to fit the adventure with any of those systems but the module itself is flexible enough that conversion should not prove too difficult.

If you'd like a copy of the module for yourself - here's a link to DriveThruRPG where you can pick up a pdf for yourself. 

Tomorrow: Day #2 A Module With a Monster in the Title

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