Part 1

posted by Dareon Original SA post

You know what? Let's get old-school.

Rage of the Rakasta is a 2nd edition AD&D module written in 1993 by William W. Connors. A quick search reveals him to be a very prolific D&D writer, as well as being responsible for some billboards, apparently sometime in the 90s to judge from his website design.

You know, I picked this for its weeaboo furry connotations, but as I start reading it closely for this thread, I find all kinds of amazing things. Like the dedication. Keep in mind, this is a 16-page adventure supplement with cardstock sheet of folding figures and full-color foldout map. Not the sort of thing one expects to bear a dedication.


This book is dedicated to me. I'm the one who had to write it and I don't see why anyone else should get the credit. Thanks, Bill, I couldn't have done it without me.
This kind of implies he wasn't happy about writing it, at least.

Also, I was unaware the term DUNGEON MASTER (and associated acronym) was a trademark of TSR.

This adventure is intended for a single player and a DM. However, it can also be used with a party, or without a DM. DM-less play is accomplished by using the numbered map on the inside cover of the adventure, which also has the flavor description of the room. The player is advised to read this flavor text as they enter each room, decide what they want to do based on it, then look up the room in the adventure proper and deal with any Gygaxian naturalism that may result.

Picture, if you will. An ordinary afternoon in suburbia. Groups of adolescents make their way to their distractions. But one boy sits alone, in a basement dimly lit by naked bulbs and dimly decorated by nearly-naked ladies. He sits at a card table, dice and sheets of paper before him. But where other such tables are surrounded by like-minded fellows, the chairs sit empty, and the boy reads and rolls his dice in silence. Bizarre? To you and I, certainly. But simply a matter of everyday occurrence here in... The Grognard Zone.

This adventure uses the Dungeons & Dragons Game Box, a product I'm mostly unfamiliar with. It is for levels 2 through 4, and is part of the Thunder Rift game setting, theoretically a sequel to Quest for the Silver Sword , which I am also unfamiliar with. This adventure path also includes the adventures Assault on Raven's Ruins, In The Phantom's Wake, and Knight of Newts . Knight of Newts. Call me crazy, but that just doesn't strike fear.

The adventure begins on a stormy summer evening. "Certainly, this is a night for danger and intrigue." Suddenly, danger! Intrigue! The burgomaster of Torlynn- I assume the main city in Thunder Rift- summons the adventurer, for the second time, regardless of whether or not the character has had any part in Quest for the Silver Sword . In the burgomaster's drawing room, we are introduced to a hunched and ancient figure inside robes "so dark that they seem to drink up what lamp light hits them." Now, an exercise for the class: according to typical RPG color coding, what do extreme or otherwise adjectival black robes mean?

This figure is introduced to us as Kaminari, and sweeps back his hood to reveal that he is not a man, but a cat-man! He is a member of the rakasta, a race driven from their ancestral homes by a great dragon, who have, after long years of wandering, settled in Thunder Rift. After introducing himself, he explains that their daimyo, Kamaggi, has "begun to speak of making war against your race". This is slightly weak, considering that the PC being addressed may be a dwarf, (half-)elf, halfling, or gnome, as might the burgomaster, but that's a minor issue. Kaminari seeks to discover what has gone wrong with their daimyo, for which he needs the adventurer. When the player agrees, Kaminari teleports them to the courtyard of the daimyo's palace.

The daimyo's palace is fairly small (17 squares by 27, with a small chunk missing) and flat, stretching out across the map in the classic ranch-style dungeon. I understand they have design constraints, but you could just as easily do a two-floor tower on two four-page sheets of paper and at least get a slightly better representation of high-class Oriental architecture. This is a dungeon unlike any the players have explored before. The palace ( shirasokan to the rakasta) is obviously Oriental, made of wood with rice-paper fixtures and depictions of bamboo scattered all over. "All in all, the building looks far more pleasant and comfortable to live in than most castles the character has seen." Japaneesu wa soogy dess.

We begin in location 1: Courtyard . This is simply the starting point, a roughly 80-foot-square, well-tended garden. Exits from here are to room 2 and the hallway.

Hallway: The single hallway stretches throughout the palace, five feet wide at all points. From it, we can access rooms 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, and 17.

Room 2: Parlor . An elegant sitting room, the only thing amiss is that the lanterns in here are producing darkness instead of light. Exits are to room 1, the hallway, and room 3. Extinguishing the lamps or searching the room causes the black flames in the lamps to burst from them and form into an ebon tiger , the daimyo's burglar alarm. This is a 6-HD (35 hp) creature with THAC0 13 and a claw/claw/bite for 1d4/1d4/2d4+poison. Those bitten must make a saving throw vs. poison or suffer a cumulative -1 penalty to attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws for four rounds, after which they go completely and permanently blind. Gygaxian!

As a side note, the previous owner of this adventure apparently made some notes to upgrade it to 3rd Edition. According to this post-it, the ebon tiger is AC 14, atk +7, and the Fort save DC for the poison is 12.

After the ebon tiger is defeated, searching the room reveals a box containing 3 ivory matches. When lit and thrown, these replicate Magic Missile as cast by a 1st-level magic-user. Now, I appreciate the addition of magic that fighters can use, but aside from their material, there's apparently no indication these are magic, the halfling might just take them and use them to light his pipe.

Room 3: Bathroom . This is a literal room for bathing, the privy is an entirely different encounter. The only feature is a tub filled with scented water, coals still rendering it hot and steaming. There is, however, a corpse drowned in it. If disturbed, it animates as a zombie . The only exit is back to room 2. As a side note, the bathtub is apparently magical, considering that it's still hot with glowing coals while a lot of the rest of the palace rooms show signs of considerable neglect.

Room 4: Bedroom . Simple yet elegant, this bedroom is clearly that of someone important, possibly the daimyo herself. The only problem is, it's smaller than the other bedrooms. In the room are some papers on a desk-like shelf, four crystal vases filled with wilted flowers, and a flickering, sputtering oil lantern. The only exit is back to the hallway. The papers are mostly legal and bureaucratic in nature, save for a hurriedly-written letter:


There can be no doubt. Something dark is here. I think that it is the work of the wizard Kaminari. I advise you not to trust him.
Your Sister,
Danger! Intrigue! Kaminari, the wizard in the black robe , may not be entirely trustworthy? I am shocked, shocked I tell you!

The vases contain 12 magical flowers, 3 each of red, blue, yellow, and white. The adventurer must figure out their effects by trial and error. Mostly error. Take a look at that, and see if you can identify the problem there. This adventure is intended for one adventurer. That adventurer may very well be blind when if he reaches this room. There is no indication anywhere that brewing any of the flowers into tea would do anything. And even if you did stumble in and decide to brew tea out of whatever you could get your hands on, there's only a 1 in four chance you'd get it right. You might even get the blue flower, which I think most DMs would rule that brewing into tea counts as eating. Gygaxian!

The lantern is almost out of oil. If refilled, it will burn for days, but will not burn at all if removed from this room. What? What the fuck? Why even bother describing that?

Room 5: Bedroom . This one is richly appointed, with about a dozen silver figurines arrayed on a low shelf running along the walls. Exits are to the hallway and room 6. A sleeping mat is in the middle of the room, and curled on the mat is a female rakasta dressed in fine silk nightclothes. She is obviously dead, and her skin has the dry, stretched look of mummification.

The body wears a pendant in the shape of a blooming rose, inscribed "To my sister, whose beauty exceeds that of the rose and whose thorns are more cutting." Removing it causes the body to animate as a zombie . The pendant itself is worth 120 gp.

Searching the room uncovers nothing but valuable trinkets, about 200 gp worth.

The silver figurines are all finely carved representations of rakasta champions, with their names engraved thereon. There are thirteen of them, twelve of silver worth 100 gp each, the other of worthless tin. Curiously, the tin one and one of the silver ones are almost identical: both are inscribed with the name "Kamaggi" and appear to be mirror images (dun dun DUN!) of each other. Note that this room contains about 1520 gp in treasure, which is 1520 gp more than that found in the daimyo's bedroom, and at least 1300 more than that found almost anywhere else in the adventure.

Room 6: Bedroom. This room is empty, and makes a good place for the adventurer to hole up and heal. The only exit is to room 5. Apparently, even Oriental zombies are polite as fuck and will not bother you while you sleep. Japaneezu wa soggy desk.

Room 7: Dining Room . The main feature here is a massive pile of rotting meat on the table. Exits are to the hallway and room 8. Also, there is a ninja. Only slightly more difficult than the zombies, he wields a wakizashi (equivalent to a shortsword) and wears a Shadow Suit, a magic item that grants a +25% bonus to a thief's ability to hide in shadows. For non-thieves, it grants a flat 25% chance. No prize for searching the pile of meat.

Room 8: Kitchen . Contains knives, bowls, and the like, but no cooking equipment. A small glass cabinet full of spices scents the air. This is a wandering monster room, it could hold a rakasta zombie/ninja/warrior, a panther, or a tiger. The spices are worth up to 100 gp.

This has gotten pretty damn long, so I'll deal with the second half later.

Part 2

posted by Dareon Original SA post

Rage of the Rakasta, Part 2

When last we left our intrepid hero, he had realized his mother was right about going blind if he played with it too much, preferred the taste of Pepsi over Coca-Cola in a blind taste test, started a collection of Hummel figurines, and... got attacked by a ninja. Hey, I can't make jokes about everything .

Exiting from the dining room to the hallway, we consult the floor plan and see that we can access rooms 10, 12, 14, 15, and 17. Let's just take them more or less in order.

Room 10: Storage Area . This room contains crates of household goods, a wandering monster, and a pile of shattered mirrors. None of these are at all interesting. Wait, what?

Room 9: Parlor . A small brass gong emblazoned with the face of a roaring lion sits in one corner. Ringing it heals any injuries (but not status effects) but a wandering monster shows up next round. I think you could farm with this. The only thing keeping it from being an XP fountain is the DM's ability to say no or otherwise cause horrible things to happen. Personally, I'd have the dungeon boss show up on the fourth ring. Or another ebon tiger.

Room 11: Bathroom . This is the privy. Note that it is on the opposite side of the palace from the bathtub, room 3. This is a wandering monster room, which gives me the vaguely amusing thought of startling a Rakasta on the pot or finding a very well-trained giant cat. No treasure, so don't dive into the hole.

Room 12: Reception Room . The only salient feature of this room is a pair of mangled rakasta corpses, dressed in the fine leather armor of the daimyo's personal guard (How would the PC know? ). One of them carries a note from Kaminari asking them to meet him in this room in order to discuss an evil plot against the daimyo that he has uncovered. Danger! Intrigue!

Room 13: Conference Room . Wandering monster. "There is no obvious treasure here." There's no hidden treasure, either.

Room 14: Tea Room. Decorated with flowers and subtle watercolors, this room's main occupant is a silver tea service, the pot of which is still emitting a thin wisp of steam. Anyone drinking has their Prime Requisite raised by one. Unlike the gong, this only works once per imbiber. Behold the power of the mystical oriental tea ceremony. Yappy Knees wa sugary deez nuts. The teapot itself keeps any liquid hot and is worth 150 gp.

Room 17: Dueling Arena . Covered in padded mats, this room prominently features an armored bamboo practice dummy and weapon racks full of swords, both padded and sharp. Taking a weapon or attacking the dummy results in it animating and attacking you with a duplicate of the weapon you're using. It will even bow first. This is a really tough fight, the bamboo golem has an AC of 0, which is like AC 20 in modern d20 systems. Also, my memory of 2E is fuzzy, but I seem to recall there being no allowance for subduing and knocking out an enemy, meaning the padded weapons are just as deadly as their sharp comrades. It's just as well, constructs are immune to subdual damage anyway. The dummy's armor can be removed, but it's bolted on and would be ruined in the process, rendering it of no value to the hero.

Room 15: Private Temple . Richly decorated in silks and precious gems, the divine beauty of this room is marred only slightly by the unconscious and badly injured rakasta woman chained to the altar. If healed or given some water, she rouses enough to reveal herself to be the daimyo Kamaggi, and warn the hero that an evil creature has stolen her face. It is a servant of the evil wizard Kaminari! WHAT A TWIST!

Searching the room reveals a secret compartment in the base of the altar, containing the mighty zenchoo katana! '...Gesundheit, now what did I find?' This is a +3 katana that characters of Neutral and Chaotic alignments can't even pick up. Additionally, it can cast Clairvoyance 3 times per day after ten minutes of meditation. I think. If my memory is right, a turn is ten rounds and around is one minute.

Room 16: Secret Temple . Behind a door that's not hidden at all, right next to the good rakasta temple, is the evil rakasta temple, decorated with dark furnishings and cold, evil icons. Also dimly-lit, because evil. Inside, we find an exact duplicate of the daimyo we just rescued, fully armed and armored for battle. This is a futago, a type of doppelganger summoned from a mirror. It decided to start a war between the rakasta and humans because evil.

Now we hit an actual twist, instead of one we all saw coming a mile away. Kaminari's not actually controlling the futago, it's slipped his leash, hence the adventurer. I have to wonder what he expected. One, a single level 2 adventurer is likely to die in at least three different ways in this palace. Two, he left evidence of his plotting just laying about. So his being able to both solve the problem and keep it quiet is unlikely.

At any rate, the only real threat the futago poses is the 1d12 damage she deals... somehow. Seriously, that 1d12 isn't explained, she's using claw bracers, which are listed as 1d4. Although if you add the two strikes that rakasta can do with those, plus their 1d4 bite, that kind of evens out to 1d12... The bamboo golem and the ebon tiger both had more HP. She's immune to sleep and charm, and collapses into a puddle of mercury containing treasure type E when killed. Incidentally, a quick Google tells me that "futago" simply means twin. Not even evil or mystical twin.

Once the futago is defeated (As written, it implies before the player gets a chance to loot the puddle), Kaminari's teleport runs out of power and the player is transported back to the burgomaster's office. Here we have the chance to confront him. If asked, he says it was an experiment gone out of control, a likeness he created as a tribute to the daimyo's beauty and valor, but his spell went wrong. Whether this is true or not, we don't know and the adventure doesn't say. If allowed to leave or otherwise not confronted, he'll leave and fly away. If attacked or detained, he opens with a magic missile.

Kaminari is a 5th-level wizard, and knows Charm Person, Magic Missile, Mirror Image, Wizard Lock, and Fly. If he's defeated and the daimyo informed, she rewards the hero with a Cat's Eye Ring. This grants infravision as a dwarf or elf... or rakasta.

So, what happens if Kaminari escapes? There's a potential adventure idea where he settles elsewhere in Thunder Rift and adopts some of the ratlings from Quest for the Silver Sword , but nothing concrete. Other adventure ideas: The dragon that chased them out follows them, something is stolen, a rakasta noble hires the adventurer(s) for an escort mission through a dungeon, and... ninjas attack! Seriously, that is the entire gist of it.

That concludes the adventure portion, the rest of the booklet consists of magic items, monsters, and rules for playing as a rakasta. Magic items I mostly covered, except for the climbing claws (as toratsume (below), +10% to Climb Walls), which by the way are not listed in the adventure, and the fact that any potion result on the treasure table is instead a packet of tea leaves that need to be steeped for a few minutes before drinking.

Rakasta always use bladed weapons, they consider things like hammers, maces, and axes tools instead of weapons. So, their equipment list consists of four things. The tanto, wakizashi, and katana are daggers, shortswords, and longswords, respectively. Toratsume are leather gauntlets with sharp metal blades on the fingers. They do 1d4. When using these, rakasta (and only rakasta) can attack twice per round with a +1 bonus to attack.

You know, that's a silly way to wear your swords...

Which brings us to playing a rakasta. This... This is a racial class. This is really weird to me. I could have sworn this post-dated AD&D, which had by then switched to the familiar class/race separation. Yet this is copyrighted 1993, and my AD&D books are '97. I probably got thrown off by the actually Gygaxian Monster Manual I have, which is dated 1978 and still labeled Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

Anyway, leaving my complete inability to develop a coherent timeline aside, rakasta have Dexterity as their Prime Requisite. 13 Dex gives a 5% bonus to EXP gained, 16+ gives 10%. Dex 8- and 5- confer penalties of 10% and 20% respectively. Rakasta use d8 Hit Dice, and apparently only have five levels.

Rakasta must have at least 9 Strength, and cannot use plate armor, shields, or non-sword weapons. They have infravision and gain a 1d4 bite attack at 2nd level that can be combined with toratsume attacks, but not other weapons.

The monster descriptions come next, after a mostly-irrelevant map of the rakasta city. There are only four, and they are mostly as represented in their specific encounter blocks in the adventure proper. There are a few interesting points, however:
-Rakasta ninja are described as "some of the most skillful and dangerous creatures in the world." They have 2 Hit Dice and have all the abilities of a 2nd-level thief. They can backstab, and use save or die poison.
-The ebon tiger is incorporeal, and can only be hurt by magical weapons or spells. This is not listed in the quick block in its encounter. Also not listed is that any type of magical healing cures its blindness poison if administered before the penalty reaches -4.

And there you have it. Thank you for coming along on this little odyssey with me. I'd finish up with another "Japanese wa sugoi desu" mangling, but I really used up the best one when I hit 'deez nuts'.