Thoughts on UK2: The Sentinel

I’ve mentioned time and again about a monthly AD&D 1st edition group I’ve been playing with (sometimes lovingly referred to as “The Old Schoolers” or “Old Timers.”) These monthly meet ups are always an amazing get together! The crew primarily consists of a handful of guys who have been playing AD&D since they were teenagers, and most of the younger crowd consists of their children. The fun part is I got to bring in a buddy of mine who was a friend of my older brother, and apparently he’s gamed with these guys “back in the day” as well. I freaking adore these guys and their love of the game….and I also love that when I mention stuff like the OSR movement and “retro clones”, they kinda roll their eyes and say things like “….that’s cute.” I also love this group because, despite only meeting monthly, it’s probably the only group I have left that gets together around lunch time and plays until 9 or 10 in the evening. I think I get more gaming in monthly with these guys than I do with my “regular” groups.

The past few sessions have been interesting. I started running the AD&D module UK2: The Sentinel in hopes of also getting to run UK3: The Gauntlet. What was really interesting was there was a session in between I had to miss out on, so the regular DM for the group ran a side adventure, and this past session became a sort of two parter: the conclusion of the side adventure, followed up with me hopping back behind the DM screen to finish up The Sentinel. Still, it was relatively easy to work with and felt coherent.

What I really digged about The Sentinel was how the adventure was broken up: The adventurers arrive in the town, the elder pleads for them to investigate mysterious murders they believe were caused by a Skulk gone mad, and then the PC’s had a country side to adventure in. Rumors lead the players off one direction, in what I admit kinda becomes a “Sorry Mario, your quest hook is in another dungeon” type scenario, but it was still a fun time during the first session. There’s plenty of wilderness and chances for encounters, including an interesting Merchant band encounter where one of the players gets stolen from and leads to some interesting side role-playing (and possibly combat, depending on how they handle the situation.)

The other fun thing, for me personally, was the fact that this particular module uses monsters almost exclusively from the original Fiend Folio. Which apparently, even the most hardened AD&D players still give a look of “wtf is that?” when these critters are used. No kobolds, goblins or orcs here….we have Skulks, Xvarts, Sheet Phantoms, etc. Since I’m one of the “kids” in the group, it’s nice to be able to throw at them monsters that leave the players scratching their heads and wondering what these things are capable of. There were a few regular Monster Manual critters thrown in — an Owlbear, Wererat, Peryton — but the meaty parts of the crawl seemed to be really centered on exhibiting the odd creatures from the Folio. Thankfully, it was written in a matter that made sense and was organic, not just a random dungeon menagerie of the macabre.

I got a lot of mileage out of this module, and I’m looking forward to kicking off its sequel next session. Hell, I’m not opposed to running this adventure again for another gaming group. I’m usually not a big fan of published adventures…but there was a good sense of flexibility and circumstance in this module that you just don’t find in more modern publishing.