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As reported in the D&D 5E forum here at The Piazza, Goodman Games are continuing their series revisiting classic D&D modules that started with Keep on the Borderlands. The second book in this series will feature full reprints both Classic D&D versions of the Isle of Dread (Blue and Red Cover versions).
Isle of Dread - comparisonby Khedrac
I have both versions so if someone asks nicely I can go and compare the two.
The artwork is dfferent (which I won't mention again), the new version crediting art to Timothy Truman (and editing to Tim Kilpin).
The wilderness maps have been redrawn (even the two-colour versions) with slightly different symbols, but all the content is the same.
All the maps have been re-lettered and in some cases (see below) the numbering has changed. Notably the compass rose on the Blue players' map was hand-labelled and replaced by a printed one in the new players' map.
Starting with the card cover: (I will number encounters with map number/encounter number)
The Orange (new) version has a perforated edge third page with the master version of the players' map (edges mapped only) in glossy colour on the outside and a blue and white image of the letter on the inside. In the Blue (old) edition these are the back page of the paper booklet (perforated for removal).
The inside covers have maps for "taboo Island" - Temple Levels 1 2 and 3 - maps E-9, E-10 and E-11 (old) or maps 12, 13 and 14 (new).
The encouters on the maps have been re-numbered - on the old maps each encounter area in independently numbered from 1 (or from A for map E-11) and the new maps are continuously numbered with all the other encounters (so from 30 for what was E-9 encounter 1).
The maps are almost identical with one intentional and 2 (I think accidental) changes:
Room E-9/5 had a expansion picture showing how the room goes over a tunnel mouth in the wall (see my earlier post), while room 12/34 does not have the cut-away but labels the area above the passage as "A" - a labelling not in the old map.
Both map symbols keys include one for "altar", but the new map omits the altars in rooms 12/37 and 13/42 which are clearly shown in E-9/8 and E-10/5.
The players' maps are functionally identical, except that the new version has the native trail into the interior end at the vertex of a hex so one cannot tell which one it exits to, on the old verison the direction is clear.
The letters are very similar (thouh the old one is much easier to read being in a clear font and decent sized typface) but there are a few differences:
1) The old letter spells the village of Tanaroa as Tanoroa.
2) The old letter has the sentences "The village contains a number of huge life-like statues of iron, bronze and stone. Since no village currnetly has the skill or the craft to make such statues, the tale of a lost city built by the 'gods' seems reasonable." at the start of the penultimate paragraph; these sentences are missing from the new version - I wonder if this to stop the PCs trying to steal the staues?
3) The old last paragraph contains the sentence:
"We were afraid to land, since village fishermen had warned us that it was extremely dangerous to land anywhere on the main island and the coasts were rocky with no beaches."
The new version is:
"We were afraid to land, since village fishermen had warned us that trying to land anywhere on the main island would be extremely dangerous, as the coasts were rocky and without beaches".
4) Finally, the new version is "signed" with a drawing of a large fish (head of a sperm whale, but upright tail) and the intials 'RB; with the 'B' backwards, the old version is signed 'Rory Barbarosa' (written to make the last 'a' look like a 'y' or possibly a 'aj').
That's all for today (I spent most of the day going up to London for a guided walk - the geology one if people are interested, it was very good, check out walks.com). More tomorrow afternoon.
Moving on to the maps.
Interestingly all the old module maps are perforated for easy removal despite being centre pages (except for the letter and players' map as earlier covered) - this isn't something I had noticed before as it is well enough done not to fall apart through limited use. The new maps are centre pages with instructions to remove by opening and closing the stables.
Map E-1/Map 2 - Village of Tanaroa - essentially identical except that the text has been re-done which storngly suggests they had the original master copy of the map without labels to update.
Map D-1/Map 1 - The Isle of Dread - identical with two differences - font and the village names. The locations numbers are identical so the only change of substance is that the villages on the defended peninusla and nearby islands are named on the new map (except for Tanaroa) but not named on the original map.
Map E-2/Map 3 - General Cave Lair #1
Map E-3/Map 4 - General Cave Lair #2
Map E-5/Map 7 - Rakasta Camp
Map E-6/Map 8 - Aranea Lairs
Orignally the first two maps were on one page and the second two another, but in the new version they are combined into one page.
The maps are functionaly identical, but there's a key difference which actually makes it look as if they are not! In both cases the latter two maps are labelled as 1 square = 10', but originally the first two had a note of 1 square = 5' next to the title for general lair 2 strongly implying that lair 1 should be as well; this label is missing from the new version so the only scale guide is the 10'/square from the other two maps. Most DMs will run the caves twice as big as they are acutally supposed to be,
The labelling of the Rakasta map changes from 6 'R1's, 3 'R2's and 'R3' and 'R4' to '9a1' to '9a6', 3 '9b's, '9c' and '9d'.
The Aranea map has been relabelled from A1, A2 and A3 to 14a, 14b and 14c.
Map M-1/Map 6 - The Continental Map/The Continent. Interestingly both maps seem to have accidental errors, though (so far as I can see) they are otherwise identical except for fonts.
The old map has forgotten to colour in the lakes so they're not actually drawn as lakes - there appear to be three on the map - Lake Amsorak and two un-named in Rockhome (Stahl and Klintest), of these one (Lake Klintest) is also not coloured in on the new map!
The new map has left off the two "trails" on the map - Darokin to Selenica and Castelland to Soderfjord ("trail" is still in the key, there are just none shown on the map.
Map E-4/Map 5 - Pirate Lair - the usual comments apply, it has been renumbered from P1 to P5 to 7a to 7f (P6, the wall isn't labelled on the old map).
Map E-6/Map 9 - Phanaton Settlement - usual comments, plus renumbering from PH 1 to PH 6 to 10a to 10f. Curiously the old map had a ruler scale equating to 5'/square, the new map more sensibly filled what was the scale box with a statement of 5'/square.
In the old module the final two are not on a removal page - they are on a regular page with text on the back:
Map D-2/Map 10 - Central Plateau - usual caveats, renumebred from 1 to 5 to 25 to 29.
Map E-8/Map 11 - Village of Mantru - usual font caveats, and they have added a label to the stockade wall.
Ignoring the general text and concentrating on actual module substance:
The Continent(al) Map - the country descriptions are in different orders, but seem to be identical except for Thyatis where the new version contains the sentence "Trade routes for this area are given in the D&DŽ Expert rule book."
The old module slips a pronunciation table in before the Weather and Climate section which contains a couple of minor differences: the old version clarifies "the Pacific South Seas islands" as "(Oceana)" and the last sentance has been reworded from ending "similar to that of Denmark" to "similar to Denmark's climate".
The DM's copy of the players' letter has the same spelling miskate for the village name (Tanoroa) as the hand-out copy - so it looks like this is an possibly intentional as a mistake on the part of the letter's author.
The letter is variously described as a parchment log, a parchment ship's log and a ship's log - since it was written in hidden ink I don't think it can be regarded as a ship's log so I will keep calling it "the letter" for consistency.
Under Preparation the new module gives a worked example for calculating the seaworthiness of an old decrepit boat.
Both modules make the comment (under inheriting a boat) that there's an inheritance tax of 10% - did anyone remember that ruling for Karameikos? - I didn't.
The first 4 entries on table 1 have been swapped round between the two versions, but the number appearing have been swapped with them
roll - Old - New
1-2 - Dryad - Bee, Giant
3-5 - Ghoul - Dryad
6-29 - Human - Ghoul
30-32 - Killer Bee - Human
I very much prefer the original 23% chance of encountering natives rather than the new 23% ghouls - I think natives make more sense.
Table 2 has defintely been messed around with:
9-10 - Centaur has been changed to sabre-toothed tiger
11 Cyclops becomes Centaur
12-17 Dire Wolf becomes 12 Centaur and 13-17 Dire Wolf.
44-49 Mastodon become Prehistoric Elephant
and then it gets complex:
78-82 Rock Baboon
83-86 Sabre-toothed Tiger
78-84 Rock Baboon
Table 3 is also complicated:
Moving into the main encounters proper I am only going to cover the substance of the encounter, not how they change the wording:
The village of Tanaroa looks the same, but it is big enough I have not done a word-by-word comparison.
I am skipping encounters that are the same in both versions (to cut down on spoilers).
Old - 5 bull sharks
New - 4 crocodiles
A switch from 2HD to 6HD creatures, but the sharks have mainly over average hp with the crocs all having below average.
Old - giant squid
New - water termite
Both mainly a threat to the ship, the squid is far more dangerous to the party (and it will be noticed) - the termite is likely to be missed until the ship sinks.
Old treasure includes 17 gems worth 1,700gp total, New treasure reduces that to 1,300gp - obviously someone has sneaked in and substitued inferior gems!
The bugbear guards have had their hp reduced from 16 and 14 to 11 and 10 - for 3d8+1 this is now below average (but not as bad as the crocs).
Old - sea dragon, new sea hydra
Moving on then, the central plateau has its own wandering monster table where the new version again suffers from missing monsters:
2 - Cave Bears
3 - Wooly Rhino
7 - Antelope
9 - Mastadons
10 - Titanothere
2-3 - Cave Bears
7 - Animal herd (identical stats to antelope)
9 - Elephants, Prehistoric
10 - Triceratops
All others the same.
In the new module the encounter numbers continue starting at 25, in the old they restart at 1 - so 25 = 1; however the encounters all appear identical so on to Taboo Island where the Old numbers reset again and the new numbers continue from 30 (so now 30 = 1).
Room 3/32 - well, well, well - I was wrong when I said that the old module had the carved face above the passage - because the cut-away diagram on the map doesn't show the face I assumed that, but the descriptions are identical. This does explain why they removed the cut-away, but it was still very useful for how the passages connect.
Room 4/34 - funtionally identical except the old module has brownish mold that is "actually yellow mold"; the new verions has yellow mold covered in damp dust making it look brown.
2nd Level - guess what, the old module resets the numebrs to 1 again so now 1=38
Old - 3 albino mako sharks, New - 2 giant crabs. The crabs are limited in movement range because they cannot swim (so they stay where they can reach creatures on the surface) and actually have above average hp!
Old - 3 giant piranhas, New 3 crocodiles
These crocs are "normal" unlike the "large" ones in area 2 - so they have 2HD. When I say that the 6HD ones in area 2 had hp: 18, 15, 12 and 10 (I said they were below average) you will probably expect these to be even worse - wrong, these 2HD crocs have 21, 19 and 15 hp - 2 of them above maximum! They are a reasonable match for the piranha.
The old mdoule is A to F, the new is 46 to 51.
The two modules are identical for these areas.
The sections for other adventrues and sample wandering parties and tibal leaders have the same content.
Then there are the new monster sections - how relevant are these as I think they are all eprinted in the Creature Catalogue?
Ooh - and finally in the New module is the pronunciation guide that was near the start of the old module - and they are not the same.
Well the pronunciation marks appear to attempt to be the same (both sets look to be hand annotated on the printed text) but the list of included words are different - "Grangeri" is in the New list only.
In the main I think the re-tooling in power has been from having a limited selection of monsters to work with - when increasing this HD they have reduced the hp to make up for it. My guess with the piranha to crocs is that they forgot the crocs had fewer HD at the smaller size when calculating their hp - they're actually nearly identical to the piranha in stats.
The treasure is also almost identical - so why a couple of items get reduced I do not know - best guess would be typos.
I think the new adventure is an attempt at a faithful reproduction of the old adventure correcting most of the errors but having to cope with not all of the monsters being available (and not enough room to indluce them all as new monsters). They have kept the original authors as the authors, but credited a new editor and aritst (I cannot find art credits on the old adventure) - and the art is a lot better on in the new module.
If I have a complaint about the new module it is the fancy handwriting fot used for the letter/log introducing the characters to the adventure - it just makes it hard to read (though nthing like as bad as many 3.5 products). And before anyone says "it's realistic" my players tend to just cast comprehend languages which gives me the task of trying to read it again. (You know you are old when most of your gaming group pulls out their reading glasses and the most admired dice are the ones twice the size of the others for readability.)