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Fleshing out X9by Demos Sachlas
This is a great thread. The idea of properly fleshing out X9 to make it work is growing on me. Since CoM puts X6 Quagmire! into the past, the timing of X9 circa 550 BC is appropriate. Here are some ideas along those lines:
I think the most appropriate plot graft for X9 would be to focus on the conflict between the Lawful Brotherhood and "The Brotherhood of Light". The module eventually reveals that the Brotherhood of Light is actually Chaotic, and is attempting to destroy all of the outposts of the Lawful Brotherhood. There are five outposts, two of which (the most distant two) are already destroyed when the PCs arrive.
The PCs get a cold reception at the first outpost (New Hope) but this is understandable if the clerics inside somehow know that the PCs have had contact with the Brotherhood of Light (as per one of the story hooks at the beginning of the module). This makes the comment about "honour" more understandable when directed to a Lawful cleric in the group (but no less perplexing to the players, who might not yet suspect the Brotherhood of Light is actually chaotic).
The PCs might get more information at the next outpost (Second Chance) in which it may be revealed to them by the prior that the Brotherhood of Light are actually chaotic. The purposes of the Lawful Brotherhood might be described (to protect and convert the natives) although nothing would be mentioned about panning for gold, etc.
The PCs then get forewarned at the next outpost (Peace) that contact has been lost with the other outposts further west, and it is feared that the Brotherhood of Light has made their move and attacked the more far-flung outposts. This is of course the case, but at least the PCs may find tracks leading them to the secret headquarters of the Brotherhood of Light.
The two destroyed outposts are in relative close proximity to the Forbidden Highlands and the Lost City of Risilvar, so having "The Brotherhood of Light" base the activities of a Chaotic Alliance out of Risilvar is reasonable. There are one or two 5th level female magic-users and one or two male magic-users in Risilvar, possibly representatives of the allied Chaotic Sisterhood and disguised Herathian araneas.
The Lost City can easily be spruced up considerably. There may have been some text inadvertantly deleted from the module, since five of the preserved buildings are implied to have contents and/or inhabitants, but no descriptions are given.
I would make the Step Pyramid the headquarters of the Chaotic Brotherhood of Light, using the virtually identical map of the Step Pyramid of Atzanteotl from HWR1 Sons of Azca, and having the Chaotic Brotherhood worship Atzanteotl in his ancient, ruined, temple. The presence of members of the Chaotic Sisterhood (who could worship Hel) would beef up the opposition and serve as a hook for TotPS. Throw in a Herathian contingent of araneas and some snappers in the unkeyed buildings and you've got a really tough battle for the PCs. Moreover, if the fight is going against them, many of the Chaotics can flee using the Wheel of Infinite Travel and live to fight another day.
Encountering the Lawful and Neutral Alliance camps earlier would also help with setting up TotPS as a sequel. Note that the "pagans" use teepees, and might best be modeled after Plains Indians (or the Atruaghin "Children of the Horse"). There are no dervishes in X9, but these were probably thought of as being similar to the dervishes in X4. Maybe the nomads were also based on those in X4/5?