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Setting modules A1-4/Slave Lords in the Gulf of Hule

by Demos Sachlas

Continuing my examination of classic AD&D 1e modules, I had a close look at A1-4 "Aerie of the Slave Lords". I've never run these modules, which are designed for character levels 4-7, but have always wanted to use them. As with most early AD&D 1e modules, the A series began as tournament scenarios, in this case for Gen Con XIII (1980). I'm not sure if the original tournament setting was in Greyhawk, but connections in the modules themselves with the setting are weak.

Again, many of the authors have impressive B/X credentials. David Cook became instrumental in defining the B/X version of D&D, co-authoring the Expert Rulebook and writing X1 (with Tom Moldvay), X4, X5, AC2, and B6. Tom Moldvay authored the Basic Rulebook, revised Jean Wells' B3, and wrote B4 and X2. He and Lawrence Schick were co-creators of the original "Known World" setting.

Most folks have run these out of the Black Eagle Barony, since Karameikos already has the Iron Ring. However, the adventures are set in the orc-infested territory of the Pomarj. Highport is a city teeming with humanoids, and so needs changes to be used in place of Fort Doom. In fact, the slaver's operations are of a magnitude far greater than the sneaky Iron Ring.

Which brings me to the Gulf of Hule. Module X5 "The Temple of Death" described the land of Hule, but provided few geographical details. The wilderness map included areas the DM was expected to describe further, including several unnamed towns. One of these, north of Slagovich (depicted above) is an ideal candidate for Highport.

edit - in preparing my article for an upcoming issue of Threshold, I've switched my preferred location for Highport, further up. Interestingly, this unnamed town appears to be situated astride the escarpment, making the name of "Highport" appropriate!

The population of Hule is described to be a mixture of humans and non-humans, mainly orcs, gnolls, bugbears, kobolds, and ogres. The rulers are chaotic and serve chaotic gods, and most of the human populace are either chaotic or neutral in alignment. The various humanoid tribes consider themselves independent, but are allied with the human rulers.

Of course, much of the land of Hule and neighboring Savage Baronies/City States have been well described for the Mystara setting. All the same, the original version of Hule as presented in X5 is evocative, and perhaps underutilized. Placing Highport north of Slagovich allows PCs adventuring along the Savage Coast to get embroiled with the Slave Lords - whose activities could be encroaching upon the civilized lands to the East, including Darokin, Karameikos, Ierendi, and Minrothad.