The latest adventure from Sacrosanct Games takes as its basis one of the earliest and distinctive of TSR’s adventure releases, the Keep on the Borderlands, Gary Gygax’s introductory adventure for D&D. Reclaiming the Caves on the Borderlands has a rather neat concept: About a year ago, the monsters in the caves were defeated by a band of adventurers, and now a group of humans and dwarves have moved in and are looking for silver; however, what happens when the monsters want back in? Yes, you get to play the monsters or, alternatively, a group of mercenaries that want the caves for themselves.
Written for a party of four to six characters of levels two to four, Reclaiming the Caves is an unusual beast. Most of the key to the caves is blank and needs to be filled in by the DM, in a move reminiscent of B1: In Search of the Unknown.
However, there are very few details of the terrain in the caves. Only 20 of the 60 areas even have descriptions, and they may be as basic as “This room is the private room of the leader of Cave F’s inhabitants. He or she knows of the secret door.” There are a few areas with greater descriptions, but mostly it’s pretty bare.
What makes the product interesting are the suggestions and tables for the reclaiming of the caves. It’s suggested that two or three factions be competing to recover the caves, with the party being only one of the factions. The other factions are other monstrous races: Bugbears, Gnolls, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Lizardfolk, Minotaur, Ogres and Orcs. Each faction has an initial starting complement, gain bonus troops when they conquer their first cave section, and have notes on how many members they’ll lose on average when conquering each part of the caves. Incidentally, I probably would replace this table with a set of die ranges to provide some randomness. (The other suggested method of dealing with battles the players are not involved in does not really appeal).
There are also tables for stocking the caves. They are moderately basic – and the monster stats, while based on 5E, are incomplete – but are a good starting point.
A few suggestions as to other more intriguing developments and what might happen after the caves are subdued round out the product.
This product is far more a toolbox than a fully developed adventure, but it does provide a starting point for an interesting campaign. A DM would have to do quite a lot of work to make the campaign playable, but Reclaiming the Caves on the Borderlands does point the way. It’s price – a mere $1 on DriveThruRPG – makes it an attractive purchase.