Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jim Bambra and B10 Night's Dark Terror

B10 Night's Dark  Terror is recognized by fans as one of the best adventure modules for the classic (BECMI) edition of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game and is a fan favorite module for the World of Mystara. Set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, the adventure features a combination of dungeon crawling and wilderness exploration. For a long time it was seen as the conclusion of the B series of modules that began with B1 In Seach of the Unknown by Dave Arneson player Mike Carr and B2 Keep on the Borderlands by Gary Gygax.

B10 Night's Dark Terror was published by TSR UK and written by three British game designers Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher. Today, at the Facebook BECMI group Jim Bambra revealed the story of how the module was written and the module's overall design goals:

"Night's Dark Terror was designed to bridge the transition of the Basic Set to the Expert Set. It's goal was to introduce wilderness adventuring in an easy and fun way that would lead players on a clear quest without forcing them down pre-defined paths. The story would drive the players forward as they followed the clues that eventually leads them to the Lost Valley. "

Unlike most D&D adventure modules of the time, this one was written by a team of three experienced designers. So how did they work together as a team and who brought what to the table?

"At TSR UK we'd already written adventures for the D&D game. Graeme Morris had designed X8 Drums on Fire Mountain and CM6 Where Chaos Reigns. I'd cut my teeth on O2 Blade of Vengeance. All three games featured wilderness exploration, so we were well versed in what we needed to do. “Design a great adventure that players would love.” Little did I think that gamers would still be playing it almost 30 years later! Design work was shared between Graeme and myself, with Phil Gallagher involved in many of the brainstorming sessions. I can't exactly remember who did what, but Graeme designed Sukiskyn and the goblin siege; I worked on the Iron Ring and the wilderness encounters, as well as the journey up to Hutaaka and the Lost Valley itself. Having said that it was not that clearly demarcated. Graeme's and my design work is pretty much intermingled throughout. As ideas were shared on this project, the text wasn't always written by the person who had the original idea. Overall, B10 was a collaborative project that was great fun to work on."

Jim Bambra in the couch, middle

The module also included some additional features that were uncommon back then. An early scene in the module is a fairly epic battle of Sukiskyn, where the homestead is being attacked by goblin tribes:

" We also had the opportunity to add the large-scale map of Sukiskyn and the cardboard counters. I was particularly pleased with this as it matches my style of play of using maps and miniatures to keep track of the players and NPCs."

Design by committee is not usually something that comes with positive connotations, but in this case it clearly did work. The TSR UK branch had delivered yet another excellent game product. And yes Jim, we are still playing it all these decades later. Thank you!


Image Source:
Jim Bambra (Pumpkin Studios):

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