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X12 – Skarda’s Mirror

Basic Dungeons and Dragons

  • Publisher: TSR
  • Rules: Dungeons & Dragons BECMI
  • Developer: Aaron Allston

Expert Adventure:

0e-adv-x12 Skarda's Mirror
0e-adv-x12 X12 – Skarda’s Mirror

It’s mirror of life trapping, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no. People go in, and they don’t come out. Nor can you talk with anyone inside. Somehow, that’s not quite the way you remember those mirrors work.

This Skarda fellow showed up a few years ago with a band of raiders, and no one in the land has been safe since then. Whole villages have disappeared into this Skarda’s mirror. Your band is approached by relatives of one of the victims?and adventurer like yourselves.

You have to get into that mirror of whatever-it-is, find this man, and get him out in one piece. The reward is more that adequate. Only problem is, no one out here can tell you what to expect once you get in? or even how to get there.

Product History

X12: “Skarda’s Mirror” (1987), by Aaron Allston, is the twelfth adventure in the Expert Series for Basic D&D. It was published in January 1987.

Origins. After his success writing the acclaimed N4: “Treasure Hunt” (1987), Allston was asked to pitch some supplement ideas. He suggested a GM advice book and an adventure that he called “Skarda’s Mirror”. TSR decided not to publish the GM’s book, but they did contract Allston to write “Skarda’s Mirror”.

Ironically, “Skarda’s Mirror” would be the last book that Allston sold to TSR based on his own ideas; the rest of his TSR assignments would begin with ideas or product descriptions from TSR themselves.

Almost Epic. The previous two “X” adventures — X10: “Red Arrow, Black Shield” (1985) and X11: “Saga of the Shadow Lord” (1986) — had been epics that enlarged the scope of the “X” adventures. “Skarda’s Mirror” almost was: it involves a wizard plotting to take over Karameikos through an army magically transported through the eponymous mirror, but despite that it’s still a smaller, more personal adventure.

Adventuring Tropes. Unlike most of the “X” series, “Skarda’s Mirror” is not a large-scale wilderness adventure. Instead it’s an adventure focused on investigation, roleplaying, and just a bit of exploration. There’s even a dungeon, though players must break out rather than in. A strong plot underlies all of this, though it’s not quite as railroady as the plots of AD&D’s 2e days (1989-2000).

Expanding the Known World. “Skarda’s Mirror” focuses on the country of Karameikos. Even at the start of 1987, this was one of the most detailed areas of the Known World. It had been outlined in Zeb Cook’s Expert Set (1981), then its town of Threshold had been revealed in Frank Mentzer’s updated Basic Set (1983) while the city of Specularum was the focus of B6: “The Veiled Society” (1984). However the most important appearance of Karameikos prior to the release of “Skarda’s Mirror” had been in B10: Night’s Dark Terror (1986), a wilderness adventure set in the area.

The release of “Skarda’s Mirror” happened on the threshold of TSR’s large-scale expansion of Karameikos (and the Known World). In April, GAZ1: “The Grand Duchy of Karameikos” (1987) extensively detailed the country, then in June B1-9: In Search of Adventure (1987) updated most of the original nine “B” adventures for the setting.

Expanding the Outer Planes. Gary Gygax loved pocket dimensions, and they can be found in some of the early AD&D modules as a result. This type of adventure was less common in the Basic D&D line, but “Skarda’s Mirror” is an exception: it reveals a small pocket dimension located in a mirror.

“Skarda’s Mirror” also pays some attention to Basic D&D’s own cosmology, touching upon the plots of an Immortal from the Sphere of Thought.

About the Creators. Allston’s next Known World supplement was GAZ1: “The Grand Duchy of Karameikos”. In later years, he’d become increasingly known for his connection to this setting.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons – a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

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By thedarkelf007

I am a long term gamer, I run 6 RPG's a fortnight, host board game, card game and LANs each about once a quarter and have an addiction to buying more games. Games I am currently running are Pathfinder (1st and 2nd Edition) and Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition).

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