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X11 – Saga of the Shadowlord

Basic Dungeons and Dragons

  • Publisher: TSR
  • Rules: Dungeons & Dragons BECMI
  • Developer: Stephen Bourne

Expert Adventure:

0e-adv-x11 X11 Saga of the Shadowlord
0e-adv-x11 X11 D&D BECMI Saga of the Shadowlord

An insidious peril threatens the peaceful kingdom of Wendar. When a traitor stole the realm’s greatest treasure, the magical Elvenstar, disease, drought, and famine struck the land. For the first time in decades, hostile armies were poised to invade Wendar.

Yet even greater danger looms. The traitor has delivered the magical gem into the hands of the Shadow Lord, Wendar’s greatest foe. This evil being has returned from the dead to seek revenge on Wendar, and the Elvenstar is the key to an even more sinister plot.

You must evade the Shadow Lord’s army, penetrate his fortress, recover the Elvenstar, and foil this heinous plan!

An adventure for character levels 5-9

Product History

X11: “Saga of the Shadow Lord” (1986), by Stephen Bourne, is the eleventh adventure in the Expert Series for Basic D&D. It was published in July 1986.

More Epic! Following in the footsteps of X10: “Red Arrow, Black Shield” (1985), “Saga of the Shadow Lord” is another epic adventure that ups the stakes for a D&D Expert Level adventure. The entire kingdom of Wendar could fall because of the loss of an heirloom magic item, while the Shadow Lord of nearby Denagoth plots from beyond the Mengul Mountains.

With that said, “Saga of the Shadow Lord” is composed of what are essentially two item quests — each taking up half of the adventure book. The split of the module into two different adventures was not uncommon for TSR, since it’s how many older tournaments were structured … but it was somewhat unusual for a non-tournament adventure.

Adventuring Tropes. Although “Saga of the Shadow Lord” isn’t a large-scale sandboxed hex crawl of the sort found in X1: “The Isle of Dread” (1981) and several other “X” adventures, it still includes three different, smaller hex crawls, as the players work their way across the Known World. The adventure also contains an extensively detailed village and a few different “dungeons” of various shapes and forms. Overall, “Saga of the Shadow Lord” is a classic old-school adventure with a light layer of plot and story atop it.

Expanding the Known World. “Saga of the Shadow Lord” offers a major expansion of the Known World with its introduction of Wendar and Denagoth. These countries form a missing corner of the Known World, north of Glantri and west of Norwold.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to actually put together the three main maps of the area — from CM1: “Test of the Warlords” (1984), X1: “The Isle of Dread” (1981), and X11: “Saga of the Shadow Lord” (1986); they don’t quite fit together. Fortunately a variety of high-quality player maps that smooth out the edges exist on the internet.

If you agree with the supposition that the country of Ghyr is also in the north, there is one other adventure that’s set nearby: XL1: “Quest for the Heartstone” (1984).

Future History. The pregenerated characters from this adventure reappear in X13: “Crown of Ancient Glory” (1987), also by the same author.

X13 is set in Vestland and Heldann, a little bit south of Wendar and Denagoth, but other than that, TSR never again gave much attention to this corner of the Known World. Fortunately, fans have come to the rescue with a series of “fan gazetteers”. The first five are all closely tied to “Saga of the Shadow Lord”: GazF1: “The Realm of Wendar” (1986); GazF2: “The Denizens of Denagoth” (2006); GazF3: “The Northern Wildlands” (2006); GazF4: “The Hidden Treasure of Ghyr” (2006); and GazF5: “The Western Alliance” (2006). The rest of the fan Gazetteers focused more on Norwold, with the exception of GazF7: “The Heldannic Order” (2007), which might also be of use to “Shadow Lord” GMs.

About the Creators. “Saga of the Shadow Lord” was Bourne’s third book for TSR, and his third book published in 1986, following two AD&D releases. He wrote just one more TSR publication, the aforementioned X13: “Crown of Ancient Glory” (1987).

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 shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

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  • 2020-12-20 – Title changed from X11 to 0e-adv-x11.
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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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