Mystara Monday: AC2 – Combat Shield and Mini-adventure

This week will likely be a short one, like the item we're taking a look at. AC2 is a DM's screen for the Basic and Expert rules and includes a short (8 page) booklet containing a short adventure that can be dropped in pretty much wherever the DM likes.

Mystara Monday: AC2 - Combat Shield and Mini-adventure
None of these monsters appear in the adventure.
Not even cut-rate Man-Thing

The combat shield is a pretty standard example, though a little boring for the players. Where later screens typically have art across the entire screen, this one only has the cover art. The middle part is the back of the item and has the typical back-cover blurb, and the final third has experience tables for all the character classes.

Mystara Monday: AC2 - Combat Shield and Mini-adventure
Okay, there is this little picture of a halfling running like mad.
The interior has all the typical tables; saving throws, to-hit rolls, rolls to turn undead, and so forth. Nothing special, but always useful to have at a glance. I'm not certain if this was released before or after the Companion rules set (which covers levels 15-25). Saving throw, hit roll, and thieves' skill tables go to level 25, so they must have had at least some of it ready. Other tables however, such as character levels, stop at 14. That may just have been for space reasons though.

The included adventure is titled The Treasure of the Hideous One and is a short wilderness adventure, written once again by David Cook, which leads the party into a swamp near the town of Luln in search of a treasure rumored to have been found there a century before. Luln is located in the westernmost part of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, and mention is made of a 'Duke Stefan the Hermit' who was ruler 100 years ago. This gets retconned in later works, where it's established that the current Duke Stefan is the founder of the Duchy.

The way to the treasure takes the party through a few encounters including a vengeful ghost from a previous expedition and a group of bandits with a rather clever plan to ambush and rob the PCs. The treasure itself is found on an island inhabited by a vampire and a tribe of cay-men. Cay-men are a new monster in this adventure, one foot tall lizard men who live in a small village of dirt mounds. Much like the rakasta and aranea from The Isle of Dread, the cay-men show up again in later modules and are a uniquely Mystaran race. Eventually they even were given stats for use as PCs, although they were sized up to 2 foot tall by that point. I prefer the 1 foot tall version, as the idea of tiny lizard tribesmen with spears amuses me greatly. An adventuring party of nothing but cay-men would probably be very interesting to build a campaign around.

It's not a long adventure, but it is a well-written one with encounters that are more interesting than the typical "here's some monsters kill them" that we were used to at this point. There are a number of opportunities for player intelligence to factor in, and even if the DM doesn't want to run the overall treasure hunt the encounters would be pretty easy to drop in elsewhere with little modification.

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