Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Bit of OSR History: The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates

The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates is one of the modules in the current Advanced Adventures Bundle of Holding (only $16 for 15 modules, so quite the bargain). It comes with a GM’s scoresheet as well as pre-generated character sheets if you’d like to run it as we ran it at the tourney at Gen Con 2011.

I wrote The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates for the Gen Con tourney that took place a year after Stonesky Delve. Where Stonesky was designed for two 4-hour slots, Syncrates was only a single 4-hour slot. This meant that the number of rooms needed to be limited to make achieving the finale possible. Because of this Syncrates has only 16 different areas, but I believe they deliver in terms of exploration, combat, and fun.

The setup is that the party’s ship has hit the doldrums on the way back from a far land. Soon ash starts to fall from the sky and the party’s native guides start freaking out, then stab themselves in the chest and jump overboard. The party then falls asleep and wakes up on the black stands of a giant arena, and by giant I mean 1,000’ walls. In the arena is a giant statue of a warrior statue (with a portal in its heel) and a lion statue, while in the stands are giant statues of spectators.

Basically the PCs have been abducted by Syncrates, God of Entertainment, and they’ve been brought to the arena to entertain other gods, who take possession of the spectator statues. The party’s goal, of course, is to animate the warrior statue and combat the lion statue. They do this by solving various puzzles (this is a puzzle-heavy modules), combating a few critters, and eventually taking a place in a throne in the head, chest, hands, stomach, and feet of the statue. (The more PCs can take the more positions the better the statue fights).

If you think, “Hey, this sounds like a giant robot cartoons!” you’d be right: that actually was the main influence. :-) Below are a few illustrations by John Bingham from the module and if you want a more thorough review, you can check out the one at Ten Foot Pole. Also, the Bundle of Holding includes the GM's scoring kit as well as pre-genned character sheets if you want to run it as a tourney yourself, which is always cool.

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