Art of the Genre

The TSR module B9, released in 1985 proves that during the final days of Gygax’s reign over TSR that there was still a sense of humor around. That is something important to understand, that while Gary himself could be a tough DM, he was always having a joke.

So comes this rather forgettable module by Harry W. Nuckols [yeah, I’m not thinking that’s real], and entitled Castle Caldwell and Beyond [which of course is a reference to cover artist Clyde Caldwell].

In all, it is a small series of adventures for character levels 1-3, five to be exact, and all look to be mini dungeon crawls that are easy to follow.

As a B series module, it is designed for Basic D&D, and thus the ease of use factor, but I have to wonder if it was just a ‘get something out the door’ adventure, or if there is a larger meaning in there that I just don’t get.

Whatever the case, Castle Caldwell has four pieces of interior art by freelancer Doug Watson, and each piece gets progressively worse. I’ve seen this kind of thing before, where a freelancer wows the AD with a great initial piece and then sucks worse and worse as they work under deadlines, with direction, and are unable to pull off the same caliber art as in their portfolio.

Meanwhile Caldwell’s cover is all but laughable, the same old Caldwell scene coming out to ‘wow’ audiences once again. Clyde’s penchant for taking a woman in white, having her pass out, and then carried in the arms of a ‘bad guy’, with a naked hip showing, is so out there I’m reminded of a romance novel instead of a D&D adventure.

So, in closing, B9 isn’t worth much on any level, but if you like a naked hip, then it might be for you.

Artistic Rating: 2 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — October 21, 2014

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