The most deadly dungeon ever designed! High-level characters brave the unexplored corridors of Deepearth to confront perhaps the most feared adversary in the AD&D game.
The second chapter of the Bloodstone Pass saga follows the conclusion of the desperate war against the bandit army. A cold and bitter winter drives the villagers to the edge of starvation, and numerous horrors strike the town of Bloodstone Pass
Join the adventure as the brave heroes explore the depths of the ancient bloodstone mines, now inhabited by fearsome demons. There they hope to uncover the fantastic treasures rumored to exist in the unknown darkness. But deep within the mines, all is not what it seems?
This module uses the new rules from the Dungeoneer's Survival Guideand Wilderness Survival Guide. The adventure also includes optional Battlesystem scenarios fought entirely underground. These supplementary products are not required to play the adventure, however.
H2: "The Mines of Bloodstone" (1986), by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson, is the second of the "High-Level" adventures for AD&D. It was published in December 1986.
Origins: The H Series. Though H1: "Bloodstone Pass" (1985) was intended to be a standalone adventure, it was popular enough that TSR decided to continue the setting and its storyline. As a result, this new adventure now identifies itself as being part of the "high-level Bloodstone Pass saga".
Unlike "Bloodstone Pass", this new adventure is not a supermodule: it's just a 48-page adventure booklet. It also doesn't require Battlesystem like its predecessor did; it does include a few optional Battlesysetm scenarios, but generally it's a very different sort of high-level adventure.
Adventure Tropes. How is "Mines" different? The back cover reveals that it contains not a big set of battles, but instead the "most deadly dungeon ever designed". Clearly, the copy writer was unfamiliar with S1: "Tomb of Horror" (1978), but nonetheless it's accurate about the focus of the adventure: it's a series of dungeon crawls and cavern crawls, with a bit of relatively freeform wilderness adventuring in between. And as for those dungeons: they're as much funhouse as deadly, containing somewhat random assortments of high-level creatures. (One reviewer called it a "zoo dungeon".)
Expanding D&D: Companion-level Play. The very end of "Bloodstone Pass" suggested that one of the players could become the new Baron of Bloodstone, and that a GM could administer the rulership of this "dominion" using the Basic D&D Companion Rules (1984). "Mines" backs out of that suggestion for the length of the adventure, moving a potential marriage to the Baron's daughter to the end of this adventure. Wherever it occurs, it's a nice new trope for high-level play, allowing the players to be defending their own realm in future adventures.
(The official Realms history's suggest that pregen character Gareth Dragonsbane is the one who becomes the next ruler of the domain.)
The Product Tie-In. Though "Mines" (temporarily) rolls back the series' focus on Battlesystem, it simultaneously supports D&D's newest big publications: the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1986) and the Wilderness Survival Guide (1986). This can be seen primarily through a focus on a variety of new rules systems, though the majority of the dungeon maps in the adventure also use the isomorphic mapping system introduced in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide.
Exploring the Realms. "Mines" continues to expand the area of Bloodstone by providing more details on the entire valley and its denizens. There's also a tiny bit more detail on the nearby kingdoms of Vaasa and Damara. However, none of this was yet part of the Realms. That would await the publication of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting</> (1987) in another half year.
Exploring the Realms: Deepearth. Perhaps more interesting is the introduction of the realm of Deepearth, beneath Bloodstone. This was the second Deepearth that Niles created, the first one appearing in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide several month's earlier. This new one was home to duergar and svirfneblin.
As for why Niles would use the same name twice? In 1986, "Deepearth" was being offered as the generic name for underground kingdoms. "Underdark" would only rise up as a strong alternative in the '90s.
Monsters of Note. Amongst the zoo of monsters, the most notable is probably the tarrasque. This is one of the few appearances of the ferocious (and munchkin) monster in D&D lore.
NPCs of Note. Lalibela is one of the most interesting NPCs in the adventure. She lives in a lake and will give a sufficiently pure paladin a powerful holy avenger sword. In other words, she directly connects Bloodstone to the Arthurian mythos.
"Mines" also focuses on Orcus even more strongly than "Bloodstone Pass" did. Here, he's featured on the cover (in statuary form), gets an entire temple … and can even be summoned if the PCs are unlucky. As the adventure notes say, "We hope you don't have to use him, but if he arrives …"
About the Creators. Niles was the author of Battlesystem and Dobson was the editor. This would be one of several books that they'd produce in the waning days of AD&D 1e to support their game system.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.