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DS1 Freedom (2e)
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DS1 Freedom (2e)

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Enter the ancient and corrupt city of Tyr, whose tyrannical sorcerer king has ruled for a millennium. As you wander the city, from the wreck of the Elven warrens to the sanguine splendor of the arena, you realize that the citizens of Tyr thirst less for water than they do for freedom.

Now, after a century of slave labor, sorcerer king Kalak's great ziggurat nears completion. He has promised the city a grand celebration when the monument is done, complete with the most brutal arena spectacle in Tyr's long history. Rumors abound as to the nature of the spectacle: some believe it will bring with it the longed for manumission of countless slaves: others fear the annihilation of Tyr and her people as a sacrifice to Kalak's hunger for power; and a secret few believe it will be a day of revolution - a day of freedom.

Designed for four to seven players of starting levels, the DM's book and player's book in this ESD provide the Dark Sun game DM's with a campaign base in Tyr, and give PC's a brutal introduction to Athas.

Product History

DS1: "Freedom" (1991), by David "Zeb" Cook, is the first Dark Sun adventure and the first in the "DS" series. It was released in December 1991.

About the Cover. When Timothy B. Brown and Troy Denning were looking for an artist for the Dark Sun line, they chanced upon a painting that Gerald Brom had done of a gladiator. Based on the strength of that piece, Brown and Denning selected Brom as the concept artist for Dark Sun. His gladiator became Dark Sun's Neeva, as shown on the cover of this book.

Continuing the Dark Sun Series. "Freedom" was the first supplement for Dark Sun and its first adventure. It was also the beginning of a five-adventure sequence. Because TSR was constantly revising its ideas about how to code modules in the early '90s, the adventure series falls under three different modules. The complete sequence is DS1, DSQ1, DSQ2, DSQ3, and DSE1.

"Freedom" continued the use of the innovative flip-books that were originally used in the Dark Sun Boxed Set (1991) — though the flip-books in this set are twice as long. A "Player's Book" includes player's info, such as a guide to the city of Tyr, and several maps and other illustrations — some of them in color; a "Dungeon Master's Book" contains the adventure itself. This module also includes a short story related to the adventure: "Shackles", by Allen Varney.

The focus on player information and fiction was innovative for TSR at the time, but the DM's Book was even more original.

Adventuring Tropes. The spiral-bound books of "Freedom" are called flip-books because of the formatting of the actual adventure in the Dungeon Master's Book. It's divided into carefully formatted encounters, each of which includes standardized sections providing notes on "Role-playing", "Reactions", "Statistics", "Outcome", and more. Each encounter also ends with a "Next" section: a choose-your-own-adventure-like mechanic that takes players to the next encounter based on what they did. Shorter scenes sometimes interweave with these major encounters. The result is an excellent use of plotted adventures that simultaneously avoids many of the problems with railroading.

The actual plot of the adventure is similarly innovative. Harkening back to the "A" Slavers series (1980-1981), players are enslaved at the start of the adventure and then must survive their new, harsh environment. Afterward, they get to take part in a growing rebellion against the sorcerer-king of Tyr.

There are no underground environments to explore in "Freedom"; this would set a precedent that made dungeon crawls generally rare in Dark Sun adventures. This was another way that the setting varied from the D&D norm — though dungeons were also disappearing from the rest of the AD&D line over the course of its 2e run (1989-2000).

The Novel Connection. Much like the Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun was conceived of from the start as a multimedia setting. As soon as he finished work on the Dark Sun Boxed Set, co-designer Troy Denning began writing The Verdant Passage (1991), the first Dark Sun novel and the beginning of the "Prism Pentad".

In TSR's early experiments with novels and linked adventures, they'd typically produced adventures that allowed players to take on the roles of the heroes from the novels. This was the model used for the "DL" Dragonlance Chronicles adventures (1984-1986) and for the "FRE" Avatar adventures (1989). However with its "FRA" Empires adventures (1990), TSR tried something different. Starting with FRA1: "Storm Riders" (1990), module writer Troy Denning created an entirely original adventure that used the "Empires" novels — such as Horselords (1990) by novel writer David "Zeb" Cook — as a backdrop.

For Dark Sun, Denning was writing the novel and Cook the module, but given the similarity of the production team, it's no surprise that they used a similar model to link "Freedom" to The Verdant Passage. Once more the novel is used as a backdrop, allowing the PCs to be the heroes of their own adventure … but the connection is much tighter. The events of The Verdant Passage are directly driving the rebellion that occurs in "Freedom", and the heroes of the novel have the potential to be NPCs in the module.

War World Battles. Dark Sun was originally conceived of as "War World", a setting meant to highlight TSR's mass-market combat game, Battlesystem Second Edition (1989). "Freedom" thus used Battlesystem as the basis for the riots in the adventure.

Expanding Athas. Where the Dark Sun Boxed Set described the entire Tyr Region, "Freedom" instead focuses on the city of Tyr itself, providing plenty of detail for players and GMs alike.

Perhaps more importantly, "Freedom" introduced the idea that the world of Dark Sun would be changing rapidly. The sorcerer-king of Tyr is killed in the adventure, and the city becomes a beacon of freedom in a bleak landscape. At the time metaplot was just coming to the D&D game with events like Avatar (1989) and Empires (1990), but Dark Sun was the first setting where metaplot came first. Thanks in large part to the Prism Pentad series, the world of Dark Sun would change dramatically in just a few years of publication.

The Adventure Continues. The next adventure in this five-module sequence is DSQ1: "Road to Urik" (1992).

About the Creators. Cook was one of TSR's top designers by the early '90s, fresh off his second edition revamp of AD&D (1989) and his work on the Empires event for Forgotten Realms (1990). He would put his mark on Dark Sun by authoring the first two adventures for the setting, DS1: "Freedom" and DSQ1: "Road to Urik".

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. Thanks to Robert Adducci for Dark Sun advice. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Product Information
Author(s)
Artist(s)
Rules Edition(s)
Pages
120
Edition
1.0
ISBN
1-56076-105-9
Publisher Stock #
TSR 2401
File Size:
24.49 MB
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on May 13, 2014.