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A0-A4: Against the Slave Lords (1e)
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A0-A4: Against the Slave Lords (1e)

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Against the Slave Lords is a collection of four classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules that form a series -- A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity, A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade, A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, and A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords -- complete with original black-and-white interior art.

Added to the collection is an all-new fifth adventure -- A0: Danger at Darkshelf Quarry -- that you can use to kick off an AD&D campaign that pits a group of adventurers against the evil Slave Lords! Module A0, designed for levels 1-3, sets the stage for events that unfold throughout the remainder of the "A" series.

A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity: It is time to put a stop to the marauders! For years the coastal towns have been burned and looted by the forces of evil. You and your fellow adventurers have been recruited to root out and destroy the source of these raids—as hundreds of good men and women have been taken by the slavers and have never been seen or heard from again!

A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade: The battle against the slavers continues! You and your fellow adventurers have defeated the slavers of Highport, but you have learned of the existence of another slaver stronghold, and you have decided to continue the attack. But beware! Only the most fearless of adventurers could challenge the slavers on their own ground, and live to tell of it!

A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords: Into the Drachengrab Mountains! Hot on the trail of the marauding slavers, you and your fellow adventurers plunge deep into hostile Hills. Spurred on by your past success, you now seek the heart of the slaver conspiracy. But hurry! You must move quickly before the slavers recover from your previous forays and attack!

A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords: Trapped in the dungeons of the Slave Lords! The hardy adventurers must find a way out, with only their wits and courage to help them. But can they do it before everything is destroyed by the dreaded Earth Dragon?"

The book can also be run using the new D&D Next (or fifth edition) play-test rules, by encorporating the bestiary pdf in the June 7th, 2013 D&D Next Play-test document available from the Wizards of the Coast Website.

Product History

A0-4: Against the Slave Lords (2013), by David Cook, Harold Johnson, Tom Moldvay, Allen Hammack, Lawrence Schick, and Skip Williams, is a premium reprint of the A1-4 adventure series for AD&D 1e. It was published in June 2013.

Continuing the Premium Reprints. Following the success of the AD&D 1e premium reprints, Wizards of the Coast kept returning to that well throughout the playtest period for D&D Next. Against the Slave Lords (2013) was the sixth and final reprint for AD&D 1e, following Monster Manual (2012), Players Handbook (2012), Dungeon Masters Guide (2012), Unearthed Arcana (2013), and S1-4: Dungeons of Dread (2013).

Against the Slave Lords reprinted the four classic Slave Lords adventures: A1: "Slave Pits of the Under City" (1980), A2: "Secrets of the Slavers' Stockade" (1981), A3: "Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords" (1981), and A4: "In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords" (1981). Like its predecessors, it reset the text but otherwise used the original material, with the original illustrations. Unlike the other premium reprints, Against the Slave Lords also included original material: a new adventure by Skip Williams called A0: "Danger at Darkshelf Quarry". It was the first official AD&D 1e adventure written by Wizards since their publication of L3: "Deep Dwarven Delve" (1999).

Why A? Lawrence Schick explains that "S" for Slave Lords was taken (by the "Special" adventures), as was "T" for Tournament (by the "Temple" adventures). So instead they picked "A" for "Aerie of the Slave Lords" … which also ensured the these modules would always be listed first.

A Short History of the Slave Lords. The history of the Slave Lords began when TSR heard criticisms about the AD&D Open Tournament at Gen Con XII (1979). The 324-player tournament, run by an outside party, had received numerous complaints. Among them was the concern that it had been too high level to support easy tournament play. It had even involved a battle against Orcus! Given this and other problems, TSR came to the conclusion that it "wasn't up to par" so they decided to write the AD&D Open Tournament for Gen Con XIII (1980) themselves, with four different designers contributing individual scenarios connected by the overarching theme of "slave lords".

The Slave Lords tourney would become "the largest single AD&D tournament yet staged", supporting over 800 players. This means that the play was spread out over multiple days, which caused another problem: early players of the tournament's initial round of play could spoil it for others (making it possible for later tournament goers to do better!). To resolve this issue, the Slave Lords designers created five different first rounds, to fill the five slots of play from Thursday through Saturday. To keep things fair, these initial rounds had to be meticulously balanced, so they were created using a rigid formula. Each of these early tournament rounds had nine encounters, including 2 traps, 1 trick, 1 problem, 1 encounter with the adventure's base monster (gnolls, hobgoblins, or orcs), 1 ambush by that base monster, 1 encounter with the base monster and a higher-powered ally, 1 encounter with an unintelligent monster, and 1 encounter with a new monster.

Following those five initial rounds of play, there was also a semi-final round and a final round. That final round was the foundation that the designers had built the tournament around. It was based on an adventure previously run by Harold Johnson, where he captured players and took away their stuff; their challenge was then to escape from a minotaur's maze, which is pretty much what the finalists had to do in the Slave Lords tournament (minus the minotaur).

However, TSR wasn't interested in just producing a tournament. They wanted to do the same thing they had with the "D" and "G" adventures in 1978, releasing each of the tournament rounds as a published adventure right after the round was played. Though the adventures were delayed past Gen Con, the tournament nevertheless appeared as four books over the next several months. A1: "Slave Pits of the Under City" (1980) and A2: "Secrets of the Slavers' Stockade"(1981) each contain two of the first rounds of play, with the fifth appearing in the first part of A3: "Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords" (1981). The rest of "Assault" contains the semifinal round, while A4: "In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords" (1981) features the final round.

Each of those tournament rounds was expanded for module publication; nonetheless the original round design remains obvious. "The Caves of Drachensgrab" in "Assault" is the closest to its tournament source. Nine underground rooms are contained in just four pages of text, supporting three hours of play! However, the design team's original structures are visible throughout the adventures. For example "Slave Pits of the Under City" is clearly broken into two rounds of play: the "Temple" and the "Sewer". It also contains precisely two new monsters, the aspis and the giant sundew.

TSR reprinted the Slave Lords adventures several years later in A1-4: Scourge of the Slavelords (1986). This "supermodule" acted as a bridge between T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil (1985) and GDQ1-7: Queen of the Spiders (1986), with player level upped from 4-7 to 7-11 to support this transition. A number of additional encounters were also aded to expand and round out the adventure.

Much later, Wizards of the coast released Slaver (2000), a ten-year-later sequel to the classic adventure, published during the waning days of AD&D 2e.

Adventure Tropes: The New A0. The original adventures in Against the Slave Lords are focused on combat and puzzle-solving, with little attention to roleplaying or to more freeform problem-solving. This was of course due to the limitations imposed by a tournament setting.

The new adventure, Skip William's "Darkshelf Quarry", is still a dungeon crawl, but it's a rather extensive one that's better detailed than the more limited tournament rounds. It also contains more opportunity for roleplaying and solving problems via methods other than pure combat.

Playtesting D&D Next. Since Against the Slave Lords was released during the D&D Next playtest (2012-2013), the adventure was supported under the new rule system. This was done with a rather extensive 77-page bestiary, included in all playtest packets starting on June 14, 2013.

Exploring Greyhawk. Though the original Slave Lord adventures were set in the Pomarj of the Wild Coast, the new "Darkshelf Quarry" adventure is set instead in the Village of Darkshelf in Nyrond — a somewhat distant land, also located on the Sea of Gearnat. Nyrond is a good-aligned kingdom that had previously received its best attention in WGR4: "The Marklands" (1993) — though that's set in the From the Ashes era. "Darkshelf Quarry" offers a rare opportunity to adventure in the normally placid land.

Future History. Wizards of the Coast supplemented their new prequel to the Slave Lords series with a sequel, "The Last Slave Lord", which appeared in Dungeon #215 (June 2013). It's been called A5. "The Last Slave Lord" was another AD&D 1e adventure, with D&D Next conversion notes found in the playtest packet.

The final issue of Dungeon, #221 (December 2013), then featured "Lowdown in Highport", which could be run between A0 and A1; it was Wizards' last AD&D 1e adventure to date (though it had 4e conversions).

About the Creators. Schick was the first member of TSR's Design Department when it appeared in 1979. He soon became the head of the Department when he hired on his first designers, Cook and Moldvay. Meanwhile, Johnson was brought on as editor in 1979, while Hammack became the head of TSR's short-lived Development Department in 1980. Moldvay was the one designer who didn't work on the original tournament adventures; he came aboard to help Johnson expand "A2" into a full adventure.

Williams, who authored the new adventure in 2013 was an excellent choice for that job because he'd started working at the Dungeon Hobby Shop in 1976, then moved on to Gen Con and the RPGA before becoming a TSR designer.

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (5)
Discussions (14)
Customer avatar
Ernie N April 17, 2022 2:56 pm UTC
I have released 5e conversions and maps for
A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity -
A2 Secret of the Slavers Stockade -
A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords -
A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords -
Customer avatar
Ernie N March 01, 2022 8:11 pm UTC
I have just posted a 5e conversion of A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity with Maps on DMsGuild. Please take a look. Thanks!
Customer avatar
George F January 25, 2022 9:32 pm UTC
Please, release A1-4 Scourge of the Slave Lords as a print + PDF combo.
Customer avatar
Reuben C March 10, 2021 1:53 am UTC
It would be nice to have a copy of module #11621, Slavers, it is ostensibly a part 5 to the series.
Customer avatar
Dwight F November 03, 2020 8:57 pm UTC
Is there a way to get A0 independently?
Customer avatar
John W July 14, 2020 10:19 pm UTC
Just to be sure I understand. Buy or own the original modules, say A1 - A4 and there are supplements for $1 or $2 that convert them to 5e rules.
Customer avatar
George F July 16, 2020 11:27 am UTC
Customer avatar
Zachary B March 22, 2021 9:47 am UTC
alternatively, you could try running it using 1e, 2e, or B/ know, if you wanted your players to face an actual challenge.
Customer avatar
Thomas H June 01, 2021 11:34 am UTC
The challenge getting people to pay attention long enough to explain THAC0?

(Just to be clear, all jokes. I run an even mix of 1e and 5e games^_^)
Customer avatar
SP S April 14, 2019 1:25 am UTC
does the pdf have the 5e version of the adventure?
Customer avatar
George F July 06, 2020 5:25 pm UTC
No, these are all 1e.
Customer avatar
George F April 13, 2018 4:22 pm UTC
I'd love to see the original A1-4 Scourge of the Slave Lords available as a PDF & PoD.
That and GDQ1-7: Queen of Spiders.
Customer avatar
December 17, 2017 5:20 am UTC
The black and white maps, included in this, are filled with artifacts and very low-res. Any chance these will be re-scanned?
Customer avatar
Brian M April 14, 2019 6:53 pm UTC
Indeed, the black and white maps render loads of rooms completely invisible in the A1 adventure!
Customer avatar
Chris J March 12, 2020 5:55 am UTC
It sounds like you are referring to the Tournament Maps on p51 & p52. Those maps were used for tournament play only - only the visible areas existed.

The full maps for regular module play are on p53 & 54, and I can confirm they are complete.
Customer avatar
Dan D February 19, 2016 1:33 am UTC
Where would one find the conversion notes in order to convert this to 5e? Is the D&D Play-Test Packet still available somewhere?
Customer avatar
Phillip A February 02, 2016 12:52 am UTC
The maps on pages 54 and 124 are distorted. Bad scans, maybe?
Customer avatar
Jeffrey G January 15, 2016 3:41 am UTC
It states the following above: "by encorporating the bestiary pdf in the June 7th, 2013 D&D Next Play-test document available from the Wizards of the Coast Website." Does anyone have the exact url for this document or know where I can get it?
Customer avatar
Chris M July 16, 2020 6:41 am UTC
I still have my email from then. But, the links are dead now. I wish I'd have downloaded them back then.
Customer avatar
Ricky R January 07, 2016 3:28 am UTC
Here is how you can expand the A0-A4 campaign some more: Get "Lowdown in HighPort" (Dungeon Magazine #221): Play it after module A0. Then get "The Last Slave Lord" (Dungeon Magazine #215) (Play this one after A4). Also, get "Scourge of the Slave Lords", & add the expanded content into A1-A4. Finally top it off with, "Slavers", (sequel to "Scourge of the Slave Lords"). In addition to that main slavers story, you could start with module, "N4: Treasure Hunt" where the characters are kidnapped into slavery.
Customer avatar
Brian J January 10, 2016 1:27 am UTC
Thanks for this info Ricky! I will have to look into those old Dungeon mags. I want to run this in 5e.
Customer avatar
Grant A August 15, 2016 6:11 am UTC
Did you make any headway into running this for 5e? Would be interested in any notes etc. that you might have.
Customer avatar
Ricky R August 16, 2016 7:03 pm UTC
I will likely get to this, (A0-A4), in a new campaign, DM'ed by one of my players that wanted to learn how to be a Dungeon Master.
We are starting off with, "N4: Treasure Hunt" & will still be using mainly 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, with some stuff mainly on the character expansion side of 2nd edition rules. So far I have only played a tad bit of 5th edition, via play by post on the Unseen Servant Board, and will soon be converting "Lost Mines of Phandelver" to 1st Edition AD&D, for play in my current campaign.
Customer avatar
Anne T January 05, 2016 3:44 pm UTC
This may be a premium reprint - at least in hardcover - but why is it that the PDF cover is a scan of a shrink-wrapped copy, wrinkles in the plastic and all? Not impressed by this week's WotC releases...
Customer avatar
Ricky R January 07, 2016 3:26 am UTC
I will guess it is because they wanted to emphasize the fact that the new 'A0' module is included by showing the Sticker on the shrink-wrap.
Customer avatar
Benjamin B January 07, 2016 3:39 am UTC
The actual PDF file's cover doesn't show the sticker or the shrink wrap. Dunno why the thumbnail does.
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