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DSQ3 Asticlian Gambit (2e)


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The palace of the Forest Queen contains treasures unimaginable. To the sons and daughters of Athas's harsher climes, Gulg and the Crescent Forest seem almost perversely lush, a jumble of green and growing things hording precious water for the benefit of the few. But while basking in the glow of Lalali-Puy6's gratitude, your characters have the richness of the forest at your beck and call.

Of course, the Oba's sensibilities are easily bruised, and her nature is notoriously unforgiving. Gulg's dank dungeons are only a staging area to a deadly ceremony, where the young nobles of the city chase prisoners through the forest to earn their places as lords of their city - the Red Moon Hunt.

Designed for four to six characters of 7th to 10th level, Asticlian Gambit makes them pawns in a dangerous game between Oba of Gulg, the shadow king of Nibernay, and mysterious representatives of the Asticles family of Tyr. A long stand alone adventure, Asticlian Gambit can also be played as the sequel to Freedom, Road to Urik, and Arcane Shadows.


Product History

DSQ3: "Asticlian Gambit" (1992), by Anthony Pryor, is the fourth Dark Sun adventure and the last in the "DSQ" series of "Dark Sun Quests". It was released in October 1992.

Continuing the Dark Sun Series. Following its release, the Dark Sun (1991) campaign setting was quickly supported by a series of epic adventures that linked to the Prism Pentad novels (1991-1993). The first three adventures in this series were DS1: "Freedom" (1991), DSQ1: "Road to Urik" (1992), and DSQ2: "Arcane Shadows" (1992).

"Asticlian Gambit" followed on from the previous three adventures, but the links were growing more tenuous. Players can start in Tyr (the home base of the adventure series) or in the desert (following the end of "Arcane Shadows"), and players of the previous adventures will be the right level for "Asticlian Gambit", but other than that the newer adventure is only lightly connected to the previous ones.

Like the earlier adventures in the series, "Asticlian Gambit" is composed of two flipbooks: a book of handouts for players and an encounter-oriented adventure book for GMs. It also contains a short story, "Boneyard Lights" by Allen Varney and Aaron Allston.

Adventuring Tropes. "Asticlian Gambit" contains a few plot elements that were increasingly becoming tropes in the Dark Sun setting: a caravan that travels into the desert and a situation where the players have been captured by malevolent forces. More generally, it's heavily plot-directed, as it pushes players from one city to the other.

The most interesting element of the adventure is its flow charts. These are used instead of traditional maps to direct the flow of activity, once during a desert hunt and once during a dungeon crawl.

Love It or Hate It? Despite their innovation, the flow charts were not well-loved by players or GMs. The problem was likely their specific implementation, as the charts could keep players running in circles unless they made a lucky die roll. Many GMs talked of drawing their own maps for the adventures because they didn't like the flow charts. Despite the problems here, flow charts were much better received in several other TSR products — from X10: "Red Arrow, Black Shield" (1985) to "The Dungeon of Death" (2000).

The Novel Connection. Unlike the previous Dark Sun adventures, the "Asticlian Gambit"'s connections to the Prism Pentad novels was very loose — though a few characters from the novels appear, such as Agist of Asticles and Tithian of Tyr. Despite the lack of connection with the Dark Sun novels, this adventure has an epic, novelistic feel of its own, with its climax focusing on a showdown between the rulers of Gulg and Nibenay.

Expanding Athas. The previous adventures in these sequence had concentrated on the cities of Tyr and Urik. "Asticlian Gambit" thus broke new ground by taking the players to Gulg, Nibenay, and the Crescent Forest between. It not only provides some details on the cities, but also gives the players the opportunity to confront their sorcerer-kings!
Future History. DSM3: "Marauders of Nibenay" (1993) returns to this region of Athas.

About the Creators. Pryor authored four TSR books in 1992, two for Dark Sun and two for Greyhawk. His other Dark Sun book that year was DSR2: "Dune Trader" (1992).

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

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.

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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on September 23, 2014.