Jungle Ruins of Madaro-Shanti
This is the second big module release for Swords & Wizardry in two days, and this is one I have been waiting for for a very long time.
Click here for the description/order page for the module
I'm not posting the actual cover because - since it's part of a folio-series of free standing modules, the cover isn't specific to this module. However, Paul Fini's frontispiece art is awesome and evocative of the module's feel.
Jungle Ruins of Madaro-Shanti is an adventure for a party of 4-8 characters of fourth through seventh level. A century ago or more, when the town of Cholagadi was just a frontier fort on the coast, Madaro-Shanti was the most powerful city-state in the entire Ambicuaria Jungle. Its citizens were highly advanced in the arts of magic, and even retained some vestiges of magical quasi-technologies perhaps more ancient than humankind itself. Their prosperity made for jealous enemies, none more covetous than the powerful and sorcerous Kiengaa Tribe of the deep jungles. The Kiengaa plotted against Madaro-Shanti, making dark pacts with the monstrous ape-centaurs known as the Borsin, and with the monkey-faced, snake-like monsters known as the Hanu-Naga. Once this terrible, unnatural army was gathered, the Kiengaa and their allies laid siege to Madaro-Shanti itself.
As the walls of Madaro-Shanti fell, and the invaders swarmed into the city, the high priest of the city closed himself within the royal shrine, praying to all the gods for intervention. Yet none of the gods answered his prayers until the last – and that was Ojala, whom the people of Madaro-Shanti knew as a god of evil and treachery. A deadly bargain was struck that night, and true to his promise, Ojala caused a horrible wasting disease to strike the besieging army. But the full extent of the evil god’s treachery became clear when the surviving people of Madaro-Shanti themselves began to succumb to the same disease which had slain their enemies. Within a fortnight, all the people of Madaro-Shanti had either died of the plague or scattered into the depths of the predator-filled jungle.
In only a few years, the city was overgrown by the jungle and fell into ruin, but the magical disease was to have one final consequence. Not only did the contagion affect the Kiengaa and the Madaro-Shanti – it also infected the mind of a powerful nature-spirit that inhabited the surrounding jungles. The nature-spirit Cho-Odaa, driven mad by the disease and hungry for vengeance against all humankind, has discovered the means to exact a terrible reckoning.
My Own Comments:
This module is particularly remarkable for Scott's use of the third dimension - it's not to the point of being gimmicky but several of the encounters, locations, and situations involve things that require thinking about what's up and down as well as just sideways.
It also requires considerable thought to work your way through to all the module's locations. There are places you can't find, or can't access, without experimentation in other places. Only a very smart party is going to see everything there is to see.
One of the areas is wickedly fiendish. If the players figure out the danger they are in, it becomes ... tense.
Out of all the modules published for S&W by Frog God up to this point, I think Jungle Ruins is the strongest of the lot. If you absolutely had to pick only one Frog God module, I would suggest this one unless you're itching to put the characters into the colder lands of the north.