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Thursday, 13 March 2014

RPGPundit Reviews: The Shrine of St. Aleena

This is a review of "The Shrine of St. Aleena", an adventure module for low-level characters (ostensibly for Labyrinth Lord but usable in any OSR game), published by SNG games, written by Peter C. Spahn. The module softcover, about 20 pages long, with B&W art.

Most gamers of a certain age will know who Aleena is, if they wrack their memory.  In the introductory adventure of the Mentzer "Basic D&D" box set (possibly the most-sold D&D product of all time), Aleena was the NPC cleric who accompanied your fighter on your very first (solo) adventure to learn the D&D rules; only to suffer a terrible death at the hands of the evil wizard Bargle.

Remember her?

No wonder she had such a powerful effect on the infancy of so many gamers.

Apparently Peter Spahn was no exception because he wrote an entire adventure in homage to his prepubescent fantasies about her.   Don't worry, there's no actual dirty parts involved, its all pure and innocent and an adventure very much in the fashion of the good old days of early-80s four-colour adventuring, when evil wizards were evil (not misunderstood), goblins were evil (not culturally oppressed), undead were evil (and not sparkly), and brave, attractive, but G-rated cleric girls were friendly to you just because.

So while it is a low-level adventure (for 3-6 characters of level 1-3), and decent enough as it is at that, its also a big in-joke. The background story is that the death of Aleena made such an impression that she was turned into a saint, and the site of her death at the hands of Bargle (who's never called that, but instead is referred to as the "Infamous One"; I'm not sure why the author felt they could use the name "Aleena" but not "Bargle") has become a holy temple. The "infamous one" is still alive and has sent out goblins to desecrate the shrine (pissed off at the celebration of one of his early failures).  There are quite a few other references to the Mentzer Red Box and its initial adventure in the module; including a place called "Zerment's Bluff" named after the "renowned sage Zerment the Red" (get it?).  You also see (based on my own recollection at least) pretty well all of the monsters that featured in that early adventure: the aforementioned goblins, a rust monster, a medusa, skeletons, etc.

As usual with modules I don't want to go into too much detail to avoid spoilers, but what I'll say is that what you get here is:
a) a nostalgia trip IF the Mentzer Red Box was a big deal to you
b) a decent though not astounding dungeon-crawling and surrounding-environs adventure either way.

The adventure itself is fun without being in any particular way groundbreaking, but for 20 pages or so you get a pretty decent and very classic kind of adventure for low-level D&D characters.


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  1. Yeah, it was pretty amusing.

  2. Thanks for the review. Glad you picked up on the references! :)

  3. No problem; sorry for having forgotten to notify you that it was out already!