I’ll confess that I’ve never been a particular fan of the A1-4 series of modules. I fully understand that they’ve got an excellent reputation among many of my colleagues in the OSR, but they just never did much for me. I don’t particularly dislike them; I just don’t gush over them.
That said, I found the following to be of extreme interest (in the advertising blurb for the upcoming hardcover version of the Slavers modules, due from Wizards in June 2013):
Against the Slave Lords is a hardcover 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.
While it’s neat to see another famous old-school work being republished, what struck me was in the second paragraph:
“you can use to kick off an AD&D campaign”
Wizards of the Coast is not only republishing old material, and is not only publishing new material for a version of the game that is ostensibly out of print, but is actively giving encouragement and assistance to DMs who want to start up a campaign using those out of print rules!
The implications of that simple fact are enormous. I think it signals a shift in their corporate attitude away from “the latest version of the rules is the only one we’ll even acknowledge”. It also demonstrates their lack of confidence in the ability of 4th Edition to carry the flag until 5th Edition is ready for the public (which is now scheduled for 2014). That means they have all of 2013 to play around with previous editions, and more than that, continue reaching out to the fan bases of those previous editions.
An official micro-revival of AD&D? Bring it on! And if you should want to play a mountebank or a mystic when you take on the slave lords in Highport, boy have I got a book for you!