Castle Amber (TSR, 1981). Cover by Erol Otus
Castle Amber (aka Château d’ Amberville) by Tom Moldvay (RIP) is a classic D&D adventure that I first enjoyed as a player at age 10 and later as DM. Published in 1981 by TSR, Castle Amber has a wonderful cover by Erol Otus, and excellent interiors by Otus, Jim Holloway (RIP), Harry Quinn, Jim Rosolf (RIP), and Stephen Sullivan (he did the maps, I’m assuming).
I didn’t appreciate it as a youth, but this module was largely inspired by the weird fiction of Clark Ashton Smith — specifically his Averoigne Cycle of stories, which were set in a fictional counterpart of a province of France. Smith called this part of Southern France “the most witch-ridden in the entire country.” Smith has been a huge inspiration to me in my own RPG work, and I never tire of rereading his poetry and fiction.
[Click the images for castle-sized versions.]
The Castle Amber booklet
In Moldvay’s adventure, the cursed castle of the Amber family is surrounded by a deadly mist, contains strange and haunted inhabitants, and within its walls there lies a portal to Averoigne (of CAS inspiration).
Castle Amber is rich with flavor, tragic history, and weird happenings. This is not your typical fantasy adventure. Members of the Amber family itself lurk around every corner — some insane, some deadly! This module holds up, I feel, and it’s a classic for a reason. Truly, Moldvay shines in this one, expressing his creativity in unique fashion.
Castle Amber map
Have you ever played in or DMed Castle Amber?
Jeffrey P. Talanian’s last article for Black Gate was a review of Lankhmar, City of Adventure by Bruce Nesmith, Doug Niles, and Ken Rolston. He is the creator and publisher of the Hyperborea sword-and-sorcery and weird science-fantasy RPG from North Wind Adventures. He was the co-author, with E. Gary Gygax, of the Castle Zagyg releases, including several Yggsburgh city supplements, Castle Zagyg: The East Mark Gazetteer, and Castle Zagyg: The Upper Works. Read Gabe Gybing’s interview with Jeffrey here, and follow his latest projects on Facebook and at www.hyperborea.tv.