Rahasia is a story focused module written in 1984 by Tracy and Laura Hickman, the folks behind Dragonlance. Rahasia is written for an extremely Tolkienesque fantasy world, perhaps the Basic D&D fantasy world that later became standard for TSR. Not sure why the story and setting are so aggravating to me – it may be descriptions like: “an elven maid, whose veiled grace and beauty outshines all others present as the sun outshines the stars-she is Rahasia.” The entire set up and world is so revoltingly encrusted with high fantasy bathos that it’s almost painful to read. Still, it's more than the descriptions that make me dislike B7, it's the way that Rahasia enforces the world it creates with GM-side rules that not only force the players to accept the adventure but penalize characters for not acting in a noble manner. All this is unfortunate because there are some good set pieces in the haunted temple itself. The maps are solid, the traps often well designed, numerous puzzles included, the encounters mostly sensible with several unique monsters, and there’s even some treasure that isn’t completely boring. Rahasia still suffers from lesser problems beyond the absurd bombastic descriptions and mawkishness railroading. Treasure placement is somewhat non-standard, with a few large caches rather then a constant dribble of valuables. The magic items are not so great, but they are less common then in most early TSR modules and the authors have included a couple of interesting unique items. The most serious problem, linked to the railroading impulse of the module, is a lack of factions in Rahasia. While several of the best encounters are with ‘good’ temple guardians or otherwise upend vanilla fantasy assumptions about when to fight or who to rescue, there’s no room in Rahasia for manipulation and gray morality.
|decent art and execrable verse|
The art and layout are fine, though for such a socially driven module I could have used a bit more about the village, especially if I am trying to get my players excited about saving it. Some sense of the goals and potential outcomes of the module beyond - free the elf damsels, do good, adventure would also be nice. The box text isn't even especially bad, it's mostly short and fairly functional. All of the poetry is terrible, and the wine jokes are bad, but I suppose one can spin that either as a function of poor translation or elven lameness. I rather like the ink drawings in Rahasia more then B5 or B6, though they are similar.
I also doubt a bit if the encounters are sufficient to give the recommended party size and level much of a challenge, for example the witches who are the adventure’s main villains are first level magic users, with 5HP and two spells. Now one spell is sleep and they have panther’s protecting them, but when your adventure’s great adversaries are a pair of 4HD encounters vs. 10 – 24HD of party (without henchmen) there may be a lack of challenge. This might sound like a minor complaint, fixable by adding a few more hit dice or monsters here and there, but it’s not so simple, the weak enemies are a function of the structure of these modules and the way they insist (often through railroad tactics) players approach them. The second wave of ‘B’ modules suffers from pitiful enemies generally, because in keeping with their stringent lawful/chaotic morality the players are expected to fight and defeat the monsters. Where it’s clearly obvious that a party which tries to carve its way though the Caves with violence will fail if the humanoids are run with a modicum of thought, the opposition in Rahasia will fall to an aggressive party, and it must, because there are no other approaches considered by the authors.