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  • Writer's pictureW. R. Frady

Tales from the Dragon's Hoard

Updated: Jan 29

Thunder Rift-

A Retro Review

D&D Rules Cyclopedia

Hello, my friends and fellow adventurers. Welcome to the Ye Olde Wayfarer’s Adventurer’s Almanac. Grab a mug of your favorite ale, pull up a chair, and listen as we talk about adventures from long ago. You see, I found an old treasure while stealing through the library stacks. Intrigued by the memory of wonderful adventures of years gone by, I wanted to visit this old place and breathe life into it anew. So, sit back and stay awhile as we reminisce of the days of high adventure.

Thunder Rift Campaign Setting

Welcome to Thunder Rift. Thunder Rift was a mini campaign setting for the classic Dungeons & Dragons Game, Circa 1992. While I say mini campaign setting, it is a bit of an understatement, for Thunder Rift was a complete sandbox realm of its own. Rich in history and legend, with hundreds of square miles of terrain, the canyon realm offered almost any kind of environment necessary to challenge even the heartiest adventurers from majestic mountains and ancient forests to bleak swamplands.

Thunder Rift Map

Thunder Rift was one of the few campaigns of the time that had no boxed set of its own. Rather, it featured a folio style sourcebook which detailed the lands of the rift, as well as a full-sized poster map of the canyon, highlighting well-known haunts and landmarks such as the Plunging Cataract, the Gloomfens, and the Keep of the Black Knight. It did, however, boast several companion adventures for characters of various levels, including three boxed sets, and a final adventure module which came with the black Dungeons & Dragons- Dungeon Master’s Screen: Escape from Thunder Rift. Beyond these, there was plenty of room for world-building and enough sites of interest that

any Gamemaster or Dungeon Master could easily fuel an ongoing campaign without really having to venture into the wide world beyond. Even so, this simple sandbox campaign could fit seamlessly into any

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5

given campaign world, whether it was The Known World of Mystara, home world of Classic Dungeons & Dragons, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, or even an original fantasy world. So, if the players or the Dungeon Master decided to explore the world beyond the rift, it was always there to come back to later. After all, in a living world, time does pass and old threats can return or new threats can move in, as history has shown both in fantasy and in the real world.

DM Screen with Escape from Thunder Rift

So, how does Thunder Rift fit into today’s Roleplaying Culture? Personally, I believe Thunder Rift is perfectly capable of standing strong in today’s Roleplaying Market. First of all, it, like most classic settings, was written in such a manner that the world could easily be incorporated into most any Roleplaying system, but it is especially compatible with D20

based systems. With Just a little tweaking of the stats, you could work Thunder Rift into Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition-the 5th Edition, Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, OSRIC, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and more. Given the power gaming dynamics of modern D20 based Systems, I personally believe it would fit best in a system like Castles & Crusades as it is so closely related to the classic D&D/AD&D systems of yore. It’s not as fancy a campaign setting as say, the Sword Coast, or Waterdeep with Drow rangers, and dragonborn paladins wandering about, but for good classic fantasy adventure, Thunder Rift is still a great place for any Gamemaster, Castle Keeper, or Dungeon Master to use as their setting. With its detailed history,

Castles & Crusades

versatile landscape, and legends for each of the major areas, there is enough room for years of adventures, as well

as room for a revisit. If you haven’t heard of Thunder Rift, then I would extend an invitation for you to find a copy, even if it is a PDF from DrivethruRPG.

Well, my friends, it has been great talking with you. We may return to this topic at a later date, but for now, I must be off. There are more adventures to be had, and lore to uncover. I hope you’ll visit Thunder Rift sometime soon, whether it’s for a single night’s quest, or for a season of adventure. I hope to see you all again soon. Thanks for stopping in. May the road rise to meet you and may your journeys be safe. Till then, Happy Adventuring.

W. R. Frady

Disclaimer- All products pictured above are from my collection and are for reference only. Dungeons & Dragons, and Castles & Crusades each belong to their respective companies.

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