This was the first module that I bought back in 1980, so I will always have nostalgic feelings for it, and even now, I think it is still one of my favorite modules.
This was the first in a four part Gencon tournament that was held around 1980. The results of this were published in the form of A1-A4 between 1980-1981. The final published module included the tournament versions plus some additional material to give it a bit more content than just a tournament module. David Cook wrote a good intro to the Scourge of the Slavers, this was the combined A1-A4 plus some addition material, which he outlined the background of the original concept.
The outline of all the Slave Lord adventures follows these basic guidelines:
1 Trick to fool the players
1 Problem the players had to solve
1 Encounter with the basic monster of the
round (orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls, etc.)
1 Ambush prepared by the basic monster of
1 Encounter with the basic monster and a
friend (an ogre, for example)
1 Encounter with an unintelligent monster
1 Encounter with a brand new monster
1 Grand Finale
The module follows the basic layout of the time, with the standard two adventuring levels, in this case an above ground temple area and the sewer dungeon level below. The maps are printed on the inner covers with a 24 page book that outlines the encounters, includes new monsters, and some pregenerated characters. The new monsters were the sundew and the aspis, which would see a full write up in the MM2 that was produced several years later. When looking at this module in relation to the others at the time, I would say that it is no better or worse than the others. The art is black and white, and the fluff is rather light. The flavor in the rooms is very good and gives more than enough description for the DM to work with. This module was one of first to utilize the boxed read out loud sections, as this was not featured in earlier modules. Adventures written after this would almost always include a readout loud sections in the encounter write ups.
As I stated earlier, I really liked this module. Part of my positive feelings on this module was that it was the first one I bought. I think a lot of the criticism leveled at this module was that it is a tournament module, and tournament modules tend to be standardized in format, and come across as "cookie cutter" modules. I think that is a fair comment. In this case, I think the outline is fairly solid, and there is enough additional material added to enable it to be more than just a tournament module. I would also say that there is enough to challenge a good party of mid level characters, but there is nothing really special about it that separates this one from the rest of the modules at the time.
As a final note, I would classify this module as a challenge dungeon, one in which the players "win" at, which is a little different than current adventure design. When one goes through this module, there is definitely a feeling of players v. the dungeon. The challenges in the main sections of the adventure are meant to challenge the characters. With the defeat of the slave lords at the end, this module is effectively over.
Rating: 3.5 Dragons (on a scale of 5)
Perhaps a bit high, but I will give in to my more sentimental side on this one.