B2: Keep on the Borderlands

Shinwa’s 国境の城塞 “Keep on the Borderlands” was released in 1985, though not all printings have the year of the translation on them. Mysteriously, the years on the early printings don’t match any English version of the module either. They do match the French version, however, which was also the source of the map of the Caves of Chaos, as can be seen by observing that the Japanese version map has “DESCENTE” printed on it in three places. The interior art comes from the EV, including the hermit, but not the minotaur, by Erol Otus.

Of all the adventures Gary wrote, Keep on the Borderlands was the only one that Shinwa translated. Gygax describes the keep as “a microcosm, a world in miniature.” Back then, we gamers weren’t overusing the word “sandbox” yet. The number of encounters is impressive, and we are given a basic treatment of some of Gygax’s earlier motifs, e.g. evil temple in section K.

The writing style is distinctively Gary. When he wanted to be a bit grandiose he would pair nouns with “and”, e.g. “magic and monsters”, “law and chaos”, “adventure and heroism”. Perhaps he was subtly recalling the name of the game. The unnamed translator uses the particle と to render these phrases in Japanese: 魔法とモンスター, 方と無法, 冒険とロマン.

Letter sized saddle-stitched pamphlet with loose card stock cover, 32 pp.

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