As gamers we have a great shared history of classic adventures. Everyone’s heard of the Temple of Elemental Evil and the Keep on the Borderlands. (In fact, it is thought Keep on the Borderlands may be the most played adventure of all time). However, TSR released hundreds of adventures for D&D and AD&D. Some are justly famed, but others never garnered the recognition they deserved.
Here are four such overlooked gems. If you don’t have a copy, it’s worth tracking down a copy or PDF.
B5: Horror on the Hill
For my money, this is the best early Basic adventure. While I love B2 Keep on the Borderlands, this adventure has a range or better designed, more cohesive challenges and situations. It features extensive overland travel, a ruined monastery and three dungeons levels. Each of these five areas has their own set of unique challenges and creatures. Goblins inhabit the upper dungeon level, the next level – in which the party might get dumped by the goblins if they are not careful – is full of scavengers while kobolds and a dragon lurk in the lowest level. Because it is very likely the party will get trapped in the lower two levels, the adventure changes (well, it did in my campaign) suddenly from “kill the goblins, loot their stuff” to “we are trapped; how do we get out?”
N4: Treasure Hunt
This AD&D module is for characters levels 0-1 and starts with the party in chains on a pirate slaver ship. The ship sinks during a ferocious storm and the party are washed ashore on a remote island. From there, they must escape the last of their captors, defeat the various warring factions on the island and escape before a vengeful goddess destroys the island. Included with the module are rules for both 0-level characters and converting those characters into “proper” 1st-level adventurers.
UK4: When A Star Falls
One of my all-time favourite modules, When a Star Falls is for characters levels 3-5. I’ve run this AD&D module several times over the last 30 years, and even included it in my expanded Temple of Elemental Evil campaign. The adventure focuses on the power struggles of the sages living in the Tower of the Heavens. A shooting star – an omen of power – sets events in motion that culminate in a power struggle, with the unwitting PCs proving pivotal to the outcome. As well as lots of opportunities for combat, the adventure features extensive roleplaying encounters and wilderness travel. When a Star Falls also includes one of my favourite new monsters – the memory web. When the PCs slay the creature it bombards them with the memories of others it has slain, which propels them into the adventure. This is one of the best, most memorable adventure hooks I’ve ever come across.
X12: Skarda’s Mirror
I’ve never run this Expert module (for characters level 5-8) , but I plan to in the not too distant future. I love the set-up — a retired adventurer has a magic item that is not what it seems, and the magic items holds a terrible secret. The item — a mirror — is actually an artefact that allows access to a demiplane. The demiplane is now the home of a mad wizard and his small army. Trapped inside, he is intent on escaping and using his forces to wrest control of the PCs’ home kingdom from its rightful king. The start of the adventure sees the party drawn into the mirror and into conflict with the mad wizard. Of course, disaster is in the offing – the demiplane is old and the magics maintaining are beginning to breakdown — and the mad wizard escapes back into the world with his servants. The adventure climaxes with the party escaping the demiplane and fighting in the royal palace to protect the king from an ignoble death!
- 2 Overlooked Classic TSR Modules You Should Run
- 1 Overlooked High-Level Classic TSR Module You Should Run
What Do You Think?
Do you think I missed an old classic module from my list? Tell me what it is in the comments below, and add to Ebay’s profits!