The 15 Best Official D&D Modules Of All Time
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  • 15 Best D&D Modules Of All Time


    What are the best D&D adventures of all time? I take a look at four decades of Dungeons & Dragons adventures and present to you the 15 Best D&D Modules Of All Time, from Night Below to The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh to Ravenloft.

    Based on a survey I took in 2013. Over 120 adventures were nominated, and over 500 votes cast to determine the Top 15 Best D&D Modules Of All Time. From BECMI, AD&D 1E, AD&D 2E, D&D 3E/3.5, and D&D 4E (in other words, offficial D&D adventures only, not Pathfinder or third-party adventures).

    About Top Lists: This is an experimental new forum, and a bit of fun. The idea is to post your Top 10 (or 20 or 1,000 or whatever) things in a given theme. Top 10 Sci-fi Games of 2014, for example, or Top AD&D 1st Edition Modules. See the sticky thread inside for more info, and please do feel free to post your own Top List! This one should serve as a good example!


    #15: Night Below

    By Carl Sargent. A 3-book boxed set for AD&D 2nd Edition, a campaign set in the underdark. It was described as "bursting and the seams with nasty, slimy, ugly things" by Cliff Ramshaw.



    #14: Desert of Desolation

    By Tracy & Laura Kicman. The definitive Egyptian-themed D&D adventure.



    #13: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

    By Gary Gygax. "A monster filled labyrinth in the classic mode" said Lawrence Schick.



    #12: The Lost City

    By Tom Moldvay. A module designed by Moldvay to give new DMs experience fleshing out adventures and the inspiration for a 3rd-edition D&D adventure, Masque of Dreams.



    #11: The Whispering Cairn

    By Erik Mona. From DUNGEON magazine, the first adventure in the Age of Worms adventure path. An adventure by Erik Mona for D&D 3rd Edition.



    #10: The Isle of Dread

    By David Cook and Tom Moldvay. The first module to focus on wilderness exploration and the first appearance of a D&D world continent. The Isle was later retconned in 4th Edition to be part of the Feywild. Steve Winter described it as "one of the most widely known and played advantures for years".



    #9: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

    By Dave J. Browne and Don Turnbull. The first D&D adventure from the UK. Published in 1981 for AD&D 1st Edition. The abandoned, dilapidated mansion of an evil alchemist. The introduction to an underwater campaign. Ken Denmead of Wired called it "the Scooby Doo episode of D&D modules".



    #8: Queen of the Spiders

    By Gary Gygax. A compilation of 7 modules spanning Greyhawk, the Underdark, and concluding in the Demonweb Pits, the abyssal lair of the demonic goddess Lolth.



    #7: Against the Giants

    By Gary Gygax. The "G" series of modules by Gary Gygax combined into one compilation module. Stephen Colbert commented on this one - "those old Giants modules, those were tremendous", while Wired's Ken Denmead said that [the third is] "the end-all, be-all of hack-fests".



    #6: Castle Amber

    By Tom Moldvay. A haunted mansion, the all-new brain collector, and demented members of the d'Amberville family. "A decidedly Edgar Allen Poe feel" said Game Examiner's Daniel Nations. Jim Bambra of White Dwarf described it as "an attempt to bring randomness back into D&D."



    #5: Red Hand of Doom

    By James Jacobs and Richard Baker. The second 3rd Edition adventure on this list. A hobgoblin hoard devoted to Tiamat. Released in 2006, WotC's first D&D adventure for four years since 2002. A massive 128-page adventure and the first D&D adventure to include Designer Notes.



    #4: Tomb of Horrors

    By Gary Gygax. Written to test mighty player characters in the tomb of the demilich Acererak. One of the toughest modules of all time! "Sprinkled... with subtle, insidious, and carefully laid traps" says Don Turnball. SF Site called it " a classic and a mus-have for gamers".



    #3: The Keep on the Borderlands

    By Gary Gygax. Explore the Caves of Chaos in this beginner module for the D&D Basic Set. A revised version formed a D&D Next playtest module called The Caves of Chaos. At the time, more copies of this module were printed than of any other scenario.



    #2: The Temple of Elemental Evil

    By Gary Gygax and Frank Mentzer. An expansion of The Village of Hommlet and a 128-page classic which inspired a novel, a computer game, and a return 25-years later. "Of huge, classic dungeon crawls, this is probably the best" said Lawrence Schick. Even Dungeon Master for Dummies called it "the grandfather of all huge dungeon crawls".



    #1: Ravenloft

    By Tracy & Laura Hickman. Is this the best D&D adventure of all time? Pubished for AD&D 1st Edition in 1983, playtested for five years by Tracy and Laura Hickman and the inpsiration for an entire campaign setting! A frightening portrait of a vampire. Necromancer Games' Clark Peterson described Strahd as "one of the best villains of all time" and Bill Slavicsek praises it as "the first adventure to mix tone, story, and dungeon crawl". Dungeon Master for Dummies said it "takes the art of adventure to the next level" and author Tracy Hickman certain feels it's "perhaps the best [module] that ever had my name on it".


    This article was originally published in forum thread: The 15 Best Official D&D Modules Of All Time started by Morrus View original post
    Comments 58 Comments
    1. Random Bystander's Avatar
      Random Bystander -
      By Dave J. Browne and Don Turnbull. The frst D&D adventure from the UK. Published in 2981 for AD&D 1st Edition.
      The difficult question being then, when did you patent your time machine, and for how long?
    1. Zaran's Avatar
      Zaran -
      I would have put Dragon Mountain in there somewhere.

      Interesting how Gary Gygax made many of these.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Random Bystander View Post
      The difficult question being then, when did you patent your time machine, and for how long?
      I patented my time machine in April 3248, August 1242, and "the day when the sun came up" in 32,000 BC.
    1. Deuce Traveler -
      I loved all these modules, so this list is pretty solid. However, polls are often slanted by people voting for what they know and therefore to adventures with wide distribution. I wonder about all the excellent, hardly known adventures in Dungeon Magazine and by 3rd party publishers that are superior but lack the large fan base support to get their names out there.
    1. Random Bystander's Avatar
      Random Bystander -
      Quote Originally Posted by Deuce Traveler View Post
      I loved all these modules, so this list is pretty solid. However, polls are often slanted by people voting for what they know and therefore to adventures with wide distribution. I wonder about all the excellent, hardly known adventures in Dungeon Magazine and by 3rd party publishers that are superior but lack the large fan base support to get their names out there.
      If you have one or more candidates, why not start a thread for them on the forum? If they are well-done and little known, it would be difficult for more notability to hurt them.
    1. Hand of Evil's Avatar
      Hand of Evil -
      My copy of Queen of the Spiders is signed by Gary Gygax
    1. iwarrior-poet -
      Lord, I miss good modules. Reading them alone was inspiring---playing them was divine. My group started 'Against the Giants' and wanted to move on to the Underdark--->Queen of the Demonweb Pits, but we never got to them.
      My most recent group got through a good chunk of the 'Red Hand of Doom'---excellent module.

      Interesting that none of the modules mentioned, nor none of the my favorites---incorporate a Dragon as the end-game monster. (Aside from the Dragonlance campaign modules that is)
    1. ExploderWizard's Avatar
      ExploderWizard -
      I don't know why Temple of Elemental Evil ranked so high. It is a huge dungeon but a lot of it is kind of generic & ponderous. I would have put Dwellers of the Forbidden City in its place.
    1. iwarrior-poet -
      Also---'Expedition to Undermountain'? It was perhaps a bit overwhelming as a module---but it provided a dearth of material that Forgotten Realms groups could return to again and again.
    1. delericho's Avatar
      delericho -
      Odd to see both "Queen of Spiders" and "Against the Giants" on the list (and at #8 and #7 no less), given that the former contains the latter!
    1. marroon69's Avatar
      marroon69 -
      It seem that "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" should be in the top 15...also Ravenloft as #1? Not sure that makes much sense to me but that is just my tastes. I would have put Ravenloft and Temple of Elemental Evil lower then 1 and 2 personally.
    1. Deuce Traveler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Random Bystander View Post
      If you have one or more candidates, why not start a thread for them on the forum? If they are well-done and little known, it would be difficult for more notability to hurt them.
      Took your advice, but didn't have to. Check it: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...venture%28s%29

    1. Deuce Traveler -
      Quote Originally Posted by ExploderWizard View Post
      I don't know why Temple of Elemental Evil ranked so high. It is a huge dungeon but a lot of it is kind of generic & ponderous. I would have put Dwellers of the Forbidden City in its place.
      The first part is quite excellent with the Village of Hommlet. The rest varies in quality.
    1. Random Bystander's Avatar
      Random Bystander -
      Quote Originally Posted by Deuce Traveler View Post
      Took your advice, but didn't have to. Check it: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...venture%28s%29

      Thank you. That looks like a nice resource.
      Quote Originally Posted by Deuce Traveler View Post
      The first part is quite excellent with the Village of Hommlet. The rest varies in quality.
      You mean it...Varies from person to person?
    1. ExploderWizard's Avatar
      ExploderWizard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Deuce Traveler View Post
      The first part is quite excellent with the Village of Hommlet. The rest varies in quality.
      I don't count that as part of Temple because it was previously available as a standalone module.
    1. koga305's Avatar
      koga305 -
      Personally, I'd consider including Lost Mine of Phandelver. It may be new, but I think it's 5E's Keep on the Borderlands.
    1. Nebulous's Avatar
      Nebulous -
      I really wish I had run more of these. For some reason I leaned toward heavy homebrew when I was younger.
    1. Nebulous's Avatar
      Nebulous -
      Quote Originally Posted by koga305 View Post
      Personally, I'd consider including Lost Mine of Phandelver. It may be new, but I think it's 5E's Keep on the Borderlands.
      Yup. It's a modern classic IMHO.
    1. Holy Bovine's Avatar
      Holy Bovine -
      Quote Originally Posted by ExploderWizard View Post
      I don't know why Temple of Elemental Evil ranked so high. It is a huge dungeon but a lot of it is kind of generic & ponderous. I would have put Dwellers of the Forbidden City in its place.
      I couldn't agree with this more even if I had a nuclear powered agreeing machine. Dwellers was a campaign setting in 32 pages. Temple was a 32 page dungeon delve dragged out to 128 pages.

      The only other one I would have liked to see on the list somewhere was A1 Slavepits of the Undercity.
    1. TerraDave's Avatar
      TerraDave -
      I did a similar exercise here almost 10 years ago:

      http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...-and-why/page3

      This was an elaborate multi-thread thing that finally culminated in...the usual suspects at the top.

      At that time there was no Red-Hand of Doom, or, I think, Age or Worms. Shackled City somehow made the list, a ways down.

      Otherwise, very familiar at the top. I have included all 44 I put in the final pole.

      1 · G1-2-3 Against the Giants
      2 · B2 Keep on the Borderlands
      3 · T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil
      4 · I6 Ravenloft
      5 · D3 Vault of the Drow
      6 · T1 Village of Hommlet
      7 · S1 Tomb of Horrors
      8 · D1-2 Descent Into the Depths
      9 · X1 Isle of Dread
      10 · S2 White Plume Mountain
      11 · S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
      12 · U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
      13 · I3 Pharaoh
      14 · Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits
      15 · X2 Castle Amber
      16 · S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
      17 · WotC: Sunless Citadel
      18 · WotC: Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
      19 · I4 Oasis of the White Palm
      20 · WotC:Forge of Fury
      21 · Return to the Tomb of Horrors
      22 · GR: Death in Freeport
      23 · Ruins of Undermountain (Forgotten Realms)
      24 · NG: Rapan Athuk (all)
      25 · GR: Madness in Freeport
      26 · PZ: The Shackled City Adventure Path
      27 · Dead Gods (Planescape)
      28 · Night Below
      29 · GR: Terror in Freeport
      30 · MP:The Banewarrens
      31 · B4 Lost City
      32 · X4 Master of the Desert Nomads
      33 · WotC:City of the Spider Queen
      34 · B1 In Search of the Unknown
      35 · A Paladin in Hell
      36 · B10 Night's Dark Terror
      37 · Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff (Greyhawk)
      38 · Rod of Seven Parts
      39 · X5: Temple of Death
      40 · The Gates of Firestorm Peak
      41 · JG: Tegel Manor
      42 · Dragon Mountain
      43 · Axe of the Dwarvish Lords
      44 · JG: Lost Caverns of Thracia
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