The Defining Adventure Modules for each Edition





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    The Defining Adventure Modules for each Edition

    The idea of a Grand Unified D&D has me thinking about adventure modules and how they epitomize play and serve as a powerful shared experience for otherwise disparate gamers.

    So, what are the truly defining adventure modules for each edition of D&D, in your opinion? Which ones exemplify the strengths of a particular edition, as well as serve as a common touchstone for that edition. And, assuming a "universal edition" is even possible, which ones should be repackaged for D&D Next to help create an adventure foundation for the new game?

    My choices include Keep on the Hinterlands and Isle of dread for Basic/Expert D&D, Temple of Elemental Evil for 1E, and Forge of Fury and Red Hand of Doom for 3E. I can't think of a single defining adventure for 2E -- I never ran modules when playing 2E -- and I am not familiar enough with published 4E adventures to judge.
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    The Giant and Drow series for 1E and Red Hand of Doom for 3.XE are defintely high on any lists.
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    For D&D, I would say X2 Castle Amber and well as the later CM1 Test of the Warlords, for companion play

    For AD&D 1st Edition, I would go with A2 - Secret of the Slaver's Stockade. The A modules were the first one that made me feel like I was playing a heroic game as opposed to just dungeon crawling/looting, and you were fighting real evil, not cartoon evil.

    For 2nd, I would go with the Fate of Istus, for Greyhawk. It was a transitional 1e to 2e product, though.

    For 3rd, the only WOTC that really stuck out for me was The Sunless Citadel.
    Last edited by trancejeremy; Sunday, 22nd January, 2012 at 10:04 AM.

  4. #4
    For Basic, yeah, Keep on the Borderlands, though I never ran it with Basic.

    AD&D... The Village of Homlett, Bone Hill, The Assassin's Knot, Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (you may see a theme there), and the Slavers series.

    2e... the Desert of Desolation series was for AD&D, but I liked the 2e version better.

    3e... Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. And in particular I want to mention Dungeon Magazine - Shackled City, Age of Worms, and Savage Tide were, I think, more influential than any adventures outside of the magazine.

    D20... Not the official WotC adventures, but the 3PP D20 releases. MonkeyGod had some that I used pretty much as is - Edge of Dreams and All the King's Men. The Witchfire Trilogy from Privateer Press. Burnt Offerings by Paizo.

    Pathfinder.... The whole Kingmaker AP, and the Curse of the Crimson Throne likewise. The Haunting of Harrowstone is another.

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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Reynard View Post
    So, what are the truly defining adventure modules for each edition of D&D, in your opinion? Which ones exemplify the strengths of a particular edition, as well as serve as a common touchstone for that edition.
    OD&D: There were no modules during the white box era (Temple of the Frog in the Blackmoor supplement comes closest). That said, I think the 1E module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks captures a lot of the wide-open, freewheeling, wacky stuff that people used in their OD&D games. Hey, what can be more like the original game than having mind flayers wielding blaster rifles?

    1E AD&D: Giant and Drow modules. The classic 16/32 page module with bare-bones information, minimalist art, and plenty of fighting, traps, and treasure. I'd also include Tomb of Horrors, as a perfect example of the DM vs. Players model that many groups played.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Croesus View Post
    OD&D: There were no modules during the white box era (Temple of the Frog in the Blackmoor supplement comes closest).
    Not quite true. There were no TSR modules, but there were third party modules. Judges Guild produced the majority of those.

    Given that, my vote would be for Tegel Manor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glyfair View Post
    Not quite true. There were no TSR modules, but there were third party modules. Judges Guild produced the majority of those.

    Given that, my vote would be for Tegel Manor.
    FWIW, Tegel was first published in 1977 which puts it toward the very end of the OD&D era and the beginning of the Holmes or AD&D eras, depending on when exactly it appeared. It looks like some folks received it as soon as April 1977, per the Acaeum.

    OD&D modules published for tourneys or published as products pre-1977 were few and far between; these are the only ones I know of, off the top of my head:

    • Tomb of Horrors (1975; tourney version was at Origins I in July 1975)
    • Temple of the Frog (in Blackmoor Supplement II, late 1975; 2nd printing was July 1976)
    • Palace of the Vampire Queen (1976)
    • Dungeoneer #1 June 1976 (included "F'Cherlak's Tomb" by Paul Jaquays - Adventure in a wizard's highly magical tomb)
    • Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1976; tourney version was at Origins II in July 1976)
    • Dungeoneer #2 Sept '76 (included "The Fabled Garden of Merlin" by Merle Davenport, Adventure)
    • Lost Caverns of Tsojconth (1976; tourney version was at WinterCon V)
    • Dungeoneer #3 Dec '76 (included "Borshak's Lair" by Paul Jaquays - A goblin bandit leader converts a hero's tomb into a hideout. Still some things are best left alone)


    I've started a discussion about this over on the Acaeum, in case anyone's interested: http://www.acaeum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12242
    Last edited by grodog; Monday, 23rd January, 2012 at 02:25 AM. Reason: 1) Blackmoor chronology, 2) additions from Dungeoneer, Acaeum discussion link

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    Here are my choices:

    Basic Set -- Keep on the Borderlands.
    AD&D --- Tie between the Slaver Series and the Giant and Drow series. Both made you feel that you were fighting evil, defending your homes, and making a difference.
    2nd Edition -- I really didn't come up with a choice.
    3rd -- Red Hand of Doom -- which was a lot of fun.

    I did not really play much 4E, so I can't really comment.

    One thing that I think is important for all these modules was that the characters could truly be seen by players as heroic -- by ending evils and defending civilization. I think having a feeling that your characters are making a major impact on the setting and the lives of people help.
    Last edited by William Ronald; Sunday, 22nd January, 2012 at 09:29 PM.
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    I only ran a few of these, and of the ones I did I greatly modified them to make them appropriate to my world and milieu. But as a player I played these and greatly enjoyed them. For me they were:

    Blackmoor
    Temple of the Frog
    Temple of Elemental Evil
    The Giant Modules
    Expedition to the Barrier Peaks - superb

    Tomb of Horrors - my all time favorite commercial adventure. Blackmoor would be second.
    Keep on the Borderlands
    The Ghost Tower of Inverness - I greatly modified this to be far more like the Jack Flanders Tower and it was great to me
    Desert of Desolation series - we greatly modified these to turn it into a series of archaeological and organized crime adventures, and it was superbly good to me, plus it was the first modules I ever used written by women, and they were good. I still remember the Boat of a Million Years.

    The Rod of Seven Parts - I greatly modified this to reflect the ruined Kingdom of Pesh
    White Plume Mountain
    Baba Yaga - also greatly modified
    Ravenloft - not being much of a Vampire fan, sparkly or otherwise, I didn't think I'd like this but I did, it was tough.
    Isle of Dread
    Dwellers of the Forbidden City
    The Forgotten Temple of Tharzidun
    The Assassin's Knot
    Reverse Dungeon - a ball and a superb idea

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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by grodog View Post
    • Tomb of Horrors (1975; tourney version was at Origins I in July 1975)
    • Temple of the Frog (in Blackmoor Supplement II, late 1975; 2nd printing was July 1976)
    • Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1976; tourney version was at Origins II in July 1976)
    • Palace of the Vampire Queen (1976)
    • Lost Caverns of Tsojconth (1976; tourney version was at WinterCon V)
    Any idea who published the tourney versions? I have the Judges Guild Gen Con IX Dungeons, which was OD&D, so I'm guessing JG published the others. The actual TSR modules we remember were, IIRC, published during the AD&D era.

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