• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

OSR Best introductory BX/OSR scenarios


I collated the responses to two separate questions about the best BX/OSR scenario for new players and DMs the questions was asked in 5 different threads/groups across three forums (two Facebook BX and OSE groups, two Reddit BX and OSR groups, and an BX/OSR Forum on EN World). The question was originally asked by Angelo Muscia (both Facebook groups and the Reddit BX forum) and then by me. I am posting this to the same groups.

Top 10 beginning scenarios for BX/OSE:

1. B2 Keep on the Borderlands - 40 recommendations
2. B1 In Search of the Unknown - 20
3. Tomb of the Serpent King - 14
5= B4 The Lost City - 8
5= Winter's Daughter - 8
6. U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh - 7*
7. Hole in the Oak - 6
10= B3 Palace of the Silver Princess - 5
10= B11 Kings’s Festival - 5
10= N1 Against The Cult of the Reptile Gods - 5*

*AD&D1e scenarios that were suggested as suitable for BX.

log in or register to remove this ad

Gus L

This is interesting data - though a small sample size I'd think. As someone who was part of the OSR scene and publishing in it from 2011 through 2019 and then Post-OSR spaces since then it seems to reflect a specific fragment or category of players in those spaces or scenes that is made up largely of newer players and may be somewhat detached from the larger space/history. Many of the source spaces listed are more closely linked to the 5E space (not a bad thing - but not often a font of B/X play experience), and so somewhat outside the legacy of OSR design from the 2006-2020, while a few such as r/osr often seems to be actively dismissive of it (such as when the reddit forum seriously considered banning links to blogs...)

We all start playing new games from somewhere (including old games that are new to us), but I would be shocked if the B series of D&D adventures from the early - mid 1980's were the state for teaching how to play, despite being well known. Most of the B series are experiments in different forms of teaching the game - and most fail to one degree or another.
B1 is a strange, effectively producing a randomly stocked monster zoo with the marks of early 1970's map design and much of the "boardgame" feel of that era. It has promise in parts but in play it often lacks a coherent sense of place and it lacks the treasure to really work as a Palace of the Vampire Queen, 1970's sort of meat grinder dungeon.
B2 of course has long been well regarded and is one of the most widely published and played modules. Yet it's actually pretty sparse on advice for running the faction intrigue rich, "cavalry story" Western plotline that it aims for, or the heist/crime one that it sometimes gets subverted into. The subject matter and focus on wholesale murder of various humanoids also leave some players with a bad impression.
B3 is interesting, but a mess due to the internal TSR conflict over its first printing and the changes made to it for the next. Great imagery, fairy-tale sensibilities, but in play a slog that has never been especially well regarded. Its intro tools largely consist of a sort of choose your own adventure that is moderately successful at best and teaches a very constrained rules focused referee style if it teaches anything.
B4, like B2 is well regarded, and has a stronger set of advice and more robust set up for running factions, but I have never heard it described as especially easy to run and it leaves an entire buried city the referee must complete if the adventure is to continue logically.
B11 is a BECMI module. A drab Orcs in a Hole adventure with tedious moralizing and an absurdly small scope. It has a few bright spots in the writing, but it's basically a one page dungeon with advice aimed at keeping Patricia Pulling from raising a mob to burn down Lake Geneva.

I could go on - but I think that's enough for now.

Remove ads