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Desert of Desolation - your experiences?

Quasqueton

First Post
Eighth thread of a series on the old classic Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules. It is interesting to see how everyone's experiences compared and differed.

Desert of Desolation or the 3 individual modules: Pharaoh, Oasis of the White Palm, Lost Tomb of Martek
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Did you Play or DM this adventure (or both, as some did)? What were your experiences? Did you complete it? What were the highlights for your group?

Quasqueton
 
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Savage Wombat

Adventurer
Ah, yes, one of my favorites. I thought these modules caught the flavor of a campaign setting without a lot of unnecessary details. I ran it for a small group back in college - they successfully fell for every single plot hook, had a hysterics over the guy that couldn't be killed, got seriously lost in a maze, and all sorts of other fun.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
This module, and Ravenloft, cemented Tracy and Laura Hickman as two of the top Module Designers EVER, in my opinion. Of the times I've DM'ed it, the mystery was both tough at first blush, but had the players kicking themselves over its transparency. It's the kind of module that could last you a whole campaign.

The Three star gems and their ultimate purpose are a great concept (though not original, they are brought about in an original way), and Martek's tomb is one of the more fun places to visit, especially the displaced or time-trapped locations.
 

diaglo

Adventurer
well....

i had the modules several years before the PCs reached high enough level to play them.

i had them play B4 Lost City as a side trek on the way to Pharoah... ;)


they totally messed up the series...due to not following several of the plot hooks...


so i had to reinsert them...

in the final module they made it there as a side trek from Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits... one of the extra planar events... :uhoh:
 

rogueattorney

Adventurer
It's probably been 15 years since I DM'ed those adventures, so I don't remember the details well. I remember that they were probably the most fun we had as a group. They were tough adventures. The group crawled out by the skin of their teeth four or five times.

I particularly remember the battle with the shadow demon and the ghouls. The entire party had been paralyzed or otherwise taken out of action except the halfling fighter/thief, played by my little brother, Scotty. The ghouls were all dead too. So it was just the halfling and the demon. The other players were yelling and screaming like it was a football game with each roll of the dice. When Scotty's halfling landed the killing blow they all mobbed him. It was awesome. Scott was 3 or 4 years younger than everybody else in the group and always treated like the little kid, so it was a really cool deal for him to get to be the hero.

Fun times.

R.A.
 
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Rl'Halsinor

Explorer
It has been 17 years since I played this under one of the best DMs I have ever encountered. Pharoah is burned into my memory especially the Maze and how my wizard ran for his life from those Minotaurs time and again. If there ever was a series that should be resurrected to 3.5 it is this one. Hours upon hours of enjoyment was had by all because of the immense creativity throughout the pages. There were twists and surprises galore. Our party loved it! Module builders could learn a lot about how one goes about making a good setting/product by studying this series.

And I think Savage Wombat is 100% correct when he says it caught the flavor of a campaign setting without a lot of detail, which is another thing many of today's module builders could learn from this series.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
I loved this series. It played fast and loose with a few concepts - I had trouble believing the efreeti was all that tough - but dang if it didn't impress me time and time again with good design. I've stolen chunk after chunk of this for other games.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
I bought it and was longing to DM it, but never got the chance. I'd like to run it under 3e rules but unfortunately the PC's have got too many other things to do and won't get round to that (and my next campaign is going to be Eberron and I don't think it would fit well there).

It is certainly one of the most flavourful modules I've ever come across, and I've got no regrets buying it.
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
Piratecat said:
I loved this series. It played fast and loose with a few concepts - I had trouble believing the efreeti was all that tough - but dang if it didn't impress me time and time again with good design. I've stolen chunk after chunk of this for other games.

I played through Pharaoh once, years and years ago... but I have no idea how much was straight from the module, and how much was the DM's ad-libbing.

I definitely remember the efreeti; after we released him, he started amassing an undead army. One of the fighters ended up with a gauntlet sacred to Seker, and decided to test it out - we were crossing a bridge over some chasm, and he pointed the gauntlet over the edge and tried a brief prayer to Seker.

No apparent effect. The fighter shrugged and carried on.

After the adventure, the DM informed us that the gauntlet had just wiped out half the undead army camped at the bottom of the chasm, but we had no way of knowing at the time... :)

-Hyp.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Hypersmurf said:
I definitely remember the efreeti; after we released him, he started amassing an undead army. One of the fighters ended up with a gauntlet sacred to Seker, and decided to test it out - we were crossing a bridge over some chasm, and he pointed the gauntlet over the edge and tried a brief prayer to Seker.

Ad-libbing - but incredibly cool! I think in the module as written he's a lot less of an immediate threat.
 

Davelozzi

Explorer
Henry said:
This module, and Ravenloft, cemented Tracy and Laura Hickman as two of the top Module Designers EVER, in my opinion

...and mine as well.

Overall, this is one of my favorite module series of all time*, though if I remember correctly, Lost Tomb of Martek has some stuff that I found a little cheesy for my tastes. Of course, I can't remember what those things were right now anyway.

Before I ever played D&D, I picked up Pharoah as a gift for my older brother who was playing at the time. So naturally, when I did start playing on my own, it was one of the first modules that I had access to and we played it a bunch of times. I can remember going through it with two characters - a dark knight and a ninja -- pretty funny now. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to run the other two, though I haven't given up. My current campaign world, as well as every other one that I ever tried to develop include a desert like area where I could fit this in if the option ever came up.

*I might even be so bold as to say this is the best designed module series of all time. Giants/Drow/Queen is just as much my favorite, but that's got a lot to do with the nostalgia, I think Desert of Desolation is probably better. Interestingly, just as I find Lost Tomb to be the weakest of the desert triology, I've always though that Queen of Demonweb Pits was a lackluster ending to the giants-drow series.
 

GrayIguana

First Post
Ditto

I might even be so bold as to say this [i said:
is[/i] the best designed module series of all time. Giants/Drow/Queen is just as much my favorite, but that's got a lot to do with the nostalgia, I think Desert of Desolation is probably better.

I agree. We played this about 15 years ago, but I still remember the overall plot / setting / concept being the best I played. I would say that the fun we had with this adventure made many of the later published adventures rather disappointing.
 

Sepulchrave II

Adventurer
This was a good one. I DMed it, and remember the party fighter getting zapped by a wall of electricity. But the Efreeti was very cool. I mean, Pasha of the Efreet, Vizier to the Fire Sultan. How cool is that?
 

CalrinAlshaw

First Post
I think one of the more interesting events of my gaming. One memorable event, was at the top of the pyramid, with the painting that was a port some several thousand feet in the air. Well, seems this lead priest guy, with his book of his religion liked to use it as a weapon, DM rolled a 1, failed the paralyzation save we use, and rolled which direction, yep, you guessed it, right out the portal, he went and dived after it...

Calrin Alshaw
 

Severion

First Post
Ahh, i remember that series. The "portal" was our own "the fighter that fell to earth" situation, he fell out, took massive damage and kicked ass on a patrol of thugs. The players refused to let the Efreet go, they made the place look looted and hid the lamp in plane sight.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Supporter
Hypersmurf said:
I played through Pharaoh once, years and years ago... but I have no idea how much was straight from the module, and how much was the DM's ad-libbing.

I definitely remember the efreeti; after we released him, he started amassing an undead army. One of the fighters ended up with a gauntlet sacred to Seker, and decided to test it out - we were crossing a bridge over some chasm, and he pointed the gauntlet over the edge and tried a brief prayer to Seker.

No apparent effect. The fighter shrugged and carried on.

After the adventure, the DM informed us that the gauntlet had just wiped out half the undead army camped at the bottom of the chasm, but we had no way of knowing at the time... :)

-Hyp.

That's straight out of Oasis of the Lost Palm. No adlibbing required. The Desert of Desolation series is (for me) the best adventure ever written for D&D by a fair margin.

Cheers!
 

DaveStebbins

First Post
As a DM, one of my favorite parts of the series was the original illustrations, where a party, which was a thinly veiled Three Stooges trio, were always messing up different parts of the module.

Like others, it was one of my group's favorites when I ran it almost two decades ago. I'm also running it now for my current group (grabbed a 3.0 update here at EN World before the new WotC policy went into effect). The only problem this group has is that they are more of a hack and slash group, partly because we can only get together once a month, and the series is pretty heavily laden with puzzles, riddles, legends and other good stuff which they find very difficult to remember session-to-session.
 

Steve Jung

Explorer
I remember DMing the first 2 modules for my brothers. One part we recall is one of the characters—a human ranger with about 50 hp—falling through a trap door to the room below. The fall wouldn't have killed him, but I was using the wound rules from Dragon #118. So I said, "He'll be alright… as long as he doesn't fall on his head." Roll. "Hmm. He hits his head and falls unconscious." Now they hear noises in the room which reveals a pair of minotaurs advancing on the ranger. So the elven cleric (post-Unearthed Arcana) jumps on the back of the human fighter (wearing a ring of feather fall) and they both leap down to rescue their friend.

The funny thing is, that ring had gotten destroyed by a fireball some time ago. Of course, I didn't remember that until hours later. :)
 


Inconsequenti-AL

Breaks Games
I got it about 2 years ago. Lend from an old gamer friend. It's really cool and theres some great stuff in it... The maze section is one I thought looked particularly good fun - I'd love to go into more detail, but someone reading this might want to play it. :)

In fact, the only bit I didn't get on with was the ending as written. IIRC, it basically boiled down to an *Spoiler*>'uber NPC face off' - which is not a plot device I enjoy as a player or DM.

Other than that it's a great! And it has been looted for the egyptian themed bits of my campaign.
 

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