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OD&D DMs Guild Treasures: 5 BECMI Modules That Deserve the Big Book Treatment

There are a number of players, old and new, who have affection for the original Basic and Expert (and more) B/X or BECMI rules and modules. Already, Goodman Games has given both Keep on the Borderlands and Isle of Dread a modern shake, converting the modules into big book versions with 5E conversions and reprints of the originals. This got me thinking about five other modules that could get the same kind of treatment, which could be of some interest to players inside and outside of the BECMI venn diagram.

Goodman Games has also done Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, but that is an AD&D module and we are not talking about those here. It should also be noted that B1 In Search of the Unknown is already reprinted in Into the Borderlands. Note: I did not use science or sales as measures, just what I think are the interesting adventures to the modern audience. Also, I may cheat by combining two or more modules.

rahasia.jpg

B7 Rahasia

I never played this one but the reception seems positive on it. It was written (and re-written) for TSR by Tracy & Laura Hickman. You may recognize the names as the authors of I3 Pharoah and I6 Ravenloft. They also had something to do with a barely remembered property named Dragonlance, you likely never heard about it. Just for being some early work by the Hickamn’s I think Rahasia should be in consideration.

B4 The Lost City

I did play through this one and have run it as well. Right away I was captivated by this module as it is far more than just a huge dungeon crawl. There are politics and factions here and the inverted natures of the dungeon is a lot of fun to play with. I can say The Lost City is a great time to play and to run. Note: As someone reminded me, this module is on the list for conversion.

amber.jpg

X2 Castle Amber

Quirky, weird, and a little French, Château d’Amberville is a fun-house style of adventure that has cosmic horror themes seeded in it. Tom Moldvay wrote this one and it was remade into the Mark of Amber boxed set. Castle Amber is one of those modules folks shake their head when mentioning, but in general it was well received. Some of its inspirations might be tricky to license, if indeed they need to be, and are a touch problematic. But I think those issues could be overcome.

X4-X5: Master of the Desert Nomads & Temple of Death

If you are not sold on these modules by the names alone, I dunno what to tell you. David “Zeb” Cook wrote these two modules about a war in the arid lands of Mystara and the dangerous mastermind behind a rampaging army. As a campaign for more military minded players, these modules would work well. There are many wilderness encounters, which make for a great change of pace.

TestofWarlord.jpg

CM1-CM4: Test of the Warlords, Death’s Ride, Sabre River, Earthshaker!

Are you a fan of MCDM’s Strongholds & Followers or their Kingdom’s & Warfare? It is possible that you were also a fan of the original Companion Rules as well. The adventure CM1 Test of the Warlords was the first Companion level adventure and it lands 15th level characters in Mystara, where the King of Norwold has called the player-characters to serve that kingdom. Success can mean being given lordship over land and people to rule as you will. The other modules continue this theme in the same part of the world. The Pathfinder game has done adventure paths with this theme and I think updating the CM mods to 5E might find a significant audience.

Honorable Mention: B3 Palace of the Silver Princes

While I think this could be a great module to update, I suspect the odd publishing history might work against it. The original release was marred by a controversy over some of the content and an infamous landfill conclusion. The fact that there are two versions would be interesting as whoever was doing could restore both. Would they then update both versions to 5E? Good question.
 
Last edited:
Sean Hillman

Comments

Not mentioned on this post, since it was explicitly about BECMI modules, but if there was one module, or series of modules, that I would expect to see WotC reprint as a hardcover compilation, it would be the original 12-adventure Dragonlance series. Add (back) the Kender subrace for halflings (MIA since the D&D Next era), give us a few monsters, and you've got a campaign setting and adventure path, all in one.

Honestly, it's hard to imagine an adventure compilation/update WotC could do that would sell more than the return of classic Dragonlance.
 

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Clansmansix

Explorer
I've done Sabre River, Death's Ride, and Earthshaker as high-level (18th) one-shots for D&D 5E. Pared them down to 12 or so encounters, generally with limited (or no) long rests, designed to be played in a 12-hour session on a weekend. They have been smashing successes for the most part. Set the first two in the Forgotten Realms just for flavor, and set Earthshaker in Eberron. I could totally see doing them as a big book.
 

JeffB

Legend
As long as Goodman does these, great. I'm up for B4 when it arrives, and anything else Tom Moldvay or Zeb Cook wrote. In particular X2 ,4 ,5, and B3 ,5*, and 6.

Otherwise I would beg Mearls to not let Perkins or anyone else at WOTC proper touch these classic works.

*aware this is not a Moldvay Cook adventure
 

SMHWorlds

Explorer
Maybe there's contradictory evidence out there, but all the evidence I've seen is that the later X series modules and the Companion, Masters and Immortals adventures sold way less than what Goodman has published so far. I don't think they'll touch these, since they don't have the warchest to absorb too many duds.

I think the Desert Nomads adventures would be more likely to be part of a WotC hardcover compilation, but even then, I think they'd be less likely than the Desert of Desolation series (Pharoah, Oasis of the White Palm and the Lost Tomb of Martek). Tonally, they're pretty different, so without some reskinning to make them more pharaonic, I wouldn't count on these getting a reboot. The Desert of Desolation series was much more popular, both as individual modules I3, I4 and I5 and as a compilation, and have the added benefit of being written by the Hickmans, who would still be a draw today.
The article was very much a BECMI wish list, with some of the reasons why I would think these could sell today. In terms of market, things have changed. With good marketing and a serious approach who knows what the modern gamer might like? That said, your points are good ones. Especially in the Immortal rules. None of which appear here on the list. I trust that Goodman is doing their research faithfully.

As for non-BECMI adventures, stay tuned for a next part... ;)
 

Rhineglade

Explorer
Simply for the sake of nostalgia I am 100% for this. There are so many adventures from the early days that the "modern player" knows little or nothing about. With the slower release of adventures from WotC these days, it would only be a matter of time before all the "current" material has been played. I notice in my games it's already difficult to find material that 1-2 people haven't already played. Having updated WITH MAPS materials from the bygone era would be a HUGE asset I should think. Many fans/artists have already come up with some unbelievably fantastic map art for some of the out-of-print modules. It would be fantastic if this were all uniform and coordinated, in my humble opinion.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
I think the Desert Nomads adventures would be more likely to be part of a WotC hardcover compilation, but even then, I think they'd be less likely than the Desert of Desolation series (Pharoah, Oasis of the White Palm and the Lost Tomb of Martek). Tonally, they're pretty different, so without some reskinning to make them more pharaonic, I wouldn't count on these getting a reboot.
They could do another themed collection of short adventures like Ghosts of Saltmarsh, but centered around deserts this time. Then they could include all of them.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Sorry for the rant (and don't take it too seriously) but ...

<RANT>Does every aspect of entertainment need to be mired in remakes and rehashes? Good grief! Whatever happened to new ideas, new adventures? I mean, a quick search for movie remakes comes back with 121 Movie Remakes and Reboots .

Seriously? I know there's nothing new under the sun but c'mon folks, but maybe something fresh and new could be done? Just maybe? Of course when that happens, people complain because a campaign based on Critical Role's setting gets published before [insert old school campaign]

Do we really need yet another Batman movie remake of old BECMI mods? :mad: </RANT>

If this is a question by someone that may actually work on these, never mind.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Sorry for the rant (and don't take it too seriously) but ...

<RANT>Does every aspect of entertainment need to be mired in remakes and rehashes? Good grief! Whatever happened to new ideas, new adventures? I mean, a quick search for movie remakes comes back with 121 Movie Remakes and Reboots .

Seriously? I know there's nothing new under the sun but c'mon folks, but maybe something fresh and new could be done? Just maybe? Of course when that happens, people complain because a campaign based on Critical Role's setting gets published before [insert old school campaign]

Do we really need yet another Batman movie remake of old BECMI mods? :mad: </RANT>

If this is a question by someone that may actually work on these, never mind.
Without taking your rant too seriously, the answer is clear:
1582053860635.png

Remakes of classics for those who want to tickle their nostalgia, and new materials for those who want something fresh. It needn't be either/or.
 

Does every aspect of entertainment need to be mired in remakes and rehashes? Good grief!
No, but D&D is enjoying its biggest ever surge in popularity. There are tons of new players who've heard of classic adventures, don't know how to find them and may be intimidated by the prospect of adapting them to 5E.

Likewise, there are older players who want to share the classic adventures with their current players but may not want to jump through the hoops required to adapt some of the classic material, much of which has very different assumptions about magic items, power level, etc., than the current edition does.

WotC continues to produce new material, new adventures and new everything. If the nostalgia stuff isn't your bag, that's money saved in your pocket.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
No, but D&D is enjoying its biggest ever surge in popularity. There are tons of new players who've heard of classic adventures, don't know how to find them and may be intimidated by the prospect of adapting them to 5E.

Likewise, there are older players who want to share the classic adventures with their current players but may not want to jump through the hoops required to adapt some of the classic material, much of which has very different assumptions about magic items, power level, etc., than the current edition does.

WotC continues to produce new material, new adventures and new everything. If the nostalgia stuff isn't your bag, that's money saved in your pocket.
Well, feel free to ignore my rant as well. :)
 

Luz

Explorer
3) I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden City. Only lightly sketched out, even by the standards of the era, this adventure introduced a ton of iconic monsters, including the Yuan-Ti and the aboleth, while also having player characters hack their way through the jungle to the titular city. By today's standards, it's fairly underwritten, but very evocative. Tons that Goodman, particularly with their pulp-loving pool of writers and artists, for dig their teeth into.
As much as I’d love to see Goodman Games redo this and expand on it, I don’t see it happening since it has already been revisited in Tomb of Annihilation.
 

SMHWorlds

Explorer
Sorry for the rant (and don't take it too seriously) but ...

<RANT>Does every aspect of entertainment need to be mired in remakes and rehashes? Good grief! Whatever happened to new ideas, new adventures? I mean, a quick search for movie remakes comes back with 121 Movie Remakes and Reboots .

Seriously? I know there's nothing new under the sun but c'mon folks, but maybe something fresh and new could be done? Just maybe? Of course when that happens, people complain because a campaign based on Critical Role's setting gets published before [insert old school campaign]

Do we really need yet another Batman movie remake of old BECMI mods? :mad: </RANT>

If this is a question by someone that may actually work on these, never mind.
I do not think you are wrong. My own feeling is that not everyone saw these modules back in the day and there are thousands, tens of thousands of new players. Updating the modules to the current edition is not a horrible idea. Not all. Just some. BUT they should not be used instead of new content, if that makes sense. Yes we need new content and unique content. The DM Guild is part of doing that too, but some folks have a small bias against "fan" made work.
 

As much as I’d love to see Goodman Games redo this and expand on it, I don’t see it happening since it has already been revisited in Tomb of Annihilation.
They did Isle of Dread, which Tomb of Annihilation also covered. But you may be right -- I do think it's a significant drop down from B3 and X2 in terms of historical interest and a desire to use it at today's tables.
 

Zarithar

Adventurer
I'd love to see a Tales From the Yawning Portal type book featuring BECMI modules. Rahasia most definitely deserves to be near the top of the list. My real dream though is a complete 5e update of the Desert of Desolation series (which saw a major update itself as a mega-module back in the day).
 

The Glen

Adventurer
There's a ton of BECMI modules that would be great for 5th edition conversion, but there's also quite a few that weren't good from the start. Taking out the ones that have been done, you've got a lot to choose from:

B3: Palace of the Silver Princess is a dungeon crawl, though the controversy behind Otis' art makes it famous. But it isn't enough to warrant its own book.

B5: Horror on the Hill is a dungeon crawl disguised as an outdoor adventure. But it is still too small in scope.

B6: Veiled Society is a fantastic mystery adventure, but it's way too short to be converted unless you want to just reprint the entire Grandy Duchy of Karameikos. Not that it would be a bad thing...

B7: Rahasia is similar to B3, an expansive dungeon crawl but a dungeon crawl regardless.

B9: Castle Caldwell was a kid's module and not well regarded.

B10: Night's Dark Terror is one of the finest modules ever written and deserves a new version in any edition.

B11/B12: King's Festival and Queen's Harvest were great beginner modules but just simple dungeon crawls.

DDA1/DDA2: Arena and Legions of Thyatis were good Roman-themed modules set in Thyatis that could serve as a bigger book but the Roman theme might set people off on the theme.

DDA3/DD4: Eye of Traldar and Dymrak Dread were crippling short and almost read like a dungeon article.

X2: Castle Amber is the crazy horror module to Ravenloft's gothic horror. Could easily get the CoS treatment.

X3: Curse of Xanathon is a well written large-ranging module going from city to wilderness to dungeon but it's not as well known as others on this list.

X4/X5/X10: Master of the Desert Nomads, Temple of Death and Red Arrow, Black Shield are one hell of an adventure trilogy though RABS needs serious reworking to update it to the Mystara gazetteers.

X6/X9: Quagmire and Savage Coast were badly written and both got retconned by later books.

X7: War Rafts of Kron was an unforgiving sea-going module that was known for it's lethal 3rd act that came out of nowhere. Might work in a compilation.

X8: Drums of Fire Mountain was a timed module that did wilderness and dungeon but didn't stand out in its own right.

X11: Saga of the Shadow Lord was a two-part module that didn't work together in its own right, you'd have to put it in a compilation.

X12: Skarda's Mirror is another short module set in Karameikos. That could be a theme for a compilation.

X13: Crown of Ancient Glory was a strange one because it showed a lot of the early rust being set in a nation that got completely retconned.

CM1/2/3/4 Test of the Warlords and its successors would get an entire campaign, but 5e doesn't do high level very well and also would need to add the rules for mass combat and domain management.

CM5 was a solo module.

CM6 Where Chaos Reigns was a time hopping blast but would be rather strange for most new players.

CM7 The Tree of Life was a gimmick module because everybody had to play an elf to save a dying tree of life. The all elf part was mandatory so that doesn't translate well.

CM8 The Endless Stair was a long winded mess from start to finish.

CM9 Legacy of Blood would be a great module to expand as you have to fix a dying domain and figure out who's trying to sabotage it. It's a Scooby Do Mystery for high level characters.

The Master level modules weren't very well regarded and too high a level for most 5e players. The Immortal modules are practically another game entirely. Modules are like good books, the story sells the game, just have to update them once in a while. The last Mystara book was released in 1996. It's been 24 years since the setting saw love. Of course, new books in the setting would also be very welcomed. It's not a zero sum game.
 


Barantor

Explorer
B3: Palace of the Silver Princess is a dungeon crawl, though the controversy behind Otis' art makes it famous. But it isn't enough to warrant its own book.
I think there is if the thoughts in the intro were expanded upon and it was set in the pseudo setting it had that was placed in Mystara. The lands around the Palace could easily be expanded upon with new updates and whatnot.

Honestly though? I'd rather have re-edits and formats of the old adventures put in with any new 5E version. One thing that drives me nuts is how the old print is hard to read and having new layout while still using the old art would be wonderful.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Also, it's super racist.
We played it a few years ago and had a lot if fun with it.

But yeah hasn't aged well. Basically Polynesian culture shifted onto Orcs.

Learnt a few things from it though in terms of dungeon/wilderness layout, puzzles, and making players dance.

Wouldn't be hard to run it as a fantasy Iwo Jima.
 

Okay, here's one I've been thinking about.

AC3 The Kidnapping of Princess Arelina/ err, also, AC 3 The Revenge of Rusak

1582127371918.png


But it's done as a collaboration with Dwarven Forge, so instead of cardboard cutouts, it's filled with actual minis and terrain.

I don't know how much other people have a soft spot for those adventures, but I loved the Revenge of Rusak as a kid.
 

The Glen

Adventurer
You wouldn't even have to do a collaboration because they would more than likely just do a box set with tiles and some Miniatures. Just have to remember those Adventures were extremely brief
 

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