D&D General Dungeon Magazine's Top 30 Adventures: Do they hold up?

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
As others have mentioned, whether or not an adventure "holds up" really depends on what you want out of them. Personally, I prefer BEMCI, 1E and 2E modules and Dungeon adventures regardless of the edition I am running because I like the mix of extreme detail (the names of every person in a village!) and narrative capaciousness (it takes some work on the DM's part to make the plot work and make sense) which I find ideal for adapting an adventure to my needs.

So yeah, this list works for me, even though I know I am not going to get the same thing out of Tomb of Horrors as I am out of Keep on the Borderlands. If you see this list as "the best adventures no matter what" then you are setting yourself up for disappointment because there is no such list.

To me the biggest oversight on this list are any of the UK modules, like UK4 and UK7 - but anyway, I may come back and discuss my experiences with those on the list I have run or played in (or both).
 

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The Forge of Fury is the best in the list in my opinion.
Funny I find Forge overrated and kind of dull. I have played or DMed almost every one on the list. I think they can all be at least decent or better in the hands of the right DM. I like ToEE more than most based on what many people in these forums have said. I also like ToH a lot for a fun one shot but for an ongoing campaign where people are attached to their characters it is brutal.
 
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TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Of the dozen or so that I have run, and the others that I am familiar with, yes, the list holds up.

The counter is--what is better? Its hard to come up with. Red Hand of Doom has been mentioned. Maybe some Paizo and 3rd party stuff from the 3e era...and?

The consistent 5e classics are Ravenloft (ahhmm), Lost Mines--which is done very intentionally in an old school style, and Tomb of Annihilation, which combines two of the items on the list.

But seriously, what is better?
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Of the dozen or so that I have run, and the others that I am familiar with, yes, the list holds up.

The counter is--what is better? Its hard to come up with. Red Hand of Doom has been mentioned. Maybe some Paizo and 3rd party stuff from the 3e era...and?

The consistent 5e classics are Ravenloft (ahhmm), Lost Mines--which is done very intentionally in an old school style, and Tomb of Annihilation, which combines two of the items on the list.

But seriously, what is better?
I mean, if GDQ7 counts, how about Tales from the Yawning Portal? ;)
 

JEB

Legend
As with others, can only speak to those I've read/run/played in.
I6 Ravenloft
I ran Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (under unusual circumstances - converted to Mutants & Masterminds) and read Curse of Strahd, but not the original. Still, Castle Ravenloft remains a favorite location and it's clearly an iconic adventure.

S1 Tomb of Horrors
Ran this (again, as an M&M conversion, though with ports of AD&D 1E PCs) and read the 5E update. Definitely an iconic adventure, but also definitely catering to a hardcore player style and not for all players.

S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
Read this. I actually have no idea how modern audiences would regard it. The response to 5E Spelljammer could be instructive.

Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
Read this, but don't remember anything about it, which is a bad sign. Expect it'd drop off a modern list.

S2 White Plume Mountain
Read this and the 5E update. Seems fun, a neat dungeon crawl, but not sure it offers as distinctive an experience as other early adventures. I would at least expect it to drop down in the rankings; but it's more likely to stay on the list than Tamoachan or Tsojcanth.

The Forge of Fury
Played in this. I think it worked pretty well, but I don't know that I'd consider it iconic.

Dead Gods
Great story, one of my favorites, but no idea how it would run as an actual adventure. It might work surprisingly well now, but I don't know that I would consider it iconic.

X1 The Isle of Dread
Ran this in both Next and 5E, a definite favorite of ours. Also one of the best hexcrawl adventures in the game. I think it's a keeper.

C1 Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
Read the 5E update. Has the same problem as White Plume Mountain, but more so, ultimately just another dungeon crawl.

S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
Read it. Same feeling as Tamoachan, this seems to be just another dungeon crawl once you strip away the nostalgia.

U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
Read the 5E update; people in my group played it but I missed that session. This one probably does deserve to stay, for its non-standard structure.

Not sure what 4E or 5E adventures might be added to the list, honestly; many are derivative from the ones on the current version.
 

But seriously, what is better?
You already named one, LMoP.

I would add Sleeping Dragon's Wake, Storm Lord's Wrath and Divine Contention.
Not revolutionary, but all are solid adventures, good editing, & quality play that can be run as-is or expanded upon if a DM likes to make them their own (Like I do).

PotA is much better imo than B2. And Tomb of Horrors has been a 'classic' (in the save or die and poorly written and edited) way. I've run it and played it multiple times, but it's always... a chore.

Agan, its not that all of them are bad, but some of them certainly are given my expectations today.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Way back in ye' old 2004 on the 30th Anniversary of D&D, Dungeon Magazine published its list of the top 30 published adventures of all time. The list was dominated by classic TSR adventures from the game's earliest editions. Notably, only one adventure (The Dark Tower) was not published by TSR, but considering how the list was published by the successor WotC it's not surprising.

My question is... does this list hold up under scrutiny? Do you agree with the choices? Many of these adventures have been criticized, such as Matt Colville calling the Temple of Elemental Evil "un-runnable," and the Tomb of Horrors is notorious for being... unpleasant for players. Is the list too heavily tilted to the earliest editions of D&D, or does this erase the good work of 3rd-party publishers? Or perhaps, are the critics just contrarians and these are indeed the best adventures of D&D?

I'm curious of people's thoughts. In my opinion, some of these are indeed very good, others more mixed. Tomb of Horrors being number 3 is probably my biggest gripe.

The list, from starting from the best:
GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders
I6 Ravenloft
S1 Tomb of Horrors
T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil
S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks SONY DSC
I3-5 Desert of Desolation
B2 The Keep on the Borderlands
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
S2 White Plume Mountain
Return to the Tomb of HorrorsSONY DSC
Gates of Firestorm Peak
The Forge of Fury
I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City
Dead Gods
X2 Castle Amber (Chateau d’Amberville)
X1 The Isle of Dread
The Ruins of UndermountainSONY DSC
C1 Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God
A1-4 Scourge of the Slavelords
Dark Tower
S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
WG4 The Forgotten Temple of TharizdunSONY DSC
City of the Spider Queen
DL1 Dragons of Despair
WGR6 The City of Skulls
U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
B4 The Lost City
L2 The Assassin’s Knot
C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness
First off, counting GDQ1-7 as all one adventure is cheating! G 1-2-3 are great. D1-2-3 are kinda meh IMO and Q1 was a mess when I ran it.

Same for A1-4 - A1 and A2 are good but A3 and A4 not so much.

Otherwise, I'd add to the list:

Caverns of Thracia (JG)
L1 Secret of Bone Hill
Maltese Clue (JG)

And to make room I'd happily knock off (ignoring the half-dozen or so I'm completely unfamiliar with):

DL1 Dragons of Despair
Gates of Firestorm Peak
WGR6 The City of Skulls

I also wouldn't mind seeing I6 Ravenloft knocked down or off; for some reason I've just never seen the appeal to it.
 


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