TSR Example from the worst TSR adventure module(s) ever published


First Post
I was looking through some of my old D&D modules last night, and I came across The Forest Oracle, what I think is the worst TSR module ever published. It is so bad you have to read it to beleive it. So, just for the fun of seeing your reaction to it, here is one "encounter area" of the module.

Adventure module (AD&D1):
The Forest Oracle
by Carl Smith
c. 1984

The below is quoted exactly -- I've inserted nothing, changed nothing, and removed nothing. The "boxed text" is for the DM to read to the Players.

Note: the lake is called "Quiet Lake", and is minimally described before the below text as "strangely different" with no bird song or animal movement. "It does not seem as ominous as sad."

A deer lies at the water's edge. Further south stands a small pavilion. (See Area 3A Map.)

The pavilion sits at the edge of the lake, small and slightly raised on stilts. It does not appear to have been lived in for some time. The wood is old, and a few cobwebs hang across the windows. Curtains keep out the sun and block the view inside. The door is tightly closed.

The deer sleeps because a huge sleep potion was put into the lake by a jealous nymph. Anyone drinking just one cup from the lake must take a chance on being put to sleep if he is below 4th level. There is a 20% chance that any water carried away from the lake will not work (DMG p. 117). Mixed with the sleep potion was a duration potion. All who sleep stay so until they are moved away from the edge of the water and the shore; they will then awaken normally. Do not encourage the party to test the water. If they check the deer, they will discover it has a very slight pulse.

The pavilion on the lake shore was built for the nymph's lover. The front door to the pavilion is not locked, nor is the back door. Party members going up the steps to the front door will step on a squeaky board. This alerts no one, but it was here to let Chloe, the nymph, and Evan, her lover, know if they were about to have unannounced guests. The only access to the back door is to go into the water and swim to the door.


The front door is not locked. The sound of gentle breathing comes from inside.

When the door is opened, sunlight illuminates the room (Map 3A). A young man sleeps on the bed. The room is furnished with two wooden chairs, a table, couch, pantry, bed, chest, and a stack of firewood for the fireplace.

Evan the Forester (Fighter; Lvl 3; AC 6; MV 12"; HD 2; hp 5; #AT 1: Dmg 2-7 [axe]; SA/SD None) sleeps in the pavilion. The nymph who loved him was afraid he was going to leave her so she arranged to have a special enchantment cast upon the lake. Evan sleeps until awakened. He awakens in one round as outlined for sleep spell (PH p. 68).

In the pantry, the party finds an old, moldy sack of flour, a corked jug of wine, three wooden plates, four wooden spoons, and two pewter mugs. In the chest lie blankets, two candlesticks, tinder and flint, and a dried-out wreath of water lilies which Evan kept as a remembrance of Chloe.

The fireplace has no secret compartments. There is no treasure in the room. Evan owns a longbow and a dagger. The longbow and quiver of 10 arrows rest in the northeast corner of the room. Evan wears his dagger on his belt.

Chloe, the nymph (AC 9; MV 12"; HD 3; hp 15; #AT 0; Dmg nil; SA Blind/kill if victim sees her; SD Dimension Door), regretted her actions after she caused Evan to sleep. If the party manages to awaken Evan, Chloe shows her gratitude by giving them 100 gp each and a potion of invisibility. But she will not choose to appear until the party has searched the pavilion or unless the party tries to leave without attempting to awaken Evan.

If the party does not wake Evan, Chloe approaches them and pleads for their help. She offers them the invisibility potion for helping her. Chloe appears as a young, innocent girl of sixteen. She cries and wrings her hands, telling the party that her lover needs their help. She cannot awaken him and is obviously too distraught to think of a clear solution to her problem.

After the party awakens Evans, Chloe gives them a potion to pour into the lake. This is the antidote for the sleep enchantment on the lake. She gives them enough to purify the whole lake, but the entire potion must be poured in. Once the potion is poured in, the area around the lake seems to revitalize and become more pleasant. The birds sing, and the area appears as wild as the rest of the woods.

How many things are just wrong with this encounter and text? I mean, just start with Evan's stat block: 3rd-level fighter with 2 hit dice and 5 hit points? His damage is by an axe, but he only owns a longbow and a dagger. It hurts my head just reading it. And the "plot"?

And this is not the worst encounter scenario in the module. The whole thing is like this, just non-sensical encounters, screwed-up stat blocks, and contradictory descriptions. God this is so bad.

When I played this adventure (as a PC 3rd-level fighter), our party got all kinds of sidetracked because of encounters like this. We saw conspiracies in every encounter because the setup made no sense and explanations were so flimsy ("Why don't you pour that potion in the lake, yourself?"). We never finished the adventure. After getting about 1/3rd through it, the DM just couldn't go on because we were completely confused by the nonsense.

I'm interested in seeing text from other adventures that you think are really bad.

Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


Other than WG7 Castle Greyhawk, I can't even THINK of an adventure as bad as you described, and that one only because of the nonsense and puns laced within...


First Post
Now I certainly don't mind minor details included in an encounter description, especially when it may pertain to the reasons behind an encounter, but going into the minutiae of Nympho and Sleepy's relationship and history seems like a waste of time. It seems like the author really wants to be a novelist or something.


First Post
It's also funny how there is this note: "The fireplace has no secret compartments."

Earlier in the adventure, the party is accepted into a mage's home to spend the night before going on the quest. There is this note in the text: "The party will not find anything worth stealing in Delon's quarters."



Wait, I'm confused. The deer must be dragged away from the lake to be awakened, but..does Evan? It seems from the text that he can just be awakened in 1 round just be shaking him. Are we to believe that the nymph hasn't thought of this?

Also, doesn't looking at a nymph have a chance of killing you? Does she have control over that ability?


First Post
I didn't even notice the stat blocks (mainly because I didn't really pay attention to them). What I did notice though is that it says Evan can be awakened as per the rules for the sleep spell. Slapping him should be enough to wake him up. So, why couldn't the nymph figure that out? Did she not even try to wake him up?


First Post
Another encounter. The PCs are traveling east on this road. The boxed text is for the DM to read to the Players.


A group of seven men approaches. They are following the road east, and are making good time, neither tarrying nor running. Their faces are expressionless. One is dressed as a cleric of some sort, and another is dressed as a traveling drummer. The others could be peasants or serfs going from one location to another for the harvest season. Each carries some sort of weapon. It is plain that they are not soldiers by their haphazard way of walking. They do not seem to be joking loudly or singing as they advance.

The party encounters seven brigands. One is the leader (Fighter; AC 5; MV 6' per round; HD 3; hp 13; % in Lair 20%; #AT 1; Dmg 1-6 Sword +1; SA Sword +1; SD Standard), of the other six brigands (Fighters; AC 7; MV 6' per round; HD 1-6; hp 10 each; % In Lair 20%; #AT 1; Dmg 1-6 [sword]; SA None; SD Standard). The brigands look like rough men and carry weapons that pilgrims or wayfarers would not.

The brigands charge when they are 25 feet from the party of adventurers. They are all armed with swords. Roll 1d6. On 1-3 the brigands surprise, on 3-4 there is no surprise, and on 5-6 the party surprises. The brigands will fight until they are all dead, or until the party has been killed. If a brigand is captured, he will offer to lead the party to his hide-out (Area 2A Map) if they spare his life. He will not volunteer any more information about the hideout, but will not lie if asked a direct question about it.

The numerical "typos" in this are not mine.

Last edited:


First Post
There are many examples of good and great old modules. Even some prior to 1984 (when this was published). This one, though, . . . loss of intelligence from reading it.



Hahahahah! That second one kills me!

A group of men head by. They are not tarrying or running. Nor are they singing. They don't seem to be making apple pies. As far as you can tell, they're not talking about sports. They neither have sombreros nor stilts. These men are not acrobats. They have no expression as they don't dally to the west.


First Post
More madness.

The PCs are staying overnight at an inn along the Wilderness Road. The inn is owned and operated by a halfling thief named Bolo ("He has turned honest, and would not think of stealing from or cheating a guest.")

The inn rooms ("rooms 4, 5, and 6 are available" -- but there is no room 5 on the inn map) are about 15'x15' with "two beds sit across from the door, their headboards against the outer walls." "Between the beds is a shuttered window." There are no secret doors noted on the map.


The tavern closes at 10 p.m. Bolo sends all the customers off to their rooms. The lights go out, and the tavern becomes still.

An attempt to rob the party will occur during the night whether any of the party is on watch or not. Any party member on watch has to save vs. Sleep directed at him. If he is successful, the spell will be cast on each party member coming on watch until one is successfully put to sleep. At that time, four wererats (AC 6; MV 12"; HD 3+1; hp 16 each; #AT 1; Dmg 1-8 [sword]; SA Surprise on 1-4; SD Hit only by silver or +1 or better magic weapons) enter the room and rob the party.

The party members should each roll 1d6. Anyone rolling a 1 awakens, and knows he is being robbed. He may pretend he is asleep or call for help. If he calls out, the wererats flee through a secret door located directly across from the hall door. This door stays hidden unless the party sees the rats exit. They may try to locate the door on a normal search.

When the party finds the door, they may wish to pursue the wererats. They may check for the door several times if they wish. If they do not find the door or if none of the party awakens while the wererats are robbing them, they find large rat-like tracks on the floor. Bolo will realize they belong to the wererats staying at the inn.

The wererats are armed with swords. A clever gang, they have been staying at the inn off and on for three months. They rent room #8, and use that as their base of operations. They have disguised their activities so well Bolo hasn't discovered the connection between when they stay and when the robberies occur. The wererats always seem to have plenty of money to pay for their lodging, however.

This encounter was the last by the module for our group. Our 4-PC, 3rd-level party (with no silver or magic weapons other than a dagger) was attacked by 4 wererats in the inn (using secret doors that the room description contradicts where they could be, and that the thief innkeeper didn't know about). Where did the sleep spell come from? There's not even a magic-user mentioned in the encounter.

The next morning we were all pissed off. The innkeeper knows there are wererats living in the inn? "...they find large rat-like tracks on the floor. Bolo will realize they belong to the wererats staying at the inn." Hello!? Wererats are evil monsters.

We accused the innkeeper of being in with the wererats, and we attacked him. The DM called the game at that point, and we, as a group, just dropped this adventure completely. We even dropped the PCs and just started anew.



Roll 1d6. On 1-3 the brigands surprise, on 3-4 there is no surprise, and on 5-6 the party surprises.

So...what happens when you roll a 3? :p

And people wonder why WotC doesn't publish modules. :]

Seriously though, both of these encounters are lame. I wouldn't want to be in a game with the nymph and woodcutter. I'm playing D&D, not some stupid romance novel or a soap opera. Not to mention that the writer saw fit to call out that there were no secret compartments or treasure to be looted. Man, those 1e PCs took everything that was not nailed down!

The bandits...that looks like something I'd do on a slow night of gaming when I was bored and wanted to run a fight. Otherwise, it's just a lame and pointless encounter.


First Post
Simplicity said:
Hahahahah! That second one kills me!

A group of men head by. They are not tarrying or running. Nor are they singing. They don't seem to be making apple pies. As far as you can tell, they're not talking about sports. They neither have sombreros nor stilts. These men are not acrobats. They have no expression as they don't dally to the west.

Fantastic. Forgive the cliche, but, well, LOL.


Another thing I don't get about the brigands: why the hell are they wandering around like idiots instead of hiding under cover for an ambush? Man, Vacuous Grimiore is right.

An Advertisement