OD&D Keep on the Borderlands, some observations

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
It was originally settled by giants, and so the basic unit of measure, the foot is off by a lot, and this propagates to...

But seriously, I'm pretty sure I changed the scale last time I ran it.

If a yard is three feet, how big is a giant's foot? A square is 300 of those.
 

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Mark Hope

Adventurer
Last time I ran B2, the characters never even went to the caves. I sent them into some flooded crypts below the chapel in the Keep looking for a magic fungus that grows on bones and can be made into curing potions. Those crypts ended up becoming the upper level of a multi-level dungeon below the Keep, than in turn spun off into a wilderness campaign. Two dozen sessions later, with the characters now around 9th level and they still haven't been to the Caves of Chaos :ROFLMAO:

They did go to a raider camp near the Keep (although in a ruined watchtower in the swamp, not in the forest) and built strong connections to the people in the Keep itself. The thing I liked the most about B2 is how sparse it is - it just enabled us to grow our own game really smoothly, adding and developing as we went along.
 

B2 is rather notorious for it's lack of detail... I mean, the NPCs n the Keep don't even have names! It's like several other early modules in that it takes a lot of DM preparation to make use of it. That said, at the time, it was one of a handful of published modules out there, and we were happy to have it. Lots of newb DMs just added stuff on the big wilderness map, more placed encounters, etc. It looks very crude compared to later modules, but D&D was a pretty new thing when B2 was printed...
 

B2 is rather notorious for it's lack of detail... I mean, the NPCs n the Keep don't even have names! It's like several other early modules in that it takes a lot of DM preparation to make use of it. That said, at the time, it was one of a handful of published modules out there, and we were happy to have it. Lots of newb DMs just added stuff on the big wilderness map, more placed encounters, etc. It looks very crude compared to later modules, but D&D was a pretty new thing when B2 was printed...
People’s tastes may vary, and it is possible that a lot of people really like B2 because it is so sparse on details. There is a lot of potential to improve what’s there. What if, instead of a mad hermit, there is a witch who was chased out of the keep, and hides in the forest, nursing her grievances against the Castellan?

I saw where one DM broke the areas of the Caves of Chaos into separate dungeons, and scattered them around the map.
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
People’s tastes may vary, and it is possible that a lot of people really like B2 because it is so sparse on details.
That feels pretty revisionist to me. People like B2 because pretty much every Gen Xer who grew up playing BD&D and/or AD&D probably played B2 multiple times. It's the Hanna-Barbara cartoon of adventures: It's not great, but it is beloved.

Trying to make it more than it is reminds me of the people who want to insist that He-Man and the Masters of the Universe featured highly detailed worldbuilding later reboots need to treat as sacred. It's fun for what it was, but let's not go crazy.
 

That feels pretty revisionist to me. People like B2 because pretty much every Gen Xer who grew up playing BD&D and/or AD&D probably played B2 multiple times. It's the Hanna-Barbara cartoon of adventures: It's not great, but it is beloved.

Trying to make it more than it is reminds me of the people who want to insist that He-Man and the Masters of the Universe featured highly detailed worldbuilding later reboots need to treat as sacred. It's fun for what it was, but let's not go crazy.
Maybe you’re right, but I personally find B2 more compelling than “Lost Mines of Phandelver”. I have taken the latter adventure out multiple times, intending to run it, but after reading a few pages, I pack it all back into the box and throw it back into the closet.

I never played any D&D as a kid. The first Legend of Zelda on the NES was the closest I got. I also had “Adventure Construction Set” on an Apple IIc.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
That feels pretty revisionist to me. People like B2 because pretty much every Gen Xer who grew up playing BD&D and/or AD&D probably played B2 multiple times. It's the Hanna-Barbara cartoon of adventures: It's not great, but it is beloved.

Trying to make it more than it is reminds me of the people who want to insist that He-Man and the Masters of the Universe featured highly detailed worldbuilding later reboots need to treat as sacred. It's fun for what it was, but let's not go crazy.
Maybe a little of both. I prefer the sparseness of B2 not because of nostalgia, but because it is sparse. I don’t have to worry about remembering names and plots and subplots etc etc etc. I do things on the fly as the adventure progresses. I feel like I have freedom to place people and places into the game without screwing up a predetermined plot.

B2 the way it is is very much a feature to me rather than a bug.
 

What makes you bounce off of Lost Mines? To me, they feel very similar thematically -- points of light in a threatening dark world.
I don’t really know. It’s hard to say.

I don’t think of Forgotten Realms as very much of a points of light setting. Too much civilization. It’s similar in feel to Mystara, in that powerful empires squabble over borders instead of vast swaths of uninhabited wilderness peppered with small settlements that can be overrun fairly easily.

On the other hand, most of areas in the computer game “Baldur’s Gate” was wilderness, so my impression of the FR may be flawed.
 

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