Keep on the Borderlands - your experiences?

My very first D&D game was running this for my friends. A long, long time ago. The Caves of Chaos was my first homebrew dungeon; I had a hydra in a room with only 5' wide entrances. Heh. :p

By the way, Keep on the Borderlands is the original point-of-light adventure! When WotC talks about PoL; KotB is what comes to my mind as the very epitome of that idea...
 

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Holy Bovine

First Post
Good thread to bump whoever did it. Keep on the Borderlands deserves all the praise it gets. It's practically a campaign in 32 pages! I've run it 4 or 5 times and had great fun everytime. One of the best was the time I ran it for my then girlfriend and her brother. Using the Rules Cyclopedia D&D version made for some lethal combats and they went through multiple characters each including a veritable horde of NPC mercenaries. The most long lived (he nearly made it to 2nd level!) was the Fighter Borg. He got squished by an Ogre hiding behind a tree. :confused:
 

GreatLemur

Explorer
I actually had my first experience with the Keep on the Borderlands last Saturday, when buzz ran his Burning Wheel version of the adventure for Chicago Gameday. We played as leaders of the various Caves of Chaos monster tribes, and we were supposed to try to work together to destroy the Keep. However, we all played up our characters bigtime, and instead of working together, we all plotted elaborate--and not so elaborate--ways to backstab each other. At the end of the adventure, the Keep remained entirely untroubled by us, all because we were too hopelessly untrustworthy a bunch on monsters to actually cooperate.

It was awesome.
 

FATDRAGONGAMES

First Post
I actually dug my copy out a week or so ago to convert to C&C to run for my son and a few of his friends. I think this was the second or third adventure I ever played for D&D and my group loved it. I don't recall how many times we went through it but I do recall we started calling it "Death on the Borderlands" due to the high mortality rate of the PCs.
 

rossik

Explorer
Silent Cartographer said:
My very first D&D game was running this for my friends. A long, long time ago. The Caves of Chaos was my first homebrew dungeon; I had a hydra in a room with only 5' wide entrances. Heh. :p

By the way, Keep on the Borderlands is the original point-of-light adventure! When WotC talks about PoL; KotB is what comes to my mind as the very epitome of that idea...


whats point of light?
 


Boss

First Post
I too started my adventuring career with KotB. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times that we went through that module. And being impressionable 12 year olds, we were uber-munchkins playing it. There was a typo that we exploited every time we played. The Minotaur had three gemstones, each worth 100+GP (can't remember exact amounts). The typo was that there was no space between the amounts, so we took it to mean that the gems were worth 100's of millions of GP. And in those rules (may have been 1ed we were using, can't remember) 1 GP = 1 XP and we were like unto gawds!!!!!!!!

Then several years later (and much less munchkinism) came Return to KotB. One of the guys in my group at the time had a photographic memory and remembered where everything was in the original adventure, including where the secret door leading to the goblin lair was. So off they went following him. Of course, since he didn't have the new module (yet) he didn't realize that a Troll had moved into the cave in question. 1st level adventurers against a Troll means all but one character died, and the one that made it out was carrying a friend in a fireman carry down the rope (and failed his climb check, killing them both in the fall).

Much merriment.
 


khyron1144

First Post
I tried to run it once converted up to AD&D 2e rules because that's the system I knew best. It worked okay, but the only one of the encounters from the book that got run was the Mad Hermit one. The players didn't seem to be getting that he was a mad hermit and that he would only lie and try to lead the party astray.


I also learned not to put sheep in a common slot on your random encounter table. I prerolled six random encounters to save time. I got three sheep encounters, two with bandits, one with gnolls.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Ran it twice. The first time as a kid not long after getting the basic set. I don't have alot of memories of it except that it involved alot of huge fights, and lots of resting between fights. I remember the players holeing up in the secret room between orc caves, and lots of fleeing the dungeon with hordes on thier heels. The goblins especially are designed to dump thier whole tribe down on the PC party immediately - and then call in help! The kobold fight at the pit entrance is pretty enormous as well. I think we started with like 8 characters and lost seven or eight PC's over the course of the module, finishing with like 4 or 5 survivors - who then went on to face X1.

I ran it the second time as a more mature DM using a redone map*. Still had a tendancy to turn into huge slug fests, but since most of the monsters are really weak very quickly they lose the ability to hit anything. Still killed off about half of the initial party but almost all that was before the players got platemail, magic shields, etc. Unarmored classes just don't survive.

I personally think its a pretty poor module, that encourages extremely tedious largely undifferiented mass encounters with limited largely featureles terrain. That each tribe has a different alarm system is about the most creative thing about it. Even ran as well as I could manage with conspiracies, betrayal, mature maps, mini-bosses, etc. - looking back it just doesn't seem like alot of fun. Of course, the funny thing about that perspective is that the players always seem to enjoy the heck out of it. Whether that's due to the fact that its often their first experience with D&D, or whether its because simple hack-n-slash really is the heart of D&D, I don't know. I do know that I don't regret having the module basically memorized, whereas some of my other favorite modules to run (or play) I wish were still fresh and unspoiled so I could play them again.

Of course, as primitive as the module seems to me now, its light years better than any of my first few attempts to make my own adventure. There are things I think you can learn from the module, but I don't think I'd ever run it again.

*Map changes: Break the caves into levels with the goblins and kobolds on the first (lowest level) and so forth. Added new content between 'levels' (a gatehouse with bandit gaurds at the entrance of the ravine, an arena where the tribe resolve thier differences midway back, and a lesser temple complex in the rear where the demihumans are indoctrinated into the cult), and shifted the map so that the Minotaur's maze gaurded the entrance to the greater temple.
 

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