log in or register to remove this ad

 

Keep On The Borderline

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
I think worrying about PC or NPC motivations in B2 is a category error - the module rests on the premise that (i) the players will take their PCs on the adventure, and (ii) that the rest of the world is largely a backdrop to that adventure.

That said, here are two very different takes on B2, one closer to the OP's post, the other closer to the first paragraph of this post: Mike Mearls and Luke Crane.
Mike Mearls! Laughed so much. I agree with him. I read it and never used it. As a 15 year old I could tell it didn't make any sense.

The Luke Crane link doesn't work.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

pemerton

Legend
The Luke Crane link doesn't work.
Well it was 3 years ago - it worked then!

His basic claim is that KotB is a series of interlocking puzzles, at various levels of play - the Caves as a whole, particular rooms or items, particular NPCs, etc - which are very well designed and reward skilled play. He refers to it as The Gold Standard in criticising, as less successful in the respect he cares about, than B1 or B3.

On the fact that it does nothing to reward character-oriented play, has not story intensity to it, etc he says I already have a game for that ie Burning Wheel. He's only interested in B2 as a Moldvay Basic hardcore skilled play experience.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well it was 3 years ago - it worked then!

His basic claim is that KotB is a series of interlocking puzzles, at various levels of play - the Caves as a whole, particular rooms or items, particular NPCs, etc - which are very well designed and reward skilled play. He refers to it as The Gold Standard in criticising, as less successful in the respect he cares about, than B1 or B3.

On the fact that it does nothing to reward character-oriented play, has not story intensity to it, etc he says I already have a game for that ie Burning Wheel. He's only interested in B2 as a Moldvay Basic hardcore skilled play experience.
I suppose, yeah, if you view it like that as a "skilled play experience" it really does do the job quite well.

Only thing is, all the verbiage around D&D leans towards "character oriented" play. Make your character so you can be just like ((insert favorite fantasy character here)). Which runs counter to the whole idea of a game with no character oriented play.
 

...This is pretty typical of Gygax, in that Gygax is expecting 12 players who are all former wargamers at his table, and thinking of D&D in part as a tactical wargame generation device. You see the same thing in the G series and the same thing in the WG4 and the same thing with the bandits in the moat house in T1, with a mass combat being a big part of the game, and the players expected to adopt hit and run commando tactics, make generous use of flaming oil, and to wear down the foes by fleeing and returning multiple times if needed.
Agreed. Keep on the Borderlands is designed more like an open world war game than an RPG adventure. My gripe is that B2 has a tournament mentality that there will be a dozen players fighting monsters for hours on end in winding caverns. The potential for roleplaying is there, but it's glossed over and never fully realized as the OP laments. NPC names? Not today! Go kill some bandits!

Back to the OP, original module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands has the problems of being a tournament module. It lacks important roleplaying details, favoring endless slaughter over developing NPCs or social encounters because in a tournament or at a convention there's no time for that. The 2e remake called Return to the Keep on the Borderlands is by far the superior version of the module. Easily my favorite module of all time. I've run it for AD&D all the way to 5e and it works great. Pretty much all of the problems mentioned the original post are fixed. NPC names? There are Who-zits and What-zits galore! You want NPC motives? They've got plenty! But who cares? No big deal. There's lots more! For instance, the Caves of Chaos are better handled in that there are rationales for the various groups holed up. The surrounding environment has some added details as well, adding substance and history for roleplaying context (pretty standard for modern RPG modules nowadays) that allows for social situations that just didn't exist in the original. There is also a well-needed tension between monster groups that didn't exist before either.

Over the years I added a metaplot to the Caves, the Caves of Chaos are a staging area for an invading army. The goblins are just laborers. They were conscripted into a Hobgoblin army and they're storing supplies for upcoming siege against the Keep. The Orcs are mercenaries, and merely tolerate the Goblins. The Bandits and Kobolds don't like the fact that Orcs and Goblins are moving in. This allows me to sprinkle clues of a coming war. For example, in my edited version the Bandits have hijacked some of the Goblin shipments and have lots of army supplies in their store holds, but they haven't been outed as the culprits yet. But The Return to the Keep doesn't have to be played that way at all. I just like doing it that way, with subtle modifications here and there, because it gives me a campaign primer.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Over the years I added a metaplot to the Caves, the Caves of Chaos are a staging area for an invading army. The goblins are just laborers. They were conscripted into a Hobgoblin army and they're storing supplies for upcoming siege against the Keep. The Orcs are mercenaries, and merely tolerate the Goblins. The Bandits and Kobolds don't like the fact that Orcs and Goblins are moving in. This allows me to sprinkle clues of a coming war. For example, in my edited version the Bandits have hijacked some of the Goblin shipments and have lots of army supplies in their store holds, but they haven't been outed as the culprits yet. But The Return to the Keep doesn't have to be played that way at all. I just like doing it that way, with subtle modifications here and there, because it gives me a campaign primer.
Excellent!
 

David Howery

Adventurer
The 2e remake called Return to the Keep on the Borderlands is by far the superior version of the module.
I liked the mix of monsters in the original better, but the keep in the remake is indeed a lot better. One of many ideas that I thought of but never used was using the original monster lineup and the better detailed keep in the remake....
 

pemerton

Legend
I suppose, yeah, if you view it like that as a "skilled play experience" it really does do the job quite well.

Only thing is, all the verbiage around D&D leans towards "character oriented" play. Make your character so you can be just like ((insert favorite fantasy character here)). Which runs counter to the whole idea of a game with no character oriented play.
Well, as I said - Luke Crane has another game for that which he regards as far more fit for purpose than any version of D&D!
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top