Rappan Athuk (3e version) - any thoughts?

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'm toying with the idea of running Rappan Athuk, or part of it, and an curious what people's experiences have been who have run it.

I'm asking about the d20-era version as that's the one I own - well, parts I and II anyway - though I'd be converting it to 1e or close.

One thing I quickly noticed on reading part I is that the maps have no grid and no scale and that most if not all the area descriptions don't include dimensions. As my crew map their dungeons carefully I can already predict this will become an annoyance. Did any of you run aground on this?
 

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Retreater

Legend
I've run parts of Rappan Athuk in 3e (the three individual softcovers), the 3.5e Rappan Athuk Reloaded (RARE boxed set), and the current 5e hardcover.
Currently, you can purchase PDFs of the map folio at Rappan Athuk Map Folio – Frog God Games
There were issues with the maps, especially with part 1 since it was very early in the publishing history of Necromancer Games.
If memory serves, I think they re-did them and put them up for free on their website, which is gone but available at the Wayback Machine. Here's how you get the official re-drawn maps today:
Visit Internet Archive: Wayback Machine and type in "necromancergames.com" for the site you want to visit and click "browse history." I chose January 7, 2006.
From their old site, go to "product support" on the sidebar and scroll down the next page until you find "Rappan Athuk I - The Upper Levels" towards the bottom of the page. You'll see "redrawn maps by Chris Boll," select the level you want to download the PDF.
It is password protected. The password to access it should be on the title page for the adventure you've purchased.
 

Retreater

Legend
I'm toying with the idea of running Rappan Athuk, or part of it, and an curious what people's experiences have been who have run it.

I'm asking about the d20-era version as that's the one I own - well, parts I and II anyway - though I'd be converting it to 1e or close.

One thing I quickly noticed on reading part I is that the maps have no grid and no scale and that most if not all the area descriptions don't include dimensions. As my crew map their dungeons carefully I can already predict this will become an annoyance. Did any of you run aground on this?
Not to dissuade you from your plan, but you can get the revised, expanded edition of Rappan Athuk in PDF for $40 (or in print and PDF for $100), with all redrawn maps, many more levels, overworld encounters, etc. It's available for Swords and Wizardry, the company's OSR system, so it would be easier to convert to AD&D 1e or other retro system than the 3.0 version. But it's up to you.

My experience running it - it's solid, but here are some issues you might run into.
  • It's deadly, like really deadly.
  • It's big. There are many, many levels with a variety of connections between them.
  • It's difficult to run. Partly because of all the levels, connections, etc.
  • It's very Old School. It doesn't present a lot of thematic unity like more modern megadungeons (like Barrowmaze, for example). It gives the impression of a dungeon that has been written by a dozen authors over several decades.
It's good, but it's not going to be to everyone's liking. From the same era by the same publisher, I'd rank Tomb of Abysthor or Lost City of Barakus higher for big dungeons (though not as big as Rappan Athuk).
 

AlexOfBarbaria

Villager
It gives the impression of a dungeon that has been written by a dozen authors over several decades.
Also really interested in Rappan Athuk (after finishing up a great Tomb of Abysthor-based campaign), but this is my concern. Is there a clear difference in tone/quality between the original levels and all the new content written by other people? If so that would be a strong argument for using only the 3 original booklets, even if more difficult to convert.

I love big dungeons, but not sure I need an absurdly massive one. Surely there's a point where the size can't even be grasped and appreciated by the players. I'm thinking that point would be somewhere between 3–5 times the size of Tomb of Abysthor.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Not to dissuade you from your plan, but you can get the revised, expanded edition of Rappan Athuk in PDF for $40 (or in print and PDF for $100), with all redrawn maps, many more levels, overworld encounters, etc. It's available for Swords and Wizardry, the company's OSR system, so it would be easier to convert to AD&D 1e or other retro system than the 3.0 version. But it's up to you.
I'd want it in print but $100 (US I assume, so $130-ish Canadian) is a bit - as in, a lot - more than I'm willing to spend on it. :)
My experience running it - it's solid, but here are some issues you might run into.
  • It's deadly, like really deadly.
  • It's big. There are many, many levels with a variety of connections between them.
  • It's difficult to run. Partly because of all the levels, connections, etc.
  • It's very Old School. It doesn't present a lot of thematic unity like more modern megadungeons (like Barrowmaze, for example). It gives the impression of a dungeon that has been written by a dozen authors over several decades.
It's good, but it's not going to be to everyone's liking. From the same era by the same publisher, I'd rank Tomb of Abysthor or Lost City of Barakus higher for big dungeons (though not as big as Rappan Athuk).
Deadly is fine, old school is fine. I'm happy to leave thematic unity at the door if the adventure is fun and entertaining otherwise.

Level connections could be solved by better maps; though the original maps are pretty good at saying what exit leads to/comes from where, one has to dig into the write-ups to find the distances involved.

I don't own either of Tomb of Abysthor or Lost City of Barakus (though I've at least heard of the latter). Thanks for the tip, though.
 

RogueRonin

Explorer
The original three books from 3e are my favorite version. Much easier to run without the bloat, feels more streamlined. But yes you'll definitely want to get those updated maps!
 

GuyBoy

Hero
Rappan Athuk is a great old school dungeon. I've never played in it, but have DM-ed twice and had a good time; I actually paired it with Keep on the Borderlands as the nearest settlement, so RA was a kind of gigantic "Caves of Chaos on speed"
That said, I agree with the poster about Tomb of Abysthor being a true classic.

I'm sure you will have fun.
 

Voadam

Legend
Just FYI the Swords & Wizardry PDF version of Rappan Athuk is $28 during the GM's day sale (through March 13th). So are the 5e and Pathfinder 1e versions.

S&W is fairly close to 1e.

The S&W Bestiary booklet is $3.49 if you want the monster and NPC stat blocks pre-done out in an OSR friendly fashion.
 

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