- Tomb of Horrors: I don't think it's possible to better illustrate the old school mantra "player, not character, skill" than with module S1. It's a text book example of this important design principle and a heck of a good adventure to boot. It's also a text book example of how much gaming has changed since the old days. I simply can't imagine any game company producing a module built on similar principles today nor can I imagine most of today's players enjoying it even if one would.
- The Village of Hommlet: When people ask me what I mean when I talk about "Gygaxian fantasy," I point to this module. Here you have a sleepy little town constructed on an almost-believable, quasi-historical basis, peopled with quirky NPCs, existing under the shadow of a dark past that threatens to be reborn. And, for my money, the ruins of the Moathouse are among the best introductory adventure locales every published.
- Castle Amber: Any module that uses Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne stories as its inspiration gets a thumbs up in my book. More than that, this module is a terrific evocation of the weird. Running and playing this module is an oddly phantasmagoric experience; the whole thing has the character of a dream. It was a module made for an Erol Otus cover (which it has) and I think it offers a nice counterpoint to more staid fantasy adventures. It's part of the late Tom Moldvay's "pulp fantasy" trilogy (the other two being the also-excellent The Isle of Dread and The Lost City).
- Dwellers of the Forbidden City: I played the heck out of this module back in the day. For some reason, it just grabbed me. I consider it to be a kissing cousin of the aforementioned The Lost City, because it's based in the ruins of a formerly-great capital now fallen into decadence. The whole thing has a terrific pulp fantasy vibe and it introduced the yuan-ti and the bullywugs, two of my favorite non-Gygaxian monsters. I consider this to be David Cook's best work until Planescape.
- Expedition to the Barrier Peaks: Mixing sci-fi and fantasy is considered a no-no by some nowadays. Part of my continued liking for this module is the fact that it mocks such sensibilities. It's a reminder that "fantasy" was once a much more broad genre than it's become since the advent of D&D. This is also a really fun module too, with its bizarre monsters (vegepygmies, anyone?) and strange-looking technological "treasures." I always had a blast with this adventure (no pun intended).
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Over on his journal, Paizo publisher Erik Mona has listed his top five favorite D&D adventures of all time. I posted my own list in his comments, but I thought I'd also post them here, along with extended commentary.