Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm Curious

Ask anyone who was a fan of AD&D 2e about the edition's virtues and odds are good the discussion will very quickly turn to one or more of the multitude of settings published during that era. I readily grant that I have a fondness for some of those settings myself, even though this admission will reveal me (yet again) to be a poseur. What's interesting, though, is that no 2e booster in my experience has ever lauded the virtues of the adventure modules published during this period of the game's history.

So, here's the question: were there any truly excellent modules published by TSR between 1989 and 1997 (or between 1998 and 2000 by WotC)? I ask because, on some levels, what's particularly memorable about the 1e era are not its rules, but the modules published under its rubric. This is in sharp contrast to 2e, which, so far as I can tell, produced no universally lauded adventures. If I'm wrong in this belief, I'd like to know the 2e modules that deserve a place in the pantheon of great AD&D modules.

67 comments:

  1. Most of my early D&D gaming was done with the 2e rules. As far as prebuilt adventures went, I spent most of my time adapting old copies of modules written for 1st edition.

    As I remember, the adventures that I recall fondly that were constructed specifically for 2nd edition all came out of Dungeon Magazine - I found quite a few good ideas and seeds of ideas in there. The only purpose-built 2e adventure I ever purchased we never ended up playing through.

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  2. I have a great fondness for the Ruins of Undermountain boxed set which I think is technically considered an adventure, although it might be more accurately described to be a mini-campaign setting. I don't know if you could call it a classic adventure. Part of what I liked about it was it had three huge poster maps of the upper levels of the dungeons, and while the areas around the most commonly used entrances to the first level were keyed, most of the maps were left to be filled by the DM. The booklets gave you some information about what sort of stuff was going on in each level, and there were handy cards with traps and dungeon dressing to be used as needed.
    In short, while the actual adventure hooks included were pretty lacking and there was an awful lot of work left up to the DM to do, it was precisely for those reasons that I loved the Ruins of Undermountain - I have always had a ready imagination and devising inhabitants of the dark was no challenge, but making such cool maps was beyond my skills as a 12 year old.

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  3. I Skipped 2e almost completely. But a few years ago I read 'Reverse Dungeon' and I must say that this 'Play as a Monster' adventure was great!

    Never played it though.

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  4. Carl beat me to it, so I'll second Undermountain. It was my introduction to the megadungeon concept long before I knew what a megadungeon was.

    As far as proper modules go, none come to mind. I think one reason for this is, again, the settings, which generally came loaded with enough hooks and meaty material that coming up with our own adventures was a sinch. I think another element might be the fact that since modules were much more story-driven, they were tougher to drop into an ongoing campaign.

    Then there were examples of TSR screwing around with the module format to its ultimate detriment. One example that springs to mind are those awful Dark Sun flip-book adventures.

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  5. As Jonathon said, the best adventures for 2nd edition were in Dungeon Magazine. I have fond memories of a number of them, including:

    "Huddle Farm" (#12), a lighthearted mystery featuring halfling farmers

    "Vesicant" (#16), featuring a full pirate town and dragon lair

    "Tallow's Deep" (#18), a trap-filled goblin mine

    "House of Cards" (#19), featuring a thieves' guild with the cards from the deck of many things built into the doors of its inner chambers

    "The School of Nekros" (#27), a school of necromancy hidden beneath a graveyard

    Probably other people will remember other adventures, though, which supports the idea that adventures aren't what's memorable about 2e.

    The volume of adventures in Dungeon Mazagine during the 2e era was much higher than 1st edition modules, right? So there's going to be less common ground. Different folks will remember different adventures, with less overlap due to the larger pool to draw from. Also, you had to be picking up the magazine regularly to get these adventures. They weren't sold separately as modules. Modules really weren't a core part of the business model for 2nd edition, were they? Settings were. And people remember the settings.

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  6. I echo everything Carl said for the same reasons, if a setting-tied boxed set counts as an adventure.

    Well, except that I was a bit older than 12 when I used it. :)

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  7. The best stuff appeared in Dungeon. Why, I haveno idea.

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  8. For all it's faults: Night Below was an excellent boxed set. It had everything you needed:

    *damsel in distress
    *over arching plot line
    *dozens of different bad guys
    *cities packed with evil denziens
    *new races to discover and RP with
    *magic items aplenty
    *dragons, derros, and grell oh my!
    *Threat of WORLD DOMINATION!

    Sure the middle was kind of filler but a good DM can rip out all that cruft and make it work. I spent a 2 yr campaign on it in 3.x and my players loved it as they were combat junkies and the story was fantastic.


    Another was the Bloodstone Wars series:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bloodstone_Wars

    who's later versions were converted to FR stuff. Big epic battles that seemed like a good mix of skirmishes to wars. Who doesn't love a big battle with thousands of soldiers in it?

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  9. Amen. It was a golden age for Dungeon Magazine - I've long since lost track of the actual books, but I still have those mags.

    Beyond that, I know that there was a certain amount of love for some of the Planescape adventures (Great Modron March, Dead Gods & Faction War) but I admit they did not do much for me despite my deep love of the setting.

    -Rob D.

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  10. I had a lot of fun playing in Dead Gods, Faction War and the adventures in the Hellbound boxed set.

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  11. IMO, The Shattered Circle (TSR 11325, from 1998) is quite good. My 1e group is currently exploring it and having fun.

    It has a lot of elements that remind me of ~1980 era releases: Ease of dropping this almost anywhere in a campaign, a fairly open dungeon layout, some good traps, player (not character) puzzles, enigmas, potentially unbalanced encounters, places that strongly promote DM improvisation, and plenty of opportunities for the party to make choices between fighting, communication, or something else entirely.

    It has a backstory, and although it supports a rather standard altruistic way for the PCs to interact with that backstory, it by no means forces the party to do the altruistic thing.

    Though for optimum 1e-style play, it requires a little tweaking. I'm replacing many of the magic items with monetary treasures because I want a more typical 1e magic/treasure level. I'm making the conventional traps (pits and such) work the usual 1e way, which is more deadly than the module recommends. (The module makes them softer than even the 2e standard!) I'm also *not* using the xp values that the module lists for the creatures because they're the (relative to 1e) inflated 2e values.

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  12. I can't think of a single one. I remember playing The Night Below years ago and having a great time with it. It's the only one I could think of that ever really did anything for me. The problem is, I picked it up about a year ago at a junk sale for a couple dollars, and wasn't left with the impression it was very well written. The maps and handouts are great, but the story uses a fair amount of railroading and the "payoff" at the end heavily relies on the insane amount of treasure dished out throughout the thing. So, as written it was horrible, but like any other module, with a good GM you can draw the blood from the stone.

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  13. I agree with those who said the best 2E adventures were in Dungeon. I have find memories of quite a few, though it's been years and I can't think of their names, now.

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  14. The best 2nd edition modules came out of Dungeon Magazine. Most of them have been listed above, so I'm not going to repeat them.

    There were a couple of decent modules purpose published, though. I'd recommend "Castles Forlorn" which came out of the Ravenloft setting but I can definately see redone as a 1ed adventure without too much trouble. There's a lot of wierdness in that adventure that'll have curious players picking and poking at the thing rather than lowering their shoulders and trying to bull their way through.

    A couple of the other Ravenloft modules weren't terrible, though they could get a little hokey.

    "Temple, Tomb, Tower" wasn't too bad, as long as you stick to the first third of the thing and give the rest a miss.

    "Shattered Circle" is good, though definately not to my tastes.

    There were a couple others out there, but they escape me at the moment.

    We can't go by this without giving real honorable mention to the Planescape modules which, the setting creators finally let out at some point a while ago, were intended to be run all simultaneously. I tried it and it's very difficult to even think of doing it that way and requires real devotion and attention to detail on ALL parts, but it's definately rewarding.

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  15. One of the big challenges TSR claims they created for themselves during the 2e era was the splintering of their market with all their (admittedly exceptional) settings. In the 1e era, almost everyone played the same modules, and it wasn't difficult to drop them into nearly any campaign, but that's mostly because Tekumel recieved almost no support from TSR. If you were playing Greyhawk or FRealms or Blackmoor or even City-states, there was nothing keeping you from dropping White Plume Mountain or the Eyrie of the Slavelords into your campaign. Things are a bit more difficult if you're trying to fit a Spacejammer adventure into Al-Qadim or a Ravenloft module into Dark Sun. I think this went pretty far towards preventing the sort of universal experiences the 1e folks had.

    Plus, again, as others have pointed out, there was the veritable flood of adventures put out through Dungeon magazine. It's possible to contain all the modules TSR published during the 1e era on a single bookshelf. Not so for 2e. The volume of stuff put out simply prevents that same sort of universal experience shared by the players of older editions.

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  16. Ruins of Undermountain, the 2nd Edition MEGA-dungeon.

    Our group barely scratched the surface and it kicked off the greatest campaign we had to date.

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  17. The only thing I really liked about 2e (which I never actually played) was that it showed D&D could evolve. The fact that it was evolving in directions I wouldn't have taken it doesn't really bother me -- 3e swung the pendulum back, and 4e still farther.

    (That's right, I'm actually a 4e fan. I read this site because it's interesting and there is plenty to learn from it.)

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  19. Ditto the comments about Dungeon magazine. I've said it time and again, but the late 1e through 2e era was the heyday of the magazine (Piazo's exceptional handling of it during the 3e era nonwithstanding).

    One of my favorite 2e campaigns (as a player) was a giant Karameikos sandbox game, where the DM had an almost-complete (at that time) Dungeon collection, and could run something for wherever the party decided to go, on the fly.

    James, I'd urge you to seek out some Dungeon back issues. Even the not-so-hot issues have at least one gem.

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  20. Off the top of my head other great Dungeon adventures include NBod' Room (51), Mud Sorceror Tomb (37)and pretty much all the Steve Kurtz adventures, especially the Sea of Sorrows (36) even if you don't care for Spelljammer (and clearly many don't) IMO it is just a finely crafted adventure.

    IMO Return to the Tomb of Horrors is a respectful and respectable sequel, ambitiously expanding the adventure in a new direction without crapping on the original (dunno if others disagree).

    An adventure I get a lot of use out of is (IMO) the massively unsung Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad, largely ignored as a late WOTC era 2nd edition Greyhawk adventure. I don't know/care how faithful or not the Greyhawk Lore is, or care for the (albiet sketchy) premise for the adventure, I just love the fact it is 50 empty rooms for the DM to fill from the 100 supplied in the module, the first 50 are puzzle/riddle rooms and the 2nd 50 are traps or combat challenges (usualy with an unusual twist) including traps paying homage to the Tomb of Horrors and The Ghost Tower of Inverness. I plunder the puzzle rooms extensively for my own campaign dungeon.

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  21. "Dead Gods" - even if you weren't so big into Planescape it was good fun with a meaty bad guy.

    I loved Planescape have it all on a shelf across the room. I ran very few of the formal adventures in the end though.

    I have to support the Dungeon magazine boosters; the adventures were looted for maps, stats, ideas - the only thing I found was I could get enough use out of one to last me longer than a month (not ideal from the publishers point of view)...

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  22. "I remember playing The Night Below years ago and having a great time with it... The problem is, I picked it up about a year ago at a junk sale for a couple dollars, and wasn't left with the impression it was very well written. The maps and handouts are great, but the story uses a fair amount of railroading..."

    Agree with this assessment. Some beautiful tactical battlemaps. But mostly also-ran 2E homage to D1-3.

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  23. Asking among friends, I got votes for Nightmare Keep and Feast of Goblyns, but I have no actual context for them.

    -Rob D.

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  24. I've also heard great things about the Ravenloft adventure "The Evil Eye" (Steve Kurtz again) but I haven't got round to reading it yet.

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  25. Another vote here for the Dungeon mag collective. Mud Sorcerer's Tomb is one of the best "drop anywhere" dungeons I've ever read, complete with plenty of treasure, really hardcore baddies, and more than a few "do or die" traps that could very easily lead to an ugly TPK for all involved.

    While I don't remember the names of many Dungeon mag adventures, a lot of them stick in my mind. Jacob's Well was a small, creepy adventure set around a blizzard-bound inn that reminds me a lot of John Carpenter's "The Thing". There was another really mind-blowing adventure featuring Githyanki and Githzerai and a trip to the Astral Plane. A third involving a floating castle (which was, I think, made of crystal). There was a murder mystery involving a bard's home that had a number of musically themed puzzles...the list could go on and on.

    I think more than anything, Dungeon during this time period reflected the enormous amount of creative energy the fan community had at that time. I'd even go as far as to say the sort of energy we see in a lot of fan created works these days is similar to, if more prevalent than, the atmosphere of Dungone at the time I got into D&D in the early 90's.

    Even today, when I want inspiration for a new adventure and just want some random idea mining, I pick up a random issue of Dungeon and flip through memory lane.

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  26. One of my favorite modules was a 2e module: Temple Tower & Tomb by Laura Craig and Steve Winter. It was little more than three vaguely connected dungeon crawls, which is probably what I loved about it. It was very easy to drop one, two, or all locations into my own campaign world.

    This probably makes it a throw-back to more old school modules, and perhaps that makes it an anomaly.

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  27. If TSR had anything on the ball during that time, there should have been a lot more people who wrote some of those adventures on the payroll.

    I think for the most part their larger campaign adventures (Night Below, Ruins of Undermountain, Ruins of Myth Drannor) worked better than their individual efforts, though Axe of the Dwarvish Lords is a pretty good high-level adventure. The One-on-One modules (Fighter's Challenge, et al) was a good idea, but executed rather poorly. Temple Tower and Tomb is decent for what it is.. but there always was more chaff than wheat in this era, more's the pity.

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  28. Now THIS is right up my alley!

    Underdark is an excellent campaign, a maga-adventure which is probably the greatest 2e product ever produced.

    The Bleak House is a really good one too, it shows how you can really do more with D&D then just combat.

    My favorite module of all time is "Night of the Walking Dead" it was the first module I ever ran and it is probably the largest influence on my game. I still keep this module near me when writing my own.

    Not all Mods were story hogs, but most were, thankfully you could always cut out what you didn't want and just use the Maps, Keys, and NPCs and have a lot of fun with them.

    I think the true purpose of modules was a teaching tool on how to organize information, somewhere it just turned into professionally made product that tricked you into thinking that you couldn't write anything that cool.

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  29. I wasn't back into PNP D&D when 2nd Edition was out, but I played the PLANESCAPE: Torment computer game. Sophistication of the backstory blew me away. It was one computer game that did not suffer from being translated into computer code. Never met a DM or a fantasy author who was THAT original. My own adventures pale by comparison. The real world influences behind the game are like a rare vintage in a thousand dollar bottle: street person's view of modern california, balkans, last inetrnational enclave on th eedge of the civil war, blade runner, goth culture, huinduism and other eastern and advanced (such as consensus reality shaping the world) philosophy, tattoo parlors, all of the little nightmares of the time have found their way into an innocent little D&D game and even had me fooled until I read "consensus reality" mentioned by name in a walk through.

    BEWARE, if you use any cheats or walkthroughs, you won't be able to finish the game and will have to start from scratch. And if you don't take advantage of the game, such as going to the foundry and running an endless loop until you have like 30,000 gp, you will forever remain underarmored and underarmed and you will dread every combat and will need to avoid it at all costs...

    So, the best thing to coem out of the second edition was not even a pencil and paper product.

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  30. I'm coming across as president of the Steve Kurtz fanclub here but the Githyanki adventure is one of his "Into the Silver Realm" (43) definetly another stand-out.

    Using him as an example I agree that TSR probably missed out on hiring some of the talent out there. I don't really know anything about him but I'm assuming he was just a talented freelancer who abrubtly fell off the radar when he took a non game-related job (his blurbs for Dungeon always mentioned he was studying for some kind of science degree, I can't remember what exactly).

    I totally agree that at the time Dungeon was an outlet for the best of the fan creativy, comparable to what is happening spontaneously now with the OSR.

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  31. 2E was when I went to being a full time DM and for me that meant Ravenloft. So yeah I had some Ravenloft adventures I really liked, Feast of Goblyns was fun. But yeah, 2E was about the worlds.

    I feel 2E is always going to be seen as the abused middle child of the D&D family.

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  32. The bard's home one was Castle of the Blind Sun (49)

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  33. I'm suprised nobody's mentioned Gates of Firestorm Peak yet.

    It really is a nice meaty underdark crawl with strong Cthulhuoid elements as you get deeper in.

    Challenging, expansive, well-written, non-linear, etc. A great adventure all around.

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  34. Great. Now I have this urge to dig out my old Dungeons....

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  35. I remember "Vale of the Mage" for AD&D 2nd Greyhawk with some fondness. After some of the more railroady adventures I'd been introduced with, it was a breath of fresh air.

    "Under the Dark Fist" for Spelljammer was also good, and a serious challenge.

    I've never bought many pre-packaged adventures in general. I prefer to mine source material and half-ass it on my own.

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  36. (Hit post too soon.)

    I meant to say there was one in particular I remember, from the first year or two of the magazine, that was an adaptation of the Romeo & Juliet theme of starcrossed lovers and feuding families. I adapted it to my WFRP campaign and it was marvelous fun.

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  37. Ruins of Undermountain boxed set. No surprise that the best 2e adventure was a dungeon crawl full of traps and nasty insane wizards.

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  38. "Under The Dark Fist" was the adventure I purchased and never played.

    As far as specific Dungeon adventures go, though, the one that pops to mind immediately for me is usually "Thiondar's Legacy." It had everything: the ruins of a lost civilization in a hidden valley with dinosaurs, dangerous elemental-powered flying machines, a river that teleported back to become its own source, a clan of giants that could be fought or negotiated with, a rival adventuring party to rescue, a cursed sword, a dangerous artifact, and a dragon that would rather trick explorers out of their treasure than kill them for it. But he'd move on to the killing if provoked.

    Also it had perhaps the ultimate evolution of the classic 'Elf' class: an elf villain who had split good and evil personalities, one of them functioning mostly as a spellcaster and the other mostly as a fighter. And it was pretty easy to drop into an existing campaign.

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  39. I bought probably a dozen 2e adventures [actually, just took a look at the TSR archive; it was actually closer to nine], didn't like a single one, and then finally gave up.

    I didn't have a subscription to Dungeon, but have been told a number of times that's where the quality was, which jibes with the the general sentiment here. Quite a statement considering that was largely fan submitted materials.

    A previous poster mentioned the Bloodstone series. That was 1e.

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  40. I played a long, exclusively module based 2e campaign and I recall many many great adventures. The one that stands out is the "Return to the Tomb of Horrors". Best part (aside from the actual tomb) is picking up the trail of a former group of adventurers who are now scarred and broken from their ordeal in the tomb. It really set the stage for my character's feelings about the tomb. More importantly, as a player it made me feel connected to the history of D&D.

    Best news for all of old-schoolers is that all of these other great 2e mods people are mentioning are easily converted to whatever old-school version one prefers. This cannot be said of 3e and onward which makes me feel that a hard line exists between 3e and all the editions before.

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  41. I thought that WGR6 The City of Skulls was rather good. The City of Greyhawk included a number of short adventures, and that was true of a lot of the boxed sets. Some were good, some were not so good.

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  42. The only 2e adventures I really enjoyed were the 1-page (2-sides of cardboard) ones in the Greyhawk city boxed set! Short & sweet.

    Most 2e adventures were horrible. I bought Greyhawk Ruins recently and it looks good, but haven't run it.

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  43. The four 2e adventures that made it to the Dungeon magazine top 30 are:

    Return to the Tomb of Horror
    Gates of Firestorm Peak
    Dead Gods
    Ruins of Undermountain

    All of which have been mentioned in this thread. Only Ruins of Undermountain had come out before I had given up on 2e. TSR went through a real dry spell from about 1986 to 1992. After 1992, I can't really say because I'd stopped paying attention.

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  44. This may seem like an astounding claim, but I ran 1-3 different "campaigns" for about 8 years (high school to college) without a published game world at all, starting with 1E and migrating to 2E (just said no to 2.5).

    I used advice from the 1E DMG (and thus Mr. Gygax), and inspiration from a friend's efforts, to do it. I was only vaguely aware of Greyhawk but preferred my homespun. The encouragement to create is so much more palpable in 1E.

    Dungeon Magazine was my source of published adventures for many of our games simply because you got more bang for your buck and, frankly, I was "poor but proud."

    So, the comparison with 1E modules is a little lopsided, since there wasn't a similarly prolific and adventuresome product around. What I call the "mad dash for cash" changed everything and made me even more resistant to buying.

    Rare non-dungeon module... anyone remember "Fedifensor"? :)

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  45. Fedifensor, Dragon #67. The dungeon's in an asteroid/castle floating in the Astral plane. It was pretty cool. Nov. 1982.

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  46. I agree with all the above, especially Planescape: Torment. Dungeon was a fantastic source of adventures.

    The Ruins of Undermountain despite being branded Forgotten Realms was also very portable, you could drop it under any city with a little work, though it does work best in conjunction with a book on Waterdeep.

    I’d also add Dragon Mountain to the list, I have players which go into fetal positions at the mention of kobolds after playing that one.

    For those who liked the Village of Homlet I found a little gem in the Wizard’s Challenge. A really nicely developed village with a lot of adventure seeds in it.

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  47. > Night Below was an excellent boxed
    > set. It had everything you needed:
    >
    > *over arching plot line
    >
    > *Threat of WORLD DOMINATION!

    Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but am I the only one who thinks those are strikes *against* it?

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  48. What, no "Dragon Mountain" love?

    Around here, we consider it the archetypal killer dungeon of the 2e era; "Dragon Mountain" was to us what "Tomb of Horrors" must have been to our predecessors, who were gaming when 1e was around.

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  49. I liked Dungeon #26 or #28-- Nine-tenths of the law: lycanthropy + magic jar.

    But the few modules I bought back then were second-hand. No matter how good any later module might have been, having enough money (i.e. being employed part-time) to buy all the titles I'd drooled over as a kid was too awesome.

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  50. I stopped playing D&D not long after 2e came out, and on the odd occasion when I did play, it was usually using the 2e rulebooks with 1e adventures. I didn't purchase much from the 2e era outside of setting material, but over years I have picked up used copies of adventures for a variety of reasons, usually based on reputation, author, or specific setting material I wanted to have access to.

    So, with that in mind, the ones that come to mind for me are Gates of Firestorm Peak, Dead Gods, and Night Below. Never played them, but found them to be very enjoyable reads, and those are the 3 I'd choose from if I was to run a 2e adventure today.

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  51. As a throwback to the "killer dungeons" of First Edition, I always enjoyed Monte Cook's Labyrinth of Madness. I consider it to be the Tomb of Horrors of Second Edition (although it's quite unplayable without errata).

    I'll second the Dragon Mountain love, although it took a number of years for me to "get it."

    I love how beautiful some of the boxed adventures were during this era, but I never got a chance to play most of them.

    I'm omitting all adventures tied to settings, since they seem outside the realm of this discussion. Still, many of those adventures were excellent (in my opinion).

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  52. Just about everything in Dungeon. And I loved "Night Below" (several of those dungeon adventures were add-ons for it) and liked "Gates of Firestorm Peak."

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  53. "Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but am I the only one who thinks those are strikes *against* it?"

    Not alone.

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  54. I think it's a pretty big "strike" that most of the fondly remembered adventures posted here are from Dungeon magazine. That would seem to say to me that the answer to JM's original question: were there any "universally lauded" adventure MODULES is "no."

    I would guess this has a lot to do with the multitude of settings available for 2E. People picked their poison and played things that fit it.

    1st edition had no shared campaign worlds, save perhaps Greyhawk, so the adventure modules were what were shared.

    I'm very much an "anti-fan" of 2E so I'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt here rather than just saying all their modules sucked.

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  55. I don't think you need to give it the benefit of the doubt, JB. The point is that there were a number of widely-admired adventures, many of them in the same 'adventure/location/idea that can be reasonably dropped into any campaign world' that the best 1e modules had. They just came from a different source: submissions to a magazine rather than separately published modules. Some Dungeon adventures were setting-specific, but many (most, I think) were not. Dismissing the adventures because they weren't published as modules would be silly.

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  56. From official TSR? The Ruins of Undermountain - that is, the first boxed set only - had a ring of authenticity to it that almost no other TSR product did at the time... some people have a problem with the succession of empty rooms, but it was a good opportunity to create your own stuff there - I had an area with a home base operated by hostile adventurers, a gambling hall, hidden temples and so on. It was also surprisingly non-linear in its approach for its time; way, way after the game got hickmanised.

    Beyond that? Nothing. Literally: nothing. Every other TSR module I owned was vacuous nothing (and the late boxed sets such as Return to the Tomb of Horrors were not much better). The only good and steady source of adventures was Dungeon Magazine, where Asflag's Unintentional Emporium, Deadly Treasure, the linear but creative Moving Day (where you had to take a barge full of exotic monsters such as cockatrices up a river), Granite Mountain Prison, N'Bod's Room and Lady of the Mists...

    I don't think most of these hold a candle to the real TSR classics, but at least they were playable, and designed by people who actually played games instead of simply designing them. Asflag's and Deadly Treasure stand out as modules which have aged very well IMHO. It is also interesting that some time after I started buying Dungeon (although not regularly; it was too expensive for that), the quality took a nosedive; somewhere around issue #50 or something. After that, there was nothing that inspired me, and I stopped buying.

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  57. I came to AD&D 2e after Mentzer D&D, so I completely missed all the 1e modules until recently. I must say I have never been a huge lover of modules, though I always found the ones in Dungeon magazine well-worth using.
    I will also second the vote for Night of the Walking Dead, a wonderfully creepy Ravenloft adventure that I have used time and again. Actually, the only setting for which I own all the modules/sourcebooks is Ravenloft, which I used as a "drop in" setting to link various campaigns (my preferred ones being Dragonlance and Greyhawk). I also enjoyed Birthright, though the modules produced for it were not exceptional.

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  58. Check out Citadel of the Sea in Dragon magazine issue 78 - we all had a blast playing this one through and it almost span off into a campaign.

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  59. I guess I really must take a closer look at my Undermountain box!

    How many non-worldspecific adventures did TSR publish during the 2nd ed era anyway?

    I remember a few good adventures for Planescape, but I can't remember any names.

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  60. "A previous poster mentioned the Bloodstone series. That was 1e."

    The first 2 in the series were 1e, H3 and H4 were coverted to 2E play and H4 was the first to carry the AD&D moniker of the new Forgotten Realms.

    So yes, 1/2 the foursome is 1e, the other half is 2e.


    As for Night below being poorly written. Yes, parts of it are clunky and not that well done. I felt like the author was getting paid per word for most of it and just tossing stuff in there to make Book 2 meaty. Book 1 and 3 are fantastic. The hand outs are very well done and you get a good feel that you are part of an epic journey from the top of the world to it's very rotten core.

    I used it as a toolkit and a guide. I kept the plot the same but changed the order and layout. Had to as the Party was getting bored running through it. Changes here and there and they were gung ho to obliterate some aboleth.


    Dungeon Magazines are the unsung hero here and a treasure trove of adventures. So many wonderful things came from there. I must go through them and see if I can use them instead of buying more adventures for my upcoming city game.

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  61. For purely nostalgia's sake:

    - Vecna Lives! ('90)
    - Greyhawk Ruins ('90)
    - A Paladin in Hell ('98)

    Also worth noting, one of my all time favorite supplements by Carl Sargent: Iuz the Evil (1993)

    That said, looking over my list of books, it is a long list with few standouts.

    ~D

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  62. JD:

    Nope. The first three were set in a generic world. The last one was retrofit into the Forgotten Realms. However, all were made for 1e. H4 came out in 1988. 2e didn't come out until 1989.

    Here's the cover of H4:
    http://home.flash.net/~brenfrow/fr/h4.htm

    Here's the cover of FRE1 Shadowdale (one of the first, if not the first, 2e adventure produced):
    http://home.flash.net/~brenfrow/fr/h4.htm

    Notice the difference in logos and the "compatible with" star burst on FRE1.

    Other good examples:
    1e FRC1: http://home.flash.net/~brenfrow/fr/frc1.htm
    2e FRC2: http://home.flash.net/~brenfrow/fr/frc2.htm

    1e WG7: http://home.flash.net/~brenfrow/gh/gh-wg7.htm
    2e WG8: http://home.flash.net/~brenfrow/gh/gh-wg8.htm

    Funny side note: A pretty good portion of adventures and source books produced in 1989 had been in the can for a while and were actually more compatible with 1e than 2e (to the extent that there are compatibility issues) despite the 2e logo.

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  63. In addition to the adventures mentioned, all of which are excellent, I think Die, Vecna, Die! might be my favorite way to end a campaign ever.

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  64. First time poster, not long-time reader.

    I'm feeling compelled to answer this, but I cannot give a specific answer.

    The 2e era is possibly the one in which I played and DM'ed the most D&D, yet I have very few modules from that time. Why? Because that was when I had the most time and creativity to "roll my own." It was when I ran Ravenloft's Gothic Earth, fell in love with Birthright; and ran other systems like Twilight:2000 and Space:1889.

    Since 3e and 3.5, I have become a parent and watched my gaming and prep time dwindle away. (My time to peruse the Web for various gaming blogs has gone up, though.) About 5 years ago, I read through a friend's near-complete Dungeon magazine collection, and bought about half of them from him, the ones that had adventures I thought I could chop up and squeeze into one or more campaigns.

    So, to close this ramble, I remain a fan of 2e and its Dungeon collection, and intend to run with those parts in the future.

    As an aside, your blog and some similar ones are encouraging my desire to introduce my sons to 1e or 2e AD&D, rather than the 3.5 my adult group has been playing. It has seemed like something easier to teach and grasp. Time will tell if I am right.

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  65. The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar and Doom of Daggerdale were very good as was LC3 Nightwatch In the Living City. The Shattered Circle was also pretty good. Anything with undermountain in the name was good and Return to the Tomb of Horrors was pretty neat too.

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  66. My friends played through D&D as teenagers at the time, mostly playing Ravenloft modules.

    Dungeon #70, "Kingdom of the Ghouls," by Wolfgang Baur, is the one adventure from that time that I wish to have played or run.

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  67. "City of Skulls" is phenomenal and, to my mind, a better work by Sargent than Night Below.

    "Ruins of Undermountain" is also quite excellent.

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