Friday, November 18, 2011

Open Friday: Adventure Use

Today's question is just for people who have actually bought and used adventures for use with tabletop roleplaying games: what is the single adventure you got the most use out of and why? In my own case, there's not a clear-cut answer, though I'd probably guess that one of the classic low-level D&D modules like In Search of the Unknown, The Keep on the Borderlands, or The Village of Hommlet probably gets the prize, because they're very easy to just drop into a new campaign as a starting point and flexible enough that I can change their details to suit whatever kind of campaign I want to run.

I'm interested in this question, since adventure modules were once a staple of the hobby. The product lines of games like D&D and Traveller back in the day consisted of a lot of adventures. Today, that seems less common (Pathfinder being a notable exception) and I'm curious as to why that might be. My hope is that, by finding out which adventures people have used repeatedly, I might get an inkling of why adventure modules ceased to be as common as they once were.


  1. Hmmm. Likely Palace of Ontocle for SPI's Dragonquest. I had two different groups through it (at nearly the same time). One group summoned a demon within. Leading to further adventures to get rid of said demon. Second place likely (also SPI Dragonquest) the Enchanted Woods. The first run through per the module. Then it became home base for some notable PCs and NPCs, causing a number of revisits (also because the chief villain, Wulgreth the magician, returned from the void to plague the world... ).

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  3. In my case it might actually be "the Free City of Krakow" for Twilight 2000 - I ran a half dozen Twilight campaigns, but almost all of them at least touched on Krakow as presented in the module (with at least one group trashing most of the city in a running battle with the local guard).

  4. Oddly, Kinunir. I ran it as a Traveller campaign, stole bits from it for use in other Traveller campaigns, retreaded the idea as an AD&D adventure (sunken Imperial war galley, Sahuagin, you fill it in...) and - shall I sue over Cowboys and Aliens? - a Boot Hill adventure with a starship from the future in the Arizona desert.

    BTW - *Somebody* should sue over Cowboys and Aliens, anyway. There went £9.50, Harrison Ford's reputation and an evening I could have better spent shoving wood splinters under my own fingernails...

  5. The only adventure that comes to mind is Star Frontiers' "Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes". I've used it on 3 separate occasions (with 3 different systems), because I enjoy its mix of betrayal and planetary survival.

  6. I'll answer your question directly and then I'll selfishly ramble a bit:

    Most Useful Adventure was probably the D&D low level "The Lost City." It's a very modular (heh) story and it's easy to pull parts of it off for other purposes. I've also taken the maps and re-purposed the whole thing to better fit a campaign.

    The adventure I've played/run the most was most likely "The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh" from the "U" series. It's a bit linear in approach but the whole arch is very well done and entertaining.

    Without a doubt I've gotten the most inspiration from the pages of Dungeon Magazine. Those little one-off adventures have sparked many ideas... even if the original idea isn't all that useful.

  7. Goblin Gate and Eagle's Eyrie, for MERP.

  8. Tough one for me. Since I've been playing with pretty much the exact same people over all my D&D years we never really "repeat" an adventure. We go through it start to finish and that's pretty much it. With this in mind I'll have to break it down into categories:

    I would have to say the D-series (D1,D2,D3). In our 1E days we did the majority of our adventures underground so the D-series modules were great to reuse for the underground encounters, hex maps, and general descriptions of all things beneath the earth. After we played these modules (a few times at least) they kind of became Underdark source books.

    Not a great time for publishes adventures. I would go with "Dragons Crown" for Dark Sun. This "mega adventure" not only provided a full sandboxy campaign but it had tons of world details (something you were always looking for more of with Dark Sun) and reusable maps and encounters that served as great inspiration for your own stuff.

    No single adventure stands out as greatly reusable even though this era is the one we played the most adventures in by far. Some great stuff just not much reuse from it. As far as reuse goes the best source is easily the Paizo years of Dungeon magazine. Dungeon magazine was never better than when Paizo started publishing it. Never. I still frequently use bits and pieces from their entire run today and have them all in PDF.

    "I'm curious as to why that might be. "

    Well for many years I think they had a very poor return on investment for the publisher. You just can't predict how well an adventure will sell yet in order for one to have any chance of selling you have to spend a ton of time and resources developing it. I think publishers, after a while, just deemed them to risky. It's much easier to predict the sales of a new rulebook especially when you are the only publisher of those rules. You basically have a captive consumer base with the rule books but not with the adventures.

    Paizo has managed to turn this on it's head with Pathfinder though. They now have a captive consumer base with the Adventure Path line. Even after all these years no one can really compete with what they do in the published adventure market. I wish someone would since I really haven't liked the theme of the last few APs but I'm forced to consider running them anyway because nothing else compares in quality. My homebrew stuff just looks silly next to what they do.

  9. Probably Keep on the Borderlands. Maybe Hommlet. Of course, I didn’t buy or use a lot of adventures. Being part of the Basic Set skews things a bit for B2, though I do think it has a lot of merits anyway.

    Why aren’t there as many adventures? First of all, you have this “common knowledge” that emerged that adventures aren’t profitable. Like almost any claim like that, I think it is clear that the truth is that you have to put some thought into it to make it profitable. Paizo isn’t the only exception.

    I still think one of the big things hurting adventure sales, however, is the failure to acknowledge that different people want different things from adventures. How many adventures tell you on the cover whether they’re for the “just give me the basics” big-picture type of people or the “give me lots of juicy details” detail-oriented type of people? How many tell you whether they are fairly linear or ultra-modular? (I don’t even know how to describe some of the Traveller adventures. ^_^)

    I haven’t looked at enough of them to say, but is this part of what works for Paizo and Goodman? Are their adventures consistent enough that people know what to expect from them?

    There’s also issues of practicality. We’ve seen some good steps here. Some of the later 3e adventures seemed to make some progress here, though in the wrong direction for my taste. There’s the one-page dungeon format. And of course, there’s the stuff Zak’s been talking about and demonstrated with Vornheim. Anyone who wants to sell adventures should be taking notes as they run other people’s adventures about what would make it easier to use at the table.

    Also, I’m not sure that the “most used” adventures are the model to follow. I only ran “The Enemy Within” campaign once, but I still think it was one of my best purchases. (Of course, that’s part of my point. Adventures shouldn’t try to be “one size fits all”.)

  10. Many.
    1st. Keep on the Borderlands because for a long time it was the only module I had, and my friends and I played it the way we played video games. If you could play Space Invaders a thousand times, there was no reason why you couldn't kill the same group of Kobolds a thousand times.

    2nd. The Lost City. Nothing too ground-breaking to say about this either. It's a very evocative, imaginitive module, and I encouraged my players to create cynadecian characters. One of them is still running a Warrior Woman of Madarua (sp?) even though she left Cynadecia long ago.

    3rd. Temple of Elemental Evil. I hyped this one up a lot and set it on island, so it was first necessary to raise a small army to man the ship that was to serve as the party's "base". And when party members were killed, they were replaced by more capable individuals from the ship guard.

    More recently, I've gotten a lot of mileage out of the Cursed Chateau. I set it on the outskirts of a city, and after the PCs broke the curse, various gangs have been "taking turns" using it as a hideout. And the PCs have returned many times to interfere with the gangs' activities.

    It's usefulness as a setting has overshadowed the original plot. Which is not to say that I don't think the plot was unimportant. Rather I think you need a more clearly delineated goal in order to develop the setting that will host later, more open-ended adventures.

  11. Definitely Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits. One of the mini-planes linked in the module was the Dwarven land of Maldev. When we ran the adventure the first time around in the early 80s, that little side trek was so much fun I later wrote a huge mini-campaign called "Return to Maldev." It was a lot of fun!

  12. As a DM, I used T1-4 multiple times with different groups for AD&D and AD&D 2nd Edition. Most low-level modules are "one-shots" for levels 1-2 or 1-3 in D&D and AD&D, so I didn't want to use them. I liked T1-4 because it would take characters almost all the way to name level. It had a decent backstory, was well-placed in its campaign world, but was still just a simple dungeon crawl with tricks, traps, and fights. It was not linear and it didn't get bogged down with excessive "story." It had just enough NPCs to make it interesting and they could remain completely in the background (and never used) if desired. The PCs' choices in that module could have larger ramifications in the game world, which appealed to me. It was a great introduction to the game for players and provided a good basis for a continuing campaign in the World of Greyhawk.

  13. definitely the low level ones, especially Hommelet and Saltmarsh. I like to use those as bases and then to let the pcs' interests shape how the campaign will develop. I've also used JG's Caverns of Thracia a lot over the years.

    Perhaps it's just my perspective (or, probably, what I like to buy), but it seems to me that there is no (and has been no) drought of adventure modules. NG published a ton of excellent mods for 3e and, although I found them hit or miss, the Goodman Games mods are ubiquitous. This is not even talking about the avalanche of indie-press adventure modules (which I suppose you are excluding as not mainstream enough).

  14. I've gotten the most use out of B2. It's nature as a beginners module is surely part of it's appeal to me and those I've played with but it doesn't stop there. The module offers possibility, there is no one quest or right way to approach the module.

  15. It's hard to say which one I used the most - I think it's a three-way tie.

    I've run U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh at least twice, maybe three times. UK2 The Sentinel and UK3 The Gauntlet I ran once as a pair in AD&D, at least once as a pair in GURPS (possibly twice), and once as a pair in Rolemaster. I started at least two campaigns with UK4 Eye of the Serpent in GURPS and I'm almost certain I used it as a monk solo adventure in AD&D. Graeme Morris really nailed gaming for me.

    I've used a heck of a lot of pre-written adventures. Rarely unmodified as I got older, but when I was in 4th or 5th grade running games at lunchtime, modules were the way to go. I know for a fact I've run G1-3 twice, A1 twice, A3 and A4 twice each, S1 at least twice, S2 twice, numerous Dragon magazine and Dungeon magazine adventures twice (often with AD&D or Rolemaster and then with GURPS when I switched).

    That's off the top of my head. :)

  16. For those interested in selling modules, Robert Fisher makes several good points, especially that you don't necessarily want to go for reusability. As a tight-fisted consumer, I like a module I can reuse for years and years, but as a producer you might want to think about "planned obsolescence." And although I might sound cynical, I'm only doing that for humorous effect. $10 for one forever-remembered 2- or 3-hour session? That's a good deal whatever you're talking about.

  17. Of the "old-school" Dungeons & Dragons materials I have used, Paul Jaquays' Book of Treasure Maps wins hands down. I turned to it whenever I wanted a short, well-conceived adventure, so some of those scenarios have been used three or four times over the years.

    I also drew repeatedly on the dungeon levels published in Judges Guild Journal 12. While they didn't make much sense, my teenaged friends didn't really notice. Later, I took parts (room ideas, map elements, and tricks/traps) from the dungeon levels published there.

    More recently, I've repeatedly drawn upon two of Paizo's Pathfinder Society adventures: #1 Silent Tide and #17 Perils of the Pirate Pact. Each holds enough ancillary information to inspire several further adventures set in the same area (The City of Absalom's sordid "Puddles" district for Silent Tide, and the River Kingdoms' decrepit town of Deadbridge for Perils.)

  18. Definitely B2 followed by (or incorporating) B1. The Keep on the Borderlands is easy to drop into a larger world (if you want that) or just run as its own little sandbox. I've seen players stay in the area of the keep itself until they were all over 5th level, exploring the Caves of Chaos and following up on rumors and developments around the area. If you incorporate B1 as the unnamed and undeveloped dungeon on the hill between the keep and the Caves, you have even more possibilities.

    As for the turn from modules to other supplements, I think a lot of that came from the shift into modular rules expansions instead of adventures as the way to expand the game. Unfortunately, for WotC and others, I think that Pathfinder is demonstrating why relying on rules expansions is not the best way to grow your market. You can have some rules expansions, but if you don't have many adventures to run characters through, most game masters will be a little lost on where and how to use the expansions.

    Just think of Magic of Incarnum and similar supplements from 3.x. They had some interesting rules variants, but without adventures or setting material to support them, they were too difficult to make work with existing adventures or settings.

  19. I'll be the first to cast my vote for...Chateau d'Amberville (Castle Amber)

    Why did it get a lot of play? Probably because I've owned it since 1981. Length of service has a lot to do with it, but it's quirky, kinda cool, has this weirdo, cool cover illustration, and is strange, strange, strange. There, I think that's it.

    Plus, it can be used in at any time in a campaign when the party finds itself camping overnight.

  20. The modules I use as adventures are location based. In actuality, I rarely use them anyway. I own a lot of adventures, but the way I utilize them is via maps and ideas. Therefore, T1 is extremely useful for having a generic base to start with. B2 has a great map for a cave-lair that is re-uable in several circumstances. Hammers of the God has a great backstory that has greatly affected my current campaign without the party ever setting foot in the dungeon. So too with People of the Pit.

  21. After my initiation period as a DM, I almost never used them. From 1983 to 2003 I used one module. Then, during my 3e days, I decided to use Necromancer Games' Rappan Athuk and plopped it down into the campaign, which ran for several years, with the PC's traipsing down into the dungeon and back out on a regular basis. So, the three modules of the original Rappan Athuk series.

  22. Easily "Village of Hommlet" for me -- I even repurposed it for a GURPS Space game I ran years ago.

    I suppose after that would be A1 and A2, because I find the fight against the Slavers so compelling. Since they're tournament modules, it's easy to slot them into a setting.

    Outside of fantasy products, I've used "The Secret of Castronegro" for Call of Cthulhu quite often.

  23. B2: Keep on the Borderlands

    Second place goes to B1: In Search of the Unknown

  24. Easily B2. However, Tower of the Elephant for Mongoose's Conan RPG is catching up quick!

  25. Keep on the Borderlands has seen THE most use...though White Plume Mountain isn't far behind. Tomb of Horrors is #3.

  26. Isle of Dread - though I don't know if my affection for that module makes me think I spent more time with it than I actually did. It was so open, had ships! Dinosaurs! I'm about to send my 11 yr old through paizo's remake - his first campaign.

  27. I know you don't like it, but Ravenloft. I've played most iterations of it, and I still find it enjoyable now. We just finished off the 3rd Ed version Expedition to Castle Ravenloft with the game group, and I think I might actually run it again in a few years when the kids have a few more years of playing under their belt.

  28. Night's Dark Terror, no doubt about it. It came at the spasm of the tail end of my regular group, and its foundation continues to influence how my games commonly start.

    Castle Amber is second - I incessantly used it as a central "mysterious" location.

    Also, A1-A4, and its variants.

    I also returned to one of T&T's solo modules: Deathtrap Equalizer, with my own spin on it, as a religious cults' testing ground, on more than one occasion.

    Strangely, I'm pretty sure I've played three aborted games of The Assassin's Knot, but my memory may be inflating the frequency. It sure seems like a lot.

  29. Most of my current group have played or run the scenarios I played and ran with my original group, so I haven't had the opportunity for repeats. I might be able to get away with Call of Cthulhu's "The Haunting" as the veterans in my current group report that they last played it so long ago that they've forgotten it.

    Oh, and I'll whisper it, but I don't think Paizo's Pathfinder campaigns are that good, to be honest. They're leagues ahead of other published stuff, but I think they get a bit of a free pass because they're being released into a relatively empty market.

  30. I really like "Forge of Fury." I've run two groups through it in two different game systems. The first group cleared it, then took over and made it their stronghold; the player loved getting copies of the map and dreaming about how to set the place up.

    It has a good mix of cavern and worked stone, cliche and fresh material, big set piece moments and little corridor explorations, and reasons for all the monsters. I like it.

  31. I've run Pharoah countless times in countless systems. Then there's Shadows Over Bogenhafen for WFRP, and the Elven Crystals for Dragon Warriors.

  32. Paul Jaquays' Enchanted Wood, I has multiple parties do multiple adventures in there and I still didn't use up all the in-built storylines, let alone the ones I added.

  33. This is actually very difficult to answer. At what point does an adventure become a very small campaign setting and vice versa. I'm tempted to say Metagaming's Treasure of the Silver Dragon for Melee/Wizard, but that's mainly for the campaign setting in which the adventure is embedded.

    The default adventure in the 1st edition of Paranoia got a lot of play - except I never actually ran it any of the times I ostensibly did.

    That probably just leaves Crisis at Crusader Citadel for V&V, after the player heroes took over the Citadel on a permanent basis after the Crusaders were trapped and destroyed by the nefarious Dr Ruby.

  34. For single adventure module I used the most often (which is an odd question anyway since that's not really what they're for), I'd have to say Caverns of Thracia. Think I ran it three or four times, and would again. I also used it as a rationale for using the Greek pantheon as that of a lost civilization (only), and to help work the ancient lizard-man civilization and its fall into my world's history.
    Second place would have to be Tegel Manor. Also ran that three or four times, and had parties running around the Tegel Village area many times. I'll list this as second mainly because there were times when the party just couldn't work all the way through it, so I suppose it got less use overall.

  35. FASA's Action Aboard: Adventures on the King Richard and the associated deck plans of the ISCV King Richard.

    The ship was a very high end luxury liner with no set schedule. I ran a year long campaign with a group centered around a remittance man and his staff. Very episodic, sort of the Thin Man movies on the Love Boat. Got a ton of gaming out of that little book.

  36. In the ten years that constituted the bulk of my playing (the 90s, with 2nd edition), I don't remember ever running a single module. Well, that's not totally true, I did run a Ravenloft desert module called Touch of Death, but I tweaked it heavily.

    I must have run a few others, as I did own several, but I think I used them more for inspiration and pleasure reading than as direct game aids. I think it also had something to do with the fact that running a module almost felt like cheating. Real DMs wrote their own adventures. It was the same way with settings. I bought numerous settings, but I never used them directly.

    That's why I love threads like this--they allow me to see all the good stuff that influenced others that I didn't play myself, as I started playing after the time of most of the famous modules.

  37. Everyone had B2 when I was playing so I ended up using B5: Horror on the Hill as the starting point for various campaigns, although on balance I probably used (or borrowed from) B2 more. The Book of Lairs I found to be an excellent source of encounters and mini-adventures to flesh out a campaign.

    In those days there was a real scarcity of content. As a new player, you pretty much had the choice of one of a few standard modules. Now, there is so much out there on the Internet, you can create an entire campaign for the game version of your choice just by downloading and adapting...

  38. Several people have referred to the idea that despite the availability of published modules, the best DMs are supposed to write their own.
    This idea was very much conveyed by Moldvay and perhaps to a lesser degree by both the 1e/2e DMGs.

    I very much like the DIY ethic and I like what this idea says about TSR at the time-- that they weren't yet thinking about how to make each customer a lifetime income stream. (This one boxed set-- or these two-- is all you will ever need.)

    But having written a number of adventures, I no longer subscribe to the ideal. In fact, just as the roles of director and playwright/screenwriter are most often divided, so should the roles of referee and adventure-writer be divided. There remain creativie challenges in the lines of adaptation and in the placement of adventures in a larger world.

  39. X1: Isle of Dread and B4: The Lost City. I also played the heck out of the 3rd edition Gamma World linked module series.

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  41. As I think about this question, I have come up with two answers:

    1. Which module have I RUN or actually played the most? Sorry to be boring, but it's definitely B2 Keep on the Borderlands, by a long shot. The next closest one would be G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, followed by S2 White Plume Mountain.

    2. Which module have I REFERENCED or stolen parts of to drop into my own campaigns most? Well, it's a close race between D3 Vault of the Drow and Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits in that case.

    Good question!

  42. I don't know if it is the most "useful" module, but I probably used Tomb of Horrors more than any other adventure. (Meaning four or five times.) New players to the group always seem to want to test their mettle against that one!

  43. Has to be B2 for me. I've run versions of this module for every version of D&D. I've used the keep on a number of occasions for a base for adventurers. This module is the only one I've ever permanently dropped into my homebrew campaign world (the keep and the caves are marked on my maps).

    I even bought a new copy on e-bay that was listed as 'near-mint' to replace my original which has finally fallen apart.

    I am currently collecting and painting a set of Otherworld Miniatures that will allow me to run any encounter from the module on the tabletop...

    Yeah, it's got to be B2!

  44. B2 2B sure. Setting that one aside... Lost City. For AD&D Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

  45. Treasure Hunt, damn that was a good low level adventure. Don't sleep on it.

  46. I've used Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Snake Pipe Hollow and Tomb of Horrors a ton over the years as goldmines for ideas. I've probably used Dwellers the most, but they're all three favorites of mine.

  47. Dark Sun's Freedom. I ran it like a dozen times with diferent parties and never, never It went the same way. Maybe I'm alone at this but I think it's a very flexible and open-ended adventure... if you erase the novel's NPC and the awful railoaded ending, of course.
    The modular scenes/encounter have a near limitless potential: some of my parties become gladiators and go touring all over the city-states; other become members of the Veiled Aliance and explored the ancients dungeons beneath Tyr; several players gained their freedom joining the Templars and one, on another occasion, become a noble and engaged in politics (with the rest of the party as his bodywards, assassins and wizardly advisors). Only two times the parties folowed the main plot: one was killed trying to assassinate Kalak and the other barely survived the total destruction of the city (no Free Democratic Tyr in my Dark Sun, thank you).

  48. L1: The Secret of Bone Hill. Was my first campaign setting I ever DM'ed. What I liked about it the most was a great example of an all around entry sandbox environment for the PC's to venture plus it had a nice collection of rumor tables. I alos found it easy to drop modules like B2 by placing it near the borders. A close second is G1: The Legion of Gold which has a great collection of scenarios that you could modify and expand on to make into something even beter no matter if it's Gamma World or Greyhawk.

  49. A toss-up between Keep on the Borderlands (for obvious reasons) and The Lost City (because I found the entire underworld so inspiring).

  50. Famine in Far-Go stayed at the center of the longest campaign I ever ran.
    After gaining control of the factory, the group used it as a base of operations.
    Eventually a small village was growing around it.
    The players were involved in keeping it defended from raiders.
    It was interesting to have a centralized site for societal developement and intrigue rather than the semi-aimless travelling and questing that I usually seem to come up with.

    Why did it work out that way?
    The group's investment in the background.
    We didn't play "wild and wahoo" Gamma World.
    It was a ~little~ more serious.
    It was also a blank slate.
    Unlike the expectations of D&D about medieval society and systems, Gamma World to them was about rebuilding their world from scratch.
    Forging law from chaos.
    They became protectors of the local region, kind of like the police force in the first Road Warrior movie.
    And it was awsome fun.

  51. I've gotten the most use out of X1. The first time as a player and the other two as DM with two different groups.

  52. Nemo235 wrote:

    Unlike the expectations of D&D about medieval society and systems, Gamma World to them was about rebuilding their world from scratch.

    That's very cool.

  53. Traveller's Levithan followed by Bone Hill and Castle Amber. I guess the X factor to me was an open ended mini-campaign.

  54. @Infamous --

    We just finished off the 3rd Ed version Expedition to Castle Ravenloft with the game group, and I think I might actually run it again in a few years when the kids have a few more years of playing under their belt.

    Out of curiosity, how do you think the 3e expansion of Ravenloft compares to the original? It's a great read, though as usual I wish there were less Lestat in today's Strahd.

    I'd planned to convert it to 4e to run in place of WotC's dreary mainline 4e adventures, ideally with an all-night Halloween blowout in the castle (aah, youth...), but small matters like having a baby and, er, not giving a damn started to intervene. :)

  55. Hands down, Judges Guild Tegel Manor. Ran it several times with same group over a number of years by simply changing around traps/secrets types and locations, as well as restocking with higher levels of critters each time.

  56. It'd have to be Keep on the Borderlands.

  57. A couple people have mentioned Gamma World, which reminded me that, in truth, the module I've gotten the most use out of is indeed Legion of Gold. I was running a GW campaign using Legion of Gold that lasted over two years... and we technically only got through around 80% of the module before I decided to shelve it for the time being. (Not out of any lack of enjoyment, I just needed a little change of pace. We will be returning there in the future for sure!) There is just so much adventure that can be spun out of that thin little book on the Barony of Horn.

  58. I think the adventure module I've used the most is either FRC2 Curse of Azure Bonds or REF5 Lords of Darkness. Both are Forgotten Realms modules, and they were printed in 1989 and 1988, respectively. I played a lot of AD&D in FR at the time.

    I had a couple of games set there, with me as the GM. I ran some the undead adventures in REF5 a couple of times, and I think I used most of them for the other group. They were a nice selection of encounters set with a difficulty level, so they were easy to implement in the game.

    The last adventure the second group played was the Curse of the Azure Bonds, though they were left hanging just before the final confrontation: we played mostly through one summer holiday in the upper secondary and when that holiday ended, the gaming did too.

    I also used the Azure Bonds in Shadowrun, only quite modified. That campaign also ended before the mysteries could be solved, but it was a nice one before that. Even the players who had an idea of what was happening didn't know anything about the powers behind the Bonds. (I think there was a free spirit involved, and toxic shamans, but can't recall very well.)

    This probably shows I haven't used adventures that much. I like the ideas but mostly I try to run games which center around the characters, and I find it difficult to plug commercial adventures in them. I ran through the Volturnus modules in Star Frontiers, but only once, and they were a good introduction to the game.

  59. I know it's not a module but I bet I used the little map and encounters in Mentzer's Red Box Set's DM book a lot as well. When we were younger most parties were wiped out at the door where the Carrion Crawler was hiding. Ditto for CoC's The Haunting and the werewolf adventure set in the hills.

    Be fun if you did another open Friday that used the same question but geared towards example adventures included in rule books.

  60. For the older editions, it's Isle of Dread and Night's Dark Terror, hands down. Once we get Info 3E+, it's The Vault of Larin Karr.

  61. I found that N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God was a very good scenario for initiating new players. Its strong plot quickly draws characters into the mystery and plunges them into the action, moreso than adventures that begin in the Keep or in Hommlet. It's also well-constructed in that it equips novice characters with the tools to vanquish a very powerful villain.

    After N1, I generally fed players into the Saltmarsh series.

    I really appreciate scenarios that are complete and ready to play. I dislike scenarios that require extensive development by the DM before they can be played--that defeats the purpose of using a module in the first place. When I find time to create, I prefer to use it to develop my own original ideas, rather than spend it fleshing out some other author's vision.

  62. I haven't used a whole ton of published adventures over the years, but one that I've gotten a lot of use out of is Death in Freeport. I've run the original Freeport Trilogy at least twice if not three times, and I believe I've run Death at least once or twice without going on to the others. I've been thinking a little bit lately about running the trilogy again and I'm trying to decide whether to just run them in 3.0, to buy the 3.5 update, or to convert them to Call of Cthulhu, which I've been thinking about using for a sword & sorcery game lately.

    Next to those, I remember running Eye of Traldar a few times in the couple years after it came out. I was very excited to hear it had a sequel coming in the form of The Dymrak Dread, but being disappointed that it wasn't really a sequel.

  63. For CoC I ran Masks of Nyarlathotep twice and played as an investigator 3 times. We all went mad or died horribly. Good times.

    The Star Trek RPG (FASA) adventure The Vanished was played 3 or 4 times at conventions.

    For D&D it was probably B1 but I consider it pretty thin - it is more of a model for doing your own adventures than a fully developed dungeon.

    The short answer about adventures in that in the 90s nobody could make
    Money selling them

  64. "Still Waters" in Chaosium's the Great Old Ones. I've run it in the original Call of Cthulhu system, d&d 3e w/ sanity rules, Ghostbusters d6, and Fading Suns.

    There's something about this 'simple mission gets complicated adventure' that allows me to pile on the slowly growing mystery and horror in almost any setting. Opportunities to use stormy nights, a nearby river (originally the Mississipi), flooding, and a badly tuned piano are a plus.

  65. 'Lost City of Barakus' for 3.5 D&D gave me nearly 2 years of sustained fortnightly play, around 35 5-6 hour sessions. I used very little that wasn't in the hardback. I don't think anything else comes close - nearest would be The Shrine of Kollchap in 'What is Dungeons & Dragons?', which I have rerun many many times. After that maybe 'Irillian' from White Dwarf, which I ran back in the '80s.

    Can't say I've made very much use of TSR/WoTC adventures.

  66. Modules I've run at least twice include Call of Cthulu's The Haunted House - when I ran it for my wife, she refused to go inside! - and N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God. I ran X2 Castle Amber just once, I think, X1 Isle of Dread I ran & played. A lot of this is from when I was 12-14, 24-26 years ago, very hard to recall!

  67. From my gaming experience the adventures that seemed to see the most repeated use were:

    I6 Ravenloft
    DA2 Temple Of The Frog
    CM1 Test Of The Warlords
    A1-4 Slaver series
    S1 Tomb Of Horrors
    S2 White Plume Mountain
    WG4 Forgotten Temple Of Tharizdun

    Now one thing most of (but not all) these modules have in common is the goals are clear cut and relatively simple, allowing for more of a sandbox type experience, which I really enjoy DMing. Now in the case of S1, that never, ever saw use in a campaign of mine; it was usually done as a one shot just when were felt like playing D&D, but a not a long running campaign.

  68. I've returned to gaming after a very long hiatus. (Shame on me!) The systems I've been using in my gaming 2.0 reboot over the last couple of years are CoC and Warhammer. For the former, the scenario that I'm now running for (at least) the second time is Shadows of Yog Sothoth. After we were done with SYY I handed off CoC GMing responsibilities to one of the group who wanted to GM and is now doing Horror on the Orient Express. For Warhammer, we'll be doing The Enemy Within after Thousand Thrones. Enemy Within was one of my all time favorite rpg experiences.

  69. Hmm. As far as well-worn adventures go, I've used the following more than once:

    Classic Traveller:
    Twilight's Peak
    The Traveller Adventure

    The Flaming Eye Campaign Sourcebook.

    MT is my rules system of choice (with the errata, it's a perfectly workable system, and I've got 25 years worth of stuff created for it, so there's no point in upgrading). This is a particularly good, fairly open ended campaign about piracy during Traveller's Second Civil War period.

    U1-U3. The UK modules starting with U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh got a few uses for me.

    And a little farther afield, I've run the 12 to Midnight d20 Modern scenario Weekend Warriors more than once at cons. It's a great little scenario involving zombies, super-soldier experiments gone awry, set on a military base. Much like the video game Left for Dead, if your soldier dies, he becomes one of the zombies. :)

  70. To answer this question:
    "I'm curious as to why that might be."

    The rationale I've heard most often is that "insert big game company name here" will only sell one copy of a published adventure, but might sell a sourcebook to your entire gaming group.

    Truth is, I'm seriously doubting that's the case anymore. If my own gaming group is a guide, we're lucky if we've got two core rulebooks at the table (I run with four other players) including mine, and supplement books are pretty much mine alone.

    Also, in a day with Tablet computers and PDFs, the opportunity cost for publishing that PDF adventure is a lot lower than a print company.

    Ironically, I think Paizo is one of the first ones to figure this out. One of the things I admire about Pathfinder vs. 4E or even 3rd Ed, is that Pathfinder is putting a lot more stuff to play in GMs hands instead of burying them in a blizzard of rules supplements that just lead to power creep, munchkinism, and a broken game system.

    Hero System has also done pretty well selling small PDF adventures. And if you think about it, outside of Cthulhu Invictus, everything published by Chaosium for CofC since the early 1990s has been published adventures, other than new additions of the corebook.

  71. I know it's not a module but I bet I used the little map and encounters in Mentzer's Red Box Set's DM book a lot as well.

    Come to think about it, I’ve used the sample adventure in Moldvay’s book an awful lot.

  72. Either The Village of Hommlet (As a campaign starter, more often than not) or the Ravenloft 3e remake, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, as a Halloween oneshot or occasional minicampaign

  73. For AD&D: Paul Jacquays Caverns of Thracia, The U1-3 Saltmarsh series, UK5 Eye of the Serpent and UK4 When a Star Falls each got several plays from me with different groups. Yeah and The Keep on the Borderlands, but we all got that one. I like my modules to be fairly complete and ready-to-play if I'm going to use a module. One nice thing about prepared modules, especially when there weren´t many of them, is as a sort of shared cultural point between gamers. Different groups could reminisce about their experience of the Giants or Drow or the Tomb of Horrors. Call of Cthulhu adventures are generally so plentiful and well-written that I´ve rarely 'done my own thing' with that game. It has some classic adventures too, like Masks of Nyarlathotep.

  74. I don't tend to re-use modules. I had to think a bit on this one.

    Used most often:
    "Free city of Krakow" and "Escape from Kalisz" for Twilight:2000. I know I've used them to start at least 4 campaigns.

    Also, "Sprechenhaltestelle" for Top Secret. I used the map and some of the buildings and NPCs a lot back in the '80s.

    Used the longest:
    "King of the Giantdowns" for 2e AD&D, Birthright setting. I ran a 5-year (real-time) campaign there.

  75. @ Kiltedyaksman: Ditto. This is one of my favorite introductory modules. It's got a few holes here and there, but I tend to re-use it for its basic set up: "you're all victims of an orc press gang" beats the heck out of "you're all sitting in a tavern when..." as an open scene. It's served as a great start up for any number of great nautical campaigns I have GM'd.

  76. I didn't get keep on the border lands or any of the single modules for early levels of game play - I picked up B9 in search of adventure which was the booklet compilation of pretty much the Basic D&D Adventure series.

    It became the mainstay of my D&D campaigns - and followed up with a substantial number of the Gazetteers...became the core of My D&D gaming set.

  77. Death on the Reik from WFRP. Lots of sandboxy play up and down the river (great reference for other campaigns, for that matter), and then a great and fairly bizarre dungeon in Castle Wittgenstein. Lots of potential adventure hooks along the way if you want to build the campaign in a different way rather than continuing on to Middenheim.

    I think during the 90's, most publishers priced their adventures too high (partially because of print costs) relative to their audience and the volume of material they provided. As a GM, I had to chose between paying $20+ dollars for a supplement (which could provide material for multiple homemade adventures, new PC options for games I played in or my players, and lots of reading/browsing materials) and adventures that cost $15+, could only be run once with a particular group, and only at certain points in the development of any other group (most adventures only worked for a particular level/XP band without significant overhauls).

    In those days, I was most attracted to adventures that combined significant sourcebooks (like The Enemy Within in WFRP). These days, going cheap + PDF-only seems like a much more clever route.

  78. B1 became the basis for most of my teenage campaigns. Quasqueton became the center of a larger world, and I built new reasons to return. Being able to switch up stuff on a group mostly made up of the pregens in the back was wild fun, and I wore the module out.

  79. Apple Lane from RuneQuest -- especially "Gringle's Pawnshop" -- is immensely fun (I've run it with rollicking success in both RQ2 and AD&D). Unlike most of the worthy classics discussed in this thread, it is not a dungeon delve, but a one-building siege against inventively designed foes. Even seasoned players will be hard pressed if you play the antagonists intelligently, yet the scenario gives smart players lots of opportunities to prepare and shine.

    C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness is a classic I haven't seen mentioned here yet -- the mood is evocative (you're going into a tower that doesn't exist anymore), the challenges are varied and surprising, and it builds to a dazzling final set-piece. Also, I've found it runs between 3.5 and 4 hours when played through -- as a one-shot, it works surprisingly well in light of the fly-by-the-pants nature of game design back in the late '70s.

    R2: The Investigation of Hydell by Frank Mentzer is a criminally underappreciated classic. It should be a case study on the correct use of illusions in AD&D. R1: To the Aid of Falx is also a gem, with a time-limit that adds a distinctive challenge to play.

  80. Almost forgot -- Jonathan Tweet's "Barran the Monster Killer" in Strangers in Prax (for RQ3) is pure unadulterated genius. I almost don't want to tell others about it, so I can run it on players without spoiling it. I've run it several times for D&D with rousing success. Very well-structured and challenging.

  81. The original City State of the Invincible Overlord from Judges' Guild was the product that saw the most use. It became the centrepiece for our 'golden age' campaign, although to be truthful we mainly used the map and made up the details as we went along - often stealing ideas wholesale from Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, and Robert E. Howard. I still think that the original version is one of the best RPG maps ever produced! We used the city-state as a base of operations from which expeditions travelled to the locations of the various classic TSR modules. Good times!

  82. B/X D&D:
    Irilian (a city-based module from a Best of White Dwarf collection)
    After the "Shadows over Bögenhafen" like module was over the city remained the hub of my first hodgepodge campaign setting (which drew heavily from other magazine modules, most notably from White Dwarf and Imagine).

    AD&D Second Edition:
    N5 Under Illefarn
    Daggerford was a campaign foundation with solid descriptions of factions. The dwarven dungeon itself was a bit "meh" but everything else was top notch. In fact, I didn't use much of the official Realms at all. My Realms evolved organically out of this module alone. In the end my Realms were a lot more "eerie" and fog-shrouded, thanks to the illustrations from artist Peregrine (sp?) found in N5.

    Griffin Island
    A great wilderness sandbox!

  83. AD&D's 1983 classic, The Pharaoh. The complete Desert of Desolation adventure compilation came later for me. These modules contained fantastic chambers and traps plus great Jim Holloway artwork.

  84. Without a doubt:


    Our LL game has been going on every week for a year now and every session has had at least something to do with Stonehell. It'd be going on for another year, but sounds like the expansion isn't going to be coming soon. But we've gotten about 250 hours of game play out of it, directly or indirectly.

  85. Most used, borrowed from and pillaged would be:

    Halls of Tizan Thane - White Dwarf
    The Lichway - White Dwarf
    Tegel Manor
    City State of Invincible Overlord

    All modules I bought in the first few years of gaming

    Modules I've read and want to run:
    G, D Series
    Tomb of Abysthor

  86. Most used? ... N2 The Forest Oracle by Carl Smith (1984)
    Why? Well despite a number of minor, oddball flaws it had:
    * suitably generic locale with an "old world" European swords and sorcery feel vs pulp sci-fi fantasy of Barrier Peaks, Temple of the Frog, Where Chaos Reigns (all with lasers and robots) or jungle expolration pulp of Quagmire!, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Isle of Dread, Isle of the Ape and (again) Temple of the Frog.
    * amazing Keith Parkison cover -- dire wolves are a nightmare vs low level PCs
    * blend of wilderness and dungeon locations
    * established NPCs that could easily springboard future plots, become arch villains, or mentor PCs.
    * wererats vs PC party w/ no magic weapons :)
    * solid, simple cartography
    * [perhaps most importantly] there was a sense that this environment had been /lived in/ before the adventurers came along. Why were there bandits in the Great Olde Woode? Was the local lord a toad or were they broken men who had fled a battle? How did they keep themselves alive with all those bloody dire wolves in the forest? Who led them and was he just a thug or did he have a higher purpose? Was Bolo the inn keep in league with the wererats? With the dwarf mines played out who still traveled this way often enough to let the Wildwood Inn stay open? How many other bands of Bloody Hand orcs were in the mountains? Who was their king? A hill giant or some other foe far too powerful for 1st and 2nd level PCs to tackle directly? And what the heck are these gypsies doing hanging about?
    So I have come back to this module with EIGHT separate groups of players because it offers a fairly generic, "vanilla" flavored setting (to provide a backdrop against which future jungle pulp transdimensional robot stories could be told in due time), a simple encounter-based linear plot (*gasp*!) that moved the party briskly through a much larger environment while continually hinting that there were many more things to be discovered, and just enough logical flaws and silliness that, as a DM, I was charmed into pondering questions like "how did the ogre get a pet flesh golem anyway?" which gave me seeds for more and more adventures.
    Not bad for $11.