PDA

View Full Version : Definitive D&D Modules or Supplements



fmitchell
11-27-2007, 02:23 AM
Gary McBride's comment on the "Beginning DM" thread brought up something I've wanted to know but been afraid to ask, given the tendency for questions like this to turn into flame wars.

Of all the D&D supplements and modules published, especially before 3.x, what would long-time D&D players say were the "definitive" or "most important"? That is, which is notable for as:


An example of a well-designed dungeon, adventure, or campaign.

A major influence on subsequent modules/supplements, or on D&D culture.

A module that has passed into legend, for good reasons or bad.


For example, Gary mentioned "The Keep on the Borderlands" as an excellent module for a starting DM. "Tomb of Horrors" (which I used to own) is the archetypal "killer dungeon", and in some ways an example of what not to do. "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks", similarly, is the module with blasters and fembots, which at least tried to meld fantasy and science fiction. (I remember the "Blackmoor" supplement for white-box D&D had something similar: an artifact which was actually high-tech power armor.)

Unfortunately I bypassed huge chunks of D&D history, so I'm not as steeped in D&D lore as others around here. I'm especially interested in the "well-designed" category, but the others interest me to.

Please justify each choice, especially with reference to the criteria above.

Thanks in advance.

gdmcbride
11-27-2007, 02:57 AM
I6 Ravenloft was written by husband and wife duo Tracy and Laura Hickman. They playtested it every Halloween for five years before it finally saw the light of press.

A great example of D&D eating another genre -- Gothic horror. Published in 1983 when the RPG genre was less than a decade old, it completely reset the bar for what a published module could be. The Top 30 greatest adventures rating done by Dungeon magazine put it at #2 (behind Demon Queen of Spiders). I say they're wrong. Ravenloft for the win baby. Number one with a bullet.

The beautiful maps of the Castle Ravenloft were worth the price of admission alone. It had a villain for the ages -- Strahd von Zarovich. Yes, its a pastiche of countless blood-sucker movies, vampire novels and of course Bram Stroker's Dracula. But, its an amazing pastiche. Moody, atmospheric and provocatively written.

It opens with a quote: "I am the ancient. My beginnings are lost in the darkness of the past. I am not dead. Nor am I alive. I am undead, forever."

32 pages of sheer genius. I say, "Check it out!"

Gary

RealmsDM
11-27-2007, 06:19 PM
The original Ravenloft module gave birth to its own campaign setting, so that's up there in all categories.

I liked "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" as a good stand alone adventure, and "Decent into the depths of the Earth" as a dungeon delve. Stack it with "Against the Giants" and "Vault of the Drow/Queen of the Demonweb Pits" for the first super campaign.

And "Return to the Tomb of Horrors" for 2e was just cool on so many levels. It didn't have any cheesey aspects, no pointless or confusing supplemental rules or "fluff".

rabkala
11-27-2007, 09:05 PM
The Temple of Elemental Evil. It is one of the best dungeon crawls ever. It isn't just a simplistic dungeon with little rhyme or reason. It was well defined with intelligent opponents. It is a sequel that overshadows its precursor.

The Desert of Desolation series. It has atmosphere to spare and shows how to run a themed adventure. It also had a new encounter format which they later used for 3e. It was true joy to play and watch as it unfolded.

The Isle of Dread. Often imitated but never duplicated. One of the best expert set modules that deserves mention. It showed DM's how to take characters away from the boring dungeons and their comfort zone.

Against the giants series. A true legend. More action than you could throw a boulder at. It is still great today.

If we are talking non-module supplements, I would have to give the top honor to the Spelljammer boxed set. You have to truly give yourself to the setting and suspend your belief in more than any other ever asked. If you can allow yourself to ignore even the laws of physics, you have found fun. Too many people worry about what's 'realistic' in their fantasy setting, and never really let go of the horrible existence we endure in real life.

Malruhn
11-27-2007, 09:07 PM
The Village of Hommlet. That's a great module for beginning characters - it has minor problem solving, minor bad guys to defeat - and hints at larger problems and BBEG's to defeat.
_________________________

To counter the Ravenloft fans, I detest that module.

If played properly - considering his intelligence, abilities, knowledge of the mansion - Vlad can NOT be defeated. I have played that module over 20 times with various groups, characters and levels - and have always played Vlad - and have yet to be even close to beaten. That includes houserules that included critical hits for PC's and not bad guys.

I like the demi-plane of dread - but hate this module. It's as bad as Tomb of Horrors.

Digital Arcanist
11-27-2007, 11:35 PM
Well one adventure path that really stuck in mind is the House of Cards path that began in Dungeon #19.

Set in the Forgotten Realms it featured a Dungeon where a Nightmask got a hold of a deck of many things and build the doors of this dungeon out of the cards. As far as well-built dungeons, this one was pretty cool.

I'm not sure how it affected subsequent modules but I know it affected the way I build dungeons in the FR and some of my friends still take elements of this path and work it into their campaigns.

As far as having an impact on the culture, the dungeons in the module are listed in the top 10 locations of all time in Dungeon Magazine #150 listings of all adventures in the magazines history.

kapnkirk
11-28-2007, 06:38 PM
Some may disagree, but Pool of Radiance was a great Module for a beginning party. Just the right balance of role-playing with plenty of monsters and loot. Plenty of meat for a good DM to expand upon (or not). I really enjoyed it as a player, and a few years later as a DM.

Grinnen Baeritt
11-29-2007, 01:58 PM
My reccomendation for the best of the TSR scenarios is still the "Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, Danger at Dunwater, the Final Enemy" series of scenarios...

An excellent mystery which I recently re-ran using "Swashbuckling Adventures".

However, my first game as a player... still remains the most memorable (and thus favourite) Ad&D game , was the "G Series-Against the Giants", D Series -then the Queen of the Demon Webs". I found it tough, the DM made me start from 1st! I survived right to the end though...eventually finished as a mid-level "old-style Bard".:cool:

Drohem
11-29-2007, 02:29 PM
The Slaver Series (A1-A4) was excellent as well.

Can anyone forget the classic wackyness of Castle Amber?

I had a halfing druid that gained wings from that one; now he soars like a mighty condor! LOL!

Drohem
11-29-2007, 02:40 PM
Oh, and who can forget the OG module...

/drumrollon

Temple of the Frog

gdmcbride
11-30-2007, 02:04 AM
Oh, and who can forget the OG module...

/drumrollon

Temple of the Frog

That was the first D&D adventure ever published. It was not the first D&D ever published by itself. That honor goes to ... anyone? Anyone?

The Palace of the Vampire Queen by Pete and Judy Kerestan, published not by TSR but by a company called Wee Warriors in 1976.

A true rarity which often sells for $900+ these days. Haven't read it. The introduction is pretty good:

"For three centuries the peasants of the Dwarvish island of Baylor have feared the raids of the Vampire Queen and her minions. Sweeping down at night from the palace in the shrowded peaks of the island, they range ever farther in their search for blood. And not only blood -- the children of dwarf peasants often dissappear if they are so unfortunate as to be out at night. Even the cities are no longer safe. The most recent victim was the Princess of Baylor, daughter of King Arman, who was taken in a midnight raid on the capitol city of Ar Toe within path weeks. King Arman has offered fabulous riches and land holdings with titles to the person or persons who can brave the stronghold of the Vampire Queen and return his daughter to him alive and well. But, in truth, he holds little hope. For even King Arman, Ruler of Baylor, Defeater of the Ten Orc Tribes, is afraid in his heart to face the Vampire Queen."

Great stuff.

Gary

RealmsDM
12-03-2007, 05:59 PM
My reccomendation for the best of the TSR scenarios is still the "Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, Danger at Dunwater, the Final Enemy" series of scenarios...

An excellent mystery which I recently re-ran using "Swashbuckling Adventures".

However, my first game as a player... still remains the most memorable (and thus favourite) Ad&D game , was the "G Series-Against the Giants", D Series -then the Queen of the Demon Webs". I found it tough, the DM made me start from 1st! I survived right to the end though...eventually finished as a mid-level "old-style Bard".:cool:

Saltmarsh was good.... Ned Shakeshaft... I think that was the name of the assassin NPC in that module... WOW, how do I remember that?

Moritz
12-04-2007, 10:19 AM
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?cPath=1_295_320&products_id=1139&

Ghost of Lion Castle

It's a solo adventure. Perfect for anyone who wants to surprise his DM with "Hey look what I did over the weekend and look at all the new magic items I have."

Drohem
12-04-2007, 10:35 AM
How could I forget Bone Hill.

rabkala
12-04-2007, 08:23 PM
How could I forget Bone Hill.
I don't know if I would call Bone Hill great or particularly well done, but I would definitely call it unforgettable. I Probably lost more characters in Bone Hill than any other. :mad:


The Slaver Series (A1-A4) was excellent as well.

Can anyone forget the classic wackyness of Castle Amber?
The slaver series was rather good. I didn't much like Castle Amber, maybe a bit too wacky and random for me.

A favorite of mine to DM was The City of Skulls. It was a Greyhawk module that gave many of my groups fits. It had a time line and a weird notoriety system that really upset my players who's idea of a plan was a wild frontal attack at most times. The more points you accumulated, the worse it became. They sent out increasingly difficult death squads to kill the group. Flashy spells and killing important NPC's was not good.

I remember the Bloodstone Pass series well. I played through it a few times with the battlesystem rules. I always liked the idea of large scale wars.

rabkala
12-04-2007, 09:19 PM
I don't know if this really fits here, but... If you are looking for a good series that is off the radar, I would suggest the Maze of Zayene series. Written by Wisconsin native Robert J. Kuntz and put out by Necromancer Games. It was supposed to be a 5 part series, but only three were ever published. I heard numerous rumors as to why; his failing health, contract disputes, poor initial sales, and several too odd to be noted here. I have run the series several times with little changes, but always had fun. I wrote numerous different endings where the first three modules left off depending on the group that was going through it.

Olothfaern
12-05-2007, 01:03 PM
#1 is Unearthed Arcana

for 1st ed it was like the holy grail, the whole game changed after it was released

***

#2 is Oriental Adventures

not quite as pervasive, but a giant impact that continued through 2nd ed

Drohem
12-05-2007, 01:11 PM
Yeah, Bone Hill was definitely a classic, as well as Castle Amber. Maybe not necessarily good, but classic in my mind.

I really like Treasure Hunt. It introduced the concept of zero-level player characters. Now, I am not saying that was a great idea, but definitely new and interesting at the time.

Moritz
12-05-2007, 04:21 PM
#1 is Unearthed Arcana

for 1st ed it was like the holy grail, the whole game changed after it was released

***

#2 is Oriental Adventures

not quite as pervasive, but a giant impact that continued through 2nd ed

I agree totally with the original Unearthed Arcana. When it came out (back in the day), my game exploded with new toys and classes. It was sweet.

Also, I have to go with a 'hell yeah' to Oriental Adventures. It was an amazing book with Ninjas, Samurai, and Kung Fu fighting that made the AD&D character look like a squishy.

rabkala
12-16-2007, 12:02 PM
I really like Treasure Hunt. It introduced the concept of zero-level player characters. Now, I am not saying that was a great idea, but definitely new and interesting at the time.
I don't have any recollection of Treasure Hunt. You remember any details?


Also, I have to go with a 'hell yeah' to Oriental Adventures. It was an amazing book with Ninjas, Samurai, and Kung Fu fighting that made the AD&D character look like a squishy.
Does anyone remember the Ninjas and Samurai that came out in Dragon magazine before Oriental Adventures was published? Talk about a sickly broken and twisted power character! OA definitely had a positive impact.

I noticed no mentions of 3e modules. I guess it is harder to be legendary in a shorter time span. The Forge of Fury was well written, especially the great black dragon lair.

Digital Arcanist
12-16-2007, 03:33 PM
I said it before but 1e and 2e had the best writers and so they had the best modules. I've run a few 3.Xe modules and just wasn't very happy and sometimes confused by the way they organized things.

I've played Age of Worms and the Shackled City paths from Dungeon Magazine and thought they were great. Hopefully the new Dungeon will live up to the old. The new offering by Paizo is great still. The third book features a tribe of inbred ogres.:eek: Everyone should take a gander at Runelords.