Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Top 5 Classic Fantasy Adventures

Ckutalik (aka the Cake Crusader) over at Hill Cantons did a blog on his 5 top fantasy adventures and it being a Saturday morning with little gas in my imagination tank I am going to piggy back off of his blog.  So here is my top 5.

1# Tomb of Horrors
Without a doubt Tomb of Horrors get the #1 spot.  It was the first TSR module I bought and played through it until I had memorized nearly every detail.  I think I could have had a 1st level guy go through and survive.  I'm talking about the 1978 version.  The real Tomb of Horrors, not all the other incarnations.  Acererak was a terrible foe, but compared to the rest of the tomb he was a cupcake.  In the original version the tomb was made of mithral and adamantine.  The tomb itself was worth several kingdoms worth of gold. 

#2 Judges Guild's: Dark Tower
This adventure we did not nearly go through as much as the Tomb of Horrors, but it was memorable every time.  I'm not sure if it qualifies as a mega dungeon, but it sure played big and imposing.  Many of the JG adventures at the time had a 'silly' quality about them.  Which was fine, but not what I wanted.  Dark Tower was heavy in atmosphere and consequences.  I'm going off memory here, but I just remember being very impressed by the adventure and the games we had.

#3 Keep on the Borderlands
In the winter of '79 my neighbor told me to come on over and play this new game.  Said it was awesome.  First thing I saw was the purple cover and was immediately not impressed.  But once we rolled up a few characters, raided the Yatzee game for dice (because we had no idea about the special dice) we started to play.  The game was simple, roll a 1 and its a kill (or death for you), roll a 6 and its a wound, two wounds equal death.  We had a blast.  It wasn't long after that my collection of gaming stuff started.  I still have nearly everything I bought from the winter of '79.

#4 Village of Hommlet
Another '79 adventure module makes it on the list.  Of course.  Hommlet was different.  There were some plotlines scattered through the village.  I guess in a way it was my first 'sandbox' experience.  You could go in several directions.  Hommlet lent itself to adventures, but did not force you into one.  Plus, if you were patient enough you could kick the crap out of Rufus and take the tower for yourself.

#5 The Isle of Dread
This module killed more of my characters than any other.  This was an end game module for one of my GMs who would eventually get to a place where he no longer wanted to GM the current cast and sent them to the Isle of Dread.  I could have just walked away from the floating skeletal ship, but I never did.  I couldn't help myself.  It was until the last time I adventured on the Isle of Dread did I finally have a character survive.  After an epic battle with the inhabitants and the other PCs he survived and retired with all his daggers.  I can't tell you much about the adventure because I only got into it once.  Died to fast all the other times. 

Honorable Mentions
G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief.  
This module was played a lot.  It was short people knew it and could kill like three or four sleeping kill giants and go from 1st to 3rd or 4th level real fast.  Yes it was a cheat, but a lot did it and no one seemed to care.  We all enjoyed killing the sleeping hill giants.  Some knew the module well enough to get all the treasure without having to get into a fight.  In the auditorium this adventure is the one I used to teach all my fellow football players how to play in secret.  Some were afraid to be known as a D&D player.  Fricking wussies.

U1: Sinister Secret of Salt Marsh
This adventure could easily be a huge snore, but in the hands of a good GM this module was poetry.  I'm going off of memory, but it set a great atmosphere with the mansion and was generic enough that it could be used over and over again.  This was part mystery, part smash and grab.  It made you think.

WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun
I don't remember much of this adventure.  Not sure if I even went through it.  I just remember buying it, reading it, and liking it a lot.  Still do.

Least Favorite Adventures
C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
This is one of my very first purchases and I never liked the adventure.  I didn't like GMing it and I definitely did not like going through it.  Do I have any specific reasons?  No.  Just remember being bored. 

 C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness
See above.  This one I always thought had potential, but just needed some tweaking, but at the time I didn't know how to.  Where as C1 I never liked, C2 I wanted to like, but just didn't.

Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits
I can't tell you how stoked I was to get this adventure.  An adventure with a demi-god in it!  The climax of the G-D-Q series.  Then I saw the spaceship.  I hate spaceships in my fantasy.  It is not 'you got peanut butter in my chocolate good', its 'you shit in my bowl of cereal bad'.  I thought the Abyss was lame.  I was very disappointed.

Now all the years later I still have all the original copies of these adventures.  And this post has got me to thinking how they hold up through the years especially the ones I didn't like when I was a teenager.  I'm curious if I would like C1 and C2 now.  I really doubt I will forgive Q1 for crapping in my cereal, but I'm willing to give a shot. 

Have a great Spring Equinox. 


  1. Note that was the Temple of Death not the Isle of Dread that a certain GM kept ending his campaign with. I still haven't forgiven you for incident with the miniature dagger earring. I should have won that fight dammit ;)

  2. Agreed on the Dark Tower and Tomb of Horrors. Two classic adventures.

  3. I posted my own. Thanks for passing along the idea!

  4. Yep pretty much agree with your rating on these. Actually getting set to run Dark Tower soon for my group, updated to LL...

    OK - question for your encyclopedic module knowledge sir... mid 80's module, came out right around the time the Cavalier was published in Dragon, and the only thing I recall is the artwork of a female (who ended up being a vampire IIRC) asleep on an altar with scale mail & a sword inside, an incense burner overhead and a couple of alcoves looking down... trying to find it for the artwork and for the life of me can't remember which module it was.

  5. Rob > You are very correct. Not the Isle of Dread. And I still killed you fair and square. Never question the power of Whimpy.

    Captain Tightpants > The module is s4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth on page 28. I know that picture well.

  6. Thanks for the quick answer Tim - much appreciated!