Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Underrated D&D Modules

People have discussed both the best and worst D&D modules of all time. For many, the Drow series, the Giants series, and Keep on the Borderlands, etc., are generally considered to be some of the best D&D modules of all time. On the other side, Castle Greyhawk, Gargoyle, Die Vecna Die! and The Forest Oracle are widely panned.

I’m looking for your thoughts on some of the most underrated D&D modules. You can cite ones that are either usually poorly regarded and/or largely ignored.

I’ll throw out one for starters—B9: Castle Caldwell and Beyond. You don’t hear much about this 1985 module, but it contains 5 adventures that cover a variety of challenging situations. In one, you have to clear out a castle for its new owner; in another, you start behind enemy lines, needing to recover your equipment and escape. There’s a princess rescue, and two above-average, short dungeon crawls to round things out. All in all, this is a varied, entertaining module that should be worth your time to track down.

18 comments:

DNAphil said...

I am a fan of L1: Secret of Bone Hill. Also, S2: White Plume Mountain, and S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

Kensan_Oni said...

Desert of Desolation Series. Some of my favorite modules thematically and conceptually. While it has a small fan following, it almost always is left out of comments when people talk about the Modules. It is amazing that it even got a mention in the 30 year Anniversary book.

Barking Alien said...

Sorry DNAphil but I don't think most ol' school DM would underrate White Plume Mountain or the Barrier Peaks. Both were awesome and Barrier Peaks in particular is constantly referenced by bloggers and on gaming forums.

My coice would be C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness. Often overlooked in comparison to its more famous and wilder brothers, it had a lot of problem or mystery sloving elements as I recall. The module was also somewhat less focused on the hack and slash combat and straight out traps you usually found in TSR modules of the time.

Allen Varney said...

Bruce Nesmith's "The Created," Ravenloft RM2, is a creepy introductory adventure of mad puppetry. Some of the early AD&D 2e Lankhmar modules are quite nice.

Fans of high-level 2e adventures liked Rick Swan's "Nightmare Keep." (Disclosure: I edited it.)

Mark said...

I'm a fan of the U1-3 series that begins with the "Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh" and ends with "The Final Enemy". Takes the players out of the dungeon (for the most part), and also gives them some interesting moral choices to make.

Vincent said...

I'll speak up for UK2/UK3 - The Sentinel and The Gauntlet. The modules are interesting, require experience and judgement, and have elements that are much more tactically challenging than most 1E offerings. If your party can beat this pair they really have something to crow about.

Propagandroid said...

I'm not seeing a lot of underrated modules on here. :)

I'm going to throw out UK1, Beyond the Crystal Cave. UK2-3 quite often get mentioned in people's Top 10 modules lists, but UK1 is mostly forgotten these days. I found it a compelling adventure back in the day, and still use it from time to time.

Zachary The First said...

@Prop: Hey, now! I thought Castle Caldwell was a good one! When’s the last time it got any love? ;)

Scott said...

The most obscure module in my top 10 is B5 Horror on the Hill. Most times I ran it, we never even got to the dungeon hidden on the hill and just had fun in the wilderness setting, but the dungeon has strong character and its own identity, even after all these years.

Tyler said...

B9 Castle Caldwell holds a fond place for me - it was my first module as a young (very young) DM, and that OhWahtaGooSiam pun (ouch) still sticks in my mind). That and running it for my family, and my grandmother realizing she could set the wolfpack on fire with flasks of oil and her torch, to defeat them. (That's creative problem solving in the elderly for you, folks.)

mxyzplk said...

Let's see. For Basic, I thought X4-X5 Master of the Desert Nomads was very interesting and flavorful, and you never hear about it.

For 1e, it's hard to say anything's underrated, as people talk about most of those. Let's see, I think N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God is good; you don't hear about that one as much as the I series etc.

For 2e, Night Below. A great balancing act between sandbox framework and overarching plot.

Anonymous said...

Lichemaster for WFRP 1 is a module I've used several times for D&D with great results. I don't know if that counts as underrated because it's technically for a different game.

- Calithena

Ameron said...

These three Undermountain adventures came and went so fast few people even know of their existence. All three were a lot of fun and continue to provide me with inspiration on dungeon crawl adventures of my own making. If you can find them, they're worth picking up.

Undermountain: The Lost Level

Undermountain: Maddgoth's Castle

Undermountain: Stardock

Chris T said...

I second the votes for UK2 & 3. They went really well back in the day, once upona time... : )

In fact a lot of those adventures that were in the old White Dwarf were winners too.

Anonymous said...

I think my favorite underrated module of all time was B10 - Night's Dark Terror. This module had it all - a siege on a stronghold, wilderness adventures including 3 goblin lairs, a werewolf pack, dealings with the fey, ancient tombs and gold-mines, a powerful wizard BBEG, wererat knife-fighters, gnoll burial grounds, treks through perilous mountains, and an ancient valley that was home to the remnants of a long-lost empire!

The most amazing thing about this module is that it clocks in at a whopping 55-pages. If you can find a copy of this masterpiece (even in PDF) it is well worth the money. The maps alone will blow your EFFin' mind out your butthole!

Tom said...

S4 Lost caverns of Tsojcanth !! that fighter vampire daughter of Iggwilv .. man she really put the hurt on the party - level drain per touch, climb walls , fly, +4 unholy avenger -3 AC - the group didnt know what hit em :)

Anonymous said...

I have to second L1: The Secret of Bone Hill. It was full of evocative new monsters, it detailed a full area including the town in exquisite detail and it had several cool bad guys lurking around in it. Also, GHOULSTIRGES!

Anonymous said...

I was a big fan of Dwellers of the Forbidden City. Lots of interaction. Lots of places to go. Always enjoy Keep on the Borderlands. Can DM it in my sleep and it always seems to go in a different direction. Acverns of Thracia- Judges Guild could be a lot of fun.