For those who want to go back in time and experience the original Dungeons and Dragons, there are still plenty of adventure modules to choose from.
Dungeons and Dragons has a history of more than 40 years, and in that time has created many exciting and imaginative adventures for players. But sometimes it's good to go back to the roots and see where it all started. The first edition of DnD featured a large number of adventure modules, varying in difficulty and theme, and the first edition campaign has stood the test of time, just as it does in 5e today.
Many of the 1st edition mods were squarely in the category of dungeon crawlers, where players face one enemy after another in search of enough treasure and magic items to make the DnD party rich. While there's nothing wrong with good old fashioned dungeon crawling, there are also more unique modules that give players and DMs a little something extra. Whether it's for the plot, characters, or atmosphere, there are other, more memorable campaigns from the first edition.
Dwellers Of The Forbidden City Has Some Memorable D&D Traps
Dwellers of the Forbidden City was first published in 1981, and is most impressive as the module that first introduced metamorphs, tathroy, and aboleths to DnD. In the adventure, the player is sent to deal with bandits who have been attacking the caravan in depth in the jungle. This leads them to a village where they first learn about the Forbidden City and the Yuanti who live there. Despite mixed reviews in the past, Inhabitant of the Forbidden City is a great adventure packed with action, unlikely traps, and intrigue that DnD players won't suspect.
D&D 1e's The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth in 1982 is a fantastic mod full of encounters and adventures that keep players and DMs fully engaged. The plot involves investigating rumors of a lost treasure, with players exploring the wilderness and caves in search of fabled riches while on land and subterranean adventures.
It doesn't have the best storyline, as it follows the old school system of a certain number of encounters with little scenes tying them together, but that doesn't spoil the fun. There are enough hints throughout the mod that DMs should be able to fill in the gaps themselves, and even tweak this mod into their current DnD campaign setup or even homebrew.
Tomb Of Horrors Was Designed To Be A Challenge In D&D
Tomb of Horrors was first published in 1978, although it was originally written and used for the Origins 1 conference in 1975. the grave of the title is demilich Acererak, who was later brought into the 5th edition of DnD in Tomb of Doom. The plot is simple: the adventure party must battle the hordes of monsters in the Tomb and defeat Acererak, but what really sets Tomb of Horrors apart from other dungeon crawls are the deadly traps, many of which have no immunity.
The fact that Gary Gygax designed Tomb of Horrors to be nearly unbeatable doesn't mean that many haven't tried it, as it's considered the ultimate challenge for DnD players. Tomb of Horrors 1st Edition is notorious among veteran DnD players for its traps and grueling fight against Acererak himself, and it's a great campaign for powerful high-level characters looking to test their mettle. It has been adapted into a 5th edition and can be found at Yawning Portal's Tales.
White Plume Moutain Requires Some Clever Thinking
In the White Plume Mountain mod, first released in 1979, the player is sent on a quest to find three magical, sentient weapons after being stolen. Each weapon was brought to Mount White Feather by the wizard Karaptis, followed by a challenging but classic DnD dungeon crawl fighting ogres, vampires, and even seals lion.
The amount of traps makes Hakuba particularly difficult, but for the brain teaser crowd, this DnD mod is great fun. White Plume Moutain has an atmosphere that sets it apart from other dungeon crawlers, and like Tomb of Horrors has also been adapted for 5e and can be found in the Yawning Portal story.
The Temple of Elemental Evil Is The Classic D&D Dungeon
First released in 1985, Temple of Elemental Evil is one of DnD's most classic mods, with all the hallmarks that made the 1st Edition adventure iconic. There are traditional towns for players to rest and resupply, the stories themselves of self-made powerful god-level DnD characters, and iconic multi-level dungeons full of traps and classic monsters.
The plot itself is nice and straightforward, with the player having to defeat the raiders who threaten Hommlet's village. After they base themselves in the village, they can explore the temple itself, eventually meeting and fighting Zuggtmoy. Temple of Elemental Evil is the dungeon crawl that everyone else is now compared to, and there's a reason it's still considered one of the best.
D&D's Expedition To The Barrier Peaks Is Not What Players Will Expect
Expedition 1980's Barrier Peaks is a brilliant take on a traditional fantasy RPG plot. In the beginning, the player is sent to investigate a cave in the mountains, and once there, the group discovers that the cave is actually the entrance of a downed spaceship. The ship is filled with robots, monsters, and futuristic loot like the blaster guns and power armor commonly found in more classic sci-fi tabletop role-playing games. Expeditions to Barrier Peaks span genres and offer entirely unique adventures. It's completely self-contained, which means it will plug neatly into any other long-running activity.
Enjoy the Mystery With D&D's The Sinister Secret Of Saltmarsh
First published in 1981, The Sinister Secret of the Salt Marsh is a fantastic adventure in two parts. The haunted house sends players to the town of Salt Marsh and, as the name suggests, deals with the haunted houses on the edge of town. As the party continues to unravel the mysteries of the salt marshes, sea ghosts continue to tell the story.
The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, one of the first adventures in the first edition, is more story-driven and uses clever storytelling to keep the party on track. Players have to investigate dungeons, not dungeon crawls Town, discover clues and make allies. This DnD mod focuses on making the story unfold through exploration rather than monsters, bringing the sinister secrets of Salt Marsh to the fore. This module was adapted and expanded in Ghosts of the Salt Marsh 5th Edition, with the haunted house and sea ghosts forming the second chapter of the campaign.
Ravenloft And Strahd Are D&D Classics
Finally, one of the most famous version 1 mods is Ravenloft, first released in 1983 and the debut of everyone's favorite villain Strahd von Zarovich. Ravenloft combines fantasy and gothic horror to create a wonderful atmosphere. The result is an adventure filled with vampire lore without getting bogged down in too many overused DnD tropes that DMs like to avoid.
This mod uses a unique DM system to determine certain aspects of the plot. Before the game begins, the DM draws five cards from a six-card deck. These cards will then determine the location of the magic item, where the player can find the Tome of Strahd's Tale of Strahd, the location of Strahd himself, and finally, his motivations throughout the adventure.
Strahd and Barovia impress DnD players, So much so that the mod has been updated and re-released several times. Its latest update adapts it to version 5 in Curse of Strahd. Ravenloft showed that Dungeons & Dragons modules must not only be dungeon crawls, but also deep character-driven narratives.
More: D&D: Downtime helps DMs and players invest in the world