The Official Acaeum Top 30 adventures of all time
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:51 pm 
 

Afrika Corps wrote:Of course im not saying there werent some good ones in that batch.. but I think 2nd edition had many more of much higher quality that seems to be totally left out...

Which makes sense.  A lot of folks on here don't play/collect anything after 1E.  ;)

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:18 am 
 

Afrika Corps wrote:many of the earlier 1st edition mods were not that good, in fact they were rather crude and simplistic.


You say that as if there were something wrong with that. 8O  :lol:
But there is something to be said about simplicity. Many of those modules ran effortlessly and they were fun!!! Something missing in many of the later mods.

All kidding aside, I think you can see that most of those lists have at least 50% commonality. Out of the 100 or so TSR mods for D&D and first edition, we are seeing the same 10-15 on virtually everyone's list.

I am beginning to think we need to do a worst 30 of all time...


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:50 am 
 

Afrika Corps wrote:Im not trying to pick bones with any of you all but... the list seems to be a lil snobbish or maybe just fixed in a trance of nostalgia.. many of the earlier 1st edition mods were not that good, in fact they were rather crude and simplistic.


See I care to differ.  I think with a few exceptions most of the stuff produced for 2nd edition was flat out garbage.  To be 100% honest, most of the stuff for first edition after EGG had his company stolen from him was also garbage IMO.


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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:57 am 
 

bbarsh wrote:I am beginning to think we need to do a worst 30 of all time...

I'm willing to bet more than one module would appear on both lists...

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:19 am 
 

Afrika Corps wrote:but I think 2nd edition had many more of much higher quality that seems to be totally left out...

Which I'm guessing would probably be reflected if this survey were being conducted at Dragonsfoot or some other general interest D&D-related site. However, the survey is being conducted here, at The Acaeum, a site which lists the following on its information page:

"What You'll Find Here:
Indexes of all Dungeons & Dragons items produced by TSR up through roughly 1989."

"What You Won't Find Here:
Much information at all on items produced 1990 and later."

I realize there's some edition crossover in the dates mentioned there, but it's more than obvious that this is a D&D- and AD&D 1e-centric site. The results you're seeing are less a result of "snobbishness" than a result of where the survey is being conducted.

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:27 am 
 

deimos3428 wrote:I'm willing to bet more than one module would appear on both lists...

Agreed. There's more than one old-school D&D adventure that would fit into the "love it or hate it" category. The "puzzle" modules — including my beloved White Plume Mountain — are the first group that springs to my mind. Some Judges Guild stuff also seems to produce wildly varied reactions, too (at least in my experience).

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 5:28 am 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:Which I'm guessing would probably be reflected if this survey were being conducted at Dragonsfoot or some other general interest D&D-related site. However, the survey is being conducted here, at The Acaeum, a site which lists the following on its information page:

"What You'll Find Here:
Indexes of all Dungeons & Dragons items produced by TSR up through roughly 1989."

"What You Won't Find Here:
Much information at all on items produced 1990 and later."

I realize there's some edition crossover in the dates mentioned there, but it's more than obvious that this is a D&D- and AD&D 1e-centric site. The results you're seeing are less a result of "snobbishness" than a result of where the survey is being conducted.


well that aside either way, if i WAS including all the 2E gear, about the only 2E item i really liked was a paladin in hell. the rest i wasnt fussed with, so being "snobbish" or not, my list would most likely be the same. simple as.

Al


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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 6:14 am 
 

Howdy,


Afrika Corps wrote:Im not trying to pick bones with any of you all but... the list seems to be a lil snobbish or maybe just fixed in a trance of nostalgia.. many of the earlier 1st edition mods were not that good, in fact they were rather crude and simplistic.


I think that is an easy assumption to make: old = outdated/inferior and new = improved/better.

The following is what I think of this lost art and by no means am I singling you out Afrika. I think a lot of folks share your sentiment. So let me explain why I think the older module style was better and the ways in which they are superior to today's modern module/adventure style.

I will submit to you that there is a method and quality of these modules being written. Something that is unattainable by today's adventure writers simply due to the industry/distributor expectations and requirements. If Gygax came out with G1 today he'd be laughed at. "EIGHT pages!" They'd say. "Come back with something more than a highscool term paper please. And look buddy, there is no hook to make players want to play the adventure. Why would any one want to go on an adventure unless someone made them want to? Heck you even left unfinished areas. We color in all the lines around here. Try again when you finish it."

Distributors want a 250 page hardback that is a big chunk of change and easy to distribute. Not a bunch of paper thin dirt cheap folios. That's not good business.

The older modules have a skeletal form to be sure and many gray areas are left but that is intentional. It is much easier to add to a skeleton than it is to strip plot heavy fluff intertwined into a 32 page module that could have been done in 8, 12, or 16 pages.

They also have gray areas, also intentional. It is much easier to add something on the other side of collapsed tunnel or unspecified hook than it is to try to find space or logically fit something into a place where every corner is logically painted-in and every mystery explained in 12 glorious paragraphs.

Even the very architecture of these older modules was made for DM's. The outer folder served as a place to put the maps and to be stood up as a screen with some nice art to inspire, intimidate, or mislead players. (Holy cow a picture on the cover of the module that is totally misleading! The poor players!)

Today's companies would say, "A seperate cover is more expensive and harder to distribute. We'd have to shrinkwrap each copy or covers would be lost - what a distribution nightmare! To top it off there is an extra collation process that must be paid for. No way! DM's will just have to flip pages if they want to check maps!"

In older modules, handouts were placed in the middle so they could be removed at the staples or at the end where they could be detached along a perforation. That sort of behavior would be considered insane by 90% of companies making modules today. The booklet of the module itself was seperated from the outer folder and was saddlestitched - that means you can lay it flat! Whysoever would you want your module to lay flat and stay open to the right page? Todays companies would say, "Perfect bound copies or hardcovers are a better format because you can see the title on the spine. Who cares if you can't lay it flat?

Back to maps, is there anything more ridiculous than a 36" x 48" poster map for running an adventure. How exactly do you quickly glance at that in the middle of play. Where do you put it. It certainly won't fit on your DM screen.

So these "old school" modules are skeletal, with gray, unfinished, areas and are thin on plot hooks. This makes them the perfect tool for the widest variety of players. These modules do the grunt work for DM's, leaving the fun "color" and plot items to the DM's themselves so they can adapt them to their own campaign and players.

After nearly a year of play, 3-4 hours a week, 46 weeks out of the year. My players finished playing through G3. After battles, trick, plot twists, mysteries, surprise enemies, kidnappings, secret treasuries, betrayals, and weeks upon weeks of solid roleplaying and swords and sorcery butt kicking one of my players saw the module lying on the table and said, is that the final module?" I said yes. He returned, "So there were three modules for Snurre's Hall?" He was shocked when I revealed that the entire year's worth of intense adventuring, roleplaying, mystery solving was contained in a simple, crude looking 16 page, paper thin, booklet!

As to popularity, the numbers don't lie. The G series and S1 have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. I estimate G1-3 had well over half a million copies sold in it's various forms. Half a million! Do you think any adventure series will ever sell that many copies? No way. Maybe 20,000 40,000 copies at most!

So the formula for those older modules works and is a better tool for DM's than newer "better" modules. Even modules made in their image sell better! Goodman games is a perfect example of someone trying to emulate the old school modules and finding it is extremely popular. Why?

Last bit, I have an S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth that has had at least three owners. All of these guys used this module, made notes in the margins, and wrote their names on it. In one room, the room with the death-gaze demon (bodak), one guy wrote down all of the magic items and treasure carried by the party mebers that died there and were left or TPK'd. Then, a second guy, not having enough room did the same thing on post it note. Then my party, when I ran the adventure lost a few folks but destroyed the bodak. When they picked up the treasure, they got all of the loot left by the other parties! Playing these modules is like taking part in mythology. So whether one thinks Beowulf is simplistic or crude it has stood the test of time and will long after we are all gone. I have no doubt G1-3 will be played long after I am gone.


Futures Bright,

Paul


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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 7:37 am 
 

well said paul

couldnt have said it better myself.

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:03 pm 
 

killjoy32 wrote:couldnt have said it better myself.

Yeah, but you could have said it shorter -- that was almost as long as G1 itself!  :lol:

(I kid, because I care.)

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 6:04 pm 
 

killjoy32 wrote:
well that aside either way, if i WAS including all the 2E gear, about the only 2E item i really liked was a paladin in hell. the rest i wasnt fussed with, so being "snobbish" or not, my list would most likely be the same. simple as.

Al


I actually like 2nd edition.....we still play a modified form to this day.....and I think most of the boxed sets are of superior quality. This includes Ruins of Undermountain and Night Below which made my list.  Many of the Forgotten Realms boxed sets like Ruins of Zhentil Keep, Spellbound, Lands of Intrigue, the North, etc are superior to anything put out for 1st edition just because these sort of supplement were never released for 1st edition.
   Having said that, almost all adventure modules released for 2nd edition are pure crap.  The exceptions would be a small handful released just at 2nd edition was winding up in the late 90's.....Firestorm Peak, the Sahaughin trilogy, Paladin in Hell.  Unfortunately TSR's resources at this time were more engaged in game settings, and Dungeon Magazine had all the best adventures published by TSR from 1989 through 1990.  Now, if someone wants to start a Best of Dungeon Magazine list, a lot if not all of my favorites there would be 2nd edition....sounds like a good topic...

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 6:37 pm 
 

The Collector's Trove wrote:Howdy,

I think that is an easy assumption to make: old = outdated/inferior and new = improved/better.


So the formula for those older modules works and is a better tool for  DM's than newer "better" modules. Even modules made in their image sell better! Goodman games is a perfect example of someone trying to emulate the old school modules and finding it is extremely popular. Why?



     While many of the earliest modules suffered because of little explanatory or background text, today's adventure supplements are unfortunately buried ina  surfeit of what is surely TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!! I find most of today's modules/supplements unusable simply because wading through so much "informative" text that is instead superfluous exhausts me.  It's like all today's "game designers" have to show off their big brains and pad a perfectly good 20 page adventure to 50 pages lest they be thought slackers (don't even get me started on the what is probably excellent material now being published in $100+ boxed sets and 50 lb hardbacks.....)
  I really champion the stuff being put out in Dungeon magazine, both back in the day and even now.  They seem to really have the right mix of  background without bogging down the entire enterprise with pages of motivation from every NPC in the neighborhood, history of the area going back 10000 years, and entire pantheons that have to be described.  That's why a lot of the old school stuff was so great....it was easily worked into YOUR own campaign without having to redline 25+ pages of fluff.

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 7:24 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
     While many of the earliest modules suffered because of little explanatory or background text, today's adventure supplements are unfortunately buried ina  surfeit of what is surely TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!! I find most of today's modules/supplements unusable simply because wading through so much "informative" text that is instead superfluous exhausts me.  It's like all today's "game designers" have to show off their big brains and pad a perfectly good 20 page adventure to 50 pages lest they be thought slackers (don't even get me started on the what is probably excellent material now being published in $100+ boxed sets and 50 lb hardbacks.....)
 


I really think that one of the reason adventures/settings began to get so much more detailed in the 90's is because a large segment of the "buying population" was never actually going to play them!  How many times have you seen collections that were never used?  How often are the maps attached, all inserts intact, no writing on any pages . . .

I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of RPG merchandise is sold to people who never will play . . . so the books and adventures are designed more and more for a single reader to enjoy.

Hell, the only current RPG I buy is Warhammer 2nd Edition . . . I buy everything that comes out - I love it!  But I'll never play . . . I haven't gamed in 15 years and there's no hope for it anytime with the next decade (two decades . . . )

If TSR/WotC only sold products that were going to be put to use . . . there wouldn't even be any RPG games now.  White Wolf certainly would have never gotten off the ground!


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Post Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 10:53 pm 
 

1.   U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
A great low-level module with a great storyline, which of course is a hook for an entire trilogy of adventures…  Out on a cliff overlooking the sea, a dilapidated, supposedly haunted house is being used as a front by criminals.  Beneath the house is a secret labyrinth of tunnels and sea caves, including a cave big enough to contain an entire pirate ship!  [Did anyone else besides me leave the movie "Goonies" with the thought that TSR ought to sue the filmmakers for stealing so many elements from this game?]

2.   T1 The Village of Hommlet
Another great intro game for new players…  I guess low-level modules were important to me, because as one of the only DMs in my area I was always introducing new people to the game.  If I wasn't getting their feet wet in the U1 sea caves, then I was throwing brigands at them in the moathouse ruins just outside of Hommlet...  I liked how the moathouse random encounter table included sounds that could be heard by the adventure party, not just monster encounters…  

3.   C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
I will never forget --as a neophyte player --being berated by the 1hp talking crayfish, then acting all tough as I stepped on him with a resounding crunch, only to awaken the giant crab ("boulder with a stick of bamboo leaning against it") that was sitting right beside him…  I would later enjoy DM'ing the talking crayfish, giving players quite the tongue-lashing.  The gas of dreadful sleep trap outside the sepulcher of Tocas Popolocas was quite wicked.  That whole section of the game was extremely well done.  Never played it with the tourney rules.

4.   I6 Ravenloft
The module that adventure parties never tired of!  No one ever managed to kill Strahd when I ran this one.  Usually it was the players all getting killed.  But it was loads of fun (with atmosphere to burn!), and the players kept coming back for more.  I totally enjoyed the quasi-3D maps of Strahd's castle.

5.   G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
Classic dialogue after a fight at Jarl's place…
DM: Okay, you finally killed the giant.  Roll the dice to see what you find in his pack.
<sound of dice rolling>
DM: Okay… um…  you find a hunk of moldy, stinky cheese…

6.   S1 Tomb of Horrors
As a player I actually made it to the encounter with the demi-lich.  I'm fairly sure my DM was cheating to make sure I lived long enough to get there.  And *that's* where I got killed.

7.    S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
The description of Drelzna's spherical tomb and her treasures is one of the main reasons that I love BOXED TEXT to this day.  This, and perhaps the boxed description of the exterior of the Temple of Elemental Evil are my faves...  The biggest beef I have with pre-produced modules of latter periods is the decline of the use of evocatively written boxed text.  As a player I loved hearing it, and as a DM I loved reading it --with high drama --to the players.  Maybe I'm just too bookish, but bring back BOXED TEXT I say!

8.   DA2 Temple of the Frog
Dave Arneson was a master of bringing fully realized personalities to his NPCs.  I actually liked this re-tooled version of the scenario over the originally published edition.

9.   I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City
An example of a module where being attacked over-and-over again by legions of the same type of creature was *not* a boring night of adventure.  

10.   T2-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil
Thrilling, and hard as hell… with lots of that juicy BOXED TEXT that I like so much!

11.   UK4 When a Star Falls
12.   G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King
13.   I3 Pharoah
14.   D3 Vault of the Drow
15.   UK6 All That Glitters…
16.   EX1 Dungeonland
17.   B1 In Search of the Unknown
18.   X2 Castle Amber  
19.   B10 Night's Dark Terror
20.   S2 White Plume Mountain


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Post Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 12:59 am 
 

Africa Korps wrote:

Im not trying to pick bones with any of you all but... the list seems to be a lil snobbish or maybe just fixed in a trance of nostalgia.. many of the earlier 1st edition mods were not that good, in fact they were rather crude and simplistic. "


I hear where you're coming from--as was pointed out in a later post to yours, the Acaeum site really doesn't cover much 2e D&D; I've found a few Dragonlance-realted modules that aren't in the Acaeum list, for example.  However, if you would go to the thread marked "Back in the Day (BITD)" here, you'll find, as I did to my great surprise and pleasure, that there is still some fondness and fun for OD&D/1eD&D/AD&D 1e modules, for any number of reasons.  Many of those who posted on THIS thread posted on THAT thread--I thank you for your replies and hope there are more to come :) ;  many of the replies left me with great memories, while some of the stories left me out of breath from laughing so hard :!:  :D

As to the length-of-module question which came up in a later (to yours) post, I offer the Dungeon Crawl Classics series.  Yes, they DO advertise as "1e feel, 3.5e rules", but most of these are short (less than 32 pages), and some even go back to 1e rules.  (I am looking at the 1e version of DCC #12.5The Iron Crypt of the Heretics, which the 1e version was done for a gaming convention in 1e rules.  I have both versions, and am looking forward to the chance to compare them!!)

  

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:20 am 
 

1) Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth S4
2) Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun WG4
3) Tomb of Horrors S1
4) Queen of the Demonweb Pits Q1
5) Hall of the Fire Giant King G3
6) Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl G2
7) Expedition to the Barrier Peaks S3
8 ) Dwellers of the Forbidden City I1
9) Descent into the Depths of the Earth D1
10) Tomb of the Lizard King I2
11) Againt the Cult of the Reptile God N1
12) Secret of Bone Hill L1
13) Village of Hommlet T1
14) Shrine of the Kuo-Toa D2
15) Steading of the Hill Giant Chief G1
16) Ravenloft I6
17) Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan C1
18 ) Ghost Tower of Inverness C2
19) Dungeonland EX1 (what can I say? I always had fun DMing it!)
20) Keep on the Borderlands B2

My list is definitely devoted to 1st edition AD&D . . . due to recent discussions, I'd like to point out that it's not because of any "snobbishness" or nostalgic devotion to the early days - I simply have never played any 2nd edition or later adventures . . . I never played (nor wanted to play) BECMI D&D either - except for B2 which gets a spot at number 20 for honorable mention.

Of note . . . no A series mods (hated them) and no S2 White Plume Mountain (hated it - sorry Xaxaxe!  :D )


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Post Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:37 pm 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:and no S2 White Plume Mountain (hated it - sorry Xaxaxe!  :D )

Don't listen to him, beloved WPM! He knows not of what he speaks! :)

Actually, I'll be interested to see if WPM can even hang on for a top-20 spot when BC is done tabulating. An informal scan of the lists so far reveals that it's been left off of quite a few lists and placed only in the bottom half of a few others. My first-place vote is going to have to carry the day! :)

Like Deimos5477 brought up a few posts ago: some adventures probably would make both a top-30 and bottom-30 list.

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 2:43 pm 
 

hey X

just as an aside on the top20, i really like S2, but the group were never fussed about playing it.

once they got up into them sorta levels, it always became a "lets do the giants" etc... and so that was that :)

shame though cos it is a cool mod - i am determined to run it at some point.

Al

ps. we did play S3 as a one-off once though - that was pretty good fun


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