Worst Dungeons & Dragons product ever!!!
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2004 2:03 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
I can actually fill up ten posts with examples of $20 (not to mention $25, $30, $40 and $50) products that cannot be used, but truthfully ROM was not one of them.  I found placing my own encounters...hell, my own entire adventures....within the framework of the dungeon challenging.  





Framework?  What framework?  It sounds like you spent $20 for four big maps and made your own adventure from scratch.  That's cool, but why spend the $20 in the first place then?  



Badmike wrote:
I created my own backstory (Halaster was a legend that didn't exist, and the true purpose of the dungeon was even more sinister...).





Sounds good.  



Badmike wrote:
The idea of a 1000+ room dungeon being placid enough to place 1000's of set encounters is ludicrous...such a structure would be more fluid, with small power bases, random type encounters, and targets of opportunity (roving bands of deadly creatures).  I think you missed the entire point of the product,





The point of the product is to provide a workable adventure for the DM to use with some tweaking... but not an entire workload from scratch.  It's like buying a slice of pizza without the cheese or the sauce.  What's the point?  And why am I spending so much money for just the crust in the first place when I was promised a complete slice?  



Badmike wrote:
but I've always been surpised (even sometimes shocked) by DM's who run prepackaged modules absolutely exactly as written, with not even an iota of imagination or ingenuity involved.  





RoM was completely unrunnable from the time the box was opened.  Hours and hours of preparation would be necessary to come close to being able to run it.  



Badmike wrote:
Which is why there are tons of crappy DMs out there, myself not being one luckily.   I mean, technically, S2 White Plume Mountain give the characters involved one of the most overpowered and campaign wrecking magic items ever devised...and so most of my contemporaries had their campaigns immediately wrecked after they ran the module and characters decided to keep Stormbringer....err, Blackrazor I mean...for themselves.  Many of them just shook their heads with glum resignation as they told me the story.  They were so locked into running the adventure as written they allowed it to destroy whatever campaign they had running..when the solution was as simple as having the item work differently than written, or having it stolen from the PCs almost immediately by a more powerful being, or having it corrupt and destroy the wielder after a short period of time...in short, something anyone with imagination and vision would have come up with.  





Yep.



Badmike wrote:
    As relating to ROM, I guess I like a basic structure, plotline or locale with some specific encounters, characters or the like, and I enjoy working up the rest myself.  





But you didn't even use the basic structure of Halaster.  Your version sounds a lot cooler actually.  You should take all your notes from the 3-year campaign and ship them to WotC for a revised version of RoM.  



Badmike wrote:
Then again, I have quite an imagination, and have been told by almost everyone I've DMed the last 25 years that I'm the best DM they have ever had.  If I could turn the worst D&D module ever into a three and a half year campaign for 7 players and 17 adventuring characters, then I guess I'll accept my gold medal....damn, I have got to start charging these guys for my services any day now.   :wink:





You didn't take the worst module in history and spin it into gold, you took the slightest veneer of the worst and most incomplete module in history and made it your own creation from practically nothing.  



Badmike wrote:
  BTW, if you wanted a superdungeon fleshed out entirely room by room, there was always WGR1 Greyhawk Ruins.  Now, THAT was a piece of shit, and a good example of why what you wanted doesn't work.





WGR1 was not one of the best, but at least it was runnable with some reworking.  RoM gives one practically nothing to start with.  There's no point to the product.  And the product could have been done well if they put together something such as you did for your campaign.  Your post answered your own question of how RoM could have worked as a product.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2004 4:33 pm 
 

nn wrote:Second Edition AD&D.



Not because its bad per se: if you gave me amnesia and showed me both AD&D ruels I might even prefer 2E to 1E.



No, what sucks so much is the sheer cheek of T$R trying to make you spend vasts amounts on a "new" game which was in fact 99% the same as the old one.




In contrast to 3rd Edition and 3.5 Edition D&D, which tried to make you spend vast amounts of money on a game that was entirely different than the one they had you spending money on the first 25+ years of their existence.



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Post Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2004 4:54 pm 
 

dathon wrote:WGR1 was not one of the best, but at least it was runnable with some reworking.  RoM gives one practically nothing to start with.  There's no point to the product.  And the product could have been done well if they put together something such as you did for your campaign.  Your post answered your own question of how RoM could have worked as a product.


Well, we can agree to disagree on this one I guess. Maybe you are partially right, in no way was ROM a "Open the box and play" type adventure...I think it did require at least a bit of preparation, and was definitely not for a beginning DM or for someone willing to at least work up a plausable back-story or campaign thread.  There was an element of preparation that had to be done, true.  And I know from times when I was swamped with work or school the last 20+ years you can't always do as much preparation as you would like.
   But cmon, there wasn't at least $20 worth of playability there?  I can name several different areas without even digging out the box....the Beholder slaving camp, the Dark Tentacles lair, the Yuan ti stronghold, The Stalking Sword evil adventuring group's lair, Lord Hund's tomb, the Black Viper's lair...that you could completely pull out of the product and use as  either a mini-adventure or as part of a larger complex.  
    But in defense, I've dug out the old Dragon Mountain boxed set, and reading it over, it would take hours and hours to also make that over into some kind of structure I (or anyone else as far as I can see) could run, and that's even more detailed than ROM.   I was very disappointed in WGR1 because rooms are often nothing more than lists of monsters and their stats, I guess I was expecting something different, like you were with ROM.  And your point was well-taken about ROM working better as a product with more insight, years later I found a website where gamers were asked to leave complete descriptions of different room encounters that could be found on different levels of UM.  I think it ended up being several dozen rooms/encounters fully fleshed out.  Maybe if TSR had solicited from the public at large (though this was in the T$R days when merely posting what would be today considered a blog that mentioned D&D would lead to a legal challenge) they could have filled another 20%-30% percent of the rooms indicated and made for a more detailed product.
    BTW, curiously, did you ever look at the Ruins of Myth Drannor boxed set?  You must have REALLY hated that one...even less detailed than ROM and covering even more territory!!!!
   
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2004 8:44 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:Well, we can agree to disagree on this one I guess. Maybe you are partially right, in no way was ROM a "Open the box and play" type adventure...I think it did require at least a bit of preparation, and was definitely not for a beginning DM or for someone willing to at least work up a plausable back-story or campaign thread.  There was an element of preparation that had to be done, true.  And I know from times when I was swamped with work or school the last 20+ years you can't always do as much preparation as you would like.
   But cmon, there wasn't at least $20 worth of playability there?  I can name several different areas without even digging out the box....the Beholder slaving camp, the Dark Tentacles lair, the Yuan ti stronghold, The Stalking Sword evil adventuring group's lair, Lord Hund's tomb, the Black Viper's lair...that you could completely pull out of the product and use as  either a mini-adventure or as part of a larger complex.  


The stuff that was there was often quite good.  That was why it was so disappointing that they left the other 80% of the dungeon "empty."  
I was really curious to see how they would put together a massive dungeon crawl that would make some sense.  

Badmike wrote:But in defense, I've dug out the old Dragon Mountain boxed set, and reading it over, it would take hours and hours to also make that over into some kind of structure I (or anyone else as far as I can see) could run, and that's even more detailed than ROM.  


Every published adventure takes some preparation, but RoM was a ton since 80% of it was undeveloped.  At least Dragon Mountain was mostly fleshed out even though it would still need some reworking.  

Badmike wrote:I was very disappointed in WGR1 because rooms are often nothing more than lists of monsters and their stats, I guess I was expecting something different, like you were with ROM.  


The problem with both products in essence is that the designers at TSR decided to tackle huge dungeon complexes but would not have the pages necessary to fully flesh them out.  In RoM they did a good job on the 20% that they did but left the other 80% empty.  In WGR1 there were some good parts, but much of it suffered from not having enough pages to fully develop every nook and cranny.  It became the worst of the old JG products with monsters in almost every room but with no context except stats.  

Badmike wrote:And your point was well-taken about ROM working better as a product with more insight, years later I found a website where gamers were asked to leave complete descriptions of different room encounters that could be found on different levels of UM.  I think it ended up being several dozen rooms/encounters fully fleshed out.  Maybe if TSR had solicited from the public at large (though this was in the T$R days when merely posting what would be today considered a blog that mentioned D&D would lead to a legal challenge) they could have filled another 20%-30% percent of the rooms indicated and made for a more detailed product.


What you described of your version of RoM sounds much better than the product itself off the shelf.  Unfortunately, the rest of us didn't get Badmike's notes and development of RoM, but instead got a box set that was purported to be complete but still needed a lot of work.  A good DM can take any published adventure and spin gold from it with enough time, care and attention, even WG9 Gargoyle.  

Badmike wrote:BTW, curiously, did you ever look at the Ruins of Myth Drannor boxed set?  You must have REALLY hated that one...even less detailed than ROM and covering even more territory!!!!


I have it but never looked at it in any detail.  By that time the precedent had been set that FR box set adventures would usually be "incomplete."  RoMII was an exception to this, though the quality was nowhere near what was in the original RoM.  Another FR box set that really irked me was Menzoberranzan.  It was one of the first $30 box sets, and supposed to be a complete look at a Drow city, but it didn't even contain a map grid of this "small" Drow city.  I was expecting something along the lines of the City of Greyhawk box set with a big map of the city and all the most important establishments, businesses and city buildings labeled with descriptions, but instead I got a two paragraph excuse in one of the booklets that the designers were not going to do that because it would take up too much space.  Instead they provided me with a ton of narrative that I like to create myself.  

And I guess this is what it comes down to with published adventures in my case.  When I plunk down my money to use an adventure, I want the designers to take the grunt work out of DM-ing for me.  I'll provide the narrative and hook for the players, that's the fun part that can be tailored to each group of players and their characters.  That's why the classics like Keep on the Borderlands, Slavelords and Against the Giants are so great.  They provide the barebones framework and raison d'etre, and the DM fleshes it out and provides the narrative to make it a living, breathing and believable universe.  The designers should do the grunt work, and the DM should get to have fun with it.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:15 pm 
 

dathon wrote:
Badmike wrote:BTW, curiously, did you ever look at the Ruins of Myth Drannor boxed set?  You must have REALLY hated that one...even less detailed than ROM and covering even more territory!!!!


I have it but never looked at it in any detail.  By that time the precedent had been set that FR box set adventures would usually be "incomplete."  RoMII was an exception to this, though the quality was nowhere near what was in the original RoM.  Another FR box set that really irked me was Menzoberranzan.  It was one of the first $30 box sets, and supposed to be a complete look at a Drow city, but it didn't even contain a map grid of this "small" Drow city.  I was expecting something along the lines of the City of Greyhawk box set with a big map of the city and all the most important establishments, businesses and city buildings labeled with descriptions, but instead I got a two paragraph excuse in one of the booklets that the designers were not going to do that because it would take up too much space.  Instead they provided me with a ton of narrative that I like to create myself.  


Menzoberranzan was a terrible disappointment, I guess I was upset for the same reasons you didn't like UM.  Beautiful maps, nice background info on the drow and houses, and one not very interesting or playable adventure, to top it off very little detail of a huge drow city!  Now I do say over the years I've managed to salvage bits and pieces of the boxed set for my own campaign (I'm using the underground trading city of Manitol Derith in one of my campaigns), but on the whole I'd rate this as you did UM...almost useless if you want to use it right out of the box.
    Speaking of useless products and boxed sets, is there any sane reason why TSR placed the entire D&D campaign series (Basic, Expert, Companion, Master and Immortals) in boxes? These were all just two slim booklets which could have all been combined into one really useful rulebook or boxed set, instead of having to pay $18 or so each for all five boxed sets. For god's sake, none of these even had a map inside!!!!

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 2:02 pm 
 

N4. Did anyone actually enjoy N4?


Whoops. I meant N3. Now that was a stinking pile of cr*p. My group actually had someone walk away from the table out of sheer boredom when we played that one. Then they reprinted it for 2E. Whose bright marketing idea was that?

N4 wasn't bad - although it took some work on the part of the DM.

Speaking of useless products and boxed sets, is there any sane reason why TSR placed the entire D&D campaign series (Basic, Expert, Companion, Master and Immortals) in boxes? These were all just two slim booklets which could have all been combined into one really useful rulebook or boxed set, instead of having to pay $18 or so each for all five boxed sets. For god's sake, none of these even had a map inside!!!!


Good point. I always wondered that myself. Guess the box helped them to justify charging the prices they did...

  

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 2:16 pm 
 

zander wrote:
N4. Did anyone actually enjoy N4?


Whoops. I meant N3. Now that was a stinking pile of cr*p. My group actually had someone walk away from the table out of sheer boredom when we played that one. Then they reprinted it for 2E. Whose bright marketing idea was that?

N4 wasn't bad - although it took some work on the part of the DM.

...


Isn't N3 Destiny of Kings the one AD&D adventure that has no non-human foes, aka monsters?  Yeh, I remember being surprised when they reprinted it for 2nd edition over many more worthy choices.  

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 3:57 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:Speaking of useless products and boxed sets, is there any sane reason why TSR placed the entire D&D campaign series (Basic, Expert, Companion, Master and Immortals) in boxes? These were all just two slim booklets which could have all been combined into one really useful rulebook or boxed set, instead of having to pay $18 or so each for all five boxed sets. For god's sake, none of these even had a map inside!!!!

Mike B.

The supposed idea was that as your characters achieved higher levels, you would go out and buy the additional rules.  Was there a real point to the boxes?  For Basic, I could see it, providing the box was large enough to store all the other books.  Everything else should have been shrinkwrapped on a backing board.

In terms of bad business blunders, nothing beats splitting the rules up into a player's book and GM's book.  In the Moldvay/Cook versions of the Basic and Expert books, all the rules were right there, easy to find.  In the later Mentzer printings, the rules in many cases were repeated between both books.  It just wasn't necessary to do that.

Of course, in 1991, all the rules (and few of the examples) from the first four sets were released as the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.  Immortals was heavily revised into the Wrath of the Immortals supplement.  But fewer people were playing D&D, instead pursuing AD&D.  In 1995, D&D got the axe, only to have the name borrowed by the pretender game, d20 Fantasy.



  

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 5:27 pm 
 

The Rules Cyclopedia is actually my favorite version of any D&D/AD&D game with the exception of 1st edition.

If you have never read the book - and I don't think too many people have - take a look, you'll be interested. The mechanics are great, the rules are streamlined and remarkably sensible. I have always thought it was AD&D first edition - reduced calorie version!


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

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 8:10 pm 
 

bbarsh wrote:The Rules Cyclopedia is actually my favorite version of any D&D/AD&D game with the exception of 1st edition.

If you have never read the book - and I don't think too many people have - take a look, you'll be interested. The mechanics are great, the rules are streamlined and remarkably sensible. I have always thought it was AD&D first edition - reduced calorie version!


Agreed, the Rules Cyclopedia was a nice piece of work and how TSR should have done it in the first place rather than the box sets.

  


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:44 am 
 

Castles & Crusades, the new Gygaxian game, is going back to AD&D / Rules Cyclopedia basics, and the playtesters seem really excited about it.  You can follow the tester threads at ENworld and such.
:D

  

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Post Posted: Sun Aug 22, 2004 2:46 pm 
 

darkseraphim wrote:Castles & Crusades, the new Gygaxian game, is going back to AD&D / Rules Cyclopedia basics, and the playtesters seem really excited about it.  You can follow the tester threads at ENworld and such.
:D

I know I am, and I'm one of the inactive playtesters (got to see the rules, but had no real time to dissect them and actually play them).  The Trolls have done a fine job with this game so far, but there is still much more to go before the hardcovers are released.



  

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:12 pm 
 

One product I forgot about, how about the D&D products released with the sound effect CDs?  Specifically, Hail the Heroes, Night of the Vampire, Mark of Amber.  Not the adventures themselves, but the CDs.  Did anyone out there actually use the CD's while playing the game?  What a stop down, to have to click around on the stereo remote whenever characters run into encounter 22 or whatever, then hear boots clopping down a staircase.

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2004 1:17 pm 
 

>The supposed idea was that as your characters achieved higher levels, >you would go out and buy the additional rules. Was there a real point to >the boxes? For Basic, I could see it, providing the box was large >enough to store all the other books. Everything else should have been >shrinkwrapped on a backing board.

Well, one practical use of the Basic-Immortal set boxes was that you could store several extra modules (or maps or characters) in the box with the appropriate rule set...for example some of the CM modules in with the Companion set rules. I actually have my stuff stored away like this right now...cuts down on the amount of storage space required.

Of course, the boxes aren't the most sturdy of constructions...

My vote for most worthless module was XSOLO1 - Lathan's Gold.

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 5:36 am 
 

As for the   Quality of Materials used to make a product - the worst appears to be the 2nd edition "Black" Hardcover books.  The surface layer seems to "split" with the slightest stress leaving "open wounds" on the edges/corners and especially the binding.

I have had unused copies that appear perfect and upon carefully opening the book, the surface splits along the spine (usually at the top/bottom).

If you have a MINT copy, keep it stored away and NEVER open it.  In another 10 years I am sure that any undamaged copies will instantly "break" upon being opened for the first time.

I still stand by the Monstrous Compendium being the   Worst Product Concept.

As far as the   Quality of the Written Material. . .  I don't know. . . maybe Leaves From the Inn of the Last Home?  (or maybe More Leaves From the Inn of the Last Home - I never read it, but I can't imagine it was better than the original.)


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 5:26 pm 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:As for the   Quality of Materials used to make a product - the worst appears to be the 2nd edition "Black" Hardcover books.  The surface layer seems to "split" with the slightest stress leaving "open wounds" on the edges/corners and especially the binding.


How about the first printing of the Unearthed Arcana, didn't pages 6-32 fall out of virtually every book?

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 5:32 pm 
 

Yep.

And half of the Complete Wizards had defective binding, so that the pages popped right off the cover.  At least they stayed bound to each other, though.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 8:23 pm 
 

All my gaming pals bought Unearthed Arcana when it first came out at Gencon coincidently, enought. Mine was the only to hold its pages. Still does to this day. Of course, I haven't opened the thing in probably 10 years, but who's counting. 8O


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

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 9:08 pm 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:As far as the   Quality of the Written Material. . .  I don't know. . . maybe Leaves From the Inn of the Last Home?  (or maybe More Leaves From the Inn of the Last Home - I never read it, but I can't imagine it was better than the original.)


Oh come on!  It had a recipe for woodchuck in it!  You can hardly go wrong.

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2004 10:43 pm 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:As for the   Quality of Materials used to make a product - the worst appears to be the 2nd edition "Black" Hardcover books.  The surface layer seems to "split" with the slightest stress leaving "open wounds" on the edges/corners and especially the binding.

I have had unused copies that appear perfect and upon carefully opening the book, the surface splits along the spine (usually at the top/bottom).



Speaking of, wasn't the original Players Handbook/Monster Manual/DMG the BEST quality items ever?  I still have my originals from the late 70's, and they are usuable. Almost every copy I run into, no matter how much use and love it's been given, could still be used today...I've never seen pages fall out of these, ever.  You could drop a fricken CASTLE on these and I think you could still dust them off an use them.
     Ahhhh, nostalgia.
    Besides the Unearthed Arcana, the first print of Oriental Adventures suffered the same loose pages syndrome.

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