Ongoing Research                 Updated:  May 29th, 2018                 Home Up

Believe it or not, we don't know everything there is to know about this hobby!  While we actively search out additional information on anything listed on The Acaeum, we're especially interested in learning about the items below.  If you know something we don't, please write to us.  Even a seemingly insignificant tidbit is important.  (Open research items are identified with a bullet and red text).

Artwork Reproductions.  Mentioned on the back page of early printings of the Original D&D booklet Men & Magic (as well as in Strategic Review #1), these were supposedly three sets of clear, 8 1/2" x 11" reproductions of monster artwork, five monsters per set.  According to Dave Sutherland (an artist with TSR in the early days), the sets were an idea of Tim Kask's (editor of The Dragon magazine), but were never actually produced. (Thanks to Keith Dalluhn for this info).  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

BX1 (or SX1) Islandia Campaign.  An unreleased module, based on previous modules by "The Companions", and authored by William John Wheeler and Peter L. Rice (the cover artist erred).  TSR earmarked a stock # (9216) for it, and cooked up a pre-production cover (shown here; incidentally, it's the cover artwork from Dragon #86).  Official mention of the module was made in the 1987 TSR Fall Catalog (where the scan came from; thanks to Curt Gould): a supermodule (128 pages), comprised of four sections entitled "The Curse of Hareth", "Plague of Terror", "Brotherhood of the Bolt", and "Street of Gems".  It was scheduled to be released in December of 1987.  TSR Worlds issue #1 newsletter describes the module's campaign world of Islandia (which was to be separated from the normal D&D world by "strange ocean currents") having an emphasis on "limiting power", with character levels maxing out at 10th level and magic items being hard to come by.  Of course, this "maxing out" feature is contradicted by the cover scan, showing the module is for characters levels 10-14!  This module was never produced.  Author John Wheeler states: "The campaign, as written, WAS for low level characters.  I believe the cover art was a hurry-up job, and it had no relationship to anything inside.  Furthermore, the material I sold to TSR only included The Curse on Hareth, Plague of Terror (highly edited), and Brotherhood of the Bolt.  It did NOT include Streets of Gems nor Gems for Death.  Also, Sacrifices to the Orc Lords was never more than sketched out, though maps had been drawn and some adventure areas detailed.  No plot line had been developed when The Companions folded."  Contributor Tim Kindred, who was present during much of the design sessions of the modules, relates that in order to create a realistic geographic setting for the world, a topo map of the state of Maine was obtained, and flooded to a depth of 500 meters.  What remained became Islandia.  Module code BX1 should not be confused with B/X1, the code on the UK version of B10 Night's Dark Terror.  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.  (Thanks to Tim Kindred, John Rateliff, Adam Shultz, and John Wheeler for help with this info).

City Geomorphs.  We were pretty sure that this actually existed... until several people failed to cough up a scan.  Those that did were confusing this rumored accessory with Outdoor Geomorphs Set One: Walled City.  Legend has it that City Geomorphs was released at a convention in West Chester, PA (Origins?) at the TSR booth.  Supposedly, it was similar in size and style to the Dungeon Geomorphs, i.e. blue print on cardstock, with two full geomorphic squares and a semi-geomorphic rectangle on each sheet, at a scale of 1 square = 20 feet.  There were sections with no wall, sections with square towered walls, sections with round towered walls, a palace and a citadel.  It came with a sheet giving DMs hints on how to write up a city and a list of possible city locations and occupations.  Quite possibly, City Geomorphs was a pre-publication version of the aforementioned Outdoor Geomorphs.  Due to the relative lack of evidence, this research item is considered closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

City of Brass modules.  Rumor had it that Robert Kuntz, one of the founding fathers of D&D, wrote a three-part adventure for the 1987 DragonCon RPGA tournament.  The adventure was The City of Brass, and the three parts were To the City of Brass (available in our Library section), Within the City of Brass, and Beneath the City of Brass.  The actual tournament module used was To the City of Brass; the latter two segments were never created. (Thanks to Erik Mona and Robert Kuntz for this info).  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

DA5 City of Blackmoor.  See below, Mystara vaporware.  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

Daystar West Eye of the Dragon.  Another Daystar West module, Eye of the Dragon, was planned but never produced.  The Hickmans did, however, run off five hundred copies of the planned cover, which put them in a significant financial hole -- prompting them to make arrangements with TSR for the sale of Pharaoh, Rahasia, and Ravenloft.  The Hickmans apparently still have all copies of this module cover in storage at their home.  Thanks to David Smith for this info.  We recently obtained a scan of the cover (thanks to Jeff Imrie), which you can view here.  Along with the scan is this descriptive text: "Characters level 5-6.  'Returning from the 5 Years War, they found the gates of their castle barred against them... and the enemy within.'  Armed with a 5 year old, outmoded map, players must not only deal with the changes in the tower itself but unmask the traitor from among themselves through a web of lies and deceit.  A game of characterization, referees play a myriad of characters, both good and evil, for the players to evaluate in their attempt to take control."  The cover and this text is all that was produced for the module; some of the ideas Hickman had for it were eventually rolled into what was to become DragonLance. Update: in 2014, a group of collectors pooled funds and convinced Tracy Hickman to produce a limited-edition version of Eye of the Dragon based on his original rule notes, with each copy bound with one of the original covers.  The current agreement is that this module will not be reprinted beyond the copies in the initial run. This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

Daystar West Vampyr.  An individual contacted us concerning the rarity and worth of three Daystar West modules that he allegedly possesses:  Pharaoh, Rahasia, and "Vampyr".  This individual further stated that he used to game with Daystar West founder Tracy Hickman back in the early 1980's, and that these modules were passed out to members of that group.  Never having heard of Vampyr, we requested some additional information about it.  The individual has not responded.  Author Tracy Hickman has confirmed that the preliminary draft of I6 Ravenloft was indeed entitled Vampyr, but denies that it was ever published.  He states specifically, "Vampyr was still in design stage when I took my job at TSR and the sale of that uncompleted adventure helped finance our relocation."  If copies exist, they are most likely only the handful passed out to Hickman's gaming group.  In issue #250 of Dragon, Hickman is quoted as saying, "Vampyr was tested every Halloween for five years before it was printed (as Ravenloft)."  From contributor Scott Brand: "Vampyr was a homegrown D&D adventure the Hickmans ran around Halloween.  It was likely handwritten and hand drawn.  It is unlikely if not impossible that anyone has a copy of that besides the Hickmans.  At some point prior to TSR, the Hickmans did consider releasing a production version of Vampyr under the Daystar Nightventures label similar to Rahasia and Pharaoh.  This never happened.  Tracy started working for TSR.  After Pharaoh and Rahasia were released with TSR, Laura and Tracy proposed releasing Vampyr with TSR.  TSR agreed.  Now this is where the Hickman memories get a bit fuzzy.  They know that they proposed Vampyr to TSR but are unsure when the name was changed to Ravenloft.  They believe it was very early on.  I have copies of the original proposed sketches for the Ravenloft Castle, floor plans, and area map which are labeled Vampyr.  I also have a tractor feed TSR preproduction copy of Ravenloft that is labeled "Ravenloft" on the document.  The Hickmans believe there is an archive pre-production and possibly handwritten version of Vampyr in the BYU archives.  That is the only version of Vampyr that they believe might exist.  My copies of the Vampyr sketches would be one of the few surviving items outside of the BYU archives." FoulFoot note: the archives at BYU have been examined, and a Vampyr manuscript is not among them.  Vampyr should not be confused with "Vampyre", a microgame released by TSR in 1981.  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

  • Domesday Book.  A magazine / newsletter published by the Castle & Crusade Society (Gary Gygax's old gaming group) back in the early 1970's.  Click the link for a full page on what we've found so far.

G1-4 Revolt of the Giants.  The 1986 TSR catalog lists this as an upcoming module, which obviously never came to fruition.  From the catalog, this description: "Continuing the saga begun in T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil and A1-4 Scourge of the Slave Lords, this incredible supermodule takes the players to new heights of excitement... and danger!  This adventure combines the famous 'G-series' adventures, now completely revised and expanded, plus never-before-seen adventures that feature all the different types of giants from the Monster Manual.  A high-level adventure for character levels 12-15."  The stock number assigned to it (9179) was eventually re-assigned to GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders.  Anyone know the backstory behind its cancellation (or more specifically, why did TSR decide to have tie-in module G4 created in the first place, and then what made them change their minds)?  The mock-up cover scan of this module, featuring the cover artwork from the Monster Manual II, is here. Thanks to Mark Petrick for help with this info, and to Christian R. for the scan.  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

  • Hobby Newsletter is a mystery at the moment; our only information comes from the TSR UK-published Bohemian Ear Spoon inaugural issue, which mentions that Hobby Newsletter (literally a letter, apparently; single page?) ran for seven issues in the UK, probably around 1980.  More info and scans needed!

Mystara vaporware.  Quite a few new Mystara products were on the drawing board when TSR decided to cancel the entire campaign in late 1992.  Visit this page for a full list.  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

  • Original Dungeons & Dragons Manuscript.  This is the second draft of the rules notes described below, and was directly formed into the Original D&D Set.  According to Gygax, this manuscript numbered 150 pages, and was distributed to roughly thirty playtesters in the Lake Geneva area, circa 1972.  An alleged copy of this manuscript sold at the 1995 GenCon, but it was gone before I got a chance to look at it.  There's a discussion in our Forum on the discovery of a possible candidate for this manuscript, "Beyond This Point Be Dragons", but a conclusion has not been definitively reached.
  • Original Dungeons & Dragons Rule Notes.  This is a 50-page manuscript detailing a "Supplement to Chainmail", by Gary Gygax, circa 1972.  Roughly twelve of these manuscripts were passed around Gygax's wargaming circle (nationwide) for critique.  The feedback from that critique, as well as subsequent gaming sessions, led Gygax to develop the Original D&D Manuscript noted above.
  • Unearthed Arcana II.  Advertised in the 1986 TSR catalog, but obviously never published.  Anyone know why, what product (if any) the info was eventually rolled into, or how far along into production this was?  The stock number assigned to it (2020) was eventually re-assigned to Wilderness Survival GuideThanks to Mark Petrick for pointing this out.  A scan of the mock-up cover from the catalog is here; thanks to forum member misterspock for providing it.

Wasp Nest: City State of Stoink.  A module by Gary Gygax that was apparently on the verge of publication when Gygax had his falling-out with TSR management, and the project was yanked.  The module was never published in any form.  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

WG7 Shadowlands.  From the Summer 1986 Mail Order Hobby Shop catalog:  "A high-level module set in the World of Greyhawk.  Journey to the perilous Plane of Shadow to rescue Princess Esterilla and confront the master of the plane... where you find yourself an unexpected guest at a wedding where the guests include a lizardman, a catlord, and a mistress of illusion!".  Assigned TSR stock #9184.  Gary Gygax and Skip Williams were collaborating on the project, but it was shelved due to Gygax's lawsuit with TSR.  Gygax has since stated that while Wizards of the Coast has given permission to have the module published, the fact that it will be produced "on spec" (no contract nor advance payment), makes it unlikely that he or Skip will be undertaking the project anytime soon.  The original mention of it is in Dragon Magazine #37, page 10, where it's called "Shadowland".  The mock-up cover scan of this module, featuring the cover artwork from Dragon #58, is here.  Thanks to Christian R. for the scan.  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

WGRX Ivid the Undying.  Never released to the public, this module was supposedly on the cusp of publication when the project was yanked.  A TSR Stock number (#9399) was assigned, but later re-assigned to WGR5 Iuz the Evil.  The text of Ivid the Undying was released by Wizards of the Coast and is freely distributable (and an extensively re-worked and re-formatted version is available for download in our Library section).  A supposed cover scan of the module even surfaced (it can be viewed here).  The painting is by Mark Nelson, though Nelson has stated that the image was used as interior artwork in an issue of Dragon magazine, and was not used as a module cover.  The scan is a clever forgery.  Mike Kline, the CEO of Gamer's Realm, recently informed us that the he has written testimony from the "compiler" of the cover describing how he made it.  Erik Mona, editor of Dungeon magazine, states that the true planned cover of Ivid the Undying was actually painted by Jeff Easley, and appears as the cover of "Blood Enemies of Cerelia," a late-era Birthright product.  In fact, in a Jeff Easley trading card set released by FPG in the mid/late 1990s, the "Blood Enemies" cover art is actually called "Ivid the Undying."  The artwork has been used as a mock cover on the module version available for download in the Library section.  This research item is closed, but will remain here for trivia purposes.

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