Recently I have been thumbing through my old adventures looking for some inspiration while I seek out the “Next great adventure”. And as I was looking over some of my favorite adventures of the past I thought to myself. That’s Just It, I am not in the mood to make a great adventure for my next adventure. I want to play one of The Great Adventures again. And of course I will give it my own spin, I always do I just can’t help myself. As I imagine all good GM’s are the same way. We just can’t help ourselves.
So while I decide exactly what my next great adventure will be I thought I would give you all a run down of some of my most favorites and why. That said before we get started. This list is in no set order of and encompass more than just D&D.
So lets start with a true classic. The Tomb of Horrors..after all I might as well get this one out-of-the-way early. Just about anyone who is anyone that has spent any time playing fantasy RPG’s has heard of the Tomb of Horrors. It in many ways stands head and shoulders above so many other adventures. Why you ask ? Well if you don’t already know it.. The damn thing is one of the ultimate meat grinders of all time. This thing is so unfair I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “I survived the Tomb of Horrors.”Playing on the words of Samuel L Jackson. If you have to kill every one in the in the damn room, accept no substitutes. This adventure will ruin friendships if the GM is cruel enough to let the players take their beloved PC’s into its depths without warning.. That said the can count themselves lucky that they made it into the depths.. Many a player has died before they even set foot in the dungeon. Yeah it’s that wrong. And these are just the traps ! If by some bit of skill and luck you manage to make it to the evil that lives at the heart of the Tomb.. You get to face a lich.. But he’s just a diversion. The real head honcho of the Tomb of horrors is a Demi Lich Wizards once had the great Idea to launch D&D 3.5 and they put the cover of Tomb of horrors adventure cover on a can of bug spray and label the AD “PC spot remover” in an issue of Dragon Mag. Epic indeed, but a bit too short-lived.
Next up the H series of 1st ed models. This is the epic of epic in the line of adventures. In this four module set you will see it all.When you want to go epic its hard to beat an adventure line that was set for level 15-100.. Yeah you read that right 100. Not total party levels .. Player level! While I let that soak in for a few moments what about it makes it one of the greats. Inspired by 47 ronin style play. Your heroes are asked to defend a mining village from an approaching army of bandits that seek to steal all that they have.
You will lead army’s in defense of the city. As things progress you get to fight all the legends of D&D. You will face the grandfather of Assassins, several Dragons along the way as you square off against a Lich king.. (yeah back before wow had the idea) As the story expands you will see how deep this war truly goes as you eventually face off with Orcus himself. But not before your stare down the ultimate death machine the Tarrasque !!
Against the Giants, Oh how much fun this Module set was. I do recall going through at least three PC’s my first time around. Most memorably taking a Batista sized crossbow bolt to the chest that crit and stuck my poor Thief to the back wall of the room. This oddly enough might have been my least survived Module in my adventuring days. Even over the Dreaded Tomb.
What was not to like about this adventure in pain. Every Giant type was on display to kick your players up and down the adventure. And even better this is the module that Introduces the Drow to the game .. and with the Drow comes a few cool plot twists that most of your players will never see coming. One of my Favorite AD&D adventures of its time.
Next up I will jump a few years in time. The next adventure came about at a point when D&D was just beginning to try to find its new Identity. Skills and Powers. Personally I think it was an amazing step forward to the game. But maybe it just came along to early and players were just not ready to embrace the concepts it put forward. Skills and Powers in its short life will always be one of my personally favorite Iterations of Dungeons and Dragons.
I had a brutal DM in my journey into the Gates of Firestorm Peaks. Added to the fact that we were using the Critical hit system they developed for Skills and Powers that was super realistic but brutal beyond words. Lets just say that our group lost six players in the first few rooms alone. And the following three groups that made attempts only slightly better. Any updated version of this module could not compare to the true fear one has when surprise attacked by Invisible Dugar with expansion wielding war hammers.. Needless to say any critical hit averaged a broken bone and nearly all crits could out right kill you. That said I still look back fondly on that adventure in death. Lots and lots of Death.. so, so much death.
Next up we jump to a time just before 3.0 was released to one of the best written box sets of its time. The night Bellow. Right out the gate one of my personal favorite things about this Box set was that it was a Underdark Delve that had nothing do with the Drow. But by no streach of the imagination was this damn thing any easier because of it. Let me just say Duegar and illithiad and aboleth oh my !
There was so much fun that I took away from this box set that I would love to run it again. It had deep story plot but expertly mixed it with the free form mind-set of letting the party seek out the answers on their own. This sets this box up for ease of repeated running’s. And if your party is not up to speed on how Terrifying aboleths are and they think the only thing under the world that is to be feared are Drow. This will open their eyes. One thing I did take away from running this adventure. This was the last time .. LAST TIME EVER. That I would spend 2+ hours free hand drawing the battle mat out for the upcoming game knowing damn well that the players could make the choice not to go into the encounter you were drawing out. I will never forget the words. You see the sign up ahead that your comprehend languages spell lets you read that says Illithid town ahead. In unison the party voiced one opinion of that .. NOOOPE>. and never went back..
For my last D&D adventure I will take a leap to 4E. Now I had a wonderful group for fourth Edition I prepped a great set up for this campaign. I ran a 3.5 one shot game of the revised Tomb of Horrors. I then declared that the results of their success in the tomb was cannon to the adventure I was about to run. And I started a 4E game, slowly I introduced them hints and crumbs until they were at a level to begin the story. 4E Tomb of Horrors.
That damn Demi Lich is back and this time he’s got grand designs to become a god. Even if it’s at the small cost of destroying all of the planes of existence to do it. Ambitious little skull isn’t he. Over the course of this Multi-tier marathon the players will fight just about every damn bad thing you can thing of. Let see plane hoping check, Demons check, the old Tomb of Horrors check, Aspects of several gods themselves check.. Oh yeah .. and in the end you get to fight a Demi-Lich ridding around in the eye socket of a golem made of dead gods.. Yeah you heard it right. A Dead God golem. Fun, Fun, fun. I’m glad I ran this one !
Next up I have a couple of Star Wars Adventures to round out the last of my list of greats.
First up because it was one of a very few adventures to instill a taste of terror into the Star Wars setting. Is Otherspace. This little Puts you in another dimension after a combat Hyperdrive malfunction that leads the players to face off with the Alien race of the Charon. Worshipers of death.. Mmhmm Fun.
The fun of this adventure is the feel of strangeness and fear you can push on your Star Wars group who normally do not adventure in a fearful setting. The second thing is the players feel like everything they do has to be done in a hurry. Because if the Charon find the parts that the players need to use to repair their ship they will be stuck here and the Charon will spread their death cult to your realm leaving you stranded in theirs. All of this makes for some great tense fast paced Role play.
It would convert rather smoothly to the new Edge of the Empire setting. And If you play Star Wars. This is a good one to take a look into. There is also a Otherspace 2 adventure out there if you like it so much you want more !
Second and maybe my all time favorite Box set ever across all game systems.
The DarkStryder Campaign. This is in my opinion one of the most ambitious star wars settings I have ever had the pleasure to run. It also might be the one game that will stand head and shoulders above the rest for me for all time. It takes a leap right out the gate by breaking the rules. This game is set in the age of the New Republic Defense force. Ackbar and Wedge are completely on the ropes trying to deal with Admiral Thrawn and Moff Sarne is fleeing into deep unknown space in search of legendary Dark Tech. A slap shot crew is thrown together in an effort to track down and stop the Moff and they will be out on their own. Pursuing an Imperial Start Destroyer in The FarStar. A modified Corellian Corvette carrier.
Further more the Players are asked to play 2 NPCs each and adopt the players as their own. One each from the bridge the fighter crew and one from the ground teams. The intent of this was to be able to seamlessly swap form any one location at any time including combat and each party member would have a “PC” on hand to play. If your players embrace the NPC as their own and go with it.. This becomes a beautifuly seamless way to tell a star wars story. One day I will run this game again ! One day soon, That said also this would be very easy to shift over and update to FFG’s new system.