Ever since Dungeons & Dragons was released in 1974, people have been creating adventures for players to play. These adventures, known as modules, are limited only by the author’s imagination. Although hundreds of modules have been created over the years, there are some favorites that have stood the test of time. These eight modules are some of the best ever created.
Don’t see your favorite? Tell us what it is in the comments!
The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth – 1st Edition AD&D
The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth is an expanded edition of a tournament module Gary Gygax wrote for Wintercon V in 1976. Set in Greyhawk, it tasks players with entering the Yatil Mountains to investigate rumors of a lost treasure. Many adventurers have died trying to find this treasure, but that won’t stop you! You’ll encounter foes ranging from humans, to orc, to giants, and even a vampire before the end. It also added new spells and a number of monsters that would later appear in Monster Manual II.
The Keep on the Borderlands – Basic D&D
It may have been a beginner’s module in the D&D Basic Set, but The Keep on the Borderlands was the first experience many long-time players had with the game. When it was re-released in 2010, it was part of the weekly D&D Encounters program, exposing even more players to it. While the module was a fairly straightforward one, it included both a dungeon crawl and some limited outdoor adventuring, and it introduced players to many of the familiar races of the D&D world, including kobolds, hobgoblins, and even lizardmen. It was challenging and fun to play, and hooked many a player on the game for life.
White Plume Mountain – 1st Edition AD&D
White Plume Mountain is two things: a straight-up dungeon crawl, and a gigantic fetch quest. The players must enter the titular volcanic mountain and retrieve three magical weapons from an evil wizard who has made his lair inside. While the trident (named Wave) and the warhammer (named Whelm) are cool, we all wanted one thing: the +3, intelligent, chaotic neutral, soul-devouring greatsword Blackrazor. White Plume Mountain forced players to work together, and to succeed or fail as a group.
Queen of the Spiders – 1st Edition AD&D
It’s almost cheating to include Queen of the Spiders on this list. It’s a “supermodule” that includes seven modules. It’s more of a campaign, really. Players began by dealing with giant raids, move into the icy north and take on yetis and frost giants, and then delve into a volcanic land where fire giants abound. After that, they enter the Underdark and spend the rest of the campaign dealing with the evil drow elves, and finally their goddess, Lolth, Queen of Spiders. It’s a long, rewarding journey through some of the best material TSR ever produced.
Red Hand of Doom – 3.5 Edition D&D
Red Hand of Doom showed just how far D&D writing had come. Instead of a linear adventure through yet another dungeon, it tasks the players with defeating a horde of monsters coming to wipe out the villages and towns in a generic Vale (it’s left ambiguous so the adventure can be used in any setting or campaign). The party can use guerilla tactics, spy on the advancing horde, venture into a lich’s lair to deprive the horde of its undead minions, and finally take on the horde itself, with their preparatory actions coming back to aid or haunt them. It’s a superb adventure, and one that any D&D fan should play.
Tomb of Horrors – 1st Edition AD&D
When you think of the stereotypical D&D dungeon crawl through a dark place filled with deadly traps and menacing monsters, you’re imagining Gary Gygax’s Tomb of Horrors, even if you don’t know it. The tomb of the demilich Acererak would turn out to be one of the most challenging modules of all time. Filled with complicated puzzles, the module has the reputation of being the most deadly in the history of D&D. It’s been revised for multiple editions of the game, most recently in 2010 for 4th Edition.
The Temple of Elemental Evil – 1st Edition AD&D
Written by Gary Gygax and Frank Mentzer, The Temple of Elemental Evil is an expansion on the 1979 module, The Village of Hommlet. The first-level players come to Hommlet to earn their fortunes, but soon find themselves embroiled in a struggle against evil that culminates in them entering the Temple and doing battle against the demoness Zuggtmoy. The story has been turned into a 2001 novel, as well as the Troika-developed videogame The Temple of Elemental Evil, and also appears in as in-game content in both Dungeons & Dragons Online and Neverwinter.
Ravenloft – 1st Edition AD&D
By far my favorite module ever written for D&D, Ravenloft tells the story of the vampire Strahd von Zarovich, an immortal who still pines for his lost love. Set in the land of Barovia, players must not only investigate the strange land, but they must find the weapons they will need to help them defeat Strahd. Strahd is an intelligent foe, and his motivations (and the locations of the tools to defeat him) are randomly selected each time you play the adventure. Since it launch in 1983, it has spawned sequels, adaptations, and a full-on campaign setting. Wizards of the Coast released a 2006 mini-campaign titled Expedition to Castle Ravenloft that was based on the material from the original module, and also a 2010 board game titled Castle Ravenloft.