The 10 Best Classic D&D Modules I Ever Played #3: Keeping Your Cool, Horrors Below

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DMB2 The Keep on the Borderlands
We were digging through the storage recently, when I should chance across the dusty stack of old Dungeons & Dragons modules I’ve had with me for… well, for a very long time. For all the GeekDads who have gamed, as I scan and read through these, I’ll post them for for your enjoyment and comment, if you remember them.

Let’s start with the follow-up to In Search of the Unknown, B-2: Keep on the Borderlands.

The Realm of mankind is narrow and constricted.  Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave it populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasures.  If it were not for a stout few, many in the realm would indeed fall prey to the evil which surrounds them.  Yet, there are aways certain exceptional and brave members of humanity, as well as similar individuals amog its allies – dwarves, elves, and halflings – who rise above the common level and join battle to stave off the darkness which would otherwise overwhelm the land.

Ahh yes, the Keep – a small piece of civilization set on the edge of chaos, eager for peace, but ever-ready for conflict. It’s a place of refuge, and an excellent base from which to sally forth into the Realm.  Or, you could just try to rip off the Castellan’s Chamber, and make off wit all the nice goodies there, but you will likely have to face him, which won’t be easy (6th level fighter with +1 plate mail, +1 shield, ring of protection +1, and a high dexterity, plus a whole bunch else that should give a party of low-levels a rather challenging time.

Outside the Keep, there’s plenty to do.  Lizard men, giant spiders, raiders, mad hermits, and those are just the random encounters!  Wait until you get to the Caves of Chaos!

Things to Remember in Keep on the Borderlands:

  • The Amory in the Caves has a bunch of really nice mail and weapons.
  • When you get to the labyrinth, be ready for a challenge that’s full of bull.
  • First, there’s a Shrine of Evil Chaos, then a Chapel of Evil Chaos, and finally a Temple of Evil Chaos.  If you make it that far, remember not to look at the shadows on the western wall.  That would be bad.
  • And the “scantily clad female” in the cell?  Well, let’s just hope someone remembered a mirror…

DMS1 Tomb of Horrors
Alright, the one everyone remembers – S1: Tomb of Horrors!  No easy-peesy basic set, this one was for hard-core RPGers with characters who’d made it into the double-digits, level-wise.  It was actually an adventure written for and run at the first Origins con, in 1975.  The plot was simple:

Somewhere under a lost and lonely hill of grim and foreboding aspect lies a labyrinthine crypt.  It is filled with terrible traps and not a few strange and ferocious monsters to slay the unwary.  It if filled with rich treasures both precious and magical, but in addition to the aforementioned guardians, there is said to be a demi-lich who still wards his final haunt.

Demi-lich?  Holy Hannah!  That’s some nasty undead-fu, my friend!  Things to remember in the Tomb of Horrors:

  • When you feel the floor of the entrance tunnel shift slightly, and the DM starts counting, MOVE!
  • When the three-armed statue speaks, look for something you cannot see in the broken arm.
  • Another Chapel of Evil!  Zoinks!  Just be really careful of that Archway of Glowing Orange, unless you plan on buying a whole new wardrobe with your treasure.
  • Don’t touch the skull.  No, really, I mean it.  Did you hear me?  Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

This one’s a classic, folks, though not really all that long.  But the best part is, it came with pictures!  For a little boost in your trip down memory lane, here are a few of the illustrations included in the module.

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7 thoughts on “The 10 Best Classic D&D Modules I Ever Played #3: Keeping Your Cool, Horrors Below

  1. I’m enjoying this series, thanks!

    Readers may want to know that Wizards has just reprinted S1-S4 (Tomb of Horrors is S1, the others are classics as well) as a hardback book called Dungeons of Dread. In addition, they have made the maps and handouts (such as the ones you captured above) available as a free download here. The D&D Next playtest packet includes simple monster conversions so you can run Dungeons of Dread (or the original copies) as part of the D&D Next playtest. And, to top it off, last Month’s Dungeon has a complete D&D Next and 4E conversion of Tomb of Horrors! So much horror!

    B2 is available for download from, as are many other excellent adventures.

  2. I am pretty sure that a little digging around in the attic will find both of these classics! To be fair, we still play classic D&D (Red box through to Immortals) in our gaming group.

  3. My favorite has to be the Isle of Dread! Mind-dominating eel-men, mischevious racoon/flying squirrel/monkey creatures, dinos hopped up on jimsonweed, I can smell the vines on the ruined temple walls and hear the jungle drums beating in the night…

  4. For me, the Temple of Elemental Evil Series (including The Village of Hommlet) will always be my sentimental favourites. We played through them a number of times with my favourite DM, and we had a blast. Back then, our group was often as large as ten players.
    Good memories.

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