Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Adventures With 1st Edition Lethalness

I have always thought that the summaries here of Maure Castle's/Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure contained excellent examples of 1st Edition AD&D (and before) lethalness.
The person's summaries of his group's experiences actually make me less enamored for having been mentioned as the "author" but somewhat more proud, instead, as a DM having always embraced a concept I was so often faced with as Robilar, who was constantly challenged across the gaming table by EGG's DM contrivances. Greyhawk Castle and Castle El Raja Key could be very lethal, and in many ways. Not that they were party killers (PK), but there were always chances that this might happen if the players did not think, of course. It is noteworthy that the above summary hits on many levels, as in "How" one dies that makes a legend, etc. It does bring back memories of the beginnings of D&D adventuring where all you could do in death was to become a legend; and by escaping same you became that same legend, a veteran, who was well respected by others in the party for having smarts, or at least luck. It was really refreshing reading that summary.

Can any of our other astute and informed members list other adventure modules that are in their experience as lethal or at least point towards being so? The systems are not important, but a nod towards 1st/2nd/OD&D would be nice (not including Tomb of Horrors, which is mentioned in the above summary).

7 comments:

Yesmar said...

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks consistently wasted PCs in my old campaigns. Whether it be from hordes of swarming vegepygmies, strange mutated plants and animals, marauding security robots or malfunctioning androids, player characters consistently died when I ran S3. We spoke once, Rob, about S3. I'd love to hear you discuss again how you might revisit S3. To me, it epitomizes the union of S&S and SF, moreso than City of the Gods. I learned about S3 first, of course, but more to the point, the locale of S3 is small and contained. It exudes a strong sense of claustrophobia, which serves only to heighten the fear felt by PCs as they maneuver through its ancient corridors.

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

Yes, I've wanted to do this for quite a while, ever since contributing my parts for it for the Origins III tournament version. Alas, where to go? WotC owns the rights. I've thought of making something akin yet different, but this is such a classic--how would a derivative/revision of it be viewed? Unless WotC would extend the rights, I am at a loss. But yes, it is a very dangerous adventure. I DMed 18 souls at once in the tournament in Baltimore, btw, and they stood up afterwards and for the most part applauded me even though I had killed quite a few of their fellow PCs...

Nice catch Yesamr. And I will think about how this might be revisited.

JediOre said...

I recall the ending of the Temple of Elemental Evil being a killer for my group. It was also one of the most exciting. The bow fighter in the party had used the Skull once too often and had become corrupted. He turned on the party as they fought Zuggtmoy and her fungi. The cleric had to break off from combat to take down the fighter while the others kept up the fighting retreat from the demoness. When all was said and done, the bow fighter, the cleric, and the thief all died and their bodies left behind as the level caved in.

Epic battles like that are always my favorite way for PCs to die when I DM. Although DMing in disbelief as a friend of mine, trying his hand at Tomb of Horrors, had the entire pre-generated party he controlled climb into the green devil's open maw one right after another. I could not stop laughing at the end of our 30-minute gaming session. I told him he had much to learn about the game!

James Maliszewski said...

Looking only at the Gygaxian Canon, I recall that the G-series modules, particularly Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, to be quite lethal if the players aren't clever and cautious. However, it was Dungeonland and Land Beyond the Magic Mirror that did the most damage in my old campaign. I'm not sure if it was because my players simply didn't take the modules seriously enough and were foolhardy or because the modules contained so many deadly tricks and traps (probably a combination of both), but I think I lost more PCs to those modules than I did to any others.

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

Yes, James, those, especially the latter two you mention, were very lethal. The walrus and the carpenter, Heh. :) As I only played in TOEE as Robilar and never DMed it otherwise, I cannot comment about it, though I did lose my castle and estates from that adventure, so...

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

James mentioning the "Wonderland" series brought about an old memory, which I will post along with an old exchange EGG and I had at the Legion Hall in Lake Geneva, about a year before the publication of those two modules. Need to see if I can find the scanned illustration first. Thanks James... :)

Union Jack said...

The Slaver series, A1 through A4. The best.