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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Five Worst AD&D Modules of All Time

No BS, no long winded explanations, here goes the five worst AD&D modules of the TSR era.

1. N2- The Forest Oracle
The worst and I mean the worst 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons module of all time, AND for bonus points the worst Dungeons and Dragons module of all time of any edition: N2- The Forest Oracle (I just vomited in my mouth thinking about this capitalistic suck fest of a module). Some want to say that the mini module Terrible Trouble at Tragidore is the worst, that is Shakespeare compared to this hideous beast of a module. I think people offer up TTT as a slight thrown in the direction of 2nd edition, but that dog don't hunt.

I so wanted to like this module based on the rather cool cover when I bought it, but alas this thing is so bad its actually an insult to things that are actually bad... To paraphrase the immortal line from the movie Space Balls, "Its gone from suck to blow". And the kicker? I think I paid $5-6 dollars for this piece of shit which turned out to be $5-6 to much.

So what is wrong with this suckfest? Where do I begin? The text blocks are difficult to read, the stats are contradictory, confusing or plain wrong. The random rolls instructions are a mess, the plot (such that it is) is full of more holes then Swiss cheese, the suspension of disbelief is not there, the NPCs are odd, in short its a train wreck.

Did I mention that it has a cool cover?

Lets see there has to be at least one good point about N2... Lets see, hrmmm, maybe? How about?

Did I mention that it has a cool cover? Wait I already said that?

I won't bore you with all the gory details of the actual module as that might be a violation of the Geneva Convention so I'd say get yourself some Xanax, a stun gun and a frontal lobotomy and you are good to go with this "module". If you can get it for free I still think that's too much.

Also for your reading pleasure the fine folks here terminate this module with "extreme prejudice". (Bonus points for the movie quote reference.)  "These men are not acrobats"... Indeed. Also if you are not brave enough to read the whole thing you can get a taste of it here.

2. WG7- Castle Greyhawk
Coming in at a far distant second is Castle Greyhawk. I say distant second not because there are redeeming qualities to G7- Castle Greyhawk... its because  N2- Forest Oracle is that bad. The joke module of Castle Greyhawk in the vein of Paranoia and Toon which were comical RPGs back in the day. There were some other adventures in the same vein in Dungeon like "Fluffy goes to Heck". In all I usually classify these with the April Fools issues of Dragon were there would be puns afoot. I have to say this is also a disappointing module for me as I thought I was getting my hands on "Castle Greyhawk", little did I know. In all its just another sad part to the saga that is the lost of Gary and Rob's actual Greyhawk Castle and mega dungeon. In a way, it's time to move on, with Gary gone and the fact that the dungeons were only barely sketched out as it a case of their true nature will never be seen.

Yes I'm aware of Gary's stuff with Castles and Crusades (which I've not read) but at the time Gary was not well and I have to wonder as to all of it being as he remembered it, rather then what it was.

3. WG9- Gargoyles, WG10- Child's Play and WG11- Puppets
All three of these sucked ass so bad that the stench emanating from each has a distinct odor, that of equally bad well... suckage. It might be a cheat to add all three together but ah well. 

In general all three are boring reads, I think one of them has drool damage from me falling asleep reading one of them. As a punishment I refuse to put them in plastic bags to protect them in the man cave. Sometimes I torment them by placing them next to the very few 3e stuff that I have, serves 'um right I say. On bad days I threaten them with "I'm going to buy some 4e stuff and you can go sit in that corner!"

Thank God in each case I only paid $1 for each; I think Child's Play I got for free. On second thought,  TSR/Wizards/Hasbro actually owes me and everyone else who bought these pieces of crap and/or wasted their time on them.

Gargoyle? Hired to collect a wingless gargoyle's wings??? I've heard of some crappy motives to go on an adventure but this has to be right up there with the worst. 

Child's Play? Just look at the cover! I wonder if he's specialized in rake? To be honest its been years since I even glanced at it. Every time I get the notion to read one of the three (especially this one) I lie down and count to 1 million, because that would be more interesting.

I do hesitate for a second on Puppets as it could have been a cool idea, the idea was sound, but just doesn't get there. Oh yeah recycled art for the cover of Dragon #80 for the not-so-much-of-a-win... Seemed in vogue at the time with TSR as they also did it with B11 and B12.

So there you go, #3 here gives you three sucktastic modules for the "price" of one.
4. C1- Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
Heresey I know right? Along with some of the others on this list I've wanted my money back after spending it. This is a boring, near zero treasure slog. I've played it twice and enjoyed it less and less each time. It's also the poster child for a "DM's woody module" as in "Look how I just dicked you guys over are you dumb or what hahahahahah!" Inescapable death traps with minuscule treasure? Yeah sign me up for that...

And the setup to get to this rail-road? "CCCCHHhhhhhhoooo Choooooooo, all aboard!" Next time a grog complains the Dragonlance modules and their railroad nature, fling this at them.

5. UK1- Beyond the Crystal Cave
Lets see if I have this right? A game predicated on hacking and slashing, taking monsters treasure and the point of this module is to not do so? This ugly stain of a module is the only wall flower in the otherwise outstanding modules that comprise the UK line. It dishonors the UK line in much the same way the WG7 dishonors Gary's works, just not at the same magnitude.

Like N2, the cover looks enticing, but its all downhill from there. Romeo and Juliet in AD&D, how wonderful, except Shakespeare's Romeo& Juliet had more action, deaths and plot then this slog to boredom.

Dishonorable mention goes to  Terrible Trouble at Tragidor, for me by reputation alone. Fortunately my 2nd edition DM screen came without this "module" for which I consider myself lucky. Die Vecna Die? Also gets a sniff somewhere in the pantheon of bad modules.

"Enjoy" these craptastic modules and drink a whole bottle of alcohol if you really want to punish yourself at the gaming table.


  1. I have to agree with your choices. I've never read your trio at #3, but the others I can give you an amen on.

  2. I have to agree with 'Gargoyles' and 'Puppets', but I have never tried your No.1 worst - The Forest Oracle. Have to say you have made me want to. No, really - anything with a cool cover has to be tried (that's how I fell for 'Blizzard Pass'), and even a terrible experience is an experience, right? But then I read the excerpt from the link you provided. My gaming group would kill me. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Cheers guys!

    Tim- a lot of people rave about C1 and I wonder how others can't stand it. I've just never gotten into the module at all..

    Black Carbon- The Forest Oracle is horrendous. Some people don't want to admit its that bad because its a 1st edition module. Seems to me crap is crap whether its first or second.

    In any event keep the comments coming and if there is a topic you want me to cover let me know. I've got some more in my queue but you never know which way this blog will lead me.


  4. Not buying 4 or 5 as among the very worst, but then again, you cheated by stacking 5 modules in 1-3.

    Some dishonorable mentions for your consideration: ravager of time, vecna lives, doomgrinder(yes even with derro!), shadowdale +series, The 3 Marco Volo adventures, Labyrinth of Madness, Undermountain, etc

    My Heresy: B1: In Search of the Unknow

  5. No shame in disliking B1, I'm lukewarm about it at best.

    Where I disagree is Labyrinth of Maddness; while not my cup of tea, it is well though out and echoes Tomb of Horrors.

  6. "Inescapable death traps with minuscule treasure?"
    You know it's a TOURNAMENT module, right? You know, where characters are *supposed* to die to winnow the party down, and the 'bags of loot' you feel characters are entitled to carry from dungeons are irrelevant.

    If you measure something with an inappropriate yardstick, of course it's not going to measure up.

    1. Sure it shows its tournament roots, I still don't like it.

  7. I'm sure you have very good reasons for choosing these modules, but as someone unfamiliar with their contents i would have liked to read about why they were so awful.