Review

 

Name: Dungeons of Dread

Publisher: Wizard of the Coast

System: Dungeon and Dragons 1st Edition

Author: Wizards RPG Team

Category: Hardback Book - DnD S Series

Cost: $39.95

Pages: 160

Year: 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7869-6461-1

This is the first hardback collection of classic first edition adventure modules released by WOTC. The first choice was to release the “S” collection of dungeons, designed by Gary Gygax and Lawrence Schick. These include Tomb of Horrors; White Plume Mountain; Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

 

The initial impression is very impressive. The book is a smart brown with a classic front illustration. The front cover has an engraved cover and the gold print stands out well. On page 2 is a small introduction by Lawrence Schick, where he talks briefly about the history of the adventures, who designed each one and where they came from initially. It is a nice cameo that adds a bit of context for the book and why this series was chosen.

 

However there is one design issue that I feel stops the book being easily used by DM’s. This is the fact that the illustration booklets that came with each of the “S” adventures have been included as part of the book. The fact that these were separate in each module is important as they added good flavour to the adventure and saved time as they could be passed to the players as the DM read the next text for that particular encounter. Also the maps are at the end of the modules in the book and again this makes them awkward to actually reference during play.

 

Tomb of Horror: Module S1 – Gary Gygax for characters level 10-14.

 

This is an exact abstract of the original module. The context is given, that this first appeared for a tournament in Origins 1. In the adventure the party travel to a lonely hill, to enter the tomb of a demi-lich and to encounter traps and monsters so they cold win the rich reward inside.

 

The book sets itself within the Greyhawk world but gives several suggestions as to where the tomb could actually rest. There is background for the DM and flavour text for the players. There are then room by room descriptions with each key point of the room in bold. The monsters are not noted in bold however but have the proper 1E stats within the room’s text for DMs.

 

By page 13, the adventure is described and suggested PCs are given, along with suggested magical items. Page 15 is the start of the illustration booklet, which is in the classic old style.

 

White Plume Mountain: Module S2 – Lawrence Schick for characters level 5-10.

 

Again a straight lift of the original module. The main thing about this module is noted in the introduction: This was never written to be published! The adventure was submitted by Lawrence Schick to convince Gary Gygax to hire him as a games designer. This was mission accomplished and even the writer was shocked to see this suddenly in print. A brief synopsis is that three powerful items have been stolen from powerful families in the City of Greyhawk. The adventurers are tasked with tracking down and recovering these items,

 

There is a nice full page graphic of the mountain, with the different dangers that could be encountered in the mountain’s environment. There is a nice wondering monster chart but the adventure really begins as the characters begin to descend into the depths of the mountain. There are some nice full page illustrations throughout the adventure that the DM can hold up to show the players. Page 52 has the maps and page 54 has the rhyme that is handed out at the start of the adventure.

 

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks: Module S3 – Gary Gygax for characters level 8-12.

 

The official tournament module for Orrigins II, this has the mix of sc-fi and fantasy that comes from the newly released (at the time) Gamma World. Again set in Greyhawk, the players are tasked to discover what they can about the strange creatures that have been appearing from a strange cave in a distant corner of the Grand Duchy of Geoff. Of course this turns out to be a crashed spaceship and before you know there are robots and laser pistols all over the place!

 

Pages 74 and 75 have charts on the use of technical items and the items themselves are described from pages 76-81. Followed are stats for robots and the two new creatures. Page 85 has the start of the illustration booklet. It should be noted there are over 60 (until page 128 with the maps) illustrations in this part so again I would suggest using an original module if you are really planning to run this!

 

The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth: Module S4 - Gary Gygax for characters level 6-10.

 

Firstly it should be stated that this was never actually planned to be part of the “S” series and was initially planned to be part of the “T” series as it was set firmly in Grayhawk. However it was felt to be too good to be delayed so the decision was made to push it into the “S” and thus a whole loadof numbering (WG series) appears to have gone out of sync.

 

The party travel through the Yatil Mountains, looking for the perilous lost caverns and the legendary treasure rumoured to be there. There is information about the mountains and the characters, with the starting flavour and the background for the DM. Pages 132-140 give encounters within the mountains, including the classic gnome lair!

 

From Page 41, the caverns themselves are detailed. There is a lot of flavour-text for each encounter and feels a lot more modern that the other modules within this collection. The Minotaur maze looks very classic however and the artwork is definitely old school. Finally page 156 has one of my favourite pieces of artwork I have ever seen in a module both before and after. The black penwork really captures the mood of the vampire warrior-maid, lying apparently on a stone dais. This is one picture I would happily have on the lounge wall. Not that the wife would let me!!

 

There are two booklets at the end of the adventure. The first has the maps and the second has the new monsters (and there are quite a few) that appear. The second booklet ends with new spells and magic items and a very interesting article on magical diagrams and magical properties of gems that can be used in any campaign.

 

I must say that this collection is a joy to have, even though I own each of the modules singularly. The introduction is interesting and the collection of classic modules is an inspired idea. This should help generate income for WOTC as they work through the move to the Next version of the rules. With this in mind, it should be noted that the latest download for Next (dated 11/04/13) includes stats for all the monsters found in the four modules, converted to use in a Next campaign.

 

All I can say is well-done WTOC, What’s next and when??!!!!!

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