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"A Look Back at Keep on the Borderlands" Topic


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436 hits since 17 Nov 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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blackjack07117 Nov 2017 4:49 p.m. PST

Reflecting on the D&D adventure module that started it all for me. Not sure if review or retrospective is the right word for it. Thanks for taking a look!

A Look Back at Keep at the Borderlands

GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2017 5:56 p.m. PST

In the early days of my youth, the players I had started with T1 The Village of Hommlet, and then eventually made it on their way to B1 and B2 if I recall correctly. It was much fun!

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2017 7:16 p.m. PST

Although my old gaming group was familar with B2, and I recall looking at the module, we never ran it. We started with B1, and then upgraded to AD&D fairly quickly, mostly creating our own adventures, though we did do the Giant series, and someone acquired the Barrier Peaks one-shot, White Plume Mountain and Tomb of Horrors, though I never had a character involved in any of those. As a DM, I ran Pharoah and a few Dragon magazine adventures, but otherwise everything was original.

I acquired my current copy of B2 when I made a shift back to the Red Box Basic Edition boxed set series, but never ran it. By that point I found it too generic and lacking in inherent story for my tastes at the time.

I agree with your assessment that the monsters all in the same place are, in hindsight, somewhat an absurd situation without some underlying reason for their implied cooperation (or at least fractious tolerance of their close proximity). These days, I would indeed make that a part of the cult, upping the cult as a presence and power, and giving the module a broader scope.

But maybe that generic feel and seemingly inexplicable situation are part of the appeal of B2: the setting can indeed just be a convenient spot for hameganging monsters and stealing their loot (as most early groups probably treat it), or it can be part of a larger story or society created by the DM. The module can grow to meet the imagination one brings to it.

In any case, nice blog entry, and thank you for the moment of nostalgia!

Dynaman878918 Nov 2017 7:11 a.m. PST

First D&D (RPG too) I ever played/reffed. Totally insane that all the monsters live so close to each other and the keep. Had a blast however.

blackjack07118 Nov 2017 3:45 p.m. PST

A point that I might have emphasized more if I wrote one more draft* is the non-linear nature of the module. While it does start the party off at the Keep's entrance, they don't have to spend much time there. Likewise, the party doesn't have to deal with the wilderness encounters and can enter the caves in whatever order the players wish. Later designers might have done well to follow up on that approach.

*At some point, one has to stop redrafting and editing and just hit post. It will never be perfect.

USAFpilot19 Nov 2017 9:39 a.m. PST

I give Gary Gygax praise for co-inventing Dungeons & Dragons, and then taking it to the next level with Advanced D&D; but never thought he was very good at writing adventure modules. I enjoyed reading about the actual keep and looking at the map of the castle, but the caves seemed repetitive low level hack and slash. His giant series G1-3, were high level hack and slash. I preferred the slaver series, A1-4, written by other authors.

Personal logo Mardaddy Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2017 6:16 p.m. PST

My story is similar to Parzival, though we started with AD&D in 1983 and we home-brewed the world and adapted the same modules and sources he references (are you sure we don't know one another??) We never did Keep on the Borderlands.

As luck would have it, I am a player in Dark Eyed Warrior's blog, and he is DMing ,"Call of Evil," a Pathfinder adaption of Keep on the Borderlands where all the players have evil alignments (a couple Asmodean-worshipping clerics and fighters, and one half-drow rogue.) Our goal is to take over the Keep itself and we've developed intrigues and manipulations to do so… The caves & wilderness are just to gain a reputation and earn gold to finance the coup.

He's taken a bit of a hiatus from posting the PF game and delved into a few solo zombie scenarios using THW rules, but hopefully will be picking back up the PF game soon enough.

You can find the game through his archives if you want a read-trough link

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