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11 Things To Do When You’re An Isolated Gamer



Don’t forget, because we’re online only, WE’RE STILL OPEN and ABLE TO SEND YOU YOUR ORDERS AS USUAL.


So you can’t go out, you can’t sit around the table with your gaming buddies, what can you do? Here are some suggestions.

1. Work on your next campaign. Do a bit of worldbuilding (maybe use World Anvil – tell them we sent you). Buy some background supplements from us.

2. Paint some miniatures. We’ve got plenty of minis in stock.

3. Learn how to paint. OK, maybe you’ve never learned how to paint miniatures. Now’s a brilliant time to start. The Adventurers and Monsters paint sets come with everything you need to get started (well almost – the Adventurers set comes with a brush; the Monsters set doesn’t – but we sell brushes too). And there are plenty of great tutorials on YouTube. This is a good video to start with.

4. Read a book. Don’t forget that we also stock a good range of fantasy and science fiction literature. We’re especially good for Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels. And then there’s our ‘Appendix N’ department. These are the books that Gary Gygax said were particularly inspirational for him (plus the odd later book in a similar vein). Some of these are hard to find nowadays.

5. Play a gamebook. A great form of solo gaming (and a gateway drug into roleplaying games for many of us). We have a large selection of Fighting Fantasy and other gamebooks.

6. Introduce your kids to roleplaying games. Now is the perfect time to get your kids started. How about the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set or Essentials Kit? Everything you need to start playing 5th edition D&D. Or if you’re feeling nostalgic, what about good old Basic D&D? (This is how I started, and I’m sure it’s how some of your started.) And if fantasy isn’t their thing and they’d prefer some deep space science fiction action, then what about the Traveller Starter Set?

7. Play a board game. Stuck in the house with just your immediate family? Why not play a new board game? Pandemic is the obvious suggestion, and we have both the standard version and the special 10th Anniversary Edition in stock.

Some other good isolation board game suggestions for the family. How about…

8. Roleplay remotely. Check out applications like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds (or even just use Skype) and play with your regular group using the wonders of internet technology.

9. Read up on your next RPG. Now’s a great time to buy a new roleplaying game and take the time to properly learn its systems and understand its world. Maybe a new RPG that you might have thought about briefly, but then didn’t invest in because you didn’t have the time to learn a new system or a new world. Here are some suggestions:

10. Just watch some telly. I highly recommend Secrets of Blackmoor – The True History of Dungeons & Dragons (look out for our name in the credits – we backed the kickstarter!) and Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons.

11. Do a D&D jigsaw puzzle. We have several in stock, featuring classic AD&D art.


Whatever you do, stay safe!


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Have Games Really Got More Expensive?

There’s been some talk recently on social media and on gaming blogs that tabletop gaming is getting more and more expensive. This seems to have been prompted by a number of high-profile, super-expensive games and expansions, such as Invisible Sun: The Black Cube and the enormous Super Star Destroyer model for Star Wars Armada announced at GenCon recently (it’s over two feet long and will cost something like £150!)

Image courtesy Fantasy Flight Games

Sure, those things sounds expensive. Well actually, they are expensive. But if we’re using those as evidence of “tabletop gaming getting more expensive”, then we aren’t comparing like with like. In say 1980, there were no roleplaying games that came in a 14kg cube with props and colour books like Invisible Sun. And there were no Star Wars starship combat games with models like Armada or X-Wing. If you wanted a starship combat game in 1980, you were probably looking at something like GDW’s Mayday, which used little square counters. (The first edition didn’t even come in a box, just a ziplock bag!)

So let’s find something directly comparable and see how prices compare. Most of you are probably unaware that I’m a Chartered Accountant by profession, and that my educational background is in economics. So let me use those skills.

Here’s a 1st edition AD&D Player’s Handbook. To be precise, it’s a 7th printing, from 1980.

How much would that have cost in the UK back in 1980? We can find the answer to that by finding an old copy of White Dwarf. The full-page advert for Esdevium Games (now Asmodee UK – and our main wholesaler of new games) tells us that it would have cost £7.90.

How does that compare to the Player’s Handbook for 5th edition D&D? The RRP for a brand new 5th edition Player’s Handbook is £38.99.

That sounds like a lot more, but that’s not taking into account inflation. £7.90 in 1980 is equivalent to £32.90 today (using the Office of National Statistics’ Composite Price Index).  £32.90 is actually pretty close to £38.99. But it gets better.

Firstly, the 5th edition physical product is better quality. I don’t want to get into edition wars of why 1st edition AD&D is better or worse than 5th edition D&D, but the 5th edition Player’s Handbook has more pages and all of those pages are full-colour and glossy. The 1st edition PHB has really rather cheap and rough black and white pages (although I do prefer the diversity of 1st edition art).

That’s not all. Because even though the RRP might be £38.99, more competition in the market means that the actual price you pay is probably rather less. Our price for a brand new 5th edition Player’s Handbook at the time of writing is actually only £29.24.

OK, that was one example. How about another? The High Guard book for Traveller was £2.90 in 1980, equivalent to £12.08 today. The High Guard book for Mongoose Traveller 2nd edition (the most recent edition of Traveller) is £38.99. “Hah!” you say. Except that Classic Traveller’s High Guard was a small 52-page black-and-white booklet, while the Mongoose version is a 224-page full colour hardback. It includes statistics for starships that were published separately in the days of Classic Traveller (in supplements like Traders & Gunboats and Fighting Ships) plus tons of stuff that Traveller referees back in the 1980s (like me) would have drooled over. (“Tigress deck plans…”) The Mongoose product is clearly the better value item. (Oh, and we’ll throw in a PDF copy too.)

You can keep plucking out examples like these, and in almost every case, the modern product is either cheaper in real terms, or qualitatively much better, or both.

Three more things. Firstly, in 1980, the secondhand market didn’t exist. There was no eBay, there was no Shop on the Borderlands and people were still using the games they’d only just bought. So you couldn’t find a cheaper secondhand copy of something, like the ones that we can sell you now.

Secondly, there was no commercial internet. There were no free pdfs, there was no free player-generated content. If you wanted a new adventure, you either wrote it yourself or you bought it.

And finally, people on average just have far more money to spend on hobbies in 2018 than they did in 1980. UK Real disposable income per capita has more than doubled since 1980 (Source: Office for National Statistics). In other words, we have twice as much cash to spend on hobbies as we did back then. (Also bear in mind that statistics like these usually ignore technological improvements. The actual increase in living standards is really much higher.)


So there you go. Gaming hasn’t got more expensive, it’s got much, much cheaper.

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“Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading” and other fantasy RPG reading lists: Part 1

When Gary Gygax wrote the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, he filled it with all sorts of useful guidance (and, to be fair, a certain amount of probably extraneous detail). Sandwiched in between Appendix M: Summoned Monsters and Appendix O: Encumbrance of Standard Items is the famous Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading:

Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading


The DMG was first published in 1979, and Gygax no doubt included works in Appendix N that he’d read years before. The list can look strange to a modern fantasy reader – it’s full of pretty obscure titles, while there is no mention of many of the more popular fantasies that we would think of today.

While it’s true that many now-famous examples of fantasy literature were published after 1979, not all were. The first Earthsea book was published in 1964, and the first Shannara book in 1977. But arguably most of the titles in Gygax’s list are rather different in their style of fantasy from Earthsea and Shannara.

You see, with the exception of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (or, as Gygax mistakenly refers to it, the “Ring Trilogy”) and some works by Lord Dunsany, these Appendix N works are not epic ‘high’ fantasy. What they mostly are is “swords & sorcery”.

So how is “swords & sorcery” different from “epic fantasy”? Well, the stories are shorter (less “epic”, naturally). The cast of characters is smaller. The stories are action-packed and fast-paced. The danger tends to centre on the protagonists only, not the entire world. Warriors tend to be brave, thieves tend to be quick, wizards tend to be evil and princesses tend to need rescuing.

Fur underpants are another indication that you’re reading swords & sorcery, not epic high fantasy…

That distinction between swords & sorcery and epic high fantasy is important in the history of D&D and other fantasy RPGs. It’s clear from Appendix N, and from early modules like the Giants series or Tomb of Horrors, that Gygax intended D&D to reflect swords & sorcery. However, by the time D&D went really big in the 1980s (when yours truly started playing), swords & sorcery literature had gone out of fashion, and epic high fantasy was in the ascendancy. If you’d gone into a branch of W.H. Smith in 1984, you’d have found The Lord of the Rings, and Thomas Covenant, and Sword of Shannara, and The Belgariad, but probably nothing by L. Sprague de Camp or Fritz Leiber. There might have been a Conan book, but it was probably a movie tie-in.

…while a cover picture full of trees is a sure sign of epic high fantasy.

Now most of my first D&D group had already read, or were in the process of reading, LotR. Some of us were already moving on to The Silmarillion and Thomas Covenant. So it seemed perfectly natural that our D&D campaign was epic fantasy. There’s no wrong way to play D&D, but clearly we weren’t doing D&D in the Gygaxian ‘Appendix N’ fashion. But then we didn’t really know any better, because we’d been brought up on epic fantasy, not swords & sorcery.

But then Dragonlance arrived.

Literary critics hated it, but there’s no doubting Dragonlance’s importance in the history of fantasy roleplaying games.

My group didn’t play it, but we could have done. The sort of adventures that Tanis and Raistlin and Flint and company have in Dragonlance are the sort of adventures that Talon and Gelfin and Damark had in that first campaign that I played in. Dragonlance was a series of AD&D modules and a series of novels (that you’d find in W.H. Smith), and it was absolutely epic high fantasy. Because of that, it’s really important in the history of D&D. After Dragonlance, epic fantasy themes come into published D&D more and more.

For what it’s worth, I think you can run both styles of fantasy with D&D.

But I digress. This blog post is supposed to be about Appendix N. If you look around on the internet, you’ll find plenty of other articles about Appendix N, including plenty of reviews of the (sometimes obscure) works listed. I would particularly recommend Jeffro Johnson’s work, including his excellent book “Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons”. Johnson has a true appreciation for the style of writing typified by Appendix N, and for old school roleplaying.

What I thought would perhaps be more useful would be to look at the works from a roleplaying perspective. If you’re playing a paladin, which book should you read for inspiration? If you’re running a multi-level dungeon crawl, which book can you grab ideas from? That’s going to come in part 2 of this article. And then in part 3, we’ll take a look at other lists of inspirational literature for RPGs, from other early lists of fantasy literature to more modern lists, and other works that I have found to be inspirational in my own campaigns.

All this would be pointless if you couldn’t buy these books. Many of them (most of them to be honest) are out of print. However, what is The Shop on the Borderlands if not a place to find rare out-of-print books for roleplaying? So I invite you to browse our new “Appendix N and Other Inspirational Fantasy Literature” department…

Few literary series had as much influence on D&D as Fritz Lieber’s Fafrhd and the Gray Mouser stories.
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A lot of people trying to sell secondhand games, think that the fact that their item is “still in shrink” means that it should be worth more.

All that shrink-wrapped means is “At some point in its life, someone shrinkwrapped this game.” It doesn’t mean that it’s never been opened.

I’ve worked for a big hobby retailer (Virgin Games Centre, Oxford in the mid-90s) and I now run The Shop on the Borderlands. (Although we mostly deal in secondhand, we do stock new games as well.)

I can tell you this: MOST NEW GAMES DO NOT ARRIVE FROM THE DISTRIBUTOR SHRINK-WRAPPED. Some do, certainly – maybe about one third.

One of my jobs at Virgin was to shrink-wrap games using the shop’s shrink-wrapping machine which was down in the warehouse / loading bay. In other words, most shrink-wrapping is done by the retailer. And the better retailers (good FLGSs for example) expect that customers will want to open games to have a look, and flick through rulebooks, so they probably don’t shrink-wrap at all.

So just because an item is shrink-wrapped, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t got bashed about on the way to the retailer, doesn’t mean that it is complete, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been opened and read by enthusiastic gamers having their lunchbreak who work at the shop (ahem). And of course on a classic game, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t shrink-wrapped many years of enthusiastic play later.

Our policy at The Shop on the Borderlands is to actually remove any shrink-wrap on games we buy whether brand new or second hand. We then open the item, check that it is complete and what condition individual components are in. We even go so far as to give individual condition grades to each component. And our product photos are not generic stock images, or images taken from the manufacturer’s website, but photos of the actual item we have in stock, including contents. For shipping, we bag smaller items or use bubble-wrap (never shrink-wrap) before they get boxed.

Sorry for the rant here, but this is a subject that really annoys me. There are people out there putting their own shrink-wrap on a classic product and selling it at a premium as “still in shrink”. That’s fraud. I wouldn’t like to guess at the percentage of old games that have been newly shrink-wrapped in this way.

And you’ll see some experts say that you should expect to pay more for a mint condition shrink-wrapped game than one that is in mint condition, but doesn’t have the shrink-wrapping. They’re expecting you to pay a premium AND take on the extra risk that the contents aren’t complete or are in poor condition.

Here’s what I think people should do when faced with someone trying to charge a premium for shrink-wrapping: ask the seller to remove the shrink-wrap and let you have it at a cheaper price.

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Starter RPGs for Younger Roleplayers

It’s the summer holidays. Kids don’t need to go to school – yay! If you know some younger potential gamers who might be converted to the roleplaying cause, why not buy them a game to start them off with? (You may even want to run one for them, depending on how old they are.)

But which roleplaying games work best for new roleplayers? Read on…

The Obvious Choice

P1170026The new 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons has proved to be hugely popular with roleplayers young and old. And it has a Starter Set especially designed for beginning roleplayers. It’s got everything you need to get started (including dice) and is completely compatible with the other 5th edition D&D products once the group outgrows it and wants something more complicated.


The Nostalgic Choice

If you’re my kind of age (mid-40s), then you very well may have got your first taste of role-playing with the famous ‘red box’ Basic Dungeons & Dragons. This is still a great choice today, and of course one of the great things about shops like The Shop on the Borderlands is that we have old versions of D&D in stock.


The Almost As Obvious Choice

I put D&D as my ‘obvious choice’ because it’s what most people think of when you say “roleplaying game” and there’s a good chance that people will be aware of the brand. However in terms of brand awareness, D&D is insignificant compared to Star Wars. And guess what, there are no less than three different but compatible current Star Wars RPGs, each with their own Beginner Game.

Which one you choose will depend on the sort of campaign you want to play in. Fancy fighting for the Rebels against the Empire? You need ‘Age of Rebellion‘. If hanging out in cantinas with smugglers and bounty hunters is more your thing, then go for ‘Edge of the Empire‘, and if you want to be one with the Force wielding your lightsabre, choose ‘Force and Destiny’. All of these games are compatible with each other and their more complicated core rulebooks, so like the 5th edition D&D Starter Set, there is an obvious upgrade path.


Choices for Fans of Superheroes

Nowadays it seems that three out of every four Hollywood blockbusters are superhero films. For the young superhero fan, there are some suitable beginner RPGs.

For Batman fans, the Batman Role-Playing Game is a cut-down version of the full DC Heroes game. It comes in a single paperback book format, so it’s perfect to take on holiday.

Marvel fans can choose between two different Marvel RPGs. The more recent (and somewhat glossier) is The Marvel Universe Role-Playing Game while the older Marvel Super Heroes was produced by TSR when they were making D&D, and has rules which will be very easy to pick up for anyone who has played that game. Both are very good games for beginners, with plenty of advice on how to run adventures.


The Portable Choice

If you fancy some roleplaying on holiday and luggage space is tight, some of these larger boxed RPGs might not be so good. In this case, consider the classic British RPG ‘Dragon Warriors‘, which unusually was published in three volumes in the same format as regular paperback novels. Quite apart from the handy form factor, Dragon Warriors was a good fantasy RPG in its own right, and well-suited to beginners.


The Not-Quite-Roleplaying Choice

P1160600If you think you might have to be cunning in getting the youngsters hooked on roleplaying games, try exposing them to the Dungeons & Dragons board game first. It’s a fun family board game, but close enough to real D&D to be something of a gateway drug.


The Big Battles Choice

OK, so it isn’t a roleplaying game, but it is fantasy. It’s a very easy way to play out big fantasy battles, using little plastic miniatures that come with the game. I’m talking about Battlelore. We have a whole range in stock. Once your players are a little older and you’ve introduced them to Game of Thrones, they’ll love the fact that the same rules are used in the Battles of Westeros series too.


So go on, introduce some youngsters to roleplaying games. It might just turn out to be the best thing you ever do for them. As a special incentive, if you buy a game from us as a gift for a younger gamer, send us a photo of them playing the game and tell us a bit about it. We’ll publish the best one and send them something extra for their game as a special “Welcome to Roleplaying” prize!

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Papers & Paychecks

Although RPG art has got more colourful and glossier over the years (mostly as publishers have got more professional and colour publishing, whether in print or PDF has got easier and cheaper), I’m not convinced that it’s got better.

Some of my favourite pieces of art (I use that term deliberately) from old RPG works are simple black and white line drawings.

Traveller has particularly good illustrations, my favourite of which is this ‘mercenary striker’ from Book 4: Mercenary. Dick Hentz is the artist.

'Mercenary Striker' from Classic Traveller Book 4: Mercenary, by Dick Hentz
‘Mercenary Striker’ from Classic Traveller Book 4: Mercenary, by Dick Hentz


Liz Danforth also illustrated for Traveller, but I think her best work was for ICE’s Middle-Earth Role-Playing, in particular the portraits she did for the ‘Lords of Middle-Earth Series’.

'The Blue Wizard Pallando', by Liz Danforth
‘The Blue Wizard Pallando’, by Liz Danforth

That’s really only the tip of the iceberg for Liz Danforth, a truly multi-talented individual. Look her up on wikipedia and you’ll be amazed by how many different things she’s good at.


RPG illustrations also seem to have got more uniform and perhaps more serious than they used to be, which is really the purpose for this post. Sure, the 5th edition artwork is uniformly excellent, but it’s all very coherent. 1st edition had a variety of styles, from the dramatic…

Untitled, by Darlene Pekul
Untitled, by Darlene Pekul

…to the elegant…

Unknown title, Darlene Pekul
Unknown title, Darlene Pekul

…to the downright silly…

Papers & Paychecks, by Will McLean
Papers & Paychecks, by Will McLean


No, there never was a Papers & Paychecks Roleplaying Game, although I think there should have been. Happy April Fool’s Day.

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The PAW Wargames Show

A few weeks back I popped along to the Plymouth Association of Wargamers’s 2015 show. Never been before, so thought it would be interesting to check out.

Sword and Spear demo game

Really impressive show – two enormous sports halls filled with demonstration and tournament games, and a great friendly buzz. Oh, and I even found some new stock for the shop in their ‘Bring and Buy’ section – including this obscure gem.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we’ll be going next year in an official capacity – yes, The Shop on the Borderlands will be there in person as a trader. So if you’re anywhere near Plymouth on the 6th or 7th February 2016, why not come to the show (it only costs £4 to get in) and say hello!

We won’t have the space to transport all of our stock, but if there is something you want to have a look at, send us an email and we’ll try to remember to bring it. We’ll also be bringing a computer hooked up to the internet so that attendees can browse the full stock list. For those people there both days, we can easily bring something in the second day if it is requested on the first.

More about the show and the Association here.


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Scottish RPGs (sort of…)

You may have noticed that Scotland has been in the news recently (to say the least). And that’s all the excuse I needed to produce a list of Scottish-themed RPG books…

SONY DSCThe Ghost Tower of Inverness

This 1st edition AD&D adventure doesn’t actually have anything to do with Scotland, but the author seems to have selected the site of the Ghost Tower by throwing a dart at a map of the Highlands…



Celts Campaign Sourcebook

Not all inhabitants of Scotland were or are Celtic, and certainly not all Celts are Scottish, but including this 2nd edition AD&D historical supplement seems fair.


SONY DSCHowls in the Night

Can you think of another AD&D adventure with a tam’o’shanter on the cover? Well, can you?




Since we’ve already established that not all of the inhabitants of Scotland were Celts, we can say that some of them (especially in the north and on the islands) were Vikings. So I can include this other AD&D historical reference.


SONY DSCA Game of Thrones RPG / A Song of Ice and Fire RPG

George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series depicts a civilised land separated from wild red-haired barbarians in the cold north by a big wall running from west to east. England on the other hand is…well, you get the idea. (Joke…joke…)


SONY DSCThe Pit of Loch Durnan and The Witch of Loch Durnan

3rd edition D&D adventures with the word ‘Loch’ in the title. Oh come on, that totally counts…



SONY DSCReavers’ Deep Sector Sourcebook

Traveller supplement detailing the Reavers’ Deep Sector (reavers – like the border reavers) and its largest human government the Principality of Caledon. Caledon, Caledonia, you see?


SONY DSCLion of the North

Scottish sourcebook for Ars Magica.



SONY DSCJames Bond 007 RPG

Scotland’s most famous spy (yes he was Scottish – read the books), most notably played by Scotland’s most famous actor.


SONY DSCDoctor Who – Time Lord RPG

Published when Sylvester McCoy was the Doctor, and he’s definitely Scottish. So is Peter Capaldi for that matter.



Star Trek RPG

You get to play a Scotsman called, wait for it…’Scotty’. ‘McCoy’ is a Scottish name too.




Beyond the Wall

Scottish and Pictish sourcebook for Pendragon.


SLA Industries

Cyberpunky RPG that was made by Scotland’s own Nightfall Games.


SONY DSCNight City Stories

Excellent supplement for Cyberpunk that was written by a group based in Edinburgh.




Cthulhu Britannica – Shadows over Scotland

Call of Cthulhu supplement about Scotland. As you’d expect from the title.


SONY DSCThe Works of Shakespeare

Unusual d20 sourcebook that lets you run four Shakespeare plays as adventures, including Macb…THE SCOTTISH ADVENTURE. (It’s bad luck for roleplayers to say the name before a session. You’ll roll 1s all night.)



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20 D&D Adventures To Play Before You Die*

* …that you possibly haven’t heard of.


Back in 2004, Dungeon Magazine got together a bunch of famous D&D designers, like Ed ‘Forgotten Realms’ Greenwood, Bruce Cordell and Monte Cook, and asked them to come up with a definitive list of the ’30 Greatest Adventures of All Time’. Many of the blog posts you see online with similar titles are heavily based on this list.


There are undoubtedly plenty of good adventures on that list. However, I have a few problems with it:

  1. 29 of the 30 were published by TSR or WotC. (28 TSR, one WotC, one Judges’ Guild) Other companies have published adventures for D&D from the very early days.
  2. There’s a huge bias towards 1st Edition AD&D.
  3. There’s a huge bias towards traditional dungeon crawls. Other forms of adventure do exist.
  4. The list is now ten years old. More adventures have been published since then. Also, tastes in roleplaying change.

You can see Dungeon Magazine’s original ’30 Greatest Adventures of All Time’ list here. We have many of them in stock.

Anyway, I thought I would enhance the original article by coming up with a list of twenty somewhat less famous (but perhaps more varied) D&D adventures that I think you really should try to play before you die.


  1. SONY DSCN4 Treasure Hunt. A brilliant way to start a new campaign. In Treasure Hunt players start with 0th level characters who get shipwrecked. As they play through the adventure, their actions determine what class they become and what alignment they are. It’s also really helpful for DMs – the “What if they don’t do this?” section was a brilliant idea.
  2. SONY DSCDL1-12 DragonLance. OK, this is a bit of a cheat since a) it’s very famous, b) DL1 was number 25 in the original list and c) it has never been published as one module (the closest being the DragonLance Classics series which reprinted the series in three volumes). But DragonLance was only ever meant to be played as one grand campaign, and in that role, it was ground-breaking. D&D took most of its inspiration from pulp swords and sorcery, not epic high fantasy. DragonLance showed that the game was just as capable of delivering grand sweeps of awesome epicness.
  3. SONY DSCIrilian. Irilian was published in six parts in White Dwarf magazine, issues 42 to 47. It’s a very detailed large medieval town and a brilliantly-written plot-heavy adventure. Clever use of language and names makes the town seem more real while the adventure itself has a great feeling of impending doom. All six parts were included in The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios Volume III.
  4. RA1 Feast of Goblyns. Everyone knows about the original Ravenloft module. However, after TSR decided to turn Ravenloft into an entire campaign setting, they came out with this overlooked horror of an adventure. A great introduction for players and characters new to Ravenloft (and possibly a real shock for cocky players who think they’ve seen it all). Big on atmosphere (and with plenty of tips along the way to help DMs creep out their players). My favourite ‘scary’ D&D adventure.
  5. H1 Bloodstone Pass. Part roleplaying adventure, part miniatures battle (using the just-released Battlesystem miniatures rules), Bloodstone Pass was another example of taking D&D in a slightly different direction than simple dungeon-delving. Also a little unusual at the time in being an AD&D scenario for high level characters.
  6. OA5 Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw. The fifth Oriental Adventures scenario. This one is a romp involving oriental gods, secret societies and martial arts. The plot is all over the place in some ways, but the adventure is simply a lot of fun.
  7. Reverse Dungeon. Just like the PC game Dungeon Keeper. This time, instead of being the heroes raiding the dungeon, you’re the monsters. It’s actually three mini-campaigns in which the players play in turn a goblin tribe, guardian abominations and finally ancient undead. Different, fun, clever – a great one-off change of pace adventure.
  8. Die Vecna Die! The last AD&D product (before 3rd edition), the last product to be branded ‘TSR’ and the end of an era. Oh, and one which links Greyhawk, Ravenloft and Planescape and two of D&D’s most iconic bad guys (Vecna and Iuz). High-level multiverse-shattering, apocalyptic end-of-everything stuff. And sort of an explanation of why third edition rules are different from second edition.
  9. The Last Days of Constantinople. One of the best things about the Open Gaming Licence that came in with 3rd edition was the flexibility it gave third party publishers to do something different with the game. This was an almost straight historical adventure set in Constantinople just before its fall to the Turks. It’s only 46 pages, but packs a hell of a lot in – the last Roman Emperor, Vlad the Impaler, exotic courtesans, palace intrigue, arquebuses, greek fire and 100,000 Turks! Oh, and a big crocodile.
  10. SONY DSCIn Search of New Gods. A short, but very well-written British adventure that rewards clever players as much as powerful characters.
  11. SONY DSCUK4 When A Star Falls. I think this is the best of the (generally excellent) ‘UK’ series of AD&D modules produced by the UK office of TSR. Interesting NPCs and makes plenty of use of lesser known monsters out of Monster Manual II and the Fiend Folio.
  12. SONY DSCFRC2 Curse of the Azure Bonds. The PCs wake up covered in blue tattoos – the ‘azure bonds’ of the title – and embark on a quest to find out what they are and how to remove them. One of those adventures where there’s a lot going on in the background, and where the PCs can make radically different choices regarding how they deal with the threats and who they ally with. As such, it’s not the easiest module to run, and needs a fair bit of preparation, but it’s ultimately very rewarding.
  13. SONY DSCWhen Black Roses Bloom. Takes one of DragonLance’s best villains, Lord Soth, and puts him in a Ravenloft realm created by his own nightmares. An adventure that rewards thoughtful play.
  14. SONY DSCRevenge of the Giants. A loving homage to the 1st edition G1-3 Against the Giants modules, this fourth edition hardback campaign added plenty of extra new material. A lot of people don’t like 4th edition, but if they don’t try this, they’re definitely missing out. Individual encounters are set out in detail, with plenty of advice for the DM on the tactics that the giants and other monsters use. One of the best modern dungeon crawl adventures.
  15. SONY DSCThe Lair of Maldred the Mighty. A White Dwarf adventure (issue 24) for highish level characters. A dungeon crawl, but the equal of most of those famous 1st edition dungeon crawls published by TSR, and it was included in a magazine costing 75p. The only problem? Really small print! It’s also included in The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios Volume II.
  16. The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga’s odd hut-on-chicken-legs first appeared in D&D in the 1976 Original D&D supplement Eldritch Wizardry. It’s actually from slavic folklore, and you’ll also find it in the Call of Cthulhu campaign ‘Horror on the Orient Express‘. This is one of the weirdest of all official D&D modules. You thought the spaceship in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks was odd? How about alternate reality Tokyo?
  17. X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield. An army of desert nomads (the same desert nomads as in ‘Master of the Desert Nomads‘) invades the civilised world and it’s up to the PCs to lead the defence. It’s more of a strategic war game using the Companion Set’s War Machine battle rules (or Battlesystem) than a pure adventure, but there is plenty of shuttle diplomacy included too. It came with a map of the D&D world and plenty of counters
  18. B6 The Veiled Society. Most low level D&D adventures are dungeon crawls. For no apparent reason, it seems that writers think that political intrigue and diplomacy is for higher level characters. The Veiled Society is an exception. At a time when many AD&D players would look down on Basic D&D as simplistic, Basic D&D players were playing through this complex (if all too short) scenario.
  19. SONY DSCP1 King of the Trollhaunt Warrens. There aren’t as many 4th edition adventures as you’d hope for, but this is certainly a good one. It’s a ‘paragon’ level (i.e. highish) adventure with 4th edition’s typically high production values. The villain is a self-declared king of the trolls who has acquired a powerful magic cauldron (and who reminded me of the cavewight Drool Rockworm from Thomas Covenant).
  20. Marauders of the Dune Sea. 4th edition never had enough adventures. The Dark Sun setting has never had enough adventures. Good job that this 4th edition Dark Sun adventure is so good then! Serves as a good introduction to the setting and the sort of campaign that makes it easy for the DM to add extra mini-adventures in here and there.


We have some of these adventures in stock here at The Shop on the Borderlands, so if you’d like to add to your collection, follow the links.

What D&D adventures do you think deserve the status of forgotten classics?

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Dungeon Magazine’s ’30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time’

Non-Specific Setting AdventuresIn November 2004, Dungeon Magazine got a dozen or so D&D designers and got them to assemble a definitive list of the 30 best D&D adventures. Here’s what they came up with. We have many of these adventures in stock here at The Shop on the Borderlands, so if you’d like to learn more, or you’d like to add a copy to your collection, follow the links.



  1. GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders
  2. I6 Ravenloft
  3. S1 Tomb of Horrors
  4. T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil
  5. S3 Expedition to the Barrier PeakSONY DSC
  6. I3-5 Desert of Desolation
  7. B2 The Keep on the Borderlands
  8. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
  9. S2 White Plume Mountain
  10. Return to the Tomb of HorrorsSONY DSC
  11. Gates of Firestorm Peak
  12. The Forge of Fury
  13. I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City
  14. Dead Gods
  15. X2 Castle Amber (Chateau d’Amberville)
  16. X1 The Isle of Dread
  17. The Ruins of UndermountainSONY DSC
  18. C1 Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
  19. N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God
  20. A1-4 Scourge of the Slavelords
  21. Dark Tower
  22. S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
  23. WG4 The Forgotten Temple of TharizdunSONY DSC
  24. City of the Spider Queen
  25. DL1 Dragons of Despair
  26. WGR6 The City of Skulls
  27. U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
  28. B4 The Lost City
  29. L2 The Assassin’s Knot
  30. C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness


Now personally, I think this list is anything but definitive, so I’ve written a follow-up article, entitled “20 D&D Adventures to Play Before You Die…that you possibly haven’t heard of“.