D&D Review: "Dungeons of Dread"

Last week, I received a review copy of "Dungeons of Dread"; one of the latest D&D products from Wizards of the Coast.  It is a collection and reprinting of some of the more infamous 1st edition D&D modules  - the S series.  This book contains modules S1 through S4: S1 - Tomb of Horrors

S2 - White Plume Mountain

S3 - Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

S4 - Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

Read onwards to learn more about these adventures and my thoughts on the collection.


For the first Origins game festival, Gary Gygax (the creator of D&D) created a new adventure to premiere at that event.    Having heard many players brag about how powerful their characters were, he designed the module to be a real challenge for players.  That module was called the "Tomb of Horrors", and was later released to the general public under the code S1 - starting off the "Special" series.

"Dungeons of Dread" collects "Tomb of Horrors" along with the other 3 S-series modules in a beautiful hard bound book.  Inside, all of the original illustrations and maps have been preserved and reprinted in a black and white format along with the original gameplay text that accompanied them.  The cover harkens back to the design of other 1st edition books, making it clear which version of the game this is for.

Now, I have a confession to make here: I have never played 1st edition D&D.  I did not get into D&D until the 3.5 edition in college.  I have, however, played a bit of the 4th edition revamp of the Tomb of Horrors.  Let me just say that as someone who has both played D&D as a character and run a game as a DM, looking through the original Tomb of Horrors module scares me.  Gary Gygax did not hold back with this adventure, it was very much made to kill player characters.  There are drastic, no holds barred death traps that can be encountered prior to even setting foot in the actual Tomb.

I haven't yet looked through the other adventures in this book as I want to do them justice and take my time reading through all their intricacies.  I have flipped through them a bit and I am pretty excited to see what's in store.  One of the dungeons appears to even take place on a spaceship!  In D&D - a *Fantasy* setting!  But apparently the player characters stumble onto a spaceship filled with aliens and various technology; including some funky looking space weapons.

Who is this book designed for?  Well, primarily, if you ever played the 1st edition version of D&D, then I think you are going to want this book.  I can imagine there will be lots of nostalgia flipping through the pages and reading the different mechanics of each adventure.  Players of later editions, like myself, may find it hard to understand all the instructions and gameplay.  For instance, I've been playing D&D for almost 10 years now across 2 editions and I still have no idea what some of the terms are in this book.  Yet, that difficulty aside, if you are like me and never played 1st edition D&D I think you are *really* going to like this book as it gives you a sense of the history of where this game that we love to play has come from.  All four of these dungeons are considered to be some of the best modules of D&D ever to be written, so it would be wise for modern DM's to take a look through the pages of Dungeons of Dread to try and find out why - and how they can use it to improve upon their own campaigns and storylines.

What editions of D&D have you played?  Let me know in the comments below.