Monday, September 17, 2012

Temple of Elemental Evil - Still the Best MegaDungeon Around?

If I had a problem with most of TSR's earlier adventures, it's that they were tournament modules poorly converted for campaign play. I of course did not fully understand the problem at the time, in large part because the only commercial adventures I had were from TSR.

Then T1-4 was published (which I found to be strange numbering, as I had only previously seen T1 - The Village of Homlet).

The Temple of Elemental Evil changed my gaming style for a long time. Simply because it was pretty awesome.

TOEE had a village for the players to base themselves in. It had a dungeon that they could spend months adventuring in. They had to deal different factions within the temple - they could align with one faction against another, before breaking the alliance (or having it broken on them). The stand alone map booklet was many layers of awesome. For all intents and purposes, it was a stand alone campaign with a suitably climatic ending with purpose and value.

I ran it at least 3 times to conclusion.

I haven't found a megadungeon to match it - yet.

Stonehell does what it does well and Barrowmaze is currently giving my ACKS party a damn fine change from the sandbox above, but have I missed the next iteration of ToEE?

Heck, how about a list of OSR / Old School MegaDungeons?


  1. My favorite published Megadungeon is The Darkness Beneath from FO! IIRC the last installment comes out in the next issue.

  2. Never one to pass up an opportunity for self-promotion, I'll mention my own Castle of the Mad Archmage, previously serialized over the course of 18 months on my website, and coming next year as a print product from Black Blade Publishing.

    I've argued before that ToEE is not a megadungeon, per se. It's an effective enough mini-campaign, but lacks a lot of the attributes that classic megadungeons possess (constant, if slow, expansion; no over-arching plot to be concluded; generally impossible to "clear out").

    Personally, I found that T1-4 fell short of the promise that Village of Hommlet had. When compared to the elegant simplicity of the village and the moat house, the temple itself felt bloated and without focus. I've never actually run the temple itself, although I've run Hommlet and the moathouse a dozen times.

  3. I'll admit I was initially very disappointed by the module. I always thought of the basic elementals (earth, air, water, fire) as being pretty boring. But I loved the "secondary elementals" that popped up (steam, magma, dust, time, etc.) So when I saw "Elemental Evil" on the cover, I thought that "EVIL" had somehow become an element unto itself. "Holy crap, an elemental made out of PURE EVIL and a temple where he's worshiped as a GOD," I thought. I was stoked. Then I got it an read it. As awesome as it was, I couldn't get past the "Oh dammit. More water/air/fire/earth elementals."

    Maybe I should totally hammer out a module based on a creature made of PURE EVIL like my younger self wanted...

  4. Right now, the megadungeon that most intrigues me is Anomalous Subsurface Environment, as I rediscover my deep love for science fantasy that goes back to my early experiences with Perelandra, Star Wars, Barsoom, and so on. I just wish that the further levels would be published with more alacrity.

    Of course, there's also Dwimmermount, which seems to be back on track to publication.

    Wasn't there a TSR product that amounted to an apology for the horrible farce that was the Castle Greyhawk module?

  5. That list is here:

  6. The published OD&D megadungeon is
    Dungeon Geomorphs, Sets 1-3 (1976) plus Monster & Treasure Assortment, Sets 1-3 (1977).

  7. I'd say so.

    It is just the right length, long enough for a good campaign, but not too long as to become boring.


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