New DM for AD&D? Want to know where to start? Me too. I’ve never DMed this system, let alone played it. So I may be getting ahead of myself. Regardless, I took everyone’s advice and started at square one:
For many players, this was their first experience of AD&D. A very sandboxy Gygax module featuring a sleepy town with more than meets the eye. And, of course, a dungeon. What sets this module apart from others that I have read is this: there is no quest, no storyline, no plot. Only very detailed and interesting setting. For a beginner DM, this could be very challenging.
But what other options are out there that support new DMs and new players? A challenging question, to be sure. Hommlet is Gygax’s only introductory AD&D module. But there are a few out there that I’ve tracked down.
N1 – Against the Cult of the Reptile God
Another village. With yet more secrets. I think a pattern may be forming. This module was actually written specifically for new DMs, so it might actually be my first recommendation for those looking to learn. If I were not trying to go through all of Gygax’s work, this module would probably be the one I started with as a DM.
U1 – The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is not only a personal favorite of a good friend, but it’s also the beginning of a three module series. I’m trying my best not to read spoilers, since I will soon be playing this one as a PC. However, from what I can tell it has a similar setup to Hommlet, featuring the village and the dungeon setup. That said, the village is not nearly as detailed as Hommlet. So if you’re looking for less talking to villagers and more getting to the action, this would be a good way to go.
Don’t want to bother with character creation? No sweat. In this campaign, players start out at Level 0, “choosing” their class through roleplay. Do they pick up a bow and start shooting? I see a ranger-in-training. Are they studying spellbooks? Twenty bucks says they aren’t going to be a fighter-thief. It’s a neat concept that I’d love to try out. And there are ships.
In case you wonder what these letter-number combinations mean, the N-series stands for the Novice series. This particular module introduces the Forgotten Realms setting, which I really enjoy in later editions of D&D. If you’re looking to get out of Greyhawk, this might be a great way to do that.
B2 – The Keep on the Borderlands
Once you’ve got one or two of these earlier modules under your belt, I understand that this would be a great one to DM. It’s Gygax’s only D&D Basic module–and his only other introductory module that I can find. I’ve been assured via Twitter that the conversion is relatively simple. I’ll report back when I try it myself.
What about you experienced DMs out there: did I forget any? What were your favorite introdutory modules? Comment below.
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4 thoughts on “Modules for Learning to DM AD&D”
T1 is probably the best, but my personal favorite 1e starting module and sandbox is L1 The Secret of Bone Hill with the town of Restenford.
Really? I’ve heard absolutely nothing about that one. Tell me more!
Secret of Bone Hill was designed as a true sandbox. Rather than being a single story and dungeon, it has a well developed fantasy town in Restenford, a detailed area surrounding the town, with some area adventures as well to get you started. It is set in the world of Greyhawk which is the original campaign world of AD&D. I have ran three different campaigns that started in Restenford and the town remained the central hub for the entire campaign. For a while, Wizards.com had it available as a free download which is what I have. I don’t see it on their website anymore but I see PDFs available for download from lots of other websites.