B2: The Keep on the Borderlands
|This article or section is about something oldschool - and awesome.|
Make sure your rose-tinted glasses are on nice and tight, and prepare for a lovely walk down nostalgia lane.
Shit, this is back when old-school adventures were old-school.
Created back in the glory days of Dungeons and Dragons, when traps were dangerous, poison was save-or-die, and everything was Awesome. It was one of the first adventures released for the "Basic" version of the system (released alongside the "Advanced" (1st edition) version), by Gary Gygax himself back in 1978. The general gist was that an unknown evil had taken up occupation in a series of caverns (the so-called Caves of Chaos) not too far from a strategically-important castle town (the aforementioned keep) in the borderlands.
Classic dungeon crawling and high adventure ensue. It was made for low-level groups, so it's soft-around-the-edges unlike a certain other module that has been known to drive men to madness. In spite of this it had some serious challenges in it, including some nasty cursed items, a bunch of warring monstrous humanoid clans getting ready to attack the keep, and a temple of an evil god set up to profit from it all. All in all, it was a forgiving module, well-suited to a wide array of different party styles and tactics, whether a group was full of warrior-diplomats or sneaky gits, magic-users, and fighty-types - yet it was also hard-core enough to make parties feel tension and unease. There was treasure to be had, and so many memories for the players who hopped into this game, that it remains a fond segment for all.
The Keep on the Borderlands went out of print in the early 1980s, but has been reprinted two times; a sequel was also made. A novelized version of the adventure was published in 1999 (like the one for Tomb of Horrors, it sucks a bag-full of dicks).
The module was well-received by almost everyone who played it, and was ranked the 7th greatest Dungeons and Dragons adventure of all-time by Dungeon Magazine in 2004. Like a lot of old-school adventures that Wizards of the Coast fucking dragged their heels on, they didn't release an updated version of Keep on the Borderlands until 4th edition, where it's once again a generally low-level module and is infinitely less dangerous, leading most of /tg/ to proudly declare that it sucks, having lost a lot of the suspense and sense of danger the original tended to drive home due to 4th's less-lethal combat and traps regimen.
The Keep on the Borderlands was never remade for 3rd or 3.5, despite there being overpowering demand for it. Veteran elegan/tg/entlemen are quick to point out that this squarely falls into the same category as some of WotC's other bone-headed moves, like suing to stop other companies from working on books for Ravenloft in 3rd Edition, claiming they were going to release their own version of the setting (only doing so with the Expedition to Castle Ravenloft book for 3.5, a level 6-10 module), Failing to sell Planescape, Spelljammer, and Dark Sun (settings highly sought-after and that frankly would have sold themselves), and so on. The caves portion of the module, however, was updated in 2012 for the early early playtesting of D&D Next.
To many fans joy, in 2017 it was announced that Keep on the Borderlands (along with it's sister module B1 In Search of the Unknown) would be released 2018 as Into the Borderlands as part of the partnership between Wizards of the Coast and Goodman Games. This release contained two scans of the original B1 and B2 adventures (to highlight the differences from their original and later 80s releases) as well as updating the modules and connecting them to form one overarching adventure suitable for D&D 5e characters of 1st to 5th level. Hilariously they kept almost all of the original treasure and added a few additional adventure locales themselves which only added more treasure. What this means is that by the time the players are done playing through it they'll be on par in terms of wealth as characters several levels higher in most other 5e adventures and decked out in a fair number of magical weapons, armors and other wondrous items they should actually be able to take on even harder threats going forward. And what harder a threat to take on than a whole island of dinosaurs, pirates, cannibalistic spider-people and ancient secrets?