If you only ever play one D&D module ... play B5?

One of the places the players at the old school table have been exploring is the hill from B5 Horror on the Hill.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for this one. It never shows up on any of the Greatest Module Ever lists, perhaps because it hews a bit too close to the classic Keep on the Borderlands. The initial premise and base of operations (expunged from our game) are underdefined, and there’s some other stuff that’s also best nixed. It definitely takes a bit of work to polish up, but the good parts make it worth the effort. Not every idea is entirely original, but it manages to distill the essence of what makes D&D D&D, and hits a lot of game-defining notes. There’s an interesting wilderness to explore, a dungeon, significant danger, a spoiler, a lot of spoilering, a huge spoiler straight out of spoilertown, and even a … but the players haven’t found that yet, so I won’t say anything. B5 may well create more quintessential D&D moments than any other scenario I’m familiar with.

It’s not the greatest module ever, but a lot of the true greats like Ravenloft, Barrier Peaks or Tomb only really work so well because of players’ familiarity with other scenarios. If you could only ever play one to experience what D&D is all about, I’m starting to think it might be Horror on the Hill. Give it a look if you get the chance.

(OK, if pressed, I might choose White Plume Mountain or something. Or maybe Barrier Peaks after all. Still, B5 is in the conversation.)

What would you play if you could only ever play one module?

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That’s a funny coincidence, I was planning to run a 5e conversion of B5 as a 2-3 shot at VALUE earlier this year before things got sidetracked with emergencies. As you said, it’s a great example of different aspects of D&D fit into one adventure. Good to see it’s being appreciated!!

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It would be great to hear your ‘remix’ notes on how to get the most out of the module…

:tada: B4: The Lost City :tada:

I have a fable for bottled settings with factions and politics, because this forces the PCs to deal with the consequences of their actions.
On top of this I also like weird religions / ancient cults in RPGs
… and here you have spoilerNPC. :star_struck:

You have to do some work to make it “explode” … esp. the less central districts of the city need tons of work, but this module checks all of those marks listed above.

Never gonna run this as a oneshot though … since this module basically screams epic campaign.

(p.s.: I also have a soft spot for UK1: Beyond the Crystal Cave, but would not play it over and over again^^)

should we poll this system agnostic …

my winner would be City of Lies by Greg Stolze
for the Legend of the Five Rings rpg

This box set is about being the new Emerald Magistrate(s) in the city of Ryoko Owari Toshi, a major hub city in Scorpion Clan :scorpion: lands.
Mostly filled with fluff, lore and ingame guides. :star_struck:

I personally believe this is one of the single best RPG supplements ever published.


How are you planning to convert it? Replace every monster with something much tougher for starters? I imagine this would be extremely difficult.

More power to you!

Nothing particularly creative, unfortunately. Lose the home base. Change the initial motivation. Trim some chaff. Make the Hill and its focal point dynamic places by giving them a timeline. Minor modifications here and there.

On the whole, I’ve kept a lot of it intact because I do like it quite a bit, and not only for its high points.

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Fabulous choice.

Can I play?

The Burning Stars for Call of Cthulhu is a popular choice here. We played it once in this group, and I’m inclined to agree. Amazing stuff.

When I have ever time to run this again … sure :sunglasses: :+1:

Skipping stuff like magic balancing to 5e VALUE standards (area 30) and some RP enhancements at the beginning: by not letting them go home and moderating resources (area 6) based on combat performance. 1-39 as a session for level 1s, just straight numerical conversion. If they VALUE level to 2, 40-69 by increasing numbers and weapon size to focus on the scale of threat & give that old school “adventures vs the swarms of evil”, using morale/withdrawal/regrouping to make PC decisions matter. After that, yeah, pretty much swap out for meaner things, especially if it goes to a 3rd session.

I’d love to get your thoughts on what your PCs did, alterations you made, suggestions, or anything else!

Not sure how much help I can be, but I’ll write up some stuff when I have a moment (via pm to avoid spoilers).

I think the main difficulty will most likely be the system conversion rather than any module-specific tweaking. It’s a low-level Basic module, and 5th ed just doesn’t do that style of play. From the perspective of Basic, 5th ed is pretty much all mid-level. I’m not really sure how to go about solving that.

One thing I can say is that if you want to get through the whole thing in 2-3 sessions, you’ll really have to keep things moving. It’s a big module, and it’s tough. There’ll be defeats and set-backs. I think my group’s been chipping away at it for 10 sessions or so now.

@H , you’re definitely right, I think 5e specifically set out for mid-level power. While it has its benefits, I do miss and love the challenge of “I have exactly one spell per day and I am not using it the epic battle with a hobgoblin boss!”. It’d be difficult to capture the challenge in 5e, especially in a VALUE setting.

I suppose I am just aiming for the best traditional feeling I can find in a module that hasn’t been officially converted yet. Some rpg, some challenges, etc. 10 sessions though… Wow, that’s impressive and awesome! Definitely makes me think about trimming down where I can.