Classic Dungeons & Dragons Adventures Still Worth Playing Today read full article at

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1980)

This AD&D adventure was also written by Gary Gygax and intended for characters between 8th and 12th level. This adventure is particularly memorable for its blending of high fantasy elements and science fiction, including by bringing in androids, spacecrafts, alien lifeforms, and a mysterious virus. It’s still notable today how this adventure expertly balances elements of both genres, such as a “karate master” robot and Lovecraftian monsters like the froghemoth, a giant alien frog with tentacles and three eyes.

As we made our way through the Barrier Peaks and into an odd metal cave that we eventually learned was actually a crashed spaceship, we encountered so many strange and wonderful things. Police robots, umber hulks, intellect devourers, and the towering froghemoth were just a few of the oddities discovered trying to figure out what had caused this craft to be buried in a seemingly normal mountainside.

On a very personal note, one of my favorite takeaways from this adventure was an anti-gravity belt that we found on our playthrough. While in real life, I was a kid who could not walk without the use of crutches, in game, I had always played fairly able-bodied characters. The anti-gravity belt planted the seed that if I wanted to, I could play a hero who felt a little more representative of myself. The belt was not labeled as an accessibility aid, but it got the wheels turning, and after home brewing a magical power source (so we did not have to rely on the power discs we found in the dungeon), that small item helped me realize just how powerful D&D could be. It changed the landscape of gaming for me as a player, a storyteller, and eventually a professional game designer.

Castle Amber (1981)

Castle Amber, also known as Château ď Amberville, was created by Tom Moldvay. Partly based on the Averoigne stories of weird fiction writer Clark Ashton Smith, as well as the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Roger Zelazny, this was a fun low-level adventure designed for a larger party. You see, while a typical D&D game usually consists of four or five players and a storyteller, Castle Amber was set to accommodate upwards of 10 players at the table. In fact, we usually played it with 12. That might sound a little crowded, but this adventure is so trying that you end up needing all hands to navigate its many threats.

Castle Amber starts off with us setting up camp on a hillside, feeding our troop of donkeys, and falling asleep, only to find ourselves—through the twisted threads of magic—waking up in the foyer of the titular castle. The doors to the castle were open, and beyond were mists that obscured all visibility. Things got more worrying when we realized one of the donkeys had wandered into the mist and died under mysterious circumstances. The storyteller provided no information other than that it seemed the poor animal had been in horrible pain before its death; immediately, a table full of players were terrified of this grey, cloudy substance surrounding the structure. But we should have been even more terrified of the Brain Collectors, spider-like horrors whose bodies were partially made up of the brains of its victims…

Ravenloft (1983)

Ravenloft, written by Tracy and Laura Hickman, was my first real introduction to the concept of a “Big Bag Villain” (commonly known as the BBG). Around the age of 12, I was invited to join a party that was already a few sessions into this Gothic horror adventure. The party was on a quest to rid these strange gray lands of the oppressive vampire lord who had it under his heel. First leaving the witch’s haunted woods behind, we then continued our journey through the Dracula-inspired castle Ravenloft, home of the iconic vampire lord Strahd von Zarovich. 

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