I did not intentionally start the new campaign of Rom’Myr so as to stuff as many 1e AD&D modules as I have into it, but once I reviewed S4 I wanted to try. The Rom’Myr campaign is a homebrewed Dying Earth setting offering the trappings and tropes of an original Vancian city, and the colorful denizens to be found therein. I started with Jack’s own stories of his fabled dying earth. My cardinal rule of source and inspiration of a genre is to reread the original material. By and large a ttrpg setting is devoid of the magic and juice the original creator transfused into their work. Carcosa would be an exception here, but the author and setting writer are one in the same. An organic kernel of fucked-upness which birthed a nation. So, I was quite convinced when reading S4 it was utterly the most Vancian module Gygax wrote. I needed a sharp range of mountains to hem-in the sword and sandle city of Valla’Tair, the campaigns home starting point. S4 is on my shelf so I was eager to make it “work”. The nuanced harmony with Vance’s stories S4 has made hacking the module a simple process. Many, many things of the original module were left intact.
Remember in high school when the DnD adventure recently purchased was going to be the adventure to be played that weekend? That is how I remember it all. The only elements of a traditional DnD campaign would be using the same character for each adventure, giving the character survived the previous one. Rather unsatisfying considering the true potential of the medium. Hence the idea was born, and gauntlet thrown down. I became determined to weave as many classic DnD adventure modules into the campaign as I could! Not in any slap-on, haphazard methods of old, but only when the module “fit”. I was betting the best use of this material was exactly how the authors said to use it; make it your own! Now this does require re-skinning the mod. Changing names, replacing monsters with your own, tossing out material that doesn’t work for you, this will need to be done to slot correctly into your game. But if you have chosen wisely then the work is brisk and intuitive.
Here are the AD&D modules (among many, many other sources) used so far:
S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
T1 Village of Hommlet
X2 Castle Amber
C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan
B3 Palace of the Silver Princess
WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun
The early DnD modules, or at least the ones I have used, are masterful tools which willingly support whatever the DM is attempting to build with their players. I subscribe to the notion that other people’s ideas are intrinsic to a successful campaign world (also known as a “living world”). These different (they don’t always need to be good, I learn from bad) ideas and adventures help link my best ideas together. There wasn’t any connection by players of the classic modules they are battling through. This is because the players were pursuing their goals, their advisories, the consequences of their actions. Enough slight-of-hand achieved so Tsojcanth is the Yonni’Hor mountains and the mysteries lying within. Tomoachan is the lower catacombs and sewers hiding the Cult of Sleep. Castle Amber and Hommlet is the home of the eccentric Ansulex family and their strange studies, werewolves in thrall to the Archbishop are stalking rebels and radicals, and the whimsical Palace of the Silver Prince is lost to the macabre house of the vampiric Knight of Gore. I don’t think I would have thought of a martial order of ghouls if it wasn’t for using B3. That dinner party was the shit!
I know Gygax and others tied their unique creations, eventually, to an official setting. Just like coming up with unique traps and challenges weekly is hard work, having all the answers to the player’s questions is unrealistic. Having some fleshed-out pantheon provided, or collection of kingdoms presented, saves time creating buildings, towns, and secret labs. There is only so much time in the day. But I’ll say you have to have your own unique campaign world to give a good game a chance. You must have horizons you are passionate to reveal. A DM is on the right track world building when prewritten adventures are easily adapted to situations at hand. One, they are good. They are good spaces to move around in, there are ample examples of what threats can be encountered there, major NPCs to make your own supervillains out of. I’ve hung the best, weirdest stuff I can on these old modules and I’ll tell you, it isn’t nothing they haven’t seen or can’t help make better.