News — Jeff Dee

X1: The Isle of Dread... a classic among classics

AD&D Modules Bill Willingham Jeff Dee

I’m sure several thousand words have been written concerning the D&D Expert Set module X1: The Isle of Dread.  Certainly it’s one of the two most popular adventures ever published simply because of its inclusion in the D&D Expert Boxed Set [much like Keep on the Borderlands for Basic], so I’m sure I don’t have to go into great detail concerning it. Simply put, it was written by David Cook and Tom Moldvay back in 1981 and takes a group of adventures over the waves of the Sea of Dread to a lost island setting adventure.  It’s a classic, but...

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A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity; Perhaps the greatest collection of play-testers ever!

AD&D Modules Bill Willingham David LaForce Jeff Dee TSR

I’m going to be honest here, I’ve never played any of the A series of modules, and for that I feel horrible.  I've owned these modules for twenty-two years, and begged my DM Mark to run them on several occasion, but since he doesn't own them, it just never happened.Truly, I feel sick over that, especially when digging through A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity this week for AotG.  I mean, just start out with the title, ‘Slave Pits of the Undercity’!  It is yet another example of a Robert E. Howard theft, or perhaps Fritz Leiber.  I’m seriously freaking...

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D3: Vault of the Drow... yeah, it's really as cool as it sounds

AD&D Modules David LaForce Erol Otus Jeff Dee TSR

Ok, so today is a ‘big one’.  Perhaps not as big as they get, but certainly in the upper echelon of what makes a classic TSR module. D3: Vault of the Drow was written by Gary Gygax sometime around 1978 and finally released in this particular version in 1980.  It is a pretty cool piece of work, although really more of a stopgap [much like D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth] between Against the Giants and Queen of the Demonweb Pits.  Coming in at a rather standard 28 pages, Vault is a smooth running exploration adventure that leaves...

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The Basic D&D Magenta Box: The last ride of the first TSR art 'pit crew'

Bill Willingham David LaForce Erol Otus Jeff Dee Jim Roslof TSR

In 1980, TSR once again released a new version of their Basic D&D Boxed Set.  This one featured new cover art by Erol Otus, and an eye-catching magenta box.  Its creation certainly didn’t revolutionize gaming, but it did show a steady evolution from small press niche publisher to mid-range gaming company. Written by Tom Moldvay with revisions done from the original text by J. Eric Holmes, this particular rules book used the core group of the first TSR ‘pit’ for the final time. Covered by Erol Otus, who got the call for both the Basic and Expert boxed sets from...

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Top Secret: It's no secret that this game is packed with old TSR artistic talent!

Erol Otus Jeff Dee Top Secret TSR

In 1980 TSR had already started to expand its role-playing brand with the addition of Gamma World, but they didn’t stop at the post-apocalyptic market. Enter the espionage role-playing game Top Secret.  Written by Merle M. Rasmussn [probably a fictitious character] and edited by Allen Hammack, this boxed set featured a full game book and adventure that would become the standard arms for most TSR boxed games until the mid-1980s. I played the game only once, but would have loved to give it a nice campaign shot if the DM was right for it [someone who could run a Bond-like...

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