Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

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Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm

I need some help sorting out what to put on my wishlists for the Greyhawk supermodules.

I will start off by letting you know two things:
  • I am not a collector - I'm not looking for the most "valuable" version and
  • I am aware that TSR/WotC have occasionally ommited things in reboots/reprints, so there is a chance I might be interested in an older version if it has an extra thing that is cool enough.
From what I can tell some of these things were printed as standalone 1st Edition products, then turned into softback bundles then maybe converted into bigger bundles and finally (sometimes) turned into hardbacks by WotC.

So I see S1-4 Realms of Horror and S1-4 Dungeons of Dread and I think they are basically the same thing (because of the numbers).

However, I see A1-4 Scourge of the Slave Lords and A0-4 Against the Slave Lords and I figure that the second product clearly adds an extra "prequel" adventure, so is probably a better thing for me to have.

There are also some sequel products, like Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil or Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk that are sequels to classic modules, written in a later age.

The Book-House on The Piazza is a bit incomplete here, so I think there might be a few versions of these iconic Greyhawk adventures (and bolt-on adventures) that I might be unaware of.

The Acaeum, which is an awesome website, focuses on the oldest stuff (because it is more rare and expensive) so can not necessarily help me here.

I am also not necessarily looking to go with a newer version that has important information pulled out of it.

I'm also confused by the letter system. Instead of going down the WGA1, WGA2, WGA3 route, these adventures all picked letters that were not in order (hence GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders.

So, I need to work out how this stuff works.

How do I work out the correct order of these adventures? (I might want to read/research these in order.)

How do I work out what is an alternative version of something else? (I don't want to buy the same adventure multiple times.)

How do I work out what is the "best" version, when there is more than one version?

Are there any products for which it is not clear that one version is better than another version? (Like say, maybe one adds an extra adventure, but cuts sections that are there in an alternative version.)
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by timemrick » Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:53 pm

This Wikipedia page gives a list of modules produced before Third Edition. That should help you figure out the order things were published, and some of the connections between series and reprints.

The letter codes used back then were pretty arbitrary, and definitely NOT issued in alphabetical order. Some were tied to the title of the series ([A]ssault/Aerie,[G]iants, [D]row), some by rules system ([ B]asic, E[X]pert), while others were less obvious ([C]ompetition, [ S]pecial).

[Edited: Link fixed.]
Last edited by timemrick on Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by grodog » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:45 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
The Acaeum, which is an awesome website, focuses on the oldest stuff (because it is more rare and expensive) so can not necessarily help me here.
Some other good research sites include:
- Adrian Newman's TSR Archive @ http://www.tsrarchive.com/ (includes back-cover scans, and components)
- the Tome of Treasures @ http://tomeoftreasures.com/ (includes components and multiple printings info)
- Ian Montgomery's Afterglow2 (only in the Internet Archive atm): https://web.archive.org/web/20150801004 ... glow2.com/
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
I need some help sorting out what to put on my wishlists for the Greyhawk supermodules. [snip]
I am also not necessarily looking to go with a newer version that has important information pulled out of it.[snip]
How do I work out the correct order of these adventures? (I might want to read/research these in order.)
Well, that depends on how and what you're planning to string together, really: there was no original relationship between the T1/T1-4 --> A1-4 --> GDQ modules. That was all a fabrication from the re-publication of the supermodules. My advice is to learn the original content in the original publications, then to determine where/if you want to link them together, and how.
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
How do I work out what is an alternative version of something else? (I don't want to buy the same adventure multiple times.)
If you're buying any supermodules, then buying duplicate content is inescapable (assuming you've already picked up the earlier stand-alone versions).
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
How do I work out what is the "best" version, when there is more than one version?
The earlier stand-alone versions are all true to their original designs, and have the original artwork and maps (not always included in the supermodules, and the map booklets are much smaller than the original full-page maps in the modules.

The supermodules add connecting content to make the "mega-supermodule series" work.

The 2013-14 WotC reprints of the rulebooks introduced tons of OCR typo errors (like Dwarves having 7 HD in the MM, for example), and the quality of the scans was not very good. I haven't looked at most of the adventure compilations other than A0-4, since I didn't want to rebuy the same content yet-again, so I'm not very familiar with whether similar OCR issues exist with the adventure reprints or not. (In the UA rulebook, WotC supposedly incorporated the errata published in Dragon #103, which would make that the most-definitive edition of that book).

Some of the supermodules drop content, while others add new/additional content, fix errata, etc. too; sometimes the new stuff is of dubious worth, sometimes it's good and worthwhile.
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
Are there any products for which it is not clear that one version is better than another version? (Like say, maybe one adds an extra adventure, but cuts sections that are there in an alternative version.)
Yeah, that's the harder one ;)

In case you haven't seen it, there's some good info on the Acaeum supermodules page @ https://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/modpages/super.html which does talk a bit to the scope of what's included and not in each supermodule printing. To that list I would also add I12 Egg of the Phoenix, which is a loosely compiled R1-4; see https://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/modpages/i.html for a little info on that one.

I'll reply more later, but hopefully that's a start?

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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by BotWizo » Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:28 pm

Those were a bunch of excellent resources for you to look at bigmac.

When developing your wish list what is your goal?

To create a campaign that takes a party from level 1 to possibly low 20s?
(In the 1e rules set)

Then T1-4 to A1-4 to GDQ1-7 the path that was linked together for the three big supermodules.
These supermodules help fill in some gaps and story to link all three big modules together rather than the more loosely tied individual modules if you try and collect them this way.

I have all three in paper format, but anymore I use electronic versions, since i don't want to damage my originals anymore and its easier to flip through and snip parts for reference.

After those were successful you had the rest of the supermodules.
S1-4 and I12 (R1-4)

Return to Temple of Elemental Evil - sequel to T1-4 (3e)
Slavers - Sequel to A1-4 (3e)
Expedition to the Demonweb Pits - inspired by GDQ (3e)

If I was creating a new campaign;

If I was to do an ultimate I might go with a modified T1-4.
Then add in a modified S4 and A1-4 next modifying and fixing GDQ1-7, and now if I was really looking for and end all go to
Modified slavers for 1e rules from 3e and fixing issues, and coming full circle to Return of Elemental Evil, fixed and modified again for 1e from 3e for a grand finale.
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:03 pm

timemrick wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:53 pm
This Wikipedia page gives a list of modules produced before Third Edition. That should help you figure out the order things were published, and some of the connections between series and reprints.
Thanks for pointing me at that Tim.

That "List of Dungeons & Dragons modules" page and the "List of Dungeons & Dragons adventures" have most of the D&D modules/adventures on them.

The split between the two (TSR stuff on one page and WotC stuff on the other page) is a bit unfortunate (for me - maybe not for others) as it looks like products like A0-4 Against the Slave Lords (old school WotC products) have not gone onto either article. Those are things I'm very interested in as it looks like they are probably the most up to date, inclusive products.

But you are right. If I get the first base product from every supermodule, I could assume that the in-character timeline for the events would nominally be in that order.
timemrick wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:53 pm
The letter codes used back then were pretty arbitrary, and definitely NOT issued in alphabetical order. Some were tied to the title of the series ([A]ssault/Aerie,[G]iants, [D]row), some by rules system ([ B]asic, E[X]pert), while others were less obvious ([C]ompetition, [ S]pecial).
Thanks.

I've already seen most of those letter codes from the research I've done for pages I've added to the Book-House on The Piazza, although I was totally confused by this all when I started looking into D&D products (for the second time). Back when I started, 2nd Edition had just come out. I was a bit of a victim of the marketing hype, so pretty much ignored all the Classic D&D stuff and gave the 1e stuff a wide-berth unless it had a big friendly Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance logo on it.

A lot of these modules were kind of pitched as generic things (and retconned into Greyhawk later) so I would have dismissed them out of hand, back in those days. My D&D products were ones that had three letters and a number. I still struggled with working out what was what, but the three-letter modules were more obviously tied into D&D worlds.

I'm more in touch with it now, but I'm trying to balance the pros and cons of buying supermodules vs buying them as separate modules.

When I get a chance, I'll probably make a post for an individual supermodule, try to make a list of all of the alternative versions (in that one post) and have a guess at which is most detailed. That way, if I get it wrong, someone might let me know I've made a mistake. :)
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:29 pm

grodog wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:45 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
The Acaeum, which is an awesome website, focuses on the oldest stuff (because it is more rare and expensive) so can not necessarily help me here.
Some other good research sites include:
- Adrian Newman's TSR Archive @ http://www.tsrarchive.com/ (includes back-cover scans, and components)
- the Tome of Treasures @ http://tomeoftreasures.com/ (includes components and multiple printings info)
- Ian Montgomery's Afterglow2 (only in the Internet Archive atm): https://web.archive.org/web/20150801004 ... glow2.com/
Thanks for that Allan.

I've already spotted TSR Archive in my research, although I didn't know it was by Adrian Newman. (He goes on my I would buy this person a drink list.)

And I've seen the Tome of Treasures, although I don't think I've studied it enough.

I've never heard of the Afterglow2 website before. I'll have to add that to my research.

I'll give you a bit of background, on my research (in case it helps you work out what I need to know).

A while ago, I spoke to Ashtagon about having a sister website for The Piazza where I could buy RPG books I don't own yet (there are a lot I need to buy) and earn her a bit of affiliate link commission from Amazon or DriveThru RPG. She then set up The Book-House.

I bothered her to add pages for a while, but then realised it would be a lot easier if I could add stuff on the Book-House myself.

She gave me editing rights, and I've been helping to look up links to things like TSR Archive (which has moved around quite a bit and been renamed from TSR Info). There is also a second TSR Archive website (a new one) that works differently to the original archived version of the site.

Anyhoo, I've been looking up stuff, dumping my research links onto the Book-House (instead of hording them myself) and then making a private wishlist for myself, after going back through the various links to guess which of the products will be most useful for me to buy.

These modules that have been republished, combined into super modules and sometimes followed up with sequels...or even prequels have probably been the most confusing things I've researched. At least with an Al-Qadim adventure module, I only have one choice, so only have to decide if I want to buy it or skip it. :)
grodog wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:45 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
I need some help sorting out what to put on my wishlists for the Greyhawk supermodules. [snip]
I am also not necessarily looking to go with a newer version that has important information pulled out of it.[snip]
How do I work out the correct order of these adventures? (I might want to read/research these in order.)
Well, that depends on how and what you're planning to string together, really: there was no original relationship between the T1/T1-4 --> A1-4 --> GDQ modules. That was all a fabrication from the re-publication of the supermodules. My advice is to learn the original content in the original publications, then to determine where/if you want to link them together, and how.
Thanks.

My main aim (at the moment) is to improve my Greyhawk-fu. I suppose I could pick one supermodule at a time, break it down into the individual modules and then go look through all the reviews I can find, to decide how much I like the adventure path.
grodog wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:45 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
How do I work out what is an alternative version of something else? (I don't want to buy the same adventure multiple times.)
If you're buying any supermodules, then buying duplicate content is inescapable (assuming you've already picked up the earlier stand-alone versions).


Nope. I don't have any of these things. I was a bit low on cash, when I was first playing 2nd Edition. I didn't even buy all of the Spelljammer products back then. And I kind of avoided buying lots of adventure modules back in the day, as I didn't want to read spoilers and then ruin my experience if someone else ran the game.

So I think I can limit duplication, as much as possible. :)

I think if I read up this a bit better, I can make a public version of my wishlist and ask: "Will I be missing anything if I buy this version of those adventures?" :)
grodog wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:45 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
How do I work out what is the "best" version, when there is more than one version?
The earlier stand-alone versions are all true to their original designs, and have the original artwork and maps (not always included in the supermodules, and the map booklets are much smaller than the original full-page maps in the modules.

The supermodules add connecting content to make the "mega-supermodule series" work.

The 2013-14 WotC reprints of the rulebooks introduced tons of OCR typo errors (like Dwarves having 7 HD in the MM, for example), and the quality of the scans was not very good. I haven't looked at most of the adventure compilations other than A0-4, since I didn't want to rebuy the same content yet-again, so I'm not very familiar with whether similar OCR issues exist with the adventure reprints or not. (In the UA rulebook, WotC supposedly incorporated the errata published in Dragon #103, which would make that the most-definitive edition of that book).

Some of the supermodules drop content, while others add new/additional content, fix errata, etc. too; sometimes the new stuff is of dubious worth, sometimes it's good and worthwhile.
Thanks for the heads-up on this.

I was thinking that the WotC versions might be the best bet, but it looks like I need a bunch of errata to go with each one of them.

I've been hoping that DMs Guild would start doing a Print on Demand poster map service that could allow people to buy all of the maps from a D&D product (without also buying that product). I sometimes see 2nd hand D&D products that are advertised as missing the map (or some other booklet or item). If it was possible to get those duplicated, that would make things easier for me.

(I've been stalled between choosing one of the two versions of Council of Wyrms, because of the "better map quality" vs "more stuff" dilemma. It looks like I'm going to have to be fairly careful in choosing which way to go with this Greyhawk stuff.)
grodog wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:45 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:19 pm
Are there any products for which it is not clear that one version is better than another version? (Like say, maybe one adds an extra adventure, but cuts sections that are there in an alternative version.)
Yeah, that's the harder one ;)

In case you haven't seen it, there's some good info on the Acaeum supermodules page @ https://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/modpages/super.html which does talk a bit to the scope of what's included and not in each supermodule printing. To that list I would also add I12 Egg of the Phoenix, which is a loosely compiled R1-4; see https://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/modpages/i.html for a little info on that one.

I'll reply more later, but hopefully that's a start?
Thanks Allan,

There certainly is some top quality information at The Acaeum.

Sadly their focus on old school stuff means that I don't get to see equally good research on things like 0-4 Against the Slave Lords because it is outside of their remit, as a mass produced premium reprint.
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:05 pm

BotWizo wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:28 pm
Those were a bunch of excellent resources for you to look at bigmac.

When developing your wish list what is your goal?
Yes. I've had some great advice from all three of you.

My goal.

Well my goal is to improve my Greyhawk-fu, so that I can try to create Greyspace adventures that feel as iconic as Greyhawk adventures.

I won't want to duplicate these supermodules and their parts exactly, but if they do things in certain ways, then I might be able to do things on a similar level on the other worlds of Greyspace.

If Greyhawk supermodules include world-changeing events, those events might tie-into things that happen on other planets in Greyspace. And if anything has a connection with Roger Moore's Gates in the World of Greyhawk article, it might have a specific place in Greyspace, and I could "play those parts of a module backwards".
BotWizo wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:28 pm
To create a campaign that takes a party from level 1 to possibly low 20s?
(In the 1e rules set)

Then T1-4 to A1-4 to GDQ1-7 the path that was linked together for the three big supermodules.
These supermodules help fill in some gaps and story to link all three big modules together rather than the more loosely tied individual modules if you try and collect them this way.
Thanks.

I've got some of the Greyhawk Adventures novels and they seem to describe the middle part of GDQ1-7. So I might re-read them and take some notes.
BotWizo wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:28 pm
I have all three in paper format, but anymore I use electronic versions, since i don't want to damage my originals anymore and its easier to flip through and snip parts for reference.

After those were successful you had the rest of the supermodules.
S1-4 and I12 (R1-4)
R1-4 is the Aquaria stuff, if I am not mistaken, with I12 being Jennell Jaquays reboot of Frank Mentzer's original modules. I'll have to have a serious think about where Aquaria should go on Oerth, if I use that. :)
BotWizo wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:28 pm
Return to Temple of Elemental Evil - sequel to T1-4 (3e)
Slavers - Sequel to A1-4 (3e)
Expedition to the Demonweb Pits - inspired by GDQ (3e)

If I was creating a new campaign;

If I was to do an ultimate I might go with a modified T1-4.
Then add in a modified S4 and A1-4 next modifying and fixing GDQ1-7, and now if I was really looking for and end all go to
Modified slavers for 1e rules from 3e and fixing issues, and coming full circle to Return of Elemental Evil, fixed and modified again for 1e from 3e for a grand finale.
I think I would modify T1-4 too. I've heard someone complaining about Temple of Elemental Evil tricking players into getting their PCs to climb into a sphere of annihilation. That isn't something I would want to do.
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by Khedrac » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:15 pm

Also worth mentioning (because it was written as a single module) is WGR1 Greyhawk Ruins.
Yes, it is not original (being 2nd Ed), but it is written as a single module (unlike most of the others) and it is huge (the 3.5 module Expedition to Castle Greyhawk uses a small portion of it, modified by an earthquake).

T1-4 probably needs modification, but not for the spoiler reason given (that is S1: Tomb of Horrors) - I never ran it, but as far as I could tell, the party would not get enough xp from the dungeon as written to advance as planned.

A1-4 need treating with caution - they were specifically written as tournament modules, so there are elements that may cause problems in a real campaign namely an inescapable posion gas trap at the end of A3 to set up for A4.

I think GDQ were originally intended to be a sequence (though D1 and D2 were never separate modules) and probably meet your criteria of "changing the campaign world" best (though T1-4 can do that if the players find one of the "easter eggs" (the heir of Furyondy is imprisoned there).

If you are looking for the feel of iconic Greyhawk adventures, I would probably ignore the supermodules as supermodules and look at all the early modules set in Greyhawk - especially S1-4, U1-3 and WG4-6. Technically EX1 and EX2 are not in Greyhawk (though the way in is in Castle Greyhawk) but they were wirtten by EGG so best to include them too.
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by vestcoat » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:38 pm

S Series
S1-4 Realms of Horror is an edited anthology and it omitted a LOT. The most notable losses are Drelnza, the S4 companion book, and a couple levels of S3. There are some new little flourishes and minor additions, like the similarities between Acererak and Keraptis' sigils, so grab an electronic copy if you want to be a completist.

Dungeons of Dread is a comprehensive reproduction of the originals. Only three drawbacks: 1) the color illustration plates from S3 are black and white (the color versions are ONLY available in the original S3 module), 2) the maps almost get drawn into the centerfold and aren't as easy to reference, and, 3) the cover page of S1 shows some dithering and some of the b/w illustrations are rather dark throughout. Overall though, it's a nice, clean reproduction. They used the orange cover version of S2 which has twice the art of the monochrome version. That's nice. Note that a softcover print is now available on POD and it's NOT a scanned image file.

GDQ Series
These letter codes are only confusing because it's one of the few series to span multiple letter codes (no different than RQ3 & RM1 or SJS1 & SJQ1).

G1-3 were collected as Against the Giants and no significant omissions were made. 2e compiled them again as Liberation of Geoff. LoG "converted" them to 2e by simply upping the giants hit points and doing nothing else. This doesn't really work and I'd recommend running the series with 1e rules. LoG also shrunk the maps, made some edits, changed the timeline, removed parts of the drow plotline, and added very lackluster "G4-6" scenarios. Not recommended!

D1 and D2 WERE published separately as monochrome, but quickly combined as D1-2 with no significant omissions other than some cover art.

D3 remained unchanged between the monochrome and color reprints, other than the covers.

GDQ1-7 Queen of the Spiders compiled the whole series. I haven't read it, but skimming didn't reveal any glaring omissions. LOTS of new content and encounters here, so you need this if you're a completist. My main complaint is GDQ1-7 marks the start of the timeline mangling. Gary intended these to happen before T1-4, not after.

4th Edition updated the series in the electronic version of Dungeon Magazine. Lots of changes, but one new module: Warrens of the Stone Giant Thane. 5e converted G1-3 in Tales of the Yawning Portal.

A Series
I'm less familiar with A1-4 Scourge of the Slavelords, but light reading hasn't revealed anything missing from the originals. Zeb Cook added LOTS of content that has not been reprinted anywhere else, so you need this.

2013's Against the Slavelords reprinted the originals and added an exclusive new module, so you need this too. A softcover is now on POD.
----

That's most of it. 3e, 4e and 5e have reprinted, rehashed, and added a lot to almost all of these classics.

+1 for Greyhawk Ruins. The original is awesome, the sequel is a railroady sham with only 20% of the dungeon.

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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by vestcoat » Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:46 pm

Big Mac, to answer a couple of your other questions:

The text in Dungeons of Dread and Against the Slavelords is good and clean. I haven't run into any errors or errata and these didn't get anywhere near the bad reviews that the core reprints did. UA is also very good and errata free. They picked through UA with comb to clean up the errors of the original. All three are good buys.

The GH novels are little use for running GDQ. The Eyes Have It references the events of the supermodule, but is non-canon Estes garbage. The 1999 Against the Giants novel is an extremely boring, fictionalized retelling of G1 with so few GH references it borders on being generic. Descent into the Depths of the Earth and Queen of the Spiders are part of Paul Kidd's unrelated trilogy. They hew closer to GH and are fairly enjoyable reads with some potential encounter ideas, but are silly and whimsical enough they're not required reading.

As for the official timeline of GDQ, here's an old summary/rant I posted on Canonfire:
"GDQ should start no later than 576 because they were among the first GH products ever produced, they were referenced in the Folio, and early gamers played them before any other GH adventures.

Officially, G1-3 takes place in 576-580 according to Liberation of Geoff (2). I think it should be left there. The Giants series has been shuttlecocked and retconned to the point of absurdity. Gygax placed G1-3 before ToEE (T1-4 p29), Cook and Grubb reversed the order (GDQ1-7), Moore was strangely silent (TAB), Ru Emerson starts G1 in 585, Reynolds, despite his official statement on p2 of LoG, threw out the drow connection and encouraged readers to replay the series in 591, and the LGG authors make no mention of giant troubles prior to 584. There's even a Rose Estes' version of the story."
http://www.canonfire.com/cf//modules.ph ... ic&p=57492

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Cthulhudrew
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:01 am

vestcoat wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:46 pm
The GH novels are little use for running GDQ.
As a sidenote to this, the events of ToEE are referenced in the Gygax novels (notably in Artifact of Evil), but like vestcoat I wouldn't say that any information therein would be particularly useful to assist in running any of the supermodules per se.
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Re: Best format for Greyhawk supermodules?

Post by vestcoat » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:06 pm

I was only referring to the three novels named after GDQ. Now that you mention it, I'd highly recommend reading Tomb of Horrors for running S1, WPM for S2, Night Arrant and Expedition Into the Black Reservoir for Greyhawk Ruins (or Castle Zagyg or CotMA), Artifact of Evil for A1-4, and ToEE & AoE for T1-4.

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