Thursday, January 12, 2012

5E Caves of Chaos

The Keep on the Borderlands, 5th edition playtest version, detail from the advertisement on the WOTC site

"When I wrote B2 I aimed at providing an exciting scenario for as wide a range of DMs and players as I possibly could. That you and your friends enjoyed it as much after 20 odd years time between adventuring in the module means that the mark I aimed at was hit well"
     -Gary Gygax, 2004, EN World forum post

     WOTC is going back to the basics for 5E - and Holmes Basic, at that. Well, at least for the first announced playtest scenario, which will use a version of B2 Keep on the Borderlands. This module was originally written by Gary Gygax specifically to serve as an introductory module for the Holmes Basic Set. It's also not really surprising, given that Mike Mearl's blog (not updated since last April) is called The Keep on the Gaming Lands. In 2010, he mentioned his "lunchtime Keep on the Borderlands game", and way back in 2008 he described the "Environs of the Caves" (what he changed about the Caves of Chaos) in a KotB game he was putting together. This also follows WOTC's trend of using updated versions of classic modules for new editions (such as Village of Hommlet and Beyond the Crystal Cave for 4E).  

     Here's the relevant portion from the Wizards website (thanks to Dungeon Fantastic for bringing this my attention earlier today):

D&D Experience, the premier convention for fans of Dungeons & Dragons, is nearly upon us. D&D Experience offers players the opportunity to playtest unreleased game material...
D&D Secret Special: Caves of Chaos Playtest

Join the first public playtest of the next iteration of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. The playtest offers players the chance to run pre-generated 1st-level characters through the Caves of Chaos, a four-hour D&D adventure. Wizards of the Coast staff will be running several tables each day. As part of the playtest, participants must sign a special non-dislcosure agreement for playtesters.
Adventure Description: For years, Castellan Keep has stood on civilization’s frontier, commanding a grand view of that dismal realm known as the Borderlands. A forlorn place, rife with monsters and terrors beyond imagining, adventurers have used this fort to seek glory and plunder in this dangerous realm, to unearth fabulous treasures and destroy foul monsters. Of all the haunts found here, none equal the Caves of Chaos in both danger and the promise of reward. Rumors abound of the wicked humanoids, the sinister monsters, and the dark priests that run amok in this dungeon. Only the most cunning and bold adventurers dare to face the dreaded caverns. Do you have what it takes to survive the Caves of Chaos?

Charting the Course: An Edition for all Editions (Thursday)
Join Mike Mearls, Monte Cook, and Jeremy Crawford as they discuss the origin for the idea to create an edition of Dungeons & Dragons that encompasses all previous editions. The designers discuss the challenges in creating compatibility and balance, as well as the exciting possibilities such a system creates. Seminar to be followed by a Q&A session.

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"There probably have been more copies of B2 printed than any other role-playing scenario" - Heroic Worlds by Lawrence Schick, 1991 (pg 135).

"The total print run for B2 is easily in excess of a million and a half units" - "Looking Back" by Ryan Dancey in The Story of TSR, 1999 (pg 27).

For more quotes from Gygax about B2, see Gygax on B2.

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