Going Retro: The Temple of Elemental Evil, First Edition AD&D

Temple of Elemental Evil CoverAs mentioned in a previous post, we’re in the process of deciding what RPGs we should play this year. Normally everyone in the group picks a game they will run, and we go with it for one to two months depending on how much we enjoy it.

Last week I was having a discussion with one of our gaming group (Duncan) about WotC releasing a PDF version of the original Temple of Elemental Evil. He mentioned that he had inherited all of the original books from his dad and had actually started going through the campaign a few years ago.


At this point a thought struck me. We have been so focused on playing the shiny new games – what if we went super retro… What if we went back to a game that was published before I was born (and I’m not young…). The Temple of Elemental Evil is one of the all time classics. Written by the man himself, Gary Gygax, it has befuddled, confounded, frustrated and killed more PCs than almost any other printed campaign. On top of all of that, it was originally written for the RPG that brought it all together.

So, sometime this year, we’re going to play The Temple of Elemental Evil using the AD&D 1e rules…

Any suggestions out there on minimising the pain?

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About RupertG

RupertG has been playing roleplaying games ever since he discovered Dragon Warriors at the age of 12. Since those days he has played many different RPG's, collected not insignificant Dwarf and Tomb Kings armies for Warhammer Fantasy Battles and even worked as a games designer in the heady days of the late 90's building a CCG. Now he runs a gaming blog and is a participant in the Grand Gaming Experiment
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  • http://twitter.com/herebewonder c.norman

    No suggestions for the pain, but I hope you guys record at least part of this. That would be awesome.

    • http://diceofdoom.com RupertG

      We record nearly every session that we play, although we usually do not publish them. This one, we may however :)

      I’ll raise it with the group.

    • Joshua Cupp

      What?!

      Why not? you don’t need to edit them.

    • http://diceofdoom.com RupertG

      We’re currently recording them with the thought to release them. I’ll wait till we have 10-12 and then schedule them out. They still require some minimal editing, but mostly they’re good to go.

  • jrronimo

    Excellent decision and I’m sorry I’m not a part of the group for it! (Well, for any game, really!)

    I hope it’s a blast!

    • http://diceofdoom.com RupertG

      So far it has been a lot of fun. Looking forward to sharing it with everyone :)

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  • Scrivenerof Doom

    The best advice I can give is to really put some effort into the nodes, in particular. ToEE is about half-finished. It also can come across as a collection of random monsters of evil rather than elemental monsters of evil. If I was going to run it again I would be making sure it felt more ELEMENTAL.

    Also, I would get rid of generic clerics as much as possible and try and make the spellcasters, especially those allied with a particular element, actually seem like they are “channelling” that element.

    There’s lots of potential in ToEE but I don’t think it was TSR’s best product.

  • hoagy1

    I remember DMing this one when I was younger.

    Originally, there was only T1 The Village of Hommlet, with a promise that T2-4 would follow soon. Eventually T1-4 was released (with Village of Hommlet included).

    Village of Hommlet was an excellent adventure with lots of potential. Unfortunately, Temple of Elemental Evil seemed rushed and was way below par for one of Gary Gygax’s creations. One could say that Temple of Elemental Evil was to Village of Hommlet as Matrix Revolutions was to The Matrix.

    When we played it, the party got through the Village of Hommlet scenario quite well, dealing with the cleric and finding the clues that some deeper evil was at the Temple of Elemental Evil (the module cover was a big clue).

    Unfortunately, T2 starts of with the party travelling to Nuln (a small village, nowhere near as detailed as Hommlet and left to the DM to flesh up) before going on to the Temple itself. By this time, the party had had enough of clue hunting in villages and wanted to get down to the action, so they headed straight for the temple.

    The Temple itself is rather deserted, with the only means of progressing into the dungeons beneath being either to smash down some great big doors that are protected by such powerful magic that the party would need god-like strength to break through, or by sitting on a throne and saying the magic word – ‘Zuggtmoy’, the name of some ancient chaos demon that the party would only have picked up on by asking questions in Nuln (which they didn’t want to do)….and so the campaign died!

    Shame really, cos I was looking forward to running the Slavers modules and the Demonweb Pits adventures after this (both of which had been converted into adventure books in the same format as T 1-4).