Ah! The "S" modules. No series of modules have been as divisive, controversial or as fun (to me) as these. Originally just four adventures, it has one "honorary" member in my mind and two more unnumbered members. I have played in these and run them; some (like S4) many times over. These are some of my favorite adventures of all time.
Where to begin?
Well here are the modules/adventures I want to discuss.
- S1 Tomb of Horrors (Ranked #3 greatest adventure of all time)
- S2 White Plume Mountain (Ranked #9 greatest adventure of all time)
- S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
(Ranked #5 greatest adventure of all time)
- S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (Ranked #22 greatest adventure of all time)
- These first four are published now as part of S1-4: Dungeons of Dread.
- (S5) The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga
- (S6) Labyrinth of Madness
- and special addition WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun.
Also, the first four have been collected into a single volume not once, but twice. Many of the adventures have also been updated for other versions of D&D.
S1: Tomb of Horrors
Depending on who you ask, this is either one of the best adventures for D&D or the worst. I enjoy this module, but it is not one I plan on running again. I ran it for my kids and they survived, but I think there are better adventures out there. It is one of those adventures that everyone talks about; often about how horribly they or someone else died in it. In the picture above, the book on the right with devil with his mouth open? Yeah. More than one
Tomb of Horrors is often described as a meat grinder. This is true, but it is also a fun challenge and if I can be so bold, a rite of passage of the D&D gamer. You can't really call yourself a D&D gamer until you go through this.
Love it or hate it, it's place in history is solid and unmoving.
S2: White Plume Mountain
In many ways White Plume Mountain is one of my favorite adventures. It's a crazy dungeon filled with traps, monsters a few legendary weapons of vast power, all dropped into a semi-active volcano. I ran it for my kids a while back. Back then I ran it under 3rd Edition, using a 1st Edition rule base, Basic Edition characters, and some 4th edition add-ons. It was such a classic though that it all worked. My kids loved it.
S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
This was one of the first adventures I ever bought for myself. The characters (in a quasi-medieval Europe) find an ancient crashed star-ship and all the crazy alien life forms still trapped inside. Based a bit on the game Metamorphosis Alpha. I ran this for my kids a while back. My youngest LOVED it, but my oldest didn't. Which is a bit odd I thought, because he began playing with the Star Wars d20 RPG.
Still though, I personally think this is a great module.
S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and it's near sequel WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun are two of my favorite modules ever. I bought S4 my freshman year in high school and read it cover to cover. One of my favorite bits was the "sneak peak" at some of the monsters that would later appear in the Monster Manual II hardcover. It was also a rather deadly adventure. The nearby Forgotten Temple of Tharizidun then opens up a new threat of the ancient imprisoned god Tharizdun. This ties it in to the T1-4 Supermodule The Temple of Elemental Evil. But I think what I liked about it was the information on Greyhawk. We are introduced to the witch Iggwilv here. She would later become an important figure in the history of Greyhawk and D&D.
The boys loved this adventure. Combining it with WG4 and some additional material from the web it took us about 6 months to complete. Still, it was a great time.
Two other modules were later added to the "Special" Series but never had, to my knowledge, an "S" designation.
S5: The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga
Baba Yaga is one of those characters that we keep coming back to in D&D. There are at least 3 or 4 versions of The Dancing Hut adventure out there now and even for the Pathfinder game (a game very much like D&D) has her as the main bad guy for a whole series of adventures.
I am going to feature her and this adventure in my own "War of the Witch Queens" campaign that I run next.
S6: Labyrinth of Madness
Of all the "S" modules, this is the only one I know nothing about.
From what I can tell it is sort of a tribute to the kinds of dungeons we saw in the S-series. It looks like a lot of fun though.