Old school Dungeons & Dragons was a strange beast. Its rules were arcane, indecipherable, and voluminous. But rather than turning gamers away, these factors helped make the game mysterious, forbidden, and therefore utterly irresistible. It had its own unique feel that is hard to replicate with modern systems.
A lot of the weird and wonderful feel of old school D&D came from its artwork. Young nerds in the 80s (myself included) stared at that artwork for hours, losing themselves in the strange and wonderous scenarios depicted therein. Who were these characters? What did they want? Why were they risking their lives to explore decaying ruins filled with horrifying monsters and wicked death traps? They weren’t the superheroes of modern D&D; they were adventure-seekers, just slightly more competent than the average peasant, looking to strike it rich. A lucky few did just that; most died horribly.
One of the most iconic pieces of art ever created for D&D is the cover of the first edition Player’s Handbook. A shabby group of treasure-seekers is raiding a dark, ominous ruin, an obviously evil temple dedicated to some demon or devil. They’re carrying heavy boxes of loot, cleaning their weapons, pouring over a carefully drawn map. Dead lizardmen lay upon an altar, perhaps sacrificed to the demon god. Two rogues attempt to pry a huge gem out of the eye-socket of a towering demonic statue. The artwork evokes excitement, adventure, but also fear—one thinks this cannot possibly end well for our intrepid adventurers.
I was (and am) so enamored of that particular image that I was inspired to write an adventure that not only captured the atmosphere evoked by that classic image, but also that replicated the exact scenario depicted therein!
As a long time Dungeon Master, I have created dozens of adventures for my various groups. But this was the first adventure (or module, as we called them back in the day) I wrote specifically for publication. Although it uses fifth edition rules, it is intended to feel like the D&D games we played in the early 80s: an old-style dungeon-crawl with monsters to battle, traps to overcome, puzzles to solve, horrors to witness, and treasures to uncover.
The fearsome statue in the original artwork did not, to my knowledge, represent any specific demon or devil. But later, it was retroactively canonized as Moloch, one of the great arch-devils. And so it remains in my adventure, The Eyes of Moloch, available exclusively on the Dungeon Master’s Guild website. If you are a Dungeon Master seeking a challenging and fun adventure to kick off a new campaign, then this might just be what you’re looking for. And because you’re reading this, you can get the adventure for half price (a stunningly cheap $2.50 US) by clicking this link. I hope you and your players enjoy it, and don’t forget to leave a review!
An underground complex of ruins has been discovered in the wilderness near the town of Stonebridge Hollow. A shady benefactor has put out the call to adventurers to explore the ruins, find the evil temple, uncover its secrets, and steal the very Eyes of Moloch! Who is brave—and foolish—enough to answer the call?