Dungeon Magazine was a beloved part of the D&D experience for an entire generation of nerds. Every other month you were treated with new adventures written by some of the names that are still leading the D&D 5e renaissance today.
But which are the best of those old adventures from Dungeon Magazine and which ones might be worth a revisit, if for nothing more than for nostalgia or to reskin them for D&D 5e? Here are my picks for the best 7 ever.
The 7 Best Dungeon Magazine Adventures
1 Tears for Twilight Hollow
Written by Angel Leigh McCoy and Chris Perkins for Dungeon #90 (January 2002).
First of all, Tears for Twilight Hollow is a 40+ page skull-buster of an adventure. It’s made for 7th level characters, but if you work through all 40 pages, you might find yourselves at level 8 at adventure’s end.
The adventure has a ton going for it in the inclusion of three interesting locales:
A quirky village (Twilight Hollow),
the Temple of Stormhold,
and a series of catacombs under the village.
This gives the whole adventure a “locale-based” theme that runs parallel to the typical event-based structure of most old D&D adventures. And players can approach it in pretty much any order they wish.
The locales include clever and quirky encounters that Chris Perkins would become known for, like solving the mystery of a murdered paladin, a bridal party, a Beholder construct, and more. But it doesn’t have a strong and defined conceit like many adventures. Instead, its wide-open nature makes it an adventure that is ripe to pull inspiration from.
2 The Ghost of Mistmoor
Written by Leonard Wilson for Dungeon #35 (May 1992).
This is a haunted mansion adventure for level 3 characters that was released in the same era as the Ravenloft boxed set. It’s for good aligned characters and at least one priest is recommended, so you know there will be some shadowy stuff pop up.
It has hauntings, evocative rooms, and clever traps, one of which will never allow you to sit on the toilet in the same way. Horror adventures tend to be popular, but The Ghost of Mistmoor stands out as one of the very best.
You can buy an old copy of Dungeon #35 from Noble Knight, who specialize in out of print RPG stuff.
3 The Whispering Cairn
Written by Erik Mona for Dungeon #124 (July 2005), as the introductory adventure in the Age of Worms adventure path.
Later in the life of Dungeon Magazine, it was taken over by Paizo Publishing and went to a glossier format. Another change they made was to develop the idea of an “adventure path”, which is still going strong today as part of the Pathfinder RPG.
One of the earliest and most beloved adventure paths was “Age of Worms” that was written for D&D 3.5. The Whispering Cairn the the 1st level adventure that kicks off that epic storyline that starts you in an ancient tomb.
But it leads you to all sorts of adventures that can take you all the way up to level 20.
4 Asflag’s Unintentional Emporium
Written by Willie Walsh for Dungeon #36 (July 1992).
I’ll share my bias up front, which is that Willy Walsh is my favorite Dungeon Magazine contributor, surpassing even the fabled Chris Perkins. And I love a little humor in adventures, loving it doubly so when it involves silly wizards.
Asflag’s Unintentional Emporium has a sweet little Terry Pratchett Discworld vibe, and that’s a high compliment. When the wizard is away, his quirky little pets will play, as they are wont to say. There are some fun interactions interspersed between a lot of hacking stuff up, which is just about perfect in my book.
5 Slave Vats of the Yuan-ti
Written by Jason Kuhl in Dungeon #69 (July 1998).
This adventure takes place in Wolfhill House that is located in a swamp that stretches along the Sword Coast north of Waterdeep. And there is something about the house that makes magic misfire!
The adventure is based upon Polynesian maritime artifacts, so it has some interesting rooms to interact with. But it’s in the cellar where things get real, as it includes a Yuan-ti laboratory where they participate in some horrifying science projects.
I love me some snake men and Slave Vats of the Yuan-ti is a great adventure that brings in some of that slitheryness.
6 Kingdom of the Ghouls
Written by Wolfgang Bauer for Dungeon #70 (Sept. 1998).
This is an Underdark adventure done right. And it’s so expansive that it could easily form the framework for an entire campaign. (Technically it’s written for Greyhawk, but DeepOerth can easily become the Underdark.)
It reads as one of the more flavorful and creative adventures ever written, Dungeon Magazine or otherwise. And it’s also a reminder that the sister magazine existed, as an article “Ecology of the Ghoul” was written as a companion in Dragon #252.
This was an adventure that was not only well done, but it laid the groundwork for present products like Volo’s Guide to Monsters because it showed that creatures as overlooked as ghouls could have interesting lore attached to them.
7 The Mud Sorcerer’s Tomb
Written by Mike Shel for Dungeon #37 (Sept. 1992).
This adventure was a spiritual successor to Tomb of Horrors and bettered it in just about every way. It was just as brutal and unforgiving as Tomb of Horrors, but it was a little more imaginative and elegantly designed than the “you are killed by a trap, no saving throw” that ToH was known for.
It should be said that issue #37 of Dungeon Magazine was stellar, top to bottom. Not only did it end with The Mud Sorcerer’s Tomb, but it also featured adventures by Willie Walsh and Chris Perkins, among others. If you are looking to pick up just one issue of Dungeon for nostalgia’s sake, issue #37 would be a great choice. You can get back issues of Dungeon Magazine from Noble Knight.
Dungeon Magazine is the height of nostalgia for old school Dungeons and Dragons fans, so it’s difficult to limit this list down to 7. If your favorite didn’t make the cut, just pretend that it was #8 and hop on over to our Character Sheets Facebook group and let us know what it is!