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 Best Dungeon Magazine Adventures
#7 Tears for Twilight Hollow
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’ll find yourselves at level 8 at adventure’s end.
The adventure has a ton going for it. Most notable is the inclusion of three interesting locales:
- A quirky village (Twilight Hollow).
- The Temple of Stormhold.
- A series of catacombs under the village.
This gives the whole adventure a “locale-based” theme that runs counter to the typical event-based structure of most old D&D adventures. And players can approach it in pretty much any order they wish, giving it a sandbox(y) feel.
The locales include the 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, so if you can get your hands on that issue of Dungeon, do so.
Tears for Twilight Hollow was written by Angel Leigh McCoy and Chris Perkins for Dungeon #90 (January 2002).
#6 The Ghost of Mistmoor
This is a haunted mansion adventure for level 3 characters that was released in the same era as the Ravenloft boxed set. That’s a great level where D&D 5e players come into their own, so don’t be afraid to pilfer the adventure.
It’s for good aligned characters and at least one priest is recommended, so you know there will be some shadowy stuff pop up, just in time for Halloween.
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.
If you can buy an old copy of Dungeon 35, grab it. Not only does it have this adventure that is geared for 3rd level characters, but the encounters could easily be repurposed for a Ravenloft campaign or just update the adventure for D&D 5e, which wouldn’t be hard to do at all.
The Ghost of Mistmoor was written by Leonard Wilson for Dungeon #35 (May 1992).
Click here to shop for old copies of Dungeon #35. But good luck getting it for under $20 at this point!
#5 The Whispering Cairn
The Whispering Cairn is a relatively new adventure on this list.
Later in its life, Dungeon Magazine was taken over by Paizo Publishing who shifted it to a glossier format. They also made other enhancements, the most significant of which was the development of the “adventure path” idea, which is still going strong today as part of the Pathfinder RPG.
One of the earliest and most beloved adventure paths that was written for D&D 3rd edition was “Age of Worms.” The Whispering Cairn is the 1st level adventure that kicks off that epic storyline.
It starts you in an ancient tomb. But it then leads you to all sorts of adventures that can take you all the way up to level 20.
The Whispering Cairn was written by Erik Mona for Dungeon #124 (July 2005), as the introductory adventure in the Age of Worms adventure path.
You can search around for copies of Dungeon Magazine 124 here. But here is the thing: You aren’t likely to find a copy. Nerds that have them want to keep them. And other Nerds are looking to collect all the issues that contain “Age of Worms” adventure path, driving up the prices.
#4 Asflag’s Unintentional Emporium
I’ll share my bias: Willy Walsh is my favorite Dungeon Magazine contributor, surpassing even the fabled Chris Perkins. Walsh was also prolific. You see his name in the bylines almost as much as Perkins. I easily could have created a list of just the Willie Walsh adventures that would be excellent to convert to D&D 5e.
Additionally, I love a little humor in adventures, loving it doubly so when it involves silly wizards. And Willie Walsh does Wacky Wizards as wonderfully as anyone.
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.
The adventure presents some fun interactions interspersed between hacking stuff up, which is just about perfect in my book.
My recommendation is to shamelessly borrow Willie Walsh ideas for you modern games. You’ll be endlessly inspired. And some elements from these old Dungeon adventures can be utilized in newer dungeon design techniques like the 5 Room Dungeon, which makes a great wizard tower.
Asflag’s Unintentional Emporium was written by Willie Walsh for Dungeon #36 (July 1992).
#3 Slave Vats of the Yuan-ti
This adventure truly takes player on an adventure. Firstly, it takes place in Wolfhill House, which is located in a swamp that stretches along the Sword Coast north of Waterdeep. So it’s an adventure that can be pulled forward and updated for D&D 5E, fitting in perfectly in the setting.
Secondly, there is something about the house that makes magic misfire! So it introduces an element of surprise and disequilibrium, which is wonderful for veteran adventuring parties that need to have their expectations upended once in a while.
Next, the adventure is based upon Polynesian maritime artifacts, so it has some interesting rooms to interact with. Many have interesting historical flavor that are given a D&D spin.
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.
The Slave Vats of the Yuan-ti was written by Jason Kuhl in Dungeon #69 (July 1998).
#2 Kingdom of the Ghouls
Dungeon Magazine was rolling natty 20s in the late 80s. Notice how the next adventure on this list appeared in the very next issue of the mag.
Kingdom of the Ghouls 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 a sister magazine existed, as an article “Ecology of the Ghoul” was written as a companion in Dragon #252.
So many superlatives could be written about Kingdom of the Ghouls, but I will leave you with this: 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.
Kingdom of the Ghouls was written by Wolfgang Bauer for Dungeon #70 (Sept. 1998).
#1 The Mud Sorcerer’s Tomb
The Mud Sorceror’s Tomb is an uniquely situated adventure in that it was a spiritual successor to Tomb of Horrors, but bettered it in just about every way. Mud Sorceror’s Tomb 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, two legends as far as Dungeon Magazine is concerned. If you are looking to pick up just one issue of Dungeon for nostalgia’s sake, issue #37 would be a great choice.
The Mud Sorceror’s Tomb was written by Mike Shel for Dungeon #37 (Sept. 1992).
Dungeon Magazine is the height of nostalgia for old school Dungeons & 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!