What were the best low-level adventures from Dungeon?

Dungeon Magazine General Discussion

I'm contemplating running a low-level adventure with some gamers. But I have a couple of guys at the table who between them have read EVERYTHING that's come out in the last 10 years -- modules, PFS, you name it. So I can home brew... or I can reach back into the Dungeon archive and pull out something unexpected!

Any suggestions?

Doug M.

The Whispering Cairn from Dungeon 124 (The start of Age of Worms) is one of the best adventures for level 1-2 PCs ever. It is 3.5, and I think there is an official PF version. You can even grab my conversion off of EN World if you want to play it in 5e.

Dark Archive

Does the "read everything" include third party products? The Book of Terniel is an excellent Pathfinder adventure for 1st level characters. It doesn't appear to be available from Paizo but it's on Drivethru.

For Dungeon adventures, "Shut In" from Dungeon 128 is for 2nd level characters and gets good reviews (an escaped murderer is on the loose and the PCs are tasked with guarding a little old lady and her family).

My favorite Dungeon magazine adventures were from the AD&D / BECMI era. It was usually - though not always - a lot of work to convert them to D&D 3.0 or Pathfinder 1e, with some exceptions, as noted below. Here are a few - but by no means all - of my favorite adventures from Dungeon.

WARNING: THIS POST IS EXTREMELY SPOILER-HEAVY!!! I can't explain what's so great about some of these adventures without spoilers.

Dungeon magazine:
In issue #9: The Lurkers in the Library (3-5 characters of levels 1-3). A tentacle from the mist grabbed someone and pulled him in! It must be a Lovecraftian horror! Or... is it just a half-orc with a whip? Also, this adventure amused me by showing how to knock out an 8th-level librarian with no saving throw. Adapting this for PFRPG 1e was a cinch, thanks to my handy NPC Codex. For Portia and Nardo d'Ferranta I used the stats for the Wise Sage (p. 263). For Doctor Waldus Thorngreen I used the stats for the Cautious Mage (p. 178). For Pulcut I used the stats for the Axe Warrior (p. 11) and replaced the Power Attack feat with Exotic Weapon Proficiency (whip).

#14: A Question of Balance (4-6 characters of level 8-12 but easily adaptable to any level, as I will explain). One demon got away, but the superstitious villagers managed to get the other one. Or at least, the villagers' description SOUNDS like that of a demon. But with one look, the first picture in the adventure clearly depicts the "demon" - an insurance salesman from Wisconsin! No matter what gaming engine you use or what level the PCs are, all you need to do is replace the REAL demon with anything you like from your monster manual or bestiary. The insurance salesman could just be a 1st-level expert or something.

#18: Chadranther's Bane (5-8 characters of levels 4-6). Honey, I shrunk the PCs! The PCs are caught in a magical field that shrinks them down to a 50th of their right size - although the players might not realize that at first - and must battle similarly shrunken goblins mounted on... ordinary rats! Then they must fight their way out of an outpost, which is the size of a village to them! For 10 years I dreamed of running this adventure, wondering exactly how and when the players would figure out what was going on. Finally, last year, I got around to it. You can read about my experiences here.

#34: Euphoria Horrors (4-6 characters of levels 1-2). Tasloi, say no to drugs! When a tribe finds a faerie dragon's breath addictive, they fight the PCs in a way the players will not easily forget.

#35: Green Lady's Sorrow (4-6 characters of levels 5-8). Running this one was such an incredible experience for me, my first post on this site was a long ramble on the subject. The short version is this: Will the PCs work for an evil dragon? Will they trust her? Should they? Because the DM knows she's going to betray them.

#39: Below Vulture Point (6-9 characters of levels 0-1). This makes a perfect introduction to AD&D and start to a campaign.

Also #39: The Fountain of Health (4-8 characters of 1st level, technically for BECMI, but easily run in 2e on the fly). A perfect continuation of a campaign after "Below Vulture Point", with a nice full-color poster grid map of the whole dungeon for miniatures.

#40: Song of the Fens (4-8 characters of levels 1-3). "Please help me, heroes! I've fallen in love with whoever is singing to me from the marshes." "Um... guys? How will we break it to this woman that her love is a monster?"

#41: A Way with Words (3-6 characters of levels 1-3, technically for BECMI but I easily ran it in 2e on the fly). Literate kobolds can be a great danger... to themselves.

Also in #41: Old Man Katan and the Incredible, Edible, Dancing Mushroom Band (4-6 characters of levels 1-6). Just the title tells you that this is one weird adventure. It's also notable for allowing the PCs to deal with the BBEG by reasoning with him.

#42: The Lady of the Mists (4-6 characters of levels 6-8) is a classic horror story, listed as one of the top 10 Dungeon Magazine adventures in issue #116.

#45: Rudwilla's Stew (4-8 characters of levels 1-2). The PCs must go to the bugbears' lair... for diplomatic relations?!?

#46: Goblin Fever (4-6 characters of levels 3-5). To help a city with a plague, the PCs must travel about the city, which the players can see with these nice-looking tiles the DM lays out.

#47: Fraggart's Contraption (six characters of levels 1-2). The PCs rescue a gnome... who doesn't want to be rescued, because in captivity, he's discovered this nifty device. Um... do you really want to push that button?

#51: The Bandits of Bunglewood (4-8 characters of levels 1-3). People are reporting being attacked by terrible, monstrous bandits, who turn out to be... kobolds?!?

#53: Clarshh's Sepulchre (six characters of 1st level). The PCs must search the ruins of a village, where they get some memorable monster encounters. Also, it makes the perfect introduction for a campaign where the PCs have a contact for identifying and trading magic items.

#60 Centaur of Attention (side trek for 3 characters of level 2-3). An evil wizard has cast Feeblemind on a centaur and forced him to pull his wagon. Angry villagers are now trying to stop the wizard. What will the PCs do? I found this unusual little encounter useful for making the PCs heroes to the villagers, so they could get the villagers' cooperation in return.

#66 The Petrifying Priestess (5-6 characters of level 5-7). This one had a Maedar, which was cool, and a complete daily schedule for the dungeon's denizens, as well, of course, as the eponymous Medusa cleric.

#81: The Door to Darkness (statted for different levels). The PCs stay at an inn... which is the scene of the whole adventure! Is the inn really haunted... or is that what someone WANTS you to think? Or... could BOTH be true? This issue provides a full-color poster map of the inn for miniatures, just like "The Fountain of Health".

And there are other adventures I might recommend for unusual campaigns.

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