02

Basic Game Adventure B2
The Keep on the Borderlands

(1980)

By Gary Gygax

Layout:

Harold Johnson

Editing:

David Cook, Harold Johnson, Jeff R. Leason, Frank Mentzer, Tom Moldvay, Lawrence Shick, Jean Wells

Art:

David S. LaForce, Erol Otus, Jim Roslof

 

 

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The most-played fantasy role-playing adventure of all time, Keep on the Borderlands introduced thousands to the role-playing phenomenon. The Keep stands as the only buffer between the hordes of Chaos and the shining walls walls of civilization. The party of adventurers enters the nearby Caves of Chaos time and again, crushing the forces of evil before the Keep can fall!

Realm Rating: 5/5

 

Read the Adventurer's Journal


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First of all, I just want to say how much I've enjoyed playing the "Realm" modules I've played so far. Rather than playing in one of the suggested "compass direction" campaigns, I've been playing scenarios I've owned in paper form, and those that interest me. I have to say that Keep on the Borderlands was a masterpiece!

Keep on the Borderlands - 7.5

This is a design from the Realm campaing setting by Ray Dyer and should be played as a part of it. It is a conversion of the original module of the same name.

The story is fairly simple (Find out who is the badguy and kill him) and it leaves many open questions about why is this all happening. Who was the bad guy? Where did he came from? Was he going to conquer the world? and so on. However, the surroundings of the keep offer so much to investigate, that I can promise that you won't get bored.

Random combats are numerous, but they all are also well written. It doesn't feel like they are there just to add another combat. However, because the design takes along time to play, the random combats get annoying in the end. Set encounters are also very well written and keep things interesting all the way to the end.

I found only one possible bug in the big gnoll combat in the forest near the end. Should those rangers I freed from the caves fight on my side or the gnolls' (as they do). The combat, as it is, seems really hard. I tried it four times before going to the editor (see, I loved this design :)

The new artwork looks nice, with the exception of some of those sprites. Hacks are good (frame, intro music, etc.).

Overall, it was a very enjoyable design. Only the fact, that the story was so simple prevents it from being one of the greatest.

-Tero L.

 

Hi!

It's me again! And now I have something to say about the third of your modules I've played. First of all, I've loved the "Keep"! It was just great.

I've specially liked the way you made many smaller dungeons to create a very large world. You almost didn't see where the dungeons were connected to one another.

Then it was the great story itself and the way you managed to make it equally interesting trough whole game. Also loved all the small descriptions of almost every clearing and room in the caves. I like designs with much text. ;)

Now over to things I've didn't liked so much... ;) Again, the resting thing. When my party is in a wilderness, I except that they at least will be allowed to TRY to rest. I mean, in reality you can TRY to make a camp and maybe even get a hour of sleep (if you are lucky) even in a wood full of not fully friendly humanoids. Why not make it possible to rest and set a quite high chance of a combat every hour?

Another thing, the money. I don't know If I'm the only one to have this problem in the world but my party had too throw their money away, just to be able to move faster and carry some more useful stuff. Maybe a little vault in the keep would be in place? (By the way, most of my money came from selling Gems and Jewels, you can get a smaller fortune for selling some of them ;)

Another thing, a possible bug. When I was in one of the Chaos caves (Bugbear one I guess) I've freed some rangers and they said that we will not be alone when we need some help. Much later there was a big battle with the gnolls and the text before said that the rangers my party saved did sowed up there. They showed up, all right, but they fighted for the Gnolls... some little charm spell I've missed, or...

Well, you've asked for it, you've got it, another comment from me, I'll send you more, when I'll finish other of your designs.

Arek "Wolverine" Lubniewicz

Game02 - Keep on the Borderlands (rating: later)

 

Disclaimer: I have not played or even seen the original p&p game this design was based on. In fact, I have never played AD&D, except these computer games. (this disclaimer I put on all instant reviews)

I guess this qualifies as a 'hack'n slash' design. Wander around from one location to the next fighting lots of baddies. The reason for the fight seems not to be for some greater good, but instead to train the heroes for their future endeavors. Nothing wrong with that. Trying somehow to make some logic out of the plot would end up being futile, so better not think about it too much. The party just wanders around, entering various locations and exterminating the humanoids living in there. My problem with this type of games is the lack of any definite goal. Even if it's just hack'n slash, there still should be some goal that the party pursues, even if it's nothing more than 'kill all the bad guys'. The problem here was that I found a mountain where the 'caves of chaos' were, and I didn't really know how much mayhem my party needed to do there for the game to consider it 'victory'. Trekking back to the keep to find out about it didn't feel like a best thing to do, and the caverns were somewhat confusing, having multiple exits and me generally being somewhat lost. After roaming for a while in and around the caves, I returned to the Keep. I got a new 'mission' to find an evil altar in the caves, but somehow found myself not interested in going back there again, spending another hour trying to find this altar.

Harri Polsa

 

Hi Folks,

game02.zip Keep on the Borderlands

Some of the tavern tales don't come up in the bar. I had one major glitch, that has also showed up in the design I'm currently playing, Horror on the Hill. When you try to donate to the temple, the game locks up. I have to do a hard reboot. Otherwise a very good adapation of the classic module. My husband is currently running my son and I through this module. He's dropped Horror on the Hill into the middle as a side quest. I like the way the bar/inn was laid out with the various table encounters. I have really liked all of the realm games thus far.

Plot Matter: 9 Artwork: 9 Hacks: 9 Text: 9 Events: 8

Originality: 9 Errors: 8 Difficulty: 5

Total Rating: 88% Mycroft Rating: 8.5

Susan

 

From: Ron Mierka <cadaver@planetdirect.com>

I just got done playing Ray Dyer's con(version) of one of my all-time favorites.

I was skeptical at first,(the other UA versions I've tried have fallen utterly short) but once I got into it I didn't stop playing until I completed it.

I was worried that I would get bored with encountering one humanoid band after another, but (aside from the -maybe- too many random encounters in the wilderness) I truly enjoyed every descriptive encounter I faced.

I really felt a sense of reward with each step I took. (That's what made me keep playing and ultimately finishing the whole thing in one sitting).

There were two encounters that were -way- too hard for characters 1-3 level:

What was the purpose of the dragon with 92 hit points? That really screwed me up. (I hadn't saved my game for a while before that and had to back-track).

Also, when I went back to the caves for the last time to confront the evil priests, I got attacked by several dozens of Gnolls, Bears, and two Rangers, (each with 42 hp - shooting arrows at me) hopelessly out of reach of anyone once I got surrounded, all at once. It took me no less than 10 attempts to get lucky and win that one!

Anyway, thank you, Ray Dyer, for providing me with at least two days worth of fun.

I'm looking forward to trying another one. "Horror on the Hill," probably.

(Ed. Note: While the purpose of the dragon and the several warnings of its presence were to warn people that not every monster needs to die by the end of a given design, the rangers and their pets were a glitch that has been fixed with the current patch file.)

 

Hi Ray.

I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your work. I have gotten into the habit of playing FRUA occasionally, and I ran across your website. Mods like these were the reason that I bought UA in the first place. These are the first mods that I have played that really make me feel like the "old pen and paper days." I have only played the veiled society and part of keep on the borderlands, but already I am hooked. I also am a firm supporter of the judicious use of random encounters. The only negative thing I might say is that I think I may have ran into a bug in keep on the borderlands. I had covered every square inch of terrain and cleaned out all of the tunnels I found, I covered some areas twice to check for secret doors. When I went back to the keep, nothing out of the ordinary happened. I had made a savegame earlier just to see if we could get past the green dragon. From that savegame, going back to the keep started the guided tour into the inner bailey. The only difference between the two savegames was that the dragon savegame had not covered some areas twice. I hesitantly jumped into the game editor and noted that the inner tour tests quest 13, and that some events like killing chieftains increment quest 13. I set a utility event to decrease quest 13 by one. Then walking past the gate triggered the tour. IT looks like one of your utilities to increment quest 13 is not set to "do only once," or something like that. I don't like digging through a mod, particularly if I'm still playing it, because it takes away some of the mystery, so I didn't go thru to see exactly what it might be. Other than that (roaming around for some time trying to figure out ifI missed a secret tunnel or something) the game has played flawlessly. I look forward to playing every single one... Actually, I kinda don't want to, because once I have, then I will have finished them, and I'll have nothing to look forward to....

thanks for making UA fun again,

 

Keep is a hack-and-slash adventure, but I still enjoyed it, mainly because of the sense of accomplishment I experienced after defeating the various humanoid tribes. I loved having the citizens of the Keep recognize my accomplishments.

I recommend to others playing this game that they begin with a party of at least second level, as it was originally frustrating to return to the inn after fighting only a few battles. Despite the constant returning to the Keep, I liked the way resting was handled. There is no resting allowed except in certain areas, mainly the inn, but also several other hidden locations. The battles in the game are generally difficult, especially the final conflict against the humanoid army. That battle required my mage to use the wand of fireballs she found seveal times.

One thing I that annoyed me was that the party had no ability to have diseases cured, but they had to fight a nest of giant rats. Lethal poison was also a problem in some areas.

I felt that the dungeons and wilderness areas were designed really well, though I needed to map the outside of the Caverns of Chaos in order to keep track of what I was doing. Also done well was the text. The opening text statements grabbed my attention, and Ray writes very well throughout the game. Those text boxes that didn't require a return press annoyed me, however, when they came at the end of a string of text statements that do. I prefer consistency.

Well met, Mr. Dyer! I have been a silent fan of your work for a long time now, especially the older modules that you have converted. Your version of the Keep on the Borderlands was far and away the best I've seen yet.

 

Dear Mr. Dyer,

First of all, let me say I've downloaded and played Keep on the Borderlands, amazing, I first ran the module about 1981 or 82 and it was finally a joy to sit down and actually play the game itself. Thank you.

In regards to the comments or reviews, I didn't have a problem with the big Gnoll fight everyone seemed to complain about. I didn't manage to free the "rangers" that turned on everybody until some time after, oh well, one less treason to deal with. It was also great fun to play with a dwarven fighter/cleric and an elven fighter/MU/cleric. Brought back some memories of the good old days.

I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about the lizardmen section in the beginning but it was a treat to play, altogether it was a lot of fun.

Thank you again for the Keep

 

Well, I just finished Keep on the Borderlands. I loved every minute of it! The modual never seemed that "alive" when I've played it. This conversion was great (and i even defeated the green dragon...well, it killed everone in my party except my ranger, who took no damage, before it ran away. I looted its treasure hoard, and thats what counts ;) My trusty band of adventurers are off to the fort, with a quick stop off to check out the "Veiled Society".

 

 


All of the preceding modules and game worlds are trademarked property of TSR Inc, which is now the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. I take no credit for the stories or ideas presented here, I merely converted them to a playable format for SSI's Unlimited Adventures game.