Temple of Elemental Evil as a casual campaign

We’ve decided to play a casual campaign using the AD&D 1ed. Temple of Elemental Evil (TOEE) mega-adventure. I’ve grown to become fascinated with the ‘old school’ style of play. And the great thing about TOEE is that it takes place in a geographically small area where many adventurers gather, which makes it easy to have characters come and go, which enables me to set up the campaign in a more casual format.

I’ve set up the conditions for the campaign differently from what I normally do:

  • I have a pool of 12-14 players who would like to participate when they have the time or is in town.
  • The adventuring group consists of whoever can attend that game day.
  • Each sessions ends with the group retreating to a town or campsite outside of the dungeon (unless hindered completely in-game). This enables a more ‘episodic approach.
  • The players can make maps and learn things inside the game, which can be shared between the games to create a working meta-level to the campaign, where the real-life talks about what happened in the game, can be useful to people when they gather to play next time.

So why have I set the game up this way?
When I was younger, I scoffed at the mega-dungeons, and thought them to be almost unplayable, and that my players would become bored with one single dungeon they need to map and go through (oh! Another 5 gnolls in a 20×20 foot room…).

I still think that constant dungeon-crawl will get boring, but there are a few reasons, why I think this will work better than I used to think:

  • First of all, we’ve come to appreciate the more ‘old school’ play style. We enjoy just sitting down, killing some gnolls, gain some xp and drinking a couple of beers.
  • The emergent game-play and how the dungeon should react to intrusion make exploration more fun.
  • We don’t play as often and players will rotate to some extent, so it will stay fresh.
  • I can better see how the module intends for the DM to create a lot of extra material in addition to the published material.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition is better suited to this type of module. It can resolve combat quicker than previous editions, which makes this kind of combat heavy game run more smoothly.

We will have our first session April 12, with 6 players. I hope to play 5-8 times per year, but we will see how much time we have, and how popular it is (I respond to popular demand).

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