Sunday 17 July 2022

Original Scenarios Resurrected III: The Temple of Psaan (1980, Andrew Ravenscroft)

Welcome to the third entry in the series Original Scenarios Resurrected, wherein D&D scenarios from the 70s and early 80s are republished with the permission of the authors, usually together with extra contemporaneous material. Today we look to The Temple of Psaan by Andrew Ravenscroft. For parts I and II see here and here.

Today we move on to The Temple of Psaan by Andy Ravenscroft, originally published January 1980 in The Beholder issue 11. Andy started out writing for Shire Talk, a small print run local D&D fanzine, but he soon moved onto more mainstream D&D fanzines, where his contributions were often illustrated by his friend Quentin Manley. Andy stopped writing for role playing games in the mid 80s, but more recently he is the author and publisher of Dark Streets, a science fiction noir set in near-future London. He is well known to regular readers of this blog for his contributions to the Complete History of Early D&D Scenarios, providing much of the info on scenarios in fanzines.

Andy published three D&D scenarios in this period, the second of which is the focus of today's post - Temple of Psaan. Originally titled The Temple of Psaan, it lost the "The" when it was published for reasons unknown. It is a short scenario inspired by the introductory chapters of L. Sprague de Camp's novel "The Fallible Fiend", a story about a demon servant whose literal mindedness causes him to fail one master after another.

Fanzine submissions were not usually returned to the author, so Andy no longer owns copies of the originals. In the case of Demonsblood, which was more akin to an APA, the articles were included exactly as typed. For The Beholder, however, Guy Duke retyped submissions. It is quite unusual, therefore, that Andy retains the original manuscript for The Temple of Psaan, which we present here for the first time, along with the published version of the adventure.

You will notice that the scan of the published scenario includes pencil marks where the original owner recorded hit points lost during combat. I've not removed these as they're a nice touch as they show that published adventure were played, not just read

It is immediately obvious that the printed scenario is far more developed than the handwritten original, and the most likely explanation for its surival is that the published version derives from a revised version Andy prepared for publication. In particular, many details in the original are explained in the published version.

As two simple examples, in the original there are 5 war-dogs in a room by the entrance - in the published version it details "Maldivius' guard dogs - he keeps 5 dogs in here to deter intruders. Attack without fear; no subdual." In the original for Andy's eyes only this was unnecessary detail, but it is needed for the published version to make it clear for others. Similarly in one room it simply states a Gnoll has for treasure 1GP, and for the published version this becomes "He is in possession of the princely sum of 1GP" which makes it clear that the treasure isn't just pathetic, it's intentionally humorously pathetic.

These details are what make the existence of the manuscript interesting - we can see here how a dungeon for personal use gets altered into one intended for publication and use by others. We cannot infer from the terse 1-line descriptions of early scenarios whether it was just a monster in a room to be killed, or if the DM was to improvise the detail, and how much information was in the DM's head who didn't see any need to write it down for themselves.

For my own scenarios I favour an extremely terse style where all the info is noted on the map in the blank spaces with lots of arrows. This is a style I developed in the mid 80s and it means I can not only see information at a glance, it's easy to ammend as you develop. There is never a formal key, and I hate to think what others would make of my (often rather illegible) scrawl!

Finally here's a short Bibliography of Andy's work.


July '79 - Demonsblood # 3: The Raven Croaks 1 (inc. falling damge rules)

Sept '79 - Demonsblood # 4: The Raven Croaks 2 (inc. Clearwater Caverns, a D&D scenario)

Nov '79 - Demonsblood # 5: The Raven Croaks 3 (inc. background skills)

Dec '79 - The Beholder #10: The Archer (a new character class) & a D&D crossword

Jan '80 - Demonsblood # 6: Reviews

Jan '80 - The Beholder #11: (The) Temple of Psaan

Mar '80 - Demonsblood # 7: The Raven Croaks 4 (inc. poisons & Cerberus Class scoutship for Traveller)

July '80 - The Beholder #16: The Devil's Quagmire - co-authored with Quentin Manley. A 14-page scenario

2014 - Dark Streets, a science fiction noir set in near-future London

Also contributed to Shire Talk, a local fanzine.

Thanks to Andy Ravenscroft for allowing me to publish this, and also to Guy Fullerton for his help.


  1. The map. The font. The smudged notes! Another fun one I can't wait to read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for doing this series. I've worked my way backwards and it's a real nostalgia kick. Also, thank you so much for saving some of these fanzines from obscurity. I'm a huge fan of old fanzines (many of them were basically web forums for the pre-web generation) and I'm sad to think that many will disappear forever once their few copies are thrown away.

    1. Great to hear you're enjoying these posts. The discussions (and arguments!) on the letters pages of those fanzines are indeed just like web forums. I hope by republishing a few of these old scenarios people at least get a glimpse of the crazy creativity that was going on.