Monday 27 February 2023

Original Scenarios Resurrected VII: Kandroc Keep (1979, Brian K. Asbury)

Welcome to the seventh 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 is the turn of Kandroc Keep by Brian K. Asbury. For all entries in the series see here.

In my Complete Timeline of 1970s scenarios, Brian Asbury's 1979 scenario Kandroc Keep was literally a closed book to me. It was one of only two scenarios that I hadn't seen any of the contents of, only having ever seen its cover. As I wrote - "In the case of Kandroc Keep, I have located two people who owned copies - but one has mislaid theirs, and the other had donated theirs to a museum!"

In the end I managed to get in contact with the author, Brian Asbury, and he generously agreed not just to let me have a copy but also to republish it along with several other scenarios of his for this series - I'm still on the lookout for an original copy though (donations welcome!)

So, now I've seen it at long last, what's it like?

"Have a look at Kandroc Keep (1979) by Brian Asbury. It was written as a solo dungeon but is easy to convert. It's a blast" - online review of KK

Read on to find out more...

The Reveal

Kandroc Keep is a freeform dungeon crawl through an old-style funhouse dungeon (think B1 or X2). It's got a lot of interesting encounters, and has lots of neat features - HOWEVER (and this is a big BUT) unlike scenarios I can't give you any examples in this review, you'll have to play it for yourself.

Usually an adventure review is aimed at a prospective DM, and most include examples of what's good or bad about the encounters therein. But in this case you're the prospective player and any content I reveal would be detrimental to your enjoyment.

In direct contrast to the usual solitaire adventure, but in keeping with the style of P'teth Tower and The Solo Dungeon, KK has oodles of options. This isn't a story where you occasionally get a choice, it's a full-on dungeon crawl where every room has a several choices of action, and those lead to more choices and those to more. You can wander around freely at will (baring accident) and decide what you want to explore, and what to avoid. You'll need a pencil and squared paper to map - as I say, in most respects it's just like a standard dungeon crawl.

As suggested in the endorsement I quoted, after you've played it, Kandroc Keep can easily be run as a DM'ed adventure if you wish. When you're mapping simply note the paragraph numbers on the map for the rooms and corridors, along with one or two words to remind yourself of the contents of the room. I found that helpful myself when playing solitaire.

The Extras

Most of the republished scenarios in this series have "something extra". In this case Brian has scanned in and OCR'ed Kandroc Keep (thanks Brian!) and provided a new introduction for this digital edition. There is also extra material to follow in a future blogpost (so keep tuned!)

The Playtest

As with some previous scenarios, Kandroc Keep has been scanned in and OCR'ed, so needed to be proof-read - but you can't proof-read solitaires without ruining them - you have to play them. So my opinions are based upon real play, it's not a "first impressions review".

Unlike P'teth Tower, Kandroc Keep is not designed for first level characters - it is designed for a party with up to 12 levels between them. Presumably it was designed to be played with a party that had just completed The Solo Dungeon (the prior published adventure in the series), but we playtested it with our party that had survived P'teth Tower (Brian's previous adventure).

I say "we" because my younger son and I playtested this together; perhaps a non-standard approach for a solitaire, but one that worked remarkably well. We discussed which option to take, did the mapping together, and while he rolled the player attacks, I rolled for the monsters - then we laughed together at our foolish errors, and at nearly being TPK'ed by an motley collection of most unexpectedly animated creatures (anonymity preserved to avoid spoilers).

The interior illustrations by Chris Holmes (not the son of J. Eric Holmes) are great and depict scenes in the adventure. I couldn't locate Chris to ask permission to include his illustrations, and if you're reading this Chris I'll remove them if you want, but I thought you'd be just as likely to be miffed if your contribution was excised.

It's easier to play if you print out the scenario as a booklet, and I have added a blank page to the pdf so that if you do so the illustrations are on the facing page to the entry they describe.

I hope you enjoy this solitaire as much as we have - stay tuned for more to come! To download it click on the arrow in the top right to open in a new window, you can download it from there.


  1. I just discovered your blog and I have been down the rabbit hole for hours. Adventure modules are my favorite thing about TTRPGs, and early adventures during the OD&D era and before are right up my alley! I was worried you had stopped since your last post was back in October, so happy to see the project still going! Are you really planning to publish all the 200-ish adventures you've indexed so far?

    1. Hi Endless. Glad you're enjoying them. The delay was caused by real life, normal service should now be resumed. I'm very interested in publishing as many of the currently unavailable scenarios as I can, but of course I can only publish those where I've managed to contact the author and get their agreement. It only adds up to a small percentage of all the unavailable scenarios, but there's still a few more to come, and some of them are previously unpublished. Stay tuned!

    2. I'm kind of curious if the other levels referred to on Paul Cook's map and Steve Jackson's "The Dungeons of the Ground Goblins" map exist anywhere.

    3. If you find Paul Cook you could ask him about the rest of his dungeon (and if we could see it) - you never know! On the other hand I think Steve Jackson's dungeon was just that one section made up for the article, since it appears Ian Livingstone was actually their DM at the time (see the post on the Inner Temple of the Golden Skeleton for one of Ian's dungeons that Steve was playing in at that time).

  2. Awesome, thanks again for sharing these!!

  3. I couldn't find an e-mail address for either of them.

  4. Thanks for posting this. I had this 'back in the day' and it still holds a fond spot in my memories. I've still got the original, though it's a bit dog eared now.