Sunday 25 June 2023

Original Scenarios Resurrected IX: Kandroc Keep II (1980, Brian K. Asbury)

Welcome to the ninth 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 Today is the turn of the previously unpublished sequel to Kandroc Keep, Kandroc Keep II by Brian K. Asbury. For all entries in the series see here.

When I was researching early D&D scenarios for my series on every single published D&D scenario of the 1970s, I was struck by the approach of these early scenarios which I found very refreshing, but also saddened by how many of them were long out of print and nigh on impossible to obtain.

An idea for this series started to germinate - I hoped to be able to make one or two rare long-out-of-print scenarios available again. At this stage the plan was simply to republish some of those out-of-print titles - I didn't expect to uncover unpublished material.

When Brian K. Abury's Kandroc Keep and Richard Bartle's The Solo Dungeon were published in 1979 they were meant to be the first in a series of solo D&D adventures. Brian completed a sequel, Kandroc Keep II, a second level to the dungeon, but (as was the way with most small press at the time) the publisher went bust before it was released. Brian had sent his original to the publisher, never to be seen again. Fortunately he retained a photocopy of the manuscript. Unseen for over 40 years, today I proudly present the previously unpublished second level.

Kandroc Keep II is particularly interesting as it represents old-school D&D play as it was at the time rather than through a haze of memories or from attempting to infer how it was played from modules / rulebooks / articles of the period. In particular it allows the player every opportunity to die horribly by making clearly stupid choices. Just because a monster is in the dungeon that does not mean you should fight it. Poor choices and death will result in you being subjected to merciless punning - you have been warned!
Obviously Kandroc Keep II is meant to be played by people who have first played Kandroc Keep - to be found here. If you haven't played that yet then I'll encourage you to try it by reiterating that an online review of Kandroc Keep said of it "It's a blast". I described it thus:

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.

To those of you who have played the original Kandroc Keep but failed to locate the steps down to the second level, I suggest you navigate to 7D and then search for secret doors. I missed them myself when playing it through the first time.

My advice to play this is to print it out, it is so much easier that way. I printed it out as a booklet, folded it in half, and stapled it in the middle - which takes me right back to the days of assembling my brother's fanzine Demon's Drawl in our parents' dining room back in the early 80s.

Once you have played it through, it is easy enough to run KK I & II as a standard DM'ed dungeon if you wish, so long as you annotate the map with the first entry for each room and corridor.

Preparing the Scenario for publication

Play testing and proof reading
Firstly Brian typed up the manuscript (as the photocopy was too poor to OCR), and added a new introduction. I then set about the process of proof-reading - critical for a solo dungeon, and not trivial. The first (fun) step was to play it through, making a map as I went (annotating the rooms and corridors with the relevant entry numbers). Then comes the difficult part - checking all the cross-references. For most solo adventures this wouldn't be that hard - but there are sometimes dozens of entries for a single location in Kandroc Keep II. I gave each room a letter and corridor a number and checked each in turn. By marking the entry as I got to it with the letter/number of the location and also with the entry number that had sent me there I could recursively check through all the branches (ticking off entries and choices as they were exhausted) in a far more efficient fashion than my original strategy of drawing a decision tree. The effort involved for this has made me appreciate how much effort it must have been for Brian to create this solo adventure in the first place.


Please note that in this adventure cheating is DANGEROUS and may lead to the DEATHS of your characters or (worse) the reader becoming trapped in a time-loop. In particular UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you EVER read any paragraph you have NOT been directed to read. At all times remember the advice of entry 12H:

Now consider yourself warned, and we can take absolutely NO responsibility for any ill effects you may suffer from ignoring this sternest of instructions.

A final word of advice - although the option to run away is often given, there are one or two extra places where I'd have added it - in particular when fighting the Biots. In that encounter I think you should be able to simply retreat, but if you are facing far superior numbers or a particularly nasty foe you should only be able to retreat if you sacrifice two of your party to engage them in combat whilst the rest of you retreat. (Kandroc Keep is for a party of six characters).

The Big Reveal

With that out of the way, I present Kandroc Keep II. Many thanks once again to Brian for agreeing to share this scenario, and for all his work in preparing this digital edition. Don't miss Brian's new 2022 introduction on page 4. 

To download it click on the arrow in the top right to open in a new window, you can download it from there.


  1. Amazing! Glad to have you back after so many months, and the behind-scenes of the work that goes on is a great insight into the effort that it takes. Thanks again for this little piece of history.

  2. I remember Brian Asbury's stuff from the early White Dwarfs. Gem of a find , thank you and Brian so much.

  3. I still have my original copy of Kandroc Keep, somewhat dog-eared but still loved! In fact I'd not long ago dug it out and was thinking of giving it another run through. The last line was always a teaser, mentioning a second level. Thank you for releasing this,

    1. Great to hear that Craig. Makes it all worthwhile :-)