MV1: Midnight on Dagger Alley (1984)

Here’s something I didn’t know existed until recently: Midnight on Dagger Alley, the first (and, to my knowledge, last) Dungeons & Dragons solo module that uses a Magic Viewer – that is, a piece of red cellophane – to hide its secrets.

Dungeons & Dragons is a group game and, because of that, it has the same basic problem of any group activity: sometimes people aren’t around when you want to play. TSR’s attempt to solve that problem by offering solo adventures. The rub is: how do you DM a game for yourself without spoiling the surprises?

In Midnight on Dagger Alley, blotches of red ink conceal the details of the fold out map and the adventure descriptions, preventing casual cheating and simulating, to an extent, the diminished visibility posed by the scenario’s moonless night. The regular text is revealed when you look at it through the red panel of the Magic Viewer – exactly like the game Password. It’s a clever, if impractical, solution – reading through red is tiring for the eyes.

As for the scenario, you have your choice of monk, thief and assassin, each with their given task. That novel construction doesn’t amount to much more than a more complicated version of the pick-your-path adventures of the period, though. And so it goes for most D&D solo adventures.

Bonus grammar gripe: the “on” in the title Midnight on Dagger Alley is nonsensical and drives me a little crazy every time I type it.

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