Supermodule week! The format — a perfect bound softcover, often with a folder in the back containing a large foldout map or a booklet of maps — was introduced with Lankhmar, but was frequently used by TSR from the mid-‘80s to the early ‘90s, particularly in reprinting older adventure material. As much as I love the Lankhmar book, I begrudgingly acknowledge that The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985) is probably the real star publication using the format.

Temple was supposed to be a couple of more traditional modules by Gary Gygax, starting with T1: The Village of Hommlet (1979), but he never got around to finishing the writing. Aside of Hommlet and some notes, the rest of this book is Frank Mentzer’s work. It’s OK! I like Hommlet a lot — a starter module with a seemingly friendly town (like the village in Jennell Jaquays’ Dark Tower, this is a facade) where 1st level characters can square off with a memorable villain (Lareth the Beautiful) in a ruined moathouse. They then move along to the seedy town of Nulb, where more agents of the Temple are gathering, before proceeding into the Temple itself. I like Nulb too. I’m a little mixed on the Temple.

It’s a megadungeon (though one on the smallish side), and I generally like those, but Temple doesn’t make sense to me, really. I mean, dungeons never do, but Temple particularly so, as it is both a staging ground for the forces of evil and a prison built by the forces of good. I also think “Elemental Evil” is a silly concept, but I do like the big twist at the end, the fact that the big bad is the demon queen of fungus, of all things. I also like that Zuggtmoy looks like a weird ET knock-off. I think the problem for me is that the towns are dynamic and full of potential, but the encounters in the temple feel very samey. It’s fine, its just no Barrier Peaks, you know? Nice Parkinson cover, though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *