THIRTY YEARS ON AND I STILL WISH THIS EXISTED:
This product includes the filthy shire of Nulb and reveals the ruins of the Temple of Elemental Evil. Beneath, labyrinthine warrens lead into demoniac darkness...and beyond the ken of madness itself."
So sayeth the blurb in size 8 Century Gothic Italics. Its not a direct copy from the one on the back of the original module published in 1985, but my reworking.
Simply put, it's shit I wished existed.
So back in 1985, I was 12, going on 13 and had barely scraped the surface of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set with my two friends, Mark and Adrian James, along with Dan Power, Pete Hart and Tim Hall. It wasn’t until around 1987-88 when Adrian came over flashing his usual one-upmanship-fuelled bullshit smile and a copy of ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Players Handbook, that I started looking into what I saw as the darksome fantasy world of AD&D. By then, T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil was three years old. I don’t need to go into how old T1: Village of Hommlet was by that stage. That’s another story better left to people who played it waybackwhen.
Mark moved away to a different school and I oh-so-casually AD&Ded with Adrian, even though his mother banned him from it (Ha, Ruth). It was also the time that he and I were in a high-school lunchtime AD&D group ran by a dude called Pete Mullen. Pete was a music teacher and an all around okay guy for an adult. Anyway, this lunchtime D&D sesh morphed into us gathering at school on rainy weekends. Pete would let us in to a classroom and we’d have lunch and play AD&D. The adventure? Well, if you haven’t guessed by now, wake up to yourself.
We tried a few times to raid the Moathouse; got our asses handed to us the first time around and then fucked Lareth’s shit up with some lucky dice after we all rolled new characters. On our way back, Kobort and Turuko were waiting for us on the road back to Hommlet and fucked our shit up in return, but not so much that we couldn’t defeat them.
[Afterward-we-went-to-Nulb-started-a-huge-bar-fight-with-river-pirates-because-the-paladin-didn’t-drink-ale-killed-more-bandits-in-a-tower-close-to-the-Ruins-of-Elemental-Evil-ambushed-and-killed-a-wizard-with-a-golden-skull-mask-(pedant grognards STFU right now, I’m trying to make a point)-and-was-in-return-ambushed-and-almost-killed-by-an-assassin-took-a-trip-to-Verbobonc-only-to-come-back-and-find-that-our-basecamp-(the tower close to the ruins)-had-been-taken-over-in-turn-by-an-army-of-devil-worshippers-from-the-Horned-Society-looking-to-make-their-own-forays-into-the-templ
TLDR: You’ve heard it before; some teenager geekgasming about the first game he or she played in. Me too. Ultimately,it dawned on me that there was a huuuuuge story behind this campaign he was running; masterfully constructed and keyed for DM Pete to throw at us when we did certain things. I was hooked to this AD&D game; fully flavored by DM Pete and the Temple of Ele-fucking-Mental Evil.
Pete Mullen moved away at some point, or lost interest. I forget. We continued running stuff, different things like Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Throne of Bloodstone, AD&D in Lankhmar, and a lot of us eventually became a little starry-eyed with AD&D 2E. In 1989, I wagged school (hard, given that my Dad was also a teacher)and took a solo three and a half hour train-trip to the city, found a copy of The Temple of Elemental Evil, read it on the train coming back and…
…holy fuckballs. None of that plot-shit DM Pete used is in there (the point, pedant-fucking-grognards. Stop spitting rage-filled biscuit crumbs at the computer screen).
Okay, okay. This is coming from a kid who grew up in the country during the 1980s. Don’t scoff at me and tell me that my imagination is what –in fact—had me hooked in the first place. Or that Pete Mullen was a great storyteller.
Sure. Okay. All that stuff.
So I ran The Temple of Elemental Evil a number of times on different postings in the Navy. I poached all of Pete’s stuff and made it my own. Even his DMing style. I even did my own version built up from scratch. Which was brilliant, I might add. I dovetailed Against the Cult of the Reptile God into Hommlet at precisely the right moment for them to stand a chance against a spirit Naga themselves, and each of the Elemental Princes of Evil into their respective Elemental nodes as the powers-that-be.
Fuck that Zuggtmoy/Iuz/Lolth/oh-wait-it’s-really-Tharizdun shit. This was my story.
Wait. This is my story. More on that in a sec.
Looking back when I bought T1-4 and realized that it was in my eyes incomplete, it was bit of a letdown. I was 16; I had no fucking idea what a Maguffin was –and there I was, scratching my head at four barely fleshed out elemental nodes, with a gem somewhere in each… Giveafuck. Where has Dad hidden his new Penthouse magazine? [bivrip!]
So fast forward to the present. Next year is T1-4: the Temple of Elemental Evil’s 30th Birthday, even though it is a misbegotten lump of incompleteness. I saw here, and maybe here, that other people have thought about writing their own T2: Temple of Elemental Evil for the OSRIC RPG or their retroclone du-jour. I say to those writers:
Next year, I think that Temple of Elemental Evil deserves a birthday present from each and every person who has the guts to call themselves a Writer and a D&D player: Write up your T2: The Temple of Elemental Evil and post it somewhere.
In fact, I should do one too.
So here’s a front cover of an adventure module that doesn’t exist, but I wish had. In my alternate reality, T2: Temple of Elemental Evil was released in 1981, just after T1:Village of Hommlet was re-released with a color cover. I hope it gives you inspiration, or at the very least, look on it in 2015 and think about what you might have done.
Enough from me. Get writing.
EDIT: Hey kids! Every pedantic typophile can go die in a fire before they can tell me that the font used for “The Game Wizards” in the TSR Logo is not right. (Yes, I know it’s not right, Captain Effing Obvious.) Instead, props to anyone who can tell me the right one. I shall then acquire it and put your name in a “Special Thanks” somewhere.
EDIT 2: Why the change in style and colorful language, especially after three years of silence? I’m someone dealing with a lot of repressed anger. This is how I’m dealing with it. While I'm at it: Temple of the Kraken, Cloudmaker Mountain will be ready when I am.