Goldbox Megacampaign (all classic AD&D and D&D modules)

The Rpgcodex forums are always a source of interesting stuff that I wasn’t even aware existed.

This one is about a mega-campaign called The Realm, that is a collection of about 46 separate modules (but they should be fairly short separately), built across 9 years (started in 1998, finished in 2007) sometime unifying other settings like Ravenloft and Greyhawk and all should be conversions of the classic modules (for example one of these is The Temple of Elemental Evil). The quality of all of these should be good.

This uses the Goldbox engine and an editor called FR: Unlimited Adventures. Essentially you run a module and import your party, then play it. When you’re done, save the party and port it over to the next module. There’s also all the freedom you want since you can go through the modules in any order (as long you check the suggested levels for the party, I guess). The suggested sequence is on that site.

I only managed to install the thing and play about an hour to the first module I found (and I never actually played Goldbox games before), but it was FUN!

Most of the game is text driven (the writing is fine), so it’s a kind of narrated rpg where you have choices here and there. Then there’s the old-school 3D dungeon exploration (that requires map-making), and the tactical combat typical of Goldbox games. I think this mix works really well, and I love the idea of the long term unified campaign.

Example of what I found in the beginner module: It’s called “The Veiled Society” and described as “murder mystery adventure”. It starts in this big city called Specularum, suggested level 1-3. At the beginning guards ask for gold and bind your weapons before they let you go. Then the crowded city is being described and there’s some kind of celebration going on, lots of people in the street and a procession. During this procession there are some guys having a squabble with some priests and you’re asked whether you want to step up for one or the other (or do nothing), though it doesn’t tell you what kind of repercussions this will have. Then you get to explore the city and the various shops, buy some basic equipment. When night falls you get to an inn, pick spells to memorize and go to rest. In the morning you find a woman in distress who’s seen some shadows in her basement. So I accepted to help her, she drives you to her home and you can go exploring her basement (that looks more like a dungeon). After a while I find two guys burying something, fight them, and find out they were burying two corpses, one of which is grasping some red hair (intrigue!). I explore a bit more and find a band of kobolds (who doesn’t have a band of kobolds in the house basement?) who seem to try holding up a crumbling ceiling and call out for MY help. I obviously go to their help (who wouldn’t help a band of kobolds?) but it’s a TRAP! The ceiling falls on my party, I dispatch the kobolds but get three in my party killed too. I finally go back to the woman and she tells you to report the crime asap to the constabulary. So you go there but they don’t believe you, they call some priest to cast a “detect lies” spell and finally they believe the story. Then you are carried to some noble mansion to investigate, but then I returned to the city to see if I could find a temple to resurrect my party. And in the meantime wandering around you start getting lots of rumors about the important families and what’s going on. That’s it for now.

Getting everything to work requires a number of steps, but it’s fairly simple actually. Instructions here:
And you can even try getting Roland/MT-32 emulation in Dosbox, which works with all games for much better MIDI music:

After that you just download the modules (hacked versions, since they modify the engine for new tricks) from here:
Then unpack in a directory, move over your character files and not much else.

The original pen&paper B6 module:

Where’s the actual downloads on that site HRose?
feels stupid

Edit: Ah, you just click on the filenames.
IS stupid


To post something meaningful for a change, I do hope Dungeon Craft will eventually make it. They said a 1.0 release was right around the corner a year ago, but nothing has surfaced yet.
Ah well, why should they do better than an actual developer like Firaxis, who promised the DLL stuff ages ago but haven’t lived up to their promise either?
That’s the main thing hurting these FRUA releases today, their really really low-res graphics (by todays standards).


While quite interesting, its way too much hassle.

Someone should bundle it all up in an installer. Looks nice, though. I do think the engine is too old by now to garner much interest. If someone updated it though, I’d be all over it. Those games were fun back in the day!

Most of these don’t seem to make heavy use of FRUA hacking, which means they should be easy enough to use.
However, it also means they will probably not be too exciting.

Back in the day, I’d gotten pretty burned out on “vanilla” modules.
Some guys did some outstanding modding work on FRUA, though, greatly expanding on what was possible to do with it, and people made some excellent modules. One name I can still remember to this day is Harry Polsa, some finnish dude who made a nice fantasy series and a somewhat adult-oriented scifi series remotely playing like the Buck Rogers games.


I wish there was an open source port or even a mobile version of the Goldbox engine…so many of the games look so awesome but my eyes just can’t take that resolution for longer than 5 minutes anymore. The text in particular.

Not that Grimrock is bad or anything, but this is the sort of thing I was hoping it would be.

Well, I know of nothing mobile, but Dungeon Craft, which I mentioned above, aims to be a high-res modernized version of FRUA (SSI’s own make-your-own-goldbox-game app).
Development has been going on for about ten years now, and it was completely stalled for a couple of years in between, but work has picked up considerably a few years ago and they’d been aiming for a 1.0 release sometime 2011 … yet they missed that boat. Whether they’ll make it 2012 remains to be seen, but at least they seem to make some considerable progress regularly.
The homepage I linked to above is updated rarely, but discussions about active development take place on this forum.

Bzw., someone on RPG Codex was appearently working on something like what Razgon had in mind for DC (see this thread), but work has stalled earlier this year due to some DC bugs.
I’m sure once DC is officially 1.0, there’ll be quite a few ported modules and stuff. Well, at least I hope so. ;)


Thanks for posting this, HRose. I was aware that there were a lot of modules for FRUA, and I always had the impression that this is probably one of the best D&D conversions, but it always seemed like too much hassle to actually try it out myself.

I’ll definitely check this out, but I think I’ll wait until I’ve finished the last Goldbox games. I still have 3 or 4 to go, I think.

edit: Regarding Dungeon Craft: while I think the idea of an updated version is excellent and laudable, the graphics really put me off. I wish they’d do an updated version with the graphics of Grimrock.

I got rid of a bunch of stuff, but believe I still have many of the old print modules.

Spoiled modern gamers.

It’s really quite easy and as I said once it’s set-up you just unpack a module, move over your party files and then load it to play.

The engine is what appeals me. I don’t like AT ALL the way Dungeon Craft looks, for example. I like much better that old style.

Fonts, frames and colors can be changed. In fact the screenshots I took here use my default combination. I think the font is quite readable actually.

I’m not sure I can get over the graphics and UI problems, but I think I have to try this. After playing through the Baldur’s Gates and Icewind Dales recently, I’m hankering for more good D&D games.

For me the appeal of this, even over the standard Goldbox games, is that these modules are part of a big campaign AND conversions of classic D&D and AD&D modules. So you also get a taste of those old pen&paper adventures. The system is quite simple but the conversions should be as good as they can.

Some of the initial modules are just 1-2 hours, and the later ones go from 4 to 10 hours. The Pool of Radiance (game39) is 25 hours on its own. This guy converted that and Curse of the Azure Bonds, and they are supposed to be better and improved version of the original Goldbox.

So packing together the 46 modules and considering everyone of these is a distinctive conversion of a pen&paper original (so I guess I can expect excellent variety instead of padded content), that’s well over 200 hours of content if one really went through the whole thing.

AD&D Goldbox RPGs is still one of my fondest gaming memories, but it will most likely stay a memory.

I’d very much like to see a CRPG that tries to closely capture the feel of Red Box / 1e AD&D. Abstract combat (which is the antithesis of a CRPG, perhaps, but I’d like to see it done), procedurally generated maps in the cornflower blue goodness of the old days (complete with the symbology of the day), generated illustration panels in vein of Erol Otus, and even generated text in the style of the old modules (complete with outlined text passages to “read aloud” and the terse stat blocks of the day). I keep going back to design work on that but keep scrapping it because I should be working on Into the New World. So many things I’d like to work on.

…No. Just no.

The whole point of this is because it’s all handcrafted oldschool pen&paper.

The generated stuff is for games like Diablo that are based on incremental formulas.

This is the whole deal between good RPGs and the shit that is branded as RPG nowadays. Formulas vs content.

That’s why I have no intention to play Diablo 3 even if it was sold for $5, but I have plenty of enthusiasm for this.

I can see both sides to the argument. I’m still a believer that we just haven’t seen procedural generation done right and that it is an interesting problem to crack. However, I can also see the appeal of a strong hand-crafted story. Most Red Box / 1e AD&D modules, however, didn’t have that strong a story.

Procedurally generated maps doesn’t necessarily mean Rogue or NetHack, a random series of corridors and rooms. If enough rooms were hand-crafted and categorized such that they could be inserted into a template for a keep, or inn, or what-not then it could be surprising on repeat playthroughs yet not look like Rogue. Sorta like geomorphs.

I think hand-crafted story bits, encounter locations, etc. tied together procedurally, as well as hooks for content creators to completely control the content where desired could work very well and offer replayability.

My beef with the Diablos, and Diablo 3 in particular is that the story isn’t procedurally generated at all (and still isn’t great by any measure, despite being hand-crafted) and that the maps themselves, though a step in the right direction with hand-crafted encounter areas, still manage to be way too familiar on repeated playthroughs.

Regardless, thanks for this great post – I had all but forgotten about FRUA and will definitely have to go back and check this stuff out!

Really? I don’t know what modules you played, or how, but we had a great time with some awesome stories from Red Box, Blue box and green box adventures.

It was a helluva lot better than say D3 for instance.

Procedurally generated stuff is a chimera programmers chase when they lack competency in game design (so 90% of programmers who believe they know better).

Generated stuff has a place, but not here. It works great to support sandbox/simulations. Like Dwarf Fortress. But if you aren’t simulating a world, then generated content is an hoax. A Goldbox game isn’t simulating a city, it is simply telling a story in that city. Using generated content for this would suck. Replayability is NOT necessary. I already pointed out you’re seeing more than 250 hours of content. How could you possibly want to repeat any part of it?

In D3 generated “content” is an hoax. You’re playing a formula. It sucks and it even has half the content of the original D2. It works commercially because D3 is a combat game where most of gameplay exists around class/skills.

The confusion is that D3 is like a sport game. It’s always the same, but it’s made interesting because of varied action gameplay. If you remove the excuse of the plot no one would notice. It’s like Doom.

This looks pretty cool…gonna try it out when I get some time.

I’m still of the preference to see the ToEE engine opened up for modules to be easily made with it (would make things simpler for teams like Co8) but I know that’s a snowball’s chance in hell of happening.