Palace of the Vampire Queen - Pacesetter Games
*There's an IPP script for generating empty room descriptions at the bottom of the page*
I received a copy of this in trade a while back and found out after the fact that it was (a reproduction of) the first commercially published dungeon in 1975.
The original module was billed as a "kit" in that it was simply a map with accompanying tables describing what was in each room. Lots of empty featureless rooms, lots of secret doors with no discernible clues to their location, and lots of "save or die" type traps and monsters. Old school by definition.
This reprint also contains alternate room descriptions and monsters designed to flesh out the original dungeon. I originally expected these to fill in the empty rooms, but they actually replace the old dungeon with new encounters that are more thematically linked. Unfortunately, there are just as many empty rooms, and for every interesting encounter included in the new version something interesting has been left out from the original. In the original key, there is a madman living in a room with 15 cats that will attack if they PCs trouble their master. If the PCs negotiate with the madman, he can give them information about the lower levels. In the new key, the area formally occupied by the madman is now a series of empty rooms with a pit trap. On another level, a wizard that originally tries to lure you into a room and kill you with poison gas is now there just to sell you items. Also, the more grisly descriptions were toned down in the new version, so no dwarven children being drained of their blood to make pudding.
I have mixed feelings about this reprint. The original module is a product of its times and is seriously rough around the edges, but that's why you would buy it. The new version improves some things but removes a lot of the original flavor. I can't help but hold it to a higher standard since it was recently produced, and I think it could have really been special with a bit more effort put in.
However . . . I thought it would be a fun way to introduce some new players to the game, and flashback to the beginnings (admittedly before I was born) of the RPG scene. I resolved to pick and choose the best parts from each version and mash them together for play via DCC (the system I have a current boner for) and made an IPP script to generate descriptions for all the empty rooms on the fly using Courtney Campbell's "Tricks, Traps and Empty Room Design" (I will paste the script below if anyone's interested). Thus, three friends (two who had never played a PnP RPG before), each controlling five zero-level characters entered the ruins under the castle to rescue the dwarven princess. . . .
We are three sessions in and have had a greater than 50% mortality rate. Smugglers were stabbed to death by goblins while crawling through tunnels, a man's face was ripped off by a skeleton, and we had our first intra-party pvp due to a disagreement over who should get to wear a set of chainmail armor the party found. Despite my criticisms, I'm having a blast, and so are my players.
Here is the script I used in Inspiration Pad Pro (apologies for my novice html fuckery), you should be able to copy and paste the text into your own file. What it does is it randomly generates 8 rooms, each from a different category. This way, I didn't have to write descriptions for empty rooms my players might not even explore. As soon as they started talking about entering an "empty" room I just ran the script and picked the room that best fit what they had already been encountering. It's not perfect, by any means, and I'm sure it could be improved (please do, if you have the ability), but it did the trick, and I figured it was worth sharing. Hope you can get some use out of it.