Of the essays I have managed to read (the rest of the book is very distracting, so please excuse my inattentiveness to the introductory material), the thrust is that these two modules stand as the gateway to not only as the starting point for many a campaign, but how to play the game of D&D for an entire generation of gamers.
Although my copy of the Homles Basic Edition Box came with the mono-chromed cover version of B1, and I certainly spent a lot of time looking through its pages, the sentiments expressed in these essays do not really apply to me. I have never used either B1 or B2 in any campaign I have run nor have I ever gone through them as a player. I learned how to play the game from older players who were willing to put up with me, because I was a slow reader when I was young and all of D&D's text was over my head for a number of years to come.
As long-time readers of this blog know, the one module that stands out in my playing experience is T1:The Village of Hommlet. I have used it a number of times as the starting place for a campaign. I have re-imagined it in all kinds of different scenarios and it still is my favorite TSR-era module. This is in part because, not despite the fact, that we never really got the Temple of Elemental Evil until years after the fact and the one we got fell way below expectations. Again, long-time readers will be well familiar with my various escapades and creating my own version of ToEE.
Thus, as I have been thumbing through Into the Borderlands, my Gamer ADD is going off like crazy because my inner gamer is desperate to throw together a campaign that marries B1, B2 and T1 in a crazy homage to the best beginner TSR modules of all-time. It was when I was perusing the various takes on stocking B1 that this inner chaos found its voice and it said:
Why not re-skin Quasqueton as the Temple of Elemental Evil?It makes a twisted kind of sense. The two builders of B1’s dungeon were Chaotic, the place has some wonderfully weird rooms that can be re-skinned with elemental clothing and it would take a mere hand wave to explain its abandonment with the crusades of the followers of St. Cuthbert. One could also re-skin the Shrine of Evil Chaos in the Caves of Chaos as a fall-back position by the survivors of the cult and the Boathouse from T1 could still stand in as a forward position by the Cult as they seek to re-establish themselves after licking their wounds.
To boot, there is nothing that is preventing me from placing higher HD creatures with an elemental twist within all those lovely blank spaces between the covers of B1.