Way back in 1981, they made a board game for the 1981 book and 1983 film, The Keep. If this was not common knowledge to you, it will surprise you even more to learn that Mayfair Games published a Dungeons & Dragons compatible module under their Role Aids line of books for The Keep.
For those not familiar with Role Aids, it was a line of products started by Mayfair Games back in 1982 and it continued publishing into the 1990s. It was popular enough that the maker of Dungeons & Dragons at the time even sued them try to get them to cease making compatible products. While not as popular as the TSR printed accessories, Role Aids had its fans. I am among them.
So when The Keep showed up at our local Waldenbooks in 1984, I picked it up and ran to the food court of the local mall to read it until my Mom picked me up to head home. I was immediately taken with the time-traveling and the ability to use Nazis as villains in my campaign. When I got home, I started taking notes and figuring out how I would make this work with my current roster of players.
It turns out, it wasn’t easy. The module, with its time jumping and special rules was a bit confusing and it took me a few weeks to work out how I would run it. I also needed to adjust the difficulty of the adventure to match the slightly higher level of my player’s characters. The Keep is for levels 9-12 and my players were at level 14-15. It was a minor adjustment and we went to work.
The module is divided into three parts, all taking place in the same location but in different eras. You start in some mysterious magic era, which was my current world. Then the party jumps to 1476 and finally to 1941 to fight a well-equipped horde of Nazis.
My players had no idea what was going on as I transported them to a place they had never been before. They loved the moodiness and concepts of the adventures, but balked as magic started to weaken and eventually stop working. What helped was that in the end they were able to use modern weaponry to kill Nazis. They delighted in that part.
At the end of the adventure, you are supposed to not let them take the weapons back to their own world. I made the rookie mistake of allowing them to take them. I figured it wouldn’t be too unbalancing, I was dead wrong.
So, as they continued to climb levels I subtly removed these toys from the future from their inventory through use and accident.
When I ran the adventure years later, I wisely decided to take the advice of the creators of this module and force them to leave these weapons behind. The party balked about that, but in the end their belly aching was worth the price of not having to try to re-balance the campaign.
You can occasionally find The Keep in used bookstores or online for sale. Prices vary. My copy is pretty worn, but functional and I have been thinking of converting it to 5th Edition and trying to use it again.
If I do, I will make sure to leave an update here to tell people how it went.