Sinister, twisting images. Horrific nightmares lurking at the corners of the mind.
But these tales of the Labyrinth of Madnessare only legends, really, nothing more than stories used to frighten children at night - until a mysterious scepter is found, bearing within its crystal head a visage of insanity and terror, and also delivering a message: "Disturb not the Labyrinth of Madness again, and live a while longer."
Now a powerful temple suffers from a tragic curse that is somehow linked to the labyrinth. Does there exist a group of heroes who can penetrate this dark and terrible place to life the curse... and survive?
"Labyrinth of Madness" is a multiple-level, three-dimensional dungeon adventure, a puzzle within a puzzle, that commenorates 20 years of gaming with TSR.
S6: "Labyrinth of Madness" (1995), by Monte Cook, was (sort of) the sixth and final book in the S ("Special") series. It was published in August 1995.
Continuing the S Series. The S series was a set of four adventures (1978-82) that ran through AD&D's early days. They were dungeon-delving adventures full of tricks, traps, and monsters; they also often included illustration books that could be used to show players what their environment looked like.
TSR decided to revisit the series in 1995 with two new adventures. The first was S5: "The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga" (1995); "Labyrinth of Madness" was the second. Of course, TSR had stopped using module codes by 1995, so revisiting the old series didn't have a lot of impact. The only reason that we now know that "The Dancing Hut" and "Labyrinth of Madness" were intended to be S5 and S6 is because they were denoted as such on the TSR Triviathalon product list.
That said, "Labyrinth of Madness" fits well into the S-series modules - i.e., a dungeon-delving adventure with an illustration book.
Buddy, Can You Spare a Platinum? "Labyrinth of Madness" was created in part to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. It do so by paying tribute to tricky dungeons of years past. Besides being a "super dungeon," the adventure is also full of classic monsters, most of whom appeared originally in the 1e Monster Manual (1977).
Expanding the Dungeon. "Labyrinth of Madness" has plenty of tricks, traps, monsters, and treasures - and none of them are too unusual for a classic dungeon design. However, it also goes beyond the level of design found in most dungeons of the 70s and 80s. The dungeon itself is a complex, interconnected 3D location, something that was pretty rare in the 1e era although it had shown up occasionally in adventures like I6: "Ravenloft" (1983), DL1: "Dragons of Despair" (1984), and, somewhat surprisingly, XL1: "Quest for the Heartstone" (1984).
The monsters in the dungeon are much more organized than you'd find in dungeons of yore. They can appear in different places in different times, and may even organize fully if the players give them time.
Finally, "Labyrinth of Madness" has a complex puzzle deeply integrated into gameplay, requiring players to find 20 clues to pass through the labyrinth. This puzzle format dramatically increased the dungeon's complexity and made it perhaps the most fiendishly difficult dungeon in the history of D&D.
Author Monte Cook says, "Looking back at this module today, I don't know if I'd personally run it as written anymore - it's just too hard. (I don't know if I'd have the patience to run 'Tomb of Horrors' anymore, either, though.) I guess that makes me a wimp."
The Corresponding Comic. About a year later, TSR was playing around with releasing their own comics; as part of this comic series, they decided to create a comic based on this adventure: Labyrinth of Madness (1996), written by Mike Barron. As with all of the limited edition comics of that year, it remains available online.
An Unusual Gaming Session. Following the release of "Labyrinth of Madness," Cook got email from a GM who said that he'd run the adventure and let his players use several powerful characters from the Forgotten Realms, including Elminster and Drizzt. They died a few rooms in - though Cook says that he suspects their fatal flaw was overconfidence, not their actual power level.
Whoops! Wizards of the Coast still maintains a listing of errata to be used with this adventure. Most are minor mapping errors, but one of the mistakes will prevent the adventure from being finished. Fortunately, it's an easy fix: "In room E4, where it says 'Sigil 15' in red, it should say 'Sigil 12.'"
About the Creators. In 1995, Monte Cook was a fresh face at TSR, just doing his first solo work for the company. In all, he published three solo books for TSR that year: this adventure, plus Planes of Conflict and Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs. He also co-authored Glantri: Kingdom of Magic (1995), meaning that he covered three major settings over the course of the year: Dark Sun, Mystara, and Planescape. Thereafter, Planescape would be his main focus.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.