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The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time
Thom Denholm
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In November 2004, Dungeon Magazine published a list of the 30 Greatest D&D Adventure of All Time, as voted by an esteemed list of contributors:

* Keith Baker
* Eric L. Boyd
* Andy Collins
* Wolfgang Baur
* Monte Cook
* Bruce R. Cordell
* Ed Greenwood
* Gary Holian
* Alan Kohler
* Mike Mearls
* Christopher Perkins
* Clark Peterson
* Chris Pramas
* Jean Rabe
* John D. Rateliff
* Bill Slavicsek

Each item contains a description, comments from selectors, and the "defining moment" of the adventure. This geeklist contains a summary of each and the defining moment with a spoiler tag. Full text available in the magazine, which can be purchased from Paizo Publishing here:
http://paizo.com/store/magazines/dungeon/issues/2004/v5748bt...

In the magazine article, they were "counted down" in order, and I will do the same. If you really want to see the "Top 5", skip to the second page of this Geeklist.

A sidebar to this article listed the 10 best Dungeon Magazine adventures of all time. It's geeklist is here:
http://rpg.geekdo.com/geeklist/47370

Your comments on these items are welcome too!
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1. RPG Item: C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1112]
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This module was originally written for the Official ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® Game Tournament at Wintercon VIII, held in Detroit in November of 1979.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
At the Ghost Tower's apex, the adventurers discover that stealing the Soul Gem is more trouble than they'd expected. Random rays blast forth from the artifact, ripping the souls from victims and leaving behind colorless, lifeless husks.
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2. RPG Item: L2: The Assassin's Knot [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:901]
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The second of what would end up a Trilogy of adventures by Len Lakofka. Notable for it's outdoor setting and well-defined Assassin's guild.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The best moment of a mystery is when the heroes figure out what's really going on. Given the open-ended nature of The Assassin's Knot, this could happen at any time, but it most likely results in a bloody confrontation against the local government at the neighborhood castle.
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3. RPG Item: B4: The Lost City [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:173]
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A sunken city, lost in the desert. Maps and notes were provided for expanding this adventure into a massive underground lost city.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The sunken ruins of Cynidi¬cea were only roughly detailed in the adventure, but it and its insane population of drug-maddened albino cultists were immortalized by one of the first isometric maps to appear in a D&D adventure.
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4. RPG Item: U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:141]
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The first of a classic trilogy which uses horror, water adventure, and diplomacy.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Characters who prevail against the Sea Ghost and her crew not only win a valuable ves¬sel filled with rich cargo, but have a chance to befriend a captured sea elf and a friendly pseudodragon - allies that come in handy in the adventure's two sequels.
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5. RPG Item: WGR6: The City of Skulls [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2928]
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Greyhawk wars leads you to the nightmare capital of Iuz!

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The warden of the lower Halls of Torment, a mutant half-demon named Zensher, holds court in his lair with his half-succubus consort Shelander and their gibbering demon minions. Canny PCs can actually ally with him in return for promising not to cause too much trouble.
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6. RPG Item: DL01: Dragons of Despair [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1549]
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The first in a 16 module series, leading eventually to a whole product line. Designed to be played with the included characters, this would play out much like the first book.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Playing Raistlin, Sturm, Tassle-hoff, and the other Heroes of the Lance was fun, but the first appearance of the black dragon Khisanth as she burst from the well in the Plaza of Death to spew acid on everyone is what D&D is all about.
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7. RPG Item: City of the Spider Queen [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1853]
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Tied in with the War of the Spider Queen novel series, this huge adventure for the Forgotten Realms features the Underdark, hordes of drow, a twisted demigod, and a battle on the Ethereal Plane. This adventure won an Origins award.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
What could make the climax of an adventure more exciting than placing it in a partially ethereal tower wrapped around a globe of negative energy? Try making that tower equal parts intelligent artifact, sentient construct, and undead behemoth!
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8. RPG Item: WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:450]
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The PCs wander into the rugged mountains to the west of the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, seeking the lair of a band of norkers, gnolls, and giants that have been causing trouble. Little do they (or the PCs) suspect that their new home may just be the resting place of one of GREYHAWK'S most notorious dark gods. As Bruce Cordell sagely observes: "Evil never dies... it just sleeps away the eons in weird cysts, waiting for foolish adventurers to disturb it."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Deep below the temple's dungeon, in a place called the Black Cyst, brave (or foolish) PCs find a strange form imprisoned in a black haze. Is the form stirring? A fantastic amount of treasure is hidden nearby, but is it wise to steal from what may just be the sleeping body of Tharizdun himself?
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9. RPG Item: S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:210]
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In this re-issue of one of the first D&D tournaments ever written, the adventurers trek into the treacherous Yatil Mountains on a quest for the lost treasure of the Witch-Queen Iggwilv. The pedestrian character of the caverns echoes the adventure's primordial nature, but Tsojcanth's detailed wilderness setting and extensive "Booklet 2" set it apart from its contemporaries. The latter introduced more than 30 new creatures, including the behir, dao, dretch, derro, dracolisk, marid, Baphomet, and Graz'zt.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The heroes fight their way through rockslides. underwater rivers, and a jumble of random encounters to reach a cleverly trapped room that contains Iggwilv's fabled treasure - her vampire daughter Drelzna, who sleeps in a spherical room under the weird light of Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn.
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10. RPG Item: Dark Tower [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:442]
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This Judges Guild adventure sends the party into a massive dungeon built around a pair of buried towers. The adventurers fight their way down to the bottom level and to the entrance of the Dark Tower, and then fight their way back up again. John Rateliff says, "This massive 80-page book raised the bar on dungeons, providing not just a compelling adventure hook (set in what is still one of the creepiest villages in D&D), but also two opposed factions struggling over a multilevel dungeon, ending in a truly horrific final encounter (for those who made it that far)."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
In the final encounter, the PCs end up fighting a Chosen Son of Set and a 21st-level cleric lich. The villains' defeat only worsens the situation, as it causes the dungeon to start collapsing. Hopefully the PCs didn't leave a lot of monsters and traps in the way of their panicked flight out!
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11. RPG Item: A1-4: Scourge of the Slavelords [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:506]
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Scourge combined the four wildly popular Slave Lords adventures into one supermodule. Bill Slavicsek says, "This module pits your adventurers against the ultimate party of slaver villains and has lots of memorable moments. I remember my players growing to hate the slavers and cheering each time they were able to take one of them down." Of particular note was the villain Markessa, who used surgery and magic to alter the appearance of prisoners, remaking them into duplicates of herself and brainwashing them to follow her commands.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Near the end of this adventure, the PCs are captured by the slave lords and thrown, naked, into the dungeons. The PCs must make do with what they can scavenge from the dungeons in order to escape, reclaim their gear, and finish off the slave lords.
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12. RPG Item: N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:280]
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Douglas Niles brings the town of Orlane and its creepy environs to life in just 28 pages. Every other townsperson is in the thrall of a mysterious cult, and the PCs are left not knowing whom to trust or where to turn. There's no safe temple or inn to retreat to for healing, as both have already been subverted by the Cult of the Reptile God. When the PCs finally head off to track down the cult leader, they find themselves in a dungeon that lacks the stout walls of most such locales and threatens to collapse in a sodden mess above their heads. As Ed Greenwood puts it, "Detective work, hunting for the villains, some monster-bashing, and a settlement detailed enough to use beyond the scripted adventure: a quiet little gem that has it all!"

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Turns out the "Reptile Cod" is a spirit naga named Explictica Defilus, and between her charm gaze, spells, poison bite, and the fact that the PCs probably spend the first few rounds of the fight stuck in a rowboat... well, let's just say that the DM better have an escape route handy once things turn sour.
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13. RPG Item: C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:433]
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Fleeing tenacious bounty hunters, the heroes cross the southern oceans to the steaming Amedio Jungle, where they find themselves trapped in vegetation-choked ruins modeled after those of the Maya and Aztecs of Central America. Amber-hued poison vapors fill the catacombs of a great step pyramid that boasts a talking hermit crab, a dying corn goddess, and a diorama of Hell. Like Expedition To the Barrier Peaks and Tomb of Horrors, Tamoachan featured a separate illustration booklet to help players imagine their deadly surroundings. "A solid and fun experience," says Bill Slavicsek.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Behind a massive circular calendar stone, the heroes discover a city in miniature arrayed on the floor of an immense chamber. The first character to step into the room finds himself on the safe side of a curtain of flame, and must face a doppleganger in single combat.
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14. RPG Item: The Ruins of Undermountain [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:476]
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Eric L Boyd had a lot to say about this one. "The granddaddy of all FORGOTTEN REALMS adventures is a three-level classic dungeon crawl, with the promise of six more major levels below. Ed Greenwood constructs a sprawling maze beneath the city of Waterdeep that is well integrated into the city above, governed by the all-but-mad Halaster Blackcloak, and has an amazing array of unique NPCs, traps, and monsters. There's plenty of room for the DM to express creativity, and enough hooks that there's never a lack for inspiration." A booklet of new monsters, several new spells and magic items, and a wall's-worth of maps combine to make it one of the biggest dungeon crawls ever.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Nestled within the depths of Undermountain, the treacherous town of Skullport is perhaps the most renowned "setting-within-a-setting." It's a mirror of the City of Splendors above, where all things depraved and villainous come together in an ever-churning pot of intrigue.
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15. RPG Item: X1: The Isle of Dread [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:460]
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Gary Holian writes, "The first true module to introduce players to a 'wider world' beyond the castle, forest, and cave, Dread tore them from their medieval moorings and sent them careening across the waves to collide with a prehistoric lost world." "Who doesn't like hopping on a longship and sailing for days across the open sea to battle dinosaurs, pirates, cannibals, and the horrid kopru?" asks Mike Mearls. "It's hard to believe that all that material is crammed into 32 pages." The third edition debut of The Isle of Dread recently graced the pages of DUNGEON #114.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Deep under Taboo Island at the Isle's heart, the PCs come to a cavern filled with bubbling mud pots, geysers, and mineral crusts. Two kopru lurk here, waiting to magically enslave anyone brave enough to dig this deeply into the Isle's sinister core.
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16. RPG Item: X2: Castle Amber (Château d'Amberville) [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:232]
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The PCs awake to find they've been transported in their sleep to a strange castle surrounded by poison mist. The denizens are either members of the lunatic Amber family or strange monsters. Suffusing the whole is a theme of whimsy and lurking horror. "A rare example of a licensed product that shines both for its treatment of the original setting and for its excellence as a D&D adventure," says John Rateliff. "Inspired by the 'Averoigne' stories of Clark Ashton Smith, the best of the Weird Tales writers, it has a distinctive quirkiness: dangerous and sensuous and slightly amused all at the same time. There's a reason it's inspired not one but two sequels."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
After exploring dozens of chambers within Castle Amber, the PCs are transported to Averoigne, a mythical version of medieval France besieged with necromancers, werewolf wizards, serpentine beasts, and . a 1OO-foot-tall undead colossus.
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17. RPG Item: Dead Gods [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:434]
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"All too often, D&D adventures miss out on the sort of teeth-gritting, edge-of-your-seat action that defines the world," says Alan Kohler. "This PIANESCAPE adventure by Monte Cook brings that spirit of adventure back in a race against time to prevent the resurrection of a demon lord." And when the returning demon lord is the much-missed Orcus, victim of the second edition-era demon pogrom that deprived the game of some of its best villains, D&D fans had a lot to celebrate, even if their characters weren't so thrilled about it. A crowd-pleasing return to the Vault of the Drow (from the 1978 adventure of the same name) ensured the adventure's place in D&D's history.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
After having pined for Orcus's return ever since Jim Ward's "Angry Mothers From Heck" no-more-demons DRAGON editorial, D&D fans not only got to have their PCs play a role in the big guy's return, but they also got a chance to cavort on his gigantic dead body on the Astral Plane.
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18. RPG Item: I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden City [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:520]
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"In this classic adventure, David Cook creates a lost jungle city in the great tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs," says Eric L. Boyd. "The PCs can battle their way into the city through a labyrinth of traps and monsters or find their own way into the sprawling, jungle-cloaked ruins. There, they find a faction-filled city of bugbears, bullywugs, tasloi, mongrelmen, wizards, yuan-ti, and even an oriental dragon. Cook provides a host of backgrounds to motivate exploration of the city, but the map itself is inspiration enough." Wolfgang Baur had this to add: "Strange and wonderful volcanic ruins are cliche now, but so what?"

Spoiler (click to reveal)
This adventure may be best remembered for the monsters - it was from Forbidden City that D&D gained the aboleth, the mongrel-man, the tasloi, and the yuan-ti. The aboleth that guarded one of the entrances to the city was worshiped by the local mongrelmen as a god.
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19. RPG Item: The Forge of Fury [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2374]
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In the second installment of Wizards of the Coast's third edition "adventure path," the heroes venture into an abandoned dwarven hold in search of the peerless armory of the smith Durgeddin the Black. A battle on bridges spanning the underground lake lair of the black dragon Nightscale is sure to leave marks on even the bravest adventurer's psyche. "To survive this adventure," observes Christopher Perkins, "the heroes must function as a team. The foes are smart and use their lairs creatively, and the black dragon at the end shows that you don't need a 20-foot wingspan to send adventurers screaming for their lives."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
A 2nd-!evel character might expect a few challenges beyond EL 4, but the most memorable moment in The Forge of Fury is an almost unbeatable EL 10 roper. Sometimes, my young adventurer, it is best to run!
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20. RPG Item: The Gates of Firestorm Peak [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:4112]
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Chris Pramas says, "The idea here was to do an adventure using the then-new Player's Option rules. That, as it turns out, was completely secondary to a healthy dose of Lovecraftian horror. You can't go wrong with Things-Man-Was-Not-Meant-to-Know." As John Rateliff puts it, "Anyone who's been a gamer long enough reaches a stage where he or she begins to feel it's all been done. This adventure is evidence that fresh talent will always come along and do the familiar with so much verve and so many personal touches that it all seems new again."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
This adventure came with several miniatures-scale maps of key encounters, the most memorable of which was a bazaar of Underdark merchants called the Grand Promenade. Throw in a gibberslug-spitting duergar leader and his insane minions and you've got instant chaos!
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21. RPG Item: Return to the Tomb of Horrors [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:1562]
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Christopher Perkins says of this massive adventure, "Vicious, cruel, vile, and deadly, the tomb of the demi-lich Acererak has claimed the lives of more adventurers than any other D&D adventure in the history of the game. Bruce Cordell took Gary Gygax's infamous dungeon and built another dungeon (and city) around it, making it an even more deeply and delightfully troubling place to visit." Monte Cook adds, "This sequel is Bruce Cordell's masterpiece to date. It's a gargantuan mega-adventure with amazing flavor and an interesting plot." John Rateliff calls it "a superb adventure on all levels: creative, creepy, deadly, and respectful of its predecessor while far surpassing it."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
A large portion of this adventure takes place in Moil, a nightmarish, lightless demiplane ruined by Orcus himself. All that remains are shattered towers that rise up out of emptiness - towers haunted by some of the most chilling undead ever to grace the pages of a D&D adventure.
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22. RPG Item: S2: White Plume Mountain [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:155]
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Mike Mearls says, "This was the puzzle dungeon to end all puzzle dungeons. While it lacked Tomb of Horrors's sheer brutality, it made up for it with crazy, over the top, pure fun. A battle against a giant crab in a dome at the floor of a volcanic lake? Check. Reverse gravity water tubes with kayaking bad guys? Check. A completely frictionless surface, studded with pit traps? Check." Clark Peterson fondly recalls "the three artifacts: Wave, Whelm, and Blackrazor. Heck, you could chuck out the first two and just have Blackrazor and this thing is a classic."

[o]One of the rooms under White Plume Mountain is an inverted ziggurat, each tier of which is infested by different monsters. In order to reach the exit at the room's base, the PCs must deal with giant crayfish, giant scorpions, sea lions, and manticores.c
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23. RPG Item: Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1034]
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The definitive third edition supermodule returns not just to plot elements introduced in the original Temple of Elemental Evil, but also to thematic elements from 1982's Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. The secret force behind a resurgent Cult of Elemental Evil turns out to be Tharizdun himself, working through the twisted dreams of his most devoted, diabolical servants. "A worthy successor to the original," judges Mike Mearls. "This epic packs more action into four pages than most other adventures manage in 32. It's probably the single most memorable, unifying experience in third edition D&D. People who survived this adventure can rightly brag about it."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Players familiar with the opening moathouse dungeon were no doubt surprised to discover that a formerly innocuous pool now contained a shaft leading to a hidden shrine to Tharizdun. complete with a massive marble obelisk and a hungry grell guardian.
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24. RPG Item: B2: The Keep on the Borderlands [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:81]
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Gary Holian notes how this adventure "...defined the 'foray' genre of D&D adventure by giving the PCs a home base (the eponymous Keep) and a nearby place in the wilderness (the Caves of Chaos) in which to stage dozens of adventures. Its inclusion in the D&D Basic Set helped introduce millions to the hobby and to the universal fear of stirges." John Rateliff notes that "later imitators would improve on the details, but there's no challenging the original's iconic appeal and status." And as Mike Mearls says, "Who cares that no one in the Keep had a name?"

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Unlike early adventures, in which the monsters got tougher the deeper you delved, the Caves of Chaos didn't have such a "safety net." Woe to the party that stumbles into the owlbear's den (cruelly located at the same "level" as the kobolds, goblins, and orcs).
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25. RPG Item: I3-5: Desert of Desolation [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:123]
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The definitive "Egyptian-themed" D&D adventure, this series of adventures consisted of Pharaoh, Oasis of the White Palm, and Lost Tomb of Martek. Christopher Perkins observes, "This adventure introduced a new encounter format later adapted for third edition adventures." Indeed, this format is the precursor to the format DUNGEON uses today. Chris Pramas says, "The backstory [made it] so much more interesting than the typical dungeon bash, and the whole series dripped with atmosphere."

Spoiler (click to reveal)
In Amun-Re's pyramid, the PCs can use the Dome of Flight to control or even reverse gravity. Those who aren't careful can send the entire party falling up 50 feet to the ceiling. Oh, and the palm trees in this room bear exploding fruit!
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