Module B1 – In Search of the Unknown

What’s New

  • First module for Basic D&D (Holmes Basic)
  • First TSR module by someone other than Gary Gygax – Mike Carr (who wrote the Forewords to the MM, PHB and DMG and helped edit them, amongst other things)
  • First instructional module
  • First (and only?) module to not specify monsters and treasure in each room – it was up to the DM to populate it
  • First module to have a player handout with the background story – in the UK Basic Set I have, there’s an extra printed copy of this last module page (and no perforations in the module, unlike what it says in the description)


  • Cover by Tramp
  • Back cover by DCS III (Sutherland)
  • As far as I can tell, all 9 pieces of internal art are by Sutherland


  • This module holds a special place in my heart. Basic was the first ever D&D I played. My brother bought the Holmes box set and he DM’ed me through B1. On a previous occasion, I had watched him play while someone else DM’ed, so I knew a little about what to do. And I knew – spoiler! – that there was a secret door in the entry tunnel alcoves.
  • The instructions around DMing are quite extensive. There’s copious information around henchmen and hirelings, which compensates for the Basic Rulebook having less than half a page on the subject. There are sections on things like time keeping and how to be a good DM. There are also tips for the players on how to play on their handout.
  • There’s also a section about adapting it to AD&D. Oddly, it mentions a set of guidelines at the end of the module to aid in the conversion – and these guidelines don’t exist!
  • There’s a small snippet about where it can be placed in the World of Greyhawk, even though that wouldn’t be published for another year and a half!

Maps and locations

  • This is where it all began for me.
  • The map is quite a departure from Gygax’s more realistic maps in previous modules. It’s classic random maze style which really doesn’t make much sense when you think about it. But who cares? It’s a game!
  • An interesting thing about this early mono version of B1 – the dungeon rooms on the map use roman numerals – to my knowledge the only module to do so. The reason being, you’re meant to key the dungeon by choosing monsters from a numbered list and treasures from a lettered list and write those on the map – so your map will end up with each room having something like “XIV 7 K” – meaning room 14, monster 7, treasure K.
  • The first location with the talking mouths and the remains of a fight are a really great introduction
  • The whole setting and most room descriptions are really well developed and cohesive. Although the map itself is a bit unrealistic, the rooms themselves make a lot of sense, featuring everything that the fighter Rogahn and his friend, the magic-user Zelligar, could want.

Date Information – November 1978

Acaeum says November, DriveThruRPG says November. Copyright says March 1979 (1979-03-13) but that was registered on 1983-03-24 and they’re notoriously bad. There’s an ad for it in Dragon #22 feb ’79. It’s code is 9023, which comes after S1 which was 9022 published in October. To me, it’s pretty clearly November.