The artifact itself looks like many of the scenarios I created at the time. It sits in a manila folder the front of which mimics – in my crude style – the cover of a TSR module at the time, with a “T1” designation in the corner, a diagonal banner declaring “For Dungeons & Dragons,” the suggested character levels, a brief paragraph’s description, a minimalist colored pencil illustration, and a “PSG” logo emulating the old “TSR: The Game Wizards” bearded head logo. The folder served as the cardstock module cover within which I taped two pages of maps, one showing the ground levels of the gatehouse’s east and west towers, the other showing two underground levels. The booklet – written on large-ruled loose-leaf paper – contained a cover that also emulated the interior booklet cover of TSR’s modules and 21 pages of text, all taped together rather than stapled. This was well before personal computers and online self-publishing, so everything was handwritten and drawn.
For those interested in having a glimpse at my young self’s extraordinary mediocrity I offer the text from “Room #1” on the dungeon’s second level (the first one after descending through the trap door in the gatehouse’s east tower):
Room #1:This room appears to be very dusty and unused, but has no furniture. Piles of wood splinters and cloth are scattered around the room. Anyone walking into the room will only notice the robber fly (AC 6, hd 2, hp 8, MV 90 (30)/180 (60), #AT 1, D 1-8, Save F1, ML 8, AL Neutral) on a 1 or 2 on a d6. Otherwise he will jump the first person to enter the room with surprise. In one pile is a leather pouch with 85 gp in it.
Here’s how I revised it, including Any OSR Key notation for the fly:
Room #1: A layer of dust covers the piles of splintered wood and moldy cloth scattered around this room. Characters only notice the giant fly lurking here on a d6 roll of 1 or 2; otherwise it ambushes a random character, gaining surprise. Anyone searching the debris piles uncovers a tattered leather sack with 85 gold pieces in it.
Giant Fly. Basic (1–3); AT: bite; DF: tough exoskeleton; Skills: fly; Morale: moderate.
The Wise Man of the Mountains once said (and I’m paraphrasing here) one’s freely released game materials should have the same high quality one would expect if they were for sale (if I could find the quote I’d use it word-for-word, but, alas, it’s lost somewhere on the ever-changing surface of the internet); meaning one should never upload, even for free, something that isn’t the best work possible. After some initial examination and attempted revision I realized Beneath the Haunted Keep was not the kind of fantasy roleplaying game adventure I’d care to release to the public, either as a curiosity from my earliest gaming days or as a nostalgic exercise in revision. No amount of work could redeem this. The adventure doesn’t reflect my current style, even for dungeon delves; I’d be more apt to entirely scrap the work my young self had done and start from scratch...if I had time and saw some benefit from the effort. Looking back on my earliest unpublished efforts creating adventures reminds me how far I’ve come in those 35+ years, how much I’ve learned and change, and how much I still have to learn.