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FA2 Nightmare Keep (2e)

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What your players say a the start of Nightmare Keep: "Oh, look, an underground labyrinth filled with treasure. No one who's gone in ever came out alive. Gosh, we've never seen that before, oh no." (Stifled yawn.)

What they say early on in Nightmare Keep: "Hold it! What's going on? Oh, yacccch! We're getting out! This way, this way! What's that? Oh, no!"

Halfway through Nightmare Keep: "Okay. If we stick close and look sharp and don't act stupid, I think we might get out of this alive."

At the climax of Nightmare Keep: "Oh no. Oh no." A would-be conqueror is raising hordes of undead insects beneath Wolover's Keep in the Veilstone Peaks. This evil being was once a lich, a powerful undead wizard -- but that was not enough. Now something strange exists beneath the Keep, something repellent-and strong beyond measure.

Nightmare Keep: for the AD&D game adventurer with courage, a strong stomach, and superior firepower. This adventure is set near northwestern Cormyr in the Forgotten Realms, but it fits easily into any ongoing high-level campaign.

Product History

FA2: "Nightmare Keep" (1991), by Rick Swan, is the second in a (short) series of Forgotten Realms Adventures. It was published in April 1991.

Concluding the FA Adventures. Following the advent of 2e AD&D (1989), TSR created a line of standalone adventures for the Realms, the first of which was FA1: "Halls of the High King" (1990). The line didn't last long, but that wasn't due to any lack of enthusiasm for adventures of this sort; it was just that TSR was constantly changing their module codes in the early '90s. "Nightmare Keep" was thus the last "FA" adventure but it was soon followed by a new line of standalone Realms adventures, which included FRQ1: "Haunted Halls of Eveningstar" (1992) and FRQ2 "Hordes Of Dragonspear" (1992).

Adventure Tropes. "Nightmare Keep" was not one of the plot-heavy story adventures of the 2e era. Instead it went back to the game's roots in modules like S1: "Tomb of Horrors" (1978) by offering a grinding, casualty-heavy adventure full of monsters, traps, puzzles, and weird dungeon features. "Nightmare Keep" even claims to be one of "the most demanding adventures your players will ever experience".

"Nightmare Keep" is also notable for being one of the highest-level adventures ever produced for the AD&D game. It's designed for characters level 18-20. The only two adventures to claim higher level play were both from the 1e (1977-1988) era: H4: "The Throne of Bloodstone" (1988) said it topped out at 100th level, while WG7: Castle Greyhawk (1988) said it went as high as level 25 … but both those level caps should be taken with a grain of salt. A few later 2e adventures went up to 20th level: S5: "The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga" (1995) and "A Paladin in Hell" (1998).

Expanding the Realms. "Nightmare Keep" is set in the Veilstone Peaks, northwest of Cormyr. The Kingdom of Cormyr an area that had received occasional attention in the late '80s through adventures like FRE1: "Shadowdale" (1989), FRC2: "Curse of the Azure Bonds" (1989), and FRE3: "Waterdeep" (1989), but it had never been coherently defined.

The Veilstone Peaks themselves (as well as the dale of Veilstone) were all new to the Realms. It appears that the Veilstone Peaks are actually an alternate name for the northeastern Sunrise Mountains, which lie just northwest of Cormyr. This was later confirmed by the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas (1999).

Future History. The next Tomb-like super-dungeon of this sort was S6: "Labyrinth of Madness" (1995) by Monte Cook.

About the Creators. Swan had been writing for the Realms since his contributions to Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988), but "Nightmare Keep" was his first work on the occidental side of that setting. The next year he'd write FR14: "The Great Glacier" (1992).

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (2)
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December 10th, 2018
Great condition! Can't wait to start this module. [...]
June 5th, 2015
A suitably unsettling dungeon that features lots of creepy-crawly monsters and traps before the final showdown with a lich. The lich in this module is a very satisfying villain to defeat. [...]
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