Please choose which option you would like to add to your cart.
Advanced Search >

B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
Quick Preview
Full‑size Preview

B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)

Selected Option:
Watermarked PDF
Softcover Color Book (Standard Heavyweight)
Watermarked PDF + Softcover Color Book (Standard Heavyweight)

Module B1: "In Search of the Unknown," forms a complete adventure for use with Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set. It is especially designed as an instructional aid for beginning Dungeon Masters and players, specifically created to enable new Dungeon Masters to initiate play with a minimum of preparation. 

In addition to descriptive and situational material, this module also includes special informational sections giving background history and legends; listings of possible monsters and treasures, and how to place them; a list of adventuring characters; tips on various aspects of play for the Dungeon Master; and helpful advice for starting players.

Product History

B1: "In Search of the Unknown," by Mike Carr, was originally released in November 1978 with a monochrome yellow cover. At the time, it was probably TSR's eighth adventure. It was also the first TSR adventure by someone other than Gary Gygax. However, its place in history as the first introductory adventure is much more important.

This adventure module was later revised and rereleased in additional editions in 1980 and 1981, eventually adopting TSR's full-color trade dress.

An Introductory Offer. The story of "Search" begins with the first Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977), which was a reorganization of the rules from the original 3-book Dungeons & Dragons (1974) and Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975) produced by J. Eric Holmes. Following the publication of the Basic Set, TSR was looking for better introductory material to support it.

Enter TSR Games & Rule Editor Mike Carr, who saw the need for an introductory adventure that really taught GMs how to create and stock a dungeon. He offered to write such a product for TSR, who accepted. "In Search of the Unknown" was thus an introductory module for the introductory rule set - making it the ultimate introduction to the game.

An Introduction Inclusion. B1 was immediately packaged as part of the Basic Set - replacing geomorphs and monsters & treasure assortments, which had required GMs to be more comfortable creating dungeons on their own. It appeared as a part of the Holmes Basic Set from late 1978 through the end of 1979, at which time is was replaced by the better-known "B2: The Keep on the Borderlands" (1980).

An Introductory Adventure. The actual adventure leads off with advice about running adventures, but its introductory nature goes beyond that. Designer Mike Carr purposefully included a number of features that he thought players should expect in dungeons, like one-way secret doors, magic mouths, teleport doors, and more. Today, B1 is thus a great example of of the tropes of very early D&D dungeon design, but polished and detailed much better than the typical dungeons of the '70s.

The adventure features one other element of historical note: The rooms don't actually list what monsters and treasures they contain. Instead, GMs were expected to fill in those details themselves from lists at the end of the book. This design decision may have been intended to keep players on their toes (as there was concern in those early days that players might read modules they were going to play), or it may have been another lesson in how to create a dungeon. Regardless, the decision wouldn't be repeated again, with the exception of the recalled adventure "B3: Palace of the Silver Princess" (1981).

Basic or Advanced? When B1 was released, Basic D&D was not yet its own rule system, but rather an introductory set of rules that was intended to lead players on to the original D&D game or the AD&D game. The closeness of the Basic and Advanced lines in those days is revealed in B1's earliest printings, by the inclusion of a short section that explains how to convert the adventure to AD&D. That section was removed by the time the third printing appeared in 1979, and was the last attempt to overlap the two lines.

Afterward, the lines diverged with the release of the second-edition Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1981) by Tom Moldvay, which was by the time of its release considered its own game. That new Basic Set was also the impetus for the printing of the full-color covered edition of "In Search of the Unknown" in 1981.

About the Creators. Mike Carr was able to offer a uniquely introductory vision of D&D because he was only lightly involved with the game - his main interest being historical wargames, including his own Fight in the Skies (1966) / Dawn Patrol (1982). Though he edited later D&D adventures, B1 was Carr's only D&D writing; however, he later co-authored some Top Secret scenarios.

About the Product Historian

This history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, 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

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (33)
Discussions (9)
Customer avatar
Geoff W February 11, 2019 5:30 pm UTC
At the time of my writing this comment, the link for "Report this title" is not present for this product. DTRPG or WoTC, any comment on that? Every product at random that I tried has a link to report issues with the title, but this one does not. If this is intentional, then bad form on whomever made this decision.
Customer avatar
Mark J February 11, 2019 5:09 pm UTC
This is not the version I paid for. The pdf is terrible, the map even has someone's inked in 'x' on it, and the text is barely legible.

I would like the brown cover I initially paid for. I wouldn't pay for the current (two-tone) pdf offering let alone pay for it and print it out.
Customer avatar
Geoff W February 11, 2019 5:19 pm UTC
Just redownloaded the file to see, and I have to disagree. I refer to a comment I made to another poster earlier:

"In my previous copy the text was less clear, and in fact, some programs failed to render on most pages.

This copy is MUCH more clear, and while zoomed completely out I can easily read the text on every page, with no ambiguity common to scanned PDFs.

There is one map at the very beginning that has 3 hand-written x's on it. In my opinion, they do not detract from the map and are easily ignored, but your mileage may vary. Do remember, these files are only available to us as PDFs because someone found an old copy and scanned it in. On some of these books we're lucky to even HAVE a copy available to scan, so some wrinkles are to be expected."

My initial assessment holds true, except that I found another x written on the map in back as well as the ones noted above. There are no "clean" files for this module. It was not written during...See more
Customer avatar
Mark J February 11, 2019 11:35 pm UTC
I've had both pdfs from drivethru, and all I can say is, the brown cover pdf was much better.
Customer avatar
Geoff W February 12, 2019 12:53 am UTC
Point conceded, as the powers that be decided at some point to remove said file and I never got the chance to see that version.

I've been trying to contact anyone from DTRPG or WoTC about it, but apparently neither like to hear from their customers as I haven't had a single response.
Customer avatar
Joel G January 12, 2019 11:19 pm UTC
I just received the print version of this classic module and overall am pleased. There are maybe 4 pages that are lighter than the rest but all are fine. As others have suggested , the pdf is always recommended for purchase in addition to the PoD for printing maps /handouts/etc. NOTE: The PoD is the original pastel version.
Customer avatar
Ian M October 15, 2018 11:39 am UTC
This module is a great introductory one for DMs of any edition of D&D. Generally speaking, the older modules are so rules-light as to make conversion a snap - sometimes being able to do it on the fly, with trusty edition-relevant core books on hand. With B1, you have to note that it is not complete - that is, it ushers new DMs down the creative alley, by presenting a skeleton framework (backstory, maps, rough room descriptions) for the DM to populate. I would suggest that getting B1 and B2 and using them together as a mini low-level campaign setting is the key, with the Keep from B2 serving as base camp for both. An area for B1 is marked out on the wilderness map for B2. With that in mind, a DM that reads through B2, figures out what they want to do with that, and then stocks B1 to mesh with those ideas will end up with a fantastic playground for low-level characters to play in.
Customer avatar
W N V October 12, 2018 5:40 pm UTC
Today I received six different module reprintings, and this one (for "pastel" B1) is, by far, THE WORST SCAN: the text is very faint and is on the cusp of illegibility, while the two maps at the back are so wretchedly poor that they are practically useless. Obviously there was no attempt to clean up the scan -- or even rescan it. Additionally one of the maps has Xs on it: the previous owner of the original printing had annotated it, and there was no effort to remove these marks before production. This website badly needs a facepalm emoji.
Customer avatar
Geoff W October 15, 2018 3:08 am UTC
I just re-downloaded this to see, and I have to disagree. In my previous copy the text was less clear, and in fact, some programs failed to render on most pages.

This copy is MUCH more clear, and while zoomed completely out I can easily read the text on every page, with no ambiguity common to scanned PDFs.

There is one map at the very beginning that has 3 hand-written x's on it. In my opinion, they do not detract from the map and are easily ignored, but your mileage may vary. Do remember, these files are only available to us as PDFs because someone found an old copy and scanned it in. On some of these books we're lucky to even HAVE a copy available to scan, so some wrinkles are to be expected.
Customer avatar
Geoff W May 01, 2018 2:30 am UTC
Previous discussion indicates there used to be two files, one the 1978 version of this module, and one the 1981 version. Currently my library only has the 1978 version. I would like to have both, and am not above paying for each, but I can't find the 1981 version listed. Is the 1981 version going to be either added back in with this, or sold separately in the store?
Customer avatar
Miguel L June 13, 2018 4:43 pm UTC
Why isn't this question answered by one of the site's admins?
Customer avatar
David B April 11, 2018 10:25 pm UTC
Is the brown cover 1981 re-print going to surface again? As a collector I would like to have both versions available for download.
Customer avatar
TOTHI J August 07, 2017 11:39 am UTC
Hi, since when is this available as Print? I is this a new addition or have I just simply missed it for the past months?
Customer avatar
Philip M April 26, 2017 1:02 am UTC
I received an email that said this module was updated. Any info on what updates there were?
Customer avatar
Jonas S April 26, 2017 5:46 am UTC
There's two files now. The one that starts with DDB has the color cover, the other the original two-tone cover. Otherwise I believe the text is the same. The one scanned from the older copy is a bit fuzzier and harder to read.
Customer avatar
Marco T May 31, 2017 3:46 am UTC
Can see just the two-tone cover here and bought thinking about the brownish one.
Customer avatar
Gordon C June 02, 2017 1:25 am UTC
Same here. I only purchased it because I thought it was updated with a higher quality scan.
Customer avatar
Reid M February 22, 2018 11:08 pm UTC
I also see two files now.

The two-tone cover file appears to be an earlier version of the module from 1979. It is called out as an "Introductory Module" and says, "With only minor modifications, this module is also eminently suitable for use with ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS as well." I have never seen a module identify map locations by roman numerals, but this one does. Also, the map is teal (weird).

The color cover file (whose filename begins with DDB) is from 1981. Rather than say it is simply an introductory adventure, this module specifically targets itself at the "DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Basic Set" with no mention of AD&D. The scan is far cleaner, and the map (blue) locations are identified by Arabic numerals.

Comparing first word/last word combinations for each column in the first few pages reveals more formatting and editing differences between the two copies beyond location identifiers, including more removals of references...See more
Narrow Results
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!

Product Information
Electrum seller
Rules Edition(s)
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9023
File Size:
10.37 MB
Scanned image
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Information
Watermarked PDF
Adobe DRM-protected PDF
These eBooks are protected by Adobe's Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. To use them, you must activate your Adobe Reader software. Click here for more details.

Watermarked PDF

These eBooks are digitally watermarked to signify that you are the owner. A small message is added to the bottom of each page of the document containing your name and the order number of your eBook purchase.

Warning: If any books bearing your information are found being distributed illegally, then your account will be suspended and legal action may be taken against you.

Here is a sample of a page from a watermarked book:

File Last Updated:
February 22, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.