In The Keep on the Borderlands (1980) in the Caves of Chaos the doors to rooms 3 and 11 are locked. Does the adventure disclose the location of each door's key? Are there other hard to find keys elsewhere in the adventure that I've overlooked that I should be aware of?

Note: My current campaign involves several adventures from the Dungeon #116 article "The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time" (68-81) and The Keep on the Borderlands is the campaign's start. I'm prepping for the PCs' assault on the caves and only part way through (hence the second question, above), but this detail was bothering me. Further, despite my age, I neither ran Keep nor played it back in the day, so pity my inexperience and unfamiliarity and forgive me if this is an old and obvious question to all my fellow grognards. I tried researching this question myself, but the Google kept returning results for Borderlands 2 golden keys (which is okay—I like the Borderlands series (though Pre-sequel is better)—but definitely not what I wanted!).

I've tagged this question although the adventure's for basic D&D and my campaign uses the D&D 3.5e rules because the adventure's been published for, I think, every D&D edition, and I suspect answers might need to range beyond the version I'm using.


2 Answers 2


One of these is covered, the other is not mentioned

The key to door #3 is

in the possession of the Kobold Chieftain in room #5.

There's a locked chest in #5 and the key is

not called out...but I would assume the Kobold Chieftain has it.

The key to door #11 is

not explicitly called out as being anywhere. I could find no reference to this key. Following the pattern used elsewhere in the game, I would, personally, rule that the Orc Leader in Room #12 had the key. But the actual module does not say.

For further reference, Door 37 is also locked and the key is

in room 36, in the possession of the Bugbear Chieftain

Door 40 is locked and the key is

In the guard room, hanging on the wall, Room 39

Door 41 is locked and the key is

Same place as the key to room 40.

Door 48 is locked and the key is

Again, not explicitly called out. As with other 'store room' keys, I would give the key to the area tribal leader, in this case a gnoll.

Door 64 is locked and the key is

Also not explicitly called out with a location. However, the commentary in there indicates that the contents of the cell are intended for sacrifice by the Priest, in area 59. I'd give him the key.

All information is drawn directly from the 1980 Keep on the Borderlands module.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Beat me to it, now I can avoid going into the attic and getting out that box. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2017 at 17:54

In the revised original B2: Keep on the Borderlands (revised, 1981)

  • the key to room #3 is in room #5, described on page 15.
  • The key for #11 appears to have been inadvertently omitted, not deliberately made lost or non-existent to pose an intentional lockpicking or door-bashing obstacle:

    Due to the contents of the room, it doesn't make sense to conclude that the room is inaccessible and the key lost. It seems that the key should be nearby, based on

    the room being the orcs' food storage room, as #3 is the kobolds'. Given the functional and social situation in those rooms, it makes sense that the orc chieftain would have it just as the kobolds' chieftain has theirs, and therefore

    the key should be added by the DM to room #12.

    Notably, this is the fix that WotC made to room #12 in the D&D Next playtest version of Keep on the Borderlands (D&D Next Playtest: Caves of Chaos, 2012, p. 8).

  • One keyless lock you didn't mention is on a chest in room #12, sub-area #1 (marked t on the map for some reason). Being related to the previous omitted key, the natural fix is to have the keys be the same, or to add two keys to #12. WotC chose to make one key fit both locks in the playtest version.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Odd! That original version not having a lock on that chest, and it being added in a revision, might partly explain the omission: an oversight that adding a key was also necessary. As for Dragon that's likely, but I sadly don't have an easy way to check. I'll be sure to revise this if in future I find any more material in that regard. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2017 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Right, I see! Aside, and I'm not sure if they rewrote it in 1981, but in my copy the double rolls process is only for opening the connection between #12 and #13, not to find/enter Area 1 (marked t on the map for some reason). Finding Area 1 (and the existence of the connection above) seems to be left unspoken, and just left to be handled by core BX D&D concealed door mechanics. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2017 at 19:40

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