Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Retro - Review & Commentary On I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City By David Cook For Your Old School Advanced Dungeons And Dragons First Edition Game Campaigns

Welcome back once again dear readers I hope the holidays have treated you well and all. Recently I've been looking into two favorite modules WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun & the module that can be used to piggy back and expand it, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  Tonight I'm going to speak a bit about I1: "Dwellers of the Forbidden City" (1981), by David "Zeb" Cook which forms the final piece of sword  and sorcery triad that I've played through time and again in the Seventies and Eighties.
"Somewhere in the heart of the steaming jungle lies the answer to the whispered tales - rumors of a magnificent city and foul, horrid rituals! Here a brave party might find riches and wonders - or death! Is your party brave enough to face the terrors of the unknown and find the Forbidden City!?"This module introduced the players to one of the major dwelling places of the Lovecraftian   aboleth and the yuan ti which fit in so well to the Red Nails like atmosphere of I1. Cook leans heavily on the Fiend Folio to fill out the roster of monsters here including: giant bloodworm, the bullywugs, the pan lung, the yellow musk creeper, and the yellow musk zombie. The module says PC's levels four to seven and they do mean it. The encounters and factions here are mean, dangerous and link up in a type of weird sword and sorcery adventure that pits PC's against dangerous odds. Over the years I've seen people link this adventure up with  X1: "The Isle of Dread" (1981) to form over arching jungle hopping adventures in the old school tradition. There have been any number of threads and other internet resources expanding on the city and plateau of Dwellers of the Forbidden City including this Dragon's Foot thread here.
This is another iconic module that weaves its spell around the adventurers while keeping the plot moving with some famous pieces of Greyhawk myth and legend places the the PC's right at the center of the plot.  There's lots of potential to pepper the module with mini dungeon systems throughout it. Bad Mike of Dragon's foot writes"
Every abandoned building there is a potential encounter/dungeon. I've created a couple of dozen mini-dungeons and encounters that can plug into any of the ruined areas. There is a long forgotten sewer system inhabited by wererats, oozes and more. I've also riddled some of the valley's walls with caves and cave complexes, one a giant lizardman cave complex, some others potential safe spots for the characters (abandoned caves screened by hanging vines that have fresh water pools) that they can retreat to while exploring the city." Not a bad idea at all give the kinds of encounters and factions that in habit the jungle floor and abandon city. That fantastic map is one of the things that gives I1 such a fantastically pulpy feel.

This is one of those modules that has a bit of everything the PC's are going to need; "The adventuring environment in this module allows for both action and intrigue. The player characters can recruit allies from the various power groups and factions within the city, namely the bugbears, mongrelmen, and bullywugs, or else help pit these factions against each other for their own benefit." Plus there's enough room for the DM to DYI what they want to add and customize the experience of the module to really make it their own. You can drop hints and treasures to adapt this module into your own campaigns. Something I've seen done time after time.
This module for me was another adventure of  Advanced Dungeons and Dragons sword & sorcery at its finest. It has a bit of everything thrown into the pot from wilderness adventuring to dungeon crawling and beyond all within the confines of twenty eight pages.

This is one of those open ended modules that can material set within the mid points and min dungeons added where and as needed and still have impact within a campaign's confines. This module is easily adapted into any old school game or retroclone system to add a touch of pulptastic feel and play. The material here is Lovecraftian enough to give both Dark Albion and Lamentations of the Flame Princess a run for its money. The encounters and monsters fit easily into several places in an alternative world location such as South America or some lost South Sea island bringing to mind Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World. 

The Forbidden City operates under its own Gygaxian logic and ecology existing in a weird vaccuum allowing its magic and danger to exist as a part of Greyhawk or what ever other world you as the DM see fit to use it in and as a dangerous adventure location that can continue to taunt and harry any adventurers that seek to exploit its treasures for years to come. Time and again I've used the Forbidden City as a location from which the serpent men continue to spread their foul corruption into the campaign world causing several crusades to once and for all wipe out the taint and corruption of I1. They never do, and in fact I've married up the Forbidden City with Quagmire creating a sinking and oozing cesspool of corruption and horror that has Picts waiting in the wings to slaughter adventurers.

Because of the very nature of Dwellers of the Forbidden City this is the perfect module to dove tail in AS&SH's Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess right into one of the tunnels in I1. Suddenly the material for both adventures expands by light years enabling the corruption to spread and causing the factions to even more problematic for the PC's!

My advice to dungeon masters who are going to run PC's through  I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City By David Cook with retroclone systems is to make sure that the PC's are robust enough to survive the experience. There's more then enough room here to expand the material to give the PC's more old school weirdness with the levels,traps, tricks and systems that make I1 such a classic. Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea is a perfect set up for Dwellers In The Forbidden City as a system to take PC's through the old school experience but players are going to have to have a snowball's chance in hell with the adventure. Dwellers of the Forbidden City was the adventure that wove a web of its own mythology and history that as a dungeon master you could use to  build on or use to create your own branching campaigns into deeper old school play. It remains a favorite of mine to run and use to this very day. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.