Sunday, December 11, 2016

Retro Commentary On Reskinning The AD&D Adventure Module C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan For Your Old School Campaigns

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan was originally used for the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons tournament at Origins '79, and is the first in the Competition Series. Its another brutal & dangerous tournament module that expands the world of Greyhawk. Having the PC's explore a Mayan-style temple, which is full of tricks and traps. The traps of this adventure  include cursed items, firebombs, and triggered statues all of which are brutal 'Indiana Jones' style devices to kill of the PC's. This doesn't take away from the fact that this adventure is a perfect campaign world builder. Its a great module for customizing Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. I personally haven't looked into The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan   in a long while but today seemed like an excellent time.

Given my recent leanings towards Adventurer, Conqueror, King & AS&SH, this seems like a perfect time to put together several adventure elements that have been on my mind. I've been thinking about The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan which is one of my favorite AD&D modules and adapting it into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hypberborea. I've lost eight PC's over the years to this adventure module but its set up remains one of my favorites. The hidden temple complex is also a perfect adventure location to add to the Savage Boreal Coast or your own customized setting. The latter is actually what I'm going to do.
 "Shrine" introduces the ancient Olman people of Greyhawk,which are a perfect addition to the roster of humans in Hyperborea from Old Earth. A brutal tribe of humans worshiping a vast array of peusdo gods in a hidden lost world style setting perfect for the pulpy goodness of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.They're going to be slipped into my own version of  weird version of South America.
While doing some research I reread the Wizards of the Coast entry on C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan & came across this little tid bit;"
There's also a peculiar connection in C1 to a later Greyhawk adventure. Room 19 of "Shrine" contains a figurine of a spaceship called the "II-Nedraw." Since the ship that crashed in S3: "Expedition to Barrier Peaks" (1980) was based on the Warden from Metamorphosis Alpha (1976), this could suggest a connection between that spaceship and the Tamoachan ruins. But it's probably just a fun easter egg." No in this game setting this is going to another version of the
"II-Nedraw."which has crashed into this hidden valley and the Olman from Old Earth were the descendants of the survivors. There is also a hidden clutch of Hyperboreans in the valley watching over all of the proceedings for their own hidden and mysterious reasons. 

Now none of this is anything original at all because The Mutants & Magic blog writer came up with that whole set up. I'm simply adding this to my Ancient & Accursed Terra campaign world. The problem that I've got with the Hidden Shrine is that it spends between three & four hours trying to kill PC's straight up. But then again this was a tournament module & so it takes its time doing exactly what it was designed to do being written by Harold Johnson. As I wrote before
Wiki has a very short but quick insightful overview; "The player characters explore a stepped pyramid deep in the heart of a tropical jungle—the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.[4] The characters must penetrate this Mayan-style temple, which is full of tricks and traps.[2] Some of the traps include cursed items, firebombs, and triggered statues." That sort of covers the feel of the whole piece of the work but this adventure has it's own internal mythology that pulls the dungeon master and PC's into the back story & world of the Hidden Shrine! That backstory & world are internal, weird, and completely dangerously self contained yet terrifying  enough with a pulpy heart that can take PC's in completely different directions.
The Gibbering Mouther is just the sort of horror that one might find within the labs and environs of a high level
ACKS Vivimancer. 

The reasons for this are built right into the ACK's rules where wizardly cross breeding ala OD&D is the norm & rule. This is something that we get to see very much exploited fully in Norm Gavin's The Complete Vivimancer.

This basically means that entire character of the adventure is changed from simple adventure kill zone  to pseudo lab gone wrong. It might also be the source for many of the chaotic & horrid monsters of my own campaign. I'm definitely going to hyping up the UfO/ Ancient Astronaut connection with the reskinning of the C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. I'm going to have to tone down the deadliness of this adventure because of the lower levels of ACK's PC's. In a regular game of AD&D sixth through eighth level is really the starting point realistically for PC's with even a micro chance of surviving the horrors, traps, tricks, and evil of the shrine on it's terms.Instead I want the shrine to stand on its own terms as adventure setting & then exploit it for all its worth.

I'm look towards a far more pulpy sword & sorcery style of campaign far more in keeping with Robert Howard's Temple of the Toad where the treasures of the temple are part of the horrors. The monsters of the temple are solidly dangerous enough to challenge any party of adventurers.  C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan has lots of potential for exploitation & setting building. 

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