Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cold Text File Series: C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan

The first Cold Text Files installment (an analysis of WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun) was a lot of fun and really opened-up this classic module in several unexpected ways, enabling it to be totally evisited, re-examined and re-run all over again, which is quite a remarkable achievement for a module that's been dead in the water for quite a few years.  We're looking forward to the PDF Compilation that is currently in-the-works.  Blogs are nice, but having everything all in one place, in sequential order and possibly even printed-out is very useful and appealing.  You can check-in with the folks over at Lord of the Green Dragons as to when the WG4 Compilation-PDF will be available.

The AD&D Module C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is a stange mix of tournament-rules and exotic Meso-American aesthetics.  Your group's focus is not to beat the dungeon, nor even clear the jungle, but rather to survive and possibly escape.  It's a radical departure from the usual stuff that was coming out around the same time as it (1979: Origins, 1980: Main Release).  Tamoachan is a tough, demanding module to run.  It's even tougher to play in.

"...the whole dungeon is trap-o-palooza, and it’s really important to listen, pay attention, and always assume that when something looks too good to be true, you’re probably dead already, so go ahead and grab it."
Ken Denmead, Wired: Top 10 D&D Modules I Found in Storage This Weekend
This was also one of the first modules that included a complete booklet of artwork for the DM to show the players what they were seeing at crucial locations, usually fiendish traps.  It was quickly understood that if the DM was showing you a pretty picture, you were in a world of hurt.  And to be fair, you usually were, too.

The thing that always made this one module really stick out was not the lethality of the traps, nor even the (then) new monsters, nor even the tournament-style stuff, it was the notion of adapting this module as the entry-point to a whole new campaign in a Central/South American style environment confronting cultures inspired by the Mayans, Incans, Aztecs, and others.  That made it really stand out over and above everything else in 1980 and has guaranteed this module a place of honor amongst many, many gamers, game designers, and game developers.

The new series for Cold Text Files begins with PartOne, which lays down the ground rules (better look up 'Atttrition,' 'teamwork, and 'survival,' if haven't already).  Part Two sets the stage nicely, especially in terms of some ideas for how to flesh this module out past the core presented in the text itself.  Part Three is a very nice explanation of 'paths' and how to map-out a module/adventure into a flowchart...which is really, really quite effective and useful for unraveling the structure of this module--and darned essential for developing something similar for yourself as well.  Part Three is very worth your time to read, if you intend to produce adventures or run adventures for actual players.

As this series continues, it should get even more interesting and engrossing as possibilities and opportunities for really fleshing things out pop up around just about every corner of the thing.  Grendelwulf over at the Axe & Hammer has also written-up a nice introduction to the Cold Text Files that's worth a look.  It's good stuff.  Check it out for yourself.


  1. Many thanks for the write up!

    So far, it seems that C1 isn't as popular as I would have thought...

    Part 4 begins the actual analysis of the encounter areas, so I'm hoping more people will pay a visit.

    Thanks again,


  2. The whole blogosphere surrounding the OSR/Classic Gaming is kind of dull, dead and entirely too self-referential as it parasitizes the same three forums and stirs itself into a semi-collective froth over tempests in teapots, which has gotten old, stale and repetitive. Quality will tell, and one needs to take a longer-term view of such matters. Build a decent resource and eventually people will recognize it, find it, and help it to grow--but the web is an asynchronous environment. Embrace a momentary fad and go under when it fades. Adopt a more resilient approach, and your work will be there when the right people finally discover it. Like landmines and pit-traps. Only moreobvious and well-lit...

  3. I'll drink to that.

    See over at LotGD!


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