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C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1e)
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C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1e)


This module was originally used for the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons tournament at Origins '79, and is the first in the Competition Series. This module contains a challenging setting as well as an original scoring system and an assortment of pre-rolled characters for adventuring. This module may thus be used for private competition among players, or as a separate, non-scored adventure! Also included herein are background information, a large-scale referee's map, referee's notes, and new monsters and descriptions for an added taste of excitement.

This adventure is meant to stand on its own, and includes areas on the map where DM's may add their own levels.

Product History

"The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" (1980), by Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason, is the first adventure in the competition (C-) series. It was released with a monochrome brown cover in late 1979 or early 1980, then re-released with a full-color cover in 1981. When first released, it was probably TSR's 11th adventure, its final monochrome-covered adventure, and just the third adventure written by someone other than Gary Gygax.

A First Job. Harold Johnson joined TSR in 1979. His first job was to copy edit the Dungeon Master's Guide (1979), but TSR staff also wanted to see if Johnson could write, so he began work on a tournament adventure that would eventually become "The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan." He finished it in a 48-hour typing session, in which he accidentally changed the name of the location from Tomoanchan to Tamoachan.

Tournament Beginnings. C1 was used as the adventure for the AD&D tournament at Origins 1979. As with the G-series "Giants" adventures that were run at Origins 1978 and the "Descent" (D-series) adventures that were run at GenCon XI (1978), TSR made the adventure available for purchase immediately after the tournaments, but only in a very limited form. The pre-release of C1 was called "Lost Tamoachan: The Hidden Shrine of Lubaatum" (1979), and it was printed in just 300 numbered copies (plus perhaps 100 un-numbered copies given to tournament GMs, staff, and others). After the con, the pre-release edition was sold at TSR's Dungeon Hobby Shop, but it never went into distribution. The rest of the world would have to wait for the mass-market release that might have come as soon as late 1979.

Tournament Play. Though TSR had previously published six different tournament adventures, "Shrine" was the first adventure that they published with all of the tournament accoutrements: the pre-generated characters and the tournament scoring sheet that identifies how groups get points for various sorts of clever play. As such, it was (and remains) a terrific insight into what tournament play was like in the late '70s. The inclusion of the complete tournament info would be the main element that tied together the competition series of adventures.

C1 also included a book of illustrations to be shown to the players - one of the earlier examples of player handouts, previously used in S1: "The Tomb of Horrors" (1978).

Expanding Greyhawk. "Shrine" introduces the ancient Olman people of Greyhawk, based on the Aztec, Mayan, and Toltec peoples of Earth. This was probably the first meaningful expansion of Greyhawk by anyone other than Gary Gygax or Rob Kuntz.

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.

New Monsters. This adventure introduces the nereid and (more notably) the "gibbering mouther."

Future History. Paizo returned to Tamoachan for 3e in "The Sea Wyvern's Wake," the third adventure in their Savage Tide adventure path. It appeared in Dungeon #141 (December 2006). Wizards released a very limited-edition 4e conversion of "Shrine" as a DM's reward for the Encounters Program: It's simply called "Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" (2011). They reprinted it in Dungeon #209 (December 2012).

About the Creators. Johnson's next adventure for TSR was another tournament: A2: "Secret of the Slavers Stockade" (1981). Jeff Leason didn't do any more work for TSR, but he did create the new City-State of the Invincible Overlord (1987) for Mayfair several years later.

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 shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

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Reviews (4)
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June 5th, 2015
This module makes for a fun evening of adventure with a smaller group as there are only 3 characters in the party. Playing it tournament-style makes for a race against time to get out of the shrine before the characters are overcome by poisonous fumes. [...]
February 2nd, 2014
One of the first ever adventures I played. Scan of the text and pictures is fine (although the resolution on the gatefold map is small cos its all one scan). Otherwise excellent- an exploration into an Aztec/Mayan themed tomb, lots of traps. [...]
May 28th, 2004
This is a pretty neat module. It has a cool setting with lots of atmosphere. The module is basically a dungeon with a lot of traps and some monster encounters. Probably one of the better AD&D modules. The scan quality is good (but not great). It [...]
November 3rd, 2003
I found your products to be an excellent and viable alternative to bidding on classic modules on eBay. I will be buying more RPGnow products in the future. [...]
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Product Information
Electrum seller
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9032
File Size:
16.64 MB
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File Last Updated:
January 23, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.