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X9/C1 Savage Coast/Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan mash-up

by Demos Sachlas

Lately, I've been taking a closer look at a lot of the classic AD&D 1e modules. Those published between 1978-1983 contain some real gems. TSR was still a growing company at the time, so many of the designers worked on both D&D and AD&D lines. Harold Johnson and Jeff Leason authored C1, although with the "able assistance" of X1's David Cook, and "Known World" co-creator, Lawrence Schick.

As with many other AD&D modules of this era, C1 was not written with the World of Greyhawk in mind, but rather as a tournament adventure. Officially, Tamoachan was once the capitol of the Olman empire, which covered much of the continent south of Greyhawk centuries earlier. With a little work, most of the mesoamerican references could be translated into Mystaran equivalents.

There's been some previous discussion about placing C1 on the central plateau of the Isle of Dread here. The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan was also incorporated into the Savage Tide adventure path, although only part of the module was utilized. There was subsequent discussion on the Piazza here and here involving a location for Tamoachan on the northern coast of Davania, which works well enough.

However, given that module C1 is notable for its Mayan and Aztec/Toltec trappings, it would fit almost seamlessly into module X9 "The Savage Coast", which otherwise suffers from a rather lackluster finale.

The write up for the lost city of Risilvar takes up less than 2 pages in X9. There's practically nothing about the temple. Compare:

Rasmussen wrote:A magnificent, almost magical golden pyramid stands gleaming before your party. Except for the stone stairs, the entire structure is formed of golden levels that lead to a shimmering temple at the top. A stone statue of an ancient warrior stands on each corner of each of the three levels. The pyramid levels are 10 feet, 20 feet, and 30 feet above the street level.

On the other hand, the pyramid in C1 is comprised of 3 levels, with a dungeon underneath - 54 encounter areas in all.

Johnson and Leason wrote:A full moon rises, sending moonbeams and ghostly shadows to flicker through the branches. Ahead in the woods a light glows and seems to beckon - perhaps a shelter for the night. Though thorns tear and impede your progress the source of illumination is reached at last. Before you is a clearing. There is an ancient ruin - a worn and overgrown pyramid fills the courtyard, shining in the moonlight, seeming almost brighter than the moon itself.

When I ran X9, years ago, I wish I had thought to substitute the hidden shrine of Tamoachan for the pyramid in the lost city of Risilvar.