Monday, July 11, 2011

Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan 4E

Bart Carroll over at Wizards has posted recently in his D&D Alumni article about the release of a 4th edition conversion of the 1st edition tournament module, The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. My knee jerk response to this article was "what took them so long?" On further reflection it looks like it could be a good read, if one can get their hands on a copy:

"The Lost Crown of Neverwinter season for D&D Encounters starts up on Wednesday, August 10th. If you run one session during the month of August as a Dungeon Master, you might get your hands on the special bonus adventure: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, updated for 4th Edition. (The special bonus adventure will arrive 6-8 weeks later, and because we have limited supplies, this offer is only while supplies last.)"

So the release is tied to the apparently popular D&DE program and not the focus of the next storyline. It does still show that Greyhawk is being developed for 4e in stealthy bits. For Tamoachan's sake, this one might be a decent showing:

"Originally written by Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason, Hidden Shrine was staged as part of an ancient ruined city, and it was "…once the northeastern capitol of the Olman empire, which covered much of the southern continent centuries before current history began." The World of Greyhawk boxed set would place these distant ruins at the very edge of its map, somewhere within the "savage lands south of the Olman Islands and southeast of the Holds of the Sea Princes."

"Stephen Radney-MacFarland designed the conversion, taking care to preserve the original module's sensibilities and challenges."

So S.R.M. was behind this conversion (I thought he was hired by Paizo?), that should be a boon to Greyhawk fans as he was heavily involved in the heydey of the Living Greyhawk campaign. I tip my cap to Wizards for going to an author with Greyhawk community cred. I believe "keeping the original module's sensibilities and challenges" refers in part to Wizard's current trend backwards in adventure design which I also covered recently. Beyond that, Stephen has apparently taken care to preserve the analog Olman culture and much of the nastiness of the Shrine, but to fit with today's 4th edition concepts:

"Still a ruined temple of the Olman people, their background has been slightly reworked so that now this "…human culture worshiped not only powers from the Astral Sea, but also a collection of primal spirits, fey creatures, vampires, and even monstrosities of the Far Realm. They built city-states that banded together as empires and waged mighty wars against enemies both internal and external. These people were the Olman."

"All that is currently left of the Olman civilization," the new background continues, "are the scattered tribes of their degenerate descendants, now prone to Demogorgon worship and savagery." The Hidden Shrine remains one of their derelict structures that still holds "…great treasures and the legendary magic of the Olman. All feature deadly traps and creatures still bound to the dead empire. The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is one such temple. Dedicated to Zotzilaha, vampire god of the underworld, and built to imprison a powerful Far Realm entity, it is filled with lost secrets and merciless traps."

The article goes on with more about monsters and traps, but you get the idea. Given that I'm running a campaign in the tropics of the World of Greyhawk currently, this announcement has certainly piqued my interest, and perhaps I'll have to break out the original before long. If anyone eventually gets their hands on this updated module, I'd love to hear about its content. Until next time!


scottsz said...

I'll have to dig into this tonight, but so far I do not like what I'm reading...

Mort, thanks for posting this.

grodog said...

WotC's 4e treatments of T1 and S1 were less than stellar, so I can't imagine that this one would really be any better....


scottsz said...

@grodog: Too true. I really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, but they're 'ordering full speed ahead in spite of the icebergs'...

mortellan said...

scott and grodog: Are these reservations mechanics related or fluff?

scottsz said...

@mort: more research/content... There's so much more information available about the Aztec and Maya then there was when C1 was written.

I'm surprised that they would 'retool' the Olman in any way other way than to make them more realistic and historically accurate.

From a purely business/target market demographics perspective, I'm surprised they wouldn't want more historical 'fluff' involved as it would certainly resonate with a generation that includes many more Spanish speaking potential players and DM's.

Additionally, this is an area of Greyhawk to the very Southern edge of the original 'Darlene' map, so retooling an Olman background affords them opportunities to really engage new portions of the continent that haven't been fully fleshed out.

From an adventure content perspective, an 'outdoor/wilderness' map treatment could open up 'jungle' possibilities - again, there is much more information available now (i.e. the book 'The Lost Temple City of Z', etc.)

Instead of going a more robust and detailed route, it seems they are 'D&D-izing' the Olman into demon worshipping 'bad guys'. There's a touch of insensitive racism to that, in my opinion.

Samwise said...

"So S.R.M. was behind this conversion (I thought he was hired by Paizo?), that should be a boon to Greyhawk fans as he was heavily involved in the heydey of the Living Greyhawk campaign. I tip my cap to Wizards for going to an author with Greyhawk community cred."

No it isn't.
No he doesn't.

SRM was behind the near collapse and cancellation of LG with the appearance of 3.5 with his heavy handed, micromanagement style.
His big plot contribution was the Ether Invasion storyline.

All his names means is a big reason to not even bother.

mortellan said...

Ah Sam! Thanks for clearing that one up for me. I'm glad someone in the know could put SRM in perspective. The fact he's still allowed to handle GH material must mean his ambition outdoes his sense, and Wizards well, they can pick em!

scottsz said...

@mortellan: Do you think that a new 4E Tamoachan presented an opportunity to reach potential Spanish speaking players?

It's one of those rare classics that's actually derived from real mythology.