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B4 The Lost City (Basic)

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Watermarked PDF
$4.99

Lost in the desert! The only hope for survival lies in a ruined city rising out of the sands. Food, water, and wealth await heroic adventures inside and ancient pyramid ruled by a strange race of masked beings.

This module includes a cover folder with maps, and a descriptive booklet with a ready-made adventure for the Dungeons & Dragons Basic game. It also includes enough information to continue the adventure beyond level 3, using the Dungeons & Dragons Expert game rules.

Product History

"The Lost City" (1982) was the first adventure written entirely for the second edition Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1981). No surprise, then, that it was written by the author of that set, Tom Moldvay. 

The adventure was allegedly called "The Lost City of Cynidecia" originally, though the source of that rumor isn't clear. If so, it would certainly have been more in tune with the first three Basic modules, B1: "In Search of the Unknown" (1979), B2: "Keep on the Borderlands" (1980), and B3: "Palace of the Silver Princess" (1981). By comparison, the title of "The Lost City" sounds truncated.

The Last Introductory Adventure (for Now). As with each of those other Basic adventures, "The Lost City" focused not just on how to be an adventure for starting characters, but also on how to be a learning tool for GMs. Whereas earlier "B-series" modules had given extensive notes on running games or had let gamemasters fill in monsters and treasures, "The Lost City" takes an entirely new tactic: It depicts the first three levels of a pyramid hidden beneath the desert sands, and then lists monsters to appear in the remaining levels of the pyramid; notes major locations in the underground city that lies below that; and suggests further adventures once the players had reached the underground city. Thus, a GM has complete and polished dungeon levels to run while he's getting started, and then gets more freedom as he gains confidence in his game-running skills.

The result seems to have been even better accepted than the introductory elements of the previous adventures. The GM advice of B1 and B2 had always received a little criticism because some felt it was wasted space, while the fill-in-the-blank approach of B1 has been fairly universally panned since it left the dungeons very incomplete (and the same approach in the original printing of B3 may have been one of the factors leading to its recall).

Following the release of "The Lost City," later Basic adventures didn't include introductory elements until the line was relaunched in 1989.

Future History. Though not as well known as some of the earlier Basic adventures, B4 is nonetheless considered a classic by many who began gaming in the '80s, and as a result it has been revisited many times. "Masque of Dreams" in Dungeon #142 (January 2007) explicitly returns to the plight of the underground Cynidiceans and their hungry god, Zargon. They also show up in Wizards' Elder Evils (2007), though that book moves everything from The Known World to the default Greyhawk setting, as was typical for the era. More recently, Open Design produced their own Lost City (2011), which is more of a thematic successor than a literal one, also featuring a lost city beneath the sands, though this one populated by lizard folk.

About the Creators. Following his work on the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, Tom Moldvay entered a period of extensive adventure design. "The Lost City" was the third book in what James Maliszewski calls Moldvay's "Pulp Fantasy Trilogy." It's a pretty apt name, as X1: "The Isle of Dread" (1981) contains a dinosaur-filled island, X2: "Castle Amber" (1981) directly references the pulp writings of Clark Ashton Smith, and B4: "The Lost City" (1982) features a city beneath the desert sands.

Following his work on "The Lost City," Moldvay left D&D behind, moving on to write for Gangbusters and Star Frontiers before leaving TSR entirely. He'd only return once, to produce M3: "Twilight Calling" (1986) a few 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 (11)
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Reviews
-
November 23rd, 2013
I do not have much to add except to confirm what has already been said by many about this adventure - it is one of the better modules that TSR ever published. It has a sword and sorcery kind of eldritch weirdness vibe to it, a place that should not exist [...]
Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
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October 1st, 2013
Another great Moldvay module. This one is so strange, but so much fun. I remember playing this one in 8th grade and honestly I had a blast. It wasn't though till many years later while running it for my own kids did I see it's Pulp fiction roots. [...]
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February 4th, 2013
The Lost City, as an adventure in the Basic line, takes the GM from the hand-holding of a well scripted dungeon crawl through a sand-shrouded pyramid, to the cavern depths beneath. As the GMs confidence grows, so the trainer wheels vanish - with the lower [...]
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June 27th, 2008
Probably the best Basic D&D module (vying with B10 Night's Dark Terror). Simple but evocative map and can be played as a dungeon crawl/bash or can be developed with some decent subplots. What made it awesome was the expansion material at the back, which [...]
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September 20th, 2007
One of my favorite modules. PDF is just slightly blurry but easily readable and the module is complete. [...]
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Product Information
Silver seller
Author(s)
Pages
28
Edition
1.0
ISBN
0-935696-55-5
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9049
File Size:
8.1 MB
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File Last Updated:
January 28, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.
Publisher Info
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast
Publisher Average Rating