Dwellers of the Forbidden City
, by Dave "Zeb" Cook, started out as an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons tournament module at the 1980 Origins VI
game convention at Widener College
in Chester, PA1
. In 1981, it was published in an expanded form as "Dungeon Module I1", with TSR stock number 9046. In the context of Greyhawk
, the dominant AD&D setting at that time, the Forbidden City is located in Hepmonaland
, a tropical area far southeast of the Greyhawk city-state.
The tournament portion of the module only fills six pages, and covers the characters' fight through a cave passage from the wilderness to the Forbidden City. Another twelve pages lend detail to specific locations within the ruins, but only a handful are really connected to the plot; there's plenty of room for customization. Cook himself suggests a number of hooks and plots to extend the setting to a mini-campaign. The suggested mix and numbers of inhabitants, from the monstrous yuan-ti to the sympathetic mongrelmen, also recommends elements of stealth and diplomacy, rather than an "exterminate big monster nest" style of play. The introduction suggests a party of 6 to 8 characters of levels 4 to 7.
The module introduced a number of new creatures to AD&D: the yuan-ti, with their wacky random snake limbs; mongrelmen and tasloi; and the abominable aboleth, with its magical and psionic powers. The yuan-ti alone, here in their ancient ancestral demon-worshipping homeland, provide lots of opportunities for gamemaster creativity. The presence of the aboleth, a monster normally found only deep in subterranean realms, suggests some route to the domains of dark elves and such.
1. "Greyhawk's Tournament History", http://www.rpg.net/ehp/imrryr/gh_tourneys.html