B4: The Lost City (1980)

B4: The Lost City (1980) is a classic. I love this one.

The players stumble upon the ruins of an ancient city surrounding a pyramid in the desert  – the main dungeon. The city, once a rich capital, awakened an ancient god, Zargon, while building the pyramid. Falling into decadence due to worship of the new god, the city was sacked by barbarians. The survivors fled to the caverns under the desert to rebuild. The rub is that Zargon, though ancient and powerful, is not a god at all, but a horrible monster.

The decadence of the inhabitants is interesting.  While above ground, they indulged in wines and narcotics. Underground, they turned to a steady diet of strange mushrooms. The cult that developed around Zargon is characterized by listless indulgence and its adherents wear a variety of animal masks. Shades of BioShock. There are other factions too and, since much of the dungeon map and all of the city is left intentionally open for the DM to fill in, there is enough room here to develop a lot of campaign material.

Speaking of inspiration, the monster Zargon can be “killed,” but so long as his central horn remains, he will eventually regenerate. I can’t help but be reminded of Dagoth, the horned god that winds up being the big villain in Conan the Destroyer (he has a central head horn and is restored to life when it is reunited with is body). Further potential evidence that the folks that made that movie had D&D on the brain…

Lots of great James Holloway art in here. I particularly like Zargon (how perfect is that name, by the way?). The drawing in the desert at night was weirdly re-used in one of Hickman’s I-series desert modules, too.

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