Recently I have tried to catch up upon my playing old modules mainly from the B-series, and while writing my post on X2 Castle Amber I realized, that I forgot to tell about B4 The Lost City, which is a Tom Moldway module with clear pulpy elements. We have an ancient city destroyed by time and decadence, and inside the single surviving structure, a huge pyramid lives the remaining inhabitants, most mad and wearing masks, but some organized in cults striving to rebuild the society and defeating the ancient evil, who caused the fall of the civilization.
Some interesting details
As with X1 Isle of Dread the worshippers followed false gods operated by dishonest clerics hiding inside the statues of the gods and terrifying the ignorant natives with fireworks. Inside the “Lost City” are cults of decadent madmen, who behaves in a manner according to the masks their wear, and three orders dedicated to the (false) gods strive to rebuild the civilization, though they are caught up in their own struggles, and in the struggle with the demon worshipping cult, who caused the fall of the civilization.
At the bottom of the dungeon is an encounter with the monster, that is worshipped by the demon worshippers. Interestingly it is a unique monster, and somewhat cthulhuid in nature, but it is as such not really deity or demon, thus making also the demon worshipping cult a false cult.
One of the good things in this module is that there is a story to explore. In some modules the ruins remain inexplicable because there is no outlet to explain neither players nor PCs as to the origins of the ruins, but in The Lost City the chance is there. It is not all too well communicated, but with a little extra effort a story about the fallen city appears.
The Three Parts of The Lost City
The first part is the most interesting part of the pyramid-dungeon. It covers the first ten levels of the dungeon, its inhabitants and so on. This part was reprinted in the collection B1-9 In search of Adventure. The other part is an inverse version of the first ten pyramid-levels, but this time all the rooms are inhabited by random monsters, hell hounds, medusae, ogres etc., and the idea is that the DM is supposed to finish the module from these notes, but where the first ten levels has a story, the next ten is a random assortment of monsters and treasures. Not much fun. The last level contains however the demonic villain. The third part is rather curious. It is a map of an underground city accessed by the buried pyramid, and suddenly the lost city is not just the ruined city covered in sand, but a secret city hidden underground, whose civilization has collapsed due to the same decadence that plagues the inhabitants of the pyramid-dungeon.
I like the idea, and thus in annoys me so much the more, that the second part is without meaning like the first part, and the third part is so sketchily described – yeah, it is do it yourself, but that is a cheap excuse for printing a map and doing much about it. At present we have played most of the first part of the pyramid, and it has been interesting to encounter the various factions of the dungeon, but the mysterious back story is so underplayed, that it is hard to communicate the epic scope of the ruined city and its tragic story, and that is annoying. At present I plan to skip the monster-levels of the second half of the dungeon, leaving the PCs to encounter the demonic entity, and then let them move onwards to the underground city.