Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lost Cities and Forgotten Ruins

Second only to the archetypal Dungeon, Lost Cities are my favorite adventuring locale (with sinful urban locales running a close third). You could do a lot worse than base a campaign around these three modules (and perhaps locate them all on a Dreaded Isle?): archaeological sword & sorcery!

Lost City and Forbidden City in particular are amazing modules. Lost City offers a near-megadungeon-sized expansion, and the Forbidden City interior cover map just begs to be ripped off for your own, customized, Eldritch Ruin.

There's plenty of good pulp inspirational reading too, from R'lyeh to Elric's R'lin K'ren A'a. Tolkein's Annuminas has always seemed in need of further exploration to me, out in its troll-infested, ranger-patrolled wasteland.

What's your favorite Lost City?


  1. Oddly, I've never run a campaign in a lost city. I've always wanted to, but I have a few issues.

    The largest one is that, and this is weird for an Old Schooler, I've never seen a TSR module in person. Ever. Part of that is that I started playing in 2000, long after these were published. Obviously I've seen adventure modules, and even used some, but not any by TSR.

    I'd very much like to know how those are set up. Of course I'm in the midst of designing a megadungeon campaign, but they would fit very well in a setting idea I've had stewing for awhile. I might post something on it later.

  2. Oh damn, I forgot to answer the question. I've always liked the one in the Devil in Iron. Despite my setting's current Northern European focus, I'm a big fan of jungles.

  3. I have always had a hard time getting my head around the archetypical dungeon. For me they always seemed (and I realize this is the point) rather contrived without something connected to them.

    In my games most dungeons are either a form of labyrinth guarding something, a populated cavern system or some sort of ruin or lost city. I know it's all a matter of degrees and window dressing, but it works for me.

    I think one of my favorite "lost cities" is Laputa.

  4. I1 is a really, really evocative module and I always felt that the encounter areas weren't quite up to the fantastic setting. In fact I spent last night looking for notes on a ruined city that started as locations for the I1 map... to no avail.

  5. Can one have a favourite lost city? Such an embarrasment of riches.

    Other than the ones mentioned already, the "city" wherein resided the alien sorcerers Agax and Gagax was awesome, "Sailor on the Seas of Fate".

    Xocht...thcul...well, the city from "Red Nails".

    Allarti, the lost city of of the toad-men from "Bloodstone".

    The risen fort of Dan-Legeh, bastion of the Scylredi, from "Darkness Weaves."

    Lost cities rock.

  6. Ampridatvir from Dying Earth by Jack Vance

  7. My love of lost cities as a setting or destination prompted me to read The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. It wasn't what I was hoping for but was interesting nonetheless.

    I recall playing B4 back in the day. Loved it!

  8. What was the name of the Lost/Ruined City in Rand-land from the Wheel of Time?

    That one...

  9. Don't forget that Caverns of Thracia has a lost city attached to it as well (although that may have been an addition to the d20 version, too).


  10. "I think one of my favorite "lost cities" is Laputa."

    Would that be Jonathan Swift's Laputa, Hayao Miyazaki's Laputa, or some other? :)

  11. Miyazaki's Laputa is a better model for adventuring. I did use the basics of Swift's Laputa for a wargaming miniatures project though.

    Overall, it's theb asic concept of Laputa, a floating lost city, that is the real appeal.

  12. B4- one of my top 5, no... top 3 modules ever. Moldvay unfortunately never got to write enough adventures :(

    I'm a sucker for ancient ruins/lost cities.

    I cannot recommend enough Secrets of Xen'drik- one of the very few 3.5 products I do love (and the only one I still own). It's an entire continent of old ruins and lost cities (though it's not overly detailed-mainly adventure ideas, and bare bones adventure sites/locations). It is a highly prized piece of my collection and only cost me $6 shipped (brand new!) through Amazon's used booksellers at the time.

    Some other products outside the D&D realm that I recommend-

    Big Rubble for Runequest.

    Parlainth for Earthdawn.

    Ruins of Glorantha (for Mongoose RQ)

  13. A deserted city in Barsoom’s southwest hemisphere,
    “supposed to have been a center of commerce and culture known as Korad. It had been built upon a beautiful, natural harbor, landlocked by magnificent hills. The little valley on the west front of the city, she explained, was all that remained of the harbor, while the pass through the hills to the old sea bottom had been the channel through which the shipping passed up to the city's gates.” (PM XI)

    Its ruins are now bordered by “numerous brilliantly colored and strangely formed wild flowers dotted the ravines and from the summit of the first hill I saw still other hills stretching off toward the north, and rising, one range above another, until lost in mountains of quite respectable dimensions; though I afterward found that only a few peaks on all Mars exceed four thousand feet in height; the suggestion of magnitude was merely relative.” (PM IV)


  14. I heartily agree! Lost Cities are the bomb. My very amateur homebrew setting is a whole continent, more or less, of underground lost cities. There are many spread around, and I plan to "place" all three of the above modules. Only C1 will be presented pretty much "as is", though.

    Something about the steaming jungle, with it's shamans and exotic monsters, just cranks up the weird fantasy a few more notches in my mind.

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