That's what old hands call the Great Dismal Swamp. For centuries, this tangled maze of sluggish watercourses, stagnant ponds, and festering marshes has defended Blackmoor's southwestern frontier. Large armies and smaller parties have disappeared altogether inside its vast, dripping, claustrophobic corridors.
Among those who have dropped from sigh in this arboral hell is young Rissa Aleford, one of Blackmoor's most important leaders. Carried off to the sinister City of the Fron, she is now being held by the eccentric Monks of the Swamp. By making the baroness captive, the deranged monks have serioulsy weakened Blackmoor at a time when enemies already threaten it from all sides.
Yet, even as the Froggies gloat, the king of Blackmoor dispatches a small band of bold adventures to the rescue. Deep into the Great Dismal Swamp they must go - far from sunlight and sanity - there to seek and save the swamp, there to find the Temple of the Frog.
DA2: "Temple of the Frog" (1987), by Dave Arneson and David J. Ritchie, is the second of the four Blackmoor adventure. It was published in January 1987.
Origins (I): More Blackmoor. The story of DA2: "Temple of the Frog" carries directly on from DA1: "Adventures in Blackmoor" (1986). Like its predecessor, it was part of the second wave of Blackmoor products, and it was set in the historical past of TSR's Known World.
Origins (II): The First Temple of the Frog. Unlike "Adventures in Blackmoor", "Temple of the Frog" is derived directly from Arneson's original Blackmoor game, run with the Chainmail (1971) rules.
In the summer of 1972, Arneson's players failed to defend the Castle of Blackmoor from the Egg of Coot and other attacking forces because they were too busy delving into Blackmoor's dungeons. As a result of this loss, they were banished to the Loch Gloomen (Lake Gloomey) area of Blackmoor … which would soon lead to the first Temple of the Frog.
Origins (III): The Story of the Swamp. Arneson liked to empower his players. He thus asked player Stephen Rocheford to create an evil character that would be "different from the norm". Rocheford came up with "Stephen the Rock", who was inspired by "Patterns of Force" (1968), an episode of the original Star Trek (1966-1969) where a planetary Nazi culture had been created by a historian who was "eliminating [the planet's] excesses and organizing [the] society for the betterment of all in the name of efficiency". Army officer Rocheford transformed the idea, making his character a soldier who had crash landed in Blackmoor on a spaceship(!).
Continuing his story, Rocheford decreed that Stephen had discovered a village "organized around a group of monks". Stephen's phaser (and other high-tech items) convinced them that he was a wizard. So he became the high priest of the swamp monks. Stephen created a theocracy based on the frogs that were ubiquitous in the swamp. He erected a Temple and reorganized the monks using ideas from Rocheford's Catholic upbringing … and the Temple of the Frog was born!
In the fall of 1972, Arneson noted that three of his players had gone "off to the town held by the Monks of the Swamp". This was presumably the first delve into the Temple of the Frog. Rocheford played the mysterious High Priest, and the adventure proved a dangerous one, resulting in the death of one of the characters! (Rocheford gives slightly later dates, spanning from 1973-1977, but they don't correspond as well with the publication of D&D or its supplements.)
Because of its creation before D&D even existed, the Temple of the Frog today represents one of the oldest adventures in the roleplaying hobby.
Origins (IV): The Published Temple of the Frogs. "The Temple of the Frog" appeared in Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975) as a 20-page dungeon. It was not only TSR's first published adventure - appearing three years before the company started publishing standalone modules - but also one of the first printed adventures in the industry, and surely the first with any widespread distribution.
DA2: "Temple of the Frog" was the second published version of the Temple. The above-ground temple is remarkably similar to that seen in the Blackmoor supplement a decade before. The dungeons in the "DA" version of the adventure are, however, expanded and much more polished (where they'd been very crudely mapped in the original).
Genre Tropes: Science Fantasy. The Temple of the Frog contains computers, power plants, and numerous other alien devices taken off of Stephen's space ship. This type of science fantasy was quite common in the early days of the hobby, but was already growing more rare in the '80s. It would continue into DA3: "City of the Gods", which was largely a sequel to "Temple of the Frog".
Adventure Tropes. "Temple of the Frog" is positioned as a MacGuffin quest: the players must rescue the Baroness Rissa. However it quickly becomes a "temple crawl" through one of the industry's oldest dungeons.
Exploring Blackmoor. Though "Temple of the Frog" extensively details the "City of the Frog" and its Temple, like its predecessor it gives little detail on the wider world of Blackmoor.
NPCs of Note. The star of "Temple of the Frog" is St. Stephen the Rock, one of the first great NPCs in D&D's history.
Future History. Zeitgeist Games released a new version of Temple of the Frog (2008) for d20 while Wizards published a 20-years-later "Return to the Temple of the Frog" (2007) around the same time as a free download.
About the Creators. "Temple of the Frog" was the second of three adventures that Arneson co-authored for TSR from 1986-1987. Arneson's collaborator, David Ritchie, had recently returned to TSR after a few years working for Coleco.
About the Product Historian
The 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 email@example.com.