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DA3 City of the Gods (Basic)
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DA3 City of the Gods (Basic)

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New Magic?

That's what the flying egg has. New magic unlike any ever encountered in Blackmoor. New magic of a type that could give the fledgling kingdom an important edge in the wars that are brewing on its borders.

There are only a few minor problems. Like the fact that the magician who piloted the metal egg to one of Blackmoor's sworn enemies, the monks of evil and eccentric Order of the Frog, are also interested in the magic represented by the egg. And, most important, the fact that the egg came from the distant and dangerous City of the Gods.

Set amist the blistered salt flats of the Valley or the Ancients, the City of the Gods is a strange and deadly metal metropolis whose powerful guardians do not welcome intruders. Yet it is to this place of deadly menace that Blackmoor's leaders now send a daring expedition? to bargain for aid in the coming wars? or to steal the magic of the gods.

Product History

DA3: "City of the Gods" (1987), by Dave Arneson & David J. Ritchie, is the third of the four Blackmoor adventure. It was published in March 1987.

About the Cover. This may be the most science-fictiony cover ever for a D&D module. It depicts the eponymous City of the Gods.

Origins (I): The Rock and his Ship. The history of the City of the Gods begins with Stephen Rocheford and his character, Stephen the Rock, a soldier who crashlanded on Blackmoor in a spaceship. DA2: "Temple of the Frog" (1986) told the tale of how St. Stephen became the leader of a cult of swamp monks … but what about the spaceship? For that, fans had to turn to DA3: "City of The Gods" — though the connection between the two adventures wasn't necessarily the one that Arneson had envisioned in his original campaign …

Origins (II): The Ritchie Connection. It was again David Ritchie who expanded "City of the Gods" from Arneson's original ideas. And there wasn't necessarily a lot of Arneson in the final book, who says: "he didn't consult me a lot".

Some sources suggest that it was Ritchie who introduced the tight connection between rebel Stephen the Rock and Captain Riesling of the City of the Gods, a connection that focused on whether they should follow the Prime Directive or not … continuing Star Trek's influence on Blackmoor.

Players who want to see something closer to Arneson's original vision of the City of the Gods in Blackmoor might consult City of the Gods (2008), by Harold Stroh, which was based not just on Arneson's campaign notes … but also the campaign notes of Rob Kuntz!

Origins (III): The Kuntz (& Gygax) Connection. Two of TSR's principals, Rob Kuntz and Gary Gygax, actually got their own chance to explore the City of the Gods in 1976, when Dave Arneson ran a session for them at TSR's Dungeon Hobby Shop. Gygax's Mordenkainen and Kuntz's Robilar rather famously wreaked havoc on the City, got in way over the heads, and barely escaped with their lives.

That adventure may have been an inspiration for S3: "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" (1980), which first appeared as a tournament for Origins 2 (1976). It's also probably why Gygax included Blackmoor in the World of Greyhawk Fantasy World Setting (1980) … complete with a City of the Gods. Greyhawk's City of the Gods would be more fully detailed by Wolfgang Baur in Dungeon #126 (September 2005), which turned it into "The Clockwork Fortress".

Genre Tropes: Science Fantasy. "City of the Gods" is probably the second most important science fantasy adventure in the early D&D oeuvre, following only "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks". Besides detailing the actual spaceship, "City of the Gods" also contains a few pages of alien devices and a few science-fantasy monsters. Because of "Temple of the Frog" and "City of the Gods", fans have long thought that Blackmoor had a heavy technological basis. Arneson says otherwise; the initial adventures he choose to prepare for TSR just happened to be the ones with lots of tech in them.

"City of the Gods" also marked the end of an era. It was the final of several Basic D&D science-fantasy adventures, including CM4: "Earthshaker" (1985), CM6: "Where Chaos Reigns" (1985), and of course DA2: "Temple of the Frog" (1986). Afterward, D&D would increasingly move away from its science-fantasy origins.

Adventure Tropes. The game opens with a series of encounters, but quickly becomes a space ship crawl, much like "Barrier Peaks". However, it's much more abstract. Cars move characters from one pod to another. Even those areas are pretty generic, requiring GMs to fill in the details.

Exploring Blackmoor. "City of the Gods" presents the best details to date on the setting of Blackmoor. That's not just through its description of the City of Gods. It also includes a new map of lands south of Blackmoor and more notably an actual description of the South's four regions: the Eastern Hak, the Valley of the Ancients, the High Hak, and the Thonian Rand.

Monsters of Note. "City of the Gods" introduces cyborgs and robots to the Basic D&D game. It also marks the return of the primitive garls, who debuted in "Where Chaos Reigns".

NPCs of Note. Like the previous Blackmoor adventures, this one has an extensive section detailing NPCs. Among them are Bosero the Drunkard and Brother Richard the Flying Monk, the characters of two of Arneson's players, brothers John and Richard Snider. Both Sniders went on to become game designers. Richard Snider is better known: he coauthored The First Fantasy Campaign (1977) and Adventures in Fantasy (1978) with Arneson, then wrote his own Powers & Perils (1984) for Avalon Hill. John meanwhile was the author of two early TSR board games: Star Probe (1975) and Star Empires (1977)

About the Creators. "City of the Gods" was the third 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 editor-in-chief of RPGnet and 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 shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Steven L June 24, 2016 1:34 am UTC
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Have issues downloading this after purchase. I'm very disappointed
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Rich F June 06, 2016 3:03 pm UTC
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A much, much better scan than what they have been releasing lately (G2, G3 look awful). Hopefully this is a sign they will do better in the future.
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Product Information
Copper seller
Rules Edition(s)
Pages
48
Edition
1.0
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9191
File Size:
12.66 MB
Format
Scanned image
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File Last Updated:
May 14, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on May 31, 2016.