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C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1e)

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This module was originally used for the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons tournament at Origins '79, and is the first in the Competition Series. This module contains a challenging setting as well as an original scoring system and an assortment of pre-rolled characters for adventuring. This module may thus be used for private competition among players, or as a separate, non-scored adventure! Also included herein are background information, a large-scale referee's map, referee's notes, and new monsters and descriptions for an added taste of excitement.

This adventure is meant to stand on its own, and includes areas on the map where DM's may add their own levels.

Product History

"The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" (1980), by Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason, is the first adventure in the competition (C-) series. It was released with a monochrome brown cover in late 1979 or early 1980, then re-released with a full-color cover in 1981. When first released, it was probably TSR's 11th adventure, its final monochrome-covered adventure, and just the third adventure written by someone other than Gary Gygax.

A First Job. Harold Johnson joined TSR in 1979. His first job was to copy edit the Dungeon Master's Guide (1979), but TSR staff also wanted to see if Johnson could write, so he began work on a tournament adventure that would eventually become "The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan." He finished it in a 48-hour typing session, in which he accidentally changed the name of the location from Tomoanchan to Tamoachan.

Tournament Beginnings. C1 was used as the adventure for the AD&D tournament at Origins 1979. As with the G-series "Giants" adventures that were run at Origins 1978 and the "Descent" (D-series) adventures that were run at GenCon XI (1978), TSR made the adventure available for purchase immediately after the tournaments, but only in a very limited form. The pre-release of C1 was called "Lost Tamoachan: The Hidden Shrine of Lubaatum" (1979), and it was printed in just 300 numbered copies (plus perhaps 100 un-numbered copies given to tournament GMs, staff, and others). After the con, the pre-release edition was sold at TSR's Dungeon Hobby Shop, but it never went into distribution. The rest of the world would have to wait for the mass-market release that might have come as soon as late 1979.

Tournament Play. Though TSR had previously published six different tournament adventures, "Shrine" was the first adventure that they published with all of the tournament accoutrements: the pre-generated characters and the tournament scoring sheet that identifies how groups get points for various sorts of clever play. As such, it was (and remains) a terrific insight into what tournament play was like in the late '70s. The inclusion of the complete tournament info would be the main element that tied together the competition series of adventures.

C1 also included a book of illustrations to be shown to the players - one of the earlier examples of player handouts, previously used in S1: "The Tomb of Horrors" (1978).

Expanding Greyhawk. "Shrine" introduces the ancient Olman people of Greyhawk, based on the Aztec, Mayan, and Toltec peoples of Earth. This was probably the first meaningful expansion of Greyhawk by anyone other than Gary Gygax or Rob Kuntz.

There's also a peculiar connection in C1 to a later Greyhawk adventure. Room 19 of "Shrine" contains a figurine of a spaceship called the "II-Nedraw." Since the ship that crashed in S3: "Expedition to Barrier Peaks" (1980) was based on the Warden from Metamorphosis Alpha (1976), this could suggest a connection between that spaceship and the Tamoachan ruins. But it's probably just a fun easter egg.

New Monsters. This adventure introduces the nereid and (more notably) the "gibbering mouther."

Future History. Paizo returned to Tamoachan for 3e in "The Sea Wyvern's Wake," the third adventure in their Savage Tide adventure path. It appeared in Dungeon #141 (December 2006). Wizards released a very limited-edition 4e conversion of "Shrine" as a DM's reward for the Encounters Program: It's simply called "Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan" (2011). They reprinted it in Dungeon #209 (December 2012).

About the Creators. Johnson's next adventure for TSR was another tournament: A2: "Secret of the Slavers Stockade" (1981). Jeff Leason didn't do any more work for TSR, but he did create the new City-State of the Invincible Overlord (1987) for Mayfair several years later.

About the Product Historian

This 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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (9)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
Nicholas M June 14, 2022 6:59 pm UTC
not sure as of the actual listing date of this but.. you neglected to put under "Future History" that it was updated for 5e in the Tales From the Yawning Portal book
Customer avatar
Dominic L November 25, 2021 7:39 pm UTC
Good POD. The illustration booklet and adventure text are clear. Yes, the map is a bit murky- but it's useable. For the low price though, I'm glad I bought this for the collection.
Customer avatar
Luigi C March 11, 2021 11:57 am UTC
The map in the POD version is nigh unreadable.
Not something I would sell to people with a straight face.
Customer avatar
Ernie N December 30, 2020 6:48 pm UTC
I recently uploaded maps for C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan to DMs Guild. Enjoy.
Customer avatar
David B April 11, 2018 10:21 pm UTC
Is the brown cover 1981 re-print going to surface again? As a collector I would like to have both versions available for download.
Customer avatar
George F May 11, 2017 1:00 pm UTC
If I order a PoD of this, will I get the monochrome cover or the brown cover?
Customer avatar
Michael V June 13, 2019 4:21 am UTC
You get the monochrome cover but the maps are from a water damaged module and are terrible, all else is good.
Customer avatar
George F April 27, 2017 12:51 am UTC
Is there any chance of ever seeing a PDF of the original tournament "Lost Tamoachan"?
Customer avatar
Zia M April 06, 2017 3:17 am UTC
As of the last update, both the 1980 and 1981 printings are included as two separate files.
Customer avatar
George F July 04, 2016 4:06 am UTC
When will we see C6 The Official RPGA Tournament Handbook?
Customer avatar
George F March 18, 2016 4:29 pm UTC
What are the chances of making these older products available as PoD here? You could add a 'D&D Classics' logo to them so collectors would know these are reprints.
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Product Information
Mithral seller
Rules Edition(s)
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9032
File Size:
15.44 MB
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File Last Updated:
August 31, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.