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I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City (1e)

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Somewhere in the heart of the steaming jungle lies the answer to the whispered tales - rumors of a magnificent city and foul, horrid rituals! Here a brave party might find riches and wonders - or death! Is your party brave enough to face the terrors of the unknown and find the Forbidden City!?

Parts of this adventure were used in 1980 for a major East Coast convention tournament. Information is presented here to reconstruct this exciting tournament and even more has been give to expand play. Here characters may adventure several times in a unique and interesting mini-campaign setting. Included in this module are background and tournament notes, referee's keys, new monsters, pre-generated characters, and eight different maps.

For characters levels 4 to 7.

Product History

I1: "Dwellers of the Forbidden City" (1981), by David "Zeb" Cook, was the first adventure in TSR's new "intermediate" series of adventures. It was released in 1981.

Sources. When he wrote this adventure, Cook was going for the feel of the Conan novella "Red Nails" (July - October 1936). Ironically, "Red Nails" was also one of the inspirations for another adventure created around the same time: "Dark Tower" (1980), a Judges Guild publication by Jennell Jaquays. More generally, "Dwellers of the Forbidden City" was one of several pulpy adventures created for the D&D games in the early 80s. James Maliszewski spotlights three of them in what he calls "Tom Moldvay's Pulp Fantasy Trilogy" - a series that includes X1: "The Isle of Dread" (1981), co-authored with Cook.

More Origins. "Dwellers" started out as an adventure in Cook's home campaign - though at that time it didn't include a full city, just the final ruins, set in a jungle. Cook used the main hall as his writing sample when he was applying for a designer job at TSR (and it worked, as he ended up being the third member of TSR's Design Department). Upon arriving at TSR, Cook expanded his adventure to full module length, adding the rest of the city and the mongrelmen to do so. He ran part of "Dwellers" as the official AD&D Tournament at Origins 1980, prior to its publication.

A New Series. Prior to 1981, the module codes for AD&D adventures mainly focused on individual story lines, as seen by the A-series (1980-1981), D-series (1978), and G-series (1978) adventures. Oddballs were then published in the S-series (1978-82) special adventures. Hence, I1 was actually supposed to be S4... but then TSR came up with a new plan for their adventure publication.

Unlike its predecessors, the I-series of adventures was (mostly) unconnected. Instead, it featured adventures for characters of a certain level: intermediate. The result was one of TSR's longest-running series, containing fourteen books published from 1981-1988, covering Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms, and including modules originating at TSR UK, the RPGA, and the Hickmans' DayStar West Media. Over time, the intermediate adventures supported levels 4-10, roughly matching Basic D&D's expert level.

The I series was later supplemented by the N (novice) series (1982-87) and the H (high-level) series (1985-88). By the end of the 80s, however, the N, I, and H codes were all fading away, to be replaced by the next big thing: modules focused on specific settings.

Expanding Greyhawk. "Dwellers" is loosely set in the World of Greyhawk - mainly showing the increasing importance of the setting by the early 80s, and its use by authors other than Gygax. More detail on the Forbidden City's place in Greyhawk appeared years later in The Scarlet Brotherhood (1999).

Monsters of Note. Cook leans heavily upon the just-released Fiend Folio (1981) for monsters, including the giant bloodworm, the bullywugs, the pan lung, the yellow musk creeper, and the yellow musk zombie. More notably, though, he creates a number of brand-new monsters that have since become quite iconic: the aboleth and the yuan ti. The mongrelman and the tasloi originate in this adventure as well, but aren't quite as important in the scope of the D&D game - though they too have had at least a half-dozen appearances each over the years.

About the Creators. 1981 was the year that saw Cook's first major independent work for TSR, including the Expert Set (1981) and the co-authored X1: "The Isle of Dread" (1981). There was far more to come.

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

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.

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Jorge P April 01, 2024 1:59 am UTC
Wait... POD is now available??? That's great news but... it never appeared in the 'newest d&d in print' list in the homepage! Sneaky, sneaky...
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Todd M January 02, 2024 12:02 pm UTC
POD for 2024!
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I'd say third, but I have a feeling HUNDREDS want this in POD. If not thousands!
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POD please.
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POD pretty please with sugar on top!
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POD please!
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POD for 2023!
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November 21, 2022 9:33 pm UTC
Print on Demand would be awesome!
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Taylor O November 12, 2022 7:34 am UTC
Print on demand if possible. Thank you. :)
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POD please, this is a classic! Thank you!
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pod please
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Please make POD available
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POD please.
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I've uploaded a 5e Conversion with Digital Maps to DMs Guild. Enjoy.
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File Last Updated:
September 20, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on March 26, 2013.