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N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God (1e)

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Terror by night! The village of Orlane is dying. Once a small and thriving community, Orlane has become a maze of locked doors and frightened faces. Strangers are shunned, trade has withered. Rumors flourish, growing wilder with each retelling. Terrified peasants flee their homes, abandoning their farms with no explanation. Others simply disappear. . .

No one seems to know the cause of the decay -- why are there no clues? Who skulks through the twisted shadows of the night? Who or what is behind the doom that has overtaken the village? It will take a brave and skillful band of adventurers to solve the dark riddle of Orlane!

This adventure is designed for 4 to 7 characters of 1st through 3rd levels. It includes a map of the village and a description of its buildings and occupants, an overland journey to a challenging underground adventure for especially brave (or foolhardy. . .) characters, and a list of pre-rolled 1st-level characters.

Product History

N1: "Against The Cult of the Reptile God" (1982), by Douglas Niles, is the first adventure in a novice-level series for AD&D. It was written in February 1982, so it was probably published in the first half of the year.

A Quick Creation. Niles was handed an old brief and told to write an adventure from it. He completed the task in just four weeks. Later he said that he wasn't sure if TSR had published the module because it was good or because he was able to write it so quickly.

Recurring Tropes. At first glance this adventure looks like it's built around the trope of a town home base with adventures nearby, as had previously been seen in T1: "The Village of Hommlet" (1979), in L1: "The Secret of Bone Hill" (1981), and (sort of) in U1: "The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh" (1981). However, Niles takes a step beyond those simpler adventures and introduces cultists into the town, making the community itself (for the first time) into a true place for adventure as well. He also adds a few cultist-related events that will occur over time, which was quite unique in 1982; in the 70s, adventures had been almost entirely location-based.

Zeb Cook would take the next step with these trends with B6: "The Veiled Society" (1984).

The Previous Cult. Niles' brief came about as the result of a previous version of the adventure that was designed by Kevin Hendryx. This earlier version originated as a new encounter area for L1: "The Secret of Bone Hill" (1981), which Hendryx was then editing. Hendryx's additions were later removed from "Bone Hill" at Len Lakofka's request, so Hendryx decided to expand the encounter area into its own adventure, which became "Against the Cult of the Reptile God." Plans got far enough along that cover artwork was actually prepared by Bill Willingham, but then Hendryx became a victim of TSR's Great Purge of 1981. He decided to take his adventure with him to his next publisher, Metagaming Concepts.

The title and core concept of an evil cleric and lizard men minions remained, and that's the brief with which Niles started his work - and which also explains, at least partly, why TSR returned to the "town + adventure" trope that had been used in "Bone Hill" and "Saltmarsh" just the previous year.

Expanding Greyhawk. The town of Orlane and the adventure that surrounds it are very carefully (and meaningfully) set in Greyhawk. Not only does the module present an entire village near the Gran Marches, but it also carefully tracks the players' movement across the beautiful map of Greyhawk. By this point, the Greyhawk setting was increasingly becoming a campaign world belonging to TSR as a whole, not just Gary Gygax, and thus Niles' expansion of the world was less unusual than it would have been just a year earlier.

Future History. Dungeon #183 (October 2010) revisits the final battle from N1 as an encounter for 4e.

About the Creators. Douglas Niles began work at TSR in January 1982 after leaving his teaching job. After a few weeks spent reviewing and critiquing external submissions, Niles convinced his boss to give him a design assignment. "Against the Cult of the Reptile God" was the result.

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 (19)
Discussions (19)
Customer avatar
PAUL C August 19, 2023 3:36 pm UTC
POD is excellent. This also IMHO, a top five adventure of all time if not the best. Takes a bit of tweaking. I'd bring in 2nd-3rd lvl characters probably not 1st.
Customer avatar
Mortan L March 16, 2023 12:58 pm UTC
The pdf is currently missing the maps at the end of the document. It would be great if they could be added.
Customer avatar
Kenneth Ian V February 18, 2023 7:15 am UTC
The POD is excellent quality. The print is a crisp black on clear white paper. Note, however, that the original full-spread map was on the inside of the detached cover. It is now bound in the book so split in half at the front and back. You could photocopy each page and then stick them together if you don't mind bending the cover of the module back for the photocopiers. Just something to be aware of.
Customer avatar
Ernie N January 31, 2023 5:27 pm UTC
Here is a 5e conversion guide for Fantasy Grounds Enjoy.
Customer avatar
Michael G January 24, 2023 10:55 pm UTC
How are the maps printed from the PDF? I'm interested in buying both the softcover and PDF so I can print the module cover's maps (which come bound in the book).
Customer avatar
David L December 09, 2022 3:46 pm UTC
Does this PDF include ALL maps? Or just the Orlane maps on the cover?
Customer avatar
Jayce A February 21, 2022 12:29 pm UTC
Really excited to see this in print. One of the best beginner-level modules of all time. Can very easily be adapted into any setting: I've run it as a Dragonlance adventure, a Greyhawk one, and even a Mystara one.
Customer avatar
David R October 17, 2021 9:12 pm UTC
The maps are missing at the end of the pdf document. Could you make these available? I purchased on Jan. 7th 2020.
Customer avatar
Mortan L March 16, 2023 12:52 pm UTC
I would very much like the maps at the end of the document as well!
Customer avatar
Dylan H March 13, 2021 12:00 pm UTC
Even though I don't have a proper use for it I think I'd love to own a physical copy and I'd love to see a Print on Demand option for this product (especially if it was as cheap as the Hommlet PoD which I've already picked up).
Customer avatar
Micah D November 26, 2020 5:10 am UTC
One of the best old adventures, Matt Colville's video brought me here. I'd recommend some smart prep before running. Lots of weirdly specific detail that will seem unnecessary to a modern audience about 50% of which can basically be ignored.

I made up my own adventure hooks, tied them to the players and made sure they spent the night at the Golden Grain Inn. After that I let them investigate how they wanted but had the clues lead them to the Temple and other important places. The key is to build up the tension and mystery before violence erupts to force the players to action. Then when the source of the "curse" is discovered, it becomes your classic adventure, travel through the wilderness, explore the dungeon and face the enemy.
Customer avatar
Jayme A January 10, 2020 4:57 am UTC
> File Last Updated: January 07, 2020

Anyone know what changed on January 7th?
Customer avatar
Daniel P March 31, 2019 6:28 pm UTC
I was thinking of doing digital hi-res maps for this module, is there any interest in such a thing?

for examples of my work visit this site:
Customer avatar
Brandon C February 18, 2019 9:50 am UTC
We just finished this module with a group of friends. It was wildly different from all the 5e adventures I've run or played. It was more difficult, less forgiving, and ultimately more rewarding. All 5 of is died once, both from the DM's great rolls and over ambition. Success was very rewarding, and gained with difficulty.
Customer avatar
Mauro L October 30, 2019 7:32 am UTC
You discovered true (Advanced) Dungeons & Dragons... ;-)
Customer avatar
Dustin C June 11, 2020 4:41 am UTC
Have your DM look at the following video on Youtube from urban fantasy author Seth Skorkowsky. It details a lot of aggressive changes he made for this module.

As for me, I just ran it for my group of 7 mixed 4th-5th level characters after converting this to 5th edition. Even then, it can be a tough fight for a party.
Customer avatar
yves R August 02, 2018 12:36 pm UTC
Hi there can you clarify how would players found about the last dungeon beside Ramne knowledge ? What am i missing ? thx
Customer avatar
Ben F April 04, 2018 3:21 am UTC
Is something broken? The PDF appears to be missing all the dungeon maps.
Customer avatar
Mortan L March 16, 2023 12:54 pm UTC
Yeah, the maps at the end are missing. It would be great if they could be added!
Customer avatar
Preston H June 22, 2017 9:52 pm UTC
There's one thing I forgot to mention in my review of the module, and it's something I like about it: if you're someone who doesn't like throwing goblins at the low level players because they're too cliche, then you'll love this adventure's use of troglodytes instead of goblins (well, goblins do appear once, but that's all).
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TSR 9063
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File Last Updated:
January 07, 2020
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.