Today the BoLS crew dives into the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, comparing it to…the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan?!?
That’s right. We’re taking a side-by-side look at the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, both as it appears in the Tales from the Yawning Portal and as it originally appeared, black and white illustrations, score card and all. So come join us…but watch out for hidden poison needles and giant slugs.
The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is probably our favorite module of the seven that make up the Tales from the Yawning Portal. Though, Dead in Thay is a pretty close second. What can I say, Ooze Masters man. They’re great. But even crazy Red Wizards descending into wonderfully unaware bouts of unrelenting villainy can’t compete with an exploration of a dungeon inspired by Mayan and Aztec and Toltec mythology and iconograpy.
Especially not one that is home to giant glowing slugs that try to get the upper hand, talking hermit crabs disguised as boulders, an intricate quest discharged by a statue, or a couple of monks put into suspended animation, blissfully sleeping away the millennia. We talk a little about how the Shrine is much more of a place than just a dungeon. Sure there are monsters and rooms and traps and everything, but it functions even better as a place that adds culture and history to the world.
For contrast, some of the other dungeons that exist out there almost require the player to be a part of them–White Plume Mountain is a ton of fun, but it exists specifically so that a bunch of adventurers can come blundering through and encounter all of the monsters (which, okay that’s why any dungeon exists, but you know what I mean), whereas the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan functions more like a vault of the dead. There are vampires and dopplegangers and gibbering mouthers and all manner of disparate creatures but they all work because they’re all there as part of this exploration into Olman culture.
And the way the rooms are put together reinforce this. At one point, as the characters try to leave, they’re confronted by a mummified centaur who is supposed to be the guardian of the realm of the dead… who keeps intruders from going in, or beings within the vault (which the players have fallen into) from getting out. It adds to the verisimilitude of your world, is what we’re getting at.
Bonus: Score Card
As promised in the video, here’s the Score Card for this module. So why not use it when you’re running your players through it so they can have a numeric measure of their competency.
This module has the ultimate campaign changer–say your players drink the poison that makes the sleep for 5000 years… what do you do when they wake up?