Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Expedition to the City of the Gods

In 1980 TSR published Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, possibly inspired by Gygax' experiences in the City of the Gods in 1976. Last year I talked about how the two Greyhawk heroes, Robilar and Mordenkainen almost lost their lives in this deadly place. It wasn't until 1987 that the City of the Gods became accessible to the general D&D fans in module DA3.  However, Dave Arneson had been sending his players to the area since 1974. Dave Arneson's company Zeitgeist Games revisited the location in 2008 as part of their D20 line.

The first expedition to the City of the Gods is mentioned in JG's First Fantasy Campaign. Was the City always a space ship? Visitors from futuristic interstellar civilizations had been visiting Blackmoor since John Snider started his Star Empires campaign in early 1973 placing Blackmoor on his star map. This may have been what first brought the science fantasy twist to Arneson's campaign and may have been the direct inspiration for the City of the Gods.

What we do know is that the City of the Gods was a deadly place. Mordenkainen and Robilar were lucky enough to escape the City alive. The first group exploring the area were not so lucky. The Wizard of the Woods (Pete Gaylord) and a Peshwa Nomad Hero (Dale Norman) lost their lives on this expedition.  Those who did return did not look back.


Discussion of this article.


  1. I will be delving into the Thorn's Blackmoor twist on this event in a future article, Havard ;)

  2. Interesting, stuff, Havard!---I wasn't aware of the connection to Snider's Star Empires/Star Probe games.

    I'll have to go digging to see if anyone knows if there's any further mention of the City of the Gods in the S3 Origins tourney.


  3. Given the Star Probes connection, the other crashed spaceship, and other otherwordly journeys to blackmoor, I'd say it's a safe bet that Dave always thought of the city of the gods being a marooned spaceship. What's interesting is that originally there semeed to be no connection between St. Stephen and the City of the Gods - like they were different alien groups altogether.

  4. @Grodog:
    Thanks Allan! More information about the Star Empires/Star Probe Campaign and Blackmoor can be found here.. Let me know if you find anything in that S3 material! :)

  5. @DHBoggs: I agree, it makes sense that it was probably the idea from the beginning. While St. Stephen may have been from another ship (at least based on the Supp II information), I'd say he was probably from the same alien group ("Human Empire"). Also, both Rocheford's St. Stephen and DA3's take on the City of the Gods are heavily inspired by Star Trek.


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