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Lost Tamoachan: The Hidden Shrine of Lubaatum is an adventure module written as a tournament module for the Origins '79 convention. It was printed in a limited run Collector's Edition, with 300 copies available for purchase at the convention.[2]

The module was later adapted into a C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1980), which was given a wider release. The original Collector's Edition has since become highly valued by collectors.

Official synopsis[]

This module was originally used for the Official ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS™ tournament at Origins '79. This special numbered collectors edition (300 copies in print) contains background information, referee's notes, a large four-level map and reference matrices. Pre-rolled characters are included with brief histories for each. LOST TAMOACHAN: "The Hidden Temple of Lubaatum", is the first in a new line of Collector's Edition modules from TSR. If you find this module introguing, look for the TSR logo on future publications from The Game Wizards!


The rarity of Lost Tamoachan makes it difficult to assess. It is an adventure module similar to the later version C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1980). However, there are differences in wording, layout, cover art, and interior art.

Harold Johnson drew some of the module's art, including one of heroes fighting a giant slug, and a mummified centaur. His art is identified by a symbol formed of the initials HJJ. Johnson's work was inspired by comic book artwork, and he produced it on the understanding that no artists had been recruited for his work. Dave Sutherland also wrote some art. Unknown to most, Dave LaForce's first published artwork for TSR was also in this module.[1]

Development and release[]


Lost Tamoachan was written by Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason.

Harold Johnson unsuccessfully applied to TSR for the role of Games Editor in 1978. Undeterred, he later applied for a job as a lead games designer, but in a twist of fate TSR needed a copy editor to work on the Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979), and hired Johnson for that role in June 1979.[1][3]

Johnson soon received an opportunity to make his design debut when TSR required writers for a tournament module for Origins '79. TSR's other designers were busy and declined the task, leaving it to Harold Johnson and another recently hired editor, Jeff Leason. Johnson volunteered for the role, hoping to use the module to prove his writing ability.[3][1]

Johnson had recently studied Mesoamerican history, and was inspired by an article about the discovery of a tomb in the Yucatän, which felt like a D&D adventure. Innovating on Gygax's G-series and T1 modules, Johnson sought to include read-aloud text, which originally appeared in quotations; the module C1 would print these sections in boxes, establishing a precedent going forward. He also intended wandering monsters to make more logical sense, having their own realistic tactics. Monsters were moved to a chart at the back to leave more room for descriptive text.[1] Other design goals included more complex encounters and descriptions, actions having consequences, teaching players to be alert to clues, and to encourage the exercise of imagination and teamwork.[4]

The module was written at short notice. Leason and Johnson pair filled several notepads with notes, which was then typed into a first draft by Johnson, as he was the faster typist.[4] Johnson would liken the duo's creative relationship to that of Gygax and Arneson, where Leason contributed ideas and Johnson did all the writing. Skip Williams took issue with the draft's inclusion of a werejaguar, since lycanthropes required silver or magical weapons. Johnson added a silver dagger and silver coins which could be used as sling bullets.[1]

Executive Will Niebling came up with the idea of publishing the module after the tournament, as had been done with the G-series. This meant more work for the writers, since this raised the required standard, and the lack of digital tools in those days meant errors required retyping entire pages. To meet the deadline, Johnson ended up typing for 48 hours straight. Jean Wells then drove the manuscript to Patch Press in Beloit, Wisconsin at 1am or 2am, and the print run was dropped off outside TSR's headquarters to be ready for the following morning. The loose leaves were assembled into plastic bags in the van on the way to the convention.[1][4]

The titular city was originally supposed to be named "Tamoanchan", the name of a mythical place in Mesoamerican cultures. In the final draft, a typo led to it being misspelled as "Tamoachan".[4]

The name Lubatatum means "the place of the fallen stones".[1]

Soon after the release of the product, Johnson was promoted to Manager of Production, and went on to become the TSR employee with the longest tenure.[1][3]

Tournament play[]

The module was run in the D&D tournament at Origins '79, held on June 22-24, 1979, in Widener College, Chester, PA. The event had unexpectedly high demand, and there were insufficient DMs available.[4]


Lost Tamoachan p30

The module had a limited run available at Origins 1979.[2] 300 numbered copies were printed, with the numbers written by hand on the corner in pen. Additionally, TSR produced 50 Dungeon Master copies for DMs running the tournament sessions, 25 unlabeled staff copies, an authors' copy each for Johnson and Leason, and an unknown number of marked Complementary Copies.[5]

The module was later given a general release in 1980, as C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.

The original Lost Tamoachan is highly valued on the collectors' market. Both authors' original copies sold for $3,500 apiece. Gygax's own copy sold for $3,600. One copy sold for $5,000.[1] According to The Acaeum, a numbered copy in near mint condition may be worth nearly $10,000.

Reception and influence[]

Critical reception[]

In The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time, Dungeon #116 (Nov 2004), The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan was rated #18.

Influence on other works[]

Lost Tamoachan introduced the concepts of boxed read-aloud text, detailed encounters, and three-dimensional maps.[6] It was the first TSR module to include a female player character.[1]

Adventure author Mike Shel cited The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan as an inspiration in the introduction to The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb.[7]

Tamoachan appeared in The Sea Wyvern's Wake, Dungeon #141 (Dec 2006).

A D&D 4th edition conversion, Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, was released as part of Wizards of the Coast's organized play. It was reprinted in Dungeon #209 (Dec 2012).

External links[]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Episode 74 - Interview with Harold Johnson. GROGTALK, YouTube. Jan 9, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Report On ORIGINS '79, Dragon #29 (Sep 1979), p.46.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Profiles: Harold Johnson, Dragon #104 (Dec 1985), p.62.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, Dungeon #209 (Dec 2012).
  5. C1 - The Acaeum
  6. A Retrospective of the Best Game in History, Dragon #320 (Jun 2004), p.22.
  7. The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb, Dungeon #37 (Sep/Oct 1992).
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