Gygax, Holmes, and Wesely in the Jungle
April 4, 2011
Lyric in the Song of Time Never Ending:
“A jungle city, bright in the mist
Will crumble, pity, not even a wish!”
The above is the only reference to a “lost city” in the FitJ supplement. I like the idea of a lost city being nonexistent or very difficult to find if it is being actively searched for. In fact, during playtesting, the lost city could only be found if the PCs were, in fact…lost. What would I have done if the PCs did find it? Perhaps Dwellers of the Forbidden City would have made an appearance if the situation called for a ruined lost city. But not all lost cities are ruined. Some are lost civilizations…
In issue #24 of THE DRAGON (April 1979), J. Eric Holmes (editor of the first Basic edition of D&D) presented “Lost Civilizations”, a fantasy supplement for the Source of the Nile jungle exploration simulation/boardgame. Basically, it’s a series of random tables to determine what kind of civilization is found, how it reacts to PCs, and what kind of adventure might unfold as the PCs interact with the civilization. Almost like a pulp jungle adventure generator. Absolutely wonderful and sets my jungle-heart all aflutter.
Source of the Nile itself is a pseudo-RPG of African exploration designed by David Wesely, a key figure in the early history of D&D. Issue #20 of THE DRAGON (November 1978) saw Gary Gygax write a small review of the game and offer several house rules. Gygax says, “The rules are not well organized, nor are they very complete. In fact, in many ways they remind me of those originally written for D&D.” He also provides a useful little “random tribe name generator”. The following issue (#21) contained Wesely’s response to Gygax’s ideas. These articles are also available at Boardgame Geek.