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B4 The Lost City (Basic)
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B4 The Lost City (Basic)

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From now through November 29th, this digital title has been marked down for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend! For more savings, visit our Black Friday/Cyber Monday page.

Lost in the desert! The only hope for survival lies in a ruined city rising out of the sands. Food, water, and wealth await heroic adventures inside and ancient pyramid ruled by a strange race of masked beings.

This module includes a cover folder with maps, and a descriptive booklet with a ready-made adventure for the Dungeons & Dragons Basic game. It also includes enough information to continue the adventure beyond level 3, using the Dungeons & Dragons Expert game rules.

Product History

"The Lost City" (1982) was the first adventure written entirely for the second edition Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1981). No surprise, then, that it was written by the author of that set, Tom Moldvay. 

The adventure was allegedly called "The Lost City of Cynidecia" originally, though the source of that rumor isn't clear. If so, it would certainly have been more in tune with the first three Basic modules, B1: "In Search of the Unknown" (1979), B2: "Keep on the Borderlands" (1980), and B3: "Palace of the Silver Princess" (1981). By comparison, the title of "The Lost City" sounds truncated.

The Last Introductory Adventure (for Now). As with each of those other Basic adventures, "The Lost City" focused not just on how to be an adventure for starting characters, but also on how to be a learning tool for GMs. Whereas earlier "B-series" modules had given extensive notes on running games or had let gamemasters fill in monsters and treasures, "The Lost City" takes an entirely new tactic: It depicts the first three levels of a pyramid hidden beneath the desert sands, and then lists monsters to appear in the remaining levels of the pyramid; notes major locations in the underground city that lies below that; and suggests further adventures once the players had reached the underground city. Thus, a GM has complete and polished dungeon levels to run while he's getting started, and then gets more freedom as he gains confidence in his game-running skills.

The result seems to have been even better accepted than the introductory elements of the previous adventures. The GM advice of B1 and B2 had always received a little criticism because some felt it was wasted space, while the fill-in-the-blank approach of B1 has been fairly universally panned since it left the dungeons very incomplete (and the same approach in the original printing of B3 may have been one of the factors leading to its recall).

Following the release of "The Lost City," later Basic adventures didn't include introductory elements until the line was relaunched in 1989.

Future History. Though not as well known as some of the earlier Basic adventures, B4 is nonetheless considered a classic by many who began gaming in the '80s, and as a result it has been revisited many times. "Masque of Dreams" in Dungeon #142 (January 2007) explicitly returns to the plight of the underground Cynidiceans and their hungry god, Zargon. They also show up in Wizards' Elder Evils (2007), though that book moves everything from The Known World to the default Greyhawk setting, as was typical for the era. More recently, Open Design produced their own Lost City (2011), which is more of a thematic successor than a literal one, also featuring a lost city beneath the sands, though this one populated by lizard folk.

About the Creators. Following his work on the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, Tom Moldvay entered a period of extensive adventure design. "The Lost City" was the third book in what James Maliszewski calls Moldvay's "Pulp Fantasy Trilogy." It's a pretty apt name, as X1: "The Isle of Dread" (1981) contains a dinosaur-filled island, X2: "Castle Amber" (1981) directly references the pulp writings of Clark Ashton Smith, and B4: "The Lost City" (1982) features a city beneath the desert sands.

Following his work on "The Lost City," Moldvay left D&D behind, moving on to write for Gangbusters and Star Frontiers before leaving TSR entirely. He'd only return once, to produce M3: "Twilight Calling" (1986) a few years later.

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 (14)
Discussions (17)
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Jose V November 12, 2021 1:31 pm UTC
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Scott A November 05, 2021 12:35 am UTC
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Scott A November 05, 2021 12:35 am UTC
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Iain B September 11, 2021 5:15 pm UTC
For POD’s sake...
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Alexander L August 25, 2021 2:00 am UTC
POD please. Thanks!
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Peter B May 31, 2021 8:04 pm UTC
Still no POD?...
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Richard G May 07, 2021 11:38 pm UTC
Please make this for print!
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Iain B April 29, 2021 5:49 pm UTC
Print on demand, please!
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Ernie N January 10, 2021 11:26 pm UTC
I have published maps for B4 The Lost City to DMs Guild. Enjoy!
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Jude H February 22, 2021 1:31 pm UTC
Do these maps go along with the additional content that was added in the Goodman Games OCR version, or do they just include the originals?
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Ernie N February 23, 2021 2:07 pm UTC
Hi Jude,
Just the original dungeon level maps are included. I did not do a city map. I own a copy of the Goodman Games book and it is great stuff. I know publishing maps for originals is ok, but I was not sure about posting maps for the new content and maps Goodman Games created, so I did not develop or include them. Happy Gaming!
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Mohammed A December 04, 2020 10:57 am UTC
Also requesting a POD version of this
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Steve D December 01, 2020 12:42 am UTC
POD please.
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Joel G August 11, 2019 7:25 pm UTC
POD option please.
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Chris C July 21, 2019 5:14 am UTC
PoD soon?
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Noah T July 09, 2019 8:15 am UTC
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Robert G March 19, 2019 3:29 am UTC
5e players in the house? I have you covered:
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Ian M October 15, 2018 11:55 am UTC
I view this module more as a location description, to plonk in your campaign world somewhere and have players find it "accidentally" while travelling en route to somewhere else. An interesting interlude chapter in a broader campaign. It is also reasonable for a wide range of character levels - I think its Basic association limited the design somewhat. By upping the threat level of the main inhabitants of the module, and having them act intelligently, you will be able to tailor it to virtually any level you wish. There is also massive scope for expanding the module, and expand it you should! The module, as written, feels half-complete, with remaining details of the place (that are far too high-level for a B indicator) hand-waved into a few pages. Do the work, and you will not regret it. The initial desert setting can be discarded in favour of some other wilderness (swamp, jungle...), but keeping with the desert and having the module as an interlude within the story frameworks of, for example, the...See more
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Robert G March 21, 2019 3:59 am UTC
The upper levels is written as a B-level adventure. As soon as the PCs take the hidden door, they are moving into areas that are deliberately not fleshed out. This was intended as something of a trainer for fledgling DMs to practice setting up areas and encounters. There is enough content, if you do the work, to run a campaign up to 8th level or so.
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File Last Updated:
January 28, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.