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CM4 Earthshaker! (Basic)

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Into your hands has been thrust a great responsibility: the management of a growing domain. It has been a hard winter. Now, with the coming of spring, the populace looks to you for leadership. It will take a careful and generous hand to restore your subjects' confidence.

But even as you hold your first courts of the new season, an ominous shadow falls across the land. Earthshaker - wonder of the world - has arrived! Will its arrival be a curse or a blessing? With bold action and skillful diplomacy, you may yet divert disaster. But if you fail, the consequences will certainly be the subject of many a minstrel's tragic songs for years to come!

"Earthshaker" includes a complete dominion setting, new player characters and NPCs, and complete material on one of the greatest marvels of the world - the giant and unstoppable Earthshaker!

An adventure for character levels 18-20.

Product History

CM4: "Earthshaker!" (1985), is the fourth Companion-level adventure for Basic D&D. It was published around April 1985. Early press information suggests that it had previously been called "The Earthshaker."

Continuing the Dominion Rules. As with most of the CM-series adventures, "Earthshaker!" presumes that the players have established their own dominion. By introducing the Earthshaker - an ancient machine which can actually menace an entire dominion - CM4 is able to take good advantage of the new scale of the Companion-level rules.

One of the Weirdest Dungeons Ever. D&D is full of weird dungeons, but "Earthshaker!" lies near the top of the list, since it's set inside the huge, ancient Earthshaker machine.

A Return to Science Fantasy. Mixing science-fiction with fantasy was very popular in D&D during the 70s, starting with TSR's premiere adventure, "The Temple of the Frog," found originally in Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975). The most famous instance of science fantasy in D&D is probably S3: "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" (1980), which centers on a crashed space craft. "Earthshaker!" - with its steam-powered giant robot - is thus a return to form.

The in-game origin of the Earthshaker is described thus: "[It] was built at least 3,000 years ago, probably by a race of evil gods similar in skill to dwarves or gnomes." Since Blackmoor is set 3000 years before the modern day of the Known World, and since its science-fantasy technology is sometimes said to come from "gods," many presume that Blackmoor is the source of the Earthshaker technology.

Introducing the Tinker Gnomes. The gnomes of Mystara were originally described as typical "rock gnomes": they're "excellent metalsmiths and miners" and they "love gold and gems, and have been known to make bad decisions just to obtain them." But then Dragonlance (1984-86) came along and changed D&D's perception of gnomes, turning them into tinkers and magic-machinists. Those ideas began to influence Mystara in "Earthshaker!" Though these gnomes aren't quite the crazy tinkers of Krynn, they nevertheless are the ones responsible for controlling the mighty Earthshaker machine!

Later Mystaran supplements like AC11: "The Book of Wondrous Inventions" (1987) and PC2: "Top Ballista" (1989) would increase the "tinkery-ness" of the gnomes of Mystara. The latter offered so much craziness centered on the gnomish Flying City of Serraine that it's been suggested the gnomes of Serraine have a different culture from the more typical rock gnomes of Mystara.

Expanding the Known World. In case players don't have their own dominion, "Earthshaker!" offers up the dominion of Vyolstagrad for use. It also mentions the nearby dominion of Stamtral. Both are located in Norwold, but as was the case with the Barony of Twolakes Vale in CM2: "Death's Ride," the adventure doesn't specify where exactly. The Italian MMB suggests placing Vyolstagrad southeast of the Azure Lake.

Vyolstragard also marked the first use of a Russian-like culture in Norwold. It's since been associated with the "Vatski" culture.

About the Creators. David Cook was instrumental to the creation of the Known World and wrote several pivotal adventures for the setting from 1983-1985. "Earthshaker!" was one of his last. His next major focus at TSR would be the world of Oriental Adventures (1985).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and 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.

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Discussions (3)
Customer avatar
Kenneth Ian V May 20, 2022 3:54 am UTC
This is now POD. Nice! If anyone purchases this, could you please comment on the print quality of the map? Thanks in advance.
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Daniel R February 11, 2022 8:17 pm UTC
POD please
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Tim L January 16, 2020 5:17 pm UTC
Has this adventure been updated to 5e rules or is it just the original adventure?
Customer avatar
Kenneth Ian V May 20, 2022 3:55 am UTC
It is the original.
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File Last Updated:
November 01, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on July 30, 2013.