A History of the Temple of the Frog

For many, the Temple of the Frog is synonymous with Blackmoor. Over the years the Temple of the Frog has been presented in many published versions. These include the following:

  • D&D Supplement II (TSR) - 1975
  • DA2 Temple of the Frog by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie (TSR) - 1986
  • Return to the Temple of the Frog (WotC) - 2007
  • Temple of the Frog D20 (ZGG) - 2007

    The Temple also appeared as part of the Blackmoor MMRPG Campaign.

    So let us take a look at the history behind this iconic Dungeons & Dragons location.

    In 1976 TSR published D&D Supplement II: Blackmoor. It included something the world had never seen before. A published RPG scenario. This was the Temple of the Frog. At the time TSR didn't really believe there was much money to be made in publishing adventures and allowed other companies like Wee Warriors and the Judges Guild to publish adventures instead. The first published adventure however was the Temple of the Frog. The history of the Temple of the Frog goes back to its first appearance in Dave Arneson's original campaign in the early 1970s. It all started when Dave Arneson brought a huge ceramic frog from his mother's garden and placed it on the gaming table. In the campaign, the characters had recently lost the City of Blackmoor to invaders from the realm of the Egg of Coot and as a punishment the player characters were banished to the Dismal Swamp. This is described in the First Fantasy Campaign.

    (Stephen Rocheford - Footage from Secrets of Blackmoor Documentary)

    The Temple of the Frog was also the introduction of D&D's first real arch villain: "St. Stephen". Played by Stephen Rocheford, Rocheford and Arneson worked together to create this character as a humanoid alien with ties to extra terrestrial forces and technnology. St. Stephen had mutated frogs and other swamp creatures into servants who worshipped the alien as a god and protected his temple. The inclusion of advanced technology would also provide clues to another adventure location to be explored later - The City of the Gods.

    In the 1980s, Blackmoor returned as a series of modules published by TSR for their classic D&D line. For the second of these modules it was decided to revisit the Temple of the Frog and it was relaunched as DA2 The Temple of the Frog. The adventure appearing in Supplement II had confused many gamers. Some believed it was an incomplete adventure. In reality the adventure was written with Dave's original system in mind. This meant among other things that the adventure assumed bringing several units of soldiers along with the adventurers. For a modern D&D party it would be very difficult to survive. DA2 changed all of this and presented a module adapted to the needs of gamers of the 1980s.

    Two versions of the Temple of the Frog appeared in 2007. One was published by ZGG and simply called the Temple of the Frog. The same year, Wizards of the Coast released a module called Return to the Temple of the Frog on their website. This second module takes place 30 years after the defeat of St. Stephen and features the villain returning as an undead Vampire.

    Is this the last we have seen of D&D's first adventure location or will it once again return for a new edition of D&D?

    More details on DA2 at the Comeback Inn
    Temple of the Frog articles at the Blackmoor Blog