The Shackled City Adventure Path
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Front cover of the collected edition,
illustrated by Matt Cavotta.
|Rules required||D&D 3rd Edition (original series), D&D v3.5 (collected edition)|
|Campaign setting||Generic Dungeons & Dragons (Greyhawk)|
|Authors||Jesse Decker, James Jacobs, Tito Leati, David Noonan, Christopher Perkins, Chris Thomasson|
|First published||March 2003 – November 2004 (original series), August 2007 (collected edition)|
The Shackled City Adventure Path (or simply Shackled City) is a role-playing game campaign designed for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), originally appearing as a series of modules in Dungeon Adventures, later published in a hardcover edition collecting all previous installments plus an additional chapter written especially for the book release. Various elements of the game were revised for the collection. The setting was enlarged to better suit the needs of a typical high-level game.
Shackled City is primarily set in the city of Cauldron. Cauldron itself is nominally located in the World of Greyhawk, although the series is designed to be easily adapted to other D&D campaign settings.
Shackled City's impact on Cauldron
Shackled City was released by Paizo Publishing originally as series of eleven modules, printed in Dungeon Adventures over a period of almost two years. Prior to the publication of Shackled City, Cauldron was an obscure part of the Greyhawk landscape without significant background or development. In Shackled City, however, the city was greatly expanded upon and became the center of multiple plot threads within the overall evolving Greyhawk lore that Paizo developed, eventually dovetailing with the later Adventure Paths Age of Worms and Savage Tide. The former featured an adventure set in a jungle region relatively close to Cauldron, and the latter began in the city of Sasserine, Cauldron's main trading partner.
In general, the Adventure Paths were widely lauded throughout the gaming industry, and the collected issues of Shackled City, including extensive background and location notes on Cauldron and its residents, were nominated for and received multiple ENnies in 2006.
Geography and population
Located in the caldera of a dormant volcano, Cauldron is a medium-sized city founded by Surabar Spellmason around 500 to 600 years before the nominal "present day" in the campaign. The city has extensive subterranean caverns that connect at various places to the Underdark.
The adventures are designed to begin with first level characters and to end with characters at or near twentieth level, taking them through twelve distinct adventures that span basic dungeon crawls, urban adventures, political intrigue, and even extra-planar excursions.
The Adventure Paths
The Adventure Paths were an ongoing and popular element of Dungeon magazine over its final 53 print issues. Shackled City made its debut in issue 97 and ran intermittently until its conclusion in issue 116. Eight months later, issue 124 marked the debut of the next Adventure Path, known as the Age of Worms, which ran every issue until 135. It contained some elements from the Shackled City (such as the Ebon Triad who were minor characters in the Cauldron saga) but stood on its own as a campaign.
The third Adventure Path, Savage Tide, ran from issue 139 of Dungeon until the magazine's final print issue (150). The first two adventures were set in the city of Sasserine, Cauldron's closest neighbor and trading partner, and the adventurers' patron, Lavinia Vanderboren, was a relative of one of the noble families from the Shackled City storyline.
The Adventure Path consists of the following scenarios:
|1||"Life's Bazaar"||Christopher Perkins||Chuck Lukacs, Val Mayerik, Christopher West (cartography for entire series)||1–3||97||March 2003|
|The player characters investigate recent kidnappings. The trail leads to a slaver operating from Underdark passages below the city.|
|2||"Drakthar's Way"||Christopher Perkins||Omar Dogan||3||NA||August 2007|
|Small bands of goblins raid and vandalize the city. The player characters track the goblins to a hideout in a series of caves below the city that lead out the side of the mountain. The goblins are led by a vampiric bugbear, the eponymous Drakthar.|
|3||"Flood Season"||James Jacobs||Peter Bergting, Stephen A. Daniele, Scott Fischer||4–6||98||May 2003|
|In this adventure the city of Cauldron is threatened by flooding during the rainy season. Magical wands of "control water" normally used to control the flooding are stolen and taken to a lair below the city. The player characters presumably track down and recover the stolen wands.|
|4||"Zenith Trajectory"||David Noonan||Thomas M. Baxa, Jeff Carlisle, Mark Jackson, Mark Nelson||6–8||102||September 2003|
|The player characters are asked to rescue Zenith Splintershield, a dwarf who has been missing since heading into the Underdark to fight evil. Zenith has gone insane and is treated as prophet by the kuo-toa who captured him.|
|5||"The Demonskar Legacy"||Tito Leati||Jeff Carlisle, Matt Cavotta||8–10||104||November 2003|
|In this chapter, the heroes must find a missing paladin to stop an incursion by Cauldron to nearby Redgorge. After retracing his steps through a jungle, a giant-controlled cavern, and an otherworldly maze, they must face the demonic architect of the area's strife.|
|6||"Test of the Smoking Eye"||David Noonan||Mark Nelson, UDON||10–12||107||February 2004|
|Following their warning from a dying paladin to "seek the sign of the smoking eye", a mysterious plane-wanderer asks for their help in completing a series of tests to redeem an abandoned layer of the Abyss.|
|7||"Secrets of the Soul Pillars"||Jesse Decker||Jeff Carlisle, Andrew Hou, Arnold Tsang||12–13||109||April 2004|
|After several assassins attempt to kill the heroes, they are traced back to the temple of Wee Jas. After assaulting the temple and fighting its undead inhabitants, they are led to an ancient frozen spell weaver complex, where a powerful oracle is guarded by a horrific undying dragon.|
|8||"Lords of Oblivion"||Christopher Perkins||Peter Bergting||13–15||111||June 2004|
|An ally of the heroes is kidnapped and taken to a safe house of the Last Laugh, Cauldron's thieves guild. Once they break in and rescue him from the den of thieves, they learn of a secret meeting among some of the realm's most horrific criminals at a noble's mansion. In addition, their beholder overlord is practicing unholy rituals in the complex below.|
|9||"Foundation of Flame"||Chris Thomasson||Christine Choi, Benjamin Huen, Chris Stevens, UDON, Jim Zubkavich||15–16||113||August 2004|
|The Cagewrights begin their plans in earnest now, awakening the volcano on which Cauldron is built. Spewing lava, earthquakes, and collapsing buildings require the heroes help to get everyone evacuated. Worse, demodands begin to emerge from a planar rift already building, and a certain local dragon gets riled up by it all.|
|10||"Thirteen Cages"||Chris Thomasson||Ramón K. Pérez||16–18||114||September 2004|
|The heroes must march on the Cagewrights' headquarters, in the heart of a volcano, before their ritual is complete and a permanent gate to Carceri is opened above Cauldron.|
|11||"Strike on Shatterhorn"||Christopher Perkins||Tim Fowler, Eric Kim||18–19||115||October 2004|
|What few Cagewrights remain must be hunted down and exterminated in their jungle retreat.|
|12||"Asylum"||Christopher Perkins||Attila Adorjany, Jeff Carlisle, Eric Kim||19–20||116||November 2004|
|When the twisted mind of Adimarchus, imprisoned Demon Prince of Madness, leaks into Occipitus and begins resurrecting his followers, the heroes realize they must go to the otherworldly asylum of Skullrot where Adimarchus is imprisoned and destroy him utterly.|
During the course of the adventure, the city is nearly destroyed by an eruption of the volcano under it, which is triggered by magical forces. Shattered, but still inhabited, the city of Cauldron still exists at the end of the adventure.
The reviewer from Pyramid noted that: "Traditionally, the roleplaying scenario comes in just a few parts, typically a trilogy or quartet. Rarely do they come longer, although The Shackled City Adventure Path is a rare exception, consisting of 12 parts."
The expanded hardcover edition of the Shackled City Adventure Path won three ENnie awards at the 2006 Gen Con game fair, taking home the gold award for "Best Adventure" and "Best Campaign Setting/Supplement", as well as the silver award for "Best Cartography".
- The Shackled City Adventure Path Review by Steven Creech, d20 Magazine Rack
-  ENnies Award 2006 winners announced, by Alan Sugarbaker, Ogrecave.com