Who: Lloyd McFarlan, Keith Schooler, Jeff Kokx, Jeff Faller (and possibly Paul Reinwald and Jim ?)
What: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, written by Gary Gygax as a tournament module in '76 for Wintercon (but called Tsojconth) and later published (with help from Rob Kuntz) in '82 as part of the 'S' series.
When: Whenever we can and for as long as we like. This is a celebration, not a "serious" game. The aim is to have fun.
Where: Wherever seems most convenient at the time.
What we're shooting for here
I want to go for that "cool" feeling that we had when we were in Jr. and Sr. High School. Remember that first time you picked up a vorpal blade, and went "Whoa! That is cool!"? Gonzo is in. Balance is out. If it's cool, I'd like to try it. AD&D was all about house rules and making the game your own. Let's try that out again.
I want fighters to be bad ass, whoop-ass, ass-kickers. The guy in the bar w/ the tats and scars. A guy you'd absolutely avoid in a dark alley, but would desperately want in a tight situation. MMA comes to mind here, just add armor and a weapon capable of disemboweling.
Thieves to be scary, back stabbing, double dealing, from-the-shadows jack of knaves. You'd never trust him, but you'd find yourself thanking your lucky stars that he just sprung that lock the moment before the guard patrol rounded the corner. Mission Impossible anyone?
Clerics to be righteous, evangelizing, skull-crushing, lights-in-the-dark. It's tiresome listening to the running diatribe...unless it's a dirge to his god while he's splitting heads. He's a zealot that doesn't blink at the most hideous of abominations from the stinking pits of Tartarus, and can turn back the slavering ghouls of Hell with faith alone.
Rangers to be the fantasy equivalent of the SEAL teams. You never see them till it's too late. And when you do, you wished you hadn't. They can track a falcon on a cloudy day, and then bring it down at a league w/ an arrow.
Druids to be mysterious, wild-eyed, fanatics from out of the deepest, darkest primeval forests of legend. They know the secrets that are held at the bosom of the world, from the dawn of time, and are able to unlock knowledge so powerful and ancient that even kings tremble at the thought.
Wizards to be terrible to behold. They embody the darkest reaches of the cosmos, and all that entails. Not all is as it appears w/ these arcane practitioners. Dripping with otherworldliness, you can almost detect the tentacles that writhe in the dark holes just beyond your perception. But these wizards can see it all too clearly, and they are not quite sane after peering into those unwholesome depths.
- Characters start with 135K experience points.
- No racial limits on class.
- Roll a d10 for initiative / player. Add dex modifier, and weapon speed if in melee.
- Bows have speeds of 7 for a short bow and 8 for a long bow. One lower for the composites of each type. A knocked bow goes two lower and an "aimed" bow goes first.
- Roll of 30 - If you're in deep, you can roll the d30 once per game session
- Don't get too close - When surrounded, fighter types may transfer extra damage, that was over the amount needed to kill the first foe, to the next
- Shooting into melee - Unless it's splash damage, firing into melee w/ a ranged weapon is at a -4. If missed by more than 10, hits ally
- Draining Levels - Initially, -2 per hit on all rolls and scores, until healed or a save v. is made at the end of the day (Nasty enough? Old school enough? We'll see...)
As to the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth:
Nearly a century ago the Arch-mage Iggwilv sent her evil minions to conquer the lands around her abode. So successful was she that the Marches of Perrenland were subjugated for a decade, and great indeed was the loot brought to Iggwilv's lair in answer to her insatiable demands for treasure. Legend states that the arch-mage gained much of her prowess from discovering the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, wherein was hidden magic of unsurpassed might. It is certain that Iggwilv ruled her domain from these caverns. There she also conducted arcane experiments and rituals, trying to further increase her powers.
These experiments were her downfall, for during one she accidentally freed the demon Graz'zt, whom she had imprisoned and forced into servitude. There was a terrible battle, and although the demon was forced to flee to the Abyss, Iggwilv was so stricken from the contest tht her powers and strength were forever lost. With the wane of her evil, Iggwilv's realm was sundered. Her former henchmen and slaves stole her treasure and scattered to the four winds in the face of enemy armies. The arch-mage, however, used the last of her power to prepare a hiding place in the caverns for her remaining wealth. Legends say that this included several tomes of great power and the fabled lamp called Dauod's Wondrous Lanthorn. What else might be hidden no one knows, for no one has yet discovered Iggwilv's horde.
That Iggwilv is long dead and gone cannot be doubted. Until recently, though, the stories of her secret cache of treasure in the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth were regarded as another grandfathers' tale to amuse the younglings. Cartloads of tapestries and rugs, statues and rare art objects have been recovered over the years as well as chest of precious metals, sacks of coin, and coffers filled with gems and jewelry. It was believed that all her treasure had been looted, and that no magic or wealth remained. However, recent investigations have indicated that the magical lanthorn did exist and that Iggwilv possessed it. Iggwilv's lair was definitely located somewhere between the gorge of the Velverdyva River and the hills east of the town of Krestible. The realms of Iuz, Perrenland, and Ket have sent expeditions into the Yatil Mountains seeking the exact location of the caverns; the few that have survived have all failed.
Your party has been gathered by agents of the Margrave of the March of Bissel. He tells you that there are "political considerations," which he does not explain, that prevent him from searching for Iggwilv's trove himself. However, it is vital that the treasure not fall into the hands of his enemies. Your party's goals is to get the treasure before Bissel's enemies do. The Margrave has provided you with horses and a map showing the most probable location of the Lost Caverns. The Margrave will also give you and escort from Thornwood to a narrow trail leading from the easternmost arm of the Bramblewood Forest northward into the Yatil Mountains -- the very heart of Iggwilv's old domain. You have pledged to repay the Margrave for your horses, as well as any other equipment he provided, out of the monetary treasure obtained. You will also be required to pay a treasure tax of 15% on all money taken. He tells you that the remainder, as well as any magical items taken are your reward for undertaking this perilous quest. However, you are warned under threat of dire punishment not to allow any magical items to fall into evil hands.
An examination of your map reveals that the track through the mountains has numerous branches. At the end of each track is a symbol, evidently standing for something unknown. The agents of the Margrave cannot tell you anything about their significance, except that it is likely that at one of the sites are the caverns you seek. Obviously, the map is incomplete, for from what you know of this part of the world, there are mountains where nothing but blank space is shown on the chart. Whith this map you must somehow find where the treasure is hidden. The more direct your route to the caverns, the less likelihood of injury or death from the many perils of the journey. A scrap of parchment with a bit of doggerel on it might be a clue, or it might be of no use whatsoever, save to mislead you.
The verse says:
the horn of Iggwilv
pierces the heart -
look over your shoulder
before you start.
how many sorrow?
because they didn't
turn back then.
After a journey of a sen'night your band has reached the foothills of the Yatils without incident. Before you is the winding path leading into the grim mountains; behind is the escort of horsemen riding south for home. Fortunately you have sure-footed mountain-bred horses given to you to assure a swift passage to your destination. Vellum map secured safely, there is naught else to do but proceed with the quest to find the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.
What has gone before (Session One)
Rolth, Garrand, Pierre and Cathal sit astride their mountain ponies, leading the larger group of henchmen and pack animals further up into mountains. The map indicates that the trail winds roughly north to meet up with two others a couple days journey farther in. Traveling warily, for it is known that this range of mountains are held by many of the more aggressive bands of humanoids, they're luckily warned of impending danger by the clattering of rocks and the barking voices of a band of gnoll marauders up ahead on the trail!
Battle is joined as the wily thief, Cathal scrambles for high ground and sticks a few arrows in some of the lead gnolls. The sun is behind the mountains now, and the light is failing, but that doesn't stop Rolth from bellowing a mighty war cry and charging straight into the fray. Meanwhile Pierre holds back and casts a spell while Garrand plies his bow as well.
A few gnolls go down in the initial charge, but soon they swarm over the adventurer's position on the road, surrounding them. This warband is equipped, like many gnolls, what a potpourri of weapons and armor. Clad in leather armor and bearing either a pole arm, axe or mighty two-handed blade, the bulk of the dog-men lope into the fray barking, yelping and growling. While their leader, a particularly large gnoll, directs the fighting from the rear.
The turning of the tide was a well placed entangle spell by the druid Pierre, which incapacitated 4 of the 5 gnoll archers and cut off a number of other gnoll warriors. Seeing the bodies of many of his gnoll warriors laying in the road, arrows sticking from them, and others cut off from the melee by the entangling bushes, the chieftain calls off the attack and retreats.
A total of 28 silver pieces were garnered from the dead, while Cathal took care of the disbursement amongst the party.
Finding an area to camp for the evening was a minor annoyance after the attack by the marauders, but a necessity nonetheless. The evening went by with out occurrence and the next day dawned with a slight chill on the spring air.
Continuing north, the intrepid band of thieves run into yet another road block, a large contingent of Hobgoblins, possibly out on a scouting mission. Numbering around 80, this group is much too large to tangle with, so backtracking is necessary. Under cover of an obscuring mist, laid down by Pierre, the group finds a passable section from which to leave the trail. Heading east w/ some sense of urgency, they slay the hob scouts and continue on into the rough Yatil backcountry.
The rest of the day was consumed with traversing the very difficult terrain and eventually, finding a suitable spot upon which to camp. This accomplished, the crew spent an uncomfortable evening wondering if their skills in hiding tracks were superior to those of the hobgoblin tracker's. As morning greeted them, it appeared that indeed, they were.
A goodly portion of the next morning was spent in the attempt to head due east in the rugged Yatil backcountry. A daunting task, considering the size of the party. Yet, a small, unused trail, running north and south, was stumbled across at nearly mid-day. This trail was evidently not on the map, but looked as if at one time it was heavily traveled by men. As overgrown as it was though, it had long been forgotten.
Looking over the map, the group determined that north was the preferred direction, so northwards they went. Their progress, proving much easier upon the narrow trail, was noticeably quicker and they hit the crossroads indicated upon their map, by noon. Emerging from the road they had been following across an overgrown scree pile that had adequately camouflaged it, the ranger Garrand of the Gnarly Forest, determined that indeed, the hobs had been this way.
A small pow wow occurred and they decided upon heading out upon the eastern road indicated on their map. Moving down into a long, narrow, ravine-like valley, near the later part of the day, Rolth comes upon a small gully w/ a stream running through it. As he struggles up, leading his horse, and peeks above the crest a large boulder sails past his head. Just before he ducks back below the cover he notices a large shaggy head retreating through the trees, low bellowing laughter following it.
And this is where we ended Session One of "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth"
- Session One:
- All --
- Cathal --
Rolth walks straight down the road, bellowing challenges and looks down just in time to avoid falling into a poorly disguised pit. He laughs and yells out that he's found the trap, hoping to bait the giant into a confrontation. Just about this time snapping branches on both sides of the trail announce the arrival of two other giants.
Now the fight is on! Garand moves through the forest as only a ranger can, quickly and with precision, to confront the unseen assailant on the right flank. While Cathal ghosts his way up behind the original giant, unseen and deadly.
Rolth moves off trail to the left in an attempt to block the giant angling in from that side. Jean lands, turns back and waits to support whomever needs it. The rest of the henchem and followers quickly gather the horses and retreat back the way they'd come, all the way back to the head of the narrow valley.
Cathal strikes first, scoring the giant deeply. The brute bellows and spins on the elven thief, crushing him with a backhanded blow. Garrand ducks a wild swing from the advancing giant to the left and in two nearly surgical strikes, lays the monster low.
Rolth is struggling with his adversary on the other side, trading blows, but neither is landing anything telling. Jean moves in as quickly as he can, in the hopes that he can help aid Cathal, he takes a well aimed boulder as his reward, but makes it into position nonetheless. From there he heals Cathal...and none to soon.
Just as Garand moves to aid the elven thief, the giant lands a terriffic blow and sends the elf spinning up against a tree, slumping to the ground in unconsciousness. Jean's eyes widen in terror as he realizes that he's now front line against this massive creature. Luckily Garand is quick enough to fill the gap, and he does so with authority.
Jean scuttles over to the fallen Cathal and heals him so that he's at least concious and able to move to a position of safety on his own. Garand quickly puts down the original giant, showing his prowess against the ranger's hated foes. Rolth holds his own on the flank and eventually ends up forcing the last surviving giant to throw up his hands in surrender. Rolth weighs this offer with a serious thought to denial. But in the end the group accepts the monster's offer.
After discussions with the giant they find that there is a cavern somewhere to the south that is given wide birth by most creatures in the area and while he doesn't know the name, imagines that this is the place the party seeks. He also unwillingly admits to having a prisoner in his cave after Cathal finds a pair of well made elven shoes in his bag.
They force the monster to show them where his cave is and Cathal finds a trip line just beyond where the giant is standing! A sly monster indeed... He easily disables the crude trap, but they are now very wary. Cathal moves into the large but shallow cave, looking for more trickery. Finding none, he does free a female elven noble that was trussed up along the rear wall. Imperiously she stands, and although starved to a nearly skeletal state, she holds her chin up and thanks the thief.
Looking at the rest of the group she makes a comment in elven about the rough company he keeps, and he defends them saying that he's not necessarilly a model of elven morals himself. She introduces herself as Lady Illedrian of the Wind Runner clan, and thanks the group, letting them know that they will be well rewarded if she is safely returned to her clan. She explains that her band of Wardens were ambushed by a group of hobgoblins supported with hill giants. They were wiped out almost to a man and she was kept as either a tid bit, or as ransom. She wasn't sure.
A massive chest full of thousands of pieces of gold, silver and copper is discoverred and the giant is forced to haul it out to the head of the valley, where the horses wait. Lady Illedrian tells the party that she does indeed know where the Caverns of Tsojcanth lie, but that they are guarded closely by the Wardens but that she'd show the party the correct trail due to her debt to the party. But she advises against going in, for only a few have and nearly none have exited successfully.
A two day trip and they come to the crossroads...After a minor encounter with a furry mountain snake, which ends quickly, and poorly, for the snake. The group is shown the correct trail, the one in fact that they had been on many days ago! And it is here that Lady Illedrian takes her leave, promissing that if they meet any Wardens on the road that all they need do is mention her name and they'll be given safe passage, and rewarded if the timing is right.
Two days later and the group finds themselves in front of what they believe to be the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth! A cave mouth, shaped like a fanged maw, stalagtites and stalagmites decorate the ceiling and floor but have also been cleared, indicating that this area has been used for decades, maybe centuries as a place of refuge.
Further in Cathal finds that a smaller cave leads to a tunnel that angles sharply down into the earth. Large, worn steps lead the way but the group decides to wait until morning to make their way down into the treacherous caves. Another group has been here previously says Garand as he scours the ground thereabout, but it's been weeks since they've decended into the depths.
The next morning dawns and the group prepares to descend. Cathal will now lead with Rolth 30 feet behind and the rest of the group about 15 feet behind him. Jean will carry the torch at the rear, providing light for his human eyes. As they descend further into the earth the colors of the stone changes dramatically: Unearthly hues of blue, purple, red and orange swirl through the walls.
A hundred or more feet of descent and the party comes out onto a relatively flat floor of a tunnel leading north into a larger room. A small tunnel leads off west off the original passage, but the footprints from the party preceeding this one indicate that some went in and then out again but there has been none exiting from the large chamber in front of them.
Emerging into the room, they spy strange, doleful carven faces to the side of each of six tunnels leading out of the chamber. Each has a differing appearance and a gem in the mouth, sitting back on their tongues. Rolth and Cathal cleverly retrieve one gem of 1000gp value, and in the process the mouth speaks the message 'Turn back, this is not the way!'. After some experimentation it is found that every mouth delivers the same message.
Garand attempts to aid the decision by tracking, but it has been too long and the tracks are confused, showing nothing definitive. So they go back down the tunnel in an attempt to quickly check that small, 5 foot wide side passage. The narrow way dumps the group into a small room where they are beset upon by flitting stirges! The nasty beasts descend quickly and attach to both Garand and Rolth. Swelling with blood, the small, nasty beasts are difficult to dislodge, but it is done by hand while the group retreats out the small pocket cave. A skeleton lies on the floor here, obviously one of the unlucky adventurers from weeks previous.
A quick thinking Jean dumps a flask of oil in the tunnel and lights it as the party retreats past. This stops the squeaking stirges from following...
Once back in the main chamber, and after a few heals spells, they decide to head west.
After a few turns and twists the party emerges into a grey, slate looking room, a change from the beautifully colored stone previously. Discarded weapons litter the floor but nothing else seems out of the ordinary. Cathal checks the walls methodically while Rolth watches closely from the entrance way.
Garand fires arrows from the doorway as Rolth finally gathers his wits and advances w/ his sword drawn. Nothing seems to affect the monster though as it moves quickly to engage, its size belying its speed.
A frantic fight breaks out with Garrand and Jean providing support while Rolth and Cathal harry the monster utilizing both the staff and a knife found on the ground. (now termed "butter knife") Nearly everyone is wounded quite severly, but in the end the creature succumbs to the sheer numbers. Thudding heavily to the ground, it falls, leaving only the sound of heavy breathing in the clay-like room.
When& Rolth moves to heal, he finds that the wounds do not respond to magic! This is indeed dire...But after a remove curse, and another cure, it is found that the wound DOES indeed respond! What a filthy beast.
It is here that we ended it. There are others to "De-Curse" and heal, but that is after some well deserved rest. Where will they rest? What's next in these bizzare and frightful caverns?
Time will tell!
We have a new player! Welcome Eric, playing Durant the Magic User.
After the battle with the berserk Clay Golem it was unanimously agreed upon by the party that retreating to the fresh air of the outdoors in order to heal the festering wounds would be for the best. Once regaining the light of day, the druid Jean Robierre slings a cure disease spell upon a comrade, then madly capers off into the woods, laughing and dropping clothing the entire way into the thick underbrush.
From amongst the henchmen and followers steps a man dressed in utilitarian clothing, sporting a strange leather cap with ear-flaps, claiming that he's interested in coming down into the Caverns of Tsojcanth, if the group is willing to take him. Agreeing that a spell slinger sure would be useful, the party nods their assent. And Durant is officially part of the group.
The next morning the party, excluding JR, heads back down the 130 odd stairs, back into the depths of Tsojcanth for another try at the caverns and its ancient secrets.
Maintaining that the passages to the west need further exploring, Rolth and Cathal lead the way into the multi-hued flowstone tunnels. Durant carries the torch in the middle of the party while the ranger, Garrand takes up the rear. Headway is slow, as the floor is of stone, sand, fallen debris etc. But they find their way past the cave of the horrid golem, further north into a larger cavern.
Here the floor is layered w/ guano. Inches thick, it plays host to hordes of crawling blind beetles, rats and who know what else. Differing type of fungus grows along the edges and up along the wall. The ceiling, covered with stalactites soars above to heights of 40+ feet, while across the cavern, 30 feet upon the northern wall is a ledge of some type, and it is from here that the sound of running water issues.
Rolth halts his advance, being particularly dainty for a half-orc about getting his feet soiled. Cathal on the other hand has no issues, and as soon as the rest of the party arrives, he moves into the room with Garrand in order to better investigate the large space.
The melee is a dicey situation for only a short time until the wizard Durant gains his senses. He deftly plies his magic, and controls bat after bat sending them out of the chamber through the hole high on the northern wall, where they disappear to the west.
Quickly healing minor wounds, the party explores the rest of the chamber. Finding the ledge, 30' up the northern wall, of particular interest, the elven thief climbs up the wall to discover a long-dead adventurer who had once crawled here to seek respite from the caverns, only to fall prey to its insidious dangers. Amongst the bones he finds a small amount of treasure, but even more interestingly, at the terminus of the low tunnel, he discovers an east west passage through which flows a 20' wide river!
Here is where the bats disappeared to...flying west, up stream. There must be an exit of some sort. But where?
Deciding to avoid the darkly flowing waters, the party explores the rest of the western complex and finds nothing more of interest. And so it is that they find their way back in the main chamber containing the strangely carved faces next to each exit.
It must have been the presence of Durant that caused the rewording of the question...For this time Rolth used the word "truth" and this time the results were markedly different. Each answered "Mine is the true way!", except for the face to the far southeast, which responded "Mine is the ONLY way!". So it is this passage that the party selects for further exploration.
Starting to the south, the passage narrows down to a difficult 5' of width, and the smell that grows stronger w/ their progress is immediately familiar, more guano! As the passage widens back out and turns due north, the faint rustling and squeaking of myriad bats fills the passage way, along with the overpowering reek of inches deep guano.
Durant, wanting to shed more light on the situation steps forth and holds his torch up to see the number of creatures coating every inch of the stalactites and spaces between. But this immediately elicits a response from the bats, as they descend in hordes towards the offending light and smoke. Pelting the magic user with increasing force causes the mage to pull his collar up in order to protect his face. It is the ranger though that recognizes the peril that the party faces as he rushes forward to put the torch out.
The bats, while still flitting about in the pitch dark, are no longer specifically targeting Durant. So the party decides to proceed north into the stygian depths. Cathal and Rolth lead the way, using their infravisual capabilities to guide Garrand and Durant. Seeming like forever, especially for those who are, by all accounts, blind, the northerly winding cave finally widens out into a what might be considered a gallery. Lining the walls at about hip height are a series of indentations, about 18" across and no more than 6 - 8" deep. There are about 20 or so of these, from what Cathal and Rolth can gather.
Proceeding cautiously, the elven thief is surprised when the closest indentation explodes outwards into a maw filled with needle-like teeth. Four of these eel-like monstrosities streak forth from their abodes, attempting to make a meal out of the party. The situation proves more dire than would normally be the case due to 1/2 the party being blind.
Discretion proving the better part of valor forces the party to retrace its steps, and it is this that steers them in the direction of the water yet again. The caves are obviously the result of eons of water erosion, and the river that had carved it all was still wending its way through the deeps, criss-crossing the caverns in who knows how many places. Turning into the western bound passage, back towards the water, the group comes out in a large cavern dominated by a placid, ink-black lake.
The drip drip of water from the stalactites is the only thing breaking the silence, while the rings they produce are the only thing breaking the surface. Directly across from their narrow beach, Rolth spies what appears to be the prow of a boat, beached in another entrance to this cavern.
Garrand tentatively lights a torch while Durant casts a Tenser's Floating Disk in order to get both Rolth and Cathal across the roughly 20' wide mouth of the river. The disk works and the remaining 5' leap is inconsequential. On the opposite side the thief and warrior priest take a closer look at the boat. Cathal states that it is manufactured by the elves and is of the Usk tree. A nearly impossible tree to "shape". Only the elves have the knowledge of this, and only the elves are able to create from this wood.
The boat is beautiful up close, ebon-hued wood, chased with silver runes, it is bilateral in shape, the prow the same as the tail. Strangely it has a mast and sail, as well as three oars, which are finely crafted as well. Rolth checks the passage leading in a westerly direction, sees nothing and proceeds to push the boat out onto the lake in order to retrieve his comrades.
Acting on a hunch, the burley 1/2 orc mumbles "GO" in his rough elven and surprisingly the boat moves of its own accord, out onto the lake. Surprised, and trying to dredge up any nautical knowledge, he says "port" and the boat turns to the left, away from his intended destination. Shaky knowledge combined with translation woes puts Cathal and Rolth in the middle of the lake.
A "Crack" sound from above announces the attack of a dreaded piercer! Not dangerous per se if you know they're there, but out here on the surface of a lake, in a boat, they're a threat that holds more peril than anticipated. It strikes Rolth, and the boat at the same time, sending the boat swaying dangerously. Bloodied, the warrior priest holds on for dear life as Cathal calls out "starboard" and they make it safely to their destination.
And here is where we stopped.
Total for all characters to this point (does not include the "%" bonus for exceptional attributes)
- Garrand: 6027 EXP
- Rolth: 6027 EXP
- Cathal: 7027 EXP
- Jean Robspierre: 5027 EXP
- Durant: 1027 EXP
NOTE: There's a new software release on Blogger.com which has deprecated the "Save Now" functionality at the page level. In lieu, I've written a recap, and lost it completely...So this is attempt two, and if it seems a bit brief, forgive me. Moral of the story? Use copy and paste a LOT.
Durrant, recognizing a potentially disastrous situation, grabs Garrand's arm, utters a word of power and "POP!", they both disappear. Reappearing at their intended destination, the shore 20' away. Garrand's head spinning from the unnerving ride, he shakily strings his bow while the ever-risking Cathal leaps from the boat upon the horny head of the turtle, plying "Butter Knife" to good effect between the mossy shell and the corded neck.
Meanwhile Rolth hammers away at the head with his axe from the deck of the small elven boat. The ancient turtle turns its attention to the painful gnat at its neck and delivers a crushing bite, nearly severing the elf's arm. Eventually though the prehistoric beast succumbs to the combined attacks of the four heroes and with a groan sinks beneath the heaving ebon surface.
Unfortunately though Cathal's leg is trapped between shell and neck and he is rolled under as the beast begins its descent. Winning free not 20' down, he swims strongly to the surface. But yet again disaster strikes as one of the piercers above dislodges to strike the elven thief, nearly slaying him as he surfaces to board the boat.
He is pulled on board and quickly administered to as the two join their compatriots on the pebbled beach.
A few moments of rest and the group is back on their feet, combing the ground for clues. Garrand finds nothing and they head west into this new set of tunnels. Like nearly everywhere else, signs of the river's passage are obvious. But after hours of searching and mapping, the sinuous course constantly turns back upon itself and reveals very little. What is discovered though is a small pocket-like cave and a mated pair of dangerous cockatrices.
Cathal, using his natural ability, and magical cloak, sneaks along the wall unnoticed while the rest of the group relies upon Durant and his potent magic. Invisibility cloaks the three, as long as they stay w/in 10' of the wizard, which works well enough to gain surprise upon the odd birds.
The ensuing melee is short and deadly...for the cockatrices. A quick search afterwards of the chaotic nest reveals an egg, a green peridot gem, a silver scroll tube containing a 17th level wizard's scroll of stone to flesh, slow, and phase door, as well as a strange crystal "lens" of some type.
Moving from there, across the small span of water by elven boat, to the next dry corridor emptying upon the lake chamber, the group sets out again in order to explore the odd caverns. Finding more twisting natural tunnels and eventually a stone span across an arm of the river, they make their way north and into a new set of caves.
Moving to the north west the group eventually comes out into a roughly 30' by 20' room, wherein they find the cause of the "odd" tracks. A Xorn unnervingly steps from the wall and demands "food" for safe passage. Rolth reacts as only a warrior priest can and draws his axe immediately as he steps forth to confront the elemental beast. It is then that two more rise through the floor amidst the group!
Odds are always top of mind with a seasoned group of adventurers, and this party is no different...But Rolth is still young and impetuous.
Giving a shout, he attacks the creature directly in front of him. Acting in response the creature returns the favor and scores a hit! This might get bloody! But Durant, speaking the grating language steps forth pleading for parley. And his entreaties somehow strike home as the creatures stop attacking. It must be the language!!
Knowing that these beasts desire gold and gems as sustenance, the more expensive the more appealing, he endeavors to strike a bargain.
Unfortunately the party is "low on funds" and not much can be scraped up. But the peridot and paltry amount of gold seem to be enough. They agree to the party's safe passage and even to answering a couple of questions.
After a brief conversation it is determined that their path lies to the west.
So quitting the xorns, the party retires to the cockatrice cave and a well deserved rest.
After breaking fast, memorization, prayers and what have you, the group moves across the water at a fast clip and back to "bat tunnels". Here they douse their light as Durant casts spells that allow himself and Garrand the ability to see in the dark. Without the torch, the tunnel seems safe, as far as the bats are concerned. Still, a quiet passage seems prudent.
Once they're upon the strange indentations in the wall, they are attacked in earnest by the odd eel creatures once again. This time they race northwards, avoiding more attacks. The cave widens out yet again and splits to the left and right. Hewing left the party quickly emerges into a large cavern wherein they spy the accoutrements of habitation. A massive table takes up most of the space and behind it is found a monstrously deformed giant, crouching over some rune bones... Cathal quietly moves the giant's weapons from close at hand and soon afterwards a brutal fight breaks out.
And it is here that we ended the session.
After spending some well deserved rest time (9 hours) recouping from the brutal melee with the deformed giants, the party moves to explore the caverns to the east. Finding nothing but the filth of a "bottomless" latrine they venture back to the south through the long gallery lined with strange snake-like creatures that dart from the walls.
Noting on the map that the choices for exploration are becoming limited, the adventurers decide to move back out upon the water using the magic elven boat.
Being careful to avoid the nearly invisible piercers lurking in the lake gallery, they navigate under the stone arch and drift northwards with the current. Eventually emerging into a quiet, large watery chamber with a small rocky island dominating the central portion of the quiet black waters, the party spies the glint of gems. Maneuvering the boat near the island, Cathal makes the leap to the gem studded shores with drawn blades and much caution, for nothing ever comes for free.
As soon as his feet touch the shore a booming voice announces from the ceilings of the cavern, "Fools! You have entered a dead end, flee back to the south, or stay here and die!" Not being much for listening to ill-given advice, the party sticks around to check out the shores of the island and the myriad gems thereupon.
It doesn't take long for the thief to determine that the gems are not worth much on their own (about 1gp ea.), but the sheer number certainly make them intriguing. As he's exploring the small islet, humanoid shapes burst from the surface of the black waters. Four of them crowd around Cathal while two more leap upon the boat. Their dead white eyes and horrid stench immediately warn Rolth that they're dealing with the undead.
Striking out with filth encrusted claws and teeth, the creature's touch proves to be paralytic and Garand succumbs early out. Cathal dodges and weaves on the island, looking for an escape, while the rest deal with the filthy creatures as best they can.
Rolth comes to everyone's aid as soon as he recovers from his shock and drives the monsters back with the power of Kord...Pushing them back into the inky depths from whence they came. After which the party leaves as quickly as possible, not wasting their divine advantage. And with that they sail upstream to the south, for safer pastures.
Once gaining the familiar lake chamber they agree upon their next course of action, the main river running to the west, that drains this system. Several hundred feat to the north west and the sound of a waterfall grows quickly indicating the end of this journey.
But just before a finely wrought stone bridge appears spanning the river and it is here that the group disembarks.
To the north across the bridge lies a four way intersection while to the south lies a long stretch of tunnel. The north appears to divulge more options, and it is this way that the party heads.
Immediately to the east is a roughly 60 to 80 foot long tunnel terminating in a dead end. Exploration reveals nothing.
Curious, yet still wary, the party enters one by one to discover why such a place is located here. Once within, the trap is sprung.
The capering midget waves a hand at the opening and wall of stone appears, effectively sealing off the only escape. At this signal the others attack and the fight is on. While their appearance does not seem to change, their intent certainly does. A giggling dancer turns the floor to mud while others are busy dodging fists that chip stone from walls. Durant casts a dispel magic which ends the effect and ejects the entrapped members.
Another wall of stone goes up to split the party as the battle rages. Fighting desperately the odds finally tip in their favor as Durant holds one of the strange creatures and another goes down due to wounds.
In the end, two of the four fall while the others escape by seemingly melting into the stone. The magical glamour fails and the true nature of room is revealed. What once appeared valuable and rich beyond words now lies worthless and shabby amongst the guttering braziers. What were these odd and malignant creatures and what did they intend for their captives?
Catching their breath and exploring the rest of the immediate area the group decides that they yet have enough energy to move further into the caverns, for they do not wish to waste their momentum.
To the north lies a much larger cavern which displays the odd mineral formations native to these depths to great advantage. Rainbow hues glint from the walls as stone ice-cycles droop from the ceiling. And in the center of the floor lies a pile of gold, silver and other obviously valuable odds and ends.
Overcome with greed Rolth enters the cave warily, moving nearly directly to the pile of loot while Cathal skirts along the wall, sticking to the shadows. Standing over the pile the holy warrior is taken completely unaware by the monstrous beast that unfurls its wings to glide down silently from above. A gout of fire erupts from one of the three heads adorning the body of this strange creature, completely engulfing Rolth. But the god Kord must be watching out for him, for he seems hardly singed as he rolls from the flames.
The melee rages and wicked blows are traded back and forth. Not only are the breath weapons dangerous, but claws and bite do their fair share as well. But in the end the adventurers again come out on top. For they lay the creature low with a combination of attacks. It coughs its last breath as a trickle of flame licks forth from its lolling mouth...
But the cost is high. After a quick look through the pile of loot and making some quick calculations the group figures that they can get most of it back to camp along w/ the two statues. They search the two tunnels to the east and find a stairway down that had been hidden behind a pile of rock. Amongst the loose rock is a strange stone, colored green which seems lighter than the rest.
The party retires to the elven craft and the river for a much needed rest. After which they navigate back to the lake cavern and hike out, carrying a massive load. Once gaining the fresh air, the exhausted crew pulls a scroll, asks their camp followers for aid in reading it and turn Garrand back to flesh. Poor Durant though stands tall in the cave as a reminder to all who enter that the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth are yet deadly.
And this is where we stopped.
Session Six and Seven
Climbing back out of the Tsojcanth depths, the party licks its wounds and prepares to descend yet again, not allowing the caverns to beat them. That evening though the camp is attacked by wolves and three of their followers are taken. Heavy consideration is given towards tracking the wolves into the darkness and retrieving their comrades. But Garrand makes a discovery that changes their mind, two of the wolves are bipedal! So it is agreed upon that the danger is much too high tracking possible lycanthropes in the dark of night. Next morning Garrand puts his skills to use once again and the party tracks the beasts to a series of low caves set in a crumbling cliff wall. The morning light is at the wrong angle to see clearly into the area, but the smell and surrounding bones indicate that indeed this is the correct location. Well, there is naught to do but venture forth, and this is what the thief Cathal does. Disguising himself in the potent magic of his cloak, he morphs into a wolf right in front of everyone's eyes. And into the dim caves he disappears. Within he finds, as he suspects, a large pack of wolves and in the recesses of the caves, a captive dressed in tatters chained to the wall. Suspicious he comes closer to examine and it is then that the creature changes and attacks. Hearing the noise Rolth unsheathes his blade and advances at a low crouch to aid his comrade. The ensuing fight is short, brutal and victorious for the party. A generous haul is taken from the "den" and it's obvious that the pack has viciously slain the missing followers. Once back at camp, the group recoups and rests again, knowing that the journey back down to the greater caverns will take a considerable amount of time. And it does...Hours later the heroes gain the late gorgimera's chamber. Now joined by two of the camp followers, an elven mage by the name of Weslocke (or "Vessley"), and a human cleric named Benedict, they proceed down the 900 stairs, descending deeper into the Greater Caverns of Tsojcanth. The strange feeling of "otherworldliness" present in the upper chambers is much much stronger here, and especially so in the low domed chamber that is fairly dripping with stalactites into which they emerge. A rotted stench, mixed with some other putrid scent, hangs heavy in the air, possibly a result of the thick growth of fungi which carpets the cavern floor. Nothing moves besides the insects and other small rodentia... So Cathal takes the lead yet again and moves quietly and cautiously into the chamber. A myriad of entrances and exits ring the room, eight to be precise, including the one through which they entered. Thirty five feet or so along the cavern wall the thief is mightily surprised as a part of the wall seems to detach itself...Of course this is a creature whith a highly advanced camouflage ability. Troglodytes! Which of course explains the musky scent prevalent in the chamber... With an ululating bellow, the reptilian sub-dweller calls its comrades to arms. An ambush in the making, but the heroes haven't attained their experience through shear luck. They're ready, and combat erupts. The chief of the tribe, and ugly brute standing a good half a foot taller than the others attacks ferociously with a stone club while the other males of the pack set to with equal alacrity. This fight see saws back and forth for a couple of minutes with both taking blows from the other. Trogs fall easier than do heroes, so a war of attrition is being waged, with the party on the obvious winning side. Until the "Champion" enters that is...Striding into the melee, a giant of a trog croaks his challenge and the frenetic level is ratcheted up immediately. The famous scent ability of the creatures has yet to come into play, but this monster has just triggered it, and how. The stench is horrendous and much retching and puking commences. And yet, the heroes hold their own.
Prison of Zagig: Only five of these brass devices are believed to exist. Each is nearly identical, appearing to be nothing more than a small, well-made bird cage. Normal handling or examination will not reveal it to be magical. If a detect magic spell is cast on the Prison of Zagig, there is a 50% chance that magic of an uncertain nature will be detected-either no particular type of dweomer, or a false type of magic. Each prison-cage has permanent anti-magic and anti-detection spells that protect the exterior and interior of the cage.
The Prison of Zagig is usable only by a magic-user, and attunes itself to the possessor when he or she learns the spell word that activates the prison. Activation has two effects. The first is that the door of the cage is sealed by a wizard lock as if the possessor had cast it. The second effect is that the possessor will be able to imprison a creature within the cage by speaking a trigger word and uttering a special command spell with a casting time of one round.
The command must contain the personal name of the creature to be imprisoned. If the creature does not have a personal name, its history must be recited in great detail. The creature being commanded into imprisonment receives a saving throw vs. Spells. If successful, the creature is unaffected.
If it fails, the creature is reduced to a three inch height and is instantly teleported into the cage. Since magic does not function within the cage, imprisoned creatures cannot free themselves with spells or magical items. An imprisoned creature does not need food or water while imprisoned, and will be instantly restored to its former size and abilities once freed.
A Prison of Zagig cannot by damaged by force or magic. An imprisoned creature can be freed by the owner of the prison or by a magic-user able to break the wizard lock without using spells (i.e. a magic-user four or more levels above the owner of the Prison of Zagig). A wish or an alter reality spell can also be used to open the cage. A creature inside a Prison of Zagig cannot be located by spells or magical items, only by normal sight and hearing.
Words necessary to operate a Prison of Zagig are:
Trigger Word (used to begin the imprisonment of a subject) Command Spell (naming or describing the history of the subject) Freedom Word
(Note: The spell words needed to operate the Prison of Zagig in this module are found in the Demonomicon of lggwilv.)
GP Sale Value: 25,000