S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

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The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth is a Gary Gygax adventure module for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It is the fourth and last in the S series; followed up by the more-explicitly Greyhawk ("WG4") module, The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. We're being literal: WG4 retcons that Temple into S4's wilderness.

This is a dungeon-crawl. It came out of an adventure "Tsojconth" run in WinterCon V, 1975; in which Iggwilv was male and the afflicted land "Perrunland". Recommended PC levels are 6-10.

Backstory[edit]

Nine or ten decades ago - says the backstory - the mage-ette Iggwilv conquered Perrenland, holding it for about a decade. To put it in George Martin's terms, her economic policy was extractive. She spent the money on demonology. Whilst she was here she corralled no less a fiend than Graz'zt, demon prince of three (3) Abyssal layers.

Aaaand that's what did for her short-lived regime. A later experiment of hers freed Graz'zt. After some struggle Iggwilv succeeded in banishing that one right back down there, but at such cost that her own "henchmen and slaves" found it in themselves to scurry out with most of the treasury. (Turns out that Chaotic Evil is a bad fit for henchmen, and that slaves don't like their masters either.) Perrenland freed itself easily after that. The old "Tsojconth" version claims Graz'zt killed Iggwilv, which status S4 leaves open.

The runaways didn't abscond with ALL the treasures; for a start, they left alone a lot of the magic, given how much of it was baneful as f@ck. The March of Bissel has now found Iggwilv's bastion. Bissel wants some of that sweet sweet loot, especially Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn, before its rivals (like Ket, and of course post-occupation Perrenland) get it. Enter the PCs for a good old-fashioned burgle.

The Adventure[edit]

Spoiler.gifThis article contains spoilers! You have been warned.

This starts with a wilderness section, through the rockslide-prone and monster-infested Yatils. Some encounters are keyed; some are wandering. Most of these wandering monsters have lairs with beaucoup treasure, which they (apparently) swap amongst each other. After a monster and the party meet, the map offers six enumerated possible locations for the former's lair - the closest location to that encounter, thus, becomes the site. Which means that another wandering monster can return to the same lair, assuming the adventurers aren't carrying a load of high explosives to close cave-mouths.

The Caverns don't have random encounters at all. They are divided into "Lesser Caverns" near the surface, then a stairway leading 900' down and 2700' west to the "Greater Caverns". Both caverns expand to fit a 10.75" x 7.75" board inset cover: so, 330' x 420' area. The top caverns are just lairs for whatever has showed up here, except for the stray golem and maybe the marid and the dao created and summoned by the dark mistress. It's all very boxy. Not on the maps, the former caverns fall over a 400' cliff to a lake below to the west, and the marid's chamber sits over a larger flooded cave-complex.

The lower caverns are where Iggwilv did most of her work and where the real treasure (and monsters) live - like her daughter Drelnza, now a vampire. This layer is full of demons and constructs - and a hill giant, who got here who-knows-how.

The 1975 "Tsojconth" version had different monsters in some rooms, for instance Chinese Hill Giants where S4 puts fomorians and a Water Weird where S4 has the marid. Clearly, S4 swaps out Monster-Manual critters with newer ones, which a party might not know; and makes some token attempt toward an ecology for these beasts crammed together.

Legacy[edit]

Tsojc*nth's dungeons although standard for 1975 were amateurish by 1982. They lack the character of Tomb of Horrors and have none of the majesty of the Drow Trilogy's underdark.

What S4 did bring (perforce) were new items and monsters. The chasme, behir, and bodak were mooted here first, before the second Monster Manual. Same with the Lanthorn (mooted 1975!) and the Demonomicon. And many more.

For the wilderness, S4's musical-chair theory of many wandering-monsters waiting in line for a finite set of lairs was interesting and even realistic; but it hasn't been picked up by later modules.

Also, the Iggwilv / Graz'zt meetup - once S4 ruled it female / male - was coincidentally on schedule for its issue to be mature(ish) as of 505 CY. Here was conceived, as retcon, the birth of Iuz.