The party – fighting for their lives – still had yet to step foot into the first great room of the Forgotten Temple. Troll, gnoll, and norker corpses clogged the entrance where the party made its stand, and only the Giant Troll had survived, fleeing the hated flames.
But it was a pyrrhic victory. The characters were beat down and out of spells. Two of their gnome allies were fleeing.
This is Session 3 of my recap / walkthrough series of THE FORGOTTEN TEMPLE OF THARIZDUN (1982) by Gary Gygax. [PDF for $5 at DTRPG].
- THARIZDUN: Session 1 – Brawl at the Entrance of the Black Temple
- THARIZDUN: Session 2 – The Troll Onslaught
From the sounds coming up the stairs, more humanoids were on their way. They’d stirred up a hornet’s nest.
The characters recognized Norker grunts, leathery little hateful things that bite with 3″ fangs.
But they heard deeper roars that could only come from huge lungs. [I had the PCs roll their level or less on a D20 to recognize] Willhelm knew: Ogres.
The party furiously debated. A couple wanted to remain. But even savage Tagren relented, and the group left the Black Temple.
The party emerged out into the daylight, and ran down the walled ramp that led back into the wilderness.
Rolen the sorcerer changed his mind, and returned to the mesa to climb atop the temple. The party yelled at him, but he remained up top.
Ogres and norkers, as expected, appeared at the entrance opening.
Gary Gygax, of course, anticipated that character parties would retreat from what one of my players called Omaha Beach.
…when the “big guns” begin appearing from below, it is probable that the party will retire to regroup and plan an assault which will allow them to penetrate to the lower level with great speed. This is where you may have some real fun using your DMing ingenuity. [page 10]
Gygax designed the temple ramp to act as a bowling lane, complete with guard rails. There is really nowhere to go, except for Thieves perhaps to climb up on the ramp walls with the ravine on either side. The defending Ogres would roll boulders down the ramp toward the PC bowling pins. It’s brutal… and where we had our first party fatality.
STRUCK BY ROLLING BOULDER: 100% – 1% per dexterity point, -2% per foot of pathway over 3’ wide, -10% if boulder must travel over 100’ to hit target, DAMAGE WHEN STRIKING, 5-30 points.
FALLING IN FRONT OF ROLLING BOULDER: Slipping from climbing wall (thief et al.), slipping from guard wall (any character failing to roll dexterity or less on 2d20). DAMAGE EQUALS FALL DAMAGE (if any) +5-30 points.
The party was caught off guard by the boulders trundling down the ramp.
The gnome ally Tag-li was crushed twice, and died.
Tagren, with a feat of strength, caught the first boulder, which blocked the second from continuing down the ramp toward the rest of the party. [I failed to notice in my prep that the boulders were only 3′ in diameter.]
Rolen, who had stayed behind, found himself in a great vantage point on the temple roof above. He cast Hypnotic Pattern on his foes!
All, except a lone norker, were mesmerized.
The party escaped into the wilderness in the vicinity of the temple.
I asked the players how far they wanted to go. If they wished, they could return on the 3-day trek back to the Gnome Vale, a safe haven.
Gnome Vale from related module The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, also written by Gygax.
But the party had another notion.
Willhelm cast Leomund’s Tiny Hut.
The party rested in their shelter in the wilderness, healing and regaining spells.
However, by morning Gnolls had tracked them down.
The hyena-faced humanoids were unable to penetrate their Leomund’s Tiny Hut. But their giggling was unnerving.
One by one, the rested characters left the hut and attacked their foe.
The party found these odds more to their liking. Gnolls began dropping, and weren’t laughing much anymore.
Tagren attempted to grab one of the two Gnolls flanking him and smash him into the other. [This is my youngest son playing the burly half-orc, and he likes throwing things around. So I set a difficult DC18 Athletics check… and he succeeded!]
SMASH! Both gnolls were wounded, and Tagren was no longer flanked.
The tide was turning. Gnolls were dropping. One got frostbited from Chill Touch. Another got poisoned.
Soon the battle was over. No more gnolls, and nothing from the temple came to assist the foul beasts.
Back to the Temple
The party decided to get on with it, and returned to the Black Temple.
Ogres and norkers were waiting, watching at the entrance, but unwilling to emerge again. [I decided they were all unnerved by the Hypnotic Pattern] Both sides were aware of each other. The Ogres had bolstered the defenses.
The stone slabs of the ramp floor of area 1 on the upper level map can be lifted up and placed upon the wall of rocks across the way. This will add 3 feet of height to the wall. (page 10)
Yebarinscrud distracted the defenders (and took a javelin hit for his effort) while members of the party went around the outside perimeter of the Temple to search for alternative entrances.
But it was fruitless. No secret doors. The Black Temple was seamless, alien.
Rolen read the sigils engraved around the perimeter again, and pondered the meaning [and made a very successful Arcana check].
…these glyphs send curses to the bringers of light, the blinders, and all responsible for wrapping blackness in everlasting chains.
The Drow sorcerer had been pondering these symbols, and from his racial memory came one word: