Having finally reached the The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, the party cautiously investigated the Lesser Caverns level. After clearing the side cave with the blood-sucking stirges, they returned to the large entrance chamber with the bas-relief faces.


What we’re playing:

The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (S4)

1982 … Two 32-page booklets + 3-panel cover … Gary Gygax … TSR 9061 … ISBN 0935696725

Tsojcanth is one of the all-time classic AD&D modules.

One of my all time favorite dungeon crawls. Not only do you get a clever adventure written by Gygax himself, but the second booklet is entirely devoted to new monsters and magical items.

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Entry Cavern

Now you see that there are weird faces carved in bas-relief around the walls of this cavern. There are, in fact, six such visages hewn from the rock itself. Each face is by the side of one of six tunnels leading off in one direction or another from the cavern to unknown. Although each face is slightly different from its fellows, all are strange and doleful looking: one has doglike ears, another protruding tusks, a third drooping wattles, etc. There seems to be no relationship between the size of the passageway and the stony visage beside it.

This room flummoxed the party. Yebarinscrud ritual-cast Detect Magic, from which he learned that the faces had a weak illusion magic. Whenever a character approached within 3 feet of a face, it would speak: “TURN BACK … THIS IS NOT THE WAY!” All spoke this identical proclamation when triggered.

In addition, they saw that each had a different type of gem deep inside. Yebarinscrud tried sweeping out the gem with a handaxe while a face was talking, but got bitten for his trouble. Gygax wrote in a number of ways the characters could interact with the faces, but my group decided to take the brute force route.

Tagren and Delmar used a crowbar, and it took their combined might to keep a mouth open, while Rolen swept out a 1000gp pink tourmaline. After that, they lost interest in the faces, and began probing the various passages leading out of this main chamber.

They took the passageway to the south, which immediately headed due east.

Crickets the size of German Shepherds

You note that numerous small fungi cover the walls of this passageway, and that a fair growth of the stuff covers the floor, which is sandy and guano strewn. The oddly colored growth seem to match the vari-colored minerals of the walls of the area. A faint squeaking and rustling is heard when you listen.

This creeped them out, so the group returned to the main chamber.

This time they went through the east passage, but turned back when they heard the chirping of giant crickets. Going north, they found themselves heading toward the giant crickets again!

They returned once again to the main gallery, and took another passage.

The Pechs

The walls of this place are carved and chiseled into a running series of forms and figures which extend from the floor to the arched ceiling. You do not recognize most of the forms, but fungi, blind fish, and various insect forms common to the underground world are familiar. The work is bas-relief of a caliber superior to that of the stone faces. There are stone chips on the floor. You note a worked shaft about 4½’ high and 2′ wide running northwest from the far end of the grotto.

The party soon discovered the chamber was occupied.

If the party lingers in the grotto for three or more rounds, they will hear the clanking sound of metal on stone. If they shine light down the small tunnel, they will alert and arouse seven pech […] These thin, dwarf-sized creatures are busily working to cut a flight of stairs upwards into the mountain where they know there is a large, sealed cavern. Light will cause them to shout in all of the languages they speak (Dwarf, Gnome, Goblin. Common, and their own tongue): “Douse that cursed light, STUPID!”

Yebarinscrud, who led the party with a Light spell, quickly covered the source. The pech were friendly after that, and the dwarf had some ancestral knowledge of these diminutive earth elementals. They warned the party of a berserk clay golem to the southwest. They offered to help the party if they fought the clay golem, which they regarded as an abomination.

Lurker Above

The party investigated the northern passageway.

The small cave you have just entered has bones scattered throughout it. There is a low mound of dung in the middle of the place, and what appears to be a crushed minotaur skeleton at the south end of the cave. Beside the skeleton are two leather sacks. The floor and ceiling are fairly smooth.

A player happily drew in the giant turd for me. The group pondered what could crush a minotaur. Perhaps the clay golem? But that didn’t explain the dung mound.

Delmar the thief quietly investigated the chamber. When he began dragging the sacks out, a Lurker Above dropped from the ceiling and enveloped him!

In this case, sending in a single scout proved wise, as the rest of the party outside quickly dispatched the tortilla monster.

Clay Golem

Returning once again to the main chamber, the party took a short breather. Now attuned to the place, they faintly heard the pech chipping away at their project. The chirping of the giant crickets. And the roar of some beast far off in the complex.

They headed west, exploring a maze of cavern passages, with Delmar scouting ahead.

Delmar soon found a chamber, and the hair stood up on his neck.

This squarish cave is in an area of slate and shale. The flat gray and blue-gray stones seem to absorb light. There are several weapons scattered around the place — a spear, a battle axe, a bastard sword, and a pair of daggers.

Delmar rolled a Nat 20 on his Stealth, so I ruled that he spotted the clay golem camouflaged against the north wall, still. He quietly backed out. The party brought the pech back with them!

The pech went ahead, drawing out the clay golem, and surrounded it. The party followed up. The battle begun.

The clay golem was tough! The party winced as the berserk golem slammed three of the pech, killing one right then and there. The slam power intimidated the players.

They attacked fiercely in support of their little allies, and soon the construct was a pile of play-dough.


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