Having handily defeated the clay golem with an assist from the stoneworking pech, the party looked to clear unexplored areas of the map, including a section to the northwest, and a return to the chamber to the east with the giant crickets.
Previously in my session recap / walkthrough series:
- TSOJCANTH: Session 1 – Quest for the Lost Caverns
- TSOJCANTH: Session 2 – Two Weeks in the Wilderness
- TSOJCANTH: Session 3 & 4 – Living off the Land, Hermit, Wyverns, & Caverns Found!
- TSOJCANTH: Session 5 – The Berserk Clay Golem
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.
Amazon | DriveThruRPG (PDF)
Wary of boldly marching into rooms, the party stopped at the entrance of the northwest chamber.
Players cannot see areas under gray “fog of war”. It’s black to them.
This large high-domed cave is covered with bat guano. The floor is inches deep in the stuff, and you can see many beetles and a few normal rats scurrying away from you as you enter. The sound of flowing water comes from somewhere in the north end of the place.
The party noted that this large cavern had a domed ceiling 40′ overhead, with hanging stalactites. There was also a ledge high up on the north wall, which was the source of the rushing water sound.
The Mobat is a special monster created for the module by Gary Gygax. They are much more powerful than they first appear.
Gygax notes: “These monsters have a dim, evil intelligence and a desire for shiny objects. They are swift and silent flyers, surprising prey 50% of the time.”
They have a ridiculously powerful special attack that can TPK a careless or unlucky group. The mobats can voice a “piercing screech which will cause victims to cover their ears, rather than fight, for 1-2 rounds unless victims successfully save vs. Paralysis. The effective sound radius is 20′.“
I erred in reading only the abbreviated monster description in the module room entry which states: “screech paralyzes for 2 rounds opponents who fail save vs. Paralysis” which is quite different than the actual monster description in Booklet 2. Not actually a full paralysis, the screech renders the PC unable to attack and use their arms. And the duration is 1-2 rounds, not a flat 2 rounds.
The affected characters should have been able to at least flee. It still would have been a harrowing fight, with mobats pursuing helpless characters all through the dungeon corridors.
In any case, the screech is still quite dangerous. There is no limit to this ability. “The screech is always voiced if prey resists.” There are eight mobats in the room. So eight foes with save-or-suck area attacks wreaking havoc every round!
Unless the group arrives in stealth, the keen-eared mobats will hear the characters long before they arrive. I had the cunning beasts displace from the ceiling to the ledge to await the party. That’s where all their dropped shinies are, so they spend a lot of time there.
Willhelm Pembroke cast a Fire Bolt cantrip up into the domed ceiling, hoping to flush out anything lurking above.
As the party entered the chamber, the mobats flew out, bombarding them with screeches and bites.
The four characters were rolling save after save after save. And all 4 eventually failed of course.
The only thing that saved the group was that they only half entered, and those four took the full brunt of the attacks.
The party slowly regained control of the situation. Rolen cast a carefully-targeted fireball.
Tagren the half-orc picked up the “paralyzed” Yebarinscrud and slammed him down on top of a downed mobat, crushing the beast into roadkill.
Eventually the vicious mobats were eliminated.
Delmar climbed the 30′ up to the ledge spotted earlier. Mixed in the guano on the ledge were a scattering of coins. Beyond, in the thief’s feeble light, the ledge dropped 40′ down to an underground river.
Though Delmar had potions of water breathing, the current seemed too swift for easy underwater exploration. The party made note of the feature, and moved on to the cricket room well to the east.
At the chamber with the giant crickets, the group sent Tagren ahead to try to befriend? parley with? the crickets. He made a very successful Animal Handling roll, so I ruled that the half-orc drew on his childhood playing with crickets.
Tagren, slowly and with patience, herded the crickets out of the room. The crickets never raised the alarm.
In doing so, he heard a bestial sound from a passageway to the east. Trolls!
The party was well-experienced with trolls! (hear the troll sound I played the last time)
The party got the drop on the trolls in their lair. Tagren bravely blocked the corridor, and the battle was on!
Both Rolen and Willhelm opened up with fireballs, grievously wounding them before they rushed Tagren.
Only one troll could engage at a time, greatly angering them. One even clawed his comrade in frustration.
Knowing that trolls slain by the blade could regenerate, Rolen and Willhelm finished them off with firebolts. Delmar threw a flask of oil at the last troll.
Which was subsequently lit on fire!
An exciting session! Interesting to see how the mobats worked… they were a pretty frustrating encounter since we were ambushed without being able to prepare for or even detect them (our efforts didn’t amount to very much)… and then we had to try to make 8 saving throws before we even had our first action. I ended up having 4 rounds of doing nothing but taking damage! Still trying to think what we could have done better… usually there’s a trick to most of the Gygax ‘gotchas’.
I was sure the party were goners against the mobats! Very cool session report. If my character had survived the mobats, he’d have made mental note of the location to come back later and start hauling out the guano to sell as fertilizer. Or give it as a gift to the Gnomes in the valley. Of course, that assumes he’d lived through the whole adventure…