The troll corpses were charred, stinking, and definitely not regenerating. The party returned to probe areas left unexplored previously.

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 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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Green Slime

The group scouted to the northeast, finding a chamber with a calcified corpse. They’d long since learned to be suspicious of the ceiling, and noticed blobs of green slime threatening overhead.

They methodically disinfected the room of slime with fire spells, and then proceeded to investigate the corpse.

(Color art from the back of the module by prolific old school RPG artist Jim Holloway)

The remains at the back of the alcove are those of an elf. Wounded and afraid to attempt slipping past the green slime after being nearly gotten by several pieces which dropped, the hapless fellow expired in the niche, wedged into an upright position.

In the tattered remains of the elf’s cloak and clothing, the group found Bracers of Defense, which were given to Willhelm Pembroke. Plus a necklace worth 600gp.

Crossing the River

The party chose to not explore the guano-covered cavern passage to the southeast, instead returning to the former mobat room to follow up on the underground river they saw beyond the ledge.

Delmar the thief climbed up the ledge, and down the other side into the water. The current was strong, but not unmanageable. Dipping his Light-coin into the water, he saw only blind white cave fish.

Upstream a short distance, he spotted a bank with a passageway. He called out to the party, and they all crossed. Yebarinscrud and Tagren consumed Potions of Waterbreathing so as to allow them to cross on the bottom in their armor. The rest swam against the current.

The passage was long and uninhabited, and they found another waterway, spanned by a bridge this time.

This ornately carved and sculptured bridge arches to about 15′ in the center over the river. It has many strange forms and shapes in bold relief, gargoyle-like monsters leering from it. At this point a distant rumbling and thundering can also be heard. It is the sound of a vast underground waterfall some 100′ distant.

Yebarinscrud examined the bridge, drawing upon his dwarven knowledge of stonework. The bridge appeared stout, and not of dwarven make.

They crossed the span. They couldn’t see the waterfall, but judging by the sound it would be certain death should they be caught in the current.

The long passage ended in a junction. The northern fork opened up into a rainbow-colored room.

This high-domed cavern displays a rainbow of colors on its walls and floor. Even the many stalactites above hang like colored icicles. Various mineral deposits in the rock have seeped into frozen curtains, cascades, and many fantastic shapes. The floor has numbers of humps and stalagmites of varied hue and strange form. In the center of the chamber is a heap of coins and metal bars.

The party was profoundly unsettled by this chamber. Rolen hurled a couple of fire bolts into the room, hoping to draw out any threats. But all was quiet. They decided to explore the other passageways.

The Dao

Heading east, they soon stopped at an incongruous sight even more bizarre than the rainbow room.

You have just entered a cave with carpets strewn on its floor, rugs hanging from the walls, and beautiful furniture scattered about it. There are plump cushions piled on the floor, the air smells of orange blossoms, and faint music — tinkling bells and chimes — can be heard. A pair of divans stand along the far wall, with a chest of rosewood between them. The glitter showing from the chest is gems. There are
stands upon which rest golden dishes and silver bowls. Malachite and lapis statuettes and bowls are everywhere, upon stands inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ivory, and rare woods. Silken garments are scattered on stools and heaped in chests and wardrobes. A pair of scimitars are framed by a tapestry showing scenes of battle. A great recurved horn bow and a sheaf of very long arrows rest near the left couch. As you complete your inspection of the wondrous place, you note that there is an alcove to the west, draped with a curtain of glass beads and covered by a strangely worked and decorated folding screen. From behind it you hear a high-pitched giggle, and before your startled eyes appears a midget dressed in orange silk pantaloons, an embroidered vest of blue and white, purple slippers with curled up toes, and a large turban of pale purple, set with a deep-hued purple gem. He waves a toy scimitar, bows, and bids you welcome to the “Antechamber of the Garden of One Thousand Earthly Delights.”

With that the small fellow smiles, bows, and waddles over to the screen. He pushes it out of the way so that you can see what is beyond. There is a marble passageway some 20′ long and in it are two rather comely girls. They are accompanied by a fat, puffing chap who might be a eunuch. He is trying to prevent them from coming out to greet you. All three are dressed in a fashion similar to the strange, hopping and skipping little midget who is now urging your party to follow him into the bright corridor and the sunny garden you can see beyond it.

(early Jeff Easley art)

The party wasn’t buying it for a moment, despite the coaxing of the midget. The greeter looked sad, and willed a Wall of Stone behind the party!

All four were extremely tough denizens from the Elemental Plane of Earth: DAO.

The Dao, a well-known foe in D&D, were introduced here in The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth! On the left is the art from the module; on the right is the 5th edition art.

Immediately, it was clear to the party that this was their toughest foe yet. The large Dao at first appeared bottlenecked in the chamber, but the PCs watched them travel through the dungeon walls!

Willhelm Pembroke dispelled the Wall of Stone that divided the party. Rolen cast Storm Sphere spell, buffeting the Dao.

Yebarinscrud was brought to his knees by a mighty blow.

Then the doughty gnomes Will-Li and Del-Li were dropped by Dao mauls, dying on the floor.

It was looking grim for the party. The Dao hit like trucks. (I was thinking this might be the end of our playthough of Tsojcanth!)

Then Delmar remembered his Arrow of Elemental Slaying and fired it into the Dao nearest him.

(Arrows of Slaying in D&D 5e deal damage, not death, despite their name. I figured since I was bringing in deadly elements of old school AD&D into this adventure, it ought to benefit the party for once: Arrows of Slaying in AD&D work as advertised!)

The Dao collapsed, stone-dead. This was the turning point of the fight.

Willhelm Pembroke cast a circular Wall of Fire around the Dao adjacent to him. Rolen commanded his Storm Sphere to hurl lightning bolts. Another Dao went down.

The Dao were far from defeated. Pembroke’s foe stepped out of the Wall of Fire, and smashed the magic user. A hastily-cast Shield spell spared Pembroke from the second blow, and death.

Yebarinscrud healed himself from his earlier beating. The Dao clobbered Tagren, who went from 88 hit points to 20 in one attack.

Finally, that Dao went down, leaving the fighters to focus on the remaining Dao.

At 1 hit point remaining, the lone Dao surrendered, offering to bestow a limited wish on a party member in exchange for his life. The group conferred, and agreed on a wish: That Delmar, their scout be granted permanent Darkvision!

This came to pass, and Delmar reveled in his new ability. The Dao departed.

Yebarinscrud tended to his broken and bleeding gnome allies, preventing their impending deaths.

The treasure in the room was mostly junk. Though there was a curious lamp/bottle, with a stopper.

The battered party dragged the Dao corpses to barracade the entrance, and successfully rested and mended their wounds.


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