They had been warned. The Graven Glyphs were clear that gaining entrance to the center of the Lost Caverns would require persistence.


What we’re playing:

The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (S4)

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

This is our group’s session report / walkthrough / playthrough of Tsojcanth, one of the all-time classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 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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After opening the smaller center portal, the party was teleported to a square-ish chamber. Where were they?

The party nosed its way down corridors, led by the thief Delmar. They took a cautious approach at various chambers, refusing to enter. Delmar spotted a Hill Giant with a Giant Stag Beetle and strange, colored stalagmites in another.

They stuck mostly to the corridors, attempting to find their bearings. They found another square-ish chamber.

And then they found the large, ominous portals once again. They were on the same level!

The party believed the square-ish chambers were the key, and set out to find more. They were careful.

But not careful enough.


Delmar sneaked into a large cavern to the north.

This large chamber is over 60′ high and has many shelves and irregularities along its walls. Many stalactites hang from the stony roof far above, and some are of great size and exceptional beauty. The floor is littered with occasional stalagmites, and there are several central formations of massive dimension, each being well over 20′ high.

The rest of the party had followed him too closely, alas. Several large gorilla-like demons dropped down: Bar-Lgura

Delmar took a beating, but the party worked together and defeated the Bar-Lgura.

Theory confirmed

Moving eastward, they found another square-ish chamber.

…and avoided another large cavern, surely occupied by something.

The party settled on a modus operandi: Stick to the hallways, avoid the chambers. The particular nature of this dungeon became apparent. Gary Gygax always rewarded intelligent play: He placed no wandering monsters inside The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

In the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, there are no true random encounters. If the party is near a lettered encounter area and making a great deal of noise, or merely waiting quietly for more than one turn, there is a 1 in 6 chance that the monster nearby will come and investigate — providing the creature could normally leave its lair to move about for some reason. Of course, if the party is off in a dead end side passage, staying quiet, and showing no light, then there will be no monster encounters at all. Nevertheless, you should conduct periodic checks, as if the possibility of encounters existed.

I did indeed pretend to make wandering monster rolls throughout, but it became clear to the party by this point that the chambers were the real danger. They realized the rooms were a distraction from solving the riddle of Iggwilv. Parties in Tsojcanth will benefit greatly with an expert thief in the group.

Session 10 concluded, onwards to session 11!

Exploration and Revelation

The party circled the widening gyre, and discovered a total of six square-ish chambers, the same number of hallways leading to the mystery at the center. Not a coincidence, they reckoned.

Along the way, they perfected their careful, pacifist strategy. Several tantalizing rooms were noted.


You note that the large cavern you have entered is terraced. The floor rises and drops in a manner which makes it impossible to move across the place without using great care, for the stone is moist and slippery. The walls are striated with bands of color. There are a large number of stalactites on the curved ceiling.

(They avoided a pair of Umber Hulks.)


This place is well over 200′ long and varies from about 20′ to 40′ in width, with a ceiling height of from 25′ to over 50.’ There are many shelves and ledges along the walls, while the roof is icicled with many stalactites with a scattering of stalagmites beneath. As in most of these caverns, you note that there are numbers of fungi growing here, with many small creatures feeding on them — as well as each other. Careful examination detects many bones scattered about helping to feed the foul growth of the fungi.

Delmar broke from his usual do-not-enter-the-room strategy, and almost became lunch for a dragon-like creature called a Behir. The serpentine creature was resting on a ledge over the entrance. Lucky for Delmar, he rolled a Nat 20 for his Stealth, which was one of his specialties to begin with. And the behir is not noted to have True Sight as its dragon cousins. The thief quietly made his way back out again.


One look around this gruesome place shows that something awful uses this place as either a burial crypt or a trophy room! The walls of this vaulted chamber are lined with limed-over corpses. A whole circle of barely-distinguishable forms creates a lower tier. A fresher ring of calcified corpses, seemingly standing upon the heads and shoulders of those beneath, decorates the cavern walls at a height of about 12′ or so. What at first seemed to be rock formations at the base of the lower ring of petrified bodies is evidently many similar remains — dwarves, gnomes, halflings, elves—the shorter standing, the taller kneeling or sitting. The steady drip and splash of water from the ceiling down the walls and over the stoney corpses creates a pool of water in the northeastern portion of the cavern. It flows out a tunnel there.

Perhaps of all the rooms they encountered, this corpse room was the most unnerving to the party. Some ghoulish artist had been at work for a long time. They departed, with no intention of ever entering this room. It was the lair of a Bodak, an undead nightmare that can kill with a glance!


This smooth-sided passageway leads to a large cave. You feel a sense of peace as you enter. The low ceiling is pleasantly colored, as are the many-hued walls. A small trickle of water splashes into a basin-like pool about 2′ off the floor. Somehow you feel that you would be safe here.

Every good dungeon has a safe spot hidden away somewhere. The party rested here.

Sleeping Beauty

The presumed teleportation chambers surveyed, the party returned once again to the spokes of the wheel.

One-by-one, they opened the center doors, only to be whisked away to a square-ish chamber.

The sixth time was different. Yebarinscrud stepped into a unique spherical room.


The room beyond the door is brightly lit. You step through the door onto a ledge of green serpentine. A decorative openwork screen stands at the end of the ledge. You see that other doors open onto ledges like the one on which you stand, each with its own screen. The chamber is spherical, and the doors and ledges are symmetrically arranged along the equator of the sphere. The upper hemisphere forms a dome of lapis lazuli, as dark as the night sky at the top, as pale as a twilight horizon at the equator. The lower hemisphere is of serpentine, pale green at the equator, deep green at the bottom of the bowl. The sides of the sphere are perfectly smooth, and look as if they cannot be climbed or walked on.
Your screen is carved from rare wood and inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl. Through the openings in its intricate carvings you see a jeweled lanthorn on a golden chain, hanging from the center of the dome. Within the lanthorn a steady amber flame burns. Its light is magnified by crystal lenses set in the framework of the lanthorn. The warm and comforting light from this lanthorn makes the very air seem to dance with motes of sunlight and moonlight combined.
The lanthorn hangs above a broad stone dais. Atop the dais is a block of rose-colored marble, 6′ long, 3′ wide; and 3′ high. On the dais surrounding the marble block are small carpets and a pair of beautifully fashioned stands upon which rest rare porcelain vessels. At the foot of the marble block is a low table with a crystal bowl filled with a rainbow of gems. At the head of the block is a silver tripod with a small brazier which emits a tiny plume of sweet-smelling smoke.
Atop the marble block is a slab of white alabaster, inlaid with gold sigils — moons, stars, and strange symbols. A woman sleeps on the alabaster slab.
The sleeping maiden is armored from toe to neck in goldchased plate mail. A long bastard sword is atop her body, its quillons below her breasts, its point near her feet. The woman’s gauntleted hands are crossed over the sword’s pommel. Her pale face seems composed. Her lips are bright red and her raven-hued tresses are lustrous. A helmet with plumes as black as the maid’s hair rests on the slab just above her head.
If you wish to investigate further, you must either slide down the smooth sides of the sphere or use some form of magic to move through the air to where the warrior-maid lies.

This is one of my favorite Jeff Easley art works.


We ended the session here, as one player was absent, and we did not want him to miss the finale. We mused that perhaps she was Sleeping Beauty, only awaiting a kiss from Prince Charming to awaken her from her unnatural slumber…

Until next time!

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