At long last, the party had penetrated the inner chamber of The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. At the center of it all was a 40′ diameter sphere with expensive decorations, and a maiden in armor asleep atop an alabaster and marble block. A jeweled lanthorn hung on a golden chain, a steady amber flame burning within.

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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No Prince Charming?

The group goaded the player of Rolen (my middle son) to kiss the maiden. Rolen, a handsome and well-spoken drow elf, Charisma 20, refused.

The party debated what to do. They were deeply suspicious of the woman, but it was not clear that she was an adversary. For all they knew, the maiden was a prisoner.

The spherical chamber was a tactical nightmare. Secure footing could only be found on the screened overhangs, or right at the pedestal. Ideas went back-and-forth. Once at the bottom, the characters would have to climb upslope to access an overhang.

…and all the while, the woman was listening, but still feigning sleep. (She awakens as soon as a door is opened.) Drelnza was her name, warrior-vampire daughter of Iggwilv, though the party never learned her name. (It’s easy to misspell as Drelzna – I did a couple of times in my notes). Whatever the party did as their opening move, she was ready.

The party spread out a bit, through four of the doors. Two of their gnome henchmen tossed a rope down into the sphere. Yebarinscrud stepped forward to address the maiden.

Drelnza will then sit up slowly, pass a hand across her brow as if coming out of a strange coma, and then blink her eyes open. When she sees the party, she will smile sweetly and welcome her “rescuers” — using a vampiric charm on each member of the party.

Only the “talking dwarf” was actually visible to Drelnza. He felt his blood boil as a charm swept over him, as she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, worthy of his devotion. Yebarinscrud recovered his composure (passed his Save).

“You can go”, he urged the maiden, now “free”.

“No, YOU can go”, she replied, full of sweet menace.

The party chuckled uncomfortably, taking a gut check. Some opined that maybe this was the time to exit the place. After all, they’d wisely not pushed their luck below the temple of Tharizdun!

Yebarinscrud, averting his gaze, pressed ahead, asking her name. She demurred, asking his name, who he served. The dwarf asserted he followed Clangeddin Silverbeard. At that, Drelnza sprung into action.

Gary Gygax noted that Drelnza would immediately move to slay any Lawful Good cleric, but Yebarinscrud was LN. Clangeddin however is LG, and I decided that was enough to trigger her, if not necessarily focused on the dwarf.

Jeff Easley returned in 2012 with another piece featuring Drelnza.

Here is a rendering from Dungeon magazine, issue 151.

The party was astonished as the armored woman jogged up the slope and attacked Wilhelm Pembroke, the magic user. He took a slice from her bastard sword +4, and Tagren rushed up (successfully making an athletics roll with a nat 20!), displacing Drelnza off the ledge, sending her sliding back down the slope. Tagren got hit for his effort.

Rolen summoned a Draconic Spirit to assist. The gnomes abandoned the rope to assist in the fight.

Drelnza moved to attack the dwarf, but found it unpleasant inside his protection from Spirit Guardians. (one of the more effective spells of the fight, as it happened).

She shifted to attacking Delmar the thief, and both were wounded. One of her better attacks was her bite, draining hit points from her foe, and healing herself a like amount.

Rolen flew over on his draconic spirit to assist. Many spells were failing to land on Drelnza, or were mostly neutered.

Wilhelm cast Lightning Bolt, which had less effect than he’d hoped.

Drelnza left that furball, returning to Yebarinscrud, whacking him with her sword, and charming the dwarf, successfully this time. He would be her thrall the rest of the fight.

Will-li went to whack the lanthorn, on the theory that it powered the vampire warrior. He smacked the magical lamp. The chain broke, sending the lanthorn tumbling to the floor. The device was entirely undamaged however. Drelnza appeared unaffected.

She moved back to Wilhelm, slashing the mage, and feeding on his blood. The melee party members waited in the center, unable to keep up with the nimble vampiress.

Rolen flew over to assist Willhelm, but his dragon could not fit through the doorway. Roll-li charged forward bravely.

The party had been a bit frustrated by this point. Drelnza was an able warrior, hit hard, saved easy, high AC, resistant to many attacks, and healed by drinking blood. Many of the melee were sidelined, Yebarinscrud was charmed, limply attacking Rolen’s draconic spirit – the saving grace was that he was not in contact with the vampire to receive specific orders.

What really started turning the tide is when Willhelm and Rolen realized that Magic Missile was the ticket: Can’t miss, and no save. They began spamming MM.

Drelnza was defeated, transformed into a small puff of mist.

Roll-li was slain, and Willhelm lay mortally wounded.

The party watched as the mist returned into the chamber, and went through a crevice into the block upon which the vampire had originally lain.

The group, anxious to finish off the vampire while she was vulnerable, located a hairline seam. Delmar started working at it with a crowbar, and the party assisted. The lid was heavy, but they pried it off. But no vampire was to be seen.

Beneath it the marble is hollowed out to form a cavity 2′ wide, 4′ long, and 2′ deep. This space holds only a small brass cage. Inside this cage are several pieces of platinum jewelry studded with diamonds and rubies — a tiara worth 27,000 gp, a necklace worth 20,000 gp, a bracelet worth 12,000 gp, earrings worth 9,000 gp, and a ring worth 6,000 gp.

The party, puzzled, leery of the little cage of riches, examined the block closely again, and no surprise… there was a false bottom. Not wanting to directly touch the cage, Rolen used Mage Hand to set it aside.

Careful examination of the upper rim of the marble block will show a hairline crack. There is a small lip around the inner edge of the cavity discovered by removal of the alabaster lid. If the lip is grasped, a tray-like portion of the marble block can be lifted out to reveal yet another cavity… Beneath it is the coffin of Drelnza, and there she will be found… This cavity also contains seven tomes.

Rolen couldn’t resist. He reached for one of the arcane tomes.

A tentacled alien creature popped into existence, regarding them enigmatically.

To be concluded next session!

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