Friday, October 6, 2017

Retooling S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth By Gary Gygax As Campaign Jump Off Point

"In the Yatil Mountains south of Perrenland there is rumored to be a magical hoard of unsurpassed value, a treasure of such fame that scores of adventurers have perished in search of it. Find the perilous Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and you may gain the hidden wealth of the long-dead arch-mage — if you live."
Cover blurb for The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

But first a brief AS&SH announcement.
As I spend my Friday evening writing these words
Jeff Talanian has received his shipment of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition hardbacks.They look glorious if you haven't seen the photos & they'll be winging their way to the Kickstarter backs from oh so many months ago in October of last year. If you haven't gotten in on the OSR AS&SH action I would suggest you do now. 
Why you may ask? Because of the expanded PC classes, the incredibly sweet artwork, the expanded & fluffed out magic item sections or the heaping helpings of Hyperborean goodness? No, its just simply one of the best put together OSR products of 2017. And since Sunday September 17, 2017 when the pdf hit the rpg wilds, I've had a copy quietly sitting next to me. Yup not only did I review it but had it printed out of pocket to get the jump on the game as my home OSR system. I speed read all six hundred & twenty two pages of the pdf  & boy did I pay for it with a headache so worth it. Here's my review of the pdf but if you don't believe it then check out those Drivethrurpg reviews here. 
My oh not so sutle suggestion is to grab your copy before they disappear for awhile my experiences with small style print and gaming runs over the years has been interesting.
One of the AS&SH second edition hardbacks from Jeff's G+ page.

Now I've spent the day reading over one of my all time favorite modules written by Gary Gygax himself. The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (S4) haunts my dreams & it feels like an adventure that hearkens back to the time before the Green Death of Hyperborea. A vamipire haunts my dreams 
the daughter of Iggwilv.I'm speaking of Drelzna, the vampiric daughter of long-deceased archmage Iggwily himself. 
I keep seeing her as a Clark Ashton Smith witch queen ruling over the forgotten valleys and time haunted jungle canyons of a long melted ice melted Antarctica. She controls hoards of Samurai clan style demonic hobgoblins who rule over Norkers & other humanoids in the shadow of the Plateau of Tsing & Leng near the Mountains of Madness. The Norkers are 'Clark Aston Smith humanoids' a half forgotten  part of the  solar system.These  half demonic humanoids were  created for working on distant gravity heavy worlds. Norkers always struck me as being more alien then the Fiend Folio portrays them. I see them as miners, heavy muscle, & cannon fodder for the samurai like demon clans of the Hobgoblins who are a quarter demon in my Hyperborea campaigns.

I keep thinking the second that Drelzna awakens she's going to revive the cults that were responsible for the imprisoned god Tharizdun & bring the horrors of  the Black Cyst upon the face of 'Old Earth'.  I've written about this idea before but this is different. 
Because there's a second witch queen Abroreantha  whose a rival & making war on Drelzna courting the favor of her own god Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness"). She was inspired by the Ghoul Queen by Frank Frazetta.  Abhoth  is the source of her strange & twisted misshapen minions. Misshapen things that have more in common with primordial life then other true monsters. The Tcho-Tcho mercenary cultists tribes court favor with Abroreantha through several warrior clans but the they sometimes change sides depending upon the signs from the stars.
All of this takes place in the shadow of the Mountains of Madness occasionally both witch queens forces disappear or are eaten by shoggoths or proto shoggoth monsters.

The alien cult of 
Rlim Shaikorth has only started among some of the lesser human tribes around the edges of the continent of Antarctica. Ice, snow, & other weather borne phenoeomona expand the glaciers of this ancient Great Old One. All of this ties back in with
The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth which introduces some of the greatest iconic old school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons monsters. These monsters include
Bodaks, derros, marlgoyles, xag-ya/xeg-yi, and more. Also various demons, minor, major, and demon princes like Graz'zt.

This fits the far future feel of many of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique cycle of stories. In fact I wonder if Thasaidon "black god of evil", "the archfiend", "lord of the seven hells beneath the earth" might be a part of the familial branch of Graz'zt. The twisting halls and mazes of
The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth echo a strange almost alien Underborea feeling and vibe. There's lots of great potential here for old school play.

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