Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Horrors of WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun For Your Old School Campaigns

A most bleak, mysterious, demonic, sinister, and gothic adventure just waiting for the PC's to stumble upon the horror of it! Deep within the complex of the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth a hidden temple has been covered that might turn the tide of the Thirty Year War back into the Elven favor! An ancient, dangerous, and demonic horror worshipped by the Elves for millions of years might be awakened and with its howls of rebirth millions will die!

After months of actual play most of the players will have thought that the
Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth adventure is wrapped up. There are no more challenges to the human dominated Europe of the Thirty Years War. The Elven menace from the pages of the Lion & Dragon retroclone system are over with. Peace seems to loom on the horizon for the human race after the petty concerns of religion are put aside for the possible horrors of  brutal planar war. The yawning abyss and vampire horror at the center of Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth has been put aside.
In a word no! The gates of Fairyland explode open as hordes of  ratmen, orcs, giants, and worse come to invade the French countryside, the lonely fringes of Italy, and the marshlands surrounding Spain. 

"The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun is an adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) role-playing game, for use in the World of Greyhawk campaign setting. The module was published by TSR, Inc. in 1982 for the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules by Gary Gygax"

Many DM's that I've played with over the years have run WG4 as a part & parcel of 
the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and within the underworld of Europe something demonic stirs in its sleep. A powerful cell of witches from the Le Fey bloodline enters a hidden & mostly forgotten section of the temple. Things are not going well for the Elven powers & while they have fed will on the minds, hearts, and souls of mankind. The overarching march toward peace is coming. But they have a plan! 1643 is on the horizon and within two years events will turn on a pivot point in time unless an ancient god awakens!

In 1645, a French army under Turenne was almost destroyed by the Bavarians at the Battle of Herbsthausen. However, reinforced by Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, it defeated its opponent in the Second Battle of Nördlingen. The last Catholic commander of note, Baron Franz von Mercy, died in the battle.[76] However, the French army's effort on the Rhine had little result, in contrast to its string of victories in Flanders and Artois.[77] The same year, the Swedes entered Austria and besieged Vienna, but they could not take the city and had to retreat. The siege of Brünn in Bohemia proved as fruitless, as the Swedish army met with fierce resistance from the Habsburg forces. After five months, the Swedish army, severely worn out, had to withdraw."

There are rumors of the Holy Grail being numbered among the treasures of Prague. Ancient troll like creatures of chaos not seen in centuries have been reported in the passes of Bravaria far from their native homelands. Other rumors point to a group of strange fairy beings (gnomes) asking for help with these horrors!

At the same time there are worries among the royals on both sides of the conflict that the forces of chaos are planning something very nasty and dangerous. A cult of the
remnants of worshipers of the imprisoned god Tharizdun have recently been seen in the night. This cult traces its origins all the way back to the fall of Babylon & even before the holy Flood washed away the stank of chaos from the Earth itself. The seers & wizards who trace their blood back to Merlin himself have been having dreams of the horror in the Black Cyst.

 Neither the Produstants nor the Catholics trust these wizards for they trace their origin back to the 'son of the Devil' himself! Non the less these sages & wizards are predicting doom for anyone who enters the temple but the temptation of more treasure to the cash strapped Europeans is too much. Because of the occult power of the Black Cyst gateways to France, Austria, Italy are readily accessible by the temple which has its own reality within the chaos ridden horrors of Fairyland.
The doctrine of the temple is spreading among the witches driving them into greater heights of occult frenzy and horror. Will the PC's give into  to the traps & snares of insanity & chaos just waiting within the Lovecraftian bounds of the temple?! Arthur & his knights once faced down its horrors and were able to banish the temple back to the pest hole of Fairyland when Camelot was at its strongest. Will the PC's be able to do the same?

So is there story or two of Clark Ashton Smith that reflexes the dark and dire weirdness of WG4? Both the  Theft of the Thirty-Nine Girdles, The (1958) & Tale of Satampra Zeiros, The (1931) have the central themes of chaos and depravity in spades needed to serve as fodder for running this classic adventure.
Of course if the DM wants the 'true' background on this adventure of weirdness & depravity then they'll have to read & use
CAS's The Dark Eidolon. This contains most of the known background on CAS's incredible demon god Tharizdun.Tharizdun is a play on 'Thasaidon'  from G.Gygax who often used the works of Clark Ashton Smith as fuel and inspiration for his classic adventures.

WG4 isn't simply a mystery waiting to be solved but rather a dangerous adventure of survival horror against the powers of darkness & Hell themselves. This isn't an adventure to be taken lightly to be sure. The rate of mortality in this one makes it something  further  a simple dungeon crawl and into the realms of investigative survival.
The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun is a well oiled machine of an adventure that will take the PC's from their comfort zone and into the possibity of the lead PC dying numerous times because they failed to take into account the fact that this adventure doesn't care for the simple whining from the players when their beloved PC dies.

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