Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Deep Evil & Abiding Corruption Of WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax For Your Old School Campaigns

"A combined wilderness and dungeon adventure scenario. Background information, referee's notes, encounter keys, outdoor and dungeon level maps, and new monsters and treasures. While designed to interface with THE LOST CAVERNS OF TSOJCANTH, this module is capable of standing alone."

Where do I begin with my storied & varied history with WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax? Stretching all of the way back to '83 my history with module begins in when my uncle's players encountered the norkers on their way back from raiding some nearby villages. We were still licking our wounds from getting our collective asses stung from S4 THE LOST CAVERNS OF TSOJCANTH. The opportunity to tackle nearby local monsters sounded like a great idea. 

In retrospect that wasn't a great idea at all. The ultra creepy atmosphere of the temple its proceedings around the local area caused all kinds of issues. The whole run of this module if done right can create on of the most pervading atmosphere of dread seen at the table." Jim Bambra reviewed The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun for White Dwarf, and gave it 9 out of 10 overall. Bambra noted that "The Temple is brought to life excellently and contains plenty for players to think about, gaining entry requires good tactical play and an imaginative approach is needed to fathom out the Temple's hidden secrets."
So why is so well loved? I think because of the fact that WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax creates a creditable Lovecraftian style adventure for Greyhawk. Tharizdun is an interloper god into Greyhawk whose very existence is dangerous to a wide variety of planes. This is a mad god who wished to seize   the churning Elemental Chaos, the realm of the fallen primordials, which he hoped to seize as his own

This isn't some run of the mill god but a mad bastard god whose machinations have seen him trapped right at the center of his own web of horror.  WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun makes a lot of use of one of my favorite AD&D first edition monster books to great effect & that's the Fiend Folio.
Being known as the Elder Elemental Evil Eye, the god of WG4 has tricked a great number of entities into his web of influence; "
 known as the Elder Elemental Eye. In this guise, he communicated with the evil archomentalsImixOgremochYan-C-Bin, and Olhydra, the Princes of Elemental Evil, convincing them that they were his creations, thereby gaining their allegiance" This gives the dungeon master yet another link into the monster kin of the Fiend Folio

Now its no secret that I've attacked & reviewed 
WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax before on this blog. But I really want to establish the heart & soul of some of the module's Weird Tales feel. I've heard that the final fate of the module is very anticlimactic but given the Lovecraftian or Weird Tales feel to WG4 I think that the ending is completely appropriate. 
Greyhawk is as much a campaign setting as a world whose events have echoes across the planes. Tharizdun isn't something to be taken lightly & possibly one of the most dangerous deities that a party of PC's can run into. "Tharizdun was one of the deities detailed in Dragon #294 (2002), in the article "Beings of Power: Four Gods of Greyhawk."" And yes whist this is third edition D&D the suggestions of the article offer some of the shades of power of the god in my opinion for campaign use. Sometimes its not about stats but the influence of a god on a campaign setting

The warped insanity of this god after he was trapped in the cyst for eternity can be summed up by the dogma of his cult;"  Even when he appeared to his followers, he only spoke to them in the form of a shrieking babble that was impossible for mortals to comprehend. The following are his assumed teachings, followed by his cults.[1]

Channel power to the Chained God, so he can break his chains. Retrieve lost relics and shrines to the Chained God. Pursue the obliteration of the world, in anticipation of the Chained God's liberation."

Players could run into his influence anywhere as he thrashes in his prison in the Abyss. All though 
G4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun is a combined wilderness and dungeon adventure set in the Southern Yatil Mountains, focused on a temple dedicated to the evil and insane Greyhawk god Tharizdun. The dungeon master could have many different cult of the insane Greyhawk god appear in other campaign settings. This is something that I've done with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. A glyph here or a dedicated cult NPC there is all it takes to fire the imaginations of players.

This same tactic can be used in a variety of OSR games & recently dungeon master Steve & I were speaking about using 
G4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun  with Castles & Crusades. 

There are two ways to go about this one is to run  S4
THE LOST CAVERNS OF TSOJCANTH with C&C . This puts the PC's through their paces & get's the DM plenty of adventure opportunities to bring in WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax. 

The other way of handling this is to have different alien treasures & relics show up in other settings & dungeons. This is where things can get very interesting. For example I've played in games of  Victorious By Mike Stewart where artifacts of 
 archomentals, Imix, Ogremoch, Yan-C-Bin, &  Olhydra have show up next to those of Tharizdun.

This is the same tactic that I'll be using when running WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax in my 'Old Solar System' game coming up. Is  WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax worth owning? Yes if the module is used in conjunction with S4 THE LOST CAVERNS OF TSOJCANTH. On its own WG4 takes a bit of work to utilize at the table.

We've seen a thousand trapped & dead gods in comic books & literature. Power wise I'd say that 
Tharizdun  is about on the same level as Dr.Strange's foe's Shuma Goroth's level. In fact they have a lot in common. World altering magics, fanatical cults, world shattering levels of insanity.

The fact is that if a dungeon master wanted to use Tharizdun in a modern setting then the classic issues of  Marvel Premiere #10, 1973 “Finally, Shuma-Gorath!”. These issues  would be an excellent template for a modern appearance of Tharizdun. All in all I think that 
 WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax is pretty underappreciated & utilized Greyhawk adventure by modern players & audiences. 

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