Friday, March 15, 2019

Retro Review WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun For AD&D 1st Edition & Your Old School Campaigns

 WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun is one of my all time favorite modules hands down, there is so much occult bleakness and darkness set within the bounds of Greyhawk. Perhaps the over all sense of menace and dread hanging over the temple itself.  WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun is flat out creepy and dangerous even more so then the Tomb of Horrors. I dug out my copy of  WG4 as soon as I had picked up Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. This adventure is basically a prequel to the legendary S4, Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. This adventure is a grinder in some respects and does a quite nice job of featuring monsters from the Fiend Folio. It was designed for characters levels five to ten and there are clear reasons why this logic was used.

Once again according to D&D classics site; "Though "Tharizdun" was labeled as WG4, there were no previous "WG" adventures (and never would be). In the Glossography for the World of Greyhawk boxed set (1983), TSR indicated that T1: "The Village of Hommlet" (1979) was meant to be WG1 and that S4: "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" was meant to be WG3. Meanwhile, in Dragon #71 (March 1983), Gygax revealed that the adventure formerly known as T2: "The Temple of Elemental Evil" was to be WG2 - but he now said it was to be published in two parts.
As it happens, Temple of Elemental Evil would be delayed a few years more and eventually published as the T1-4 supermodule (1985).
In the forward to Dungeons of Dread (2013), Lawrence Schick further underlined the continuity between the modules intended to be WG1-3, writing, "there's evidence that Gary considered Tsojcanth part of a longer Greyhawk campaign, placing the adventure between T1-T4: The Temple of Elemental Evil and WG4: 'The Forgotten Temple oF Tharizdun'." When seen in that light, the four modules do form a nice adventuring continuity: T1 is "introductory to novice level"; T1-4 carries that up as high as level 8 (and possiblly higher); S4 runs levels 6-8; and WG4 goes from levels 8-10.
In his "Greyhawk Grognard" blog, Joseph Bloch suggests that Iuz might have been the lynchpin holding the arc together, since he's involved with the Temple of Elemental Evil and is also the son of Iggwilv from "Caverns."

The over all look and feel of WG4 is completely Weird Tales. From the cover art and interiors all the way to the essence of the adventure. There's a uniformity of Lovecraftian horror about The Forgotten Temple. According to D&D Classics there are several key reasons for this;"Temple of Tharizdun" was reportedly produced very quickly by Gygax himself, rather than the company's design department. Much of the work was done by Gygax's new Greyhawk cadre. Thus Eric Shook drew the maps, while Shook's mother, Karen Nelson, drew the evocative artwork. Gygax later said that he choose Nelson's artwork to highlight the "melodrama and pathos" of the adventure. An adventure being done by someone other than the design department was very unusual by 1982, as was having a single artist illustrate an adventure - that is, rather than the usual teamwork illustration done by TSR's art department" 

Gary Gygax borrowed the god Tharizdun from Kuntz's Kalibruhn campaign and you can get more of the back history on that here This is one of the modules that I've DMed and played since the Seventies and it was a gift from a family friend whose now long gone. Because of this module's connections with the Southern Yatil Mountains its been a fairly easy fit to customize the entire module to other campaign settings one of the reasons for this was;" It 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" Because of this  WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun can easily be used within the confines of AS&SH with a bit of work, this module could be used as a part of the centerpieces of the Spiral Mountains. Gods exist in multiple planar locations enabling a DM to port them into a wide variety of old school campaign setting set pieces. In fact I've connected Ksarul, Ancient Lord of Secrets, Doomed Prince of the Blue Room, Master of Magic and Grammarie from Empire Of The Petal Throne to Tharizdun

The battles with the humanoids and the epic uptick in the over all Lovecraftian feel of this adventure piece enables it to be used with other a gaming campaigns including Stormbringer style games with the Deities and Demigods style rules. I've also used this module with both Lamentations of the Flame Princess and as design fodder for the Dark Albion system. It is one of Gygax's most  demonic, sinister, and dangerous Gothic adventure, followed closely only by T1-4.

Over all this is still one of my favorite adventures to customize and play around with because its such a corner stone of a sword and sorcery campaign. There are so many ways that it can be used and go with WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun

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