S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

This page will be available in .pdf format, at some point.  

Publication History

Original Tournament Background

Tsojcanth-Tsojconth Encounter Comparison

Verses

Location of the Lost Caverns

 

Personages

Demon Princes

Artifacts

  • Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn
  • Demonomicon of Iggwilv
  • Fraz-Urb-luu's staff 
  • Prison of Zagig 

Bibliography  

Ownership

Publication History

The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth is one of Gygax's classic adventure modules, moreso for the Greyhawk background, new monsters, spells, and magic items it introduced into D&D than for the scenario itself.  

On the publishing history of S4, read the information at The Acaeum, and then check out the good scans at Adrian Newman's TSR Archive and McDuff's Keep.  The original tournament version of the adventure---The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth (note the spelling)---consists of 17 leaves of typed pages (in varying font sizes) that include a single-page cover with background information, two pages of maps, two pages of illustrations, two pages of tournament judging guidelines, three pages of cavern and monster descriptions, three pages for pregenerated PC's (two to a page), and four pages of attack/damage matrices for the new monsters introducted in the module (including X, Y, and Z).

Gygax mentions the adventure several times in Dragon Magazine, and once in Polyhedron. Of those instances, four Dragon comments are pertinent to the history of the adventure, when Gygax discussed it in his column From the Sorcerer's Scroll:

"Rob Kuntz is helping me with a revision of The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, a WinterCon tournament scenario which I based in part on one of his dungeons levels."  (The Dragon # 35, page 12; March 1980; [note: the level in question that Gary used was level eight of Kuntz's El Raja Key dungeons, as revealed in the April 2005 auction for the original map; also note that the spelling for the module has already shifted to Tsojcanth])

"Rob Kuntz has the reworked Lost Caverns module which must be finalized also.  It was used for a MDG tournament a few years ago at WinterCon, and the scenario is very good.  We want to get it into print as soon as possible."  (The Dragon # 37, page 11; May 1980)

Kuntz gets special thanks in S4's credits, likely due to his initial creation of the Greater Caverns level, as well as his efforts in rebuilding and/or expanding the original module manuscript into a form closer to the final,  published version.  [compare the original version to S4 and see about RJK's credit, if any]

"Because TSR needed a competition level module . . . the effort needed to finish the second hundred or so pages of ELEMENTAL EVIL went into preparation of THE LOST CAVERNS OF TSOJCANTH.  The scenario was initially done for a convention tournament, but the new product has an extensive outdoor adventure and a completely new series of encounters . . ."  (Dragon # 55, page 17; November 1981)

Here Gygax mentions that he basically gutted S4 when preparing it for publication:  he added the wilderness adventure, and built new encounters into the dungeon.  He also added many new monsters to the module to relace ones that were no longer new since their original publication in 1976 (prior to the release of the 1977 Monster Manual); similarly, many of the new monsters introduced in S4 appear in the Monster Manual II in 1983. (I enumerate the various differences between the encounters in the tourney and published versions of this adventure on my encounter comparion page). Gygax echoes similar sentiments and elaborates further in his interview in the second issue of Polyhedron (probably given by Frank Mentzer, although I have yet to confirm this with Mentzer or Gygax):

"RPGA:  We have received a lot of requests and questions about what has happened to T2 (AD&D Dungeon Module T2: The Temple of Elemental Evil).  Is it soon to come?
"EGG:   It's about half finished, and I've done a complete revision of the old "Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" (AD&D Dungeon Module S5), which were [sic] played at a Detroit WinterCon -- oh, I don't know, three, four, five years ago, whenever it was -- and I've finally gotten around to adding these, and putting a complete outdoor adventure on the front end to get to the Lost Caverns, and I'll finish those and then I'll get back into T2, and then do the plane modules that I want to do.  I want to do the elemental planes, para-elemental planes, demi-planes, and semi-planes, and demi-semi-planes, et cetera . . . . 
"RPGA:  Et cetera . . . .  Well, as president of a multi-million dollar international corporation like TSR Hobbies, I'm sure you have very little free time; but is the Greyhawk campaign still running?
"EGG:   It runs sporadically, with basically what you'd call a group of new players -- some of my younger children play, and some of their friends and associates.  Occasionally we'll get some of the old-timers in there.  As I got busier and busier, and the demands of work kept me from playing Greyhawk, I began to merge my profession with my avocation, and cheated a lot by creating the village of Hommlet and the temple [sic] of Elemental Evil to test some ideas I had about random dungeons, and outdoor terrain so forth.  That got going with a number of the old original players, like Ernie and Brian and so forth, and now that's pretty well quieted down, the old original Greyhawk is back in play again, now and again.  One of these days I swear I'll extensively revise it, fill in a lot of the areas that I only have one-liner notes on, and maybe even attempt to publish it."  (Polyhedron # 2, page 4; Autumn, 1981)

Gygax mentions several noteworthy items in the Polyhedron quotation:

  • Of particular note is that the module designation is S5 and not S4---S1 Tomb of Horrors was published in 1977, S2 White Plume Mountain in 1978, and S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks in 1980; perhaps Gygax was thinking of WG4 Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (perhaps then to have been S5??), also published in1982, or perhaps WG4 was going to precede S4 originally..
  • Gygax seems to strongly associate the S4/S5 and T1-2 modules beyond the fact that he was working on them during the same time frame:  perhaps Gygax used similarly random dungeon- and wilderness-generation processes in both adventures, or that there are hitherto-unknown links between S4/WG4 and T1-2.  
  • Lastly, Gygax was very interested in publishing planar modules (Q1 Queen of the Demonewb Pits, by Daveid C. Sutherland, III, was the only to appear in print), which related in part to the ohterworldly nature of S4 in both of its incarnations.

The final reference to S4 appears in Dragon # 56:

You will recall that the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth module was mentioned in the previous issue.  In this module are quite a few new spells detailing the conjuration and servitude of powerful creatures from other planes.  TSR's Product Development Department was worried about a seeming conflict between the new spell ensnarement (and its various protective devices) and the information found in the Monster Manual regarding protection devices versus devils.  (Dragon # 56, page 18; December 1981)

Interestingly, the protections offered by the magical diagrams changed from the version published in Dragon # 56 to the version publication in S4 (see my page on magical diagrams for a detailed analysis of these rules, as well as my own additions to them).  The magical protections were not subsequently incorporated within the AD&D rules, although an abbreviated sketch of them appears as part of the 6th level Magic-User spell ensnarement in 1985's Unearthed Arcana (page 60).  

Reviews of the Lost Caverns of Tsojconth

From Ken St. Andre's review in Supernova # ()

The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth, designed by Gary Gygax, 3 dollars. 14 pages, ziplock bag. Copyright 1977.

Here I am, trying to lay aside by prejudices and review some D&D material. I think one of the fairest things I can do is let the product speak for itself, so I am going to quote directly from the back cover and then move on to other comments.

"This is the dungeon designed especially for the MDG Wintercon 5 Gamefest Dungeons and Dragons Tournament. It was designed by Gary Gygax and playtested by the TSR staff. Use this dungeon for your own tournament or for a new exciting dungeon for one dungeonmaster and six players (six players aren't necessary but all characters should be used).

The dungeon contains two levels (the lesser caverns and the greater caverns) each with the necessary maps, room descriptions, character sheets, monster chracteristic tables, character versus monster hit/damage matrices, a monster description sheet, referee notes, and guidelines for the selection of the best player. Each level takes about 3-4 hours to play."

And then they tell you a little about the six characters they want you to use in this dungeon.

In one sense, Lost Caverns is a real achievement- a fairly complex dungeon especially for tournament play, it can be used impartially by any number of dungeonmasters without greatly affecting the outcome. Gygax has remembered to include everything you need to operate the Lost Caverns just as is promised above. It is a typical dungeon- a seemingly endless series of caves with a different and more outrageous monster every time you turn around. There is plenty of treasure to be found but you must look in the really stinking places to find it. (D&D Axiom? If it smells bad, can treasure be far away?)

This would be an excellent dungeon to buy if 1. You wanted to run your own little D&D tournament without really preparing; or 2. You'd rather pay 3 bucks for a mediocre dungeon than make up your own.

The only real faults I can find with it are: 1. At least one dollar of the three dollar price is for the ziplock bag (totally unnecessary because all you get is paper- no moving parts or counters to lose); 2. Most of the important text is in printing smaller than the supernovae print and it is very crowded even at that; 3. Gary Gygax did most (perhaps all?) of the illustrations himself. Like me, the man is no artist. Unlike me he insists on publishing his childish little sketches which are all flat, poorly proportioned, and singularly lacking in interest. 4. Lost Caverns has a really ugly dungeon map which looks like it is a xerox copy of a xerox copy.

Overall, I recommend LSOT for avid D&D fans. It should be tremendous egoboost because you will look at it and know that your own dungeons are much better. Non-avid fantasy roleplayers can save their money.

Original Tournament Background

 Compare the background within S4 to the text of the original tournament module, quoted below:  

Several decades ago when the Archmage Iggwilv brought the Marches of Perrunland [sic] under his [sic] domination, considerable store of treasure was taken from that place and sequestered by him somewhere in the no-man's-land between the Duchy of Geoff and the forsaken Sea of Dust.  Among his loot were several rare and prized tomes and the fabled lamp known as Daoud's Wonderous [sic] Lanthorn.

When Iggwilv was slain by the demon Graz'zt, and his [sic] minions scattered by an uprising of oppressed subjects, rumors began to spread regarding where the Archmage's treasure trove was located.  Considering the cartloads of precious metals and gems taken away during the overthrow, it is not surprising that most of these whispered suggestions were ignored as spurious.  However, the books and the Lanthorn were never found, and the rumors did reach some interested parties, for several expeditions have sought to locate these items, but the parties were either unsuccessful in their attempts to find the locations of the Caverns of Tsojconth [sic] (where the most reliable rumors claim the treasure rests) or else failed to return.  (The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth, front cover)

Several key differences between the published histories from Tsojconth and S4 versions emerge:

  • In the original tournament, Iggwilv was male, and slain by Graz'zt upon his escape from confinement; in S4, Iggwilv is female and survives the demon lord's escape, though she is severely weakened by the battle.

  • The original tournament location placed the Lost Caverns between Geoff and the Sea of Dust, which suggests that those locations may have been closer together in Gygax's original Greyhawk campaign than they are now in the official products. The area suggested spans a large swath of land from the Crystalmist Mountains south into the Hellfurnaces. In contrast, S4 is set in the Yatil Mountains, even further north of Geoff and the Sea of Dust.

    • grodog's Frist Surmise: This shift in location explains how the mountain Iggwilv's Horn got its name---that location, rather than the Lost Caverns, was Iggwilv's headquarters and place of strength. Perhaps a second "lost dungeon" is located there (to which, perhaps, the Hall of Pentacles leads?).

    • grodog's Second Surmise: The Crystalmists location further explains how the Lost Caverns and Iggwilv's cache of magic were not discovered when her Perrenland-pillaged loot was recovered, since the Lost Caverns were far to the south, and not at all close to Iggwilv's Horn (and, after all, why should they be if the caverns are a planar nexus?  perhaps she built or exploited existing gates to connect her disparate and hidden workshops, caches of magic, etc.).

  • Tsojcanth, about whom we know very little from official Greyhawk sources, was originally known as Tsojconth. More on Tsojcanth/Tsojconth, below.

I enumerate the various differences between the encounters in the tourney and published versions of this adventure on my encounter comparion page.

Verses and Clues

Several sets of verses exist in S4.  All of them deserve a detailed examination. I begin with the Hermit's Information, then move into the verses and prose cluse themselves in the order they were presented, because his details provide needed context to the rhyme the PCs receive at the beginning of the adventure.

The Hermit's Information

  • A tall mountain is called Iggwilv's Horn.

  • The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth are said to lie south of that peak.

  • A narrow track does go to the caverns, for when Iggwilv ruled, there was much coming and going to and from the caverns.

  • Rumor has it that the caverns are a nexus of planes, and many odd monsters now inhabit the caverns.

  • There are at least two levels of caverns in the place.  (S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 7; emphasis mine; more on this later)

Analysis:

  • The word horn can have many meanings, several of which are applicable to Iggwilv's lair.  In addition to the obvious meanings of mountain peak, a hollow horn to hold something (like a drinking horn), a wind instrument often used as an alarm or warning (note that with the many cave entrances to the Lost Caverns, on windy days they may produce haunting echoes, like a dirge), and a source of strength.  [note to self:  look horn up in OED and see what it says]

  • Horns also suggest both jealousy and cuckolding.  Both meanings hold interesting implications for the parentage of Iggwilv's daughter, Drelnza.  The mountain is Iggwilv's Horn, therefore Iggwilv wears the horns; the question merely remains whether or not the horns are of jealousy or cuckoldry (or both).

    • If the horns originate in jealously, someone presumably cheated on Iggwilv (a dangerous practice that probably didn't continue for long...).  Only two of Iggwilv's probable lovers are recorded in canon:  the father of Iuz (who is the demon prince Graz'zt, according to Gygax's Gord novels and Sargent's WGR5 Iuz the Evil, although the article originally describing him in Dragon # 67 suggests Iuz may be a "by-blow of Orcus or some other demon prince"), and the human lord near Whyestil Lake whose realm Iuz took over.  Given her nature, it's quite likely that Iggwilv took other lovers, of course.

    • If the horns are from cuckolding, Iggwilv's lover may have fathered Drelnza with someone else, which may also explain, in part, why Iggwilv imprisoned her "daughter" as guardian of her trove:  to punish the daughter, yes, but moreso to punish the father (identity unknown to canon).  

    • The father of Drelnza remains an unknown quantity, and Iggwilv may not necessarily have given birth to her (since Drelnza could be a step-daughter, or an adopted daughter). 

    • Note also, that Drelnza and Iuz may be half-siblings; perhaps Iuz's human "father" (the lord of Whyestil Lake) was Iggwilv's husband; when he cheated on her, and begat Drelnza, perhaps Iggwilv made Drelnza into a vampire in retribution (in addition to handing his kingdom to Iuz).

    • Note that horns are alsoplural: the mountain in the Yatils is only one horn, suggesting that another may exist (perhaps in the Crystalmists or Hellfurnaces).

The Horn of Iggwilv:

The Horn of Iggwilv 
pierces the heart--
look over your shoulder 
before you start.
How many sorrow?
Foolish men,
because they didn't 
turn back then. 
(S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 3)

"The Horn of Iggwilv pierces the heart" suggests several meanings:  a heart broken by jealousy, the killing of a vampire, an active and deadly jealousy (which aggressively pierces someone else's heart).  I believe that this short poem---in particular the use of "Horn"---reinforces my theories about jealousy and cuckolding, above. Heart could also mean the center of her realm (whether that's the Lost Caverns or not), and that foes approach her realm at their own risk. 

The phrase "look over your shoulder before you start" certainly suggests uncertainty:  it advises caution, and not only that your back might be unguarded, but that you may not be able to trust whoever may or may not be back there:  you should check your back before you start.  But before you start what?--that is the key query.  Before you arouse the jealousy that pierces hearts, by involving yourself in Iggwilv's love life?  Or, before you betray that love/lover and earn a heart-piercing?  Or, is it a general warning that Iggwilv has been burned in the past and that you shouldn't approach her heart at all, since you risk rousing her wrath? 

Additionally, "look" has several connotations: to "look over" is to look back, to look behind, but also to look beyond (beyond your shoulder, beyond your self)---to look to the past, and to where you've been before, which is an allusion to seeking Drelnza within the Greater Caverns while repeatedly heading to the center hex). To "look over" is also to inspect, to to examine closely, perhaps cautiously as well as thoroughly.The heart, shoulder, and back are all parts of the body (more specifically the upper body), strong and muscular. A shoulder is also part of a mountain near the top, while to pierce something is to stab it, to enter/penetrate something; it is also to see truly, and with clarity. Thus, the first quatrain centers on cautioning the PCs about Iggwilv's danger---her strength pierces the heart---and advised them to retreat, to stop before they start.

How many sorrow?  This sounds like a rhetorical question, of course:  the countless who have fallen before Iggwilv sorrow because they didn't heed the cautious warning.  But it also suggests that others nearer to Iggwilv may sorrow as well:  Iggwilv, who's heart has been broken; Drelnza, with her "yearning eyes" and "hunger tragic." Perhaps no one sorrows, which is telling because no one cares about Iggwilv or Drelnza any longer. (Note that all who sorrow are "foolish men"---perhaps both Iggwilv and her daughter(s) are especially tempting to men...). 

These men are foolish and they sorrow because they didn't "turn back then"---they didn't give up and retreat, but they also didn't turn around, look around, to see who or what what is behind them. Also, they didn't "turn back then"---they didn't convert to Iggwilv's ways, and suffered for their stubborn inflexibility (or obstinate resisteance, perhaps). Perhaps it was Drelnza who would not turn (to evil? to some particular cause of Iggwilv's??), and she was turned into a vampire in retribution, hence her "yearning eyes" and "hunger tragic." It's also possible that Drelnza was turned into a vampire by an enemy of Iggwilv's, in retaliation for one of Iggwilv's acts, or perhaps because she would not turnto or acquiesce to another cause or course of action.

The Hermit's Fragment:

The following information is "a page from the journal of the lone survivor of a past expedition to the caverns" (S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 7).  Note that the conclusion of the log suggests that the lone survivor experienced some sort of revelation; perhaps the Hermit is, in fact, the lone survivor?

The log follows:

The small cave was the secret, for in back, hidden by (here the text is blurred beyond any reading) . . .  and we descended.  There was no certain path, so we (smudged). . . and this is told of above, for it is where Yaim and Brelid met their end.  Our persistence paid.  The right way was beyond and narrow, so (writing covered with dark stain) . . . --eam lies straight pas-- (more stains) . . .  --pe the span swiftly to plunge to doom where the wat-- (here smudges and stains obliterate several lines) . . . They were right.  It is much more dismal here than above.  Only the two of us su-- (blotch) . . . We pray that the lucky (smudge) . . . is true, for we are now going to attempt entry fo-- (large rusty smears have wiped out the next words) . . . of no help.  I managed to escape.  Why did we (here the remaining few words are smeared and unreadable, save for the last word) . . . beautiful.  (S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 7)

The original tournament scenario provided a portion of this log as player background in the "Current Situation" section:

You are a member of a group of six adventurers, met by chance some weeks past.  Each was seeking the Caverns, each possessed a fragment of information regarding them.  Together you have compiled what seems an accurate set of directions to the entrance of these caverns . . .   A fragment of parchment you have states:  "The right way is narrow... (words obliterated)...eam lies the straight pas...(more smudged writing)...pe the span swiftly of [this word should probably be "or"] plunge to doom where the wat..." (The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth)

Reconstruction of the Hermit's fragment, using information present in the original and published modules, suggests the following as a possible base text to the above reading (note that this version of the log is purely my own creation, based on the two previous versions):

The small cave was the secret, for in back, hidden by [an illusion, were stairs hewn into the living rock,] and we descended.  There was no certain path, so we [explored each of the cave openings, battling many strange creatures, including one of Iggwilv's automatons,] and this is told of above, for it is where Yaim and Brelid met their end.  [??perhaps they were on an upper level, in the pech cavern??]  Our persistence paid.  The right way was beyond and narrow, so [we walked carefully after removing armor, then suited up again.  We continued to the where the str]eam lies straight pas[t the westward branching cave, and entered the stream.  The current carried us further west, under a rock bridge.  We were had to ro]pe the span swiftly or plunge to doom where the wat[er fell hundreds of feet into the flooded caves below
pez
pez  [they find their way into the Greater Caverns, below]
pez
pez
They [who they?] were right.  It is much more dismal here than above.  Only the two of us su[rvive].  We pray that the lucky [verse] is true, for we are now going to attempt entry fo[r the seventh, and last, time.  The holy water was] of no help.  I managed to escape.  Why did we [xxxx yyyy zzzzz?] beautiful. 

[found Drelnza, but then he got away, still smitten by her?; unrelatedly, note that Brelid is almost an anagram for Dilbert]

The Graven Glyphs

Under this heading, I discuss the Graven Glyphs themselves, as well as the hints to hapless players who aren't accustomed to teleportation traps in their dungeons.

In the center lies the gate
But opening it is sure to vex
Many are the guards who wait
As you go to the middle hex

Randomly sent to find a way
Back to a different iron door
A seventh time and you may stay
And seek the glowing prize no more

You have won old Iggwilv's prize
Her hoarded cache of magic
And freed the one with yearning eyes
Whose lot was hunger tragic 
(S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 18).  

In Booklet 2, page 32, line nine reads "You have won ole Iggwilv's prize."  In the original tournament, the Graven Glyphs offer a slightly different reading:  

In the center lies the gate
But opening is sure to vex
Many are the guards who wait
As you go to the middle hex

Randomly sent to find a way
Back to a different iron door
A seventh time and you may stay
And seek the prize no more

You have won my choicest prize
My warded cache of magic
And freed the one with yearning eyes
Whose lot was hunger tragic
(The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth, The Greater Caverns)

Note that the gate is in the center, which suggests that another gate existed within the central room---probably a hex in the original version, since the poem mentions such, and there are six doors; the Greater Caverns central map region also generally mimics a hexagonal shape, as well, so it is also possible that the "center hex" is the series of corridors surrounding areas 9, 10, 18, 19, and 20.  If that is in fact the case, then I think that the Greater Caverns originally extended one hex each further around the center hex, and that the teleportation traps took adventurers to a completely different hex bordering on the central one.  

The Greater Caverns map also hints that there may have been more entrances, perhaps as many as eleven in total (although I think that eight entrance corridors seems the most likely non-six alternative, given the eight points of a compass; mapping an octagon isn't as easy as a hexagon, but I suppose anything is possible).  I think that the other, undetailed corridors were probably gates, although not to locations within the complex; otherwise, there isn't really any evidence of the planar nexus mentioned in the Hermit's clues (other than the general presence of demons and whatnot, as well as the four locations available from the Glowing Cavern, key 9).  In any event, the middle hex contains the gate, which then leads to the final door, which is, in turn, a door itself.  But to where?  Perhaps to the round room 20?  

Greater Caverns' Teleport Hints

In the published module, Gygax advises the DM to scatter the following six lines of clues throughout the Greater Caverns, one line per encounter location.  

  • Going south takes you southwest
  • Going north takes you southeast
  • Travel southeast and you are south
  • Northwest brings you north
  • Travel southwest reverse that
  • From northeast you go northwest  (S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 20)

The unrepresented directions are east and west, which would each take adventurers to the other's corresponding teleportation location, if the dungeon was base-8 vs. base-6.  

In the original tournament, the clues appeared on parchments in two locations, respectively guarded by a Chimera, and by a Neo-Otyugh and Shambling Mound.  The clues read:

Southwest, then northwest brings the venturesome to the southwest gate, and if you enter you will go the opposite way

North, then northeast to the southwestern gate, and if you enter you will next have to go south and east  (The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth, "The Greater Caverns")

The clues are clearer in the final, published module.  

Location of the Lost Caverns

Throughout this section I refer by default to the Darlene wall maps from the 1980 and 1983 editions of Greyhawk.  When I refer to a Living Greyhawk map location, I will specifically mention it as such.  

"Lostness"

A whole lot of folks seem to know where these "lost" caverns lie:  the Hermit, the inhabitants of Gnome Vale, probably Mordenkainen (behind-the-scenes sponsor for Bissel), probably Iuz and Perrenland, perhaps High Folk, Veluna, and Ket, and quite-likely various other unnamed groups!

It is possible that many of these nations simultaneously received their information from Mordenkainen, which would partially explain the "land-grab"/"gold rush"/"claim jumping" sense of desperate squabbling that pervades the adventure's background. However, Mordenkainen's influence cannot account for the thousands of previous adventurers who have died in the Lost Caverns (unless he's been at this for a very long time...).

For more thoughts on this subject, see below.

Site of the Caverns

Read Denis Tetreault's essay on The Southern Yatils.  His keen analysis of the maps of S4 vs. the Darlene maps offers a DM the option to choose to remain canonical or to select a geographically savvy site.  It's great to be informed that the choice even has to be made in the first place.  

I have always pictured the Lost Caverns and the Forgotten Temple within the main body of the Yatils, north and west of Krestible, rather than in the southern branch near Highfolk.  For me, that is a much more reasonable location from which to dominate Perrenland.  For the locations posited in both the 1983 Glassography (hex E5-88) and in Denis' essay (hex E5-89), I believe that if Iggwilv dominated the whole of Perrenland from either location, then she would also have been much more of a threat to the city Molvar in Ket, as well as the Fairdells  (Highfolk).  To project sufficient power to take Perrenland (a nation noted for the export its excellent mercenary companies) to its knees for ten years, but then not to touch Ket, Highfolk, and possibly Veluna, does not seem credible to me.  

Inspired by Denis' notes, however, in my campaign I placed Mordenkainen's Obsidian Citadel in hex E5-89 (on the Darlene maps), which, given Mordenkainen's attempts to capture Obmi and the Theopart Awakener in Gygax's novel Artifact of Evil, seemed to me to be a better use of the alternate locations which Denis explored.  Your mileage may vary (and you can always switch the twain to keep the Caverns in their proper location, to and shift The Obsidian Citadel to the central Yatils). 

On Darlene's Greyhawk maps, I choose to locate the Tsojcanth Caverns in hex K3-88, which puts them more toward the bulgy center of the main body of the Yatils; and, if I counted correctly, I believe the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun would then appear in hex Q5-87 (in the hex directly to the east of the N in "Yatil Mountains" on the Darlene maps).  On the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer maps, I place the Caverns around hex 10-Q, which may or may not shift the Temple to 10-P, since the scale changes from Darlene's maps to the LGG maps, and makes site conversion inexact. [need locaiton for new dungeon maps]

Entrances, Exits, and the Verticality of Levels

Have you ever tried to map out all the entrances and exits and sub-levels that form the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth?  I have, and the results aren't very pretty.  I'm not sure that I should share this map of the mountain, since I really not sure that I've figured out how to present the three-dimensional levels described in the module (DCSIII I'm not!).  

Anyway, here's grodog's Tsojcanth Schematics, in which I try to depict the relationships between the various entrances, exits, and levels of the module, in proportion to one another:

  • Map of the Fanged Entrance Cavern (1.2 MB .jpg)
  • Map of the Lesser and Greater Caverns (1.4 MB .jpg)
  • Map of the Levels in Profile, and also the Umber Hulk Caves (1.2 MB .jpg)
  • All three of the above maps, in .pdf (2.5 MB .pdf)

Lost Levels

What ever happened to the other levels of the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (and why is the dungeon in the mountain south of the one named Iggwilv's Horn:  obviously the Lost Caverns were not her headquarters)?  If the Lost Caverns were, in fact, Iggwilv's headquarters, where are her bedroom and conjuration room, Graz'zt's prison room (surely he wasn't in the Prison of Zagig?), the demnses of Drelnza and ofIggwilv's apprentices and henchmen, etc.?

Underground Lake Level

pez

The Greater Caverns' Hex Shape

pez

Sub-Levels of the Caverns

pez

Lost Levels and Living Greyhawk

According to the Living Greyhawk's regional newsletter The Perrenland Informer [link citation]:

A map recently discovered by adventurers in the Corusk Mountains indicates that the legendary Caverns of Tsojcanth (located all the way across Perrenland, in the Yatils!) may be more extensive than first reported.  A number of copies of this map, some undoubtedly false, are currently circulating in Swartzenbruin [sic].

Planar Nexus

The original idea of a planar nexus came from the tournament nature of the original scenario:

Your information indicates that the caverns are on two levels, and that the way to the deeper section can only be gained by a chosen few, for the locale is strange in yet another fashion.  The Caverns of Tsojconth are a nexus in probability, where several alternate worlds touch.  Each of you is aware that numerous parties such as yours, each containing six alternate persons like each of you, will be entering that part of the Caverns which manifests itself in their respective worlds.  (The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth, "Current Situation")

There is no mention of  

  • pez

  • water/earth elemental planes = marid, dao, xorn, lacedon, cockatrice

 

Personages

Many figures key to Greyhawk's hallowed history debut in S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  

Drelnza

Based on the original tournament, Gygax probably added the relationship between Drelnza and Iggwilv after expanding the scenario for publication (or, the relationship simply was not detailed in the original version).  Described merely as a "vampiress lord" who "cannot escape from the room, nor can she call aid...  She guards the nexus and must permit none to leave alive if she is to go free" (The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth, "The Greater Caverns, continued").  Note that to discover Drelnza, you need to seek the spherical chamber, the center hex, six times before the seventh succeeds (note also that all six doors are false and all are true, another possible clue if PCs use divination magic to attempt to gain further insight into the room's entrance requirements).

I speculate about Drelnza's parentage above, in part drawn from the speculation about Iggwilv's Horn, and her possible kinship to Iuz.  What is the age of Drelnza relative to Iuz, is she younger, or he?---since he's been Iuz the Old forever, it would be ironc for him to be younger than his older sister.

Drelnza may appear in the painting in one of the Corridors of Red Marble:  "A painting shows a 14' wooden boat with a lovely, black-haired lady at the tiller, smiling under a stormy night sky. This painting is of the magical boat from LESSER CAVERNS area 13" (S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 27).  The fact that the lovely woman is abroad at night may hint that she is a vampiric Drelnza, although this is speculation, of course (the painting could just as easily depict Drelnza prior to her vampirism, or Iggwilv, or Drelnza's twin sister, or...).

Drelnza's fate appears to have been sealed, per her mention by Tenser in WG6 Isle of the Ape:  "Know you of Iggwilv?  Dead, you thought?  Long dead . . .  No, not so!  She stirs and is much wroth, for her beloved daughter was laid low" (WG6 page 6).  Tenser's mention of Drelnza is one of the few times that a non-series module chronologically refers to the events from another adventure (discounting such travesties as S1-4 Realms of Horror, or the plotline built to connect the T, A, and GDQ serieses together).  However, Drelnza is not explicitly named by Tenser, and his reference could, perhaps, apply to another of Iggwilv's daughters; note especially that this second daughter mentioned is "beloved" vs. the usual yearning/hunger tragic description that's consistently applied to Drelnza.  Further, the unnamed daughter was "laid low," and not necessarily slain, so it is also possible that Drelnza survived even if it was she who was defeated.  (As an aside, the only other reference of this type that I can recall occurs in the description of Lareth's worship of Lolth in T1 The Village of Hommlet.  Its sequel T1-4 The temple of Elemental Evil mentions a "sharp check" (page 29) dealt to Lolth---presumably with her defeat in D3 The Vault of the Drow or, less likely, Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits---which sets T1/T1-4 sometime after D3/Q1).  

If my theories about Iggwilv's jealousy/cuckoldry hold credence, then Iggwilv may have been angry for any number of reasons:  

  • her daughter Drelnza was laid low/slain

  • her treasures from Tsojcanth were stolen (although, truthfully, I'd only want the Prison of Zagig myself, assuming that I already knew all the names and had all of the spells in my real spellbook)

  • her daughter Drelnza was laid low/slain and her Tsojcanth treasures were stolen

  • her daughter Drelnza was released from her imprisonment

  • her daughter Drelnza was slain and therefore released from her eternal torture as a vampire 

  • some other non-Drelnza daughter was laid low (note that if some other daughter was laid low, then the connection to Tsojcanth crumbles, and it may be assumed that Drelnza may yet guard Iggwilv's cache) 

If Drelnza survives, the relationship and communication she holds with her mother, if any, will be very important to her subsequent actions as she reacclimates herself to an Oerth that has advanced at least a century since she saw it last.  

Iggwilv

Despite Iggwilv's centrality to the Lost Caverns scenario, we actually know very little about her background, goals, plans, powers, etc. The little we do know is summariezed below:

  • Iggwilv discovered the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (presumably at some point they weren't Lost and were merely the Caverns of Tsojcanth), wherein magic of unsurpassed might was hidden, and thereby she gained much of her prowess 

  • Iggwilv ruled her domain from the caverns, and conducted arcane experiments and rituals to increase her powers (this sounds strangely reminiscent of how Zagig's expertimentations have been described at various times...)

  • Iggwilv had already captured Graz'zt and forced him into servitude; she accidentally set him free during one of her experiments (possibly on Graz'zt himself?)

  • Iggwilv survived the battle, though losing most of her power

  • Iggwilv had henchmen and slaves (perhaps apprentices also?), who stole her treasure and scattered to the four winds in the face of enemy armies (note the plural!)

  • Iggwilv sacrificed her little power that remained to hide her remaining treasure (her daughter, the artifacts, etc.; perhaps her agency here is why the Lost Caverns are now lost?---perhaps she physically moved the caverns, or even the entire mountain, from their original location?); cartloads of treasure are recovered, though not from the Lost Caverns (although the Caverns have been found before by other adventuring parties, and although the other nearby mountain is named Iggwilv's Horn)

Note that an interpretation of Iggwilv is illustrated by an uncredited H. J. Quinn on S4 Booklet 2, page 8.  She wields a dagger and a spear against Graz'zt (unless the spear is in fact Graz'zt's guisarme +1, which she has wrested away from him?).  She has very long hair, and is wearing a crown/mask (Johydee's Mask?), a necklace, various bracelets, a cloak, wrapped leggings, and a dress that only covers one shoulder.  While a nice image of Graz'zt in battle form, and a stunned/terrified Iggwilv, I don't think that Graz'zt would have had his sword available while Iggwilv's prisoner (perhaps he summoned it?).   

There have been many references to Iggwilv outside of this module; consult Jason Zavoda's listings in the Encyclopedia Greyhawkiana to review them all:  

Demonomicon of Iggwilv [BK]
DRG#299 - 101
S4B1 - 30
S4B2 - 21,26,29

Iggwilv {Igwlf}{Louhi}{Wilva}{Ychbilch}[NPC]
AOE - 91,92,94,96,194,232,328-332,343
CED - 37,46,47,52,55,56,294,295,296,297,302
DOD - 12,13,14,45,46,75,136,140,170,171,172,173,174,175,176
178,192,196,197,198,199,200,201,202,206,207,209,210,214
218,221
DRG#225 - 49,51,53
DRG#241 - 75
DRG#294 - 27
DRG#299 - 101,103
FTAA - 29
LGG - 67,86,156,173
LGJ#0 - 6,7
LGJ#4 - 29
LOG - 5
PGTG - 18,24,27
RTO8 - 2,10,20,21,37,48,52-56,59
S4B1 - 2,3,7,18,19,26,27,29,30
S4B2 - 21,26,32
SOD - 15-31,75-80,82,83,87-90,93,135,136,139
T1-4 - 99
TAB - 59-61
TD - 7
WG6 - 6,8,43,44
WGR5 - 3,16

Iggwilvs Horn [MT]
S4B1 - 6

Iggwilvs Nethertome [BK]
DRG#225 - 51,52

Iggwilv is basically Baba Yaga for Greyhawk, and should be owner/inventor/user/discoverer of her Dancing Hut.  

Children of Iggwilv:  Iuz (with Graz'zt), Drelnza (perhaps), perhaps another if the WG6 mention is not Drelnza.  

Apprentices/henchmen of Iggwilv:  none reported by name, although henchmen flee her crumbled realm with loot in S4 intro.  

Further caches/labs/sites:  see Roger Moore's Gates in the World of Greyhawk. See also Fiends Embrace, new minor artifact of iggwilv's from Dungeon Magazine # 121 (April 2005).

Mordenkainen

In the Living Greyhawk Journal's premiere issue, Gary Holian and Erik Mona state

"The Circle [of Eight] in those early days worked to check the power of influential beings in Eastern Oerik.  When they could not directly intervene, they sponsored groups of adventurers, as in the sacking of Iggwilv's former haunt at the Tsojcanth Caverns in the mid-570's."  (Living Greyhawk Journal # 0, page 6)

This would place Mordenkainen and the Circle behind the PCs sponsored by the Margrave of Bissel, in their quest to loot the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  Such sponsorship also marks Mordenkainen or another member of the Circle as the source of the "recent investigations" which prove that "the magical lanthorn did exist and that Iggwilv possessed it," and that "Iggwilv's lair was definitely located somewhere between the gorge of the Velverdyva River and the hills east of the town of Krestible" (S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 2)

Several intriguing questions remain, given the above information:  

  • What prompted Mordenkainen to choose to involve himself in Iggwilv's affairs?

  • What investigations did Mordenkainen perform to confirm the lore?  Where were they performed?  When, and by whom?  

  • Why wasn't Mordenkainen able to pinpoint the location of the Caverns?  There is no shielding or protection from scrying in the tournament or published modules (other than that surrounding the Inner Sphere/Nexus of the Greater Caverns); given that the Yatils are basically Mordy's backyard, how could he have not known about the caverns for so many years? (This may speak to Gygax's comments that Mordy's fortress in the original GH campaign was in the area of the Horned Society) .

  • If Mordenkainen was the sponsor, what was his angle?  Did he want the Demonomicon?  The Prison?  The Lanthorn?  the treunames? All of the above?

  • What is the history of the Lanthorn, independent of Iggwilv?

Previous Explorers

"The realms of Iuz, Perrenland, and Ket have sent expeditions into the Yatil Mountains seeking the exact location of the caverns; the few that have survived have all failed."  (S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 2)

Expedition Sponsors

Some notes on the sponsors of the adventuring parties seeking the Lost Caverns:  

  • Bissel (LG, LN; LG, LN, N, NG in LGG):  Walgar, Ranger 15 (Larrangin, LG F9/C2 in LGG)

    • Ostensibly the sponsor of the PCs, Walgar is likely the tool of Mordenkainen [N W20+]

    • Who's to say that the Margrave didn't hire more than one band of adventurers, to protect against the possibility that one or more fail?  What if he set one or two up as decoys who would draw the attention of Iuz, Ket, etc., to better insure that his prime team got through?  That's a very Mordenkainen/Circle of Eight thing to do....

  • Iuz (CE; CE, NE, LE, CN in LGG):  Iuz, CE demonic demigod 

    • It seems likely that Iuz's party would have known the location of the caverns, although perhaps they failed to reach them due to the trials of traveling in the Yatils, etc.

    • Just how friendly are Iuz and mom?  Iuz and sis?  They're probably rivals in many ways, especially Iuz and Drelnza.

  • Ket (LN, LE, N; LN, N, LE, CN in LG):  Zoltan, C3/F14 (Nadaid, LN F10/W5 in LGG)

    • Border patrol

    • Also employs a hobgoblin war party "with orders to prevent or report human movement along the Kettite border area" (S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Booklet 1, page 7)

    • Note that Ket is the only nation/group with two bands scouring the wilderness:  their determination to get the loot seems greater than the other rival sponsoring nations.

  • Perrenland (LN, N; LN, N, LG in LGG):  Franz, R 15 (Karenin, LN F14 in LGG)

  • Veluna (LG, LN; LG, NG, LN in LGG):  Hazen, C19 (LG C20+ in LGG)

    • Veluna is mentioned in the Notes for the Dungeon Master on Booklet 1, page 2, although not within the Introduction, and lacks any border patrol presence among the wilderness encounters

I think that the Perrenland and Ket Border Patrols, the Hobgoblin War Party (in the service of Ket), and the Elven Warder Band (serving Highfolk, who seem conspicuously absent from the list of possible sponsors---perhaps tey're in League with Mordenkainen directly?) would be on the lookout for rival parties of adventurers, and possibly attack/detain them on principle, especially if the adventurers were foolish enough to admit the object of their quest.  

Adventuring Parties

Just how many groups of previous explorers have plumbed these supposedly "lost" caverns?  The following discrete groupings of intruders certainly arrived prior to the PCs.  Some of the victims may have adventured together, however, so separation may not indicate group identity:

  • Note that the Stone Giants have a 15th level Bigby's Grasping Hand scroll, which suggests that a 15th level Bigby (or another 15th level mage who knew Bigby's personal spell) was in the area at some point.

  • the loner survivor's group (see the Hermit's Fragment, above)

    • Yaim [Bakluni?]

    • Brelid [Dwur?]

    • the next-to-last adventurer

    • the sole survivor [what goes through your head--the Asia song or Connect Four?]

  • the party to which the slain elf belonged (in the Second Fungi Cavern)

    • note that the elf had black cloak and hood = possibly a drow?; wears bracers =MU or Thief? (I lean toward the latter, due to the cloak and the gems [perhaps spell componentes?))

    • this encounter is similar in nature to the frozen PCs entombed in G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
  • the hundreds/thousands of bodak victims (some may have dated from when Iggwilv was still alive, of course)

  • the previous victims who taught Lludd how to speak human/creature languages

  • the chasme demons' victim

In the original tournament, the only whole-body victim appeared in the Niche With Remains (aka, Second Fungi Cavern); it is not described beyond "the body somewhat resembles something undead" (The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth, "The Lesser Caverns").  

From the introduction, it would seem that at least one group from each of the nations of Iuz, Perrenland and Ket have already attempted to find the caverns.  Seemingly, these groups failed to locate the entrance, and perished in the Yatils.  Adventuring parties suggest stealth, speed, and hit-and-run tactics; why send a small band rather than a larger force of euroz backed by members of the Boneheart (Iuz), or Otis, Murfles, and the rest of the Hommlet crew (Veluna)? Why the need for secrecy and deniability that adventurers bing (perhaps to put some distance between each nation's pawns and Iggwilv?).

Tsojcanth

tsojconth = zip in Zavoda;
Tsojcanth [NPC]
DRG#299 - 103
RTO8 - 55

See the following URL's:

Ghorkai

Gygax wrote the Slayers Guide to Dragons for Mongoose Publishing in 2002, who published the scenario "The Revenge of Ghorkai" (or "The Ravage of Ghorkai" as reads in the body of tee .pdf) as a free download. The download is interesting, because it contains several references to Iggwilv, Drelnza, and the geography of S4.

Demon Princes

Note the similarity in the first nodes of hteir names.  Perhaps they're related (beyond the fact that they start with consecutive letters of the alphabet)?

Graz'zt

Graz'zt was imprisoned by Iggwilv, and centuries earlier by Tuerney (using his Iron Flask, according to Roger E. Moore's Return of the Eight adventure).  Graz'zt must be an easy mark, or something---perhaps his truename is graffiti within the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk ;->

Some Forgotten Realms-specific information about Graz'zt appears in For Duty and Deity, which you can download for free from WotC's web site.   More information appears in the Book of Vile Darkness.

Fraz-Urb-luu

Note also the name change:  in the Monster Manual II, the demon prince is Fraz-Urb'luu.  

Fraz' was Imprisoned "for centuries" beneath Castle Greyhawk by Zagig, within a bas-relief image.  See Scott Gregg's "Erac and Erac's Cousin" Greytalk post for additional details, as well as Gygax's "Up On A Soapbox" column in Dragon Magazine # 320.  Of particular note from Scott's post:  

Erac was a lawful good magic-user who worked his way up to Warlock (8th level Magic-user) before he died on a sub-level of the 6th level of the Greyhawk Castle dungeons.  He was trapped in an area with a star on the ceiling.  The star was magical and by wishing upon it, Erac could have escaped.  Unfortunately, the hapless adventurer never discovered the star's secret and eventually starved to death.

This prison sounds remarkably similar to the one in the Greater Caverns encounter 9.4 Hall of Pentacles.  Perhaps that encounter teleports adventurers to Castle Greyhawk.  

Artifacts

Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn

The original version of the Lanthorn was less powerful than the final, published artifact:

  • Sapphire lens caused Fear

  • Emeral lens caused Haste

  • Topaz lens caused Slow

    (S4 doesn't list a topaz lens power)
  • Ruby lens caused Hold

Range was still 30 feet, with no save within 15 feet (vs. 10 feet in the final version).  Confusion lasted as long as the Lanthorn was spun, and the use of four lenses on one face caused blindness at 60 feet for 2 to 12 rounds.  There were no prismatic powers listed for the original version of the Lanthorn, and no mention of additional prisms beyond the above four.  

  •  Note that Dao = an evil earth elemental, does this reflect on the Lanthorn's name? (perhaps it may be a genie lamp too...)

  • Just who or what was Daoud?

  • What happened to the Lanthorn after/if it was recovered?  

Is it possible that Iggwilv was trying to cure her daughter of vampirism by having her bask in the light of the Lanthorn for hundreds of years?

Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn in Living Greyhawk

According to The Perrenland Informer, newsletter of Perrenland's Triad:

Retrieved by adventurers from the caverns of Tsojcanth several years ago, the Wondrous Lanthorn is missing once again!  Rumor claims the artifact was stolen nearly a year ago; however, the theft was kept secret while attempts to retrieve it were made.  Who stole the Lanthorn is not known.  Inquiries should be directed to the Constable of Krestible if you wish to help retrieve this item.  

Demonomicon of Iggwilv

  • Gygax expanded upon notes from Dragon Magazine 56.  This material was not published in Unearthed Arcana, which collected a lot of material originally published in Dragon Magazine.

Fraz-Urb-luu's staff

  • which is still missing (see City of Greyhawk box set Adventure Card # 10 "The Lich-Staff", as well as my article on Fraz' on Canonfire!)

Graz'zt's Eye of Deception

  • from the Gord novels (seen in Quinn illustration?)

Prison of Zagig

  • (the illustration always looked like Tenser to me)

  • how did Iggwilv acquire this if only 2-3 exist?

Bibliography (and Otherwise Useful Resources)

  • Gary Gygax. "From the Sorcerer's Scroll." The Dragon and Dragon Magazine, as pulled from the Dragon Magazine Archive.  Wizards of the Coast:  Renton, WA.  1999.

  • Gary Gygax.  The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth.  Metro Detroit Gamers: Detroit, MI. 1976.
    A warm Thank You to Adrian Newman for providing a photocopy of this adventure to further my research.  

  • Gary Gygax.  S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  TSR Hobbies:  Lake Geneva, WI.  1982.  

  • Gary Gygax.  T1 The Village of Hommlet.  TSR Hobbies:  Lake Geneva, WI.  1979.  

  • Gary Gygax.  WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun.  TSR Hobbies:  Lake Geneva, WI.  1982.  

  • Gary Gygax.  WG6 Isle of the Ape.  TSR Hobbies:  Lake Geneva, WI.  1985.

  • Scott Gregg.  "Erac & Erac's Cousin."  Greytalk internet post dated 14 December 2000.  

  • Terry Harrison.  "The History of Iggwilv."  TORG Mailing List message 3368.

  • Gary Holian, Erik Mona, Sean K. Reynolds, and Frederick Weining.  Living Greyhawk Gazetteer.  Wizards of the Coast:  Renton, WA.  2000.  

  • Gary Holian and Erik Mona.  "Wheels Within Wheels:  Greyhawk's Circle of Eight." Living Greyhawk Journal # 0. Wizards of the Coast: Renton, WA. August 2000.  

  • Frank Mentzer. "Interview with Gary Gygax, Part Two." Polyhedron Newszine # 2. TSR Hobbies: Lake Geneva, WI. Autumn 1981.
  • Rob Kuntz, personal correspondence (if I can ever dig the letters up and see what light they shed....).

  • Roger E. Moore.  "Gates in the World of Greyhawk Part 1."  AOL Greyhawk folders, 1995.  

  • Roger E. Moore.  Return of the Eight.  Wizards of the Coast:  Renton, WA.  1998.  

  • Denis Tetreault.  " The Southern Yatils."  

Ownership

All contents of this page are copyright their respective holders:  

  • Wizards of the Coast owns Greyhawk, D&D, The Dragon, Dragon Magazine, Polyhedron Newszine, and all associated trademarks and likenesses.  

  • All original scholarship contained herein is copyright 2001-2005 by Allan T. Grohe, Jr.  


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