Showing posts with label Iggwilv. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iggwilv. Show all posts

Monday, October 3, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: When Comes the Witching Hour

When Comes the Witching Hour
Another adventure from casl Entertainment featuring the "Witch Queen" which may or may not be Iggwilv. 

When Comes the Witching Hour

PDF and Print. 80 Pages. Color covers. Black & White art.

This adventure is designed for levels 9 to 12 for the OSRIC game, which is the clone of AD&D 1st Edition.

I grabbed this adventure back in February after reviewing The Witch-Queen's Lament, a later, but lower-level adventure.

There is a nudge-nudge-wink-wink commentary on how to fit this adventure into the World of Greyhawk. But it is also fully usable in any world. 

The adventure is overtly the search for a missing princess. What makes this different is the missing princess is likely in the Dungeons of the Mad Archmage and might have something to do with the Queen of Witches.

Now. Before I get too much further let me point out what this adventure can do. Obviously, there are the fans of the World of Greayhawk who can use this to expand on their game worlds. You can grab nearly any other version of the Castle or Dungeons of the Mad Arch Mage.  It is really a nice piece that could fit into a lot of campaigns. 

The adventure is a wonderful romp through some of the storied locations of the World of Greyhawk, if in a thinly veiled manner. Also, anything that involves Iggwilv or the Witch Queen is a must-buy in my mind.

The adventure covers the first half of the book. The last half has new monsters including many unique demons, new magic items, pre-gen characters, and finally the maps. Note. The print version maps are a little difficult to read. I have the PDF so I printed them out.

One other nitpick. There are no page numbers printed on each page. 

When Come the Witching Hour

--

For Use in War of the Witch Queens

This one is so on brand for my War of the Witch Queens that I am shocked how well it works for me. It covers several bases for me. For starters, it is OSRIC thus satisfying my need to involve all sorts of OSR rule sets. It is set in Greyhawk which satisfies my desire to involve many of the game worlds as I can. And most of all it features the machinations of not just "A" Witch Queen, but "THE" Witch Queen. I mean really. If I have any complaints about this adventure it is I didn't write it myself.

For Use in NIGHT SHIFT

While I love to use some of these adventures for NIGHT SHIFT not everything will fit. This is a perfect example, while I love the idea of this adventure it would not be good for NIGHT SHIFT. This adventure is too deeply tied to the World of D&D and especially Greyhawk.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Review: The Witch-Queen's Lament (OSRIC Adventure)

The Witch-Queen's Lament
A couple of weeks back I noticed a posting in one of the Greyhawk groups on Facebook about a new adventure. It was called The Witch-Queen's Lament so you know it immediately had my attention. The adventure was designed for OSRIC and had an old-school module look and feel to it.  I didn't know much about it to be honest, but I was sure I was going to get it.  I went over the publisher's website, casl Entertainment, and bought a copy of the PDF and perfect bound softcover.  While I was predisposed to like it, getting the PDF made me quite excited for it.

The Witch-Queen’s Lament

An adventure for character levels 6-9 (70,002 total experience points) for OSRIC or compatible games. PDF and softcover available, 95 pages.

This adventure is "compliant" (I think "compatible" is the word they want, it is "compliant" with the OGL) with OSRIC.  This really means it can (read should) be used with AD&D 1st Edition.  It will work with other games too, but more on that.

This adventure is designed for Tournament play. That is why we have the 70,002 XP value on it and there is a tournament scoring sheet.  IF you wish to play this adventure with tournament rules and scoring my advice is do not change anything about it.  I have run a few tournament adventures with scoring and this one feels like it put together well. My concern would only be can you fit it into the four-hour time slot?  I am 100% certain that author Carlos A.S. Lising has and has done so many times.  I am not sure *I* could do it.  That all being said I want to look at this from the point of view of a campaign, and my War of the Witch Queens campaign in particular. 

So let's start back at the beginning.  This adventure was the official Tourneyment adventure for GrogCon 2021.  Looking over their catalog it looks like they have run a few adventures at other old-school cons as well.  This bodes well.  The adventure was written by Carlos A.S. Lising, with cover and interior art by Daniel Govar, and cartography from Glynn Seal.  Carlos A.S. Lising is a huge fan of module S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth which is also one of my favorites. This makes me optimistic for this adventure.

Now when this was announced for sale there was a little bit of wailing from the usual suspects in regard to the module code, G2, on the cover.  With many complaining that this was not really G2.  Sorry but the TSR G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl is over 40 years old now and neither TSR nor Gygax owned the letter G.  I am sure the G, in this case, stood for "GrogCon."  If this bugs you, be like Elsa and let it go.

On to the adventure proper.  We learn right away that the eponymous Witch-Queen is none other than "Natasha the Dark" aka Tasha, aka Tashanna, aka Zyblina, aka Iggwilv herself!  Ok. You now have my undivided attention.  We get a bit of backstory on Natasha the Dark including her becoming a Daughter of Baba Yaga, and her sisters Vasilisa (Elena) the Fair and Anya the Plain.  Anya is going to be our focus here since she has gone missing with Natasha's matryoshka doll. This was no ordinary doll, this nesting doll held a bit of Natasha's soul/life force and has kept her immortal for centuries.  Natasha, it a bit uncharacteristic token of love, gave the newly enchanted doll to Anya for safe-keeping, knowing her sister would love it and cherish it. The side effect has been that as long as Anya has the doll she will also be immortal, just stuck in the form of a 12-year-old girl.

The doll, and Anya, has now been stolen and IggwilvNatasha needs you all to get it back.

As far as adventure hooks goes this one is a good one.  The doll is in the hands of an evil Wizard named Andrei Anazinov who knows it is special and knows Anya has never aged. He trying to discover its secrets.  So get the doll before the wizard figures out Natasha's immortality.  The adventure overtly makes it about saving Natasha's immortality, but as you read it the real reason is also uncovered, the ancient Witch Queen still loves her little sister. Undoing the immortality would be bad for Natasha, but it is also likely she has many safeguards in place.  It would however kill Anya outright.

I don't want to go too much deeper than this in case potential players read this.  It is a MacGuffin search, but a fun one and a chance to interact with one of the more notorious characters in D&D lore.

Comments on the Adventure

A few comments.  I can completely understand why Natasha wants the doll and Anya back.  I even understand why she wants good adventurers to do it.  I am not sure why someone of Natasha's caliber would a. let the adventurers know who she is and b. what the doll is.  It seems to me that good or evil the party might want to hide or destroy the doll to stop an evil witch queen.  When I run this I am going to need another reason.

The maps are great. I am glad I have to PDF to print them out on my own.

There are some cool new monsters (a must in any adventure) and magic items.  There is even a pronunciation guide. 

New Monsters

One nitpick. None of the pages have page numbers on them. Seems a touch odd, but I can deal.

Sixteen pages are given over to the 8 pre-gen characters.  So that is nice.  There are also tournament scoring sheets.

Adapting for War of the Witch Queens

I bought this adventure with idea of adapting it over to my War of the Witch Queen campaign.  This is not the first "Witch Queen" adventure I have bought, nor will it be my last I am sure.   The fact that it includes Natasha/Iggwilv just makes it more perfect to be honest.

War of the Witch Queens

So here are my changes.

I am not running this as a tournament since I am going to be using OSE-Advanced Fantasy for it. There will be some more tweaks for the rules, but I think it is going to work out just fantastic really.

Natasha/Iggwilv is not going to let the adventurers know who she is or why she wants the doll back.  I am going to have her disguise herself as Elena the Fair and "Elena" will be hiring them to rescue her sister Anya. This way she feels she is not lying about her mission.  In the end, Anya will out "Elena" as Iggwilv, but the terms of their agreement will remain.  Maybe Vasilisa the Beautiful will show up to take Anya.  I have Elena and Vasilisa as two separate characters. 

I love the whole Russian feel to all of this, but I am going to take out Andrei Anazinov and replace him with Kelek.  Kelek has had some dealings with Iggwilv already and he is the "big bad" of the War of the Witch Queens.  I need an adventure to get him in front of the PCs instead of making him a behind the shadows guy.  Andrei is a 14th level wizard. I made Kelek a 15th level magic-user/necromancer.  Also in my games Kelek is looking for ways to make himself ever young, he thinks Anya (not the doll) is the answer.  Kelek is a misanthrope, so kidnapping and experimenting on a little kid is kinda on-brand for him So this all fits.  

Plus I have these great minis to use

There might be other little tweaks along the way. More winter wolves and worgs to be sure. I am certainly going to steal ideas from the newer 5e versions of Iggwilv and Kelek and I am also going to steal ideas from the Pathfinder Witch War series.

The Witch Queens at War

There are more adventures on the casl Entertainment website. Including one, C11 - When Comes the Witching Hour, that looks like it could be Iggwilv on the cover.  So I am going to need to check that one out as well.  Just watched this video and yup, looks like it is! I have to go get it now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Mail Call: Victorian, Tasha and League of Malevolence

It's a month since Christmas, so I can buy things for myself again.  And this is what the mail has given me this week.

Mail Call

Vis Imperium Victoriana is a Victorian RPG using the same rules as Pendragon Chivalry and Sorcery Essence (thanks for the corrections!).  So you know I am excited for that!

Enoch's Wake is from Richard Ruane. Game designer, co worker at my day job, and all around great guy.  Can't wait to get into that as well.  I am totally planning on stealing ideas from this for my BlackStar game.

I got a League of Malevolence figures which include my favorites Skylla and Kelek.

League of Malevolence figures

Skylla and Kelek

Skylla and Kelek

They look pretty good and compare well to my HeroForge ones I had made a while back.

Kelek

Skylla

Skylla and Kelek with Zybilna

I also treated myself to a signed photo from Ginny Di as Tasha.

Ginny Di as Tasha

That one is either going to be part of my D&D5 DM's Screen or be part of my Tasha/Iggwilv/Zybilna character folder.  Either way I am happy to have it!

Happy...uh...January to me!!

Friday, December 17, 2021

Tea with the Witches

Been crazy busy at work. That time of year.  But one big project is done and I am down to the last few courses in this contact hour audit I have been doing for weeks.  

I have been neglecting things here so here is a quick one.  I got some art made of a scene crucial to the "War of the Witch Queens"  back story.  The scene is called "Tea With the Witches" and it takes place in The Simbul's castle in the Forgotten Realms.

Tea with the Witches

I want to send out a hearty thank you to Brian Brinlee for doing such a great job with this. Here are the witches pictured. Left to right (clockwise, never widdershins when dealing with witches):

Sagarassi the Sea Witch (Krynn/Dragonlance), Iggwilv the Witch Queen (Oerth/Greyhawk), The Simbul, Witch Queen of Aglarond (Toril/The Forgotten Realms and where this is taking place), Larina (my OC), Feiya the Pathfinder iconic witch (Golarion/Pathfinder).

They are playing Pentacles, a game played with five people using Tarroka cards.

Hopefully regular posting will resume next week!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The NPCs of "The Wild Beyond The Witchlight"

Skylla, my ex
While "The Wild Beyond The Witchlight" has a lot going for it the reason, well one of the reasons, I really wanted it was because we were getting some official D&D 5th Edition stats to some classic NPCs, in particular, Skylla and Kelek two "iconic" characters that I am using in my War of the Witch Queens campaign. So I want to look at these old friends and maybe a couple of new ones too.  I'll leave poor old Thaco alone with his pipe and bitterness today.  Plus it is October and Horror month, so I really just want to talk about my favorites, the bad guys.

Who Are These Characters?

Long before the use of the term Iconic Characters to refer to reoccurring D&D characters in publication, there were names like Warduke, Strongheart, Ringlerun, and Kelek.  They appeared in the AD&D toy line from LJN and in other media including coloring books, stickers, adventures, and sometimes even the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.   It is also one of the reasons why I have to laugh when people today will see a stuffed Owlbear and complain that "WotC is selling out and ruining D&D."  They must have forgotten the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Yoyo or Sunglasses.

Of all of these characters, there were a few standouts who got extra attention.  Ringlerun, the Good Wizard would be the cover boy for the Jeff Easley recover of the AD&D Player's Handook, although many at the time did not see the connection.  Kelek and Warduke would go on to get a guest spot on the D&D cartoon.  Warduke in particular would go on to be a minor celebrity in D&D iconic circles, getting 1st Ed (well...Basic really), 3rd Ed, and now 5th Ed Ed stats.

LJN D&D Toys

We would get all their official D&D Basic and Expert set stats, not AD&D, in the product AC1 The Shady Dragon Inn.  This was sort of a Rogues Gallery for BECMI D&D. You can read my review of it here

What I would like to do here today is compare these characters from the Wild Beyond the Witchlight to their Shady Dragon Inn and Quest for the Heartstone counterparts. 

Bad guys

The League of Malevolence

Heroes are great, but give me a "good" villain any day of the week.  Here are five iconic D&D villains. I will compare them to their D&D Basic versions to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

Kelek

First up is the leader of the League of Malevolence, our Legion of Doom for D&D.  All these characters are Chaotic Evil which tracks well to their original alignments of Chaotic.  

In Basic D&D Kelek was an "Evil Sorcerer" of course at this time a "Sorcerer" was the level title for a 7th level Magic-user.  In 5e his class has become a Sorcerer.  This actually make a lot of sense and I approve of this change.  His stats are pretty much the same from edition to edition with the exception of his Charisma which goes from 7 to 17.  Charisma is the "prime" stat for sorcerers. Here he is described as a sociopath. That tracks with how I have seen him in the past

Part of this adventure is searching for a lost Unicorn horn. Well that was more or less the plot of the only D&D Cartoon to feature Kelek.  If nothing else I am saying he is still after unicorn horns. 

Skylla

Ah. My beloved Skylla.  I was the most excited and the most worried to see what the Wizard's dev team was going to do to you.  I have to say I am not disappointed. In Quest of the Heartstone, she is listed as a 6th level Warlock. Again, this time "Warlock" meaning 6th level magic-user. I do note that the TSR team avoided calling her a "Witch" at the time. Likely due to the Satanic Panic (but Warlock is fine?).  Like her former boss Kelek, the level title is translated to Class here and she is a 6th level Warlock. It fits well if you ask me

Skylla's stats are mostly the same with some tweaks to improve what she needs to be a Warlock.  Though the best changes are in her background.  For starters, her patron is not a demon (like I did) but rather with Baba Yaga (like...I did).  Additionally they tackle the Skylla/Charmay art issue head-on as sometimes Skylla goes by the name Charmay.  It's different than what I do with her, but it works out fine in my mind.

For the record, they got Skylla as close to a "witch: as D&D 5e's rules will currently allow.  I think they did a great job with her.  Kelek too.

Warduke

I do have to ask. Why does everyone like this guy so much? I never quite got it, but hey someone out there is looking at my nearly 30 posts about Skylla and scratching their head. 

That all being said, Warduke here is fairly impressive. I think the fans will be happy.  His stats are all the same in both versions.  His Dread Helm in Basic gave him Infravision to 60'.  The D&D 5e version only makes his eyes glow red.  Well, as I have said many times, I have a pencil.

Zarak

The half-orc Assassin was just an odd dude in Basic D&D that didn't have half-orcs as monsters, let alone as a character race, nor did it have assassins.  Yet there he is on page 18 of my Quest for the Heartstone. In D&D 5 he also has some strangeness. He is a full orc here BUT he is a short one to fit the AD&D/D&D Basic orcs.  Though he is still a Chaotic Evil Assassin.  His Dexterity gets a buff in 5e, but he loses his "boomerang" dagger!

Zargash

The evil cleric is back.  He is 7th level, so that makes him an evil Bishop. Zargash is still Chaotic Evil and he worships Orcus. Stats are tweaked a bit, but otherwise he is largely the same.

Missing Evil Characters include, Grimsword (Evil Knight aka Anti-Paladin), Zorgan (Evil Barbarian) and Drex (Evil Warrior) all from Quest for the Heartstone. Fox Fingers (Thief) and Raven (Evil Cleric) from Shaddy Dragon Inn.  In might be fun to make Raven. She is evil (but maybe not totally), and in love with Warduke. She was once friend with Mericon. Who is up in the next batch.

Valor's Call

Our group of good hereos had the real chance of being boring on one hand and overly sanctimonious on the other.  Thankfully were spared the worse.  They are not as interesting as our bad guys, but they are still fun and there are still some tweaks that make them worth reading and using.

Elkhorn

Our Lawful Good dwarf might have been one of the more popular figures right behind Warduke.  His stats are the same in both versions.  I do like how they took an essentially blank canvas and made a dwarf that is not a Flint Fireforge clone or a Dime store Thorin and gave him some goals.  He is a staunch enemy of evil.  If Strongheart is the founder of Valor's call, then Elkhorn is its heart.

Mercion

Ok. She is no Aleena, but Mercion is the cleric of the group. Her stats are tweaked a bit to give her better Strength and a higher level, but the Mercion in 5e is much more interesting.  In what I feel is a real homage to her Basic D&D roots, she does not worship a god but rather an ideal. She believes that truth gives life to artistry and beauty.  It's kind of a cool concept. If I were to use her as an NPC I would make sure she never lies about anything, ever. In fact, the brutal truth is better for her than a sweet lie. 

Molliver

Molliver the good thief was not in the Shady Dragon Inn product but can be found in the Quest for the Heartstone. In Quest no gender is given for Molliver, so in the 5e book their pronouns are "they."  I like it. I like it because a.) it works for the character and b.) it will certainly piss off the ones that need pissing off.

Molliver is also the only Chaotic Good member of the party. A "Lawful" thief does not make much sense really. Stats are largely the same with a buff for Dex. They even have their boots of levitation, handy for a thief.  

Ringlerun

Our Lawful Good Wizard from Basic remains a Lawful Good Wizard in 5e.  Never as interesting as Kelek, Elminster, or Mordenkainen he was on the cover of the Player's Handbook and a popular figure. 

Ringlerun
His arm must be tired

He is still largely a generic wizard. He has kind of a James Randi in his later years look about him.  In my games he is dead; died of old age, but that doesn't really make sense for a wizard I guess.  I have some ideas forming that I might explore later.  Or not. After all he was never very interesting.

Strongheart

If I have one purely AD&D gripe it is that I rarely see anyone playing a paladin a good way.  "Sanctimonious Asshole" is not a Paladin. Neither is "Grim, tortured because there is so much evil in the world" isn't either.   I was worried that Strongheart was going to fall into one of those two camps. Or even worse, weak Sturm Brightblade clone.

Thankfully, that is not what we got. Instead, 5e Strongheart is the kind of paladin who is all about "we should get together to defeat evil because there is so much good in the world to enjoy!" He makes a good leader.  Again his stats are slightly tweaked to give him a better Strength (13 to 15) which, by the way, his D&D Basic stats were not good enough to make him an AD&D Paladin!

He was the character I was prepared to dislike the most (I have played paladins in EVERY version of D&D) and his actually was pretty cool.

It is mentioned that there are more characters in Valor's Call, off doing Good elsewhere.  They do have a solid feel of "The Superfriends" here. Not s big surprise I guess. Potential other members from Quest of the Heartstone include Peralay (Elf Fighter/Mage), Figgen (Halfling Fighter or Fighter/Theif), Deeth (Fighter), Hawkler (a totally NOT the Beastmaster Ranger), Bowmarc (Good "Crusader") and Valkeer, a half-giant warrior.  Of these Valkeer might the most fun to update to 5e.  Of these Peralay also appears in The Shady Dragon Inn.  

Strongheart and Warduke

Other NPCs

There are plenty of other really interesting NPCs in this book.  Many I plan to lift and convert back to D&D Basic for use in my War of the Witch Queens campaign.

Burly the Hobgoblin

Before D&D, a hobgoblin was more a trickster as exemplified by Puck or Robin Goodfellow. In Witchlight we have Burly a Neutral Good Hobgoblin.  Ok, I'll go with that. My favorite bit is he is a hobgoblin who wears a pumpkin on his head.  Now, where have I seen that before?

Pumpkin head

Bugbear. Hobgoblin.  The differences are largely academic.

Likewise, Chucklehead is a goblin with a  head shaped like a taffy apple.

Iggwilv the Witch Queen

Yes! Getting Skylla was one thing, getting a new Iggwilv?  That's just crazy good.

This is Iggwilv after she has left the Abyss and has been hiding out in the Feywild for centuries. Here she is also known as Tasha, Natasha, and Zybilna.  There is an interaction here with Kelek that plays so well into my plans it is hard not to use it all.  There is an interesting Maiden-Mother-Crone aspect of Iggwilv here in the form of Tasha-Zybilna-Iggwilv.

Iggwilv

Now I am perfectly happy with the formerly Chaotic Evil Iggwilv becoming more Chaotic Neutral as time goes on.  What I am not 100% sure about is her desire to abandon all her research on the Abyss and Demons in favor of learning about the Feywild instead.  But...I can live with it.

The Hour Glass Coven

I like them. Very interesting bunch of witches and hags.

The Minis

This is such an interesting group of NPCs it makes sense that there is also an equally interesting group of minis to go with them.  Sadly the supply chain breakdown has pushed many of these minis till 2022.  But I am really looking forward to them.

Kelek
Kelek

Skylla
Skylla

Zyblina
Zyblina


Looking forward to them.

Friday, November 20, 2020

#FollowFriday: Tasha / Iggwilv on the Web

It is another Follow Friday here and since we are wrapping up Tasha's Week of Everything I thought it might be nice to detail some of the sites on the web and social media that feature Iggwilv, Tasha, and items from her history.

The Web

Tasha from HeroForge
Tasha from HeroForge
Lots of great stuff here really. 

Greyhawk Online has a wiki full of details.

Likewise, the Forgotten Realms wiki has some entries for her. 

She has even made appearances in Golarion from the Pathfinder wiki.  In particular as a former Queen of Irrisen.  According to the Golarion timeline, she ruled 4113 AR to 4213 AR (current year 4720 AR).
If you want some fiction about Tasha/Iggwilv then there is Tommy John Kelly's Greyhawk Stories Page
Greyhawk Online has a number of posts featuring S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

Blogs

Iggwilv from HeroForge
Iggwilv from HeroForge
Lots of people have had some words about Iggwilv in the blogging circles too. Here are some of them

James over at Grognardia gives her an uncharacteristically brief mention in his post about The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

Sean McG has written up an extensive post on the publication history of Iggwilv, which he keeps updated at the Power Score.

Mike Bridges at Greyhawkery also has a few posts.

And of course, Greyhawk Grognard has some posts. Though he is not as enamored with the adventure as I am. 

Blogger Trent over at The Mystical Trash Heap has some thoughts on S4 as well.

Paleologos at the OSR Grimoire has a post on Drelnza the Vampiress Lord and talks a lot about the original Lost Caverns of Tsojconth

Social Media

Baba Yaga from HeroForge
Baba Yaga from HeroForge
There is a ton of social media out there. What places are best for Iggwilv and Tasha?

Facebook


MeWe


YouTube

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Classic Adventures Revisited: S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

One of my all-time favorite adventures is S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

A solid two-level dungeon crawl, filled with new monsters, dangers, and the promise of great treasures. Additionally, there are rumors of an ancient witch/archmage and her battles with demons and even the threat that some of those demons are still around. There is plenty of wilderness area as well. A wide expanse with a gnome community nearby and a raging blue dragon.

With its "Booklet 2" filled with new spells, magic circles, and demons it made me think that a witch class with ritual magic could be something that would work for D&D. 


There is so much great stuff in and around this adventure it is hard to know where to begin.  So let's start with the adventure itself.

S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

The adventure, S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, was published back in 1982 by TSR. It was written by none other than Gary Gygax himself. It is listed as "S4" and was the last of the labeled "S series" or Special modules.  This includes some of the most popular adventures ever written; S1 Tomb of HorrorsS2 White Plume Mountain, and S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

The adventure itself is comprised of two 32 page booklets. The first book is the adventure itself, which I will get into detail in a bit.  The second booklet covers all sorts of new magic, monsters, and more. 

Book 1: The Adventure

The adventure is of the classic sort; the rumor of treasure and a vague threat coming from an area of the map known as Iggwilv's Horn.  The adventure is designed for characters level 6 to 10.   I have found over the last 40 years that it can be adapted to a variety of levels, though higher levels are better. Though the original tournament adventure featured slightly lower levels. Likely due to the addition of the wilderness adventure. 

The wilderness adventure is actually well put together and not the older crazy random monster encounters.  The encounters make sense for the area. Among the encounters are the Hermit, and I could not help make this the same hermit from Keep on the Borderlands (also a Gygax creation) and the Blue Dragon.  The Blue Dragon, in particular, became so much a hit the first time I ran this that in future runnings of this I changed the dragon to Korbundar from CM2 Death's Ride to have a reoccurring villain.   A lot of adventure is packed into 12 pages.

The second part of the adventure covers the Lost Caverns themselves, which includes the Lesser and  Greater caverns. This features a large variety of new monsters, some living here, some just wandering around. Even encounters such as "The Garden of One Thousand Earthly Delights" have a good (enough) reason to be there. 

The final encounter is in the center of the Greater Caverns and it is not for Iggwilv's Treasure, but rather against Iggwilv's Treasure; the vampire Drelnza.  She is a bit more powerful than your average vampire and she has magic to help her out.  Eventually, she will succumb to heroes and the treasure will be found including the infamous Demonomicon of Iggwilv, Daoud's Wonderous Lanthorn, and the Prison of Zagig.

Book 2: Monsters and Magic

This second booklet, as I have mentioned, grabbed my attention as much as the first, if not more.  Listed inside were new monsters, only some appeared in the adventure, including new demons and demon lords. There were the mysterious Xag-ya and Xeg-yi, the Derro and the awkwardly named (for the early 80s) Valley Elf. All these creatures would later be reprinted in the Monster Manual II for 1st Edition. This is fitting since the original tournament adventure introduced monsters that would become part of the first Monster Manual.  There are some magic items including some wonderful artifacts mentioned above.  Of these The Demonomicon of Iggwilv capture not just my imagination, but that of hundreds of others. The Demonomicon became a feature in Dragon Magazine and even a 4e book of the same name. Iggwilv went from a "long-dead archmage" to "The Mother of Witches" and the premiere demonologist in D&D.   This little booklet also contains plenty of new spells.  

This was classic AD&D at the end of its 1st Golden Age.

The adventure is extremely playable and I have adapted it over the years for AD&D 2nd ed, D&D 3rd, and 5th Editions as well.

If you want to play it for 5th Edition D&D then the team over at Classic Modules Today has made a 5e conversion

There are also maps you can print out with DM's notes.

And other realistic maps also for printing

The Sequels

The first true sequel to this adventure was WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (though no WG1-3 were made*). This was published the same year and dealt with a Temple of Tharizdun. It was designed to be played right after S4 and used the same wilderness map.  The adventure fits in well enough. I justified in my games by saying that Iggwilv, like Tsojcanth before her, chose this area due to its arcane and eldritch properties.  The adventure also has a wealth of information on the World of Greyhawk and Tharizdun.  All of these will be explored later in Gary Gygax's novel series about Gord the Rogue

S4 and WG4 would also get a review in White Dwarf #44 and both get 9/10 from Jim Bambra. He calls them the last of the Golden Age adventures.

*The rumor is that WG1 was Village of Hommlet, WG2 Temple of Elemental Evil and WG3 was The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, or Tsojconth in the original.


Another sequel of sorts was The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga. Published much later in 1995 for 2nd Ed AD&D and written by Lisa Smedman, this adventure was labeled "S5" but it never appears in any of the classic reprints of the S Series adventures.  While the connection is little more than any of the other "S" series, there is the connection of Iggwilv, then Tasha as the adopted daughter of Baba Yaga.  Lisa Smedman would also work on Ravenloft and ShadowRun. Some Ravenloft monsters make their way into this adventure.


Yet again another sequel, this time for 3.5 D&D, was published in 2007.  Iggwilv's Legacy was published in Dungeon Magazine in October 2007 and appeared for free on Wizard's of the Coast website well into the 4e era. Sadly no longer available, it added another level to the caverns to explore, The Hollow of the Horn, the areas left behind by Tsojancth himself with the implication that even Iggwilv was afraid of these areas. The adventure and the additions were converted and updated to 3rd Edition.  I ran this version for my family at their first Gen Con in 2009.  Here we meet the half-demon  archmage Tsojcanth and his vile witch mother Vilhara.


The Reprints

As part of the much-loved S-series, the Lost Caverns of Tsojanth has been reprinted twice.  Both times bundled with the other three S-series adventures.

The first reprint was called Realms of Horror and it was all the S-series adventures combined into a loosely tied together "Super Module" that was all the rage in the late 80s.  All the maps were reprinted in a small booklet and personally, I found them harder to read.

The second reprint was the more faithful reprint from Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons of Dread, in 2013. 


The Original Tournament Adventure

The original tournament adventure, the Lost Caverns of Tsojconth (note the spelling) appeared at the Wintercon V game convention in 1976.  This would have been akin to a playtest version of AD&D.  Also Iggwilv is described as being dead, and male.

While the adventure does not feature the wilderness areas, the caverns seem to have a more mystical bent to them, with the center "nexus" described as the connection point between worlds to help explain all the new and weird monsters in it.  It would make sense, to be honest, and help explain why Tsojcanth and later Iggwilv possessed it. 

Paleologos at the OSR Grimoire talks a lot about the original Lost Caverns of Tsojconth.

The era of 1976-1978 was an interesting time and lead to some interesting styles of play.  We had the Holmes Basic Set and the B1 In Search of the Unknown (1978) adventure out and we had the AD&D Monster Manual.  This Holmes + Monster Manual actually became the game of choice for many.  I would later play this same hybrid of D&D/AD&D in 1979.
Likely as a way to replicate that Demos Sachlas/Paleologos over at the Vaults of Pandius recreated the original tournament adventure, along with some descriptions from the full 1982 S4 adventure and reformated it to fit the style of B1 to give us a "Holmes version of the Lost Caverns of Tsojconth."  This adventure is a tight 16 pages with two more pages for maps.  It feels like a late 70s offering.  Reading through it I do get the feeling that B1 and S4 could be bookends of a classic 70s adventure series.  All it is missing a nice monochrome cover.  I might need to mock one up someday.

Greyhawk Online has a side-by-side comparison of the 1976 Tsojconth and the 1982 Tsojcanth.

If you want to buy your own Noble Knight Games has one on sale for only $7,195.50. If you are worried that is overpriced it does come with the original zip-lock bag. 

Playing in Hyperborea

Normally at this point in my Revisted posts I would talk about using this adventure with other games.  But instead, I think I just want to focus purely on Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

A while back I posted about HS4 The Lost Caverns of Acheron, a Hyborian Age reskinning of S4 from the Hyborian Age site dedicated to the d20 Conan RPG.  They have a lot of adventures including some reskinned ones on their Adventures in the Hyborian Age page.  But it is S4 that interests me today.

Combining this idea with the Holmes flavored Tsojconth above you could have a perfect game for AS&SH.  The idea came to me while reading Eric Fabiaschi's Swords & Stitchery blog.   He even pointed to me that he had done exactly this. 

The pulp sensibilities of Gygax's adventures comes through in S4 with vampires in lost temples, ancient eldritch forces, and strange creatures from beyond.  Pairing this with AS&SH and the Lost Caverns of Acheron turns it up to 11 as it were. 


With its history of magic, archmages, witch queens, vampires, and demons it is no wonder that this is one of my favorite adventures. Like B1, it is one I like to come back to again and again. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything

Today is the day I was waiting for.  The release of Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.  I just picked it up about an hour ago so I have not had a chance to get into it in detail, but here are some initial thoughts. I am also going to talk about it from the point of view of an Old School Gamer and how well does it mesh with the established history of Iggwilv.

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything covers

The Book

The book itself is 192 pages, full color.  Both covers retail at $49.95.

The big update here is the various classes and subclasses.  We get a new(ish) class, The Artificer, bringing the total to 13 classes for D&D.  The artificer gets the subclasses Alchemist, Armorer, Artillerist and Battle Smith.  

Each of the 12 standard classes also gets one or more new subclasses.  Also, many of the spellcasting classes get new spells, detailed later.  There are a lot here, among the one I like the best are Cleric Twilight Domain, Druid Circle of Stars, Fighter Rune Knights and Psi Warrior, this is in addition to all sorts of maneuvers the fighter can get for the Battle Master.  The Ranger gets the Fey Wanderer, the Rogue gets the likely new favorite.  The Wizard gets another Bladesinger (not sure how different this one is) and one I am looking forward to trying the Order of the Scribe.  There are a lot more, but those are the ones I want to try.

One of the new ideas is Group Patrons.

These are essentially people, things or organizations that fund your characters' adventuring career.  This is something that was kinda done ad-hoc or less explicitly. This entire section can be used AS IS in any version of D&D with no changes. 

A book about/by/from Tasha would not be complete without new Magic. In this case some new spells and magic items.  We get some explicit spells for traveling to other D&D worlds, as befitting Tasha.


Some old familiar items back their 5e comeback including Baba Yaga's Mortar and Pestle, the Crook of Rao, The Mighty Servant of Leuk-O, and the Demonomicon of Iggwilv.  There are also rules on personalizing spells and some magical tattoos. 

The is also a section on DM's Tools.  This can also be adopted by players of any version of the game.  There is some advice on Session Zero which includes how did the party come together, a useful bit in light of the new Patron rules. A bit on social contracts as well as hard and soft limits. 

Something sort of new is the idea of Sidekicks.  These are "semi" or NPC classes that go along with the party or adventurer.  These are a restating of the 3.x Edition NPC classes from the Unearthed Arcana' Warrior, Expert, and Spellcaster. Substitute Fighter, Thief, and Magic-User if your version is older and you can do the exact same thing. 

There is a section on parleying with monsters, something I have seen used since the Moldvay Basic set.  Environmental hazards of supernatural, natural, and magical regions. 

And the puzzles. Again easily used as-is for any versions of the game.

So like it says on the tin, a little bit of everything.

I was talking with my friend Greg just a bit ago and not only did we just miss each other at our FLGS, he said the book has a solid Unearthed Arcana feel to it.  I have to agree.

Is it Tasha?

Iggwilv is a storied character in D&D lore.  But in truth what we know about her is very, very limited.  For 1st Edition AD&D we know her from the modules S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojanth and WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun.  Most other details come to us from 2nd ed and beyond. Maybe the most we learn from her is actually from 3.x era.  So to make the claim "is this Gary's Tasha/Iggwilv" is a fallacious one; there never was a Gary's Tasha.  "She" was, in fact, a "He" in the first drafts of the "Lost Caverns of Tsojconth."


There are little sidebars and enough information here to make a few things clear. This is Tasha before she became Iggwilv.  So I am placing it at or around CY 395 to CY 406 (Current year is CY 597 or so).  This Tasha has wit and charm and maybe a little bit of a caustic or salty sense of humor.  She is not really interested in killing Mordenkainen (nor really do I think she ever was) but she does want to take him down a peg or two.




She acknowledges she was Hura (Hura appears in Ket around CY 297) and plenty of references to Baba Yaga. This is very much the remembrances of a powerful spell caster on what would be considered her "University Years."

Is it Tasha?  Yes. This is the person that would later go on to become the ruthless and amoral Witch Queen Iggwilv.  Spend some time as a prisoner of a Demon Prince, especially one as depraved as Graz'zt, and see if that doesn't change you a little.

The art really gives you the feeling of "brilliant university girl trying to show her teachers she is smarter than they are" vibe. 


Old School Content

I mentioned in a few places that there is a lot here that old-school D&D players can use and that is true.

A lot of it can be used right out of the book as-is.  The classes would need some work, but as many in the old school community are so quick to point out that the differences are largely one of role-playing. Ok, here are some role-playing ideas.

Some things, like the fighter maneuvers, feel like they could be right at home in BECMI.  The tattoos, something I have used here before, can be easily translated.

Was it worth the wait? Yeah, I say it was.  Looking forward to trying some of the ideas here.

Things it Didn't Cover that I Wish it Had

Or. I just have not found them yet. 

I would have liked to know more about Tasha's face tattoo and why Iggwilv no longer has it.  Related when did Tasha's stop calling herself that and instead became Iggwilv. We do learn that her tattoo is an Eldritch Claw tattoo.

Given her timeline, I am sure it had a lot to do with her summoning of Graz'zt and her imprisonment in the Abyss. Also likely around the time she fled Greyhawk with the Tome of Zyx.


Definitely, a lot to use in this book.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Daughters of Iggwilv

image of Drelnza holding Daoud's Lantern
It's Tasha's Week of Everything this week here at the Other Side.  So I thought I'd start Monstrous Mondays with a monster that has been suggested to me over the years.

Today's monster comes from a variety of sources. First, there is Iggwilv-Louhi connection that I talked about it in the Finish Mythos.  Louhi, despite being an old witch is said to have lovely maiden daughters that the heroes often seek out.  By extension shouldn't Iggwilv have some daughters too?

If we go with "yes" (and I always go with yes) then there are two issues, what are they like and who is the father.  Let's go with the father question first.  Among the candidates of "people" she has been involved with include the Demon Prince Fraz-Urb'luu, the half-demon Arch-Mage Tsojcanth, the wizard Zagig Yragerne, even Mordenkainen himself is a possibility and of course the Demon Prince Graz'zt.

We know all about Iggwilv's love affair with Graz'zt.  We know from other sources, chiefly the Gygax Greyhawk novels, that Iuz is the offspring of Iggwilv and Graz'zt.  Or maybe not. In the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting entry for Iuz it is suggested that he is "some by-blow of Orcus."  I personally liked the idea that Orcus had mortal agents in the world.  While this idea was later dropped it became an element of the Forgotten Realms, where I think it works out a little better.  But it still is a tantalizing idea.  

While Louhi might have daughters known as "the Maidens of Pohjola" I am not expecting Iggwilv's daughters to be so innocent. Her only other daughter, Drelnza, was a vampire, described as a "false Disney Princess" (she is not the damsel in distress, she is the monster), and most certainly not the offspring of Graz'zt.  Going back to the Louhi/Lovitar connection for a bit, Lovitar is known as the mother of the Nine Diseases.  Nine is a good number.

Iggwilv taken to Orcus
I think I have something.

When Iggwilv was defeated by Graz'zt the former master was now the slave.  Graz'zt had intended to keep the fallen Witch Queen in the Abyss to have her suffer an eternity of imprisonment as she had kept him.  Iggwilv however was more clever than the Demon Prince knew and soon she went from prisoner to consort, to confidant to his main advisor.  While she was rising in the ranks of Graz'zt courts she was "traded" to the Demon Prince Orcus over a loss Graz'zt had suffered at the hands of the Demon Prince of undead.  

Taken from Azzagrat in chains she arrived in Thanatos at the feet of the Lord of Undead to serve a tredecim (13 years) of service between CY 503 and CY 516.

Enraged, Iggwilv plotted revenge on both Graz'zt and Orcus.  Her carefully constructed lies and seductions learned from Fraz-Urb'luu that were so effective on Graz'zt held no sway on Orcus. Save for the occasional bit of violence Orcus showed no interest in the Witch Queen other than to deprive Graz'zt of her.  Within that century though Iggwilv gave birth to nine daughters that she was able to keep secret from both Orcus and Graz'zt.  These nine daughters were all of the same fierce, dark beauty as their mother, but had the taint of undeath like their father.  In secret, Iggwilv taught her daughters the ways of witchcraft and fashioned Abyssal weapons for each of them.  Once they were grown their curse of undeath took hold and they became something akin to vampires. Iggwilv sent them into the world to cause as much havoc and chaos as they could and, most importantly act against the designs and will of both Graz'zt and Orcus.

Noidan Tytär
Noidan Tytär
Medium Undead (Demonic)
Frequency: Unique (only 9 are known to exist)
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment:
Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 240' (80') [24"]
  Fly: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: -4 [20]
Hit Dice: 14d8+42**** (105 hp)
Attacks: by special weapon, claw/claw, or by magic or special
Damage: 1d10+6, 1d4+4 x2, special
Special: Magic required to hit (+2 or better), Vampire abilities, Witch spells, Undead
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 14
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class:
Special, see below
XP: 5,150

The Noidan Tytär, or Daughters of the Witch, are a unique group of undead demonically spawned creatures.  These creatures, as beautiful as they are powerful, evil and deadly, are thankfully very, very rare. In fact, only nine are known to exist.  Thankfully they also never work together by order of their mother the Witch Queen. 

Each of the Noidan Tytär is a skilled fighter and possesses both superior arms and armor. Typically magical plate mail of etherealness +2, and a bastard vorpal sword +2 that they wield with one hand due to their preternatural strength. 

In addition to their fighting ability, the Noidan Tytär are also undead akin to vampires. Magic is required to hit them and they are immune to charm, hold and sleep magic as well as any mind-affecting magics. Unlike vampires, they do not require blood to survive but drain the life energy (Constitution points) at the rate of 2 points per touch.  They can go long periods without feeding but it will cause them to go into a deep stupor until a victim can be found.  They can not enter a personal dwelling or holy/blessed land like a vampire and holy items can keep them at bay and cause damage.  They are however immune to the effects of garlic. A stake through the heart will destroy them, but if the stake is removed they will reform in one round.  They can become gaseous, but cannot assume the shapes of animals.  They can fly as per the spell.

They can be Turned as Special (14 HD) by a cleric of high enough level. Any result of a D only discorporates them until the next new moon.  The only way to truly destroy them is stake them, remove their head, and burn both the body and head in separate pyres.  An exorcism or cleanse spell must then be used to force their spirits back to the Abyss. 

Additionally, each Noidan Tytär can cast spells as a 7th level witch of the Mara Tradition. 

The Noidan Tytär are often used as mercenaries for powerful chaotic rulers, demon lords, and evil cults. Secretly they work to undo the efforts of Graz'zt and Orcus.