The Vizier’s Views – The Cave of the Unknown

Omolo the Impassive, cold fungal science-priest of distant Yuggoth (which we call Pluto a sit appears on our harmonic plane), gives nothing away to its players. Was it pleased at Koraz-hu, the Martian Vizier, for bringing a new player to the fold? As far from human as Omolo was, Koraz-hu could not imagine it was entirely displeased with Venusian Alvora’s presence, even if only through the power of the astralnet The woman projected almost a hypnotic vitality.

Fifth Edition Fantasy #16: The Cave of the Unknown is a 3rd level adventure for Fifth Edition D&D. Author Michael Curtis presents an adventure which is primarily old-school in substance – the characters discover a cave system which allows for multiple avenues of exploration. The layout does not offer as many complicated options as The Forgotten Hive, but neither is it as linear as The Drowning Caverns of the Fish God. The adventure also gives PCs a chance to play around with alchemical substances, possibly creating an item of great power that can perform the functions of alchemists’ dreams – turn base metals into gold and prolong youth.

For the most part, creatures and challenges hearken back to earlier editions of D&D. Herein you will face piercers, thouls, and giant spiders, as well as albino cave apes. So thoroughly does the adventure mesh, tone-wise, with Basic D&D, that it would make a perfect addition to a campaign centered on the Into the Borderlands tome.  There is even a Cave of the Unknown on the map, which can be separated out from In Search of the Unknown’s Caverns of Quasqueton. Better, the intrepid DM could connect the two systems, so that the Root Pools of Area 1-8 in this adventure echo the Room of Pools in Quasqueton. Zoorl of the Seven Runes may have come earlier or later than Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown, or he may have been a contemporary.

Overall, the caves are well presented, and it is nice that the Fifth Edition Fantasy line consistently presents spaces that have three dimensions. In one encounter, for instance, Michael Curtis has the PCs cross a bridge that hangs over another (and previously explored) cavern. Because the PCs have seen the bridge earlier, the three-dimensional aspect of the cavern complex is reinforced in the players’ minds as well as in that of the DM.

The Primordial Spring – where the raw stuff of Creation can still be accessed – is what this adventure is really about. Clever DMs will consider ways this location can be used to fuel additional adventures. Those judges considering converting the adventure to Dungeon Crawl Classics will consider how the Primordial Spring might lead to corruption – or to mutations culled from Mutant Crawl Classics!

The dice that night were not with the Martian Vizier. An omen of ill things to come, he thought, although in the end, he succeeded in his death saving throws, and his character – one Jack Guillimont – lived to see another day.

Hesh-pah of Jupiter has just departed, his astral form disappearing as the ‘net drew him back to his waiting body. The Jupiter-born was a massive puff of eyeballs and tentacles so that the gaming chamber of Omolo’s frozen temple seemed twice as large with his departure. Martian sorcerers could protect a man who chose to visit the cloud layers of Jupiter where such being dwelled, but it took a body like that of Hesh-pah to feel at home there.

With the distraction of the game behind him, Koraz-hu found himself uneasy once more. He shied from Alvora as an ered from a pack of volwes, knowing her from of old as the predatory creature she was. It was not hard to admit that he still found her attractive. That was, in all probability, part of the danger she held for him.

Fifth Edition Fantasy #16: The Cave of the Unknown

Writer: Michael Curtis
Cover Artist: David Griffith
Cartography: Keith Curtis

Author: jmcdevitt

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