TSR TOEE: What happens when the party ignores the Moathouse?


Moderator Emeritus
So I am running a very loose adaptation of T1-4, starting with the Village of Hommlet, of course, but despite the characters being on the verge of 4th level, they still have not investigated the many clues and rumors always pointing back to the Moathouse. Instead, because I run a sandbox style game they have pursued a variety of smaller adventures and situations, moving further and further away from the village.

All of this is fine. I would not have put those other hooks and possibilities out there to be found if I did not want the PCs to follow up on them. I just imagined that they would head back to Hommlet and eventually investigate the Moathouse since it has frequently come up in one way or another since the third session (we are about to play our 16th session).

Anyway, I am not trying to force them to go there but that said, I am not sure what to advance in terms of the goals cultists and Lareth the Beautiful. I looked at both the original T1 module and the Goodman Games OAR version and there is little specific about advancing the plot if the PCs don't intervene.

So my question is, for those familiar with the modules, what kinds of advancements in the plot of the bad guys should happen in the PCs absence? I was toying with the idea that another party of adventurers has come to town headed out to the Moathouse and never returned. But I am looking for ideas both of the practical nature (stuff that would happen to the village and its outlying regions as the cults gain more power) and more esoteric, as the Temple itself is uncovered and populated (in my version the elemental dungeons are being excavated by the bad guys and I plan to actually have it be about summoning the Archomentals (and end the world in the process), not the whole Zuggtmoy plot.

Anybody run any versions of this module and had something similar happen? I have no problem making things up, but wanted to poll the wisdom of the mighty ENWorlders.

I am not sure it matters, but despite putting this in the Older Edition forum, I am running this in 5E. I figured I'd have a better chance of getting responses from people familiar with the source material by putting it here.

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they might be avoiding the moathouse because there are many many clues. (edit: re-read what you wrote and I said similar below... you're on the right track... )

I've often heard folks like Mark Hulmes suggest that if they avoid where your macguffin is, change the location... the moathouse is now a dark gathering place in the woods or maybe it's a farmhouse. If they find the farmhouse/woods and clear out the cultists, you can show evidence of cultist activity in the moathouse, but they moved on, or there's a note "hey, the locals are getting suspicious, move to beta site" and they'll make the connection that you've cleared them out... or you could use the moathouse in another way "had to move the ceremony to the farmhouse, because of the undead burial pit underneath the floor here... hey bob, don't go down there"


If you haven't read it, I suggest you might want to read the long-ago story hour by (contact):

That story had devious ideas galore with an enemy that advanced plans on its own agenda. While I believe the party did actually go to the moathouse, I think you might get some good inspiration. If nothing else, it's one of the best story hours I've ever read.


Moderator Emeritus
Othe long-ago story hour by (contact)

star wars GIF

I need to reread it! It has been 20 years!

Simon Miles

Creator of the World of Barnaynia FRPG setting
If the party are hanging around then the cultists in the Trading Post might be ordered to "do something" about the party. While the main two NPCs there will cream a low-level party they might delegate the task to the lower level thugs and (maybe supported by some of the guards from the moathouse) they could initiate a brawl with the party in the Inn. As soon as the fight starts then knives could be produced and things get a bit tasty.
Whether the party win or are forced to retreat, the party could tack the survivors back tot he Moathouse...
From my reading of the Temple itself I think the inter-faction conflicts between the different Elements of the cult effectively prevent any serious progress on their major endeavour until such time as the party finally get involved - although events could be accelerated if required - perhaps an assassination attempt on the head of a temple or town/city that is significant to the players?


I vaguely remember Lareth had stuff going on with the Elemental Evil and Lolth. He's an up and comer playing all sides.

Lareth the Beautiful is the dark hope of chaotic evil—young, handsome, well endowed in abilities and aptitudes, thoroughly wicked, depraved, and capricious. Whomever harms Lareth had best not brag of it in the presence of one who will inform the Demoness Lolth!
Lareth has been sent to this area to rebuild a force of men and humanoid fighters to gather loot and restore the Temple of Elemental Evil to its former glory. He is but one of many so charged, of course, but is looked upon with special favor and expectation. He and his minions have been careful to raid far from this area, never nearer than three or four leagues, travelling on foot or riding in wagons of the traders from Hommlet. None of the victims are ever left alive to tell the tale, and mysterious disappearances are all that can be remarked upon. No trace of men, mounts, goods, wagons or draft animals is ever found.

The weakened elemental temples fought more amongst themselves than with the forces of Good pressing their advantage above. luz, meanwhile, remained more concerned with establishing a following of his own than with the furthering of Zuggtmoy's organization of elemental evil. Some of the latter remained faithful to the demoness, despite their not knowing where she was or how to free her. Some actually turned to Lolth in desperation, for many drow visited the Temple after its fall. Lareth was one who sought to serve both the Temple and Lolth. And although Lolth hated Zuggtmoy's Elemental Evil, she so lusted for power that she accepted such service. Had she not been routed, her dark followers so crippled, much might have come of this.
But as it transpired, Lolth could—and can yet—give only encouragement, without physical or magical aid, to those who call on her. The Temple is thus factioned into no less than seven competing groups: four serve Elemental Evil principles, one luz, one Lolth, and one still loyal to Zuggtmoy. Woe to the disloyal should the Lady of Fungi ever regain her power!


Moderator Emeritus
I think t
If the party are hanging around then. . .
Yeah, I think if the party had actually used Hommlet as a base of operations (as I thought they would and early on they actually discussed) they would have probably checked out the moathouse by now, but by following leads they are further and further afield and have not gone back to Hommlet once (passing through smaller villages and hamlets they have helped with everything from sick wolves that turned into death dogs, to rousting some ogres who were waylaying people on the road from their lair, and investigating a wizard locals say is evil because "he looks that way").

So yeah when they finally get back to that area they will very likely be 5th level, which means I will pump up the threat significantly (or use 1E monster numbers for a 5E game ;) )

But yeah, I need to think of events that happened in their absence.

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