Lost in the desert! The only hope for survival lies in a ruined city rising out of the sands. Food, water, and wealth await heroic adventurers inside an ancient pyramid ruled by a strange race of masked beings.
The basic adventure in this module is the exploration of the upper levels of a step-pyramid. The party, lost in a desert, finds an ancient, ruined city. The pyramid is the largest building in the ruins.
Centuries ago, Cynidicea was the capital of a rich and fertile kingdom. Its people reclaimed much land from the desert, especially during the reign of King Alexander – the last and greatest king of Cynidicea. Upon King Alexander’s death, a huge pyramid was raised in his honor. This pyramid was the largest and most important building in the city.
The fall of Cynidicea began on the day that workers, digging under the great pyramid, chanced upon the lair of a strange monster called Zargon. Zargon was roughly humanoid in shape, though larger than most humans. In place of arms and legs it had twelve tentacles. Its head was that of a giant lizard, with a large black horn in the middle of its forehead.
Zargon killed most of the workers, then began hunting prey at night through the streets of Cynidicea. The city guard was not able to kill the monster. At last, the city rulers began sending criminals from the jails into the pyramid for Zargon to feed on.
In time, a strange cult arose that worshipped the monster as a god. The cult viewed the monster’s victims as religious sacrifices. The worship of the ancient gods of Cynidicea- Gorm, Usamigaras, and Madarua-was forsaken in favor of the worship of the monster Zargon. Finally, most of the citizens of Cynidicea worshipped it.
The worshippers of Zargon began to look for strange pleasures. They sought oblivion in rare wines and bizarre drugs. Workers no longer repaired the irrigation ditches. Rich land turned into desert. The army lost its discipline. People outside the city rebelled, or moved away as chaos spread outward from Cynidicea.
Later, barbarian warriors stormed over the walls and destroyed the city. The only people of Cynidicea who survived its destruction were those who had fled underground to the vast catacombs* under the city. There, led by Priests of Zargon, the Cynidiceans tried to rebuild the city.
The surviving people based their new life around a huge underground lake fed by channels cut through solid rock. Built in the reign of King Alexander, the lake had been the original city’s water supply. On its shores, the people grew mushrooms and other edible fungi. They built houses using stones from the ruins above. The new underground city was much smaller than the ancient capital, but it was safer because it was hidden beneath the desert sands. Above, drifting sands covered the original city, and Cynidicea was lost in the vastness of the desert.