Many hundreds of years ago, the forces of good allied to destroy the main Temple of Orcus in the ancient city of Tsar. With their Temple in ruins, the surviving high priests of this accursed demon-god fled the city with an army of enemies on their trail – an army of heroic fighters, clerics, and paladins led by Zelkor, a powerful wizard. The exact fate of these evil priests was then unknown, for not only did the remnants of the followers of Orcus disappear from all human reckoning, but so too did the army of light that followed after them. Some said that in the eternal scales the loss of so many good men was a fair price to pay to rid the world of so much evil.
The evil cult, however, had not been destroyed. The surviving priests and their followers instead settled on a hill near the Forest of Hope, a sylvan woodland near the Coast Road. They found a vast underground complex of caverns and mazes carving out a volcanic intrusion beneath the hill. There the priests of Orcus found the perfect lair to continue their vile rituals. For many years they carried on in secret, hidden from the light and from the knowledge of men.
Many years later, their underground delving completed, the evil preists erected a hideous mausoleum and a sunken graveyard atop the hill. It is believed that these graves are in fact the final resting place of the pursuing army of heroes that had been destroyed to the last man. Soon after the mausoleum was erected, the peaceful creatures of the wood began to vanish. Though many rangers and druids investigated these happenings, the cause of the creatures’ disappearance was not immediately determined. Some years later, a powerful group of adventurers, led by Bofred, a high priest of Heironeous, investigated the evil happenings and found the sunken graveyard leading to a labyrinthine underground complex. Bofred and his companions found great hordes of evil creatures in the caverns beneath the graveyard. Though some of his companions returned from their expedition telling tales of fantastic treasure and ferocious monsters, Bofred himself was never seen again – presumed lost in the catacombs beneath the cursed mausoleum.
For the last one hundred years, ranks of adventurers swarmed to the new found dungeon. Many fell prey to bandits and monsters in the surrounding wilderness. Of those adventurers who survived to reach the mausoleum and the sunken graveyard, rumors suggest that most were slain by guardians of green stone before they even entered the dungeon or that they perished on the very first level. Those rare few who return from deeper treks speak of horrible undead and of creatures that cannot be slain, All who have explored Rappan Athuk offer this one universal piece of advice:
“Don’t go down the well.”
[Text above is copied directly from the module written by Bill Web and Clark Peterson, and provided here simply for the use of the players.]