Sometime between last session and this session, the composition of AdvCo…changed. Gone were the waladin and the druid, called off by some unheard yet apparently powerful klaxon that demanded their attention. In their place saw the return of the dwarven fighter who had been with the party since the beginning, but who ran off with her long lost love only to show up again because apparently dwarven marriages are modeled after a Talyor Swift relationship.
After the party destroyed the mosaic chimera, they decided to check out the sloping hallway. A careful Perception noted a strange, recessed panel about half way down the hallway which the party took for some kind of trap; the ranger carefully yet quickly stepped past it with no adverse effect, so the party opted to continue on. Unfortunately, there was a trap situated in the floor of the tunnel which released a 7-foot diameter sphere of undead bones from the top of the incline. The ranger, fighter, and dwarf hauled ass as the sphere gathered momentum and rolled after them just like you’re picturing from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the bard was unfazed. She quickly deployed Thunderwave to knock the Ball ‘o Bones back up the chute with enough force to send it flying into the mosaic room, where it broke apart on impact.
The room they entered at the end of the tunnel was unoccupied, although they had another episode of invasive thoughts, this time invoking Mystril, the goddess of magic. The bard didn’t know much about the deity herself, but she did manage to recall something about the rites performed by her priests involving a penitent stance…the same kind of stance that was depicted on a set of double doors on the opposite side of the room. Performing this ritual allowed the doors to open, and the party quickly moved on.
Here was a throne room. The dais was fashioned as if it were a cloud, shot through with periodic bolts of lightning and behind the throne itself was large copper sun. Sitting on the seat of honor was a massive alabaster figure, all He-Man’d out in a toga, and sporting a flowing white beard. At its feet was an eclectic pile of “treasure”: there were some valuables, but there was also a lot of seemingly worthless objects d’art such as toys, wooden cups, and scraps of decaying paper. The figure on the throne suggested that donations were greatly appreciated, so everyone in the party threw in a few coins based on what they could afford. This action left them feeling appreciated, and they all took to Facetome to humblebrag about their generosity #blessed.
Another room to the south turned out to be a library. An empty library. As the party looked around and stirred up dust, the motes coalesced around an otherwise invisible figure. When proded, the figure manifested as a rather angry, intimidating spirit that demanded to know why the party was there. Were they seeking to pillage Didarious’ considerable stash of knowledge? No, the party replied. They were simply seeking wisdom from Didarious himself. At this, the spirit chilled a bit and reverted to its former, lifetime visage: a slight, despondent young woman who admitted that Didarious hasn’t been seen for some time, but he’d surely be happy about the job she’d been doing in maintaining his library. No one in the party had the heart to tell her that there were no more books to maintain, so they closed the door and moved on.
To the north, a plain door opened onto a downward staircase at the bottom of which could be heard low, unintelligible yet somehow refined voices. Five infernal figures were seated around a table in this dining room, and when the party entered, barely offered them a lingering glance. The bard used Tongues to translate, and learned that these bearded devils were employed by Varrum, who had gone on ahead but who ordered them to wait in this room. The party didn’t ask why, although the ranger was itching to put not one but two arrows into the back of one of the devils. A quick investigation of what the devils called a “treasure room” on the far side of the dining room revealed a door marked “DANGER!” in chalk, so the party bypassed the infernals and followed the path of Varrum unmolested.
The connecting room was a long gallery flanked by worn pillars, and at the far end, illuminated by impossible shafts of sunlight, was an enormous copper bowl resting on a plinth of marble. The base was carved with unfamiliar images, much like the frescos outside the tomb itself. The bowl was empty, but the room showed signs of battle: broken arrows littered the floor, blood-stains were everywhere, and oh! there was a cultist corpse at the foot of the bowl’s platform. Although the ranger was still concerned about the devils in the other room, he opted to gather some of the rather elaborate arrows that were still in one piece, and the party followed the direction of a blood smear that lead to another set of double doors.
The tomb of Didarious. Richly but sparsely appointed, the focal point of the room was the crypt of the dead wizard flanked by eternally flickering braziers. Following the blood trail through the room, a voice emanated from the crypt itself: ” I know you’re looking for Varrum, so let me help you out,” it said in paraphrase, and a hidden panel on the opposite wall swung open to reveal a contingent of six yuan-ti who were put on high alert as soon as the door started to swing open.
The party managed to dispatch the lizards save two: one who fled, and one who was kept alive for questioning.
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This session rendered almost 1000 words, and could have generated more if A) I wanted to be more explicit, and B) could remember everything that happened. Suffice to say, it was quite eventful, a lot got done while also very little got done, and the party progressed quite well through a dungon which I had thought might end up being the end of the team.
This session turned out to be a great case of careful application of situational awareness and quick thinking, from blasting the bone-sphere back up the hallway with Thunderwave to the application of historical knowledge and relatively light puzzle-solving. It was good to see the party thinking in-character, choosing and using their skills, and bringing a little of the game system to the table. I’ve always maintained that TRPGs are free-form structures that allow you to use or discard as much or as little of the rules as you like, but at the end of the day the mechanics exist to model Nature, Chance, and prevent automatic successes on every effort, so while we pick and choose, using the mechanics certainly can lead to some otherwise unforeseen situations and cement success.
On the other hand, the party didn’t spend a lot of time in one place for very long. Granted, this tomb seems well picked-over and there’s not a lot going on. They group didn’t spend time with the library spirit, and although they joked about it, no one made any move to take anything from the treasure pile in the throne room. I think part of the reason is because we picked up a new player since last week, and the party might have been (consciously or subconsciously) trying to get to the point in the story where he appears. I’ve got him placed within this map, but he might show up next week if the party reaches that spot. Gina the dwarven fighter was taken over by another player who unfortunately has an erratic schedule that prevents him from being a regular player, but was welcomed in this week all the same. WA joke was made about how characters have been swapped for new characters so often that no one bothers to address the discrepancy, kind of like the switching between Dick York and Dick Sargent on Bewitched.
And now the post title makes sense!