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Mannix, level 3 Human Inquisitive Rogue
Khaless, level 3 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue
Gillian, level 3 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 3 Tortle Battle Master Fighter
Therin, level 3 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon
The ancient shrine at Camp Righteous serves as a deliciously painful appetizer for the horrors that await in Chult. It’s a miniaturized deathtrap dungeon; a veritable gauntlet of traps that would make even Indiana Jones take pause, with a supernatural gimmick that’s not terribly obvious.
But what self-respecting adventurer can resist the call of ancient tombs and forgotten treasures?
Before delving into the shrine, the party wanted to wait out Khaless’ magically induced unconsciousness. It was the smart play. They bedded down for a Short Rest, as the half-destroyed camp wasn’t safe enough for a Long Rest.
I had a few plans at the ready. During the night a small humanoid unmoored one of their canoes, which floated into the river, while the baby axebeak that Mannix had rescued earlier began to squawk wildly.
While everyone began to stir, the squawking attracted a nearby quintet of adult axebeaks, who raced into the campsite, trampling tents and moving to protect their lost child.
The large flightless birds aren’t particularly strong, but I did got some nasty hits off with their beak attacks. Mannix unhitched and hurled the little bird away from the camp to divert their ire. The plan worked, though the birds continued to strike as they fell back, eventually taking the young one and retreating. Both Azaka and George, who see eye-to-eye when it comes to killing, managed to kill the birds nearest to them, while the rest escaped.
With the crisis averted the party enjoyed a midnight feast of poultry. After that it was a matter of waiting another full day and a half for Khaless to finally stir. During that time they felt constantly watched from something – or somethings – while in the campsite, though they stayed vigilant and prevented any further acts of sabotage or aggression.
With Khaless back among them the party finally decided to tackle the shrine. They were hilariously protective of the canoes after having to row out and rescue the one that was nearly lost to them. Azaka was told to guard them while Inete would watch the tabaxi, who had not yet shaken off their paranoia from the Mad Monkey Mist.
Before they went inside, Inete recited the story of Man and Crocodile, about how Crocodile agrees to carry Man across the river, but in exchange, Man must carry Crocodile on his back around the world, causing everlasting enmity between the two. The story is actually a clue for how to get through the shrine relatively unscathed…
George entered the shrine first, immediately triggering the floor trap and falling 20-feet into a pit. Skirting around the edge is possible with an Acrobatics check, but the next area triggers a nasty blade trap for anyone not riding on someone’s shoulders.
The party did have one big advantage in Therin’s giant spider form. He was able to climb the walls and ceilings to help spot the solution to the floor puzzle in the next area. Purely by coincidence the spider didn’t trigger the blade trap, because George was riding on top of it at the time.
George had to roll four Perception checks, one for each row of the puzzle floor, to spot the solution on the door further up. He made three of them easily but failed on the fourth.
Mannix decided to guess and jump on a random tile. The result was flames shooting out of the walls and burning him to a crisp – our first PC goes down!
Down but not dead. Khaless ran over to him (careful to retrace his steps on the tiles) and stabilized him. Therin-spider would use a web to medi-vac Mannix’s body to safety – but he set off the blade trap as he did, nearly killing the spider-form and Gillian (I let him shield Mannix’s body, otherwise that’s probably an insta-death)
At this point I telegraphed to the PCs that no, he didn’t set if off the first time. Why was that? Gillian picked up the solution – as long as someone is riding on someone’s shoulders, the traps don’t go off.
Undril healed Mannix, though he was left with a charred, useless arm (we use modified Lingering Injury rules from the DMG).
With the puzzle path cleared they just had to open the door. I made sure to carefully explain the door’s layout, with two of the tiles unreachable by one person. I then dropped an extra hint about the order of the tiles themselves. George and Gillian were able to press the tile buttons in the correct order and open the door.
He and Undril made it all the way to the back room and used a grappling hook to help ascend the stairs, which granted them advantage. Unfortunately Mannix rolled >10 on both Acrobatics rolls! I had them simply fall off the stairs and take falling damage.
Instead of trying again, they used Therin’s spider-form to climb up the ceiling, then drop down via web. Khaless stayed on Therin’s ‘shoulders’ just in case, and grabbed their hard-fought treasure: Ubtao’s Restorative Ointment (Keoghtom’s Ointment with 4 charges) and Gloves of Climbing and Swimming.
The back room also provides a safe haven, despite all the bones and danger. Nothing is going to get back here through all those traps, meaning the PCs can finally get their first Long Rest since leaving Port Nyanzaru! They shouted to Azaka to hold down the fort outside while they bedded down for a much needed rest after surviving the House of Man and Crocodile.
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