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Mannix, level 4 Human Inquisitive Rogue
Khaless, level 4 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue
Gillian, level 4 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 4 Tortle Battle Master Fighter/Rogue
Therin, level 4 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon
The party explored deeper inside the ancient ziggurat of Orolunga, battling gargoyles, escaping mummies, leaping over crumbling hallways, and letting sleeping wyverns lie.
NOTE: My version of Orolunga is partially based on the Viper’s Pit dungeon designed by JVC Parry on the DMs Guild.
Salida introduced herself to the group. The Chultan guide mentioned she was out with a different group headed to Orolunga when she was attacked by a large flying beast with a barbed tail. Her group was dismantled, and she was eventually captured by the newly arrived yuan-ti. She noted that the beast appeared to have a nest or lair in the upper level, and refused to go deeper into the temple.
But our heroes needed to press on. They slipped through the northern doorway before it shut behind them, emerging into a dark hallway flanked by four statues. Atop each statue was a monstrous stone figure. Like at the entrance, the stone creatures animated and came to life when they sensed the non-yuan-ti intrusions.
I had no idea this gargoyle fight would be so painful for my players! Gargoyles are not terribly impressive on paper. As a CR 2 creature they’re fairly average, a bit beefy on HP and AC with multiattack, but only a +4 to hit and average damage of 5.
But, they have damage resistance to nonmagical attacks. Combine that with their sizable HP pool and AC 15 and they hung around for a long time. It didn’t help that they all swooped down and effectively divided up the PCs’ attacks every round.
As the fight drug on Gillian was having to use Healing Word every round to keep everyone from falling. At one point four of the five heroes were hovering around 20% hit points (Therin-bear’s large temporary HP boost served him well).
Our heroes emerged victorious but they were badly drained and weakened, immediately taking a Short Rest to heal back up. Knowing a large beast made its home upstairs, the party was reticent to climb the stairs on the right, opting for the door on the left.
Khaless had the clever idea to use a pair of gargoyle arms to jam the snake-head lever and avoid its crushing jaws. The door opened and they witnessed flickering images of a mummification ceremony, including seeing some magical items being placed into the sarcophagi that still rested by an altar in this ritual room.
Half the party was willing to get the hell out of there (literally leaving the room), but it was Mannix who couldn’t resist the pull of treasure, whipping out a crowbar to peek inside. A noxious yellow smoke billowed out of the coffin as a bandaged arm reached out. Roll for initiative!
Gillian launched a Gust of Wind using her Triton-ness to disperse the gas in the room. Thankfully for them both her and Mannix got to act before the mummy in the coffin, and Mannix used his turn to attempt another STR check to re-seal. He succeeded, ended the threat as the mummy’s seemed unable, or unwilling to escape on their own.
But, he just had to be sure. With the Gust of Wind still going he opted to open the other coffin. The same result, with a mummy inside and yellow smoke pouring out. This time Khaless was peeking inside and saw one of the magical artifacts, a blue cloak, and snatched it with a successful Sleight of Hand check, while Mannix quickly resealed it.
I’m okay with not forcing combat if the PCs play things smart and cautiously. The entire ritual room was set up as an optional fight. I hadn’t considered the possibility that the PCs would trigger the fight, only to immediately regret the decision and un-trigger it, but I definitely allowed it.
Nowhere to go from here but up. The party ascended the staircase onto the upper floor of the temple. Large ornately stone doors greeted them on the side while a ruined hallway had a massive pit between them and a library on the far side. The large stone doors held muffled voices and lots and lots of hissing sounds.
Therin-bear was able to leap across the pit, while others shimmied across the ledge. Even with his pitons Mannix fell, but Therin was able to succeed on both an Acrobatics check to catch him and an Athletics check to make it back across the pit. That earns some Inspiration!
The library mostly held decaying and destroyed books, but Mannix did find a spellbook he was interested in. Around the corner they could see the massive hole in the front of the ziggurat, and saw a large slumbering winged creature with a barbed tail. It had a makeshift nest out of crumbling ruins and bodies, along with piles of treasure strewn around it.
Like the mummies the party decided to avoid it, at least for now. That gargoyle fight was really demoralizing!
Which meant their only path lie beyond the giant double doors emblazoned with serpent imagery. Khaless and Mannix both synchronized the snake head levers to swing them open. Inside they saw, well, we’ll have to wait until next time!
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