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Mannix, level 7 Human Inquisitive Rogue/Wizard
Khaless, level 7 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue
Gillian, level 7 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 7 Tortle Battle Master Fighter/Rogue
Therin, level 7 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon
Deeper into Omu the party mounts a rescue operation in a zombie-infested compound to rescue Orvex, a scholarly ally of the Red Wizards, who promptly spills the beans about their operations in Omu – including the discovery of the Tomb entrance and the significance of the shrines.
As written in the adventure, the Walled Compound is nothing more than a STR check to free the trapped Orvex from some rubble. But in our Tomb of Annihilation campaign, the death curse causes the dead to rise as zombies. This created a prime opportunity to craft a The Walking Dead-type scenario, with over two dozen zombies milling around the recently destroyed complex.
While beginning their journey along the main street in Omu, the party heard a voice call out weekly from the compound. They saw the challenge ahead and formulated a plan. George would grab the zombie horde’s attention and run back out around the corner, where the rest of the party waited. Mannix would then cast Silent Image to replace George with an animated hologram, and continue to draw the horde away.
Here’s where things got interesting. Therin hates the undead, and insisted on helping Mannix lead the horde toward the lava rift, about 350 feet to the east. Khaless stealthily entered the compound, with Gillian and George following inside. Split party!
I love letting the players determine their best course of action and executing on a multi-step plan. On the other hand I was certainly not ready to deal with a split party, with half leading zombies toward the east and the other half infiltrating the compound.
Team Compound found the trapped man, and used some STR checks to free him (in the case, failure meant you lost a hit die in the process). With only a handful of zombies around them they played it smart and quietly escaped back outside.
The rescued man was Orvex Ocrammas, an employee of the Red Wizards. He and Khaless knew each other from her time as an enslaved assassin, and he was instantly afraid of her. She justified that fear by intimidating and threatening the exhausted, injured man, asking him pointed questions about the Red Wizards and what they were doing here.
The wizards had arrived in Omu only about a week ago to track down the soulmonger, and unbeknownst to them, were being watched by the Yuan-ti. The wizards discovered the obsidian obelisk, the Acererak inscription, and the statues of the trickster gods in the northern part of the city. Zagmira, their leader, and the woman who personally enslaved Khaless (and whom Khaless scarred while escaping) deduced that the shrines scattered around Omu held the keys to the entrance.
She set out with a smaller team while the rest returned to the their base of operations in the walled compound. It’s there that the Yuan-ti launched a large-scale assault, with ended with the deaths of all the wizards and enslaved guards, save Orvex. Zagmira is presumably still in Omu.
Meanwhile Team Zombie ran into a snag. They were using Mannix’s Silent Image to lead the zombies off a cliff, but the Vegepygmies they had stolen from earlier saw the split party and decided to attack. Suddenly Therin and Mannix were faced with a brawl involving a small tribe of Vegepygmies and the last remaining zombies.
Vegepygmies are very weak, and zombies aren’t exactly power-houses, but it was really interesting having only two party members for this fight. As a DM I had to be careful not to drag things as less than half the party was directly involved. I ended up hand-waving a lot of the NPC on NPC action.
Therin transformed into an allosaurus and went to zombie-chomping town, while Mannix attempted to hide and attack from around a corner. He was caught by the Vegepygmie Chief’s Spore attack, failing the CON save for several turns and nearly succumbing to the poison.
With Therin’s new metallic skeleton, he has a chance to go berserk whenever’s he’s struck. And sure enough the first zombie to hit him leads to a failed WIS save, and Mannix sees his transformed friend go full-on dino rampage. He hilariously high-tails it out of there, leaving the enraged transformed druid to deal with the final handful of zombies.
Mannix returned to the others and learned the Red Wizard story, while they all made their way back to Therin to witness the showdown. I hand-waved combat as Therin was the only one involved, ruling that his half-health dino form was taken down, but he did emerge victorious, and earned a point of inspiration for all the zombie-killing (the Vegepygmies retreated once the they were dealing with both zombies and crazed Therinsaurus).
All of these shenanigans, the Orvex threatening, Mannix dying from poison and running away, berserk Therin left behind to kill zombies, lead to one of my single favorite moments from D&D, which is just us completely losing it and giggling and making jokes for a solid 10 minutes. It was wonderful.
The party finally rejoined, and Orvex recounted the legend of the Nine Trickster Gods of Omu. The party realized they needed to explore these shrines, though also kept in mind that Zagmira knew the same thing.
Following the Therin-zombie fight they were right outside of Shagambi’s Shrine. George (and a massaging Mannix) were able to pry open the door while they heard hisses and growls. Artus and Dragonbait offered to fight off whatever they were disturbing while the others dashed inside.
What secrets do the shrines hold? We’ll find out next time!
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