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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
The magic and terror of D&D is that some things you plan work out far better than you could have imagined – and of course, just the opposite is true. I witnessed both ends of the spectrum in this week’s session, as the PCs had their first meeting with Zagmira, did some shopping with a surprise merchant, and acquired their next puzzle cube.
Following the harrowing battle in the amphitheater, the party enjoyed a short rest in the stands, and studied their reward, a Necklace of Prayer Beads with two Beads of Blessing, two Beads of Cure Wounds (or Lesser Restoration) and one Bead of Greater Restoration. Each bead can be used once per day, a rather substantial boost to the party’s healing capabilities, including the ability to heal those pesky Lingering Injuries that have been such a big factor in this campaign.
Only Therin can attune to it, however, requiring their miserly, aggressive, wild-shaping druid to have an ear for healing. I’m sure that’ll go well!
Another Omu search and d100 roll resulted in another Mad Monkey Mist encounter. Once again only one PC failed, but Khaless was saddled with an uncontrollable tremor that causes disadvantage on attack rolls, ouch! Even worse, Mannix had already begged Therin to use the new Bead of Greater Restoration on his broken arm. They’ll have to wait to the next day to heal Khaless’ madness (and yes, Gillian still has her flight delusion).
At nearby Wongo’s shrine the party was met with a surprise – the shrine had already been sprung, dead bodies of creatures and people littered the floor. Mannix’s eye began to thrum with energy and a projected image of Zagmira shot onto the ground.
Zagmira is a powerful, high-ranking Red Wizad who had raised Khaless as a trained weapon at her beck and call. Khaless’s escape during a ritual interrupted Zagmira’s magical youth restoration, resulting in a Two-Face visage between and old woman and a young one.
Zagmira revealed that ever since Mannix accepted the magic eye from Valindra Shadowmantle, the Red Wizards had been watching the party’s progress. From pirate ship battles to defeating the dragon of Wyrmheart Mine.
Zagmira told the PCs that her team had also been looting shrines and taking cubes, but they ran into a problem. One shrine had already been looted, its cube stolen, and her magic and spies confirmed that Ras Nsi and the Yuan-ti were behind it.
She told the party she’s willing to pool their cubes together to gain entrance into the Tomb of the Nine Gods, but they’ll need to acquire the final three cubes, the two in the flooded region of Omu, and the final from the clutches of Ras Nsi himself.
The yuan-ti temple is a fortress. A direct assault is suicide, but Zagmira claims to have a spy on the inside, and a means of infiltration.
The party tentatively agreed. They’re wary that Zagmira seems to retain some sort of magical control over Khaless, and have no reason to trust the Red Wizards. Even Orvex agreed that while Zagmira may uphold her end of the bargain, she would definitely want to re-acquire Khaless.
With the Red Wizards gaining three cubes and Ras Nsi one, only two shrines now remain: Papazotl and Nangnang. The party headed east, searched again, and fought some su-monsters. The searches have not been kind to the PCs, unfortunately.
While searching, the rogues in the party recognized some hidden signs that led to a possible safe-house. Mannix eagerly followed the signs in between alleys and decaying stalls of the crumbling bazaar. Traps were set everywhere, but the thieves’ signs and symbols provided a safe path all the way to a hidden staircase and a basement room filled with smoke, couches, and an iron gate, with a friendly tabaxi on the other side.
The party had found a black market fence. A few Thieves Cant signs later and the tabaxi warmed up to sell them some goods, including potions and magical items.
As written Omu doesn’t have anything like this. The campaign has very little opportunity for shopping once the PCs leave Port Nyanzaru, and I thought this was a fun opportunity to let them spend the hundreds of gold they’ve been acquiring.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the party spring into shopping mode and buy literally everything I had put on sale. Potions of healing (50gp), Greater Healing (100gp) Shredder grenades (60gp), a Rope of Entanglement (500gp), Dust of Disappearance (100gp), and a Keyblade Dagger that could cast Knock once per day (200gp).
I was generous with the prices, not exactly following the staggering cost of magical items from Xanathar’s but not skimping too much, either. I told the party that haggling was certainly an option, but they actually declined, enjoying the chance to spend money or barter their own items. How about that! Way to support local businesses everyone.
After the shopping spree the party carefully made their way back out of the hidden black market, entering the flooded northeast quadrant of Omu towards Papazotl’s shrine.
The shrine had several crocodiles loitering in front. Therin wasted no time casting Speak with Animals, shifting into a crocodile, and attempted to parley. Turns out the crocs were a bunch of kids, and they wailed for mama croc, who is a massive Giant Crocodile.
I wasn’t interested in a combat encounter here unless the PCs really forced my hand. Therin was enjoying the nervous role-playing (crocs aren’t that strong but hey, I appreciate that the druid doesn’t want to murder a bunch of animals). Mama just wanted food and the PCs tried to oblige by throwing some rations into the water.
It was a decent enough distraction to get them inside, where they saw a painted mosaic of Papazotl fighting Kubazan. Mannix used the Keyblade Dagger to open the doors, leading to an empty pedestal and six different animal-head statues facing it. A riddle on the pedestal prompted a clue for what the PCs need to do.
Zagmira’s meeting and the black market both went so well. Alas I did not go 3 for 3 in this session. Papazotl’s shrine was a problem right off the bat. The PCs were confused by the riddle and hung up on the animal statues (which are basically a red herring). When Mannix offered to generically investigate the room (and rolled a 20+) I gave him a single word clue – light.
He lit a wukka nut and placed it on the pedestal. The SHADOW (the answer was shadow, y’all) from the bat statue revealed a hidden crawlspace behind an illusory wall. Therin-croc crawled inside and discovered a cryptic grid key on the wall.
I was hoping things would get back on track and the party would have fun deciphering the next solution. Nope!
They had no idea what to do with the grid. Lucky for them they completely stumbled onto the right answer. Since light had worked so well, they decided to use Khaless’ drow-darkness to see what effect that would have. As soon as the magical darkness enveloped everyone, the puzzle was complete, and the cube emerged.
The party was annoyed at having acquired the cube without actually solving the puzzle, so we went over the actual solution: Enter the letters of the riddle into the grid key, and use the highlighted squares to spell out the solution, COVER EYES. By casting Darkness, they had essentially covered everyone’s eyes!
The party now has four puzzle cubes. With three to the Wizards and one to the Yuan-ti, only one remains, NangNang’s shrine, home to the Grung. We’ll tackle it next week!
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