Tomb of Annihilation Session 71 Recap

We explore the first level of the Tomb of the Nine Gods, the Rotten Halls.

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Previously on Tomb of Annihilation

Starring:
Mannix, level 9 Yuan-ti Inquisitive Rogue/Divination Wizard
Khaless, level 9 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue
Gillian, level 9 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 9 Tortle Battle Master Fighter/Rogue
Therin, level 9 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon

After encountering Mr. Withers, aka the Dungeon Concierge, the party explores most of the first level of the Tomb of the Nine Gods (the Rotten Halls), performing admirably except for one magical fountain they just couldn’t resist.

It had been awhile since we last left, so to start this week’s session I repeated the important cutscene that we ended Session 70 with – Withers appearing in a magically projected image to welcome the latest victims to Acererak’s deathtrap dungeon(tm). Wipe your feet, enjoy your stay, please die horribly, etc.

A large green devil face dominated the end of the T-intersection hallway leading deeper into the first level of the tomb. The open mouth was filled with magical darkness, but George’s Bandanna of Truesight (which will come in very handy throughout this dungeon) could see a monstrous creature lurking within.

D&DThe party correctly surmised this was the “In Darkness, It Hides,” clue, and left it alone.

They saw the Grand Staircase to the east, but opted to go west toward the Crystal Window. Peeking in they could see a room with a sarcophagus, a large bronze disk with glaring eyes, and half a dozen corpses slumped in chairs around the room, wearing feathery masks.

Instead of breaking through the window, George and Therin lifted up the nearby iron grate, and the party began dropping down into the claustrophobic water tunnel below.

Therin noted a buildup of gas around the corner, but Gillian fired off a Gust of Wind using her Triton mastery over air and water to disperse it, ran up the nearby stairs, and spotted the secret door right away.

Therin turned a corner and went deeper down the southern end of the water tunnel to find a large chest suspended above a pool of water via chains embedded in the ceiling. Khaless became very interested in the chest, which had a demon skull keyhole with writing that teased, “I devour all but the greatest thieves.”

She nailed a nat 20 on the Thieves Tools roll, opening the chest and gaining a hefty sum of cash, a magic smiley-face mug, and some 3rd level spell scrolls, two of which I randomly rolled as bonus loot.

Meanwhile Gillian opened the secret door and saw they had made it around to the other side of the tomb within a tomb, which Orvex identified as one of the former gods of Omu – Obo’laka, judging by the bear statues gripping the eyeball disk.

D&D

Mannix called out another of the clues from the obelisk, “Don the Mask or Be Seen!” Therin swiped the mask from the corpse in front of him before stepping into the room. Sure enough, the eyes swept over him like he wasn’t even there. He proceeded to gather up all the masks from the corpses and pass them out to the rest of the party as they entered Obo’laka’s Tomb.

Therin and George pushed aside the sarcophagus, finding the bones of a zorbo, and a magical ring. Therin reached for the ring, failed the CHA saving throw, and became possessed by the spirit of Obo’laka! As the party discovered, the trickster god possessions aren’t all bad – you gain a new power as well as a new personality flaw.

Obo’laka is nervous and paranoid, but also lets their host attune to an additional magic item, which immediately allowed Therin to attune to the Ring of Protection (he’s also attuned to the Staff of Thorns, Animated Shield, and Necklace of Prayer Beads).

Therin wanted to converse with the spirit, who was less than helpful, but did want to defeat Acererak. He felt its nervousness gradually seep into his own personality. Therin most likely won’t be first in line again any time soon.

George impressively rolled a 20 when searching the room, finding another secret door opposite their own, leading to a northern hallway. Again he stopped and searched, rolled a 20+ Perception (this is George, not Mannix mind you), and spotted yet another secret door on the side of the hallway, leading down darkened stairs.

Khaless sneaked closer down the stairs, descending a full floor to find what looked like a half dozen corpse-like dwarves wearing green devil face masks working on traps and other implements of pain and torture. An ominous iron maiden lie in the northern end with tubes and vials of bubbling blood.

D&D

The party spent a long time deliberating on how to handle this situation, with Mannix in favor of attacking them now. At one point George suggested ripping the eyeball disk free and using it on the dwarves, despite not knowing what it actually does.

Ultimately they decided to back away and leave them alone, for now.

Traveling north George felt a tug from a knight statue ahead. His strength easily withstood the magnetic pull, but the others weren’t so confident. Mannix produced a 25-ft wooden ladder from his Vest of Useful Items, and George helped prop it up to the other side of the room, creating a side-ways bridge.

It was a good idea, as the team’s Athletics/STR scores are a glaring weakness. Most of them needed the Advantage just to make a DC 10 Athletics check to cross the room, avoiding the pull of the magnet, and reaching a circular room with a fountain in the middle.

Mannix’s Detect Magic revealed Transmutation Magic around the fountain, but the party was desperately curious. Khaless filled her newly found mug, changing its sad face to happy, and aggressively poured the water down poor Orvex’s throat. He was already heavily injured from the hallway spike trap in the previous session, and the water appeared to heal him.

Emboldened by the result, Gillian lapped up some water while Mannix tried to investigate the effects on Orvex. It really did appear the magic water had healed him, but when Gillian drank, she suddenly lost the ability to speak!

George, was curious. He had to get in on this weird action. He took a drink, and the water turned to acid in his mouth, spitting it out (making the CON save) but still taking 26 damage!

At this point the party went crazy trying to figure out what was going on, and the DM, dear reader, was ecstatic. They all tried to pressure each other into drinking to witness more of these effects. Finally Mannix agreed to drink but only if Khaless drank first, and only if she received the positive effects that Orvex did.

D&D

Khaless tried to Sleight of Hand a faux drink, but Mannix’s superior Perception saw through it. She took a for-real drink, and the same acid-water that George experienced took effect (though she also made the CON save). At this point the party was finally ready to put this whole cursed fountain behind them, though not before Therin cast Lesser Restoration to cure Gillian.

They used the wooden ladder to cross back over, though noted a hallway led toward the east. Mannix whipped out a hammer and pitons to nail into the side of the wall to help, though near the end the magnet-statue pulled the hammer out of his hand, nearly striking Gillian and Khaless, and disintegrating when it hit the statue.

In the hallway the party had some quiet time and hunkered for a short rest. They hadn’t fought a single thing in the tomb, but between the hallway spikes and fountain-acid, they could definitely roll some hit dice.

Mannix re-cast Detect Magic, and the party went around the corner to enter the Grand Staircase they had seen from the beginning of the session. They could see all the way down through four floors, three of which had winding staircases with balconies. On their floor, stairs led down, and three other archways led to different hallways, including the west leading back to the original green devil face intersection.

In the eastern hallway they saw a diminutive skeleton with an oddly elongated head. It yelped when it noticed them, turn and ran into a giant skull head in the wall. It ran through the open mouth, and one of its fiery eyes winked out.

Crossing around the balcony the party noticed another of the weird mask-wearing dwarves looking at them from the floor below before moving out of sight. They were being watched.

The party investigate the stone skull and realized there was an entire room beyond it, with the mouth acting as a short tunnel-door. They were leery about ducking inside, so Mannix summoned his frog statue and commanded it to enter. It did so, and the other fiery eye disappeared.

It began to don on them that they had made a mistake. But George could see another sarcophagus on the other side, and brazenly ducked inside the mouth. The jaws snapped shut, but missed the tortle completely, who scampered into the next room. The jaws opened and both eyes were alight once more.

Inside the room, George could see a network of tiny tunnels all along the walls, with hundreds of spiders crawling within. The middle of the room held a sarcophagus with a serpent on the lid, but his eyes were drawn to a glass box containing a floating, flaming skull. It looked smaller than an adult’s skull, however. And a child’s voice filled his head, “What’s happening, who’s there?”

What’s happening indeed – we’ll find out next time!

Voted MVPC – Therin & Gillian

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Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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