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Previously on Tomb of Annihilation

Mannix, level 10 Yuan-ti Inquisitive Rogue/Divination Wizard – inhabited by Papazotl
Khaless, level 10 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue – inhabited by I’Jin
Gillian, level 10 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 10 Tortle Battle Master Fighter/Rogue – inhabited by Moa
Therin, level 10 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon – inhabited by Obo’laka

In the last two weeks we had been crawling through the fourth level of the Tomb of the Nine Gods at a snail’s pace. This week we made up for it, blazing through the final two trickster god rooms and nearly completely the entire floor, thanks to an extra-long episode.

In the eastern corridor Mannix spotted a secret door, revealing a small cell-like room with images of volcanoes destroying cities on the walls. A lit candle burned in a sconce on the wall. The room radiated with heat and an anti-magic field.

The party was appropriately cautious. They didn’t want to enter the room, but saw that something happened when the candle was snuffed out with water. Khaless, Gillian, and George worked out the timing to spray the candle, then quickly rushed inside where they were teleported into another cell, this one damp and wet, with images of tidal waves on the walls.

Water began pouring from the ceiling. The party recalled the clues from the plaque on this level: “Death to Fire, Dine or Drown, Precious Air, Falling Sand.” Along the wall were living oysters and snails, and they immediately began stuffing their faces. George ate a snail first, teleporting to the Earth cell, while Khaless and Gillian snacked on some oysters and were transported to the Air cell.

The earth cell featured a medusa carved into the wall with a button pendant. Sand fell from the ceiling and George could see a trapdoor floor and a secret door. With a STR check he popped the button out, pressed it, and opened the secret door to Shagambi’s tomb.

In the Air cell a cyclonic wind storm began battering the Oyster Ladies around the room. Khaless’ darkvision could see an aarakocra skeleton with bones that could be pried loose. She did so, sucking in the clean air trapped inside, and teleporting into Shagambi’s tomb, followed by Gillian.

I made the elemental cells as obvious as possible, as I wasn’t a big fan of their designs. I’m glad they went pretty quick while still satisfying the clues.


Shagambi’s tomb featured over two dozen terracotta warriors standing guard over a central coffin, with broken pottery shards littering the floor. “The army sleeps in silence.” Khaless’s superior dexterity allowed her to climb the warriors and nimbly make her way across the room and toward the coffin.

Once again the party was cautious. Gillian used Polymorph to turn into a rat and sneak toward the coffin, transformed back, and used Detect Traps to find a tripwire on the coffin lid, attached to something within. Khaless used her thieves’ tools to disarm it, and carefully opened the lid, revealing the wire had been attached to a music box, ready to wake the army!

Gillian’s spell had a verbal component, however, and the army began to stir, snapping their heads toward her and pulling their swords and inch from their scabbards (I missed the fact that she actually cast two spells).

Gillian quickly looted the contents of the coffin, including gold, moonstones, and a magical horn, but once again she resisted the god’s possession with her superior charisma.

With the tomb looted, Khaless nimbly made her way out toward a teleporting rune in the corner, tumbling out of the green devil face in the corridor where Therin and Mannix waited.

George followed, but he had to make two stealth checks with disadvantage over the pottery shards, first to the coffin, then towards a teleportation rune. The second check failed, the army snapped awake, and both George and Gillian took several cuts from a dozen converging soldiers before they could escape.

With the party back together, they headed west toward the giant four-armed gargoyle statues at the bottom of the grand staircase. The statues rested on large pedestals color-coded as copper, silver, gold, and platinum, with a coin-sized slot in each. They surrounded the shaft in the middle of the floor. Stairs went back up into the balcony.

The party realized they hadn’t yet found the skeleton key on this level, remembering a western corridor they hadn’t yet explored.

I made this room a lot more obvious by having the gargoyle statues hold up an open palm and raising a hand with fingers extended as they counted the number of humanoids as who entered the room. When a person paid a gargoyle by inserting a coin into the obvious slot, the finger would go down.

The party picked up on the puzzle immediately, doling out coins to each gargoyle in turn, including for the few PCs and NPCs that needed some monetary assistance. They were granted passage through the room as they headed up the stairs and down the western corridor.


Two paths lie before them: a large stone door flanked by snake head statues, and a dusty corridor with stairs leading down to a treasure chest with a larger room beyond.

Mannix recalled seeing the serpent-door open when he looked through the Scrying pool. A tomb guardian had poured blood down the snake heads to open it. He investigated the northern corridor first, however, and saw a secret compartment above the stairs.

Knowing an easily accessible chest is most likely a trap, he cast his Unseen Servant to walk down the steps and open the chest. Sure enough, a large boulder was released from the ceiling, tumbled down the stairs, smashing the chest and the servant (RIP Murray) and sinking into a newly revealed acid pit. That was a damn good use of Unseen Servant!

With the traps triggered the party went down the corridor. Everyone but Therin and Ishmakahl jumped the acid pit and explored the large tomb, which featured a color-changing coffin and stairs leading up to a large maze engraved on the wall.

“The maze holds the key.” Within the maze they could see a tiny room with multiple colored keys, but the maze shifted before there eyes. Mannix touched it and was miniaturized and transported inside the maze. At the same time walls opened up all around the bottom floor, revealing cells of bones. The bones knit together forming a horde of minotaur skeletons. Roll for initiative!


Therin was still behind the acid pit, and cast Grasping Vine above it. From there he snagged the nearest hulking skeleton, dragging it above the pit and dropping it inside for 12d10 acid damage! The smooth glass walls prevented the skeleton from escaping. With the minotaur skeleton’s relatively low DEX save, Therin was able to destroy one every single round single-handedly, while safely remaining behind the pit.

Meanwhile Khaless was forced to fight three at a time while both George and Gillian fled into the maze. Luck was on her side, however. Despite a dozen attacks over several rounds, Khaless was able to dodge nearly all of their greataxe attacks.

Inside the maze I changed the rules from the book. Instead of rolling a d100 and randomly finding a key, I had the PC make a Survival check, DC 20. Failure would force them to keep searching. Failure by five or more would have them run into a minotaur skeleton in the maze, though hand-waving a full combat encounter into a single attack roll. Every failed Survival check would lower the DC by 1.

George nailed his Survival check on the first roll, finding a room with all six colorful keys. The PCs could choose the key based on the following poem inscribed on the pedestal:

Blood dribbles from the jaws of the feasting ghoul
But the troll’s healing makes it less than cruel.

The merfolk swiftly escapes into the freezing sea,
To reach the palace and warn the wealthy marquis.

The royal robes protect them from most forms of pain,
But only a master of death can truly abstain.

George attempted to grab all the keys, thinking to sort it out later, but as soon as he touched one – he chose blue – he was transported out of the maze, where he helped Khaless fight off the other half of the minotaurs.

The poem-puzzle ended up being a lot of fun, as the players picked up that each line referred to a different key. The poem was hinting to the bonus reward they would receive, as the coffin held only the single keyhole that changed colors.


Ironically all the PCs made their 20+ Survival checks in the first round, making the maze a non-factor but also keeping things moving swiftly for each player. Mannix grabbed the red key, thinking they needed it first, but it was Gillian who finally understood the full context of the poem and the rewards, and chose the green key for healing.

The coffin’s colors shift every round of combat. George emerged during round 2, and the coffin showed gold. When Mannix emerged (and tried to cast Enemies Abound, can’t believe I made the save with a -2 INT!) the coffin was purple. Gillian waited another round in the key-room before popping out in round four, and the coffin was green.

At this point most of the minotaur skeletons had been slain by a combination of Therin’s vine whip-acid pit combo and Khaless’ and George’s blades.

Gillian leapt down and inserted the green key into the green coffin. The remaining skeletons crumbled away, the coffin popped open, and the key turned into a special one-use charm. The Charm of the Troll could regenerate lost limbs or organs. Hello Mannix!!

Inside the coffin were a clutch of opalescent bracelets and a robe of rainbow colors. Gillian touched the robe, and felt the neutral presence of Unkh the flail snail god. Unlike her last two godly interactions, Gillian allowed this one to posses her, becoming indecisive but raising her CON to a whopping 23,  surpassing George the fighter in hit points! The party just became that much more un-killable.

Voted MVPC – Gillian

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