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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 – inhabited by Unkh
George, level 10 Tortle Battle Master Fighter/Rogue – inhabited by Moa
Therin, level 10 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon – inhabited by Obo’laka

The party survived numerous trials and near-death experiences to reach the final level of the Tomb of the Nine Gods. They possessed all five skeleton keys from previous levels, but one final trial awaited, or rather, a series of trials.

To unlock the imposing Skeleton Gate that separates the party from their final goal, they must complete a trial, one for each deadbolt that locked each uniquely shaped keyhole.

Before the gate and the trials the party could explore the seemingly empty workshop that was the lair of the Sewn Sisters, a trio of Night Hags who have been tormenting the PCs since they first entered the jungle. The hags hang out in the Ethereal Realm, but with George’s Truesight bandana, he can see them as ghostly figures lingering around the area.

A cage in the workshop held a familiar figure – Inete, the young acolyte from Port Nyanzaru and one of their former traveling companions. She recounted a similar story as the others they had found from the Mirror of Life Trapping. She had been captured in the jungle and woke up here. She was being subjected to countless nightmares and was in a state of mental anguish.

Naturally my players were not the least bit empathetic or kind to her. Were they suspicious, or just assholes? Probably both.

With no way to use their keys to open the Skeleton Gate yet, they explored the second floor balcony that wrapped around both sides of the workshop, revealing five rooms with matching symbols carved on the doors. The party split up to handle the trials once they realized they were full of puzzles and traps rather than combat encounters.

In the pentagon trial room, Khaless feasted on every single piece of food, and drank the beer last. She was treated to several buffs, but the beer also supressed her trickster god power, dropping her DEX from 23 back down to 18. She flew into a rage, destroying the scarecrow (I made him a non-combatant strawman) and setting the room on fire before walking out in a huff. George had to eventually run in and pull the lever, hidden behind a tapestry.

Mannix was stuck overthinking the triangle trial room trying to use the triangle key to open the cylinder, to no avail. Finally he summoned his Unseen Servant inside, who easily flipped the switch.

Roll20 Tomb of Annihilation

In the octagon room, Therin (still wild shaped as an Earth Elemental) carefully read and analyzed the nursery rhyme book, noting the words and the pages. He successfully read the book backward to forward, opening the secret compartment to the lever and avoiding the saw-blade, reverse-gravity trap.

I admit, I’m a little bummed we didn’t get to see this one in action. Between this and the wardrobe trials, Therin has been on a roll.

Gillian explored the square trial room, where spell scrolls fluttered around a ghostly lever. Stepping into the room caused the scrolls to swarm like angry bees (I used the Spirit Guardians spell), but Gillian could grab some spell scrolls, including one that granted access to the Ethereal lever.

One room remained, the hexagon. Mannix went in first, finding the sixth candle below the mirror shelf, and reciting “piggy piggy piggy,” as was written in blood. But he didn’t light the candles, and was transformed into a pig.

What followed was a hilarious exchange between he and George as Mannix-boar tried to communicate what had happened, and George tried to suppress his love of bacon. Eventually George lit the candles and flipped the lever in the mirror.

All five deadbolts on the gate were now released. Though Mannix was a boar, and Khaless was somewhat depowered.

The party returned to the central workshop and prepared to open the gate, but heard the familiar cackling of the night hags. The trio appeared from the Ethereal realm. They smugly revealed that the former allies and party members the party had found, including Ishmakahl and Inete, were clones the hags had created, hoping to learn more about the party.

Hew, River, and Xandala came trudging down the stairs with blank expressions on their faces. Likewise Inete’s face grew slack. All of them were pawns of the sewn sisters. Roll for initiative!

Khaless discovered another side effect to eating the food in the pentagon room – she had disadvantage on attacks versus the night hags. That didn’t stop her from landing every hit, however, as the party advanced on the evil spellcasters.

Sewn Sisters lair

I expanded the hags’ spell list somewhat, giving them some more appropriate spells like Blight. The hags also fired off a Lightning Bolt, and attempted an up-cast Hold Person, but not only did all the PCs make the save (night hags only have a DC 14), but George rolled a Crit with his Shell Sword, reflecting the spell back at the night hag who had cast it!

She failed the save and became paralyzed. Therin-elemental began wailing on her, attacking with advantage and auto-critting, easily dealing 60+ damage a round. RIP!

Technically Hold Person only targets humanoids, and the night hag is a fiend. But Raymond was so happy to finally pull the spell-reflect move off, and it was such a brutally effective moment, that I let it happen, even if it meant the hags getting their butts kicked that much faster. He would also reflect a Dominate Person spell back at Xandala, though she ended up making the save.

The PCs made all their saves and landed all their attacks, with their only spells being Gillian’s constant healing (which I forgot to Counterspell). They also focused on the night hags and ignored the clones, which was the right call. Their former allies were very useful back when the party was lower level, but at this point Hew and River barely made any difference. Only Xandala was frightening, as she was technically a more powerful spell-caster than the hags, with her most effective move being a fireball.

And yes, Mannix was a boar the entire time. The hags (and thus the clones) were smart enough not to target the boar, keeping him locked in that form. In one of the most epic combat moments in our campaign, Mannix-boar crit on a charge attack at the last remaining night hag, bringing her to her knees. At that point the Sewn Sister retreated into the ethereal realm, and all the clones liquefied and disintegrated. I’m a big fan of quickly wrapping up fights after the outcome has been decided!

The party had taken quite a bit of damage during the battle (George nearly went down), but the sewn sisters had been defeated. Nothing remained but the skeleton gate. They huddled down for a Short Rest and a final level up to 11 before facing their final challenge of the campaign.

Voted MVPC – Mannix

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