Living on a Prayer: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 19

36 days to go, continued

In the twilight, we headed for the ruined palace, our enemy archer now a member of our ranks as my enthralled skeleton. Just outside the circular wall we hid Theeka’s body in a high up place, covering her with loose bricks. Using the spell Pass without Trace, we slipped past a number of yuan-ti guards and got into the secret tunnel.

Just by the lake at the end of the tunnel, there were some strange mutated yuan-ti. We managed to surprise them and kill them before they could sound the alarm. I used their bodies as zombies to protect us through the rest of the palace. We went straight to the slave chambers from there, and surprised more of the strange mutants, resuing the slaves there.

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Broodguard, Tomb of Annihilation

Hugo was amongst them. They were all fairly drug-addled. There were two young boys, Khoti and Tavo, a woman called Oloma Authdamar who survived the wreck of the Star Goddess, and a goblin called Mung. They were determined to come with us, but we made sure to keep them towards the back. They explained what the strange mutants were: they were ex-human slaves who had been converted into yuan-ti abominations call broodguards. The drums pounding from the religious ceremony were growing louder, so I said we had to leave, but the other slaves begged us to try and save the old and infirm ones who had been taken to the ceremony. Hugo said he had a friend that could help, so we set off deeper into the complex.

We bashed through the storeroom door adjacent and were sneaking through when a giant python slipped down and began squeezing Mung. Just as we readied to attack, it spoke to us. His name was Azi Mas, and he had been awakened by a druid a long time ago. He was intelligent enough to realise he only had the one hostage as a bargaining chip and that we would kill him if him killed Mung, so we stood at a stalemate and just talked for a while. I tried to figure out a way to get him to release Mung and let us go. He told us he was bored and wanted a bride. I said his chances would be much better if he came with us and looked for a druid or bard who knew the right magic. But we weren’t convincing enough. He started to leave with Mung in his tight embrace, but Hugo managed to use the power of the chwingas to charm him. He left without Mung, going to seek his bride. We all breathed a heavy sigh of relief. In the storeroom we managed to gather many supplies, and found a case of some gross incense which we figured might make a good smoke bomb at some future point.

We headed to the broad promenade on which I first saw Hugo in ethereal form. Down that way were more broodguards, two basilisks, and Hugo’s friend, Spike, a massive lizard mount. We striked with the element of surprise, and cut down the mutants quickly. A basilisk nearly turned Flask to stone, but our chwinga who had been helping us this whole time revealed itself and did something that somehow saved Flask from the horrible fate.

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Basilisk, 5e

Hugo freed Spike, and we moved on to secure the gates before going to the main cathedral, so that our escape route would be clear. We fought more broodguards here, and then since we were not all in a good way, I got Flask and Copper Bell to try some of the mysterious fruits from the magic bean tree. Copper ate an awful amount, and then Flask ate a few and managed to choose a poison one! He fell unconscious a number of times while we tried to get the poison out of his body. We managed, but he was not happy afterwards.

Copper Bell meanwhile was lucky enough to become invisible and start flying! With this amazing power, she went off and scouted the main hall. When she came back, the news was not good. There were more than thirty yuan-ti – not broodguard, but proper, full-power yuan-ti – and even with our dinosaur and smoke bombs, she was sure it was a suicide mission.

I had to make the call. We fled out the main entrance and fought some yuan-ti guards. We were all momentarily distracted by a flurry of lightning on the opposite city of the city. ‘The Red Wizards!’ Orvex exclaimed. Once the guards were dispatched, with River’s Pass without Trace spell we managed to get back to Theeka’s body without incident. Hugo cast Gentle Repose. Her body will not rot now, so long as he keeps the spell up every ten days. I don’t know how much it will help, but we can only try.

Now to hit those three shrines we saw on the way here! I wonder what those yuan-ti will think happened, with no witnesses left…

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Psycho Killer: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 18

37 days to go

We woke up after sleeping in the shrine to find a bunch of vegepygmies carrying a tied up grung towards the lip of the magma pit. Knowing that the grungs are evil, we left it to its fate, and continued north up the main boulevard.

I sent Oz out to scout to the east meanwhile. Through my familiar’s eyes, I saw a fallen log over the river, which would be the perfect way for us to cross to the yuan-ti compound – and then all went black. Something must have shot Oz out of the sky. I summoned him back again. He was not pleased.

We stopped at the abandoned campsite Copper Bell knew of, and investigated. We found a parchment which was a letter from a Lord Brixton from the Yellow Banner to someone called Rue, saying they had found an obelisk to the north that pointed to the Tomb of the Nine Gods. There was mention of some sort of Eye in there, and Brixton said to blow the swan horn twice and they would come running. We didn’t see a swan horn around.

We found the next shrine, the one of I’jin the Almiraj. The words here were that I’jin taught the Omuans to take the path least expected. Once we got inside the shrine itself, we found a corridor with a floor of tiles, seemingly random, depicting animal heads. The three tabaxi simply climbed the walls and mocked us from the other side. I experimented with unseen servants, until I found the right path: the one where you would only step on each different animal head once only. We then had to negotiate warren-like corridors, with the unseen servant feeling the way ahead of us and triggering traps. But we came to the room with the altar, took the cube, and left. Easy!

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The Nine Gods, Tomb of Annihilation

At this stage we had no idea where the next shrine was, so I asked everyone where they wanted to go. River and Flask wanted to save Hugo, while everyone else wanted to go north in the hopes of finding the obelisk. In the meantime, we explored the area around the shrine, putting off the decision. In one building we found two crystal statues, one of Nangnang the Grung and Wongo the Su-monster. We also found a massive dinosaur footprint… and nothing else before or after it.

Towards nightfall we found an upturned wagon with flowers growing all over it. I knew it had to be chwingas. I sat and prayed for them to save Hugo, and the little chwinga came over and climbed onto my head. It stroked my hair and I plucked a few strands out for it to keep, but it put them back as if they never left, and grew a flower from the end of one. I offered it the two crystal statues we found, and it lead us to unearth something under the wagon. It was a stone with concentric rings. Orvex started translating what was on it. He said it was a proclamation in both Omuan and ancient Mezran, saying that Queen Nopuka had rallied the Omuans, and that they feared nothing under the protection of their new gods.

36 days to go

I dreamed of the frightening face again, and this time I saw his amulet. I described the face on it to Orvex when I woke, and he said it might be a devourer of worlds, but one from another world entirely, according to his sources.

I decided we had to attempt the log bridge and rescue Hugo, after seeing the chwinga yesterday. But that turned out to be a deadly mistake, for Theeka at least. As we approached the bridge, she was killed instantly by a poisoned arrow. We grabbed her body and ran for cover into the largest building beside the bridge. Copper Bell spotted what it was: another elderly tabaxi. Presumably, gone mad.

We quickly scrambled to build defenses and stake out the basement of the building. We looked through our packs to see what we could use against him to get the upper hand. We found a bag of magic beans, so we planted one. It turned out to not be the wisest idea, as it erupted into a giant tree which dropped a number of different fruits. The tabaxi archer used that opportunity to leap down through the broken ceiling. But he didn’t last long, at close range.

Bag of Nails, Tomb of Annihilation

 

We took stock of the situation and thought about what to do next. We gathered the fruit to have a look at later, and considered another object we had found in my pack: a vial of oil of etherealness. It seemed like the perfect thing to scout out the area and try and find Hugo. So while the others rested from the hard battle we had just faced, I took the oil.

It was hard to move and somewhat hard to see. But nevertheless I moved over the log bridge and found three shrines south of the yuan-ti compound, one of which was out on a rocky promontory in the middle of the magma pit. Making my way to the circular ruined city, I could see bats flying overhead and yuan-ti rushing to get ready for something. I found the entrance to the north of the main building. Inside the building was fairly awful. Immediately behind the giant front doors were grated snake pits, for guard snakes to slither out of when needed. There were literal fountains of blood. I caught sight of Ras Nsi on his throne, but he looked ill, and covered in bandages. I found an underground lake, and in the middle a giant snakey monster. I found a cave off that lake with a yuan-ti corpse with mushrooms erupting from it. To the south of the lake it met up with the compound again, and south of there was a secret entrance: our way in.

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Ras Nsi, Tomb of Annihilation

Going further in, I saw all sorts of horrors. Pits of snakes, hatcheries, slave chambers. Finally, in a stable not far from the front doors with the snake pits, I found the same chwinga, who waved me over and pointed out Hugo, shovelling the refuse of the stabled animals. He looked perfectly healthy and almost happy, being surrounded by animals. To be honest, he was often cleaning after the animals back in the temple of Jergal.

He might be safe, but then again, there was definitely something going on with the yuan-ti. The spell ended, and I reported back to my party. When I told River about all the preparations going on, she thought perhaps it might be preparations for some horrible religious event… potentially involving all that blood I saw being collected and circulated. With Theeka’s body 19 hours away from being unsalvagable with a Gentle Repose spell, and some sort of ritual coming up in the morning, we set out to invade the yuan-ti compound.

I get knocked down, but I get up again: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 17

38 days to go, continued

We went to the shrine of Kubazan, a froghemoth. The shrine had a rectangular pool before the actual internal shrine, which was a squat stone building. There was a collapsed monolith that seemed to be the way across. Theeka spotted a shining glint up in the mouth of a frog statue in the middle of the pool.

We sent Oz across first to try and see if the monolith would support us, as his little wings meant if he slipped, he’d be able to fly away. It was a good thing we sent him, because he did slip, and Orvex spotted two giant eye stalks come out of the pool. I yelled at Oz to fly straight up, and as he did, the froghemoth’s giant tongue shot out. Thankfully, Oz escaped, but we were in for a tough fight.

River and one of my zombies both got eaten by it, and Flask and my other zombie got squeezed into unconsciousness. Orvex got taken down too, and only Theeka and I were left, ineffectually attacking with fire, which did not affect its’ slimy hide, when a tabaxi came out of nowhere and attacked. She saved our lives, and we managed to save River from the stomach acid before it was too late.

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Froghemoth, 5th edition

Oz fetched the key from the statue’s mouth, and we went into the shrine and took shelter on the stairs down as we introduced ourselves to Copper Bell, our new friend. She told us that her tribe believe in a cat god that blesses the best tabaxi by leading them to Omu at the end of their lives, so that they might die in fierce battle with the strongest of beasts. She is indeed very old. She wears her old nursing blanket over her shoulders as a shawl, as she has raised many cubs in her time. It seems she has taken on us as her cubs now, because she’s not just going to try and die for nothing. She’s going to see that we survive.

After our rest, Orvex inspected the shrine. There were slender beams of wood suspended over spikes, and on the far side, an altar with the stone cube we were seeking. Orvex read an inscription: “Tread without fear, give as much as you take”. I figured that this meant we had to replace the weight of the stone cube if we took it. So I sent Oz over to the altar, and identified the weight of the stone cube through him, before replacing it with some leftover rations. For a brief moment the frog-head statues on the wall spat poison. I was glad we’d figured out the trap.

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The Shrine of Kubazan, Tomb of Annihilation

With our first victory, we started over to the shrine of Shagambi, the second shrine Orvex knew of. On the way, Copper Bell we knew where there was another shrine, though she didn’t know whose. She also said there was another old tabaxi to the north, hunting something called ‘The King of Feathers’. She also saw another camp of adventurers further up the causeway, but they weren’t red wizards.

We got to the shrine, and as we crossed the ruined courtyard, Orvex read another inscription, about how Shagambi taught the people to ‘fight with honour’. Within, we saw what that might mean: there was a gladiatorial pit in the centre of the room. There was also four statues with room in their hands for spears, but they were empty. The altar was also empty. There was also a pair of kamadan standing over their nest, hissing at us. Copper Bell threw some food and purred gently to them, and we were able to move past them, hugging the wall, to go downstairs.

Down in the room directly below, we saw that there were four portcullis, and behind them four clay men with shields and spears. We talked about how we were supposed to do this, which lead to me and Orvex having some interesting philosophical discussions. Basically, I thought we would have to do the gladiatorial trial ‘with honour’ in order for the stone cube to appear on the altar, but what did that mean, to fight with honour? And he argued that because we had probably cheated the Kubazan trial, and these were dead gods anyway, what was to stop us from cheating? I agreed it was the safer path to take, so we sent my unseen servant down into the pit to hit the button on the floor.

Once it did, the four clay men emerged and marched up, then stepped into the pit. We started attacking them from above, and then as they started climbing up, tried to keep them down in the pit. Working on a hunch that they had to die in the pit, due to the enchantments on the arena, we ended up all jumping into the pit to face them once they had all climbed out.

It was an extremely tough fight, but we achieved our goal. We took the four spears from the defeated clay men, and put them in the hands of the statues upstairs. The cube appeared. Thank goodness it hadn’t been for nothing.

Resting that night, I dreamt again of the giant blackness descending upon ancient Omu, and this time I saw a frightening figure flying over all. Could this be the person causing the resurrection magic to die?

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The Shrine of Shagambi, Tomb of Annihilation

Gone Baby, Gone: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 16

Day 38, continued

We slunk away, waiting for the sound of Tinder’s wings to vanish into the distance. We found some buildings that were unoccupied, except for various inoffensive creatures, so we cleared ourselves some space upstairs in what appeared to have once been a customs building.

It was not a good sleep. I dreamt of Omu’s destruction a long time ago. The sleep was broken very early on by my alarm spell being triggered. We were surrounded by four monkeys. River moved a small snake that had curled up next to her, and tried to offer the monkeys some goodberries, but then Hugo, Flask and I all clicked that something was wrong. These were not monkeys at all, but something I had read of, called Su-Monsters. They attacked.

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Su-monster, 5th edition

I went down immediately, stunned by a psychic attack from one. I had to watch in horror as the following event unfolded. My companions fought the su-monsters, only to be ambushed during that by five yuanti. Two of them picked me up and ran. Another grabbed Hugo into a choke hold, and another bit River with its snake arms. The fight was awful. Everyone was so busy chasing the ones carrying me, that after they rescued me and the last ones ran off, we realised Hugo had been kidnapped instead.

We had to sleep. We were too hurt. This sleep was not disturbed, but when we woke we were all sick with worry about Hugo. There was a morning chorus of awful roaring from what sounded like mighty dinosaurs. Following the marks of Hugo and his captors, we found he had been dragged up the central concourse, but we lost the track around a ruined compound, in which wild dogs were eating fresh corpses. We went in there to investigate, hoping to find survivors and maybe aid and information about the yuanti.

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Yuanti, 5th edition

 

In the flaming ruins, we saw a symbol which I recognised. A religious symbol, that of Dendar the night serpent. Soon after we found a survivor, an old guy called Orvex. We got him out from under the rubble and gave him what little healing we could. He told us how he ended up here. He came with a red wizard delegation to investigate the ruins and look for the mythical Tomb of the Nine Gods. He told us of the nine gods of Omu, animalistic gods that superseded worship of Ubtao. He showed us his journal in which he had drawings of these gods’ symbols, and he said he knew the location of two of the nine shrines.

According to Orvex, there is something to be collected to each of these 9 shrines to get to the centre of Omu. It would seem that might be what we need to get into the Tomb, and that Tomb sounds like the place where we’ll find the thing responsible for draining the resurrection magic from the world. He also pointed out the large central city as the place where the yuanti would be likely to take Hugo.

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Orvex, Tomb of Annihilation

I don’t know what to do. The shrines are right nearby, and I don’t know how to get into the central city, but we need to rescue Hugo. But what if the shrines lead the way up there, and I need to explore them first? I hope he’s ok. Knowing him, he’ll be so inoffensive and harmless they won’t pay much attention to him… I hope.

Blaze of Glory: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 15

43 days to go, continued

We travelled south. It seemed as if the giants were heading for the coast, according to their tracks. It’s night now. Theeka and Hugo say they can hear the dragon roaring far off, but the rest of us hear nothing. Artus just admitted something to me. Why are frost giants here in the jungle? He thinks it’s because of him. He has something called the Ring of Winter, which could cause an eternal winter in the wrong hands. I can see why frost giants might want that. He says hiding this from them is more important than saving this dragon, or even getting to Omu.

41 days to go

Continuing in the jungle. We’re gaining on the giants, as they have to fight a dragon the whole way. They seem to be heading to the ruined city of Shilku, according to River. We ran into an old battlefield with elf and human corpses. We didn’t stay to investigate, but I took two elven skeletons to guard me.

40 days to go

Further south now, there are more signs of struggle. Rocks burnt by dragon fire, broken scales and blood. Had an interesting moral discussion with Theeka. She asked me not to sacrifice her to the dragon when we got there, but when I said I wouldn’t she said she didn’t trust me, because she would throw me to the dragon if she had to. What then, I asked, was the point of asking me not to? She huffed and folded her arms and said only humans have the luxury of morality, at which point I pointed out yes, but since we do, that makes your chances of survival more than zero percent. And in fact, she didn’t need to go back to the cave if she didn’t want to. I left her to think over that.

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Red Dragon, 5th Edition

39 days to go

As we got closer to the volcano which ruined Shilku years ago, it got unbearably hot. Theeka, Flask and myself all struggled. Rocks flew occasionally from the volcano to land haphazardly. We could see the giants in the distance, heading into Shilku, and on the ocean past them, their giantish ship, with a hole in the sail – perhaps from the volcano. We pushed through our exhaustion, knowing there would be too many giants at the ship if we waited.

We came upon a dying frost giant. He raved as he saw us, and made little sense, besides telling us that the idea for using the dragon was to skin it and use its hide as rock-proof sails. The captain of the ship had gone in another direction, so the others who had left him behind would have to wait until she returned. So we had some time. He confirmed Artus’s suspicion; they were here looking for him, but they had lost the trail and thought he was gone. Artus showed the ring to him, and before he died, chilled him to he could have one last comfort.

As we went further into the ruins of Shilku, we were attacked by fire newts, a salamander, and their steeds. It was out of nowhere, and almost deadly, as four of us fell out of consciousness during the battle. Artus used the ring to try and end the fight before it was too bad.

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Salamander, 5th Edition

As we gathered ourselves, Artus took me aside. He came up with a dangerous plan. We could catch up with the giants who had the dragon, and he would reveal the ring and run from them, leaving us to free the dragon. Dragonbait was very reluctant, but Artus convinced him this was the play. I gave Artus the bracelet of rock magic and the bone-whistle of flight. Hugo and Theeka healed us up, and we were still quite hurt, but time was wasting. We had to go.

We caught up to them. Artus went ahead and revealed himself, riding a frost-crafted lizard strider. One of the two giants and both of their winter wolves charged after him, and he vanished into the forest. The dragon was terrifyingly huge, but unconscious. We snuck up and attacked the giant before he could even close the distance with us.

Realising it would possibly be bad to heal the dragon too much, River made some goodberries, and Theeka used alchemist fire to propel the bag of them down the dragon’s throat. That did the job, and we were now facing a very awake and very large red dragon.

Thankfully, Tinder, as he was called, was feeling magnanimous towards us for saving his life, and offered to take us for the much needed ride. We told him of our short and long term goals: first, rescue Artus if he’s able to use the bone-whistle to fly up to us, and second, to get us to Omu. He was reluctant to fly near the giant’s who could throw a rock or tree up at him, but Hugo promised to have the spell of wind wall ready to deflect the missiles.

Our best plans went awry. Up in the air, Artus saw us and zoomed up to us. A rock came flying, but not at Tinder – at Artus. It hit him before Hugo could protect him, and Dragonbait gripped my shoulder. Keep going, he told me, and drawing his sword, leapt from the dragon’s back. He was right. We had to keep going. Tinder did not turn back.

I don’t know what has happened to our two companions. They’re much stronger than us. I’m hopeful they’ll survive.

38 days to go

We’ve arrived. Tinder has left us at the entrance to Omu.

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Map of Omu, Tomb of Annihilation

Friends in Strange Places: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 14

44 days to go

We headed down towards Wyrmheart Mine via the old ore cart tracks, my unseen servant pushing us, with occasional use of the alchemy jug to oil up the wheels. We had with us a heavy dwarven lantern gifted to us by the dwarves, and also a strange fireproof suit they made, which we’ve delegated to Dragonbait to wear when the time comes for the fight (living up to his name, hmm?)

Sleep tonight was uneventful. Only a large, gross centipede triggered the alarm spell, but it ran away.

43 days to go

As we continued down the tracks, the webs in the corners thickened until we were finally attacked by their creators. It was a hard fight, with both our tabaxi going down, paralyzed by their poisons. They were much tougher than normal spiders, and seemed well past normal animal state. We were able to finish them, and after a short rest Flask and River shook off the poison’s effect. I found some dwarven skeletons soon after and animated them to join us in reclaiming the mine.

Phase spider, D&D 5e

Then we reached the great cavern of Wyrmheart Mine… to find it empty. The pit style mine under the peak of a mountain had rails going in a spiral all around, leading up 250 feet, and down another 25ft. There was a pool and a waterfall on the level we were on, which we stuck close to, to hide our footsteps, as we explored further. There were many exits, and far up in the cavern Artus pointed out a dim shaft of light which may be the way out.

No one seemed to be hiding and waiting for us as we explored further. In fact, it looked as if there had been a battle quite recently. A 5ft diameter stone sphere was embedded in the wall, some sort of defense mechanism perhaps which had rolled or fallen down off the tracks below. There were many kobold corpses, and some discarded weaponry of gigantic proportions.

Hugo took a quick moment to augur and see if going downstairs would be safe, where there were signs of dragon habitation. But the augury said all would be well, so we did. The dragon was gone. Only signs of a great struggle, and few stray pieces of its hoard remained. Both dragon and hoard had been taken!

One happy thing we found was a magic axe Sithi has asked us to return if we found. When Artus read the runes on it, he laughed. The axe was called Bob, and it can float on water. We took it to return later.

Further up we found more exits to caverns, uninhabited, and signs of a kobold civilization, including ritual masks and costumes. We traverse the rails higher up, with the help of ropes at times when things got unsafe. But finally, when we were about 150 feet up the shaft, we heard noise from a side tunnel. There were kobolds holding a meeting, and from what Artus, Dragonbait and I (needing magic aid of course) could hear, they were in a panic about how their mine had been destroyed. I asked Dragonbait if he thought we should help them, and he and Artus had a brief argument, until Dragonbait won him over and nodded at me. We walked in.

Kobold, D&D 5e

We caused a brief chaos as kobolds panicked and ran away. One particularly brave female ran up to us, crying ‘You’ll never take us alive’ and threw a small cage of bees at me (which did neither me nor the bees any harm). Finally, when Dragonbait was able to calm them and speak to him, they hailed him as our leader (I’ll let it pass, in this context) and Theeka, the one with the bees, spoke to us. It had been giants after all, about a week ago. They were large, white giants. When the kobolds fled to their dragon, their god, at the start of the invasion, the giants simply came and stole the dragon!

And then they asked the inevitable question: would we please save their god?

Artus looks worried at what we’re about to do. I understand, naturally. What are we doing? Well, at the very least we have the beekeeper, Theeka, coming along with us as a guide. What could possibly go wrong?

OOC Notes:

1. Spoilers for the character Artus Cimber, please ignore if you don’t want to know, and highlight to see the faint text better if you do: The reason why Artus is worried about the giants isn’t because of the dragon necessarily, but because (as you may know from Storm King’s Thunder, and as Genora would know!) he knows the frost giants are looking for his ring of winter, which Priscilla still doesn’t know about!

2. James has truly outdone himself this time. All week long he was saying to me not to look at the character sheet he was writing, and mentioned extreme multi-classing. Theeka is a PC now, I have a character sheet for her. She is level one in bard (as the colony storyteller), inventor (her thing with the bees and other stuff I’m sure will reveal itself over time), ranger (you have to be pretty much to survive Chult), rogue (cos you have to be to survive being a kobold!) and sorceror (as a (very lowly) descendant of dragons). Because of course kobolds would not be good enough at any one thing! I can’t wait to see how terribly this goes!

Flaming Pyramids now open on Kickstarter!

Our friends at Cheek Parrot Games have another product coming out that we are super excited about, and as of writing the kickstarter campaign is almost 75% of the way there! We’ve played this game in prototype so much, we just love it. Basically it’s up there for me with Love Letter in terms of ease of play and repetition of play. It’s called Flaming Pyramids. Check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cheekyparrot/flaming-pyramids-game

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