Two out of Three ain’t bad (Level Three, and the bit of Two we missed, of the Tomb): Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 23

Warning: The following contains detailed spoilers for the final dungeon of the Tomb of Annihilation. Obviously.

Note: For brevity’s sake, I don’t say every time I check for traps, search for secret doors or use detect magic. Just assume stuff like that happens in every damn room!

26 days to go

Heading onto level three, we could see the bottom of the stairwell below us, another level down. On this level, there was purple mold everywhere, with eyeballs and spore puffs erupting from it. We were careful to avoid it. Checking it, we discovered it was from another plane, and if we were just careful to not step on it, we should be fine.

This level’s plaque said: Walk through water with weapon in hand; Slake your shadow at the font; The vulture is the first step; Right the gods; The walls of history tell all.

Going into the first corridor, we were confronted by two tomb guardians. Basically super zombies, these guys are immune to physical damage! It was an awful fight, and I lost all my zombies except for Ras Nsi. Going further in and north past more fungus, we came to a room with a sarcophagus. It was the tomb of Kubazan.

There was a puzzle within for us to figure out. On the altar, there was an inscription on a statue saying: Give thanks to me as others have done. All around the walls (the walls of history, we assumed, from the riddle) were frescoes of ways that Kubazan was worshipped. On the first wall, as people knocked down a statue of Ubtao, a frog masked woman held out five golden coins. On the second fresco, as Kubazan helped hunters fight a crocodile, a frog masked man ate a bug. On the third fresco, Kubazan rescued a small boy, and a woman’s figure, whose stone head was ruined, held a knife, and something below her was also ruined and hard to decipher. On the fourth fresco Kubazan was in a pool much like that of the shrine of Kubazan, and a woman in a mask held out a lit candle.

On the altar were four masks, five coins, four dead cockroaches, a copper bowl full of rat bones, and a green wax candle. Copper Bell went up to take the five coins and a mask, but touching the coins triggered wraiths coming out of the walls. We had to fight them, losing my Ras Nsi zombie in the process, and try again. She held out five of our coins instead this time. I offered myself as the tribute to eat the cockroaches. The next step, took us a couple of tries to figure out what to do with the bowl of rat bones, so we had to fight more wraiths, but eventually we realised it was tied to the woman holding the knife. It was about offering life into the bowl, so Flask cut himself lightly to bleed into it. Finally, River lit the candle, and the tomb opened. Within were some magical bracers designed for an archer, so we let Flask have those. He was filled with the presence of Kubazan, making him hugely strong, and more reckless than usual.

Through the corridor again, we came to some double doors. Beyond them was a heavy curtain of tapestry showing a feast. I got a skeleton to open it for us, and the next view was another curtain, this one showing the same feast scene, but this time devolved into depravity. Beyond that curtain was the same scene but now it was carnage. All of us except Fionn and River screamed and ran. They managed to catch us and slap some sense into us, and we returned. With a terrible anticipation, we had the skeleton open that curtain.

Beyond that final horrible curtain was a rotting giant boar’s head. Beneath it was a headless red wizard corpse. Dreamstruck, Copper Bell moved forward and put her head into the mouth of the boar. Hugo, panicking, unleashed his strongest damaging spell and the boar’s head all by exploded. Copper Bell was covered in gore, but otherwise unharmed. While we gathered our senses back, we realised there was someone hiding, cowering, by the wall. It was Orvex! He had gotten left behind when the red wizards fled this room. We took him out of there and cleaned him up.

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Tomb of Annihilation, Level Three

25 days to go

Over the night, Orvex told us what had happened, and most importantly, how the reds had found a completely different route down from the way we took, so we got him to show us this route, but on the way, we checked out an alcove in the wall that had a viewport through to the tomb of I’jin. Within, we caught a glimpse of the past, with the dwarven member of the Yellow Banner entering the tomb, and after taking one wrong step, being devoured by locusts. We thought about this tomb for a while, even looking down at the puzzle from above, from the demon head portal on the level above. We noticed there was a tile the dwarf had stepped on which hadn’t triggered the trap. It was decorated with a vulture. We remembered the phrase “The vulture is the first step”, so decided we had to come from that same angle as the dwarf, and that would involve going further in and finding that door.

Orvex lead us back to the secret door the Red Wizards found on Level Two, and we realised we had missed this section completely! Immediately within the corridor to our left was a scrying pool. Looking into this, I was able to ride in the eyes of a tomb guardian on a different floor of the dungeon. It was in a giant pentagonal room filled with sickly plants. Walking on, the tomb guardian went onto a pathway over an underground lake. The pentagonal room had others with it, and each seemed to be on a cog or some form of machinery. Further down the guardian walked into a corridor with another key-headed skeleton, and a statue of a gargoyle with four arms. I was trying to read the inscription on it when the tomb guardian felt my presence and climbed through the pool to fight us. These fights against tomb guardians never get any easier…

Orvex pointed out to us two rooms, and a staircase going down. To the north was a forge full of tomb workers that the red wizards had come through, so we decided to go the other way. It was an office, occupied by an undead man wearing a black skull amulet. His name was Withers, and he was the one in charge of the tomb, Acererak’s second in command. He said he’d had enough of us messing up his work, and it was time to go and visit the master, so we attacked. We soon had him down between us all. There was a lot of treasure in his room, including an ornamental mask, the gem that could have controlled the slaad upstairs, a skeletal songbird, and his black skull amulet, which we dare not wear, since it seems to be enchanted to communicate with Acererak. There were three interesting books: his spellbook, which had in the back cover two words that may be passwords of some sort, ‘Khomara’ and ‘Blackfire’; a manual describing the method of making tomb guardians from corpses; and Withers’ journal. Within this he described whatever it was that Acererak was working on, this Soulmonger, as needing to be glutted on souls. It also said the ‘sewn sisters’ tend to it. Any clues as to what we’ll have to do will be very appreciated.

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Withers, Tomb of Annihilation

We decided to clear out the forge room too so no one could follow us from there. Within, five undead dwarves had just finished crafting a new tomb guardian, so we fought all of those. Once that was over, we destroyed the tomb guardian forge. We also found a load of tools that might prove useful later, and a strange magical lantern. Within was trapped the soul of something called the Starfallen, which we recalled from the diary of Devlin Bashir. I asked her if she was the elven princess mentioned in the diary, and she thought she might be. She said she had been imprisoned there by Formorian giants, and that the Yellow Banner had come here looking for the Eye of Zeltec, which was said to have the power to bring her back. We took her with us, hoping to find the Eye on our travels.

Going downstairs again to the third floor, but this time by the secret spiral staircase, we found a small room with a zombie guarding a lever. Through a window, which the zombie was facing, we could see another room. We dispatched with the zombie and pressed the lever. The room through the window started spinning violently! We realised we had uncovered a trap: if we had walked into the room through the window, the zombie would have hit the lever and we would have been trapped in that awful room. There was a crawlspace, which lead out to a small room adjoining the corridor between the Kubazan shrine and the boar’s head room. Unfortunately we also found in there a talking skull, which activated when I had one of my zombies pick it up. It wouldn’t shut up and said horrible perverse things, so we threw it in Fionn’s bag of holding.

We went back out past the fungi again and came to yet more corridors. After a few turns, we found something of interest: pools of water on the ground, a waterfall curtain in the middle of the corridor with more path beyond, and murals of animal-headed people holding weapons.There were also crawl spaces between these murals, so we decided to investigate these first. We came to a very large, long room with platforms between two balconies. We were on one, and we shared the space with a statue of a Nycaloth. On the opposite balcony we could see a lever. Also, Flask saw a crawl space along one wall, which he decided to investigate. He found it lead back to a corridor we had been to earlier, so we backtracked there. There was an odd minotaur face grate in the crawl space which we had to force open, and it did at one point slam down on one of my skeletons, killing it. But the rest of us got through and found ourselves in the spinning trap room. Through that, we went to a new room.

In this room there was a fifteen foot deep pit containing an eight foot clay golem with a key around its neck and a chest. Left and right of the pit were two statues, one each with a palm out. I recognised them as Azuth, god of wizards, and Turm, god of courage. We considered the meaning of the statues, and realised they could, with effort, be moved. We got the movement wrong at first and the golem blinked into existence beside us. While we held it off as best we could, Copper Bell and Orvex figured out the orientation and set the statues facing right – as the clue ‘Right the gods’ had told us to! Having done that, the clay golem got transported to a third plinth, and we were able to get the key and unlock the chest. Within were two glass eyeballs, one green, one pink.

Knowing the geography of the dungeon level, we were fairly certain there was a secret door to the level balcony on one wall, and searching revealed we were right. We pulled the lever, which set several things happening at once. An almighty howling wind started, I started laughing uncontrollably and continued for seven minutes, River screamed and attacked one of my zombies, Copper Bell was frozen still, Fionn dashed from the room, and Orvex screamed hysterically. Hugo was able to usher us out, and Flask, the only other one to keep his senses, tackled River out of the room before she could do more harm. We shut the door and trapped the howling wind within. But there was another thing that happened: the demon statue hands at the other end of the room opened, and it was holding something. But we knew the better way to get there, without going back in.

Before backtracking, we explored the room to the west. In there, we found a strange round mirrored door with ten indentations, the perfect size for the two glass eyeballs we had just found. Given the nature of the puzzle, Orvex felt it safe to say there would be a beholder behind that door. We realised we had to collect eight more eyeballs, and this was a puzzle for later, so we backtracked through the crawl spaces to the major corridor. We also backtracked to the balcony with the demon statue, sending one of my zombies through the crawl space so we didn’t have to encounter the horrible wind again. It returned from there with two more eyeballs, one pearly white, the other scarlet.

We found ourselves with nowhere to go but the corridor with animal-headed murals. We looked down the row and saw beast-headed people armed with real weapons which we could grab: axes, maces, blowguns, sickles and tridents. We sent two zombies through the waterfall curtain with the sickles in hand, and it caused a tidal wave to fill the corridor, washing us off our feet and back the way we came. Returning, we realised we had been stupid. The riddle wanted us to ‘walk through water with weapon in hand’, but not just any weapon: the tridents were the aquatic themed weapons on the wall. So with these we were able to all pass to the other side, finding an identical muralled corridor on the other side.

We found yet another crawl way, but this time it was a trap. As soon as a bunch of us were in the crawl space, it swung out, trapping us in the section. What the dungeon designer didn’t count on though was my psychic connection with my undead horde. They were able to go into the new section, triggering that, which let us escape. Then we threw a bunch of the heavy tools we found in the forge onto the trigger, and that swung again to reveal my trapped skeletons, as well as the corpse of Seph, one of the Yellow Banner Company. On his body we found a yklwa spear, a red crystal eye, a dungeoneering pack, and an ivory backscratcher.

We finally found ourselves at the door to I’jin’s tomb, after all that. There was something strange about the way the door was set up, with a little alcove opposite. We left figuring that out and checked out the smaller room in the corridor between the tomb and the waterfall curtain. Within that room was a font. As soon as I stepped in, a shadow version of me appeared, and there was green liquid in the font, but I could not collect any of it. Also, whenever I approached, the shadow backed off. We tried all sorts of things, like tying a cup to a pole and trying to reach the font, but eventually the Starfallen helped us with the solution. She used a magic hand spell as I stood in the entrance, carrying my cup to the font, and then lifting it to the lips of the shadow. With that puzzle solved, we found an orange eyeball in the now empty font.

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I’jin’s tomb and puzzle floor, Tomb of Annihilation

Back to the tomb, we figured out how to use the door and the strange alcove behind it. We opened the door, sent a skeleton in, and I sat in the alcove, where on the door it pointed to the next step to take. With these instructions, my skeleton made it to the middle of the tomb with no trouble. The whole trap was disabled, and we were all able to enter the tomb. On the corpse of the Yellow Banner dwarf we found two valuable gems, and two eyeballs, one blue, one purple. Orvex picked up the magic wand in I’jin’s sarcophagus.

We were getting tired, but we realised we were short two eyeballs, so decided to get these before we slept. In the end, we found them hidden by illusions of hawks. In alcoves behind these, we found the purple and green eyeballs.

24 days to go

Well rested, we made our way to the mirrored door and placed the ten eyeballs in their slots. The room beyond was made of highly reflective marble. There were nine alcoves laden with treasure, and in the middle, a large sphere draped with black silk. We assumed it was the beholder, and attacked with arrows. But it was only a magnetic sphere, and Belchorzh the Beholder revealed himself flying above us. He hit us with an anti-magic field, knocking out all my undead, then he destroyed Fionn’s Allosaurus. We scrambled to crawl out of the anti-magic field against the slippery floor, but finally, with much blood, sweat and tears, we ended the horrid thing. There were many treasures for us to claim, including much gold, another skeleton key, art objects, a potion of diminution, a bead of force, and a magical shield. We surprised ourselves by not being too hurt, though Fionn was quite bitter over the loss of Al.

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Beholder, 5e


It Takes Two (Level Two of the Tomb): Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 22

Sorry about the massive gap between posts! I’ve been both ill and very busy at work and outside of work. We’re still on Level Five of the tomb in real time, so I should have a little chance to catch up now with the Level 3 and 4 posts. Thanks for waiting!

Warning: The following contains detailed spoilers for the final dungeon of the Tomb of Annihilation. Obviously.

Note: For brevity’s sake, I don’t say every time I check for traps, search for secret doors or use detect magic. Just assume stuff like that happens in every damn room!

27 days to go

Down on the second level, we were met with another plaque with one of Acererak’s clue or riddle things. This one said: The ring is a path to another tomb. The dead abhor sunlight. Only a jewel can tame the frog. Bow as the dead god intoned. Into darkness descend.

There were a number of corridors on this level, and we went down the first we came to. We came to a small room with reliefs on the walls of people falling. There was a demon’s head in the middle of the room, with its mouth open, and magical darkness within. Going in, Oz wound up in another room, beneath us, with one of the sarcophagi in it. By the iconography this one seems to be Ijin. The floor was a puzzle. We considered going down that way, but then we saw that there was a dwarf skeleton on the floor, so we decided to come back later, or see what other ways we could approach the puzzle.

In the next corridor we stumbled into a four way intersection. This was odd in two ways: first, there was a goat-headed corpse in front of us, and second, the two branches to either side of us seemed to go up in a loop above us. There was transmutation magic up there, and when I sent Oz, he never came back. I couldn’t see through his eyes, or contact him, or even summon him back again. He was just gone. We decided we couldn’t go up there, given that the corridor seemed to wipe him from existence. Perhaps if we learn some stronger magics down here we can figure out what went wrong and if it’s reversible.

Examining the goat headed man, we found it was one of the Yellow Banner, a Kalashite, and he was dead via axe and crossbow bolts (though, mysteriously, these had been removed). His diary was with him, and we learnt his name: Devlin Bashir. In it we also learnt of the others in his team and their fates. He himself was disfiguring himself by using the cursed goat-headed staff we found by him. We bagged that. We also bagged a self-refilling pot of ink from his pocket. We read further and learned about his companions: Lord Brixton from Cormyr, Bravis Boulderborn, presumably the dwarf we’d seen dead below, Seward, a ranger from Chondath, and Sephirius, a dragonborn paladin. As of his final entry, Devlin said he was the last survivor, though he would be dead soon. Seward had died and that meant they had lost something called the Starfallen. There was also reference to an elven princess, I wonder if the Starfallen is her? He also mentioned a doppelganger was in their midst. The last words in the diary were the most ominous, regarding Acererak: His final secret will lead to your doom.

Going through the corridor, we found ourselves in a room that smelled of wine, with a gilded tomb in the middle. There were four gargoyle heads on the wall. Moa warned us that the iconography of this room did not match any of the nine gods, and so was probably some form of trap. There was sunlight coming through a corner of roof, which made no sense. Checking it with magical senses, it was indeed an illusion. Investigating further, the tomb seemed to be glued to the floor, and there seemed to be valves in each of the faces. We decided to leave.

Going to another door on this level, it had three holes in it, which, as we approached filled with the faces of zombies who pushed against the door to get at us. I had our zombies push back, and when the door opened we fought the ravenous three on the other side. Down a short corridor, we found ourselves in another one of the gods’ tombs. It was clearly Papazotl, given the symbolism of the decor. There were cauldrons with bones, and three statues, one with no face. We recalled the line of the riddle: Bow to no one. So we bowed to the faceless statue, and the tomb opened. On a bright shield on the wall, suddenly an archer appeared as we touched the tomb, and shot bolts of light at us. Copper Bell leapt over and turned the shield around. We applauded her quick thinking, and allowed her to take the treasure within the tomb. It was an amulet with health boosting properties, and when she donned it, she was taken by the spirit of Papazotl.

Hugo managed to find a secret door to the eastern end of the room, and within was a dusty corridor. In the middle of the corridor was an alcove with an old bottle there. As I touched it, an earth-coloured woman erupted out of it, promising us riches if we freed her. She was some sort of djinn. Her name was Keshma al-Wazir. I told her it was fine, we didn’t need riches, we just wanted her to go in peace. She laughed at what she thought was our foolishness, and tried to teleport away. I can only imagine, by the look of horror on her face, that she realised she couldn’t too late. I don’t know where she is now. Possibly inside another room in the tomb? Maybe we’ll see her again.

At the end of the corridor was another secret door, through which there was a room that stank of brimstone. Inside, there was the sarcophagus of Nangnang! There was a salt circle surrounding it, and Fionn, possessed by Wongo, kicked it. From out of there erupted a slaad! It was a tough fight, and afterwards Fionn suggested looking for the jewel that should be in its head, which was like a control stone. Probably what the riddle referred to by the jewel taming the frog. But it was gone. We allowed River to pick up the treasure of this tomb: a frog egg that filled her with magical potential.

As we settled down to rest for the day, sure we had uncovered everything on the second level, we discovered another skeleton with a key on its head. After killing it, we discovered it was a square key.

Number of undead who died this episode: 14

Total undead after spell slots refreshed: 17

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Level 2 of the Tomb. You may notice, we missed a few places! That’s coming up in Level Three, when we discover the stairs that lead back up! You’ll also maybe notice we avoided getting drowned in wine in that fake tomb we ignored.

Absolute Beginners (Level One of the Tomb): Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 21

Warning: The following contains detailed spoilers for the final dungeon of the Tomb of Annihilation

Note: For brevity’s sake, I don’t say every time I check for traps, search for secret doors or use detect magic. Just assume stuff like that happens in every damn room!

28 days to go, continued

There was an obelisk before three tunnels leading deeper into the cliff face. I say three, because one which had been hidden by bushes was bared to the world by blast marks. Presumably the Red Wizards’ doing. On the obelisk was a passage of text in common, wiped down (possibly by Orvex, we’d seen him wipe down carvings and plaques like this). There were vague threats by this Acererak guy about we should fear him, etc. Then there was what we guessed were a series of clues. The enemies oppose. One stands between them. In darkness it hides. Don the mask or be seen. Speak no truth to the doomed child. The keys turn on the inside only.

We went through the blasted entrance. Flask saw recent footprints, probably those of the Reds. We sent the zombies ahead of us to place the cubes in the nine slots. We tried two different configurations, both times getting zombies electrocuted by the trap on the lock, before we figured out that the first two lines of clues were about this: The enemies oppose, one stands between. We put each of the enemy gods across from each other as according to the myth Orvex told us (the order of that didn’t seem to matter) and Unkh in the middle. That did the trick.

Unfortunately we fell badly for the next trick. Thankfully only the zombies took the hit. There was another door ten feet behind the first, and it had a lever and an hourglass, which started ticking away as soon as the zombies entered. I panicked, and order them to pull it. The floor fell away, and those zombies in the room fell onto spikes. One was fully dead under the others, but the rest were able to climb out with help. The cats climbed over the pit and together with them and the zombies, we all got across.

We continued down the corridor and came toward a t-junction. Ahead of us was a devil’s head mask taking up most of the wall. I sent my zombies ahead, and they felt out the floors and wall, taking some darts from pressure plates as they went. Seemed a good strategy, so I kept that going through the rest of the dungeon. When we reached the T, there was a crystal window down the left hand passage, and a balcony to the right. All around us were bones interred in nooks in the walls. At least I’ll never be short of skeletons in here. Especially if they are the skeletons of the Omuans who were forced by Acererak to build this awful place. A zombie of mine reached into the blackness inside the mouth of the giant devil mask, and out came a shadow demon, which my undead soon dispatched, though not without casualties to my undead army. In darkness it hides had been the clue! But it hadn’t hurt us too badly to trigger that trap.

We went right and saw that we were at a giant square spiral staircase. There were other exits branching of off this floor, and then the stairs descended to the next level. Looking below, a small masked figure saw us and scampered off. Was this what the clue Don the Mask or Be Seen meant?

We backtracked in the direction of the crystal window and found a metal grate on the floor. Only Oz was small enough to slip between the bars, so he did. Beneath, a small underground stream flowed. With a torch, he flew upstream. Then he exploded what I could only assume was a gas pocket up there. Summoning him back, I sent him back in with a light stone from Fionn. He was able to get to the end of the upstream section, and found stairs up to a dead end, then further along to another dead end, a strange locked casket, as long as a coffin. Unable to open it, I made him check downstream this time. The stream went on for a long time, and much further than my range to connect with him, so he came back.

Looking through the crystal window we could see into a room, but with no way for us to enter it. Inside was a sarcophagus, bear statues holding up a strange shield or disc with eyes on it, and six inert undead on thrones wearing masks. Since there was no opening obvious to us, and we didn’t want to smash the window, we decided to try and find a better way. We went through the nearest corridor on the spiral staircase, and found ourselves looking into a room, at the end of which stood a statue of a knight with a shield, with strange scraps of metal in the room. We called out, no response. My zombies lumbered in, and nothing happened to them, so I stepped forward. Immediately my scabbard holding the Flametongue began to pull me forward. I had the zombies grab me and drag me backward. I got my skeletons to fire a volley at the knight, and the strangest thing happened. The arrows gained speed as they flew towards it, and the arrowheads got absorbed as soon as they hit. We realised it was a magnetic trap. I had Oz scout. He could see, flying through the room, that there were corridors either side of the magnetic statue. To the north was a larger room with a sickly looking fountain, and to the south, what seemed an empty corridor. We decided for now to backtrack, rather than risk being unarmed in that room.

In the next nearest corridor, we were confronted with a giant skull with flames for eyes. Its open mouth showed us a room beyond, with another sarcophagus in it. I sent Oz through the skull, which made one of the two flames go out, and he saw within that the sarcophagus was kept company by bones in niches, tiny holes in the walls otherwise, and a crystal box with a skull floating within. As soon as he looked at this, I heard a voice in my head. It was a lost little girl, who started panicking that she couldn’t see anything. I had a horrible suspicion she was the skull Oz had seen, but I managed to repress this thought before she heard it, and reassure her that I was a wizard and would do everything to fix the curse on her that had turned her into ‘a crystal’. The others, looking through the giant skull mouth, were able to see the crystal box and Copper Bell was able to help me calm the girl, whose name was Nepartak. She was the daughter of Omek, an ancient king of Omu. Oz picked up the crystal box and brought it through, which made the other flame in the last eye socket go out. Surely, some sort of trap. Oz gave the box to Copper Bell and she carried it, telling Nepartak happy cat stories. In a quiet moment later, Copper Bell told me she no longer wished to die until she could exact vengeance on Acererak for doing this to the child. Speak no truth to the doomed child, I remembered too late. Thankfully, I had done that instinctively.

We backtracked to the magnetic statue, stripped off our metal and tested that it could be safely transported with Fionn’s bag of holding before continuing. Unfortunately we had to leave Al behind. We checked the northern room with the fountain. It had three stone maidens in the middle, and I could sense transmutation magic on it. I had some of my zombies drink from it. One was silenced for a while, and the other was sex-changed. We left the fountain and continued to what seemed to be an empty corridor to the south. Naturally, we found a secret door, and it led, as we thought it might according to our rough mapping, the room on the other side of the crystal window.

Peeking ahead, we could see the disc of eyes, and it was here I clicked. Don the mask or be seen. I summoned an unseen servant to grab a mask off one of the undead within, and it brought it back to us unscathed. Then I masked a skeleton and made it fetch us the other masks. With those masks, we were able to enter the room. On another hunch based on our mapping, Flask found the secret door at the south end of the room which led to the stairs from the river which Oz had found. So we took those down and waded through the mucky water to the dead-end with the casket. I could sense there was some odd magic in there, so we backed out far down the river, and using Oz, I cast the Knock spell to unlock it. Then Oz joined us, and I had a zombie go in and open the casket. There was no explosion or anything, so we went in. The casket had vanished into the mud! We had other zombies dig it up, and the zombie emerged from the casket, covered in mud, but otherwise fine (good thing it didn’t have to breathe!). Also in the casket we found 500 gold pieces, a golden tankard which shows a happy face when full and a sad face when empty, and a scroll with a spell to remove curses.

Backtracking to the sarcophagus chamber, I investigated the disc of eyes further, and determined that it would have awakened the undead on the thrones if we had been maskless. So we threw a blanket over it, and all the skeletons and zombies could come in. Then, using Knock again, we were able to open the sarcophagus. Inside was a small pile of bones and a beautiful ring with a blue shield design. Fionn identified it as a ring of protection. Hugo picked it up, and suddenly he could hear the voice of Obo’laka in his head!

Through Hugo, she was able to tell us a few things. All nine of the gods were of course buried here – it is called the Tomb of the Nine Gods after all. She wasn’t able to remember how the nine gods took over from Ubtao, only that they did, emerging fully formed from the jungle one day. They used to live in the forms of their chosen animal, and reincarnate, watching over their shrines as Omuans showed their dedication by doing the trials. But all that came to an end when Acererak came, enslaved the Omuans, and had them build the tomb. The gods died and were unable to reincarnate, and entombed here. Hugo’s personality seemed a little affected by housing the god. He was saying Obo’laka was nervous and wanted to leave the tomb. Naturally, there was no way to do that, so we ignored him and her.

We decided to see what was on the other side of the underground stream now, so we went back in and travelled all the long way that Oz could not alone. At the end of the river was a waterfall, and a treasure chest on a ledge opposite. When I sent Oz over to open it, it turned out to be a mimic! He managed to escape it, and we killed it at range, cramped as we were in the tunnel.

Back up the tunnel a little way was a set of stairs leading to a dead end, but we of course searched and found a secret door to the back of where we had found Nepartak. We could see the back of the giant skull, and how heavy the teeth looked. Remembering how each flame had gone out, we decided not to go through the teeth, but return instead by the stream. But first, we opened the sarcophagus in here. Within were the bones of a jaculi, and a staff of python. I picked it up, and heard the voice of Moa. She promised to be good and help us. I now find myself unable to lie, which means I cannot speak to Nepartak without giving away her fate. However, I can now turn invisible whenever I want. It is a thrill.

We went to investigate the final corridor on this level, and found a nasty bladed propellor cutting off our path. Whenever someone stepped in the corridor, it would start, and pick up speed quickly. Oz was able to fly through without setting it off, and within I saw a deep pit with a sarcophagus inside, three chests, and an odd looking skeleton walking around. Looking behind it, Oz could see its skull extended weirdly into a triangular key at the back! I cast fly on myself and went through. Flask took a great run up and dashed through before the blades started. We took down the skeleton quickly and took its skull. I flew back out, worried my fly spell would run out, and used Oz to detect magic on the sarcophagus. Trying Knock on it did not work. He detected magic on the chests: the onyx one was necromancy, the iron oen transmutation, and the silver one evocation.

We realised we were going to need to try and get more people in there, so we tried using heavy objects from around the tomb to jam the propeller. Eventually, the stone lid of Obo’laka’s sarcophagus did it, breaking the nasty mechanism completely, and we were all able to get in. We got zombies to open the three chests’ lids. Each of them had a key inside, and a lock inside too! So I made three zombies climb into the chests, and turn the locks with the keys. Three buttons popped up on the sarcophagus. We pressed them. Two of the zombies were killed, one turned to dust, the other frozen, and the last one was unaffected by whatever spell went off in its box. The sarcophagus began to glow, and we could see the mummy of a su-monster within. Fionn reached for the mace beside it, and we had to fight the spirit of Wongo! Taking him out, he entered into Fionn. Her manner changed immediately as she fought his violent and deranged tendencies. She now also seems to hate me, and I can feel Moa hating her back inside me. Her mace that she got from the sarcophagus has a magical effect of creating fear in her enemies.

We rested, having found everything we could on the first level of the tomb.

Number of undead who died this episode: 5

Total undead after spell slots refreshed: 21

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Level 1, Tomb of Annihilation

Like a Sinner before the Gates: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 20

35 days to go

We ran until we were close to the log bridge, and we slept. I dreamed that the mouth of the amulet from the last dream was drawing me in now.

When we woke, we had to decide what to do with our freed slaves. We all decided, on balance, that it would be easier if we all stuck together. It would still be dangerous, but less than them going off alone.

We set off to visit the last three shrines, the closest being the one on a lone rocky plinth some way off in the magma pit. I sent Oz to scout, and soon found there was no need for us to attempt it: the Red Wizards had been there already and disposed of the jaculis that lived there. Through what I could see through Oz’s eyes, Orvex was able to tell us what the inscriptions meant: Moa teaches us that secrets hide the truth. Since we seemed likely to run into the Red Wizards soon, Orvex told me he would probably change sides back to them if we ran into them. It was the best option for him, to save his skin. I told him I understood.

We sought the next one, moving swiftly under cover so as to avoid any patrols. There were signs of an earlier pursuit we had managed to miss. We found the shrine of Unkh the flail snail. The inscription here was: Unkh urges to contrast all actions before acting. There were two buildings: a side building full of many iron keys, all different from each other, and the shrine itself. We hid Spike in the key workshop, and the Chultans we had rescued spread out across the courtyard, hiding, where they could see any approaching enemies and warn us.


Unkh’s shrine, Tomb of Annihilation

Within, from behind a giant statue of Unkh emerged three ghasts which all had the blue triangle on them. What does that symbol mean? One of my zombies got eaten to death before we were able to take them all out. Then we set to figuring out the puzzle within. There were 6 keys in here, and a keyhole. Using my Unseen Servant, we tried one, and it set off a horrible psychedelic effect of prismatic spray throughout the room. Those who got hurt by that went and rested out with Spike while the rest of us kept going. We stood outside of the door, out of range, while I sent in servant after servant to investigate. Finally I worked out: the 6 keys in here were not real keys, but 6 parts that showed what the real key would look like. So we went and found the real key in the workshop, and the cube was ours.

We crossed in secret to the shrine of Obo’laka, the Zorbo. Hugo noticed that the yuan-ti patrols we avoided didn’t seem to really be looking for us. At the shrine, we set up the chain of watchers over Spike again. Hiding him was harder this time. Inside, we saw zorbos hanging in trees, glaring down at us. Orvex translated: Obo’laka teaches us to tread wearily and stay in the light. We opened the door to the shrine to find a dark corridor with empty torch brackets. As we investigated the corridor, zorbos attacked Khoti and killed him before we could get to him. They devoured him with astonishing speed. We cancelled the chain of watchers and just brought Spike in, parking him in front of the door to the shrine, and the remaining Chultans with us.


Obo’laka’s Shrine, Tomb of Annihilation

Within the shrine, further down the corridor, was a door, and through that door a small chamber. There was a painted sun on the ceiling and a moon reflecting in the pool below it. After some mucking around trying to figure it out, I submerged myself in the pool and found myself in a reversed room: moon on ceiling, sun in pool. I brought the others through, and we saw the next room beyond. It was the altar chamber, and there was the cube on the altar, but a red wizard have been turned to stone on touching it. We tried a couple of things using unseen servant. Hitting the cube off the altar worked, but then when the unseen servant bent to pick it up, it turned to stone and then the spell ended. It wasn’t until we bagged the cube that we could walk out with it. Once we were outside, the unseen servant was able to touch the bagged cube without turning to stone.

We snuck through a narrow passage between the cliff and the wall of the yuan-ti compound, hoping to find access to the northern part of the river. What we found instead was the shrine of Nangnang, the Grung. And it was invested with his people. We camped out in a nearby building and waited for night, hoping to get the drop on them if we could. But while we rested, a bunch of kobolds came through our building. We quietly surrounded them so they couldn’t escape, and got them talking once they were calm enough. Turns out, they are shrine resetters! They were sent to reset the Obo’laka shrine after we had been there, but had gotten lost. They were servants of a kobold called Kakaroll, who believed he would one day become a dragon. They lived in a bazaar up in the northern part of the city. Their names are Gad, Mogs, Gos, Vug and Snekre, and for the time being, we’re travelling together to make sure we all get out alive.

Before heading to the Nangnang Shrine we took a quick detour to help them reset the puzzle in Obo’laka’s shrine. I was confused, and asked why they needed resetting. Once the cube was taken, wasn’t the puzzle pointless? The kobolds were amused by this. Did I think I was the first person to try and get into the tomb? No, three other groups had gotten in there in the last month alone. Once used at the gate, the cubes would reappear on the altars. I felt a slight fool, but no one had explained it to me before this.

When we arrived at the Nangnang Shrine, there were grungs sleeping and lounging in the pool. We decided not to attack them, even if they were evil. River and Orvex translated for me. Chief Yorb spoke to us and demanded tribute on behalf of Nangnang, so we laid out before him over 300 gold worth of gems we’d picked up in places like Orolunga. That wasn’t enough, so I tried to get him to accept the Rod of the Oath Keeper. But it still wasn’t enough. I planted a magic bean in front of him. It sprouted into 8 large colourful mushrooms that started screaming. We clamped down on the mouths and I said we offered these. He said he would take them and the rest of the bag of beans. I warned him about the tricksiness of the beans, but nevertheless he planted the last three, and got two multi-fruited trees, and a fountain of berry juice. He didn’t listen when I tried to tell him some of the fruit were poison, so we hurried past to get into the shrine before he could pin the blame on us.


Nangnang’s Shrine, Tomb of Annihilation

Within the shrine was unbelievable amounts of treasure. The inscriptions, there were two of them, said: Serve only yourself, and Whoever is richest bring me your gifts. We tried all sorts of things to get the door to open, throwing coins, offering coins, but it wasn’t until I made everyone else leave and offered some of the treasure up alone that the door opened, and I got the cube. We left the scene as quick as we could and hid out in the same building we’d picked earlier that night.

34 days to go

I dreamed again of the hideous skeletal figure and his large mouthed amulet. When I woke, we told the kobolds we wanted to check out the northern side of the city and try to find the last two shrines. They led us reluctantly to the rafts they had used to get here, and with Spike swimming beside us, we made our way across the rivery-lakey mess of ruins.

After a little while the kobolds pointed out a shrine in the lake, the shrine of Papazotl the Iblis. But as we started towards it, there was a huge explosion. We rowed to hide behind other ruins to avoid being seen by the Red Wizards and yuan-ti fighting in the shrine. The reds soon won, and went flying off into the southern distance, cube in hand. We continued towards the kobolds’ home once they were gone, but not before I scored myself six new yuan-ti zombies.

Arriving at their home, we bid farewell to the kobolds and started looking for the final shrine. It didn’t take long for Orvex to recognise the iconography of Wongo the Su-Monkey on a building not far from the kobold compound. Within, we found the inscription, Better to be Wongo’s friend than his enemy. Unfortunately, under that, it also said See you at the Fane. The cube had been taken by the yuan-ti, who were taunting us now.

We set up a discrete camp in a fairly intact building and thought long and hard. I had an inkling of what needed to happen. We could probably sneak back into the Fane and take many yuan-ti out like we did last time, but it would be a hard slog. Even though they were evil, the Red Wizards were the lesser of the two evils, and besides, they had two of the cubes already, the Moa and Papazotl ones. Given the bloodbath we had seen at the Papazotl shrine, we wouldn’t stand a chance against the Red Wizards, and eventually either us or them would have to try and take the others’ cubes.

Flask had an idea, but it was risky. Why did we have to be the first people into the tomb? Why not just let the Red Wizards get in first? At most it would take us only a couple of days to gather the cubes back up again, since we had solved two thirds of the puzzles already, and the kobolds were unlikely to have been able to replenish the wildlife around the shrine by that time. I asked Orvex more about the Red Wizards, and if they’d believe us if we said we were fed up and just wanted to leave, but give them the cubes we had in exchange for their help getting vengeance on Ras Nsi and his brood before we left. He said it was risky but probably worth it. However, he knew they were going after the thing we sought to destroy: the Soulmonger, the magical item doing whatever it was doing to resurrection magic (which, he thought, was probably just a side-effect of what was really happening). We could say we were here to loot the Eye of Maztika from the Tomb, an object that was small fry and one the wizards wouldn’t care about. And that we’d be happy just leaving with the loot from the Fane after taking it out. He thought that might be enough, perhaps.

We decided to try and find them the next day, since it was sunset already. In the twilight, we saw a bunch of giant spiders run down the boulevard from the north. Then we saw the famed King of Feather, larger than we could possibly comprehend, leap down and eat a few. I was so glad we had not camped in the road that night in order to try and get the Red Wizards’ attention.

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A red wizard, Tomb of Annihilation

33 days to go

This time in the dream I was drawn into the mouth, towards a gathering blackness that was alive, malignant, and somehow familiar. I was shaken awake by the cats, and they showed me that Orvex had found the Red Wizards and led him to us. He was one of them again, and as grateful to him as I was, we all pretended to less familiarity with him than we had really established over the last half-week.

The head of this band of Red Wizards was called Zagmira. She had a face which was half teenager, half ancient crone. She had three other wizards besides herself, and eight mercenary bodyguards. Given our terms of handing them over the six cubes we had and leaving them to enter the Tomb alone, they were more than happy to help us retrieve the final cube and get vengeance on the yuan-ti who had been raiding and slaughtering them this whole time.

We hid Spike and the Chultans outside the secret tunnel, and took the wizards up the same sneaky way we had entered in the initial rescue. Zagmira said she had a spy in the harem, a shapeshifter, so we snuck through with that goal in mind. We fought our way past reinforcements at the edge of the lake, but met with no other resistance, and the cathedral was completely deserted. We took the opportunity to destroy their alarm gong by taking it off the hook and lowering it into the fountain of blood.

One wizard went with me, Hugo and River, and invisibly we slipped into the harem. We found the shapeshifter as a male slave, Ishmakahl, and we took him aside to an alcove to talk in private. He told us that the temple was in uproar after our rescue a few days ago, and even before that the priestess Fenthaza had been trying to overthrow Ras Nsi, who was not really a yuan-ti. She had managed to force him to kill his right hand man the other day.

Wanting to get out, we asked him if we should slay the other slaves or leave them. He said we should, but there was something about the way he said it that set off Hugo’s alarm bells. He started to quail under questioning, so the wizard with us dropped a Suggestion spell on him and we left, taking him with us. I won’t describe what happened next. It was nasty. Zagmira tortured and killed him for trying to betray her. Fired up, and encouraged by the emptiness of the cathedral, she ordered that we head for the throne room and end this.

Ras Nsi was there with three other yuan-ti, three broodguards and four ghouls – which had the blue triangle upon them! I finally understood, it was his symbol. At the same time, I finally realised why he didn’t look so good. Artus had killed him in the past. He was only here by resurrection magic. When we’d left my mentor a month ago, she had looked fine, but by now half her life must be drained away. Ras Nsi was also affected by the curse!

The fight did not last long. Every one of those four wizards cast a Fireball each at the combatants, and they all died. They found the secret door to Ras’s personal chamber, and the cube was within. We were allowed to pillage it, and found a flametongue longsword which I have picked up myself, a magic sending stone (though who has the twin of it, we don’t know), bracers of defense which I have also kept, and beautiful art pieces and treasure. We also got Ras Nsi’s spellbook. The Red Wizards took the six cubes we had, and bid farewell.

They got away just in time. We were forced to get ready quickly for waves of reinforcements trying to get into the throne room. Thankfully, they got stuck in the corridor, and we had the killing ground. Hugo tried a new spell, and found that he could summon chwinga Spirit Guardians to help us. It was insanely powerful, and we soon saw no reinforcements left. We decided to run through the rest of the palace complex and take everyone else out. We tried using Ras Nsi’s teleportation circles.

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Fane of the Night Serpent, Tomb of Annihilation 5e

The first attempt took us to the highest spot in the main cathedral. Then our next journey took us to the prison, and in the pit there we found a new slave. She called out, and we got her out of the pit. Her name was Fionn MacHool, from the Moonshea Isles, and she showed her calm and cool by just going with us as we continued to flip from teleportation circle to the next circle. We ended up in the harem, where we ended up killing the rest of the slaves there anyway as they attacked. Then, running out, we fetched Fionn’s stolen gear from the storeroom. Going up to the other rooms in the Fane, we fought a guard in the stables, and charged the gate guards. Fionn had a bizarre and amazing weapon, a sort of hand cannon that shoots thunder. It was very effective and fun to watch.

With the gate in our possession we were able to open it and send two of the cats around to fetch Spike and the Chultans. When they were safe with us, we charged into the final remaining rooms: those of Fenthaza and the other priestesses. We fought her and her guards, including her summoned Air Elemental. With her dead, we smashed her holy symbol of Dendar the serpent god, and got more treasure from her chambers. Our final fight that day was against three priestesses doing some awful ritual in the next room. We rested, recouped our resources, and I was able to zombify Ras Nsi, Fenthaza, the priestesses and the slave master’s bodies for my personal bodyguard.

32 days to go

We used the spell Knock to get into the armoury, but were met by a bone naga who demanded the password. When we couldn’t give it, it raised up a couple of bone minotaurs to fight with it, but we dispatched all three of them quite easily. We were able to salvage ten longbows for future skeleton servants, and a shield, which Hugo has taken, which amplifies his voice.

The rest of the rooms were empty, so we decided to do the last thing: kill the hydra. We managed this by kiting it into the throne room where we had the advantage, and remembering that the Red Wizards had said to use fire against a hydra (I had mentioned it to them when we planned our raid). It was actually extremely easy, with our strategy, to take it down, with Flask taking my flametongue and me using Scorching Ray spells to stop it from regenerating. We were barely hurt by it.

We took the rest of the day to rest, and plan our route around Omu to take back the cubes. Meanwhile, Fionn uses scraps of metal around the place to build herself a metal allosaurus! We’re calling it Al. I meanwhile raised more undead, and had seventeen in my personal army by the end of the day.

31 days to go

Well rested, we hit the Moa shrine. Using Fionn’s Jump spell, she took me and Flask. The others all waited by the magma pit for our return. The jaculis were still all dead, but the shrine was reset. We found it harder to decode without Orvex, but remembered the phrase from last time: Moa teaches us that secrets hide the truth.


Moa shrine, Tomb of Annihilation

In the corridor of the building, there were arrow slits in there, but no attackers within. We could see the altar in a larger room beyond, and the cube, watched by twelve archer statues. We sent the unseen servant in to get it, and it vanished, and then it was shot to death. We thought about things for a while and investigated. Through the arrow slits we could see two more cubes. One was in the mouth of a serpent statue, and the other had been, but the statue’s head was on the ground. After a few hours, we figured out that there was a secret door to the intact statue, and we were able to take the cube from its mouth safely.

The rest of the day was spent clearing the kamadan, frogomoth, almiraj, flail snail, zorbo and grung shrines. The kamadan shrine had been reset, so we had to fight the statues again, and we had to pay another bag of gems to the grungs (but we were flush with those after taking the Fane). Other than that, we took our time, and I raised many more undead to join my army, including skeletons to arm with the longbows I found yesterday. That’s twenty three in my army now. I feel like I am starting to reach my mental limits though.

30 days to go

Going the same route we did last time, we went from the central city across the river to the Papazotl shrine. Thankfully, there were no alligators alive there. We slowly translated the phrase above the lintel: Papazotl teaches us to bow before no one. Within, there were six statues surrounding a pedestal. They had animal heads: a lizard, a jaguar, a lobster, a toucan, a bat and a frog. There was a riddle on the altar: Comes with sunshine, leaves with night, hides in darkness, does not bite. (At this point I’d figured it out, but it kept going…) Always joined to its caster, never strays from its master. We got out our torches, and the shadow of the bat remained, revealing a crawlspace.


Papazotl Shrine, Tomb of Annihilation

We went through to find a bizarre new puzzle. It took an hour for us to figure out that the number of squares on the wall matched the number of letters in the riddle, and we counted using the nine highlighted tiles that the letters it wanted spelled out: Cover Eyes. So we blindfolded the statues, and the cube appeared on the altar.

Next was the Wongo shrine. As we approached the five arches and the message we already knew, Better to be Wongo’s friend than his enemy, I could hear the voice of the su-monster in my head. Heading down the central arch, we found a statue of Wongo himself with his hands and feet cupped. Under the statue it said “Wongo’s friend knows where to pour the water. On the wall were four masks, a zebra, a boar, a lion and a vulture. We could go and get behind these masks by taking each of the other arches.


Wongo shrine, Tomb of Annhilation

We looked through the lion mask, and could see the right hand of Wongo. Above the lion it said, “I ate one of the boar’s friends.” The boar, looking at the left foot, said, “The vulture is lucky to be alive.” The zebra mask revealed the right foot, and said, “My only friend starved to death.” And the vulture was facing the left hand, and said “One of the others has no friend.” With all of this information, we were able to work out that it was the vulture who was the friend of Wongo.

Once we poured water into Wongo’s left hand, the cube appeared on top of his head, and his voice sounded in my head again, saying either I could receive his curse, or fight his children. Fitting, for our final fight in Omu, to be the same as our first. We took on the challenge of the su-monkeys, and this time it was pretty easy.

We camped up in the same building again where we had four nights ago. I have found myself one last zombie, taking my numbers up to twenty four. That seems to be the most I can maintain control of in a sustainable, daily way.

29 days to go

In the morning, we saw Omuan gargoyles fighting brightly feathered humanoids in the sky. We went to meet the bird people when we saw them land. The young woman leader said she was the Queen of Omu and expected us to bow. Rather than start a fight, I did, but said we weren’t from around here and didn’t know who she was. Her name was Mwaxanare, and she was the lost heir. She had been sheltered by the bird folk and was waiting for the day when the yuan-ti were cleared out of the Fane, which was her palace. I told her I was happy to be of assistance, and hoped she could take Spike and the Chultans from us, as we were about to enter the tomb and did not want to put them at risk either by taking them in or leaving them.

Princess Mwaxanare

Mwaxanare, Tomb of Annhilation

Her ancient bird woman guardian Asharra came forth, considered me with her beady eyes, and slapped me. I asked what she did that for, and she said I was underestimating her. But she also said others underestimated me, and I need to use that against them.

We spent the day with these new people, escorting them back to the Fane and checking it was cleared of yuanti. Mwaxanare asked me to look out for the Skull Chalice of Ch’gakare in the Tomb. It was a family heirloom, from a legendary Chultan hero who, it was said, escaped the nine hells on the back of a mastodon.

Asharra spoke with me too. She said that it wasn’t just resurrection magic anymore, but healing magic was also weaker. The living were now dying easier. She spoke of the circle of life and those who seeked to escape it. She wanted to stress to me that life comes from death, and death comes from life. I need to remember this circle, and Ubtao.

They also provided us with payment in advance, in the form of several magical items which we are to return to them if we did not use them. So we got four potions: invisibility, climbing, resistance and growth. We also got a jar of magical pigment that can make any object it paints a real object. And finally, for Hugo, a staff that he can use instead of his club, which turns into a giant constrictor snake when he wants it to.

28 days to go

Last night I had the dream again. I was begin sucked through the amulet’s mouth into the blackness. And then I felt Asharra’s slap, and that was enough to free me from the spell and fly away. I don’t think this dream will trouble me ever again.

It is morning. We now stand outside the doors of the tomb.


At this point, out of character, things are getting interesting for me and James. I’ve never intentionally played an evil character. I usually will take the most pacifist path I can find in any roleplay scenario. But Priscilla has been having a hard time in Chult, and her high moral standard of only using the undead to help them fulfill their unfinished business has slipped pretty far now that she actually has access to Animate Dead. I personally took a lot of glee out of wiping out the yuan-ti who had caused me so much pain and aggravation. It’s always a sticky situation, isn’t it? D&D has these evil races around for ‘good’ people to run around and murder. Is that really still morally ‘good’? It’s one of those hand-wavey things about D&D that I’ve always struggled with. Then again, it’s there in real life too. While I don’t know if I’ve have the guts to punch a neo-Nazi in real life, I was both amused and troubled by the moral implications when people did in recent years. Ideally I would like for us to be able to just sit down and talk through things, but when there are groups of people in the world denying the personhood of other large groups of people, based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion etc. and even going so far as to threaten violence against them… is violence to correct them really so wrong? I keep coming back to yes it is, on a personal morality level. I don’t think violence teaches a lasting lesson other than the lesson of violence itself. But there is a karmic part of me that enjoys watching a Nazi get punched, so… I dunno.

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…

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?


The Shrine of Shagambi, Tomb of Annihilation