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!

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It’s Getting Hot in Here: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 13

47 days to go continued

We investigated further around this forge room to see what advantage we could get. We nearly upset some strange birdlike mount beasts, but we backed away and regrouped. There were also carts on tracks we could use there, or take further into the mine. In the end the plan we ended up going with was that Flask went in past the bird things, upset them, and that drew a fire newt out towards him, and meanwhile the rest of us ran through the first entrance to the chamber and attacked from behind. It didn’t get us any great advantage in the end, but we won nevertheless – even though they spat fire at us! When we were down to the last one, it tried to run, Hugo blasted it away from the door with a wall of wind and it was pincushioned soon after.

In the next room we found an armoury of the dwarves, and we thought why not put some of this armour on my zombies? They let us do that, and they even seemed to have some muscle memory of how to hold battleaxes, which was more than I reasonably expected. Heading through to the next two adjoining rooms, we met more newts, and our kitted-out dwarves were decent meat shields for some time. Enough time, as they saved us from much hurt before they went down. But even with them down, we managed to clear the rooms. This place was where the ingots got stamped. We kept going through, after giving me a chance to find another zombie to animate and kit out.

In the next rooms, what were dormitories for the dwarves had become the filthy nests of the newts. We took those down quicksmart, and headed through to find two things. First, in front of us, a rickety chain that strung across lava to another ledge where we could go, or above us, probably through a door we had ignored earlier, a drawbridge. So we backtracked and found that drawbridge. We had to wait for the metal to cool, but once it had we walked over to find the locked doors of the dwarven treasury. There were two locks, but we dared not pick them. In a nearby room we found the boxes that used to house the keys, but the keys seemed to have been stolen. We considered forging our own keys from these boxes, but we thought it better to summon Sithi, as she would know best, and we had cleared out all areas we knew of for now.

By the time we got back in with Sithi, we had caught her up on all that happened. She was glad we hadn’t tried to make the keys ourselves as none of us had smithing skills. We all checked the area and confirmed, we had either killed all the newts, or any who survived must have escaped by swimming out via the rivers of magma.

46 days to go

Over the last 24 hours we cleared a lot of things up with Sithi’s help. The ledge we couldn’t get to had an alcove leading to a newt shrine, which the dwarves quickly dismantled. Forging new keys, Sithi was able to open the doors to the treasury and we got to see the glory of the Hrakhamar trove, including the master forger’s gauntlet that Sithi took for herself. The other mystery that was cleared up was the smoky area: exploring dwarves discovered smoke mephits there, and began the eradication process.

Sithi sat with us and we considered our plans for the immediate future. We asked if we could take the strider bird animals, which Hugo had managed to befriend. She was fine with that – they were the newts’ mounts, not the dwarves’. But we had to make up our minds: do we take those birds and run down the Valley of Lost Honour to Omu, risking the hunt of the red dragon…. or, do we go underground and strike the lair of the red dragon when it doesn’t expect it?

Image result for hrakhamar tomb of annihilation

Hrakhamar, Tomb of Annihilation Campaign Guide

Jungle Romper Stomp: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 12

51 Days to go

With my newfound power I was able to raise two skeletons of the dead Halruaans yesterday, and I raised a third today, and they walked with us through the jungle, slashing the bush out of our way and continuing their unfinished business of exploring the land. We backtracked up to the mountains to avoid zombies. We were somewhat paranoid of our surroundings but we met no undead, only many colourful birds.

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Eblis, Tomb of Annihilation Campaign Guide

50 Days to go

After I woke up the dwarves said that in the night they had seen strange lights outside the camp that were possibly trying to entice them out of the ring of safety. When we went out, we saw the talon scratchings of some giant birds, so I suppose we avoided a bad encounter. We headed south, and eventually ran into carnivorous plants which chowed down on me, Flask and one of the dwarves. Thankfully Hugo called on Chwingas to charm the plants to let us go. But that was not the end of our sufferings. Our camp tonight was disrupted by a stampede of axebeaks. They actually trampled some of us, and my skeletons were broken to pieces, but we were all able to roll out of the way and River dropped a spell to pass without trace before the cause of the stampede came through: a tyrannosaurus rex. So now we are trying to get back to sleep up in the trees, having avoided that.

49 days to go

Nothing much today. Started upwards climb into the mountains. Late start. No encounters.

48 days to go

We noticed volcanic smoke above us, calmly puffing out in a regular pattern. We found our way back down into the valleys, and in one we found some stone houses, one of which was occupied. We called out from outside to alert whoever was inside that we were present. He came out. It was a bald hermit called Balaka who had an odd habit of sticking his tongue out, almost like a snake. He said we could stay the night and share his food. We saw he had little food, only a few raw eggs, so we said we had our own food. We watched him swallow them whole while we ate River’s Goodberries. Dragonbait seemed easy around the guy, and I asked him if there was any problem, and he shrugged.

47 days to go

Nothing happened, though I did notice Balaka slept with his eyes open. So we thanked him and left. He showed us a shortcut and we found ourselves at Hrakhamar. The leader of the survivors, Sithi Vinecutter, told us about the fire newts within, and we went straight in. Our dwarves left us once we entered.

The cavern was filled with scorchmarks and a lake of magma. The heat was terrible. Walking east, we found the corridors too choked with smoke, so we turned back. Walking west, we realised as it went on and on that it must be the highway to Wyrmheart, so we turned back. Still not crossing the bridges over the magma, we found two small caves. In one were two dwarven prisoners who we freed. They had been tortured by the fire newts, and bound and gagged. We freed them and led them out. After that I raised two dead dwarves as zombies to help us, and we crossed the easternmost bridge. We soon found a cavern, within it a forge, with fire newts hard at work.

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Fire newt, Monster Handbook 5e

Friends in Strange Places: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 11

59 days to go

We started the long trek south and east, with Artus heading the navigation with his dagger which acts as a compass. We had some nasty flashbacks when we were under the shadow of Mbala once more. At night, we ran into a band of four albino dwarves. I guessed they had to be Hrakkamar dwarves, and I had their ancestral treasure, so I whipped that out and we were soon fast friends. We told them where we were going and why, and they said they would help us, and maybe get more help for us, if we could come with them and clear out their home of fire newts. They had heard of us defeating the witch of Mbala and so thought we could handle it. We accepted. They also told us about a red dragon to the south of them occupying an older homeland of theirs, but we’ll have to see. Then again, we’d have many ghosts with unfinished business to help us if we went there… if only I can master this spell to call upon the dead that my mistress has been trying to teach me.

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Source: Tomb of Annihilation Campaign Guide

58 days to go

Rain started. Flask noticed some pterafolk above us so we slipped under better cover and lost them.

57 days to go

More rain. We had reached the Ataaz Mahakla, with the help of the dwarves. It was full of beautiful, but dead, coral, and many ancient skeletons of sea beasts of massive size. After lunch we managed to get conned by a bunch of monkeys who distracted us, and their compatriots looted our bags, losing my incense, some food, Flask’s spare dagger, River’s staff, and Hugo’s old holy symbol of Jergal. The dwarves didn’t mind, said it was a tithe to the Chwingas, and Hugo seemed pleased by that.

At night we were attacked by velociraptors. We all still live, but it was a close thing. Two of the dwarves were very nearly torn to shreds, so even with healing they bear many scars, but they are remarkably calm about it. Guess it’s just life around here.

56 days to go

We reached the area on the map where we had seen three peaks from Mbala. We can see where the shipwreck should be now, to the south. Rain persists.

55 days to go

By midday the rain stopped. We came across more travellers, but we hid. A good thing we did, though it was only mere suspicion that made us think that at the time. It was a red wizard of Thay and her companions. I vaguely remembered hearing something about those wizards, but nothing specific.

54 days to go

Left the mountainous area behind for the true jungle.

53 days to go

Ran into a cell of Emerald Enclave agents working in the forest. Their leader was Rosera Sahandi, and once we explained the shipwreck, the dwarves and the death plague she was happy to lead us to the shipwreck site. She also agreed with our worries about the red wizards, saying she had seen another bunch in the area and they couldn’t be up to any good. At night we slept in their safe platforms in the trees.

52 days to go

In the morning Rosera spoke to the birds and they told her where the shipwreck was. It did not take us long to find it. There were six survivors: an explorer called Thasselandra Bravewing, Ra-Das the navigator, Falk the master of arms, and the crewmen Brax, Nahr and Veliod. The ship was broken into three pieces, suspended by high branches, and they were trapped in the stern, wounded and exhausted. They couldn’t leave because of ghouls below the trunk of the main tree, so we dispatched those quickly.

Our dwarves remained below while we climbed up, and the Emerald Enclave left to chase down the fleeing ghouls. We went up to help the survivors, but were set upon by three zombie girallons! Dragonbait started to smell like ham again and took point as Hugo banished them for a time with his turn undead chant. With that, we were able to kill them before they could kill any of us.

Image result for zombie girallon

Source: Tomb of Annihilation Campaign Guide

The Emerald Enclave returned and apologised for not being there for that battle, and said they’d take care of the survivors from here. They were explorers from the magical land of Halruaa, and they gave us their map for helping them. We now know a broad swathe of the lands to the south and east of here from a general viewpoint. And we have Omu pinpointed.

And also, I finally figured out that spell my mistress had me puzzling over. The one to use the useful dead.

(OOC: That’s right, level 5 wizard = level 3 spells = Animate Dead y’all!!)

The current state of our printed and coloured in map

High-up Hi-jinks: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 10

60 Days to go, continued

As we went up the stairs we could smell something like ham and baking bread. It had no connection to what we actually found: a gang of mercs, a man and a lizardman tied up against a massive sarcophagus, and the dead body of a naga – presumably the oracle of Orolunga we had come all this way to find.

The leader of the mercs started talking some generic bad guy stuff. I wasn’t in the mood to listen, until he thanked Flask for leading them here. Turns out, Flask ratted us out to the Zhentarim before we leave Port Nyanzaru. They said they’d pay us to leave, but I stood my ground, so they went to attack us. But suddenly a huge spike of ice surrounded the sarcophagus and then shattered, and from within came an abysmal growl.

We used the opportunity to attack while they were distracted. We dropped our spells as quickly as we could to take down their mage before he got a turn, and focussed on getting them all down as soon as possible. Thankfully they were already hurt from the fight with the naga and these two tied up guys. Flask got conked on the head by Hugo, saw how badly the fight was going for his gang, and hid. While we took the gang out, the two guys tied up got free and found their weapons. Meanwhile, the demon within the sarcophagus rose up, screeching, and used illusions to turn the room into a swamp. Oxomoco and Cipactonal pushed the gang members towards the demon as they fought, trying to create a barrier.

We managed to get all the gang members down but one, but then the demon leaned forward and bit his head off. The man who had been tied up yelled that the demon was not a god, and it could die, so we all attacked. It was down without too much effort, and only Oxomoco fell, but Hugo was able to revive her.

Before the new pair started talking, I went to River and told her to go find her brother and sort out whatever she needed to between them. I told her he could come back, if he was sorry and if he was ready to do our mission and not screw us over for the Zhents again. While she went off, the man introduced himself. His name is Artus Cimber, and his friend, who only speaks through smells, was a Saurian called Dragonbait. I told Artus why we were here, and he was amazed. He had only come to ask the oracle how to get his wife back. She had been in Mezro, the so-called city of illusion, which vanished in the spell plague a hundred years ago (yes, he is over a hundred, but I could tell he was a pretty experienced adventurer with some serious magical gear). The oracle told him the fate of the world relied on him going to the city of Omu. He found that weird, but before he could ask for more, the Zhents attacked.

Image result for artus cimber 5e

Artus Cimber, from the Tomb of Annihilation adventure book

Since it’s the last thing the oracle ever said, I guess we have no choice but to go with Artus and Dragonbait. It seems like the fate of the world the oracle spoke of could be our quest. Artus is fairly sure the city is between the Valley of Lost Honour and the Peaks of Flame, far to the south, and that it is the city of the snakemen and his enemy Ras Nsi, a yuanti warlord. They fought over a century ago, and Artus thought he was dead. He was the reason so many undead were still to be found in the jungle of Chult. In order to find Omu, we’d need to be high up, so I suggested we see if we could find the ruins of a skyship we’d seen from Mezro, halfway between here and where Omu had to be.

River and Flask came back and said they’d help us, but Oxomoco and Cipactonal said their journey with us was over. I could see them eyeing up the huge piles of treasure the demon had around its sarcophagus, but since we have no way of taking that stuff, we might as well let them enjoy it. So we’re leaving this gods forsaken ziggurat finally, and I can’t say I’ll miss those two ancients much, especially compared to my new party members.

(Out of Character note: All the ice effect stuff is Artus’s Ring of Winter which he keeps secret from the characters, so I know about it but Priscilla doesn’t. He was the reason that tree in the jungle was frozen, back in Part 2)

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Dragonbait

Rock and Roll: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 9

61 days to go

Well.

The day started off (is it day? Can’t tell down here) with me trying to teach our new friends Oxomoco and Cipcatonal some common language words so we could be a team. It wasn’t looking particularly hopeful.

We snuck through a room of beetles nesting without disturbing them. Off of that room was one with a pressure plate trap. I sent Oz flying forward and he found it just looped back around a way we’d already been, so we went through the beetles again to another set of doors. This one led to a massive staircase. Up we went, and when we finally got one flight from the top, a millstone began falling toward us. All but Inete managed to step out of the way. She, and the corpse of Eeyal, were completely squished.

Image result for indiana jones boulder

Source: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

We didn’t have time to stop and think as the beetles’ nests were disturbed by the stone and they can charging out. We ran until we entered a vault with doors we could shut. In there we found charred remains and stone baboons. What looked like a small beholder started floating towards us. We prepared for battle and I sent a spell flying at its many-eyed head. That exploded it into a fine mist of spores. Thankfully we were far enough to avoid breathing whatever those were in, and we walked around and out, finding as we walked a sack with seven silver beads within.

A few rooms later, we found a door proclaiming that entrants would have to face the challenge of Pelota. Oxo and Cipac started laughing. It was a sports arena. We thought it might be a good place to get an easy shortcut, and we weren’t entirely wrong. We found skeletons and old trophies, and the ball for the game. As soon as we touched it, it whipped into the air, flew off, and sat there as if trying to entice us to follow. So we did. We found ourselves playing against it, trying to score goals with it against one wall while it dodged and weaved between us, aiming for the opposite wall. We beat it easily, and in reward we got a whole heap of pearls, a topaz and shell necklace which Cipac immediately grabbed for himself, and a strange whistle made of bone, which I took. Little did I realise, it made me fly when I blew it!

We continued through more and more ruined rooms. In one, a cat-themed room, we were attacked by a man-tiger who bit Cipac. He has felt well since. We found a very dusty room, and illusions tried to intimidate us into stopping, but we continued forward. We came into one very large room with baboons in it and shafts of sunlight coming down from far too high away for us to reach. We hurried across, but we were attacked by a huge two-headed snake! The baboons came to try and attack us after we killed it, but Hugo called on the power of the Chwingas to stop them, and we got away.

We encountered another large staircase and were understandably wary. At the top the trap we triggered was a giant dragon statue which breathed steam on us and made us tumble back. Flask managed to run clear of it and then trigger the sensors from behind. Having worked out their position, we threw objects past the sensor til it ran out of steam, and went up without any further pain.

In one of the next rooms we saw an illusion of treasure, but investigation proved it to be yellow mold, which we dispersed with fire. We found a crawl space so we sent Oz through, but I saw through his eyes as he got transfixed by a magic mirror. A feathered warrior emerged from it and killed him. I simply summoned him again.

We found a room showing dioramas of Mictlan, the land of the dead, and we stuck to the path there. In the next room was a thing called a gibbering mouther. It did a lot of damage to us but we defeated it, and found in the same room a warlock’s rod, and the heart of a yuan-ti. I had read that I could get magical powers if I ate one, so I did, and found I suddenly could speak and understand yuanti and the tongue of lowly serpents. We decided to take a rest, for we were quite hurt.

Gibbering Mouther, Monster Manual 5e

60 days to go

During the night, Cipac and Oxo had taken turns on watch, and claimed to have fended bats off in the night. Backtracking to the Mictlan room we found a chute going up and I sent Oz through again, but yet again something killed him. After summoning him back, we went up ourselves and ended up in a fight with a giant spider in the darkness. It was only as big as a man’s head though. We got all the way up and found a room of fountains. There a water snake thing attacked us, but we killed it. We found a platinum key and chain under the body of a dead crayfish.

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Water Weird, Monster Manual 5e

On the next level we met a mummified centaur. Hugo used the power of Chwingas to scare it away from us and we ran past it through more chambers. We foolishly opened a trap door which let forth a blast of wind which never stopped. We had to crawl through the room to stop being blown away, and the centaur caught up with us as we got further down the corridor. We kept shooting it, but it wasn’t until I sent fire its way as it caught up to us that it died.

 

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Mummy Centaur, Tomb of Annihilation Campaign Guide

We found a room with a staircase leading up, but the ceiling above was shut. We saw a wheel and lever, so I got everyone to stand over on the stairs while I played with those. Good thing I did, because the floor opened up, except for where I was standing. But it opened the ceiling door too. I just used the bone whistle to get back over to the stairs, and we made our ascent to what I hope is the last level of this ziggurat.