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

Day 38, continued

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

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

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Su-monster, 5th edition

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

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

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Yuanti, 5th edition

 

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 He told us of the nine gods of Omu, animalistic gods that superseded worship of Ubtao.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

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

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Orvex, Tomb of Annihilation

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

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

43 days to go, continued

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

41 days to go

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

40 days to go

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

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Red Dragon, 5th Edition

39 days to go

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

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

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

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Salamander, 5th Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

38 days to go

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

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Map of Omu, Tomb of Annihilation

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

44 days to go

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

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

43 days to go

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

Phase spider, D&D 5e

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

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

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

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

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

Kobold, D&D 5e

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

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

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

OOC Notes:

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

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

Flaming Pyramids now open on Kickstarter!

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

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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?

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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.

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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