Level Four of the Tomb: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 24

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!

24 days to go continued

As we went down to the fourth floor, we could see the ground below, with a trap door set between some statues. Bone dust and stray bones lay everywhere. We found the plaque for this floor, and it said: Death to fire, dine or drown, precious air, falling sand; The army sleeps in silence; The mirror holds twelve; Find the iron sceptre’s twin; The maze holds the key. We backtracked to the secret staff corridor to see what was hidden that way.

That way, we found a vaulted chamber. On the other side of the room from us was a throne of bone and skin, with an iron sceptre sitting on top of it. In a pit below us, three undead with all their eyes and mouths sewn shut were painting the walls with events that had happened. We spotted what we thought was Lord Brixton of the Yellow Banners on the mural, dying in some form of poison trap. Heading out of there through the next door, we triggered the trap that we could have disabled if we had gone the other way, which was two secret doors opening and disgorging a few ghasts. Since they were now between us and the pit, we thought we had a clever idea, and we used turn undead to make the ghasts run into the pit. Then we fireballed the pit. That turned out to be a mistake, and at the incineration of the three painters, a zombie dinosaur rose from the dirt of the pit. It was hard to fight with it eating my zombies and seeing them slide back out of its holey stomach, but we made it. One of my remaining zombies carried out the iron sceptre from the throne, and nothing happened when it picked it up.

Further down the corridor, before it met up again with the central chamber, another corridor split off to the north. Within was a dark chamber. There was a chest in the middle of the corridor, which we opened. As soon as we did, a boulder dropped behind us and started rolling down at us. Hugo quickly cast Wind Wall to slow it down, and Fionn cast a reduction spell. With the boulder diminished, we were able to roll it up the corridor again and down into the pit with all the zombie corpses. Coming back, we found an invisible key inside the chest. Heading into the chamber, my zombies triggered the second half of the trap: a pit just in front of the door. We took in the large chamber beyond while Fionn crafted a bridge over the pit from large scraps of metal from the forge.

Before us was another tomb, a crystal sarcophagus within, constantly changing colours. On the wall facing us was a huge painted maze. Going over Fionn’s bridge, we climbed the stairs to the balcony to reach the maze painting, walking past painted minotaur guards. While Orvex and I started to copy down the maze, Flask touched it, and vanished. Ten minotaur guards suddenly popped out of the walls from secret doors. After dispatching them, we decided to try and get in the maze and help Flask.

It turned out to be a foolhardy idea: we were all separated, and my undead army were not able to follow us in. Instead, I could see them above me, giant, with the rest of the room behind them. I ordered them to assign themselves each to a different one of us, and try to guide us out of the maze, since we could see them pointing. However, the maze shifted around me, and the others, stopping the zombies’ simple intellects from being able to help us.

Later, when we were all safely out, I was able to get the following information from the others. Fionn saw the skeletal remains of a child, and then ran into a minotaur. She attacked, but overwhelmed, decided to try the jumping spell to get out. It actually worked! Flask found a purple crystal key, and by taking it, vanished from the maze and returned to the big room. Copper Bell found a red crystal key and the same thing happened to her. Orvex found a gold key and the same happened to him.

As for me, meanwhile, I saw a figure ahead of me down the hedge corridor. It was Zagmira! Turns out she was the last of the red wizard party, and she was trapped in here too. Minotaurs started to come towards us, and the others outside the maze told the zombies to try squishing them with their fingers. It actually worked! So they tried something else: letting us climb out on the zombies’ fingers. That worked too. It was a great relief to be out of there.

We turned to the sarcophagus and watched its changing colours. As soon as it turned gold, Orvex thrust his gold key in and unlocked it. It was full of salt, but when we dug in the salt we found jewelled bracelets, and a cloak of scintillating colours. Zagmira took and wore this, and was filled with the spirit of Unkh. We took a short break to gather ourselves, and Zagmira told me she wanted to help destroy the Soulmonger, so long as she could keep the pieces of it in the end. I said yes, thinking it would still be bad to start conflict with a member of the Red Wizards, but in my heart I hoped I’d have the opportunity to destroy the thing so thoroughly that there would be nothing left for her to take.

Moving on, down more corridors, we came to a room with something glinting inside. We sent my undead in first to look, and suddenly some of my zombies and skeletons vanished, replaced by a drow, a minotaur, and some other shadowy figure. It was a mirror. I shouted at the others not to look in it, guessing at what had happened to part of my army. Then the newcomers attacked. The drow dropped a Cloudkill spell, and we all started choking and blacking out… until the figure in the shadows leapt out and punched him, dropping the spell. It was another tabaxi. The fight was quickly over, and we talked to her (though we covered the mirror first so none of us would look in there). Her name was Ninya, and she had come down here with an adventuring party as soon as she realised what was happening with resurrection magic. Her best friend was slowly dying, and Ninya was not going to let that happen. But all of her party had been killed already, and she got trapped in here. We offered her a place with us, and it turns out, she already has the soul of Shagambi! So our collection is now complete, with all nine gods.

Fionn figured out that the mirror was a soul stealing mirror, but before trying to figure it out, we decided to rest, as we were fairly hurt. When I told Zagmira about losing Oz to the strange loop, she looked disgusted at me, and couldn’t believe that I didn’t have the right spell prepared to get him out of there. So we popped back up briefly and she dispelled the strange enchantment long enough for me to get Oz back. He was not very impressed with me, but at least he’s back.

Out of Character note: It’s Ninya!!! Yay, crossover!! But it makes total sense that she would be here, trying to save Genora’s life (or second life!)

23 days to go continued

Fionn kept examining the mirror, and found that it had words for activation and/or release, we just needed to find them. Then Orvex realised there were two words in the back of Withers’ journal that we hadn’t gleaned the purpose of yet: ‘komarah’ and ‘blackfire’. So we tried these. We managed to free an ancient Omuan trapped inside the mirror. We struggled to communicate with him and calm him, until Hugo, with help from a chwinga, managed to soothe him. We managed to get my zombies and skeletons out, but also a few things we had to fight, like a troll, an invisible stalker, a gargoyle and a stirge. We also recovered Biff the Doppelganger, who had been travelling with the Yellow Banner. We took him and the Omuan up to a safer level, revisiting them to check they would be okay and have enough food every now and again. Fionn destroyed the mirror.

We came to a door with a figure with a hand extended. The trick was to high-five the figure, and the door opened. Within was a section of corridor shaped like a figure eight, with one of the key-skull skeletons, this one being hexagonal. Also in the room was another door similar to the one we’d come in via, which made us suspicious, as they seemed the sort of doors that would slam shut. So we wedged furniture in the doors before exploring further. In the middle part of the figure eight was a pedestal with a magic black opal crown. Orvex managed to make out that it belonged to Archmage Sadimar of Netheryl, who had tried to destroy the world somehow. At the far end of the figure eight from where we entered was a jade devil’s face on the wall, mouth open into complete darkness. Words seemed to come out of that mouth, threatening doom and oblivion. I got a skeleton to stick an arm in, and the arm just vanished. We all left the room except Oz and a couple of skeletons, and I got them to try picking up the crown. The doors slammed shut, or at least tried to with the furniture stuck in them. Through Oz’s eyes I could see four ghostly forms emerge from the devil’s mouth, and kill the skeletons and Oz. They did not try and come for us though, and when I resummoned Oz and opened the doors again, the crown was where it had been. We decided to just leave it.

Ninya showed us the room, or series of rooms on this level where she got Shagambi. It was an intense obstacle course, that Ninya showed us through at my insistence, with lava on the floor, and moments where we couldn’t breathe… but we got through, and saw a terracotta army – the one I guessed was spoken of in the riddle, so we walked past silently. We realised we had left something unfinished on his floor according to the riddle, something about the iron sceptre’s twin. After searching, we finally found it off of the room we found the sceptre in. There was a sun in the middle of the room smiling at us. When we covered it with a blanket, it frowned. Otherwise, it seemed harmless. Within the room was a sarcophagus, that said it held Nepaka, Nepartak’s grandmother. We opened it and found the twin sceptre. We took it, and it had inscribed on it that it was enchanted to destroy Nepaka (but oddly, not this Nepaka… weird). We also found a jade crocodile shaped key in a jewellery box.

Going to the centre of the level, we finally confronted the four gargoyles. We tried to figure out if they were linked to the elements, or what. We noticed they had different slots in front of them, shaped differently, and they were made each of a different metal. We kicked ourselves when we realised the metals were the same as the common currency. We put each type of coin in the appropriate slot, and the trap door opened. We could hear the ominous click of machinery below us…

100% funded less than 24 hours in

Hi Sky Bear fans,

We made it to our goal in less than 24 hours over on our Kickstarter for Prince of Cats. Thanks so much to those of your who backed us and spread the word! This went beyond my wildest dreams. I really didn’t expect such a rush of excitement for the game.

If you head on over there, you can check out the ideas we’re considering for stretch goals, and join in on our community play through of the game on Facebook.

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Prince of Cats – Now Live on Kickstarter… and a Project they Love!!

It’s time!

Get in quick for the limited spaces for unique art of yourself and/or your cat. Or just get the game at a cheaper price than what it will be when it comes out.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skybeargames/prince-of-cats-a-shakespearean-fairy-tale-visual-n

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Also we are totally stoked to be featured as one of Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love”!

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Prince of Cats Kickstarter goes live tomorrow!

Hi loyal Sky Bear fans,

I don’t much like tooting my own horn much, so it might come as a surprise to you to know I’ve been working on a computer game since 2015. I like to keep things quiet until I actually have something to show for my work.

Tomorrow I launch the Kickstarter for my game Prince of Cats. It’s about a faerie from the Court of the Cat Prince, who has to find her master who is lost in the mortal world. While there, she sees a lot of familiar characters from the plays of Shakespeare. It’s in the visual novel/life sim genre, and has many different endings and achievements to unlock.

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The game was actually mostly finished in 2015, but being a poor student at the time, I didn’t have the budget for the artwork I really wanted. Now, working in the IT industry and in a better position, I have been paying the wonderful Jade du Preez of Forrest Creative and she’s been making the game beautiful for the last five months (yes, the same artist we used for Cat Capers!). Also my brother Brent Ahuriri, who created the music for my award-nominated play Dracula, is steadily working away at the soundtrack for the game.

I’m super thrilled to be bringing this game out finally. It will be finished, whether the Kickstarter is successful or not, it will just take a bit longer if we don’t get the funding. But this is your chance to get the game really cheap ($10NZD), or to get some of the nice bonuses, like your cat in the background artwork, or even your face for one of the characters!

I’ll make a new post tomorrow with the Kickstarter link once we’ve launched, but for now, please Like the page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/princeofcatsgame and you’ll get to see lots of new art as I update it.

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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