This week, adventurers found themselves once again assisting the townsfolk of Red Larch as the Elemental Evil storyline moved forward for the new season of Adventurers League. Encounters happens each Wednesday night at gaming stores across the country (around the globe?), and my seat is currently DM Chair #4 at Titan Games & Comics in Smyrna, Georgia. We had a full house last night (April 1), with four tables, four DMs, and twenty-four players, and I finally had a chance to use some of the Dwarven Forge dungeon pieces I backed on Kickstarter a while back … more on that at the end of the post.
Right now, players are running level 1 characters, but last night most of my players received enough XP to level up BUT … leveling up requires a long rest, and they won’t be getting one of those anytime soon. But I’m getting ahead of myself; you need to know what happened in tonight’s adventure.
Session 3 — The Haunted Tomb. With a title like that, I had to come up with something a little more involved than what was provided in the DM handout. The basic adventure provided to DMs allowed for a two-room tomb and a couple of encounters, but I wanted to give my players something special — they’re rooting around in an unknown tomb, the final resting place of someone who’d never done them a disservice, so come on … don’t they deserve any harsh punishments that come their way?
I had the same group of players from last week:
Tom, Goliath Barbarian
Krieger, Deep Gnome Barbarian (seriously)
Stormwind, Half-Elf Bard
Tsunami, Water Genasi Monk
Thord, Goliath Monk
Donovan, Human Cleric
Besides an obvious lack of a wizard, would you head into a strange tomb without a rogue? Me, neither. To give the group credit, they do have a cleric. In my world, strange tombs go hand-in-hand with the need of a cleric. <insert evil laugh here>
It all started rather innocently — the players were enjoying a morning meal when the crying of a young girl could be heard outside. The players rushed outside (well, not Tom) and found a number of townsfolk surrounding a hysterical girl. The constable arrived, called her Pell, and asked her to calm down and explain what had happened. Apparently a chicken had escaped the coop and she had chased after it, leaving the town and heading into the surrounding hills. The hills contain a number of caves that also have served the town as burial spots, and into the cave that chicken went. When Pell entered the cave, she heard a loud growl followed by “come here, child” and ran back to town. Without the chicken.
The town all turned to look at the newly arrived adventurers who had just taken care of the bandit menace — would they be willing to investigate this tomb? Of course! It’s a spooky tomb!
The constable escorted the group (along with Pell) to the hills and the players were able to spot Pell’s footprints. The constable told the adventurers he’d take Pell home and left the group to proceed in the direction of a small open cave entrance. The entrance wasn’t wide enough for side-by-side, so the players ordered themselves with Krieger (Gnome) in front followed by Tom (Goliath). They could see a closed door 30 feet into the tunnel, so in they went …
Fortunately for Krieger, he wasn’t heavy enough to trigger the pressure plate trap twenty feet into the tunnel. Tom was successful, though! Four players were within the poison gas trap’s range, and two of them failed their Constitution save and took some light damage — the poison was old and had lost much of its toxicity.
Traps: 1 Players: 0
Torches lit, the players entered a large tomb. A small stairs in the center of the room led up to a large stone sarcophagus. Four pillars surrounded the plain box. Tom circled to the right, cautious, and proceeded to partially open the lid. A glowing mist began to spin above the sarcophagus, and an ghostly apparition of an armored man with a sword appeared. He spoke to the group plainly — he died guarding his master’s tomb and would continue to guard it after death — “turn and leave now.” Which they did not do … except for Tsunami, who actually turned and left the room for the entry hallway.
Tom was the first to experience the Specter’s Life Drain. He made his save so only took half damage, and being a Goliath allowed him to use his special ability to shrug off some of the damage. Still, it reduced his maximum HP until a Long Rest.
The Specter floated above the sarcophagus, so Krieger rushed up the stairs to strike. Unfortunately, he didn’t check the steps for a trap … and two spikes pierced his feet for some poison damage.
Traps: 2 Players: 0
Meanwhile, two unseen skeletons (controlled by the Specter) came from behind the two rear columns. Thord also got hit with the Life Drain, but also being a Goliath allowed him to dodge some of the HP loss but still lowered his max HP. During the fight, the group lost Thord. He went down fighting. Stormwind was able to stabilize him after the skeletons and Specter were destroyed, and Thord had earlier purchased the town’s ONLY healing potion that brought him back up a bit.
Krieger took a look inside the sarcophagus and spotted a skeleton, a short sword, and two small bags. In he dropped … onto another pressure plate. Stormwind, Donovan, and Tom were all inside the perimeter of the four columns and heard four loud pops. Donovan and Tom failed the Dexterity saves and were both hit by the heavy bolts fired from the columns. Krieger found two small bags, but decided to only inform his fellow players about the one with 30 gold inside. He gave the sword to Stormwind but hid the other bag with four very quiet gems worth 10 gold each before exiting the sarcophagus. (Probably the right decision since 40 gold coins don’t divide evenly by 6, and, honestly, who wants to deal with the squabbling?)
Traps: 3 Players: 0
Once things had calmed down, the players began examining the room in more detail. Krieger was able to discern that there was something unusual about the rear wall. A closer examination revealed a false wall — Tom and Thord (both Goliaths) asked if they could knock the wall down with the lid of the sarcophagus. Sure! 1 … 2 … 3 …. BOOM! Down comes the wall … along with part of the ceiling that released two large boulders. Thord failed his Dexterity save and took some damage.
Traps: 4 Players: 0
The destroyed wall revealed another (smaller) room with yet another sarcophagus. This one had a nice circular stairs that led up to the top. By this point, the players were being a bit cautious. They examined the stairs … no trap. Lid … not trapped. Two columns … no traps or skeleton. Once again, Tom pushed against the lid. The Flying Sword popped out and immediately attacked Tom. The Flying Sword was hard to hit (AC17) but the players slowly started whittling it down. Tsunami decided to get into the fight this time and launched a dart at the sword – with Krieger standing on top of the lid nearby. Rolled a 1. Oops. But rolled a 17 and delivered some nice dart damage to Krieger. Thord got into the fight, but being low on HP he didn’t last long. Down he went again. Donovan (cleric) was able to cast a healing (touch) on Thord, but exposed himself to an attack. Ultimately, however, the players defeated the sword, and Krieger looked inside the sarcophagus. A skeleton wearing a nice shiny ring with another (larger) bag beside him.
Krieger really wanted that ring, so when he failed to remove it carefully, a rumbling sound could be heard overhead.
Traps: 5 Players: 0
Stone debris began to rain down. The adventurers ran for the exit, but every turn I made them roll a Dexterity save. Krieger was knocked down but Thord picked him up and carried him out. A few players took some minor damage from falling debris, but they all managed to escape the two tombs before a complete collapse of the ceiling. As they left the cave entrance, a clucking sound was heard. I gave all the players a chance to catch the chicken. Stormwind rolled over a 20 and returned with the rest of his team to Red Larch where they returned the chicken. Mission accomplished.
Players: 1 Chicken: 0
A lot of life lessons were hopefully learned this week. Tombs are not safe places to explore. Rogues are handy if you can find one to join your party. When a Specter tells you to leave, you leave. Search the area for live chickens first before entering a cave.
I hope my players had fun. I had fun running this mini-adventure. I have a small collection of Dwarven Forge components for assembling rooms that was perfect for tonight’s event, and it sure made for a nice change of pace from using 1″ grid paper. I’m also including a screenshot of the cheat sheet I used below in case anyone wants to run this little tomb raid and needs notes on the various traps (the stairs traps was added after I printed the sheet — Dexterity DC13 Save or take 1d4 poison damage — and the Goblins and Half-Ogre enemies were missed due to rushing in and not exploring surrounding area).
Next week: Session 4! See you then …