Disclaimer: This play report is my own take on The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (the 5e version from TofYP). Lots of spoilers below but it’s not a “standard” playthrough of this classic module by any margin. First of all, I didn’t make them fall into the dungeon as is supposed to happen if you play as intended. And at the end, they meet Zotzilaha, which also isn’t included in the module… That’s the two big things, the remainder of my changes are more esthetic in nature.
- Shin (level 4), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
- Flyzus (level 5), Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
- Rufb (level 5), Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory
Ziggurat’s Middle Tier
Map Room (1)
The PCs got out of the vertical shaft and landed inside a large room. The tiled floor was in fact one big mosaic that showed a detailed map of the Chult Peninsula, divided in 5 distinct areas (West Valley of Mist, Central Bleak Marshes, South Peaks of Flame, East Black Jungles, South-East Great Plains) with dotted features that revealed many secrets. An incredible find for explorers but, unfortunately, dust hid most of it and taking a closer look proved a difficult task as the entire room had all kind of magic weirdness/traps. Shin had the odd idea to use a Swarm of Spiders to remove the dust and it did part of the job until the spiders got in the “Great Plains” area and refused to leave the place (2).
A door in the map room opened on a small room with a few items lying on stone shelves in the back (a dried heart amongst them). In the middle of the room was a big pile of dirt, or it looked like it before eyes and mouths started popping open everywhere! The adventurers evaded disgusting spittle attacks and killed the aberration before looting the place.
Ooze the fairest?
Exiting the map room, the PCs weren’t fooled into taking a suspicious-looking pile of gold coins heaped at the far side of the corridor. They did found a secret door that led to a room with mirrors with no other doors. Rufb looked into one mirror, his reflection kind of misty, and an Ochre Jelly detached itself (revealing an opening behind) and attacked him! The Barbarian was even more surprised when his powerful axe stroke split the jelly monster into two perfectly functionning smaller ones. The Tabaxi resolved the conundrum with a well-placed explosive arrow that sent jelly matter everywhere! Flyzus, wiping away jelly from his face, dared looked into another mirror and was disturbed by a vision of his own death as his reflection was assaulted by some horrific wasp-like monster that pierced his face with a large sting.
The PCs had enough of the room and cautiously entered the secret passage. This led to a smaller lozenge-shaped room with a strange statue of an octopus, with a large red stone on its forehead. Seeing the glyphs on the statue and its creepy appearance was enough to send the PCs back to another part of the dungeon.
They found a stairway going deeper into the ziggurat but they activated a complex trap: a stone statue of a dragon let out a gust of steam on them but fortunately the 3 adventurers managed to evade most of it, were only lightly burned, and they dashed forward before the next gust.
Ziggurat’s Lower Tier
In a large room (6) full of rubbles, Shin found some valuables and a short sword, with a crocodile etched on the serrated blade, that he later gave to Flyzus.
The PCs got across a long corridor with only corroded metal bars to cross over a pit with spikes (3) at the bottom. Rufb’s axe was a lot more efficient against next room’s guardian, a magic statue made of wood (4). A powerful axe’s blow chopped it in two and that was it (5).
On the far wall, a huge stone visage looked like some kind of secret entrance. Careful inspection revealed a keyhole in one eye. The platinum key they had found earlier fitted perfectly and opened a door inside the mouth.
Vandalism & Tomb-robbing
Rufb opened a set of double doors, breaking a seal made of gold in the process, this triggered a trap: 5 heavy crossbows shot at him but only one bolt actually hit the Half-Orc. Next room was the most impressive area discovered to date, lavishly decorated, with all sort of unusual features, the most outstanding being probably the copper coffin put on a dragon-shaped raft.
Pyramid replicas, lots of urns, the copper coffin, terracotta warriors; the room was chock-full with things to meddle with. Of course, by now the PCs were a little wary of traps and other hazards. Flyzus, in particular, as since he was wounded by the Crocodile Mummy he couldn’t be healed by any means, not even with magic (7).
Rufb didn’t like the look of the terracotta warriors and decided to bring them, one by one, and thrash the whole lot at the bottom of the spiked pit they had crossed earlier (8). This demanded considerable efforts and it also attracted a Swarm of Bats that delivered a few painful bites.
But afterward Rufb finally felt more secure and inspected the pyramids. Those were in fact chests, the top could be removed. Some were trapped but, proceeding carefully (9), he managed to loot a substantial treasure all in all.
As for the coffin…
None of the PCs could read the writings… Dire warnings? All they could guess was that some kind of high priest, most likely from Zotzilaha’s cult, had been laid to eternal rest there. They removed the coffin’s lid and inside was a desiccated corpse, in full regalia, and many unusual items carefully laid around it.
The defilers weren’t that surprised when the priest’s corpse reacted to their avidity, sitting straight and regaining some semblance of life by the second. They also understood right away the urgency to slay the thing before it was fully in combat shape and gave their all. With the Ranger and Barbarian slashing and hacking and the Arcane Archer shooting powerful magic arrows, the Vampire Spawn barely had the time to take his frightful form before vanishing from the surface of the world, this time, forever?
Near dead himself, Flyzus, in desperation, resolved to drink an unidentified potion found with the priest. It turned out very well for him as he felt liberated from the atrocious mummy’s rotting curse/disease (10).
That monster on the cover of the MM?
In another part of the dungeon, the PCs opened a door and saw something spherical, with many appendices on top, floating 2′ from the floor. An arrow from Shin made the Gas Spore explode, freeing its spores in the room. The PCs waited for the spores to deposit on the floor before going through.
Even further in the complex, the air was more intensely acrid than before. The PCs had several set of stairs in front when they activated a trap: a huge rolling stone threatened to crush them! Fortunately, the 3 PCs are formidable athletes (if very bad at deciphering things!) and they all managed to evade the incoming rolling stone. It finished its course on the far side of the corridor, breaking through double doors with incredible ruckus… This stirred up some local residents, fire beetles, easily dispatched by the adventurers.
- I’m rather happy with the stuff I added as the original room, as designed, was entirely pointless…
- Nonetheless, this revealed many locations on the map, options for future expeditions!
- Shin got across and earned an inspiration point by… not caring how fared his companions (his flaw)!
- Wood Woad. I didn’t care much for the petrified werejaguar that turns to flesh (for reason) as soon as the PCs touched something
- With a critical hit from Rufb, nice!
- Removed the encounter there to soften the dungeon a little.
- That meant assured death in a few days if he couldn’t find a solution. Pressure!
- Funny, as it wasn’t a threat at all and just fluff!
- Or one time, by just throwing a big rock inside. That did the job but damaged the goods.
- He was lucky that it was an Elixir of Health!