We start inside the Hidden Shrine of Tamaochan with a scene of my own design and then a few things happen while they get out temporarily.
- 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
- Vorn, Shield Guardian, found masterless beside a gaping hole in the ground
Psychic Cyclops. Psyclops?
After a well-earned rest outside the PCs got right back to exploring the ancient ziggurat. They went to a room they had passed the first time, in the second tier (1). The bronze door had a strange engraving on it, a couatl and a cyclops locked in a fierce struggle. Rufb pushed the heavy door and, to his surprise, found himself in the middle of the jungle in front of the very same cyclop warrior, now coming wildly at him with a greataxe! That was all in his head, of course, but the imaginary combat was taking a very real toll on him. Shin ignored his companion’s plight and went straight into the room and got into troubles of his own as a set of giant antique armor assaulted him. Meanwhile, Flyzus was at a loss as to what he could do to save Rufb, as smacking the Half-Orc behind the head did not look like it helped that much… Finally, with scrambled brains and bleeding nose, Rufb managed to overcome the psychic invasion by himself and the three defeated the helmed horror together. This activated some kind of magic from the (avenged) crystal couatl statue that was in the middle of the dais, as they were rewarded a Tray of the Ages (2).
Terror from Above
Nrak, the Firefinger’s ertswhile pterafolk leader, had apparently found a way to track down Flyzus in a vain attempt to avenge himself for the attack on his lair. One of his underling let drop something in the middle of the ruined temple where the PCs were resting. The package, wrapped in leaves, exploded as it touched the floor, releasing some kind of poisonous pollen. Other pterafolks then dived and hurled javelins at the PCs, some blocked by the Shield Guardian. Mostly unfazed by the surprise attack, the adventurers responded with projectiles of their own. The Tabaxi Arcane Archer, as always, was utterly deadly with his bow, but the decisive blow was delivered by Flyzus as he hurled back a javelin, powered with an ensnaring strike, that sent Nrak crashing to the ground to his death (3). The few surviving pterafolks had had enough and flew away.
A Sticky Situation (4)
A few hours after the doomed pterafolk attack, the Ranger could see a giant spider coming their way. Using his hat of the spider the Tabaxi had a quick conversation with it, he learned that the giant spider was upset about being followed and, uh, aggressively courted… Said courter arrived a moment later, it was Mister Sticky the ettercap, who had lost his precious Darling at the hand of the party a while ago. Mister Sticky pleaded to give crucial information if only the PCs stopped besmirching him in front of this « magnificient specimen » of a spider. And so the party learned that members of the Pick & Axe co were on their way towards Tamaochan. The PCs accepted to pay the Ettercap to learn more:
- P&A group is made up of seasoned, armored and very sweaty dwarves
- they have an ankylosaurus
- the leader have a flying imp-monkey (the PCs had spotted it flying around their camp earlier)
- they are armed to the teeth, all have crossbows
- they are half a day’s walk from Tamaochan
Another Way In
As the previous foray in the shrine had proved almost fatal for Rufb, the PCs sought a way to get the mighty (and large) Vorn in the lower tiers with them. They resolved the matter using a scroll of shape stone on a part of the cliff that connected to a room below the ziggurat. The magic scroll enlarged a small hole already there, but getting inside, the party disturbed a family of stone-skinned zorbos. The PCs dispatched the cute but ferocious beasts and had another go at exploring the ancient ruins.
- I’ve kept the couatl, phantasmal force and helmed horror but changed about everything else in this room
- The original treasure is a Balance of Harmony but an item to detect good and evil is rather useless in my game. The Tray of Ages (homebrewed) is me being generous, as the PCs can cast identify as a ritual with it, so they don’t have to wait to be in town (like in 3 sessions) to know what their items do.
- Being a large creature, Nrak had advantage on his str save to resist the ensnaring strike and still failed!
- That part was, hmm, maybe a little too much on the silly side…