Session 18b – Caves of Decay

Past the rock-cut portico and its adjacent rooms, a narrow passage led to a damp and glittering cave (1). Water drips from above, and the stench… The awful stench! The PCs already know that somewhere inside lies the Sting of Decay, a spirit of corruption whose very existence was aimed at striking terror into the hearts of the unfaithfuls…

Characters:

  • Shin (level 5), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness; Shield Guardian Vorn in tow
  • Kalohan (level 4>>5), High Elf Wizard (Evoker), Inheritor; noble Elf, ill-suited for adventuring life
  • Leon (level 3>>4), Human Monk (Way of Shadow), Outlander; long dead hunter whose tribe worshipped Zotzilaha, has been reincarnated due to recent events
  • Anfi (level 3), Locathah Fighter (Eldritch Knight), Outlander; medicinal herbs collector, wants to see how is life above water; Muck Dweller companion in tow

Let there be Light!

Let’s try to be discreet, they said, as they walked down a narrow slope, surrounded by shadows created by Leon. And then they spotted a dozen Dirges hanging from the large cave’s ceiling.

Kalohan: “Burning Hands!”

So much for discretion. This, of course, attracted the attention of the main denizens of the caves…

Troglodytes

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An ambush! The awful stench now overwhelming, from left and right horrible Troglodytes hurled javelins at them. At the same time, in the front, a fearsome Champion of Laogzed led a Subterranean Lizard by a leash.

Shin let fly of an explosive arrow at the 2 more dangerous foes, softening them up, while Kalohan put to sleep most of the javelin hurlers. Things got a little more tense when the Subterranean Lizard swallowed whole the poor Locathah but his companions could rescue him in time and kill the beast.

The Champion of Laogzed fled the scene but only, they soon discovered, to get backup and prepare another ambush… The PCs did see it coming though. Despite the presence of a Shaman, the Troglodytes were defeated and there were no survivors this time.

Shin and Kalohan had exhausted much of their magical ressources while Leon and Anfi were quite battered by now, so the PCs chose to retreat closer to the entrance and take a short rest before going further in the caves.

Slithering Disturbance

Unfortunately, just as they prepared to rest, two Gricks attacked them (2). Kalohan roasted one with a well-place lightning bolt from her wand. The other tried to flee but was hacked to pieces before it could.

Dead Dwarves

On the move again the PCs got into room where two dead Albino Dwarves had been left  to rot. A disgusting layer of fungus covered their corpses. One still held a sinister-looking Warclub. Shin sent the Shield-Guardian to seize the impressive weapon.

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Friendly Stalagmite

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“Don’t you want to be friends with me?”

Now back in the vast cavern where they had defeated the second wave of Troglodyte, the PCs saw that the corpses of their slain foes were now missing. There were traces of more creatures moving around but those had took measures to mislead tracking. As the PCs wondered what to do next, something whispered at them: a Roper! The dreadful creature asked them to approach…

“No way!” they all said. Except overly curious Anfi.

“Come closer”, the Roper said… “I’ll tell you a secret… But first, bring me tasty, juicy meat!”

Anfi had the idea to bring back the dead Gricks and the Roper seemed quite  happy with the meal. It even upheld its part of the bargain and told the PCs about the hidden lair.

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Behind the Mud Door

More Troglodytes, ready to fend off the invaders. This time they had an Otyugh. Another shaman lobed spells from the back. Anfi almost died from the continuing damage of a Witch Bolt and Leon was severely wounded by the huge tentacled beast. Kalohan helped turned the tide with liberal use of her Lightning Bolt wand and Shin’s arrows were as deadly as ever. The fight was almost at an end when non-combatant Troglodytes approached and threw heavy bags at the feet of the PCs. From the bags soon poured out a much gruesome content: an entire Rot Grubs Swarm! Squirmy grubs tried to bury into the flesh of Leon, to the dismay of his companions, but fortunately, Anfi’s Muck Dweller companion could dislodge them in time. (3)

The Sting of Decay

In the next cave, the PCs could see a grisly idol made of bones and decaying matter. The Troglodytes‘s Chieftain, a magic-user, who had been invisible when they entered, cast a scorching ray at the adventurers. Meanwhile, the Sting of Decay (4), incorporeal until then, took control of the idol and hovered menacingly toward the PCs. Shin and Kalohan almost simultaneously sent an explosive arrow and a fireball, severely damaging the two monsters. Leon hurried to finish the troglodyte chieftain (5) with a flurry of fists. The Sting of Decay healed itself by absorbing the bodies that littered the floor and then tried to overcome its foes with its deadly sting. It went on like that a few more rounds, Leon and Anfi almost died (again) but the combined efforts of the adventurers proved to be enough to win the day.

DM’s notes

  1. I used the nice map and (part of) the encounters from Forge of Fury‘s glitterhame level
  2. I rolled low on my hide check, again…
  3. Isaac’s idea, I approved gladly
  4. I reskinned Yestabrod (Out of the Abyss), with flight and more hp basically
  5. The troglodyte chieftain sported a disgusting leather armor that spawned oozes when he was hit in combat:

Slimy Padded Vest of Ooze Summoning

Armor (Padded), very rare (requires attunement)

+1 leather armor.  In addition, you have advantage on Strength (athletics or acrobatics) checks to escape a grapple.

Each time you have lost 22 hit points (cumulative) while wearing this armor, a gray ooze appears 5′ from you and is under your control until next dawn (and then liquefy). You can have up to 4 oozes under your control at the same time.

Session 18a – Plateau of the Aarakocra

Pursued by the Pick & Axe Dwarves, harassed by Batiri Goblins, the PCs had not much choice (1) in going North, towards the Mistcliffs mountains.

Characters:

  • Shin (level 5), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness, Shield Guardian Vorn in tow
  • Kalohan (level 4), High Elf Wizard (Evoker), Inheritor; noble Elf, ill-suited for adventuring life
  • Leon (level 3), Human Monk (Way of Shadow), Outlander; long dead hunter whose tribe worshipped Zotzilaha, has been reincarnated due to recent events
  • Anfi (level 2>>3), Locathah Fighter (Eldritch Knight), Outlander; medicinal herbs collector, wants to see how is life above water, Muck Dweller companion in tow

Valley of Mist

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The valley ahead was covered in mist. Was it natural? Kalohan inspected it with a Detect Magic and could see small shapes slowly coalescing. She did not wait any further and cast Burning Hands, evaporating the mist-shapes (2) into oblivion.

Rocky Promontory

Later in the day the PCs could see from their vantage point a rocky promontory with some activity on it. Most impressive was the huge Quetzacoaltus perched on top. Lower on a ridge, small figures (hard to see what kind of folks they were from the distance)  had gathered together for some purpose.

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Kalohan and Shin did not agree as to approach the promontory or not and had somewhat of a heated argument about it. (3) Finally, it was decided that Kalohan would go see what was over there, alone, while the rest of the group waited for her. An arduous trek led her up to the ridge and she could now see that the place apparently served for commerce. Aarakocra (bird-folks) owned the place and the Quetzacoaltlus, loaded with leather bags, was their aerial pack animal.

The leader, an energetic female Aarakocra, was also the lead trader. Also present at the moment were two Albino Dwarves (father and son), a Batiri Goblin and three Gripplis.

Kalohan spoke with the Aarakocra trader (who spoke common fluently) and asked if there was perhaps a way to get out of this valley? Turned out that maybe they could help each other as the Aarakocra’s trading partners, the Albino Dwarves, were in need of help. There was a recent increase of attacks from lizardish humanoids at night, the Albino Dwarves could not root out their foes as the place where those had their lair was taboo for them (4). If Kalohan and her friends were able to clean out the threat (5), the Aarakocra, in exchange, could provide airlift transportation near their destination, Port Nyanzaru. They agreed!

Rock-Cut Portico

The two aforementionned Albino Dwarves, Poï Pà and Poï Pok, would serve as guide up to the creatures’ lair.

The entrance looked like this (6):

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There was a lot of footsteps around but no trace of the humanoids yet. There was Giant Wasps though! The PCs killed 3 of the oversized insects and got closer to the portico. In one of the open room, they could see a dead Giant Spider on its back. It started to twitch… Then its bulgy abdomen bursted open and an Insect (wasp) Swarm flew out of it (7)! Horror-struck Kalohan annihilated a big chunk of the swarm with a cathartic Burning Hands

DM’s notes

  1. They could also have tried to forced their way through but that would have been a big risk as they could not easily take to the river without dumping Vorn, the object of their mission in the first place…
  2. Mist mephits
  3. I did not want to sway their decision but to myself I was like “Noooooo! All my prep for naught!”
  4. In my version of Chult, albino dwarves don’t want anything to do with underground places
  5. The PCs did guess (easy) that the Sting of Decay, a jungle spirit they had vouched to destroy, was the cause of the increase of attacks in the sector
  6. The remnant of an older civilization
  7. real-world braconid wasps lay their eggs in their preys, I mean, how cool is that!

A note on Aarakocra

I’ve planned an important scene for my players with bird-folk Aaracokra but there’s not much going on with them in D&D 5e. There’s a mention that they hail from the plane of elemental air and being enemies with gargoyles (as elemental antagonists) but I don’t really care that much about extra-planar stuff. Aside from that… well, they’re basically just birds (live in nest, fly for hours without landing and so on), with nothing indicating that they’ve got, you know, human-like intelligence.

So here’s a few quick ideas to make them less bland:

Female Leadership

You know these intricate rituals that male birds (from many species) have to go through if they hope to seduce the oh so hard-to-get female? That makes me think that female Aarakocra ought to be the ones in charge…

Long-range traders

Forget about galleons and caravans, true, efficient long-range trade is made by air! Especially since the Aarakocras (in Chult) use the gigantic Quetzacoalts as aerial pack animals!

Rocky promontory tradepost

Near the Mistcliff Mountains, the jungle folks gather under the protection of brightly-colored Aarakocra warriors. For many local traders, it’s the only place they can get their hands on merchandises from afar.

Cliffside City

Looks like that:

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Session 16 – The Way of the Shadow

Now that my sister is fully hooked to D&D, the next logical step was to introduce my nephew to it. As he’s 11 yo, I didn’t want to overwhelm him with everything and tried to keep it simple on a gameplay and roleplay level. The way I found was to let him pick a mini (of course he picked the more sinister of the lot) and then I proposed him a character that suited (more or less) how it looked. Anyway, he did enjoy discovering new powers for his character. Job done!

Characters:

  • Shin (level 5), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Kalohan (level 4), High Elf Wizard (Evoker), Inheritor; noble Elf, ill-suited for adventuring life
  • Leon (level 2>>3), Human Monk (Way of Shadow), Outlander; long dead hunter whose tribe worshipped Zotzilaha, has been reincarnated due to recent events
  • Vorn, Shield Guardian, found masterless by the party, beside a gaping hole in the ground

The Way Back is Blocked

The PCs had learned previously that  the Dwarves from the Pick & Axe co were en route toward the Tamoachan site, probably to claim the riches that the PCs had just unearthed.  They opted to evade them, going North-East through the jungles, as the way to the river was now cut off (1).

Crazed Stegosaurus

Crashing through dense vegetation and charging the PCs, the herbivorous dinosaur was oddly aggressive. The mighty Vorn got himself in a titanic duel against the fearsome beast while Shin, Kalohan and Leon had to fend off sneaky Batiri archers (2).

A Feast of Maggots

A huge sauropod carcass blocked the way ahead. Monstrous maggots sprung forth from the cleaned bones, but not before Shin had sent an explosive arrow at the disgusting remains, sending grisly worm flesh everywhere.

Frilled Spitters

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The following night, Leon found a good spot to camp but still, two big frilled raptors (3) got too curious. Kalohan managed to put one asleep with a spell. The other attacked Vorn but its poison was useless against the construct and was thus overmatched.

Petrified Spider

Next day, the PCs could see an immobile, giant spider. Shin tried to speak with it (via his magic hat) but didn’t obtain any response. Upon closer inspection, they saw that the spider was turned into stone. Alerted to this fact, the PCs soon found the cause: cockatrices! Those were just eating berries in the vicinity, but the wary adventurers didn’t took any chances and slew the deceptively dangerous chicken-like creatures.

Dwarves in the Night

Their sleep was again disturbed when vigilant Vorn woke them as the P & A Dwarves had somehow managed to catch up with them. Leon activated one of his shadow trick, a pass without trace, and the PCs left the Dwarves behind once more.

Mounted Batiris

Shin and Leon were tired by the previous night’s ordeals but the group wanted to put some distance between them and the unrelenting Dwarves. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only ones to watch out for as patrolling batiris mounted on Axe beaks got upon them. Shin got to work with his bow while Kalohan shot deadly lightning bolts with her magic wand and only two mounted batiris got in close range. Those last ones were dispatched by Vorn and Leon in a quick but brutal scuffle.

(4)

DM’s Notes

  1. Travel through the jungle ought to be more dangerous than the river journey
  2. and kill a goblin shaman that controlled the stegosaur
  3. dinosaur frilled raptors, in fact, didn’t look anything like the one in jurassic park but the venom-spitting beast depicted in the movie makes for a cool addition to an imaginary dinosaur roster nonetheless
  4. I had thought to do a few more encounters, with some non-combat too, but well, 11 yo boys have short attention span! :p

More locations for Jungle/Chult hexcrawl

Dinosaur Boneyard

Miles upon miles of massive bones with no vegetation whatsoever. Somewhere in the middle is the ancient mansion of a necromancer. But first you’d have to get past the carrion critters and various undead dinosaurs.

Pit of the Broken Idols

A cave where a long-lost civilization have thrown offensive statues down the 60′ deep shaft. Their residual power has taken shape as a powerful Eidolon.

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Treant Permaculture

A spectacular array of flowers and rare medicinal plants amongst the tallest trees of the jungle. This is the works of a cigar-smoking treant that doesn’t take kindly to trespassers. Sometimes, he does need help to get a rare plant he wants to add to his domain or to eradicate something particularly bothersome.

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Plateau of the Aarakocra

A rocky promontory that serves as a place of commerce for Aarakocra traders of the Mistcliffs and their partners. Huge quetzacoatlus are used to bring goods from afar.

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Ubtao’s Tooth

Rogue, evil Aarakocra, have made their lair atop this lonely peak. They’re given to banditry. They have tongueless harpies as their wretched slaves.

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Sacred Cenote

A very ancient site of worship, originally to some obscure amphibian deity. Glittering precious stones can be seen in the pristine water of the pool. Evil winds are always present as well as more tangible threats.

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Tunnel Cave (Mistcliffs)

A several miles long cave makes the link from dense, batiri-infested jungles to the coast, through the mistcliffs mountains. There’s many divergent paths and a lot of dangerous critters along the way.

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Jagged Summit (Mistcliffs)

The greatest aarakocra “nest” of the mistcliffs, the numerous sentinels patrolling the air don’t miss much. Only rare visitors are considered trustworthy enough to be allowed further.

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Sunken Firefinger

One of several rock tower that served to guard the border of the now defunct mezroan empire. This one has sunken below ground, only the uppermost tip remains. The lower part is now in the middle of a cave system inhabited by strange creatures.

Seashore House

Along the eastern coast, this lonely house is inhabited by a friendly hermit. Friendly unless you’re a pirate, if so you better give a wide berth to his house.

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Session 15b – Serpent-Skinned Monks

The PCs could not afford to take another long rest if they wished to be away from Tamaochan before the arrival of the Pick & Axe co. 

Characters:

  • Shin (level 4>>5), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Flyzus (level 5>>6), Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb (level 5>>6), 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

Stay Still Forever

In a part of the dungeon yet unexplored – the PCs successfully avoided a sand-filling trap – a few turns later they got almost in the middle of two rows of skeletons, a sort of honor guard by the look of it, standing on a ledge each side of a passage. The 15 skeletons jumped down and attacked (1)…

The adventurers kept their calm, even after seeing a skeleton still fighting after receiving a killing blow, what should have been a killing blow anyway. It helped that they could  now count on the powerful Vorn to back them up. An exploding magic arrow from Shin did a lot to soften the undead warriors. It took some time but they managed to prevail with only a few light wounds in return (2).

You don’t see any traps

At the end of another passage they could see a golden bat statuette. Rufb took it from its pedestal and got shot in the back by several crossbow bolts. Wounded and angry, Rufb smashed the statuette under his foot. This released a creature made of light, a will o’ wisp (they knew from previous experience), that quickly got away along another passage.

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Shed Skin

Now, for some reason, having a will o’ wisp on the loose didn’t sit well with the PCs (3) so they tried to find it, backtracking a little doing so. Flyzus ordered his pseudodragon pet to follow the evil light but the poor creature got zapped and… died (4). Next, the PCs got into a room they had opened but had chose not to enter before. A room with two slabs of stone with shed serpent skins… waitaminute… weren’t there bodies the first time around? Darn! More things roaming free…

Stuck in the Middle with You

To go further in this area, the PCs had to move a heavy block of stone on some rail mechanism up a ramp, the Shield Guardian was put to the task. They were halfway when things got complicated… First, there was sudden resistance against the block, something was pushing back… Second, bats. Lots of bats. Third, the will o’ wisp chose this moment (of course it did) to come back…

Vorn proved more than strong enough to keep the block from crushing them. The Ranger got rid of the bats around him quickly and then attacked the will o’ wisp. He was joined soon after by Rufb (Shin was still swarmed by bats) and the two successfully avenged the pseudodragon.

No Escape

Finally out of this passage, the PCs saw two nimble figures sprinting away from them. The Barbarian, the fastest runner of the PCs, caught up with them in the central room of the ziggurat’s lower tier. Attempting to communicate  proved fruitless, as Rufb could not understand a word they said. Resigned, the two mysterious sleepers-no-longer assumed fighting stances (5).

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Rufb wasn’t in full combat shape at all, so facing these two adversaries with unknown abilities was daunting. He chose to use one charge of his gem of mud elemental summoning, a reward he had received from the Three Cascades’ frogmen. This proved a wise move as the mud elemental pummeled and mired in mud one serpent-skinned monk. Rufb then finished her with one massive blow of his greataxe. The surviving monk shrieked in anguish and attacked Rufb, sweeping his legs from under him.

Flyzus and Shin now got at the scene too. The outnumbered monk turned his back and fled once more. Shin shot an arrow at him but amazingly, he catched it middair without even looking!

Try to dodge that

He then started to cross the passage to the north, the one with spikes at the bottom, swinging from bar to bar. Rufb got back to his feet and jumped right beside his foe and started grappling him. He easily outmuscled the monk and sent him crashing through the spikes. Flyzus put an end to his life with precise sword thrusts (6).

The PCs finally felt comfortable enough to get down below, to the Hidden Shrine.

DM’s notes

  1. I had described them as skeletons but they were statted as zombies, with the undead fortitude that do a lot for their durability. But this fight was meh.
  2. Too easy! Would have been better if they had to be smart about it…
  3. Players paranoia!
  4. Félix kept forgetting that it existed, so… no big deal, I guess?
  5. The monks tried their best  to escape, the PCs, the barbarian in particular, just wouldn’t let them.
  6. This proved to be a really good fight, with a lot of cool, cinematic manoeuvers.

Session 15a – No Stone Unturned

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 of the Ziggurat temporarily with the intention of resting and all.

Characters:

  • 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?

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After a well-earned rest outside the PCs got right back to exploring the ancient ziggurat. They first went  to a room they had passed the first time, in the second tier (1). Its bronze door had a strange engraving on it, a couatl and a cyclops locked together 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 brain 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

The PCs then got out to rest outside. 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, still outside, 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 from the ettercap that members of the Pick & Axe co were on their way towards Tamaochan. The PCs accepted to pay the greedy man-spider 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.

DM’s notes:

  1. I’ve kept the couatl, phantasmal force and helmed horror but changed about everything else in this room
  2. 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.
  3. Being a large creature, Nrak had advantage on his str save to resist the ensnaring strike and still failed!
  4. That part was, hmm, maybe a little too much on the silly side…

Reputation- Seven Associates- update

In the Renown option the DMG tells us that it cannot get lower than zero. I disagree, I think it can reflect an increasing enmity. As I see it, a -5 renown score would lead to a NPC/faction actively trying to hinder the PCs. A +5 renown would be the opposite, helping the PCs as they can.

Here’s how the 7As renown stands after a few more dealings & side quests with Chult’s denizens:

Port Nyanzaru

The Merchant Princes:

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Zhanti: +3

  • defended the Amnian Fop (showed valor +1)
  • played an important part in capturing the pirate ship The Stirge along with its captain (commerce interest: +2)

Ekene-Afa: +2

  • freed a spy working for Captain Soshen that had been held prisonner by the Bridgerunners in Malar’s Throat (took side: +2)

Kwayoté: +1

  • exterminated the critters in newly acquired mine (commerce interest +1)

Jobal: -3

  • have freed a spy working for Captain Soshen that had been held prisonner by the Bridgerunners in Malar’s Throat (took side: -2)
  • killed more Bridgerunners that attacked them, with the help of Purple Hands (took side -1)

Jessamine: +2

  • secured a shipment of frogmen-made pottery by helping the tribe overcome a crisis (commerce interest +1)
  • killed Bridgerunners that were encroaching in affilated Purple Hands‘ territory (took side +1)

Ifan Talro’a: 0

  • participated in many events at the Grand Coliseum (showed valor +1)
  • crossed swords against Flaming Fist allies (took side -1)

Port Nyanzaru: other factions:

Port-Nyanzaru’s Populace (+3)

  • participated in the finals of Liberation Day’s Tournament (showed valor +1)
  • captured pirate ship the Stirge (showed valor +1)
  • killed the pirates in naumachia event (showed valor +1)

Flaming Fist Mercenaries: -3

  • killed Flaming Fists to save a merfolk (took side -3)

Greater Chult

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Pink Reef’s Merfolks: +4

  • traded with the merfolks (+1)
  • saved a captured merfolk by killing its assailants (took side +3)

Three-Cascades’s Frogmen Tribe: +5

  • saved the tribe from a terrible plague by getting the cure in the Forbidden Valley (saviors +5)

Valley of Mist’s Albino Dwarves Tribe: +3

  • defeated the Caves of Decay troglodytes that were attacking the tribe (defeated a major threat +3)

Plateau of the Aarakocra’s Flock: +1

  • made a deal  useful for both sides (+1)

Pick & Axe Company Dwarves: -2

  • looted the treasures of Tomoachan (- 1)
  • forced a weeklong pursuit in the jungle and finally evaded the Dwarves (-1)

Session 14b – Vandalism & Tomb-Robbing

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.

Characters:

  • 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)

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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).

Gibbering Mouther

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.

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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.

Chop Chop

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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.

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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.

Zotzilaha

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.

Rolling Stone

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.

DM’S notes

  1. I’m rather happy with the stuff I added as the original room, as designed, was entirely pointless…
  2. Nonetheless, this revealed many locations on the map, options for future expeditions!
  3. Shin got across and earned  an inspiration point by… not caring how fared his companions (his flaw)!
  4. Wood Woad. I didn’t care much for the petrified werejaguar that turns to flesh (for reason) as soon as the PCs touched something
  5. With a critical hit from Rufb, nice!
  6. Removed the encounter there to soften the dungeon a little.
  7. That meant assured death in a few days if he couldn’t find a solution. Pressure!
  8. Funny, as it wasn’t a threat at all and just fluff!
  9. Or one time, by just throwing a big rock inside. That did the job but damaged the goods.
  10. He was lucky that it was an Elixir of Health!

Session 14a – The Hidden Shrine

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan in Chult

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.

Characters (1):

  • Shin (level 4), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Phileas (level 4), Half-Elf Bard (College of Swords), Archeologist; “it’s not tomb-robbing if you do it respectfully”
  • 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

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Shin, Kalohan, Corpos and Phileas had been at the site for many days, collecting clues while evading Batiri patrols when Flyzus and Rufb unexpectedly joined them for the venture. As for Lucky, he had left, having received a disquieting omen from his goddess Tymora.

Vorn, the Shield Guardian (2)

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The Tabaxi had climbed down through the large hole in the ground, next to the Shield Guardian. The automaton’s master, a wizard northerner, had fallen to his death and his body laid broken at the bottom. Fortunately, Shin found  the amulet that controlled the construct and it was still intact. He also found the wizard’s spellbook, a decent amount of gold and some exploration gears. A quick inspection of the room below revealed a locked door and many statuettes that evoked meaningful scenes from this lost civilization. The PCs looked for another entry.

Beware Defilers! Your Genitals Will Shrivel and Fall Off

Atop the impressive ziggurat stood a temple dedicated to the cult of a scary demon-bat thing/god/mighty Jungle Spirit: Zotzilaha. Inside the half-collapsed temple, a trapdoor was visible, but glyphs on it indicated that a powerful curse would befall any would-be defilers that entered that way. The PCs also found out a hole inside the mouth of a statue of Zotzilaha. It certainly looked like a trap. They resolved the matter with their first use of the Shield Guardian as Shin ordered it to grab whatever was inside the hole (a lever). The statue’s jaws did close on the construct’s arm but to no great effect (3). This revealed another entry, one apparently safe of curse…

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Ziggurat’s Upper Tier (4)

Mummy Rot

After going down the stairway and taking a few turns and removing a block of basalt (put in a way so it fell on invaders), the PCs, accompanied by Vorn, entered a large room with a fearsome tomb guardian on the central dais: a Crocodile Mummy (5).

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The creature proved hard to slay (6) but they eventually prevailed, with the opportune help of the powerful Shield Guardian (7). Flyzus was bitten in the course of the fight and he could feel that something was very wrong with his wound… The PCs looted some urns in the back and found some trinkets.

Hostile Fountain

In the next room, three fountains could be seen, one still had water, one was filled with grime and the other cracked and empty. Rufb took the mummy’s pike to search through the grime and managed to fish out a chain with a platinum key.

Approaching the water-filled fountain incited the resident Water Weird to attack. It pummeled Rufb and tried to pull him under the water but the strong Barbarian resisted the attempt easily. Yet again, the Ranger was inefficient with his (non-magic slashing) attacks but the combined might of the party still proved more than enough, splashing the walls with the Water Weird (8).

The empty fountain could be slid, revealing a vertical shaft going deeper into the ziggurat.

And down they went.

Spider Sympathy

Rufb, descending first (9), put a foot on something sticky: spider webbing. A mere second later, a Giant Spider got out of its lair. It would have attacked Rufb – he would have had a hard time defending in such a narrow space – but for the timely intervention of Shin. Using his Hat of the Spider, the latter convinced the Giant Spider to let them pass and so, they all got on the next tier without further complications.

DM’s notes:

  1. I had hoped that most of my players and the archeologists in particular, would be there for the first “true” ruin of my Ruins of Chult Campaign but life got in the way and it was not to be…
  2. The PCs stumbled into those ruins while searching for the Shield Guardian in the jungle.
  3. Phileas insisted that they put (animal) blood inside the statue’s mouth as demanded by the proper ritual. Interesting
  4. The party, with all the missing players, would have been too weak for this dungeon without some help.  They also badly lacked utility spells/abilities…
  5. Instead of the Centaur mummy, because I had this cool looking mini.
  6. Félix/Flyzus learned the hard way that he should have spent some of his gold to have at least one magic weapon!
  7. My 6 y-o son, Isaac, happily rolled the dice for Vorn!
  8. If I remember correctly, Shin shot an explosive arrow at it too
  9. Vorn is too large to follow down the hole.