Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Return to the Ruins of Adventure - Session 17: Tomb Raiders!
Back in civilized Phlan the party discusses the orc map with the temples of Tempus and Torm. It may be linked to a prophecy about the return of an ancient Ogre king. Uncertain about following up on this the heroes decide to return to the burial mound from two days ago and a) try to discover who is opening these things up and b) thrash the skeletons that put the beatdown on them so badly.
Taking a small boat to the shore of the Moonsea they return to the mound and find it still open and still guarded by Boneshard Skeletons and Wights - at least this time they have some idea of what can happen.
As combat begins two of the skeletons are quickly overcome and explode in shards as the Warlock drops a big flaming blast on them. Rattled, Kordan fights on then in a disastrous sequence most of the party misses, the remaining skeletons and the wight all tear into Kordan and he falls, wounded badly. Redoubling their efforts the party brings down the undead monsters and slaps the fighter back into consciousness. Searching the room the group discovers magical sigils on the floor and avoids them as they move to the tunnel leading down into darkness.
Moving down the passage and into the next chamber the party encounters flaming skeletons and frost-covered zombies. The zombies move to engage while the fiery bone-warriors stand and throw flaming death from range. The zombies radiate cold and have a freezing touch, making them tricky opponents to engage up close but Kordan goes in, trusting his legendary armor to protect him from the worst of it. Uthal ably assists as his mighty spear allows him to fight from outside the reach of the cold. The rest of the party concentrates pretty effectively on the nearest targets and brings them down, then blows away the fiery skeletons before they have a chance to do much hurting up close. The party is really coming together now as far as working together.
Traveling down a long descending passage the party enters a crypt of some kind with a large room and a pair of huge flaming braziers. Bones lie scattered about but the primary concern is the large hulking zombie that begins slowly shuffling towards them.
As the party moves in one of the braziers blasts them with fire. Then behind most of the party the scattered bones assemble into 4 skeletons and attack the wizard and warlock who have stayed behind to attack from range. Kordan and Uthal engage the huge zombie while Jovanni scans the room.
The skeletons are quickly dispatched and under the combined fire of the party the zombie crumples to the ground. Then Jovanni spots a tiefling moving behind some columns at the end of the room and targets him, shouting for the other heroes to join in. Stealth useless, the tiefling wizard who was busy searching the tomb fires back but is frustrated as Kordan and Uthal jump into close combat with him. About this time the zombie corpse rolls over and stands back up, rejoining the fight and turning the tables somewhat on the fighter and barbarian. who are now caught between the wizard and the monstrous undead thing.
Taking decisive action the melee artists tear into the zombie, bringing it down for good this time. Althea and Mikal blast the evil spell-flinger and slay him, ending the battle. The group loots him, taking gold and magical implements, and then heads back up and out of the mound, returning to their adopted home of Phlan.
DM Notes: I have a lot of loose threads hanging out there right now but I thought the party was headed for my ogre king option. Nope - they wanted payback on those exploding skeletons. So they headed back there and tore through the whole place in one session. This was still Tomb of the Tiefling Empress from Dungeon Delve and I ran it pretty much straight. The differences this time were a) having a full party and b) being 5th level. that first encounter was still one of the toughest due to overlapping close blasts and ongoing damage. The Invulnerable Coat of Arn(ol)d is pretty tough but the fighter still went down during this fight.
These short adventures have been cool and have added some variety to the encounters. Keeping a location or lair to 3 or 4 "encounters" does help keep it fresh and they can finish it off in one or two sessions and then move on to something else. They haven't made a huge haul off of any of these yet but they have picked up quite a few useful items. This should help them a lot in their later fights.
As for the future, well, they will spend the rest of 5th and probably 6th level taking care of the smaller scattered adventures and then once they hit 7th things will start to happen. It's going to be a lot of fun.