Last night we played the second session of the adventure Tomb of the Serpent Kings, using old style Basic Dungeons & Dragons rules, with a few tweaks (most notably, spellcasters need to succeed at a die roll to cast spells). Session 1 I posted about here.
Back in the village
The party had returned to their home village, Neensford, a few miles from the site of the snake-man tomb. The community mourned the deceased Beldrum, but many of the village youngsters were excited by the tales of adventure told by the party, and bedazzled by the golden trinkets they showed off.
The village priest, Father Jeames, was unimpressed with Volrak’s participation in the affair, in particular his unsuccessful beseeching of their god for aid. Father Jeames ordered Volrak to labour cleaning the church for the next week. Father Jeames also examined Notgandalf’s ring and declared it an accursed item, beyond his own ability to remove, and suggested a higher ranked priest from a larger town might be able to assist in removing it from Notgandalf’s finger.
The rest of the party rested to recover from their wounds, and consulted their own mentors. The blacksmith, a gruff dwarf named Gamling Blackhelm, told Drashi and Nogge that they would need to prove themselves further and come up with some more gold to cover his lost productivity if he was to spend time drilling them in combat to improve their skills. Lydastra, the village witch, informed Notgandalf that he needed more gold to buy spell ingredients for his own training.
Notgandalf used the time to cast Detect Magic on the items they had found, confirming no magical properties except for his own cursed ring. They exchanged the valuable items for gold coins, getting 60gp, split up as 15gp each for Drashi, Nogge, Notgandalf, and Volrak. Notgandalf also examined the scrolls they had found in the room with the desk. He could not read the language, but from his knowledge of the tongue of lizard-men he thought he could make out a few scattered words: “evil”, “name: Baltoplat”, and “question”.
After three days of rest, the party felt refreshed and keen to return to the tomb in search of more treasure. Three other youths from the village decided to join them in exploring: Brigette (a dwarf), Garamond Wrenwobbler (an elf), and Ratter Black (a thief).
Back to the tomb
The group returned to the dungeon and inspected the areas they had seen on the previous visit to check if anything had been moved, but they found it how they’d left it. They descended to the octagonal room with the dark, liquorice-smelling pool in the middle. Taking care again not to approach the pool, they examined the unopened door to the east, which was stone with elaborate carvings of snakes raining down from the sky.
Deciding to ignore this, they went to the room of ranked snake-man statues to the south-west, where Nogge tossed rocks at the clay statues from a distance, smashing them one by one until all were destroyed. Only now entering the room they discovered the statue in the south-west corner had been standing on a wooden trapdoor. Lifting it, they discovered a stale, dusty tunnel 10 feet below, leading south. A short corridor led to a door, which they opened, revealing a large chamber with huge columns supporting a high ceiling where bats could be heard chittering. Ratter’s sensitive ears detected deep, slow breathing in the darkness, and then a slow clink and dragging sound, of chain on stone.
The group slowly edged their way along the north-east wall, avoiding the centre of the chamber. As they headed along a diagonal wall to an opening to the east, there was a sudden motion and noise from the darkness behind them: slapping leathery feet, heavily dragging chain, and a rumbling hiss. Drashi turned to look and met the transfixing gaze of a giant reptilian head emerging from the gloom into their torchlight! Recovering his wits after a second, he turned and ran, setting off panic among the party! They fled to the east, separating as they turned in different directions.
Brigette, Garamond, and Nogge turned left into a small room to the north. Drashi and Notgandalf turned right into a larger chamber on the south. Ratter ran straight east, through a corridor, his footsteps setting off a trap that released multiple swinging blades from the ceiling. Ratter’s dextrous skils saved him as he dodged the blades, stopping in a small room beyond the trapped corridor. He turned to look back, discovering he was alone, separated from the party by a corridor now full of wicked swinging blades. As Ratter took stock of the situation, the entire trap mechanism suddenly collapsed, crashing down from the ceiling in a tangle of splintered wood, blades, and metal springs.
Brigette, Garamond, and Nogge found themselves in a rest area filled with shredded and bloodstained silk pillows. Among them they found three large stone eggs, a bit bigger than fist sized, which they took. Drashi and Notgandalf were in a vestibule area with rotting wall hangings and floor tiles in intricate geometric patterns, but with no other interesting contents. To the south-east stairs led downwards, but they ignored this route and joined the others in picking their way carefully across the ruined blade trap to join Ratter. Ratter had spotted two snake-men standing guard by a door to the south, and was very wary, but the snake-men stood unmoving. When the others arrived, they determined they were incredibly lifelike stone statues, much more detailed than any of the clay statues encountered earlier. Drashi mentioned to the others that the giant reptile head he’d seen had some sort of bronze headgear that blinkers its vision straight ahead.
First they checked an open room to the north, which looked like a shrine with a cobra-headed god statue in the middle, with a faint odour of vinegar. The base had two large holes in it, wide and deep enough to insert an arm the the elbow. Notgandalf tried a 10-foot pole and wiggled it around, discovering that the statue was loose and could rotate on the floor. Nogge grabbed a piece of wood from the ruined trap and inserted it in the other hole so they could push and rotate the statue. Unfortunately they hadn’t remembered the acidic smell of the poison gas on the first level, and were exposed when gas leaked out of the statue. Nogge shook it off, but Notgandalf was left wheezing and choking in a weakened state. Drashi took over, helping Nogge to turn the statue, holding their breaths. As it fully rotated, a trapdoor clicked open and hundreds of gold coins fell out of the statue! There was a mad scramble to grab coins as each person tried to pocket as many as they could. Some coins rolled out and under the collapsed trap, and some rolled down a stairway leading north-east, clinking as they bounced down the stone steps.
After scooping up all the coins they could find, the group opened the south door between the snake-man statues, to find a barricade of furniture piled up against the far side. They took time to dismantle the barricade, and heard a female voice call out asking for help. She said she was Briory, a herbalist who had been captured by goblins a few days ago and locked in this room, which she’d barricaded to keep them out. Getting through the barricade, they found her chained to the floor with an ankle shackle. Ratter tried to undo the lock but couldn’t defeat it. Drashi smashed it open with a hammer and iron spike. Briory declared, “My hero!” and gave Ratter a big kiss… which sucked part of his life force out, causing damage, dropping his Constitution by 6, and ageing him 9 years, from 14 to 23 years old!
Drashi: “She made a man out of you.”
Inspecting the room after Briory fled, Notgandalf noted the scuffed remains of a magical containment circle drawn on the floor, which had been partly erased by their efforts to remove the barricade.
Seeking a way out of the tomb without needing to go back past the giant chained reptile, the group descended the stairs leading north-east. A T-junction led to a room to the east, where a dry fountain dominated the room, with low benches around the walls and decaying tapestries. Examining the fountain, they found some flecks of gold and scratch marks in the stone in a small alcove area. They deduced perhaps something gold was removed from here. They scraped up the gold to take with them.
The corridor south from the T-junction led to a small room, blocked by an animated skeleton covered in some sort of orange slime. Garamond tried his Magic Missile spell, but it fizzled. Notgandalf threw a dagger, which hit the skeleton. Nogge charged it and smashed it with a sword, flinging it back into the room behind it, where it crashed through the floor into a 10-foot deep pit. Wanting to see if they could kill the skeleton, they dropped a flaming tapestry onto it, but the slime merely extinguished the flames, leaving the skeleton futilely trying to scramble out of the pit.
The group walked carefully around the pit trap and proceeded east. They found a short corridor leading to a door to the south but ignored it and continued east. The passage opened into a huge natural cavern, where a bat-guano-covered walkway extended north and south beside a huge chasm. The chasm was too wide to see across, too deep to see the bottom, and the ceiling too far above to see. A cold breeze made whistling noises and the path was a bit slippery from the guano. With their torches sputtering and time to light new ones, they dropped an old torch into the chasm, watching it fall a very long way before winking out.
They walked north, finding the other side of the door in the dry fountain room. It was a stone door barred by a block of stone resting on iron pegs, similar to the hammer trap on the first level, but here there was no ceiling for the hammer. While dithering about what to do next, two giant centipede things came crawling out of the dark from the north! Brigette lined one up with her shield and smashed it off the path into the chasm! Notgandalf tried to Magic Missile the other one, but his spell fizzled again! Fortunately Ratter and Garamond shot the vermin with arrows, killing it.
Prompted by this interruption, the party ignored the door, heading further north. They found an opening in the side of the wall leading west to a large octagonal room, decorated with shields on the walls, and with stone benches along the walls, like some sort of arena. In the middle was a 9-foot tall snake-man statue armed with a huge sword, which moved to attack! The group quickly scrambled with Ratter’s rope to lay it across the opening. As the statue approached and stepped across the slack rope they pulled it taught, causing the statue to trip. It toppled and fell into the chasm, dragging the rope after it as the adventurers let go. The statue plummeted into darkness and a few seconds later was heard a faint crash far below.
Checking the shields in the arena room, they seemed to be decorated differently, as if from different tribes. Most were rotting and useless, but there were five bronze shields decorated with silver and gold wire, which people grabbed. It was difficult to carry more than one, so Notgandalf even ended up with one strapped across his back.
Notgandalf: “But a shield will interfere with my spellcasting.”
Nogge: “Well, you might as well use a shield.”
Stairs led up from the western side of the arena. Ratter proceeded first, inspecting and prodding the stairs with a pole. Near the top he noticed a loose step with scrape marks on the adajcent walls. He marked around it with chalk and advised the others to avoid stepping on it. They pushed open the heavy stone door to find themselves back in the octagonal room with the black pool.
Now with a safe way out of the tomb, the party decided to explore further by sending Garamond to scout with his elven infravision around the giant reptile hall, while the others generated a distraction to keep the monster occupied. They decided to circle back to the vestibule near the collapsed blade trap to provide the distraction, while Garamond waited in the dusty secret tunnel leading to the north secret door into the reptile chamber.
Brigette: “We’ll make so much noise that Garamond can hear us through the door.”
Me: “You’re in a dangerous tomb full of who-knows-what, and you want to deliberately make an enormous amount of noise?”
Brigette: “… Maybe we’ll just shine our torches at it…”
They executed the plan and distracted the monster, allowing Garamond to sneak into the chamber and circle around the western wall. He found a western passage leading to two doors to the west, and stairs leading down to the south. Circling further around the reptile chamber he found a secret door in the southern wall opposite the northern door, and proceeded into a filthy corridor running east-west. The eastern side descended, while the western side led up to daylight, where Garamond emerged under the roots of a large tree, up the hillside from the other entrance. He marked the tree so they could find it from the outside, then returned to meet up with the rest of the party.
Now with plenty of new options to explore, the group decided to call it a day and head back to the village to rest and plan their next expedition.
What else have I been doing
Not too much, actually. Friday I picked up the groceries, went for a run, cleaned the house in prep for the D&D guests coming over, and taught 4 ethics classes, before running the game in the evening. This time I didn’t cook pizza like last time, but rather ordered some delivered.
Today I did a 5k run in the morning, and then spent time typing up this adventure log of the night’s game. I also repotted a new chilli plant that I bought a few days ago to replace the old one, which seems to have died. And did some touch-up paintwork on the walls and ductwork that the air conditioner installation guys did during the week. And for dinner tonight we went out to a Turkish restaurant up the street – the first time we’ve been out for dinner in a few weeks, since we’ve had so many things on recently.
New content yesterday:
New content today: