Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tomb of Horrors, Session 4: The Drow Goes Down

Marrak double-checked the rope tied around Zerbitt’s waist. Just in front of the adventurers a faint haze was hanging in the air, obscuring the stairs and corridor beyond. With a devil-may-care wink and nod, Zerbitt headed into the haze. Marrak lost sight of him as the thief went around the corner and started down the stairs. A few seconds later, everyone heard a bloodcurdling scream and then Zerbitt came tearing back up the stairs and around the corner. The thief was white as a sheet and a look of pure terror distorted his face as he went pelting past his startled companions. Marrak barely had time to register what was happening before the rope was ripped from his hands as Zerbitt dove headlong into the crawlspace and disappeared from sight.

The fourth session of our Tomb of Horrors adventure started with the PCs in the strange chapel. Having just taken an extended rest, they had regained hit points and healing surges, all their powers were refreshed, and they had an action point to use. They were locked & loaded and rarin’ to go.

Note: I figured that the party had spent about 4 hours in the Tomb prior to taking the extended rest. The extended rest was 6 hours long. According to my understanding of the pertinent rules (Rules Compendium, page 172-3), they’ll have to wait at least 14 hours before they can take another one. All of this, of course, must be balanced against that 48 hour deadline until the marsh guide and his cousin return with the boats and then depart, with or without the party.

A Tale of Five Photos

In the photo above, the party has used the large-ish ring they found in the Chamber of Three Chests to activate the Ring Portal in the chapel. Beyond the ring portal, a flight of steps led down to a corridor with series of pit traps. After Elric fell into the first pit and took ongoing poison damage for four rounds, she summoned Mr. Lackey once again. Needless to say, Mr. Lackey was surprised to see his boss had turned into a buxom drow warlock. But then poor Mr. Lackey once again found himself being used as the party’s trap detector; a role he filled admirably by finding the next two pit traps. Everyone was excited when a secret door was discovered at the bottom of the third pit. Before checking out the secret door, Elric had her devil lackey check out the rest of the corridor. After a turn to the north beyond the third pit trap, the corridor went on for about forty feet before ending at a broad door heavily bound with iron bands and locks. Deciding not to mess around with that door right then, the party instead investigated the secret door at the bottom of the pit trap and found a 5-foot-diameter crawlspace.

In the second photo, you see the party starting to tackle the Corridor of Fear. The party could tell that the air in the hallway was tainted by a potent magical toxin, but Zerbitt still volunteered to check it out. There were certain countermeasures a character could take to help protect against the effects of the fear gas (+11 vs. Fortitude), but if the gas hit then the character would feel a rising dread begin to fill them as he/she advanced farther down the corridor. The feeling of dread became so overwhelming that the character fled the area and ran away like a balor was hot on their heels (save ends).

The party had a wicked hard time navigating the Corridor of Fear and reaching the closed door they found down the hallway. Everyone (including Mr. Lackey) except Marrak eventually succumbed to the fear gas and took off running back toward the corridor with the pit traps. Things turned around for the better when Jack was finally able to reach the aforementioned door and open it. Once that happened, the fear gas dissipated in 3 rounds (1d4 rounds).

Beyond the door, the party found a dark stairwell filled with spider webs. A gleam of golden light came from a chamber at the bottom of the stairs. The thick webs blocked movement down the stairs. In fact, a DC 18 Athletics check or 6 points of fire damage was needed to clear 1 square of webs. After several rounds of different characters clearing webs, Zanfire finally reached the bottom of the stairs. In the third photo, you can see that the party had reached a crypt filled with rotting and decayed furnishings. Empty pizza boxes and stacks of old TV Guides littered the floor. Empty Chinese takeout containers were strewn around the small room and piles of dirty laundry were stacked everywhere. All of this crap made the entire chamber difficult terrain. Oddly, in the midst of the appalling squalor was a gleaming golden couch. From it, a skeletal figure with a crown on its head slowly rose to its feet. It made funny noises like your dad does when he’s getting up from the recliner after “resting his eyes” on a Sunday afternoon. But then in a booming voice that shook dust from the ceiling, it shouted, “Who dares to disturb the rest of Acererak? Fools, it is your death you have found! Roll for initiative!”

The fourth photo shows the scene several rounds into the encounter. Looking through the zone of Shadowstorm that has been laid down, we can see that everyone except Acererak and Zerbitt are down. Some of the characters are unconscious and dying. Others have been knocked prone after being blasted by the lich’s Pulse Lightning attacks. In short, dear readers, our heroes were having their butts handed to them. It needn’t have been so, though. There was actually an item that would’ve been a great boon to them in this battle and would’ve helped them avoid this awful butt-kicking… but they didn’t find it before entering the crypt. How very sad for them. (Insert evil chuckle here.)

In the fifth and final photo, most of the party has managed to rally (most of the credit for this must go to Marrak who again and again skillfully used his healing powers to help his allies). They’ve decided to retreat up the stairs and out of the crypt. One party member, however, was unable to join the retreat. Jolted incessantly by Lightning Bolt attacks, unable to get out of the deadly zone of Shadowstorm, and repeatedly zapped by unholy black light from the lich’s Crown of Fear, Elric became the first party member to die in the Tomb. Alas, poor Elric, buxom drow warlock, we hardly knew ye…

Oh, observant viewers may notice that in the fifth photo, Acererak looks as if he is ready, willing, and able to pursue the party up and out of the crypt.

What will the fifth session of our adventure hold for the surviving adventurers? Will your humble DM get a TPK? Or will the battered party be able to somehow, someway, pull off a miracle and defeat their implacable foe?


  1. Now that that damn wall of painful darkness has dissipated, I think Marrak has a score to settle with Acererak the drow-killer...

  2. Notice in the photo Zerbitt is the only party member standing... He used a spider climb to get into the corner. The then walked through the squares of blackness until he "bumped" into Acererak. Attempting a grab, it was a 1 on the die. Should've used my magic item daily to reroll, and the scenario may have played out differently. Oh, well, I saved it, and I'll use it only as a last resort...