Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tomb of Horrors, Session 8: The Waste Matter Hits the Fan

As Jack turned to make her way toward the dais, she reached out to touch one of the columns that filled the throne room. Scores of the massive columns, each carved of colorful pastel stone, supported the ceiling of the huge chamber. As soon as Jack’s fingers came into contact with the pillar, she started to float quickly upward toward the ceiling 20 feet above. The columns in the throne room were actually Pillars of Levitation! Jack found herself helplessly bouncing along the ceiling, heading directly for the mosaic of the green devil face in the chamber’s northwest corner. She desperately reached out to try and grab onto one of the other pillars, but she found that a sinister magic imbued the columns and ceiling with an icy slickness. Laramie, seeing his floating comrade’s predicament, ran below Jack and attempted to throw her a rope, but the well intentioned druid rolled a 1 on his Acrobatics check. Doh! Zerbitt, rapidly positioning himself below the green devil face, held up his 10-foot pole so that Jack could grab onto it, but by that time the magical breeze propelling Jack was too strong to be resisted. Zerbitt and Laramie watched helplessly as Jack was sucked into the devil’s mouth and disappeared from sight. Uh oh.

As you’ll recall, at the end of Session #7 of our Tomb of Horrors adventure we left our four heroes trapped in the Juggernaut Corridor. A terrifying magical construct (played by a plastic baby elephant that I picked up at Hobby Lobby) was advancing, then suddenly retreating, charting an erratic course along the corridor on its heavy bloodstained wheels. At the start of our most recent session, Jack (revenant human assassin), Zerbitt (human thief), and Laramie (eladrin druid) breathed a sigh of relief as the construct rolled past them, heading back east toward its start area. (Unfortunately, Marrak’s player wasn’t able to join us for Session #8 because of a family emergency. We missed you, Steve!)

Once the construct was past them, Jack was the first of the group to make a break southward toward safety. As she neared the doorway at the end of the hallway, though, the floor suddenly collapsed underneath her. She fell straight down about ten feet and then the pit turned into a slide-like chute that deposited her in a 5-foot-diameter crawlspace. She could see that the crawlspace went off to the north. After Laramie and Zerbitt jumped into the pit and slid down the chute to join her, the party made their way through the crawlspace. Another corridor and a wondrous door lay beyond the narrow crawlspace.

Pillared Throne Room

After exiting the crawlspace, the group saw that an enormous door filled the corridor from floor to ceiling, gleaming with the dull sheen of adamantine. Once they pushed through the door, the party was in a huge chamber. A gentle breeze was blowing through the room. The ceiling of the room was supported by scores of massive columns, each carved of colorful pastel stone. In the northwest and northeast corners, just below the ceiling, the walls were set with mosaics of green and blue devil faces. Other than being set up so high, they appeared to be exactly the same as that first seen in the entrance hall to the tomb. Jack also found three doors (two blue and the other a faint lilac color) set at different points along the chamber’s north wall. Meanwhile, across the room, Zerbitt and Laramie discovered a huge dais to the south. Atop the dais rested an obsidian throne inlaid with silver and ivory skulls. A gold crown and a scepter of gold and silver rested innocently upon the throne. (The crown was solid gold and set with white diamonds while the scepter was crafted of a silver-gold alloy, with a golden ball at one end and a silver knob at the other.) The front of the throne was set with silver panel featuring a replica of the crown. In the farthest corner of the room, Zerbitt and Laramie also came across the charred remains of a half-dozen adventurers circled around a huge, glowing orange gem.

After Zerbitt used his 10 foot pole to carefully push the crown and scepter into his pack, he and Laramie spent a while messing around with the throne. They tried to push it, sat on it, and tried to push it again. Nothing happened. Giving up on the throne for the time being, they moved north to join Jack. Zerbitt and Jack both tied rope to two shovels and tossed them up into the devils’ mouths. Both shovels, along with the rope, were sucked into the mouths and disappeared. It was after this little experiment that Jack decided to touch one of the pillars as she made her way across the room. After disappearing into the green devil’s mouth, Jack was teleported nude to the Tomb’s entrance hall. Standing next to the 'original' green devil face in the hallway, she found a shovel and some rope at her feet. Picking them up, she made her way back to the Chapel of Evil, hoping to find her gear laid out on the altar(like had happened before), but nothing was there. Heading back out into the Great Hall of Spheres, she decided to go through the misty archway. The archway teleported her to the top of the hill above the entrance to the Tomb. Discouraged, she slowly made her way back down into the entrance hall…

Meanwhile, back in the Pillared Throne Room, Zerbitt and Laramie once again set to pushing the throne. It once again wouldn’t budge, not even a bit. Stumped by the throne, Laramie decided to pick up the gem. With a successful Arcana check, the druid found that the gem was a powerful magic item that allowed a creature to make a single wish for anything it desired. Not realizing it was actually a Cursed Wishing Gem that reverses or perverts the wish, bringing doom to that character and all named in the wish, Laramie wished that Jack would appear and be standing next to him.

At that exact moment back out in the entrance hall, poor Jack— still nude and still pitifully clutching her shovel and rope— found herself being drawn irresistibly toward the evil-looking face of the great green devil. Unable to stop herself, she was swept into the devil’s dead black mouth. The mouth, a sphere of annihilation, instantly and completely and forever destroyed her.

In the Pillared Throne Room, Laramie wasn’t exactly sure what had just happened, except that it probably wasn’t anything good. Jack hadn’t appeared, and the gem he was holding had begun to pulse with a sinister red glow. A second later, it exploded in his hand.

Careful what you wish for! Wish magic was a popular part of older editions of D&D— not just for the power it offered players, but for the fun a DM could have twisting the wishes in amusing ways. This gem in the Tomb takes that concept to its worst level.

Apparently deciding that he didn’t have much to lose after the gem exploded in his hand, Laramie boldly put on the crown and sat on the throne. Nothing happened. Well he could see within the darkened room as if in normal daylight, and he suspected that while wearing the crown he would be immune to the effect of the pillars of levitation… but other than that, nothing happened.

Heading back up to the north end of the Pillared Throne Room, Zerbitt and Laramie checked out the lilac door. Opening the door, they found a small, bare chamber that had another door on the opposite wall. Pairs of swords crossed behind shields hung there— three such sets were on each of the side walls. When Zerbitt entered the chamber, shields and weapons flew off the walls of their own accord, battering and slashing the thief until he dropped to the ground, unconscious and dying. Stunned by the speed and ferocity of the trap’s attack on his ally, Laramie quickly rallied and reached into the chamber, grabbed Zerbitt, and dragged him back through the doorway to safety. After the druid healed his gravely wounded companion, the pair of adventurers took a short rest.

Undaunted by their experience with the Cursed Armory, Laramie and Zerbitt decided to open one of the blue doors. They chose the one to the west. Behind it, they found an empty chamber. Empty, that is, except for an unconscious drow lying on the dusty floor. After rousing the mysterious figure by poking it with Zerbitt’s handy 10 foot pole, they discovered that the drow was Jack’s “brother” (don’t ask), Rylan! Welcome to the Tomb of Horrors, Rylan! As Zerbitt and Laramie introduced themselves and invited Rylan to join their quest against Acererak, they studiously avoided mentioning what had just happened to Jack.

Wondering what and/or who they might find behind the second blue door just across the way, the trio of adventurers opened it and discovered a large wooden sarcophagus resting upon a low stone table. Piling into the small chamber, Zerbitt, Laramie, and Rylan attempted to lift the sarcophagus and carry it out into the Pillared Throne Room. Their plan (are you ready for this?) was to throw the sarcophagus against one of the pillars, breaking it open in that way so that if there just happened to be anything scary in it, the scary thing would touch the pillar and float up the ceiling. Yeah, I know… but I didn’t say it was a good plan, I just said it was a plan.

It will probably come as no surprise to you that in attempting to lift the sarcophagus off the table, our heroes dropped it. The lid slid off, revealing the mummified remains of a human, its tattered wrappings partially undone. A huge gem was barely visible in the corpse’s left eye socket. Zerbitt lit a torch and tried to set the mummy on fire, but unbeknownst to the thief, the corpse’s wrappings were imbued with resistance magic that overcame its normal vulnerability to fire. Doh! Good try, though, Zerbitt. Next, Laramie and Zerbitt synchronizingly stabbed the mummy with their swords. (By that point, Rylan was slowly edging backward out of the chamber, wondering just what he’d gotten himself into by teaming up with these two crazy loons.) When stabbing the mummy didn’t provoke any sort of reaction from it, Zerbitt decided he’d use his sword to pop the gem out of its eye. And that, dear reader, is when the shite well and truly hit the fan.

As soon as the gem popped out of its eye socket, the corpse animated as a Mummy Crypt Master. It hit Zerbitt with stunning strike, sliding the thief 3 squares out the doorway and into one of the pillars. Up Zerbitt went, levitated out of the fight. As Laramie and Rylan scrambled out of the small chamber, the mummy crypt master pursued them. While trying to dodge the monster’s relentless attacks, the druid and drow watched as Zerbitt was sucked into the blue devil face’s gaping maw and disappeared from sight. Zerbitt was teleported into the Chamber of Hopelessness. That small chamber was strewn with numerous skeletons and it was foul with the scent of rot. A small fountain spilled water into a basin that overflowed and drained away through side holes along the floor. In glowing letters, a grim warning was set along one wall: “You who dared to violate my tomb now pay the price. Stay here and die slowly of starvation, or open the door to the south and enter where certain but quick death awaits.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, deciding quite rightly that the two of them were no match for the vicious mummy, Laramie and Rylan hatched a desperate plan— they’d make their way over to the blue devil face and follow Zerbitt through it. Yeah, I know… but I didn’t say it was a good plan, I just said it was a plan.

Well, Rylan was able to make his way past the crypt master by doing some kind of acrobatic spider climb deal up along the walls, so he had no problem getting sucked into the devil’s mouth. He was duly teleported into the Chamber of Hopelessness. After giving the bewildered drow a moment to take in his dismal surroundings, Zerbitt walked over to him and said, “Hey, have you seen this cool gem I got back there?”

Out in the Pillared Throne Room, Laramie didn’t have any nifty move that would allow him to zip along the walls past the mummy and up to the devil’s face in the corner, so he’d have to do it the old fashioned way: touch a pillar and float over to the devil’s mouth. But first he’d have to take off the crown, right? Right. (Because wearing it made the PC immune to the effect of the pillars of levitation, remember?) But when Laramie tried to take off the crown, he found that he couldn’t remove it from his head. Uh oh.

In the Chamber of Hopelessness, Rylan pooh-poohed the grim warning on the wall and opened the door to the south. Beyond it lay the Cursed Armory! Just as Zerbitt was starting to say, “You know, just before we found you, I almost died in that…”, Rylan dashed out into the armory, running as quickly as he could for the closed door to the south. As the drow entered the first space, two pairs of shields and weapons animated, flew off the walls, and attacked him. Those attacks bloodied him, but still he pressed on. Two more pairs of shields and swords flew off the walls and attacked him. In the blink of an eye, the drow was dead-dead, knocked down to -66 hit points. Zerbitt, still back in the Chamber of Hopelessness, stood with his mouth hanging open, unable to believe how quickly he had just seen Rylan battered and slashed to little bloody pieces before his eyes.

And that, boys and girls, is where we had to end our eighth session of Tomb of Horrors. Laramie is out in the Pillared Throne Room all by his lonesome, getting pummelled by the mummy crypt master. Zerbitt is trapped in the Chamber of Hopelessness. Will Marrak rejoin them just in time for a TPK?? Will another “brother” of Jack and Rylan’s (don’t ask) somehow appear in the Tomb and tip the balance of power in the party’s favor, averting the disaster that is unfolding???


  1. Fun! I like the fact that the GM has no qualms about letting the PCs get themselves killed. I admire you. hehe. Great. :)

  2. And that folks, is why Tomb of Horrors is a thinking mans dungeon.

  3. My group is currently in the ToH (4th ed, not the Super Adventure) also , being about 1-2 sessions behind your group. I just hope they are not reading that blog !

    Anyway, at the halfway mark, my group totals are :

    False Acerak destroyed while bitchslapped by the fighter (held to the ground the whole fight!)

    XP gained in 5 sessions 20050
    Haul of 9300gp + scrolls and magic items

    3 deaths, 2 sex changes, surviving the 100 ft drop, the Destroyer and finally opening all 3 chests..at the same time !

    I've had compliments from a player saying this was the most engaging, non-linear dungeon he went through.

    And my once happy-go-lucky group now searches every spot on the floor, ceiling and doors.

    :) I'm happy dm'ing this adventure!

    Even if its 4th ed, it still has a great 1e feel .. and they didn't even get to the Juggernaut yet..