May 06, 2008

Running the Tomb, Part 3

As mentioned previously, a few weeks back I got to run a brave bunch of folks through the infamous Tomb of Horrors.

What follows is Spoiler City. Don’t read if you intend to enter the ToH as a player! I mean it!

Let’s jump right back into the action:

The party found themselves teleported from the arch and into a small, rectangular room occupied by a broken gargoyle statue. Dendyr’s divine magic revealed no traps. Brandice (M-U/Th 4/6), against the advice of his companions, dared pick up the statue’s sundered arm in an attempt to rejoin it to the statue.

They were about to leave, when Ceralt (F 14) lingered and discovered carved hollows in the gargoyle’s upturned palms. Ceralt placed three gems into the palms—the 100 gp ones fit perfectly!—and watched as the hands animated and the fine gems were ground to powder. That was enough! He told the party that any more gems wouldn’t come from his pouch, and the group soon exited, having come extremely close to finding a magical item that would help in the trials ahead…

Soon they crawled their way into a massive hallway, bedecked with ancient frescoes of creatures holding colored spheres, wooden doors, and another ominous mist-filled doorway. Hesitant to sample the archway, they turned their attention elsewhere, and soon the thieves sniffed out devious spear traps (nearly spearing a party member in the process). Dendyr marched the length of the hallway using his magic to seek out pits and such. Brandice did a bit of prodding and soon discovered that two painted spheres were illusionary and covered open spaces. After some debate, the party selected a sphere and crawled into the round opening, eventually emerging from a narrow tunnel into the Tomb’s “chest room.”

The two thieves approached the chests, Phelan (M-U 9) and Dendyr (C 14) close behind. Rath (F/Th 7/8) flung open one chest (staying carefully behind it as he did so), unleashing a spray of darts in all directions! Beyond the trap however sat an ornate ring that detected positive for protective magic.

Brandice, displaying his typical (read: near-mindless) daring moved on to the next chest, and unleashed 12 angry asps into the room. The venomous snakes milled about, striking at any PC that happened near. Rath stomped and struck at the vile serpents whilst Phelan beat a hasty retreat (something that often allows 1st-Edition magic-users to cast spells another day). Soon Brandice went down under multiple fang strikes, and shortly thereafter Dendyr too went down in agony, dying.A side note here: Old Softy that I am, I typically give poisoned PCs 1d6 rounds of non-combat life to reach magical aid before dying. Even the most poisonous serpents—I’m thinking the tiger snakes and sea snakes here, but I’m no snake expert—don’t kill you instantly, and in this case the snakes were “asps”—a rather general term that has typically been used in history to refer to African vipers and cobras—so a few rounds of life weren’t out of the question.

Second, odder side note: A long time ago, in a galaxy ... well, you get the idea .. when I was in high school, I had the snake chest image above made into a silk screen design and I colored it black, red, and green. That was a favorite t-shirt for a while! Now back to our program.

The characters retreated and soon Dendyr and Forethal (C 9) were able to magically eliminate the poison taint from our heroes, and the cleric and drow thief were saved from certain death. Deciding (wisely) that the remaining chest wasn’t worth the effort, the PCs returned to the remaining unexplored sphere and swiftly emerged into a grim chapel.

The horrid chapel held all manner of weird items. The heroes split up and explored the room, the thieves and Quint (Ran 12) heading up toward the weirdly glowing altar while Dendyr approached a skeleton in rusted chainmail. Nearby, orange mists surged from yet another clouded archway. Rath, while vaulting a railing next to the altar (something every PC was trying studiously to avoid touching) caught his trailing foot on the worm-eaten wood rail and very nearly fell face-down onto the altar. Brandice experimented with the newly found ring and the altar, whilst Ceralt and Rath moved to investigate the walls and pews.

Eventually (and predictably!) Brandice finally touched the altar … sending a 40-foot streak of lightning (base damage 40 points) shooting down the central isle! The blue bolt blasted through Brandice and Quint and ended just before reaching the startled (and extremely fortunate) Phelan.

Whew! See my next installment for the last part of my session report!
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