Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Crafts of Annihilation - Making the Death God's Nursery

Death God's Nursery

The Death God's Nursery was made from Dollar Store foam core.


After assembly I spray painted the whole thing black.

I got some cheap battery-powered lights from Michael's and put down several layers of red and yellow crepe paper - the kind used to put in gift bags - which I used as paper mache for the lava. I painted the paper mache lava yellow with dry-brushed orange, red, and black, in that order.

I didn't get the diffused lighting I was hoping for. The lights were still clearly tiny pin-points of light.




I then painted the "visible" areas gray and painted on a 1" grid.



The balconies eventually curled up a bit, but it was good enough for one encounter.





Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Crafts of Annihilation - Making the Atropal

The Atropal had an interior core made from crumpled up foil. I covered the foil with Sculpey polymer clay. I re-did the arms and face several times because I wasn't getting that "evil fetus" look I was hoping for.




Baking in the oven. I had to make a support cradle out of tin foil.


Painted a gray base coat.

Painted on watered down colors to give it a translucent look.



Drilled a hole in the butt for the Games Workshop flying base.



The final product among the scenery.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Crafts of Annihilation - Making the Froghemoth

I sculpted the froghemoth out of Sculpey polymer clay. I made the tentacles separately and glued them on after baking. I then primed and painted it using simple ceramic paints and some ink washes.












Tuesday, January 29, 2019

"The Cradle of the Death God" - Tomb of Annihilation, Chapter 42



After defeating the Night Hags known as the Sewn Sisters, the party got some much needed rest. Sufficiently recharged, they prepared to open the Iron Skeleton Gate.

They inserted all five keys and opened the gate. A gust of hot air poured out. Before them was a corridor that descended a long set of stairs.

They emerged into a large triangular room filled with lava. The near wall ran along a ten foot ledge. Two balconies were located half-way along the two opposite walls, upon which were piles of pots, boxes, and jars. A balcony containing a glowing portal formed the apex on the far end of the triangle.

A fifteen foot wide platform was suspended over the lava in the center of the room by three heavy adamantine chains connected to the ledge and both balconies. Atop the platform was a large glass cylinder. The interior of the cylinder was filled with swirling glowing mists and thousands of tiny glowing motes. Three gaseous tendrils emanated from the top of the cylinder and writhed in the air as if alive. The cylinder resembled a life-sized version of the model of the Soulmonger they were shows in the Heart of Ubtao.

Hovering above and behind the Soulmonger was a vision out of nightmare. A grotesquely misshapen humanoid form, bloated and malformed, resembling a human fetus the size of an elephant but covered in sores, pustules, small cuts, an twisted growths engorged with purple blood. Its bulbous eyes were barely open as if half asleep. A long tapering tongue snaked out of its stupidly gaping mouth like a gruesome worm or tentacle.

It was the Atropal.



CHAPTER 42
"THE CRADLE OF THE DEATH GOD"

THE EXPEDITION
  • Bramble Wolf - a theran barbarian wise-man (Wildhunt Shifter Druid) searching for the legendary origin of his tribe, recently transformed into a woman by a magic fountain, slowly becoming a goat due to a curse from a bronze staff. Current bearer of the spirit of the trustworthy god Moa.
  • Apparently Jones - a blue-skinned demijin caravan guide and animal trainer (Air Genasi Ranger) from Akasa, the land of sky mountains. Having failed to find work in Port Nyanzaru as an animal handler, she has joined the expedition to the interior as a scout. Current bearer of the spirit of the foolhardy god of froghemoths named Kubazan.
  • Xoc-Wik - a b'alam warrior (Tabaxi Fighter) from the jungles of Bres, searching for those responsible for the destruction of his tribe.
  • Zeynap Shiravadakar - a Eusebean smuggler (Human Warlock) bearing the spirit of a celestial unicorn. Current bearer of the spirit of the nimble god I'Jin.
  • Argent Truth-Sayer - a golden azi knight errant of Bhamut (Dragonborn Paladin) in the service of Bhamut, sent on a holy mission to join the expedition to destroy the Soul Monger. Current bearer of the spirit of the selfish god of wealth Nangnang.
NPCs
  • Zorai - vyth (grey-skinned alien) explorer sent to Omu to investigate the massive seismic event that coincided with its destruction; trapped within a magic mirror soon after the destruction of Omu more than 150 years ago.
  • Orvex Ocrammas - archaeologist and historian; rescued from the Fane of the Night Serpent.





The Soulmonger
The party paused on the descending stairs to make a plan. After much deliberation, they entered the  chamber. Xoc-Wik had succumbed to Brain Fever so Orvex stayed behind to watch after the b'alam archer.



Inside, they saw alcoves along the wall behind him. Each alcove was filled with bones, the skeletal remains of Omuans who had been shackled there to die many decades ago.


Zeynap channeled the celestial magic of his patron through arcane blasts towards the glass cylinder. Apparently followed up with arrows charged with magical electricity loosed from her longbow. Argent charged the cylinder, balancing on the massive chain that was stretched taut. Their attacks began to damage the heavy glass cylinder. Cracks began to form on its surface and its metal components were beginning to break apart.


The massive Atropal took notice and slowly opened its small torpid eyes within sunken eye sockets. The eyes glowed brilliantly with the purple necrotic energy of Skion. It glared at Apparently and Zeynap. The mere presence of the Atropal drained the heroes of their energy, leaving them physically exhausted. Its gaze caused crippling pain and seizures.

Vythi-Zorai fell down dead.

Zeynap redirected his magical energy, creating a zone of celestial radiance around the Atropal. The Atropal writhed in pain at the exposure to holy power and slowly floated forward.


Bramble transformed into a giant ape and leaped into the lava pit. The massive simian caught the chain and swung hand-over-hand to the balcony to the left. There it was large enough and close enough to engage the Atropal in hand-to-hand combat - freeing her companions to concentrate their fire on the Soulmonger.


The Soulmonger began to crack further. Green gaseous tendrils swirled around and struck at Apparently and Argent. The Atropal abandoned Bramble and closed with the ledge, focusing its attacks on Zeynap.



Despite the Atropal's intervention, Argent, Apparently, and Zeynap's attacks were able to destroy the cylinder. It exploded into shards of broken glass and metal debris. The souls trapped within escaped with the sound of thousands of sighing souls, swirling in a brilliant cyclone before dissipating into nothingness.

The massive fetal THING screamed in frustration at the loss of its food source. It struck out in anger at Apparently and Zeynap. Argent moved back to the ledge to help defend his companions. Zeynap channeled a celestial witch bolt of electrical energy at the massive creature. It soon exploded, drenching the room with rotting meat and black and purple ichor!

Enter Acererak
There was barely a moment to catch their breaths when a large skeletal figure magically appeared on the alcove at the apex of the triangle. It was tall and wore long purple robes that seemed to flow and writhe on its own. Its face was a glowing yellow-green skull wreathed in gaseous energy. It held in its claw-like right hand a long staff tipped with a skull decorated with ram horns. Around its neck it wore an amulet shaped like the green horned devil face seen throughout the tomb. A black sphere with a diameter as long as a man's arm hovered just behind the skeletal entity.

It was Acererak.

It looked around at the devastation, confused. It spoke an a thin reedy voice like a screeching clarinet.

"Wha- What happened here? Where's my Soulmonger? Wait- Where's my Atropal? WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO WITH MY ATROPAL??!!"

DM Comment-
I plopped down a Skeletor toy for Acererak. I did my best to mimic Skeletor's voice and insults. Lots of "You gibbering boob!" and "You floundering idiot!" and just general put downs of their intelligence and capabilities. He was a hoot! 



Bramble, Zeynap, and Apparently felt suddenly invigorated. The totem-spirits within them wanted revenge against the arch-lich. They felt empowered, energized, and ready to fight!

Argent replied, "We destroyed the Soulmonger. We killed the Atropal."

Acererak was taken aback, "You- you WHAT? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? It was almost finished! It was THIS close to consuming enough souls to ascend to godhead! I was about to control a god with power over death! I mean, WHAT THE FUCK?"


Argent bragged of their achievement, "We have put a stop to your plan. Now we will put an end to you!"

Apparently attacked Acererak with arrows while Zeynap sent an electrical witch-bolt. Acererak sent the black sphere towards Bramble, who had transformed back into goat form after defeating the Atropal, and directed dark life-draining energy towards Zeynap. The black sphere brushed against Bramble's shoulder, completely obliterating all matter it touched. Bramble bleated in pain and jerked away.

After summoning a healing spirit wolf to assist Argent and Zeynap, Bramble once again transformed into a giant ape. She climbed along the wall  towards the apex, closing to fight hand-to-hand with Acererak.

"That's too close, you simian simpleton! Be gone!" Acererak pointed at her and sent the giant ape into a labyrinthine dimension whose only exit lay at the end of a complicated maze.


Acererak then directed the floating orb of darkness across the room to harass Zeynap.


Zeynap moved away from the sphere and Argent made his way across the chains towards the balcony on the right. Acererak momentarily lost control of the sphere which moved ten feet towards him over the lava. He soon rectified the lapse and redirected it back towards Zeynap.

DM Comment-
Given his Arcana skill of +11, which is doubled to +22 by the Amulet of Annihilation, Acererak pretty much automatically controls the Sphere of Annihilation (DC 25). However, I rolled a 2 that round.


Apparently was loosing magical lightning arrows into Acererak. The arch-lich tilted his head, "You Bumbling Boob! You have caused me harm!  You should feel flattered that I even consider it necessary to bring out the big guns to deal with you. DIE!"



Apparently Jones fell down dead.


Zeynap stopped to check on Apparently, hoping to stabilize her. He was shocked to find that she was completely dead.

DM Comment-
Zeynap's Player: "No saving throw?"
Me: "Nope. Power Word Kill. Welcome to the big leagues!"
Zeynap's Player: "Whaaaaa???"

Bramble reappeared from the extra-dimensional maze.

DM Comment-
Bramble's player rolled a 20.

Acererak replied, "I see you managed to find an exit despite your obvious mental deficiencies . Well, we'll take care of that!" Acererak once again banished Bramble to the arcane labyrinth.

Argent took a running jump from the balcony to the alcove, soaring over fifteen feet of lava. He landed next to Acererak. Zeynap moved out onto the balcony from which Argent just leaped. Acererak responded by releasing a wave of necrotic energy that disrupted the very living essences of both Argent and Zeynap. Argent withered and fell down unconscious.

Bramble once again escaped from the arcane labyrinth. Bramble leaped onto the walls and climbed over towards Acererak's alcove. She grabbed Acererak in her giant simian fist and jumped away from the alcove, falling backwards into the lava thirty feet below!

Bramble and Acererak hit the surface of the molten stone and immediately caught fire. Bramble bellowed but maintained her grip on Acererak. Acererak burned. The arch-lich writhed and screamed as he was engulfed in flame. Acererak was reduced to ash and bone.

DM Comment-
Bramble was getting 50 temporary hit points per turn on top of her Giant Ape hit points. Acererak was down to 93 hit points. He was going to teleport away as soon as it was hit turn, and he was next in the initiative order! They both took 54 damage when they hit the lava. At the beginning of Acererak's turn, he took another 68 points of damage and died! In retrospect, he should have taken the damage at the END of his turn which would have given him the opportunity to escape. Whatever, him dying was way cooler than him escaping. Plus, he's not REALLY dead. 



Bramble quickly transformed into a bird of prey and flew out of the lava. She landed next to Argent and transformed back into the form of a humanoid goat. She knelt next to the dragon man but he was gone.

DM Comment-
Bramble was hoping he had time to save Argent. Unfortunately Argent rolled a 1 on his first death save which counted as two failures! He died on the next turn. 

The Mist Gate
After the remains of their fallen friends were reverently given to the lava, the two survivors Bramble and Zeynap rested and recuperated. The spirits of I'Jin and Unkh  were still with them but the fervor of battling Acererak had passed.

They explored the two balconies. They found clay canopic jars, urns, glass jars filled with glittery ash, and other containers sealed with wax and inscribed with mystic runes. Bramble concluded that they were the phylacteries of liches allied with or beholden to Acererak. Bramble and Zeynap ditched all the jars and urns they could find into the lava.

They found that the iron skeleton gate was unlocked and they rejoined Orvex. The trio evaluated their options for escaping the Tomb of Nine Gods - climb out through the waterfall or take a different route? Bramble told the others that Peggy Deadbells had given him a black marble and said that the way out led through something called "the Ebon Pool" and that the charred bones pointed the way, though he admitted that he didn't know what that meant.

Not wanting to risk an encounter with Ringu or G'lyh'rul by swimming through the underground lake, or encountering the caretaker of the tomb, Mister Withers, they decided to explore what lay past the glowing portal at the apex of the triangular room.

DM Comment-
I asked Apparently's player to play Orvex for what remained of the module.

They made their way across the lava to the balcony at the apex and crossed through the glowing portal.

Chapel of Hate
They found themselves in an eerie chapel lined with columns. Strange long-limbed creatures were shackled to the walls of the chapel by their wrists. Their heads were covered. The creatures became agitated when the trio entered the room. At the far end of the chapel was a large tapestry. Before the tapestry was a stone table. A large burlap sack lay on the table, slowly squirming.

The trio ignored the chained creatures and cautiously opened the burlap sack.

DM Comment-
I asked the players who they wanted to be in the sack. I told them to choose their favorite surviving NPC, someone they liked. They discussed it and asked if they could choose a PC.

Within the sack was Nova Scotia Blackman. He was naked save for a primitive shift and was no longer a reanimated zombie!

Zeynap and Bramble exchanged warm greetings with their former companion. Nova explained that he had joined a group of other explorers to find a cure for his condition. Somewhere along the way he was captured by the Sewn Sisters. They said something about him being used as a final sacrifice to trigger the ascendance of the Atropal to godhead. They had said that since his soul was from another world, it carried special power. They restored his soul, which had been trapped in the Soulmonger, and prepared him for the sacrifice.

DM Comment-
Argent's player was also NSB's player, so he got to resume NSB. It was a nice bookend. I had thought about making the clone be NSB but went with Argent after his untimely passing two weeks previous.

Hall of Finality
The quartet discovered a hidden passage behind the tapestry. The floor of the passage was decorated with three paths made from colored tiles - a red path, a purple path, and a gold path.  Each of the three paths led to one of four door jambs. Each door jamb displayed nothing but blank wall. The fourth door jamb had no path but a decrepit skeleton lying on the floor pointed towards it. A plaque on the wall read "Behold the fate of those who defy me!"

I'Jin urged Zeynap to take the purple trail for no other reason than it was the god's favorite color. Zeynap rolled his eyes and refused.

Orvex closely examined the wall within the door jamb with no trail and found arcane wards. The party decided to ignore that one for now.

Zeynap walked the red trail towards its door jamb. The arch presented a blank wall. He touched it and found that his fingers passed into solid stone as if it were mud. He could only push forward. No amount of effort could cause him to pull back. He decided to go all the way in. Orvex shrugged and followed him.

Nova and Bramble, however, chose the gold path. They followed it and touched the blank wall within the arch. There was a peal of deafening thunder loud enough to buckle their knees and for  the stone of the doorway to crack and crumble. Beyond was an old dark hallway filled with cobwebs. A dimly lit room illuminated by a red candle lay beyond.

The Red Library
They cautiously entered the room and found a library filled with hundreds of ancient books. An old human lay asleep at a writing desk while a music box shaped like a five-sided lantern played a gently twinkling tune.

They woke him gently. He was surprised to have visitors, "Oh, why did you disturb me? I was resting nicely."

He introduced himself as Mister Fox and said he was the librarian here, bound to serve Master Acererak for eternity. He answered any question he could about the library but was unaware of anything outside this room, which he hadn't left in over a hundred years.

Nova looked around at some of the books with curiosity. He asked if he could take any of the books but Mister Fox steadfastly refused.

Mister Fox put on a pair of spectacles and examined Bramble closely, "Say, have I met you before? Perhaps in another life or another time?"

Bramble deduced that Mister Fox was the same being the party had met in the Wardrobe of the Infinite Labyrinth, but he said merely, "No, I don't think so."

A moment later, Zeynap and Orvex emerged from the wall in an alcove at the rear of the room, very confused.

Bramble addressed them matter-of-factly, as if their appearance was expected, "Come on, there's nothing for us here. Let's go."

The Ebon Pool
They returned to the hall. Zeynap channeled the celestial magic of his patron Brightmane to dispel the magic ward on the blank archway indicated by the skeleton. Bramble touched the wall and passed through. It soon became evident that Zeynap had not seen a second ward on the door for a wall of flame appeared at the entry to the passage. The wall of flame slowly started moving towards the party. They all moved quickly through the door.

They found themselves in a small confined room. In the middle of the room was a shallow basin made of brick. The basin was filled with smooth black liquid. The party stood around staring at it.

Zeynap took the bold path of stepping into it. He was standing up to his ankle in black liquid. When he stepped out, he saw that his boots and pants legs, anything touching the black liquid, was gone, though his feet were unharmed.

"Huh" he said.

Bramble tossed the marble into the pool. A black obelisk rose from the pool to a height of ten feet.

After a quick glance around to see what each other thought, each member of the party simultaneously reached out and touched the obelisk.

They found themselves standing around the black obelisk at the entrance to the Tomb of Nine Gods. They were outside. It was daytime. It was hot. It was muggy. It was pouring rain.

Welcome to Chult.

Credits
Dungeon Master - Christian C.
Nova Scotia Blackman - Jeff L.
Hasegawa Tōhaku - Jeff L.
Argent Truthsayer - Jeff L.
Bramble Wolf - Scott D.
Apparently Jones - Erica J.
Xoc-Wik - Jeff D.
Qhallebbewk Zriri - Jeff M.
Zeynap Shiravadakar - Jeff M.

Epilogue
The team reunited with Princess Mwaxanaré outside of Omu. They returned to her the Skull Chalice of Ch’gakare as well as the Scepter of Queen Napaka. They offered their assistance in removing the Nagini from Omu and re-establishing the city and her monarchy.

The princess thanked them but pointed out that all that would come in due time. First, she had to return to Port Nyanzaru. She had to establish her credentials. She would need their help to overthrow the corrupt merchant princes. After that she would hire an army to return and rebuild Omu.

Bramble seemed especially eager to help overthrow the merchant princes.

Nova Scotia Blackman vowed to return to the Tomb of the Nine Gods to find the Armillary Sphere which he hoped to use to return home.

Bramble wrinkled her goat eyes, "I can't help but think we forgot something important."

Zeynap replied, "Well, there's still a lot in there that we didn't take care of."

Bramble looked worried, "No, it's something else."


Meanwhile, back in the former lair of the Sewn Sisters, Xoc-Wik was just waking from his brain fever. He was alone.

"Hello! Hello? Where is everyone? Hello?"

The End

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"The Sewn Sisters" - Tomb of Annihilation, Chapter 41

Apparently woke in a cold sweat. She was laying on the cold hard floor of the control room. She was frozen. The others were sleeping. A dark shape loomed over her. Apparently caught her breath in fear. The shape came closer. The eerie presence had the face of an old crone with gold coins for eyes. The old woman had long stringy hair and skeletal clawed fingers clutching the air over Apparently's face. The old woman crawled over Apparently's immobile body. The old crone opened her toothless mouth and inhaled a reddish mist that emanated from Apparently's mouth. When Apparently woke, she felt exhausted and weakened.

She told the others about her dream.

Zeynap reported a similar experience - except that he was visited by an old woman with a hump and a missing leg. She hobbled about on a peg leg which went "thump-thump-thump!". He, too, reported that the old woman stole a reddish mist from his breath and that he felt tired and weak. 

Bramble said that her dream featured an old woman wearing a burlap sack over head head. When she removed the sack, a rooster sat perched on the severed stump of her shoulders where her head would be. The rooster hopped down and drained the red mist from his mouth. 

They knew they would get no rest until this new danger had been eliminated!

The party donned their equipment and made ready to descend to the next level.

Apparently descended the stairs slowly and with caution. A strange green light emanated from the room at the base of the stairs. The large room had a high vaulted ceiling and two elevated walkways on either side. The room was filled with a glowing green fog that rose from a bubbling iron cauldron to the left. Ahead of her on the right side of the room was a cage. A humanoid figure sat huddled under a blanket. Through the fog Apparently could only see a dark silhouette. 

Out of the corner of her eye she saw three tiny shapes hide behind cover. She nocked an arrow in her bow and entered the room. No old women could be seen. The three small hiding figures were the size of cats. One was a humanoid doll made of straw. A second was a doll made of porcelain. The third appeared to be the head, arms, and torso of a macaque monkey strapped to a unicycle. She furrowed her brow in confusion and curled her lips in disgust. 

Apparently cautiously approached the cage. The figure removed the thin dirty blanket, turned, and looked at her.

It was Argent! 







CHAPTER 41
"THE SEWN SISTERS"

THE EXPEDITION
  • Bramble Wolf - a theran barbarian wise-man (Wildhunt Shifter Druid) searching for the legendary origin of his tribe, recently transformed into a woman by a magic fountain, slowly becoming a goat due to a curse from a bronze staff. Current bearer of the spirit of the trustworthy god Moa.
  • Apparently Jones - a blue-skinned demijin caravan guide and animal trainer (Air Genasi Ranger) from Akasa, the land of sky mountains. Having failed to find work in Port Nyanzaru as an animal handler, she has joined the expedition to the interior as a scout. Current bearer of the spirit of the foolhardy god of froghemoths named Kubazan.
  • Xoc-Wik - a b'alam warrior (Tabaxi Fighter) from the jungles of Bres, searching for those responsible for the destruction of his tribe.
  • Zeynap Shiravadakar - a Eusebean smuggler (Human Warlock) bearing the spirit of a celestial unicorn. Current bearer of the spirit of the nimble god I'Jin.
  • Orvex Ocrammas - archaeologist and historian; rescued from the Fane of the Night Serpent.
NPCs
  • Zorai - vyth (grey-skinned alien) explorer sent to Omu to investigate the massive seismic event that coincided with its destruction; trapped within a magic mirror soon after the destruction of Omu more than 150 years ago.
Argent Lives!
Apparently had seen Argent die. He had sacrificed himself in a bargain with devils to save the others. He had vanished in a flash of flame and smoke leaving only ash! Yet here he was!



Zeynap entered the room and they quickly broke the lock off the cage. Argent emerged. The dragon-man was gaunt and emaciated. He showed signs of having been starved and beaten. Curiously, he had lost six inches in height and over a hundred pounds in body mass. 

Argent revealed that he had been held captive here for at least two days, though time was difficult to measure. The last thing he remembered before waking in the cage was resting in control room. He explained that he had been tortured and interrogated by three hags - Widow Groat, Peggy Deadbells, and Baggy Nanna, as well as their gaunt butler, Mister Threadneedle. They kept asking about the expedition, its capabilities, and its vulnerabilities. 

When asked about the three small figures hiding in the corners, Argent explained that they were small toys created by the hags and imbued with life from the souls of dead children. He said they were friendly and helpful. Argent called to them. Their names were Strawbundle, Clay No-Face, and Mister Jojo. The figures emerged from their hiding places.

The Hag Dolls
Strawbundle was a doll made of bound straw. Clay No-Face was a porcelain doll with a large head but no mouth, nose, or eyes. Mister Jojo was the head, arms, and upper torso of a macaque monkey strapped to a unicycle wheel. Strawbundle spoke telepathically, warning the others that the hags, the "Sewn Sisters", would return soon and that they were in danger!

Argent donned his old armor and fastened his weapons while the others prepared for a fight. A minute passed with no apparent threat so the party decided to explore the rest of the room.

Apparently studied the room and opened her senses to detect the presence of the anti-life energy known as necros. She staggered backwards. An overwhelming source of necros was located behind the giant iron door on the far wall.

Zeynap put the lid back on the cauldron and the green mist began to settle. The party could now see a large iron door on the far wall. The door was made of iron and was decorated with the skeletons of young children. Across the door was a bar with five circles. Each circle contained a flat metal shape - a triangle, a square, a pentagon, a hexagon, and an octagon.  There were no visible keyholes.




Two elevated walkways, one on either side of the room, led to five doors. Each door was decorated with a shape similar to those on the door. Zeynap used a magic power to peer behind each door. Behind the door with a triangle was a tall cylinder. Behind the door with a square were flying pieces of paper. Behind the door with the pentagram was a long corridor that opened into a room that was beyond his range. Behind the door with the hexagon was a shelf and a mirror. On the wall was scrawled the words "PIGGY PIGGY PIGGY". Behind the door with the octagon was a small book on a lectern.

The party concluded that they had to solve each of the side rooms before opening the iron door. They prepared to leave.

Strawbundle objected and asked they not be left alone. Apparently put her hands on her knees and quietly asked Strawbundle, "Do- do you want us to put you out of your misery?"

"What? No! What kind of monster are you? No! I meant take us with you!"

Argent gathered up Strawbundle in his arms and shot Apparently a dirty look, "What's wrong with you?"



Apparently held up her hands, "What? Sorry! I- I just thought- Of course we'll take you!"

Argent placed Strawbundle on Apparently's back. Strawbundle gave her a hug, "Its okay. I forgive you." Strawbundle transferred to Apparently her magic power allowing Apparently to enter the ethereal plane.

Argent picked up Mister Jojo. He acquired the magic power to understand all languages that were not codes or ciphers.

Zeynap took Clay No-Face and found he was no longer hungry or thirsty.

Xoc-Wik took position on the opposite walkway and Bramble placed herself in the center of the large room. Apparently, Argent, and Zeynap opened the door with the triangle.

Trial of the Triangle
They found a small room. At the back of the room was a glass cylinder that reached from the floor to the ceiling. An iron lever was located on the floor within the cylinder. The only hole in the cylinder was a small one-inch hole near the top of the cylinder. No one could fit their arm in the hole or otherwise reach the lever. They called in Vythi-Zorai who used her telekinesis to pull the lever. Out in the main room, the metal covering on the triangle moved aside revealing a key-hole large enough for the skeleton key.

DM Note- 
Technically she used Mage Hand. I just read that Mage Hand wouldn't work, only Telekinesis. Oh well. The players probably deserved this break given how much I accidentally screwed them over later on.

Trial of the Square
Apparently, Zeynap, and Argent crossed to the other side of the large room to the door marked with a square. Within was a small room filled with swirling pages from a book. Zeynap plucked one of the pages from mid-air. The page contained a wizard's spell. Zeynap shrugged, "Useless" and let the page go. They saw a lever on the far wall carved from bone. The lever was translucent and any hand that tried to touch it simply passed right through it. Apparently used Strawbundle's power to become ethereal. She walked through the flying papers and pulled the lever.

Bramble reported that the square slid aside and revealed a keyhole.

The Hags
Apparently, still on the Ethereal plane and still invisible and incorporeal to the rest of the party, moved out into the main room. She saw the three hags, two by the iron door and one standing nearby!

Apparently returned to the material plane and warned the others. She then re-entered the Ethereal plane, only to be attacked by one of the hags! The pair fought but Apparently was no match for the  Widow Groat! Apparently escaped to the material plane so that she could be healed. The party prepared for battle but no hags made their presence known.

"They're watching us. They're waiting- for something" said Argent.

Trial of the Pentagon
The party decided to continue. They opened the door marked with a pentagon. Beyond was a corridor that led to a room. The smell of delicious food poured out to greet them.

Argent and Zeynap entered the room to find a dining hall with tables set with delicious boar, squash stew, iced cakes, and frothy beer! The gaunt butler Mister Threadneedle welcomed them and offered to serve each of them.

Argent, having been starved for days, drew up a seat and dove in, eating and drinking each thing offered him. Zeynap, however, politely refused. Zeynap instead explored the room. He examined the five hanging tapestries in the back of the room. As he looked back and forth, he noticed that when all five  tapestries lined up in a certain way, it created the appearance of a green devil face. The black open mouth seemed to hover in front of him. He winced and held out his hand and reached into the mouth, expecting it to disintegrate. Instead he found a smooth lever. He pulled it.

Bramble announced that the pentagon was now a keyhole.

Argent, having eaten his fill, thanked Mister Threadneedle. The butler bowed politely. They pair left the room. As they did so, Zeynap was stricken with debilitating stomach cramps. Argent helped his friend outside.

Trial of the Hexagon
Zeynap, Apparently, and Argent entered the room marked by a hexagon. Within was a dark room. On the far wall was a wide shelf placed high enough that someone had to reach up to remove any of the five candles placed upon it. A six-sided mirror was attached to the wall below the shelf. The words "PIGGY PIGGY PIGGY" were scrawled in blood on the wall next to the mirror.

Apparently inspected the shelf, levitating slightly to get a better look. She found a sixth candle, hidden in the back and not visible to anyone standing on the floor. She lit all six candles and said "Piggy piggy piggy". She looked into the mirror and saw the reflection of a wooden lever on the wall to her right. She turned to look but saw no lever. She searched the wall but it was  bare.

The lever was too far away to reach while looking into the mirror. Directing Argent and Zeynap proved useless, they found only bare wall. The trio were about to give up when Apparently remembered Vythi-Zorai. They called for the strange alien being. She looked into the mirror and used her telekinesis to move the lever.

Bramble reported that the hexagon was now a keyhole.

Trial of the Octagon
Zeynap, Apparently, and Argent once more crossed the main room to the door marked with an octagon. Within was a small room with a lectern on the far wall. Atop the lectern was a small booklet with only eight pages.

Zeynap looked at the book but could not read it. He called to Argent, "Hey, can't you read all languages now?"

Argent took a look at the book. He read it silently.

DM Note-
I wrote the lines of the book on a sheet of paper and gave it to Argent's player. As he read it silently, I thought, "Ha, he's reading it quietly first. He'll figure this out out!"

When he was done, he turned to the others, "Okay, Ready?"

DM Note-
Oh! Is he going to read it out loud? Here we go!

He read the book out loud.

Page 1: Backward, backward, eight to one.
Page 2: Speak the rhyme until it’s done.
Page 3: Keep the spider locked away.
Page 4: See the lever, clear as day.
Page 5: Spin, spin, iron spider.
Page 6: Turn their flesh and bones to cider.
Page 7: Speak the rhyme and meet your fate.
Page 8: Forward, forward, one to eight.

DM Note-
He read it forward! Oh man! I can't believe he actually read it forward!

The world turned upside down! Argent, Zeynap, and Apparently fell towards the ceiling! They crashed into the ceiling, shattering its thin brittle facade and fell into the large whirling death trap in the shape of a spider - each of the spider's legs a whirling razor-sharp blade of death!

They screamed as the spinning blades ripped into their flesh!

DM Note-
8d10 damage! Yikes!

Apparently grabbed Argent and levitated, taking her down and away from the blades!



Zeynap cast a spell of teleportation - and disappeared entirely!

Apparently and Argent managed to escape the room. After a minute, the blades stopped rotating and bits of broken plaster fell to the floor, indicating a return of normal gravity. They re-entered the room and looked around. They found a brass lever hidden within the lectern and pulled it.

Bramble announced that all five shapes now revealed keyholes.

Zeynap was missing.

The Oubliette
Zeynap was in a dark place that reeked of decaying flesh. He conjured a spell of illumination and nearly fainted from what he saw!

Zeynap was in a small room with a tall ceiling. The room was filled with dead bodies in various stages of decomposition. Indeed, Zeynap had no way of knowing how deep the bodies were piled or even if there was floor at all.

On the wall to his right was carved a massive green devil face with an gaping mouth. The mouth was large enough for two grown men to crawl inside.

Sitting on top of the bodies in the opposite corner was Chaad the grey Slaad, whom the party had encountered guarding Nangnang's tomb. The grey-skinned frog-thing was picking his shark-like teeth with a splinter of bone, "Hey baby! I knew you'd be back!"



DM Note-
Yay! Chaad the Slaad! He's always fun to roleplay and he's a favorite with the players. I wish I could recount the entire interaction between Zeynap and Chaad, but this post is already going to be long enough. Needless to say, Chaad was his usual obnoxious and offensive and hilarious self.

Suddenly, a thought popped into Zeynap's head, "Zeynap! This is Xoc-Wik. Are you still alive?"

Zeynap confirmed his status and admitted that he had no idea where he was. Xoc-Wik said the rest of the team would wait for him to escape and catch up, if he could.

Zeynap convinced Chaad to help him find a way out. Zeynap examined the devil face. He found levers hidden inside the nostrils. He asked Chaad to pull the lever inside the left nostril. Chaad did so and a black void appeared in the mouth of the devil face. The rotting meat piled within the room began draining into the mouth. Chaad was immediately drawn in and disappeared. Zeynap was able to grab hold of the wall.

As the bodies continued to fall away into the black void, Zeynap heard a voice. It was the golden skull, "Oh! Nice going, idiot! Now you're going to die in here alone!" Zeynap had a thought. He grabbed the cursed skull and threw it into the darkness. The skull protested, "What? Hey! You can't-" The voice was cut off as the skull disappeared into the void.

After a minute the void disappeared and the room was empty save a few remaining body parts and bones on the far side of the room.

DM Note-
I skipped the otyugh encounter because I wanted Zeynap to rejoin the rest of the party. Also, I was tired of forgetting about the skull. I actually thought of throwing the skull into the sphere of annihilation long after the fact and allowed Zeynap's player to retcon that part later on. 

Zeynap then swallowed and took a deep breath before pulling the lever within the right nostril. The eyes on the devil's face began to glow bright red.

Zeynap disappeared, again.



There and Back Again
Zeynap stood in front of another green devil face, its mouth a black void. Small shafts of sunlight filtered through cracks in the ceiling. The walls were covered in vines and roots. He had been teleported all the way back to the entrance of the tomb!

"Xoc-Wik, are you still there?"

The jaguar-man replied that he was still listening. Zeynap told Xoc-Wik that he had escaped the oubliette and knew where he was. It was going to take about an hour to get back. Xoc-Wik acknowledged and told him to move away from the green devil face - within which a shadow demon resided.

Zeynap moved to the nearby floor grate, removed it, and dropped down into the stream below. He followed the stream until it emptied into the grotto of the hydra. Cave lizards were scavenging the remains of the butchered hydra carcass. Zeynap continued on. He carefully descended the shaft of the waterfall into the subterranean lake.

The warlock hugged the wall of the lake. He hoped that, should he meet the large fish monster that dwelled within the lake, that he would meet the monster's friendly personality and not its evil alter-ego.

DM Comment-
I rolled randomly.



He turned around to look at the cogs in the middle of the lake but was startled to see an eleven year old girl with dark wet hair. She was holding a red ball and standing on top of the water.

"Hi, would you like to play ball with me?"

"Uh, sure? What's your name, little girl?" Zeynap cautiously inquired.

"Ringu, silly!"

Zeynap breathed a sigh of relief. Zeynap asked the ghostly image of Ringu if they could play ball on top of the cog in the lake. The girl agreed. Zeynap asked if she could help him up. A moment later, tentacles from the giant fish monster at the bottom of the lake rose up and lifted Zeynap to the roof of the cog. Zeynap then played ball for a moment with Ringu. The little girl was happy for the company.

While Zeynap played ball, Xoc-Wik and Apparently made their way from the large room, back up the stairs, past the hall of destruction, across the giant chain, past the armillary sphere, through the secret tunnel, and into the control room. Apparently stayed in the secret tunnel while Xoc-Wik manipulated the controls to rotate the cogs.

The cogs started rotating and Zeynap bade his farewell to the spirit of the little girl. She smiled and waved. The rotation of the cogs momentarily opened the entrance to the control room to the lake grotto. Zeynap made it back into the control room and was reunited with Xoc-Wik. Xoc-Wik then notified Apparently who was able to open the exit to the secret tunnel, which could only be opened from her side. The trio made it back to the rest of the party.

DM Comment-
WHEW! That took forever and was way more complicated than even what I wrote above. The group kept falling into analysis paralysis, unable to make a decision or even agree on the right course of action. I have to admit, I was starting to get a little frustrated at them because they kept trying to plan Zeynap's route ten steps ahead, and all I wanted to know was their next immediate action. 

For example, the group was debating and arguing for ten minutes about how to help Zeynap. In an effort to get things moving and maybe help the group visualize what was happening step-by-step instead of all at once, I stepped in and told Xoc-Wik's player, "Okay, forget them for a minute. I need to know what Xoc-Wik is doing, right now."

Xoc-Wik's player would then look at the other players and say, "Okay, what are we doing?"

I interrupted again, "I said forget them, what are YOU doing?"

Xoc-Wik's player got annoyed with me, "Right, got it. Okay." He paused to think, then he looked at the other players again, "Okay, what are we doing?" This made me MORE annoyed! I had to take a short break to keep from getting angry. 

The Sewn Sisters
Bramble, Orvex, Argent, and Vythi-Zorai had been sitting around the room with the vaulted ceiling waiting for the others to return. They had examined the gruesome contents of the cubpoard and the cauldron. The green mist was now gone. There had been no sign of the Sewn Sisters.

Apparently, Xoc-Wik, and Zeynap descended the stairs and entered the room, "Okay, Zeynap's back. We have all five keys!"

Baggy Nana appeared from nowhere atop the raised walkway.  Peggy Deadbells and Widow Groat appeared next to the skeleton gate. Baggy Nana and Peggy Deadbells  hurled spells of paralysis at the trio as they entered the room. Zeynap was able to resist the effects of the spells but Apparently was held frozen in place! Widow Groat sent a magical bolt of lightning into Orvex, Argent, and Bramble.

Zeynap ran across the room and tried to climb the wall to the walkway but couldn't reach. Xoc-Wik stepped into the room and loosed a tangle-arrow at Baggy Nana. The arrow exploded, covering her with thorny vines that dug into the ground. Xoc-Wik immediately followed with three more magically-charged arrows. Baggy Nana fell beneath the onslaught of arrows.




Bramble transformed herself into a massive mace-tailed saurian, blocking the two remaining Sewn Sisters by the skeleton gate. Argent and Orvex moved in to prevent Peggy Deadbells from escaping. Argent quickly discovered that he had difficulty raising his weapons against the hags. He quickly realized that the food he ate earlier must have been cursed somehow!

Widow Groat became ethereal and disappeared. Peggy Deadbells likewise became invisible.

A moment later, Widow Groat reappeared next to Apparently - who was still paralyzed at the entrance to the room. Widow Groat rifled through Apparently's belongings and removed her skeleton key, "Sister! I have it!" Widow Groat disappeared again.

Peggy Deadbells reappeared next to Orvex, attacking him with her claws.

Apparently finally shook off her paralysis. She quickly used Strawbundle's charm and became ethereal. She saw Widow Groat standing in the middle of the room. Apparently closed and engaged with the old crone. Widow Groat fought back with her claws. Apparently screamed and fell to the floor, clutching her wound. Strawbundle jumped off Apparently and both returned to the physical world.

Bramble resumed humanoid form and rushed to assist Apparently. Zeynap cast a healing spell on Apparently while Bramble took up Strawbundle. Both hags had now retreated to the Ethereal Plane and without Apparently's skeleton key, they could never open the skeleton gate.

Bramble entered the Ethereal plane and transformed into a giant ape. She didn't see the hags anywhere in the room. She heard cackling laughter in the banquet hall. The corridor that led to the banquet hall was too narrow for Bramble's giant ape form, so she returned to humanoid shape, ran up the stair and down the corridor, and confronted the hags as they celebrated their perceived victory.

Bramble transformed herself into a giant scorpion the size of a lion. She grabbed Widow Groat with a massive claw and squeezed while she attacked Peggy Deadbells with her tail sting. Both crones fought back with their claws. Bramble squeezed harder and Widow Groat collapsed, dead.



Peggy Deadbells screamed and fell to the floor. The old crone begged for her life. She offered to provide information in exchange for being allowed to exit unharmed. Bramble resumed her humanoid form and agreed.

True to their agreement, Peggy Deadbells revealed three bits of information:

  1. “Hidden on this level of the dungeon is a library of lost lore, guarded by an arcanaloth whose true name is Ygga Raxyg.”
  2. “The easiest way to leave the dungeon is the ebon pool. Charred bones point the way.”
  3. “The Red Trail leads to death.”

Bramble upheld the agreement and allowed Peggy Deadbells to go free. She reclaimed the stolen skeleton key and returned to the main room.



"We should probably rest before moving on." she said, exhausted.

TO BE CONTINUED...