This session happened Friday, January 7, 2011, and was the only session I ran this past weekend. There was a two week hiatus between this session and the previous one due to the holidays.
Su Bel (human cleric)
Tycho von Helmont (elf alchemist)
Agnes Sunbeard (dwarf rogue)
Sal Ty (elf wizard)
Thorngrim (half-orc sorcerer)
– Kainen (Thorngrim’s human fighter cohort)
Note: the list of player characters is in player sitting order, from my left and then clockwise around the table.
Short on coin again and with plans on enlarging Drop-off Tower into a small keep, the adventurers decided to return to a locale they had not been to since Fall of the previous year – the Terrace of Fallen Horses. After packing up some gear for the expedition, the group set out into the pleasant late Spring air. They followed Gravemarker Road to the Woodcutter’s Camp, which was occupied again by people from the Iron Keep, and then took the Terrace Road out across the Sea of Grass.
It had been long enough since the last time the group had traveled this way that Sal and Thorngrim had to re-cut the road through the tall grasses, adding arcane marks along the way. This slowed the group down a bit (as did avoiding a pride of dire lions on the hunt) and they had to camp out on the plains for the night. The next morning they completed re-cutting the road to the Ruined Hills and followed their stone markers into the hills and to the Terrace of Fallen Horses.
The locale looked much like they remembered it. The upper terrace still had three tombs exposed (one resealed) and the broken horse statues on the lower terrace were where Sal had left them after mending them to the best of his ability. After some round-about discussion, it was decided that they would try opening one of the tombs on the lower terrace. Sal summoned an earth elemental [named Kazimir, not that anyone asked*] and ordered it to remove the layer of earth covering the tombs backing the lower terrace. This exposed six tomb entrances.
The group decided to start with the one they discovered the last time they were here, which was second from the left. Agnes spent some time checking the entrance to the tomb before lending Kainen her six-foot pry bar to leverage the stone slab away. The hallway beyond had scenes of an important man, probably a king, doing kingly things, but in every instance, the hieroglyphs of the king’s name and his face in the pictures was carefully chiseled away. The hallway ended with a wax-sealed door that had magical text painted on it, clearly done after the door had been sealed and not part of the decorations. Sal and Thorngrim discussed it a bit and came to the conclusion that it was a curse and that the curse was on the occupant of the tomb and not directed at anyone who might, say, open the tomb and plunder it.
Sal used prestidigitation to remove the wax sealing the door and Kainen once again pried open the door. The corridor continued on a bit and then turned left. Sal led the way, using detect magic freely to spot anything magical. Around the corner he stopped short as a large copper half-sphere mounted on the wall started charging up with electricity. Agnes moved forward to disable the trap, carefully checking the floor for pressure plates. Unfortunately for her, this trap did not use pressure plates and triggered anyways, filling the corridor with bolts of electricity [imaging the head of a Tesla coil throwing arcs of electricity and you’ll have a good picture]. It also activated two more half-sphere, equally spaced down the corridor and (as they discovered in a bit) several more down around a corner, covering nearly 60 ft of corridor. After some healing, Agnes tried again, approaching the sphere differently, and this time she was able to disable the first sphere. While she continued to work her way down the corridor, disabling each half-sphere in succession, Sal and Thorngrim removed the half-spheres from the walls and stashed them in a bag of holding with plans to attach them to the top of Drop-off Tower.
Past the trapped corridor was another wax-sealed door. Agnes checked it and Kainen pried it open, releasing a small gust of foul air. Inside was a large (10 ft from foot to crown) sarcophagus with a lid of gold. The excited adventurers (after checking for traps) opened the sarcophagus to see what treasures lurked inside. The occupant of the sarcophagus was not pleased with this and attacked. Su Bel was able to identify the undead as a devourer, known to eat the souls of its victims. This added a certain cachet to the fight, which ended with the devourer destroyed, but Tycho suffering from two negative levels and several others wounded. At this point it was decided to camp outside next to the reflecting pool.
[Note: the standard operating procedure for camping includes the use of rope trick and campfire wall, which tends to side-step night time encounters. I still roll to check in case something interesting shows up.]
The next morning, the adventurers decided to try one more tomb before heading back to the Iron Keep for diamond dust (as Su Bel has access to restoration now, something Tycho very much needed). They chose the left-most tomb on the lower terrace and opened it. The walls here are also covered with hieroglyphs, but had not been defaced like the previous tomb. The floor of first chamber they entered was a scale map of the surrounding lands, bordered by mountains on the western edge and swamps on the eastern edge. The roof was painted to look like the nighttime sky. Sal immediately set to sketching the floor in his journal. While recognizably the same lands the adventurers were travelling in, there were many subtle changes, including a forest centered on the Ruined Hills (extending from the coast to the north to the Spiderwood in the south) and many more rivers crossing the plains than the adventurers had seen.
Once Sal was done sketching, the group pushed on to the actual crypt, where they again found a large stone sarcophagus, this time facing north (the last one faced south, but they made no special note of it at the time) with no gold on it. There were also six, wax-sealed urns in the chamber with the sarcophagus. The adventurers opened the sarcophagus and found the desiccated remains of its inhabitant. After carefully removing golden jewelry it was wearing, they replaced the lid. The urns proved to be each filled with 4,000 coins, two each of copper, silver, and gold. This not inconsiderable weight was conveyed to a bag of holding and a couple haversacks.
Loaded down with coin and treasure (and Tycho still down two levels), the adventurers left the terraces and returned to the Iron Keep. They were able to convert the jewelry into coin, but not the gold sarcophagus – they had depleted the town’s free coin supply by then. Su Bel purchased the necessary amount of diamond dust to cast the first restoration on Tycho and enough to cast it a second time a week later. Then the group returned to Drop-off Tower to make further plans. [Also, everyone in attendance leveled.]
*End of session*
Due to a mis-communication while I was restating how the adventurers had made camp, I coined a new magic item: the ring of bear traps. We decided it had two functions: 1) once a day the user can summon a ring of bear traps around him, and 2) three times a day it can be used in melee to make the users unarmed strike count as a magic weapon, add +1d8 to the damage, and allow an automatic grab attempt at +10. I haven’t set the cost yet, but will do so in the near future.
* I’ve decided that all earth elementals speak with a Russian accent, which went over great with the players. Or at least they have the faux-Russian accent I’m able to do. They sound like Lev, the cosmonaut from the movie Armageddon. Now I have to come up with accents for the other elements, preferably accents I can a) actually do, and b) can consistently maintain.