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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Rise of Tiamat - Tomb of Diderius

It was extremely cold here in New York today. I figured that meant that nobody would be at the game store and that we'd have a nice quiet session of D&D. Who wants to go out and brave the cold, right?

It turns out that everybody does. The store was packed with giddy players. It was a bit rowdier than usual tonight, both in the store and at my table. Nothing too bad, but I didn't expect it.

We had a visit from an old player. You may remember Hack and Slash Guy from D&D Next fame. He showed up to play, but the tables are full. This is an ongoing problem with the encounters program. There needs to be a "newb" table going in the store at all times, in my opinion. The problem is that players hate stopping at level 4 and starting over at level 1, so all of the tables are high level and deep into Hoard. We need one more DM to show up and to be ready to run for new people.
Here's where the other tables are after about 18 sessions:
  • One table is in Hoard episode 3. I assume they are doing only one encounter a week? My players were stunned when they found out about this.
  • Another table is in Hoard episode 4. The DM is creating side adventures on the caravan journey.
  • The table run by the store owner is in Hoard episode 6.
I don't like going slow. I don't like it as a player or as a DM. I want to get through all of Tyranny of Dragons by the time the new season hits.

Our heroes are on the trail of one of the 5 wyrmspeakers. He's an evil dwarf with the White Dragon Mask. He may have lost the mask. Our heroes have tracked him to an Indiana Jones D&D location called the Tomb of Diderius.

5. Well Chamber

This room didn't have much in it. Mostly it has a mechanism that brings water to the room with the magic divination pool in it. The heroes were ultra-cautious in here. In fact, they were super-cautious in the whole dungeon tonight. They played very smart. I bet they'd even have excelled in Gary Gygax's Castle Greyhawk playing the way they did tonight.

4. Mosaic Chamber

Back in the room where the tile-chimera was, they tried some double doors and triggered a collapse. They were smart and pulled the doors open from a distance with a rope, so they took no damage at all.

6. Hallway
This was one I was very excited about! It's a downward-sloping hallway with a pressure plate. When the plate is stepped on, a boulder made of skeletons rolls down from behind the party. PCs are not only squashed, but if they fail their save they are also pulled into the boulder! It crashes at the bottom, doing more damage. Unlucky PCs will take a total of 64 damage!

As they checked out the hallway, Dark the dragon sorceress peered in, looking for traps. The DC for the plate is a 22. She rolled a natural 20, but she has a -1 on the check. There was literally no way for her to make the check. I am often very lenient, and in many cases I'd just have her succeed when she rolled a natural 20. But in this instance, the trap was too awesome. I couldn't throw this encounter in the garbage!

So they went down the hall and the paladin, the gnome rogue and poor Dark all got gobbled up by the boulder and crashes at the bottom. Dark was nearly killed instantly. A PC healed her to consciousness and looked around. They were in room 7...

7. Throne Room Antechamber

This room has tapestries and smells like incense. Behind the tapestries are 6 alcoves with mummies in them! The mummies only attack in the PCs poke them, or if the PCs don't open a set of double doors in the room in a certain way.

I kept mentioning the tapestries, and nobody would investigate or look behind them. They focused on the door and figuring out the clue to it. They did a great job with it and were successful.

8. Throne Room

This room is fantastic. A 12 foot tall man with a white beard is sitting on a throne with a pile of treasure at his feet. He demands that the PCs pay tribute! In reality, it's a clay golem with an illusion and a magic mouth on it. He will attack if tribute is not paid.
First of all, I am doing this gimmick where their pet baby black dragon Sparky is amassing his own treasure hoard. Sparky got one look at the treasure pile and lunged at it! Dark grabbed him and stopped him.

The PCs decided to pay tribute. The text says the value of the tribute must be "more than a clay cup". The PCs don't know this, though. Each of them placed 100 gold on the pile! The giant man was incredibly pleased, grabbed his belly and let out a hearty, mirthful laugh.

I felt like they deserve some extra reward for this, but I don't know what.

9. Study and Library

There's a ghost in here who is upset that books have been stolen. I had her use her fright power as part of her flavor-moan. The heroes didn't attack her, but weren't sure what to make of this.

Dark, played by a 4th grader, was all over it. She began asking the ghost all the right questions. The ghost knows tons of lore. She even found out the name of the book the ghost most wants returned.

The gnome thief got a little lippy and asked the ghost what it was like to be dead. The Ghost tried to possess him so he could feel what it was like. This alarmed everyone and they got the heck out of there.

10. Dining Hall

This is a weird one. 5 bearded devils sit at a table, doing nothing. They are Varram's devils, and they've been ordered to kill people who come from room 11. Our PCs came from 8. So the devils don't care (There's a devil-may-care joke in here somewhere). 

The paladin has the oath of the ancients. That means he doesn't turn undead, he turns fiends! He rushed in and turned the devils. Dark twinned greater invisibility, meaning she cast it on herself and a rogue. It's a concentration spell, which means that if she is hit, she has to make a saving throw or lose the spell. But because she's invisible, there's little chance of her getting hit! This means that the rogue was able to be invisible and attack for a full minute.

The devils were slaughtered.

12. Divination Pool

This is where the magic pool is. It has no water in it. I tried to give hints that the water mechanism was back in room 5, but they didn't pick up on it.

They were more interested in the dead body and the arrows. The yuan-ti had fought the cultists in here. The dead cultist was actually stabbed in the back (by Varram!) with a special magic item - the dragontooth dagger. I accidentally declared: "It's a dagger made from a dagger's tooth" which amused the group greatly.

13. Crypt of Diderius

This is where Diderius' body is. Because the PCs answered the question at the beginning of the dungeon correctly, Diderius spoke to them. He told them that yuan-ti had taken Varram, and even opens a secret door to room 14, giving the PCs a surprise round...

14. Entryway

The adventurers raced through and jumped a bunch of lizardfolk guards. The guards only have 22 hit points each so they were done for.

We ran out of time here, which is too bad. The next encounter is he one I like the most. It's a narrow stone bridge over a chasm covered in slippery moss. I'd cleverly declared earlier that the baby black dragon had injured his wing when the boulder hit him, so they couldn't use his flight to cross.

If the heroes fall off of this bridge, it's about 120 feet! That's 12d6!

We're playing again this Sunday, so we'll find out what happens soon enough.


Chuckwheel said...

Enjoyed reading. I this, just took my group through that section last Sunday. They did very well in the tomb itself, and managed to not to get into too much trouble anywhere there (they did get smashed and grabbed by the rolling ball). They did figure out the divination pool, and four of them went mad for a while (of course I had them randomly attack each other -- couldn't waste an opportunity like that!! They had an easy time with Diderius. Lastly they got into all sorts of trouble on the slippery bridge: Paladin (gung ho after easily destroying Lizardfolk guards and chasing fleeing remainder) charged in, his wizard called out for him to stop, but the wizard was way back in the crypt, and Paladin had already moved his figure onto the bridge. He tried to take it back, but of course I evilly ruled it too late for that! He made his save, but then a lizardman ran up and pushed him in!!! So much fun. They were then harangued by javelins and longbow shooting Malisons. They managed to defeat this initial group, but then were (very unfairly) attacked again by a very stealthy group (nat 20) who crept up on them from corridor 18, just as the party were in the midst of hauling up the Paladin by rope. Ha ha! Then one Malison managed to Suggest that the hafling rogue follow him deeper into the dungeon, which caused the party to get split up, with the paladin stuck in the hole. The malisons then retreated back down the corridor to the corner where they were originally supposed to be. The halfling had to follow all the way, followed by the bard, then they got ambused in the corridor by the group in area 17. Next the Malisons successfully suggested that the Bard flee. Which he did. I told him he could flee anywhere he wanted, so he ran, alone, into the room with the Helmed Horrors, which they had used a familiar to scope out, but not enter. Hooray! Two of the party are now down and bleeding out, but the paladin is out of the hole. Then we ran out of time!! Jolly good session for the DM, I would say >:)

Anonymous said...

It's your game and you can run it how you like but telling Dark she didn't find any traps on a Natural 20 and then almost killing her with the trap is cold-blooded!

No matter how cool something is, a natural 20 is an auto-success in my games, regardless of modifiers. Just as natural 1's are always misses, regardless of modifiers.

Sean said...

Anonymous: It was a very tough call and I had to make a split second decision. Looking at it now, I think I would have done it differently, especially seeing how Dark was the one who actually took so much damage.

Intruder313 said...

NB: a natural 20 is always a success in 5E (and many previous editions) just as a 1 is always a fail.

I'm running this tonight and they might reach the boulder trap :)

Anonymous said...

5e RAW, nat 20 and 1 are only auto hit it and misses with attack rolls. If you are fighting a God whose spell save is 26 and you don't have a +6 to that saving throw, you fail no matter. If you are trying to open a door that requires a 50 strength athletics check and don't have a +30, you will never open it. (HoTDQ, cloud giant castle, his wife's tomb door)

Z said...

Just ran my group through most of this encounter (at 10th level) and they gave the book to the ghost (they went down the shaft first and found book then happen to backtrack through devils and then to throne room, before meeting ghost in library), went through the pool room (no attempt at a sacrifice), respected Diderius and heeded his words, and then I changed up the Yuan-Ti encounters a little. They met up with a patrol in Room 14, then flew across the bridge (I added a Gray Render in the pit, with a tunnel that doubles back to Room 22 for the big boss battle), and collapsed the rooms to a Hatchery/Meditation room and final room. I am using the Yuan-Ti Pit Boss, Anathema, and the Gray Render to challenge this group...while figuring out how to get Varram out alive...