The Fall of Astia – Stand Alone Adventure Recap

Alright, we’ve been radio silent for some time now.  Time to get back in the saddle.

So in a parallel stand-alone adventure, N’grall the Dragonborn Paladin, Ari the Elven Ranger and Walker Boh the Half-Elven Sorcerer received notice from a squirrelly altar boy, a parchment speaking of a mission of great importance, signed by Archbishop Barnet, a trusted member of N’grall’s church of Bahamut.  (which the premise was borrowed from here, then modified to meet my needs.)

Now the reason for the parallel stand alone adventure, was because we were only able to score 3 players for this game.  The main campaign, where most of the party currently is, would have been left out of the raid on a wizard’s tower, which contains some seriously important storyline plots and goals of the villains.  So I decided a stand alone adventure would fit better, especially with the introduction of a new player to the group.

Anyways, I digress…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The parchment read,

“A matter of great importance has come to our attention. The village of Clearpool, which lies about a half-day’s ride north of here, needs your help, though your quest lies closer to home. Please meet me at the temple as soon as you are ready to leave. I suggest bringing some companions you can trust and be ready to leave first thing.”

Archbishop Barnet

When the PC’s arrived at the temple:

This particular piece was more geared to N’grall, as this is his home church:  “To this day, the church still gives you chills when you walk up to the eastern façade. The rose window shines a rainbow of colors into the center of the church’s nave. However with the building expansion currently in progress, which includes almost doubling the church in size, the awe and wonder are momentarily suspended by the noise of the construction.”

One other thing N’grall noticed:  “The thought crosses through your mind that the recent addition being constructed on the temple is surprising, as you didn’t think the church had a budget or necessary coin for such things. While you trust that the Archbishop wouldn’t put the church in financial jeopardy, it seems the coin could be put to better use, like helping those in need.”

The Archbishop was waiting for the PC’s outside, carrying a curious brown sack and traversed down the steps in haste, when one would normally meet in his chambers; great importance indeed.

The archbishop was relatively young for a human, especially one who has risen so quickly to his position and responsibility. The PC’s gathered that it was most likely due to his outgoing and charismatic personality.  Though young, his dark brown hair and eyebrows were already frosted with gray, presumably from the stress that comes with the position.

The archbishop waved the PC’s off to the side of the church, past the small graveyard, into a little clearing a bit farther away from the loud construction, most likely for some privacy. After a cursory glance about the area, he looks to you and said to the PC’s,

“Welcome brother. Thank you for coming so quickly at my request. Before I go into detail, I must make sure. You trust these two with your life? (pointing at the other PC’s.) “Good…good”.  Well, I trust N’grall knows what he’s doing or he wouldn’t have brought you along. You look capable, that is for sure, he says,  looking up and down at both PC’s. “I mean no disrespect, but in times like these, trust is hard to come by.  Let me fill you in.  The village of Clearpool has for years been known for its crystal waters and healing springs. An old Legend has it that Torga, the great Dwarven Cleric of Sithe, used a relic to purify the waters of Clearpool and grant the springs the healing powers of our mutual god, Bahamut.

It seems that now, thousands of years after the cleric’s death, the waters have become tainted. The smell, once sweet, has turned fetid and those who bathe in the springs develop sickening blisters. You have been summoned here to help another church in need, by traveling to  tomb to recover the relic he once used to purify those springs. I believe that Clearpool’s temple came to us due to our close proximity to the location of the tomb, which is only 8 miles north of here, at the base of the Shimmering Peak Mountains.”

At this point, the players gathered that Archbishop Barnet was visibly nervous, with sweat upon his brow on a day where the chill was more than evident.

The archbishop continued with,“What worries me, is your safety of course, N’grall, but also the rumors I’ve been hearing and the research I’ve been doing. Torga wasn’t full dwarf, it seems. He was what many believe to be an abomination, so his birthright was never spoken of or documented, however through some thorough incantations, I’ve discovered that he was half dwarf and half gnome. It seems that his tomb is riddled with traps and trickery, which could only have come from his gnomish heritage and expertly built, coming from his dwarven side. I fear the tomb could be the death of you all. Please be careful.”

At this point, he hands the PC’s a small map, which showed landmarks that would get them to the general whereabouts of the tomb. He also hands them a sack, which under further scrutiny not only had fresh travel bread, but 6 vials of a thicker, viscous liquid; their stoppers sealed in wax and the vial itself painted to look the same color as the bread.  He seemed to remain silent about the contents of said vials.

PC’s set off and didn’t have any trouble following the map and landmarks, especially because this was their home. Once they arrived, Ari noticed a couple of things. There seemed to be a lot of foot traffic in the area, especially for a place that was nowhere near a main road or anything close that would be a hotspot for any reason. Ari also noticed someone sneaking into a niche in the cliff face, where the tomb’s entrance was found to be.

Found this at: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lycian-rock-tombs

Found this at: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lycian-rock-tombs

When Ari investigated further, he found the man had disappeared and that one particular decorative blade sticking out of the door (it was an elaborate door with no handle), was worn more than the others. After Ari went back and reported his findings to the others, when they returned, they pulled the decorative blade, a not so secret trigger with Ari’s Elven eyes, and the door opened up into darkness.

Ari and Walker used their Darkvision inside and saw that there was a 10 foot long chasm blocking their way. On the other side of the chasm were large wooden planks.

chasm

They heard a loud noise and after some deducing, figured it out to be a scythe blade coming from further down in the cave.

After Ari tried shooting an arrow with a rope and critically fumbled, losing the arrow and the rope down the chasm, they decided to lasso a rope around a stalagmite and then Ari carefully tight-roped across. He slipped once, barely catching himself on the rope, then pulled himself up and then pulled out a Nat 20, scampering across the rest of the rope with ease like a circus freak. Ari put the planks down, with Walker helping when he got across, so the large, heavy Dragonborn could come over without issue.

After bending down and carefully looking down the long cavern tunnel, Ari noticed a tripwire halfway down  and a dead body, sliced in two diagonally, at the end of the tunnel. They also noticed that the descending cave tunnel was filled with scree (loose rocks) and Walker, having a little trouble with it, set off the tripwire, which then dropped a bunch of large rocks down onto his head, though not fatally.

Once at the bottom, next to the body, Ari pulled both halves out of the way of the door, searched them and found some standard gear and a smattering of coins in a pouch, along with a lock picking set. The lock picks were missing once they opened the kit. N’grall, getting closer to the door, found the lockpicks on the floor next to the door. He threw his axe at the door, seeing if the trap might trigger again and after some additional investigation of the area, the group found where the scythe blade was coming from.  So they jammed it up with some well-placed and deeply imbedded axes and bashed open the door. (N’grall with his shield). Turns out the door was open, as the dead guy had succeeded in picking the lock on the door, but not on finding the trap.

Now they were finally inside the tomb itself. The group found themselves in a large room with 10 pillars. When they walked by the pillars, they could hear scratching coming from inside them. There was a large portcullis on the other end of the room, which was locked in place. A series of 8 levers with associated letters created a puzzle, and a timed one at that.

The puzzle itself was merely just the names of 3 gods, Corellon, Sehanine and Platinum (in place of Bahamut, since I needed 8 letters).  The levers each had three positions, top, middle and lower, and the letters were mixed up for confusion.  The correct answer was Platinum, since Bahamut is the platinum dragon and Torga, was a follower of Bahamut.  The puzzle looked like this:

C  L  H  E  I  I  O  M

S  O  A  T  N  L  U  E

P  E  R  A  L  N  N  N

Almost in unison, Ari and Walker figured the puzzle out, shouting the word PLATINUM, in just about 3-5 minutes. (Bonus 500 XP for avoiding the combat and guessing the puzzle so quickly!) There was also a timer sounds slowly ticking away, which gave someone who was SUPPOSED to be there, enough time to maneuver the levers to the appropriate letters and someone who wasn’t, not much time before the trap was set off and the skeletons were let loose. Luckily, the PC’s avoided a combat altogether, with skeletons that were inside the pillars, waiting for their release.

Once the PC’s crossed the threshold, they started to hear booming voices:

The first trial complete

A victory won

You’ve earned a clue

Simply put, it’s “MISDIRECTION”.

The misdirection turned out to be an obvious spear trap that needed to be circumvented; however it was meant to spurn the PC’s ahead, in hopes of depositing them in a concealed pit towards the end of the hallway. Everyone was able to jump over the pit, with a successful dex save and/or athletics check, though it was close for N’grall, who fell prone when fumbling to jump over the pressure plate that opened the pit’s gate.

Once the PC’s got through the next door, the booming voice returned, stating:

You passed trial two

For that I’m impressed

Perhaps now you should learn

The true meaning of stress.

The door locks behind the PC’s, and all they can see are a chest and another door out in this VERY large room (110’ by 60’ ish). They started to hear gears grinding up above in the ceiling, when four large compartments opened up and started gushing water. The PC’s started to get moving and noticed that they were inside of an invisible maze. Walker used a well thought out dispel magic to remove the invisibility on the walls, making for an easier navigation of the maze. In the chest, they found a cap of water breathing.

The booming voice returned once they crossed the threshold of the next door, saying:

Not sure how you succeeded

Do you have a fucking map?

Your luck won’t last

It’s not the end of my traps!

This particular passage, which switchbacked twice over, was only about 2’ wide, causing all the PC’s, especially N’grall to have to squeeze through a very tight place. Complications ensued when swarms of insects started coming down holes near the ceiling, but Walker put a quick stop to it with some his burning hands spell that left the PC’s with a rain of smoldering insects on them. The rest was a piece of cake, if not slow going.

Booming voice returns:

You’ve passed trial four

You defy all convention

Trust me you’ll die

Here comes my most delicious invention

In this room, once they entered, a large boulder drops from the ceiling, and the floor, pitched in their direction, gave the only momentum the boulder needed to head their way. There was a pedestal in the middle of the room, though it was found to be completely useless and just a distraction to keep the players busy. The only option was these little shelves that had chains sticking out of them, which were hanging over a pit of spikes below. N’grall was the first to act, and found the chains to be greased, forcing a tough strength check to keep from slipping down. N’grall told the others before they acted and gave them a quite inventive idea. Instead of using the chains, they each took one end of a rope and used that to hang over the pits, while the boulder rolled past, instead of the chains. PC’s noticed that the boulder didn’t damage the pedestal at all (from what they could hear, down below the level of the boulder). Once the boulder rolled past, they were only momentarily confused when they figured out that the boulder was an illusion, meant to just force the PC’s onto the chains and into the pits. The room started to pitch in the other direction, but the players were already on their way out the far door.

The booming voice returned, even angrier than before, yelling:

Enjoy the spikes

Driven through your head

You’ll never escape

dead Dead  DEAD!

This was a devious, and cliched trap I found online, which involved a ceiling covered in spikes, both doors locked, a pedestal in the middle of the room with a lever on it. There was a hole big enough for one person to fit in and then the timer began, counting down from 10.

Think I forgot to read this to the players, but another booming voice:

Who will survive

In a hole built for one

The rest of you though

Your lives will be undone

The ceiling moved down further and further with each second and when the lever was pulled, it reset the trap and the countdown. After searching the hole, the walls, etc…, they were able to deduce (after about only 5 minutes or so), that the spikes didn’t come ALL the way to the floor (no marks on the floors themselves, walls rubbed up against trap and showed stopping point). So, the PC’s decided to let fate have its hand and didn’t pull the lever. The spikes came down within 1 ½ feet of the ground and then the trap reset on its own and the door opened.

The next room was the final resting place of Torga. They finally made it! N’grall, respectfully says a prayer in the name of Bahamut and then proceeds to open the sarcophagi for the relic.

www.wizards.com

www.wizards.com

The relic turned out to be a Mithril hammer, adorned with diamonds. As soon as the relic is taken though, 4 shadows emerge and immediately engage with the PC’s.

5th edition Monster manual, property of www.wizards.com

5th edition Monster manual, property of www.wizards.com

Both Ari and Walker were hit by the nefarious shadows, taking some serious strength drain, but then, the tides were turned when Walker cast daylight, giving the shadows disadvantage on all their rolls;  additionally, N’grall used his radiant thunderous smite and Ari, peppered them with his magical bow and arrows, to finally bring them down.

Overall, it was a very impressive show by the PC’s who overcame a multitude of traps, of all different sorts. Once the shadows dissolved away, the booming voice returned:

You’ve faced my inner demons

Which plagued my final days

I am back in Bahamut’s glory

And to you and him I give praise

 

You now have the relic

Please use it with strength and care

To heal those in need

And be just firm and fair

 

Your will is indomitable

You’ve beaten the best

Now take what you deserve

Inside my secret chests

 

On your way out

they shall be revealed

I ask a favor in return

This tomb must be sealed

 

No more should face

The trials I’ve devised

There’s nothing here left

Of that I must hide

 

I’m back with my god

and finally at peace

My legend now lives on

with my soul’s anticipated release

 

Peace with you, in Bahamut’s name

I generally utilize the DF sets I’ve collected for most of my adventures, but for forest terrain, I’m currently using Wilderness Dungeon Tiles.  I used a conjunction of DF cavern tiles, tied into dungeon tiles, then the Dwarven Forge Catacombs set for the tomb itself, as shown below.

www.dwarvenforge.com

www.dwarvenforge.com

A locked door in the back of the crypt popped open and all the treasure they found throughout the tomb was all in Platinum (another tie in to Bahamut as the Platinum Dragon). The platinum pieces were also thousands of years old, containing the head of Bahamut, and were worth double the price of normal platinum. Also, a whiff of a magical aura was found on three of the Platinum coins.

Treasure rooms opened up all over the tomb, including one that was in the cavern itself that looked to be filled with various smuggled goods from all different lands, which explained the large amounts of foot traffic seen outside the tomb. A large smuggling operation stationed within the cave and another adventure hook!

The treasure was divvied up and turned out to be quite the small fortune.

Now, due to the fact that my son was sick, we ended the game a bit early and will need to finish one more encounter with Ari, Walker and N’grall at the beginning of our next session, slated for November 15th.

As when the PC’s emerge from the tomb, they are greeted by a hill giant and what looks to be his pet owlbear. The hill giant says, “Good, you have relic Ruby wants. Hand over now and you not die. Or, I take it from body.  Owlbear hungry. Ruby wants relic.  What Ruby wants, Ruby gets.”

So, that is where we ended it.  Next session we’ll knock out that encounter first, then jump back into our regularly scheduled campaign session, where the PC’s are to infiltrate a wizards tower in the Underdark.  The wizard knows the PC’s are coming and will most likely be more than prepared.

Let the fun begin!

Until next time,

JINX

 

About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at dungeonmaster.bm@gmail.com for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.