Wednesday, October 5, 2016

September's Stonehell Session

The party decided not to risk its luck with the Hunter’s Lodge again this time and instead decided to explore a sublevel they discovered last year, but never explored. They knew of two entrances to the sublevel, one in area 1A28, and another in area 1A31. They had determined that there was a dome underneath this section of Stonehell with a radius of about 100 feet. The entrance under the Altar of the Laughing Skull was a shaft that opened into the center of the dome. A grate in a cistern led to a tunnel that opened into the side of the dome for the other entrance.

While on their way to the new area, they passed a large statue of a lizard person that they had encountered in the past. There was a bucket full of silver coins at its feet. Previously, they had attempted to take the silver coins and the ceiling collapsed on them. There was still some rubble on the floor from the last collapse. This time they threw a coin into the bucket. The stony skin of the lizard person began to flake off, revealing the scaly skin below. After a few minutes a living, breathing lizardwoman monk named Slethard stood before them. After talking with her, they learned that she was the last of her kind. The rest of her race had been exterminated by a foul archmage a thousand years ago. She decided to adventure with the party until she could determine her new purpose in the world.  

They made their first foray into the Conquistador’s Tomb through the cistern. Feldor, the dwarf fighter, crawled through the tunnel and rappelled down to the floor of the tomb. He found himself in a large, circular room with arched gates at each of the cardinal directions. There was a large fountain in the center of the room and hundreds of animal shaped topiary. After ascertaining that there was no immediate danger, Feldor brought the rest of the group down.

The party decided to investigate the fountain in the center of the room. They discovered it was full of huge koi. When they touched the water, brilliant lights flared to life from four large gems mounted in the dome. The topiary began to blossom, bringing realistic color to all of the animals. The archway to the north had an engraving of an armored man with several men in loincloths and intricate headdresses kneeling before him. The archway to the west had an engraving of a ship, to the south a ziggurat, and to the east a naval battle.

After some discussion, and poking at the topiary, they headed south. They discovered a large room with a scaled down, three level ziggurat in it. The climbed the ziggurat and descended the staircase found in the floor of the top layer. Inside they found that the rooms were similarly scaled down, with low ceilings and small doors. Fortunately, the dwarves were able to explore unhindered. The top level was filled with jars. They were surprised to realize that both the design of the ziggurat, and the jars, were identical to those from their own continent’s ancient past (note: Stonehell is placed on a newly discovered continent in my game). They determined that the jars were likely full of organs and decided to leave them unmolested… for now.

They headed one level deeper into the ziggurat and found two rooms full of jars and another with ten plain coffins. The dwarves returned to the top of the ziggurat to consult with the wizard who postulated that these were the final resting places of the king’s servants. The lowest level held the king’s sarcophagus and four pedestals with treasures on them: a suit of armor, a knife, a pair of boots, and a staff.

Intuiting that the pedestals were trapped they carefully removed the treasures. While several traps were set off, and large parts of the ceiling (and floor of the level above) collapsed, they avoided major damage. The party decided to return to town and have the items identified before hazarding the sarcophagus.

In town, they learned that the knife had a heart-seeking power that allows it to automatically find the heart of a creature that has one on a natural 20. The armor was magical, the boots increased movement, and the staff allowed the wielder to control snakes. The wizard decided to take the staff for a spin, and soon found himself confronted with more snakes than he could control. As he struggled with the snakes, more snakes continued to appear. After getting to safety, he determined that the staff was also cursed with a snake attraction and paid the local sage to have the curse removed. Snake staff in hand, the party set off to open the sarcophagus.

They decided to re-enter the tomb from the center of the dome. They found that the gem lights had gone off and that the flowers had retreated from the topiary. Touching the fountain once again lit the tomb and the blossoming began anew. They noticed that the topiary did not seem to be in exactly the same places as when they left.

The party carefully positioned themselves inside the ziggurat for the opening of the sarcophagus. They also placed heavy stones on the lids of the servants’ coffins. As expected, a mummy emerged and they could hear the occupants of the coffins struggling to get out. After a few rounds of battling, and failing to turn, the mummy, the party found itself facing the zombies as well after they broke free of their coffins. The party turned their efforts to reducing the number of easier-to-hit zombies as they continued to struggle with the tough mummy. The mummy took advantage of this distraction and summoned 25 poisonous snakes to aid him. Luckily, the wizard was able to control some and pitted the snakes against each other. After mopping up the zombies, they were finally able to overcome the mummy after realizing that only magic weapons could hit it. They plundered its sarcophagus and headed home.