5E [SPOILERS] Enhancing Tomb of Annihilation

My party are about to descend to level 6 of the Tomb and have collected all the skeleton keys. I'm a little worried about the Trial rooms both because they've been in the dungeon so long already and I'd like to just get to the boss fights, and because some of the puzzles seem like they might slow the session way down as the players struggle to work them out. Thinking of removing all except the Trial of the Pentagon (which seems fun and has consequences for the next battle itself) and just calling that the Control Room with the lever opening all the keyholes.

Wondering what people who've run that part think - would I be cutting out anything essential or important, or were those rooms really fun in a way you think it would be a mistake to skip?
 

MockingBird

Explorer
Tonight we descend into Omu. Really not sure when to pull out King of Feathers. They are 5th level and I feel I need to get them leveled up to 6 fairly quickly. I'm excited for them to explore the ruins for puzzle cubes. I hope I can role play Nsi the way I have him in my head.
 

Onslaught

Explorer
I was familiarizing myself with the actual Tomb of Nine Gods, when I got to Level 5 and the giant cogs.Analyzing the possible ways the cogs are organized, it seems that:A) There's no way to just go from Controls to Area 68, which leads to Level 6 (and dungeon end bosses)B) In order to reach Level 6, one character should be left behind at Control as the others go to the third cog and are rotated so they can reach Area 68I mean... this sound unfair and unfun... is there any other way to do it?Or players are supposed to do just that: leave someone at Control, reach Area 68 and get the last player back from Controls through the small passage above it?
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
Look at page 186 under Area 77 of the Tomb, specifically Wrath of the Trickster Gods. Your answer is there – PCs possessed by trickster gods get major buffs.
Speaking of Trickster Gods...I'm merging Nangnang's shrine with the Drungulung scenario and having Yorb escape to the grung city with a puzzle cube. I want the chieftain to have the same plan as outlined in the book, to summon a consort of Nangnang, but I was wondering if it would work having the Chief possessed by a Trickster God. Would that be something logical to have happen outside the Tomb? Might give the PCs a clue or hint that the cubes are not innocent entirely, or merely keys. I was going to have the Chief get possessed by an ethereal spirit and change form into a grotesque giant grung.
 
Speaking of Trickster Gods...I'm merging Nangnang's shrine with the Drungulung scenario and having Yorb escape to the grung city with a puzzle cube. I want the chieftain to have the same plan as outlined in the book, to summon a consort of Nangnang, but I was wondering if it would work having the Chief possessed by a Trickster God. Would that be something logical to have happen outside the Tomb? Might give the PCs a clue or hint that the cubes are not innocent entirely, or merely keys. I was going to have the Chief get possessed by an ethereal spirit and change form into a grotesque giant grung.
Cool idea!

The purpose of the Tomb of the Nine Gods is to contain the "dead" spirits ("dormant" or "disembodied" is perhaps a better term) of the Trickster Gods. So you'll have a lot of editing to do in Tomb...For example, Acererak's 2nd Warning refers to Nangnang, so you might want to change that...and of course Area 24 (Nangnang's Tomb) wouldn't have Nangnang's spirit inhabiting the petrified egg / pearl of power.
 

Plutancatty

Explorer
My party faced Acererak last night. I felt like he was a little too easy to defeat - and therefore a little anti-climactic - but my players assured me it didn't feel that way to them. They said they felt like they'd very narrowly avoided a TPK. And yet, from my perspective, while he did manage to (temporarily) kill two of the PCs, I still felt like he spent most of the fight just desperately trying to survive the 5-against-1 onlsaught.

I gave him max hit points and may have allowed him to take an extra reaction once or twice (not necessarily on purpose) during the fight, but I think the extra bennies from the trickster god spirits made all the difference. Acererak really struggled to do any lasting damage to the PCs with his spells what with the constantly regenerating 50 temp hp. (Four out of the five PCs had spirits inhabiting them.)

The sphere of annihilation seemed really ineffective too. Yes, it could reach anywhere in the chamber at any time with its 90-foot movement speed, but the Dex save is too low, and it does no damage on a success, so it just wasn't doing much. I'll admit to being somewhat disappointed that none of the PCs got devoured by it.



In retrospect, Omu proved to be the deadliest part of the adventure. The tomb did not live up to its hype. Nor did Acererak. But my players seem to have a different view - with all of us feeling like we were on the back foot the entire time - and I guess that's all that matters, right?

The PCs are now 11th level, and we'll be moving on to Against the Giants.
My DM ran Acererak with better spells, and facing him after the Atropal was really tough. My paladin had three levels of exhaustion already, and had taken a bunch of damage from falling into lava. Acererak was flying around blasting us with fireballs while our sorcerer tried to damage him, to no real effect thanks to his at will counterspell, our monk just made a beeline for the back door almost straight away, and our ranger had a really hard time, I think he may have been exhausted as well, and his bow wasn't magical so his damage wasn't what it could have been. In the end, the sorcerer was disintegrated, my paladin was forcecaged and the cloudkilled to death (gas chamber style), and upon seeing this the ranger hid but was eventually found and tortired to death. The monk managed to escape with Volo (who was in the bag on the altar) and we actually saw this near TPK as a kind of win. :)
 

MockingBird

Explorer
Here are my notes on Ras Nsi which helped me get a better feel for his character.
This is really good stuff. Thanks for linking me to it. Ras Nsi is a really cool villain IMO. I want my players to have a relationship with him and not just try to hack him to bits. If he survives this adventure he will make an appearance again later in the PCs career.

My PCs have been in Omu for a little while now. They have found 3 puzzle cubes. Salida (the guide) will soon betray the party and get them captured. Real life things have popped up and havent been able to play regularly in a few months. I'm ready to get back to it.
 

JediSoth

Semi-Professional Author
I was familiarizing myself with the actual Tomb of Nine Gods, when I got to Level 5 and the giant cogs.Analyzing the possible ways the cogs are organized, it seems that:A) There's no way to just go from Controls to Area 68, which leads to Level 6 (and dungeon end bosses)B) In order to reach Level 6, one character should be left behind at Control as the others go to the third cog and are rotated so they can reach Area 68I mean... this sound unfair and unfun... is there any other way to do it?Or players are supposed to do just that: leave someone at Control, reach Area 68 and get the last player back from Controls through the small passage above it?
I'm curious myself how others have handled the seemingly mandatory requirement in Gears of Hate that PCs split the party. It seems like the entire level is one giant puzzle and the only way to solve it is leave one character behind in the control room and hope, eventually, the rest of the group find their way back to it via the hidden tunnel under the console. My group doesn't have an NPC guide, so leaving them to handle the controls isn't an option.

I'm also curious about the monodrone that comes out of the wardrobe. That room can't be solved without slaying everything that comes out of every wardrobe, but monodrones aren't evil per se, so it seems like unless the DM decides its confused state causes uncharacteristic aggression, the PCs are going to have to murder it (that won't sit well with the paladin).
 

Dark_T_Zeratul

Explorer
In my group, the paladin had a hadrosaur mount (it felt more appropriate to the region than a horse), and she had him work the controls while they communicated telepathically. Obviously not a solution that works for every group, but illustrative that creative thinking can definitely solve the issue (as could the Gaseous Form spell).

For the monodrone, it ended up working itself out without any ethical dilemma. After the first few they all readied actions to murder whatever came out, and the poor modron exploded before they even registered what it was.
 

JediSoth

Semi-Professional Author
I get a sense that the Gears of Hate level is going to cause them a LOT of frustration. I'm tempted to put a lever in one of the small rooms that, when pulled, takes them directly to the atropol. It would be total schmuck-bait, but frankly, no more so than some of the other traps in the Tomb of Nine Gods.
 

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