5E Tomb of Annihilation campaign recaps

sim-h

Explorer
Time for my latest recaps. Another three sessions down. The first two sessions were slow, and I've quickly summarised them below before the more lengthily narrated recap I sent the players after the third session....

See previous post not too long ago for details of the party if so desired.

SESSION 14:
Having acquired the power of flight through gods-knows-what communion with his secretive master, Feyred solved the party's navigational difficulties by flying up above the jungle canopy to spot out Kir Sabal, some twenty miles to the south of their present position. Emboldened, the party marched south, slaying some hapless axe beaks that had the misfortune to mistake them for food. About halfway, they stumbled across a marshy sinkhole filled with man-eating quippers and featuring the long dead bones of nothing less than a full grown dragon! After musing on the scene for some time (and slaying many fish) the party could find nothing of interest and moved on. [I moved Needle's Bones into their path, but they didn't search for any secret doors in the walls, so missed that....]

Early the following morning a number of Su-monsters assailed their camp, stunning various party members and giving them all a bit of a fright. However, the adventurers prevailed, and later that day reached Kir Sabal! After a troublesome ascent they met with the head of the monastic aarakocra - Asharra, 'The Teacher' and her wards, Na and Mwaxanare, heirs to Omu.

Hearing the group's plea, Asharra agreed to grant them the power of flight through the ritual of the Dance of the Seven Winds. The party rejoiced! Surely soon they would be at Omu! Not quite...Asharra revealed that in order to conduct the ritual she would need a rare black orchid, of the kind found only in the ruins of Nangalore, some two days march south of Kir Sabal [I moved it nearer than shown on the map]. Faces drooped as the adventurers realised they would face yet another speedbump in their progress! [Jungle fatigue setting in, but Nangalore is exciting and the last speedbump, so not too worried].

SESSION 15:
The party took two days to reach Nangalore. Feyred again used his flying powers to scout out the marsh-surrounded ruin, noting the presence of several Eblis sentinels. He returned quickly before the nasty stork-people could intercept him. The party circled around to the front of the ruin, and fought off four crocodiles before entering the left hand terraces of Nangalore. There was much caution - but it did not prevent Feyred being ambushed by yellow musk zombies nor Elhorn stumbling across an assassin vine that somehow failed to ensnare him. All were dispatched by the combined efforts of the party, although Veitar did manage to hit Lana in the back with a Guiding Bolt, resulting in some friendly fire damage that highlighted the risks of firing ranged attacks into melee.

The group progressed to the central domed ruined palace, which contained a huge statue of a Chultan warrior and a strangely lifelike man-sized statue [foreshadowing FAIL - see next session]. En route, Lana noted down various indecipherable inscriptions in an ancient cuneiform, in case they were later able to translate these mysterious inscriptions. Near the central dome, Feyred and Eddie sniped an Eblis which was keeping watch from the roof of a nearby pagoda - their combined attacks proving fatal for the beast.

SESSION 16:
The session began in the ruined palace at Nangalore, as the party mused over what might be in the urn beneath the feet of the 18-foot-high statue of the Chultan warrior. The answer was provided by Lana, who opened the urn after Eddie had checked it over. It contained ashes - and seemed to be a funeral urn.

Seeing the intact dome in the northeast from the balcony overlooking the flooded garden to the north, the party resolved to make for it to seek the orchid. They couldn't force open the eastern doors of the domed chamber they were in, so instead made their way back west and through the northwestern pagoda that the unfortunate eblis had been perched atop. This seemed to be an eblis nest, foul-smelling and strewn with detritus and droppings. That didn't stop Eddie from searching through the muck, and his curiosity was rewarded by a pouch of gemstones.

The party waded across the northern flooded garden, strangely shaped stones underfoot. They paused to take in the shattered statue there, which seemed to be of a regal-looking woman. Arriving at the closed bronze doors of the northeastern pagoda, Elhorn pushed open the doors and they entered, all except Eddie who took up a position with his crossbow just outside the doors.

The single, large chamber inside the dome was obviously a royal apartment — or had been, centuries ago. Now the bright, floral murals were dim and gray, bits of colored glass heaped beneath a cracked mosaic, enameled wooden tables split and tilting, and every bit of cloth frayed and streaked.

At the center of the room, a long divan stood atop a circular dais. Reclining on the divan was a woman dressed in a flowing robe made from parrot feathers in stunning colors. Despite the heat, her arms, head, and face were covered in feathery veils. Next to her, a black orchid grew out of a large clay pot at the head of the divan. The party had found what they were seeking! She addressed them in a voice tinged with odd inflections. “Strangers have come to Nangalore, my love. What boon do our subjects beseech?”

Three eblis servants lined the northern wall, standing silently to attention.

There followed some negotiations, but it seemed the mysterious woman was just a little bit miffed they had shot down one of her eblis servants without provocation, and then disturbed the ashes of her (it turned out) long dead lover. She offered them a deal for the black orchid - hand over Elhorn to be her slave for all eternity, and they could have the flower.

Needless to say, the negotiations quickly soured, and the mysterious lady ordered her eblis to attack! Thinking quickly, Elhorn conjured his mage hand to snatch the orchid as Feyred blasted the approaching Eblis, and Lana fired off some shots with her longbow before charging into the fray. Mysterious hypnotic patterns conjured by the Eblis captivated Eddie - much to his annoyance - but everybody else was unaffected.

It was only when the woman tore off her veil that the party realised their true predicament - for the writhing snakes in the woman's hair revealed her to be none other than...a medusa! As everybody except Eddie set eyes on the monster, they struggled to ward off her petrifying gaze before averting their eyes. Three of the party had the inner resolve to resist her gaze. But sadly the fourth did not, and despite the use of Inspiration, poor Feyred Warbastard was turned instantly to stone, petrified for all time or until powerful magic could be applied to reverse the process.

Shocked by the fate of their companion - and with Elhorn holding the black orchid - the party beat a fighting retreat, Veitar healing Lana as she bore the brunt of the medusa and eblis attacks. Disengaging and sprinting away back across the flooded northern garden as two more eblis flew in to join the fight, Elhorn hurled fireball after fireball at their foes, slaying eblis and damaging the medusa horribly, torching her once glorious chambers. As she weakened, the medusa called forth a giant spectral apparation of the spear-wielding Chultan warrior, who towered above her. But with the party fleeing and out of range of the spear-thrust, the apparition could do little to aid her.

Finally, Veitar turned and smote the burned medusa with his Spiritual Weapon and righteous Sacred Flame - she slumped face first at the foot of the steps, her spectral guardian shimmered and disappeared, and the last eblis were despatched. It was over - but at what cost! The group had their black orchid, but they had lost Feyred, entombed forever in stony form within the medusa's scorched pagoda.

After Veitar performed a Prayer of Healing, the group returned in sombre mood to Kir Sabal, making it in the space of a day. Ascending the walkways to report their success and loss, they found a new traveller had arrived at the monastery in their absence - a Chultan albino dwarf shamanic druid by the name of Aylbous Stonegaze. Conincidentally, he too was seeking to solve the riddle of the death curse, for personal reasons he would relate to the party in due course. The party hit it off at first sight with the new arrival, and it was agreed he should accompany them to Omu.

Next morning, Asharra performed the Dance of the Seven Winds, powdering and inhaling the black orchid. Her wings disappeared - temporarily she assured them - and the five party members were granted the power of flight for three days. They set off with aarakocra escorts, on the final leg of their quest to find the forbidden city of Omu!

The three days of flying were punctuated by glorious vistas, but largely uneventful. The party did spot an abandoned camp, recovering a couple of climbing kits. On the last night, after the aarakocra had departed, they camped a mere half mile from Omu. A hungry allosaurus attacked in the early hours and was vanquished, providing a cooked breakfast. Their new companion Aylbous suffered the brunt of the dinosaur's blows, but healed himself afterwards with help from Veitar.

Now, on the morning of the 10th Flamerule, the party hacked their way through the final section of dense jungle, which soon parted to reveal a vast dead city enclosed by sheer cliffs. Ruined buildings and stone boulevards rose like ghosts from the floor of the misty basin. Colorful birds glided overhead. Strange bestial noises occasionally floated up from the city below.

A waterfall poured into the basin at the far end, a half mile distant, creating a swollen river that flooded much of the far end of the city before draining into a deep rift filled with molten lava. A ruined palace could be made out in the east of the city, a few hundred feet from the edge of the steaming abyss. Before them, from their position at the southwestern corner of the city, rough natural stone steps led down into a terrace in the cliffs, to what appeared to be an abandoned and partly collapsed gatehouse a short distance away. Beyond that, the city awaits...
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
Next session the heroes begin their exploration of OMU! (which will be Session #26 in our current timeline)
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
Here's the latest journal entry, made up of two gaming sessions (because writing journals is hard to keep up with):

https://app.roll20.net/forum/post/7254697/days-109-110-red-wizards-shrines-and-a-bag-of-nails

They did pretty well, but now are worried that they are just one of three different groups trying to find puzzle cubes. They gained a couple of NPC mooks though, so that's a bonus.

Bag of Nails was great fun to run and very frustrating for the players. They found it so hard to get a bead on him. He would have killed Trayzeal in the surprise round if I hadn't forgotten to add some of his extra damage.
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
No new post this week, but I did update the journal from the last post. It was a good game, but not that interesting to read. They went to two shrines, solved the puzzles, defeated the enemies and retrieved the puzzle cubes. Also, I have a cold so I couldn't be bothered writing in detail. Bluk.
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
This is really enjoyable at the moment. I think you do need to keep all the different factions involved and interrupting the main quest. Otherwise it would be a dungeon-slog. All the different players really break it up and give the opportunity for things to really be influenced by the players.
 

MockingBird

Explorer
My group just finished up Nangalore. They had a sense that a medusa was lurking about after seeing the life like statue. Their curiosity for the urn got the better of them though. The druid used mage hand to examine the urn and as he did a couple of Eblis flew off to report the intrusion. After a successful plea for forgiveness the medusa calmed and insisted that the party join her for wine and fruit. The rogue was poisoned and the tension boiled over into a fight. They were smart and was able to pin her down with a hold person spell for a few rounds. After a very fun battle they succeeded and narrowly avoided being petrified.

Thanks for posting your sessions. I like to compare how your game is going and how your players go about things.
 

sim-h

Explorer
Here's my latest two sessions. Party are level five but hit some major buffers in Omu...luckily the adventure caters for that although I'll have to plan the next session carefully!

SESSION 17:
The session began with the party looking down on the Forbidden City of Omu for the first time. After taking in the major features, they headed down to the nearby ruined gatehouse, which Eddie scouted out. Within, signs of scorching from old campfires were visible, and a wall had been given over to carved and painted graffiti in the common tongue. Various cryptic messages could be made out:

“Fear the fangs of Ras Nsi!”

“Erik, I’ve gone in search of the nine shrines. V.”

“The puzzle cubes are the key.”

“Beware the frog monster!”

“Who is Unkh?”

“All hail the King of Feathers!”

“The snakes are not what they seem.”

“Kubazan = bravery. Shagambi = wisdom. Moa = ?”

Moving on, the party descended to the first buildings of the city proper - abandoned two-storey limestone villas overgrown and choked with vines and towering palms. As Eddie scouted out the dank interior a consensus was quickly reached. Rather than spend time searching every building in the city, the party agreed to head straight for the palace in the eastern quarter. The feeling was, if Ras Nsi was anywhere, he would be there, and it would be there that the party would most likely discover the nature of this 'Soulmonger' and the death curse.

Smoke was seen rising from a walled compound nearby however, so the adventurers decided to investigate there first. Peering from the upper floor window of a long-abandoned bathhouse, Eddie spied the signs of a fire or explosion of some kind - charred humanoid remains being scavenged by a pack of wild dogs. They descended to street level and made their way round to the smashed compound gates. Within, Aylbous spoke to the wild dogs, which were solely interested in their food. The party gave them a wide berth, and discovered a grizzly totem pole of snake skulls and inhuman remains, close to a symbol which Eddie recognised as that of Dendar the Night Serpent, a Yuan-Ti deity. It looked like Yuan-Ti snake people had fought a bloody battle with those within the compound in the recent past.

At that moment, from a nearby collapsed wall came a weak cry..."help me, please!"

Investigating, the group rescued a buried human - a scholar called Orvex Ocrammus. Exhausted and starving, he was given water and some healing. It turned out he was in the employ of a group of Red Wizards of Thay who had come to Omu also seeking the Soulmonger, no doubt for their own nefarious ends. They had been ambushed by a powerful force of Yuan-Ti, scattering the remnants of their group and leaving Orvex buried beneath a collapsed wall! He was keen to accompany the group through the city, for protection. Orvex was able to translate Old Omuan - the language found in many inscriptions here including at Nangalore, so he had some immediate use and the party agreed. He also referred to the legend of the Nine Trickster Gods of Omu, which he resolved to recount to them in full once he had regained his strength. He confirmed some of the names seen in the graffiti were those of the trickster gods: Unkh, Shagambi, Kubazan and Moa.

Beyond the wall was a ruined shrine with a stagnant walled pool before it. Orvex was keen the adventurers should explore the shrine, having a professional interest in the lost religions of Omu. However, when Eddie scouted closer he noticed a large eyestalk protruding from the pool. Reporting back, Orvex speculated that this was the shrine of Kubazan, the Froghemoth. Such gargantuan monstrosities were capable of swallowing a man whole and were powerful foes indeed. The party had second thoughts about investigating the shrine, and instead gave it a wide berth, heading back across the raised north-to-south causeway in the direction of a fallen tree that appeared to be the best way to cross the water flowing through the city before it plunged into the lava chasm in the south east. Before they reached the causeway, Eddie spotted danger in the form of a shambling mound of sentient vegetation massed against the walls of a nearby building, which the group duly avoided.

From the causeway, they spotted another shrine-like building to the south east on this side of the river, and decided to approach the rear of the building and investigate to see if there were any powerful guardians at that one, too. Eddie sneaked up towards a broken cart out back of the shrine, but was out-stealthed by a pair of kamadans (jaguars with snakes protruding from their upper bodies) which ambushed him and used their sleep breath to render him unconscious. Somehow, the mauling kamadans failed to damage him as the rest of the party approached. After a short battle, in which Elhorn used his mage hand to rouse the slumbering Eddie, Both Kamadans were vanquished and the party circled round to the front of the shrine, where Orvex was able to translate an inscription that read “Shagambi teaches us to fight evil with honor.” Orvex was excited this confirmed this to be the shrine of Shagambi, trickster god of Omu, who is represented by a kamadan.

Inside was chamber steps descended into a fifteen-foot-high, moss-covered room. Four statues of Omuan warriors stood in alcoves to either side, overlooking a barred gladiatorial pit in the floor. Each statue seemed meant to be holding a spear, but the weapons were missing. On the far side of the chamber, a stone pedestal stood conspicuously bare. A relief on the wall behind it showed a monstrous jaguar with six snakes protruding from its shoulders, fighting off a squat, frog-like humanoid armed with a spear (a grung). To the left of the relief a narrow tunnel with stairs led down.

After releasing some poison gas attempting to tamper with some sort of hatch atop the stone pedestal (which rendered Orvex unconscious needing Veitar to revive him), the group descended the steps into the gladiatorial pit. No sooner had Eddie stepped onto the pit floor than a pressure plate released four clay warriors from the far side of the pit, storming into the room to assail the party! Aylbous immediately retreated upstairs, whilst Veitar stood back and Lana boldly engaged the foes. The clay gladiators were tough, and had multiple attacks. Eddie and Elhorn fought a fighting retreat as Aylbous conjured two tigers to fight the gladiators. Lana bore the brunt of a dozen or more attacks, being sent to ground not once, not twice but three times - only to be roused each time almost immediately by Veitar, using his Preserve Life and healing words.

As we ended the session, only one of the clay gladiators had been felled. Lana was trapped in the middle of the pit surrounded by the other three, as Elhorn and Veitar beat hasty retreats to the upper level. Up above the pit grille, Aylbous controlled a flaming sphere, whilst Eddie stood ready to fire with his crossbow. But it seemed highly unlikely Lana would last out the next wave of attacks from the gladiators...


SESSION 18:
The session began with Lana invoking her gift of Invulnerability, bestowed by Saja N'baza, and plugging away at the gladiator she faced. She scored two critical hits in a row, but simply wasn't doing enough damage to overly trouble the clay construct. Eddie missed his sneak attack from above, but shouted advice down to those below - urging Elhorn to use his powers of invisibility on himself and Lana to allow them to get out of there.

Elhorn duly complied, casting Invisibility at Level 3 with Distant Spell meta-magic as he turned and ran. The gladiators in the pit suddenly had no enemies in sight - but knowing others were fleeing and already above them, all three surged into the corridor - not fancying the flaming sphere that blocked their route directly up from the pit. The first one ran into the back of the invisible Elhorn, and hacked away with its spear, wounding him to near unconsciousness despite his invisibility.

Meanwhile Veitar took up a position in the upper chamber to attack any gladiators that entered, and Eddie hit and readied a shot on the emerging gladiators also.

There followed a good 30 seconds of cat and mouse, as Veitar was cut down only to immediately roll back to his feet (death save of 20) and proceeded to dodge and weave, keeping one of the gladiators at bay whilst Eddie hid in a niche alongside one of the spear-less statues. Lana and Elhorn fought on. Both were taken down and healed using Healing Word, although Lana soon went down again. Aylbous wildshaped into an ape and descended the rope back into the pit, giving one of the gladiators the runaround. After Eddie vacated the premises, leaving one gladiator with a critical sneak attack parting shot, Ape-Aylbous (now back up top) even finished said gladiator off with a hurled rock to the head. But the clay gladiator disappeared before their eyes and this time did not leave its spear behind!

Eventually it all proved too much for the party, as a new gladiator emerged from the far corridor below into the pit. Aylbous the Ape was caught and forced to wildshape into a tiny spider to escape the building, as Eddie dragged Lana free and Elhorn, invisible once more, dragged Veitar out of the shrine to join Orvex and Eddie.

The gladiators did not pursue, and left the pit floor to head back down their corridor. Eddie snuck back in and attached the dropped spear to the rope, ready to haul it up later if they so desired, before they decided to set up camp for at least a brief hour's rest outside the shrine, behind the cover of the courtyard walls.

Sadly, things were about to get much worse for the badly damaged party, as five yuan-ti malisons in snake form sneaked into the perimeter of their camp and shapeshifted into view, calling out Suggestions for the party to drop their weapons and come with them! With precious little resources at their disposal, the group had little chance. Resisting the Suggestions, they put up a brave fight, but Lana and Veitar first went down on the right flank. Over on the left, Aylbous called lightning and Elhorn shot Scorching Rays, but it was no good. Aylbous and Eddie surrendered at the behest of the Yuan-Ti, and Elhorn followed suit, coming out of invisibility rather than abandon his allies.

And so it was that the five party members and Orvex were captured by the Yuan-Ti, who implanted as many Suggestions as they could for the group not to resist, before binding them with vines and their own rope and leading them towards the ruined palace in the east of the city...


*******

So I am in a quandary with what to do next session - either they will become prisoners of the Yuan-Ti as per Chapter 4, or else Zagmira and her thugs will ambush the group and take down the Yuan-Ti before freeing them - giving them a chance to form the uneasy alliance also suggested by the book - along with the truth about the Soulmonger, the Tomb of the Nine Gods and the puzzle cubes. Any thoughts? I feel the group being taken prisoner is a TPK risk, as they will try to escape. But the ambush by Zagmira might feel like too much of a Get Out Of Jail Free card (which it kind of is!) with all the puzzle cube/tomb info given to the players on a plate.
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
So I am in a quandary with what to do next session - either they will become prisoners of the Yuan-Ti as per Chapter 4, or else Zagmira and her thugs will ambush the group and take down the Yuan-Ti before freeing them - giving them a chance to form the uneasy alliance also suggested by the book - along with the truth about the Soulmonger, the Tomb of the Nine Gods and the puzzle cubes. Any thoughts? I feel the group being taken prisoner is a TPK risk, as they will try to escape. But the ambush by Zagmira might feel like too much of a Get Out Of Jail Free card (which it kind of is!) with all the puzzle cube/tomb info given to the players on a plate.
Hmm, that is a quandry. I wouldn't have them rescued by Zagmira as that will mean you'll probably avoid much of the palace fun later, but possibly have an unlikely rescue by the red wizards (who want their cubes), or maybe even a horde of vegepygmies who simply hate snakes but don't even care about other species. The vegepygmies are unlikely to win, but the characters would then have a choice of trying to escape or helping them. Maybe an unlikely encounter with the King of Feathers.
 

sim-h

Explorer
Hmm, that is a quandry. I wouldn't have them rescued by Zagmira as that will mean you'll probably avoid much of the palace fun later, but possibly have an unlikely rescue by the red wizards (who want their cubes), or maybe even a horde of vegepygmies who simply hate snakes but don't even care about other species. The vegepygmies are unlikely to win, but the characters would then have a choice of trying to escape or helping them. Maybe an unlikely encounter with the King of Feathers.
Well I think I've decided - no let offs. I've started drawing up a spreadsheet of the Fane occupants HPs, stats etc. The players will (hopefully) lead a slave revolt. I pray they do not take Fenthaza at her word and use the revolt to escape as soon as possible, leaving her and Ras Nsi to fight it out. But then again, players never do what the DM intends...

I will also use the day of slave labours and their experiences being captured to hard-level them up to 6 in time for the revolt. I don't normally do milestones, but in this case they definitely need it. For others reading - I'd suggest entering Omu at lvl 6 as a minimum.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
For others reading - I'd suggest entering Omu at lvl 6 as a minimum.
Yup, my group set foot in Omu last night as 6th level heroes. Even 5th would be a little too weak.

So, I added something new. They have an aaracroka they use constantly as a scout and a free "lift" to shuttle people around. The gargoyles around the city are a deterrent to flying reconnaissance, but I also added an automatic Faery Fire spell that hits anyone above a rooftop, even an invisible character. This activates as many gargoyles as the DM wants and they make a beeline for that characters(s), attacking with Advantage. This upset them enough that they won't be doing anything beyond street level investigation. Although I have a feeling at some point the birdman is going to try and escape some enemies, such as yuan-ti with arrows, and end up triggering a flock of gargoyles after his ass anyway....
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
Yup, my group set foot in Omu last night as 6th level heroes. Even 5th would be a little too weak.....
Mine were level 5 when they entered and they were a little weak. They survived, but really had to think through it all. An insta-death made them realise that they weren't in Kansas anymore.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
I really want the King of Feathers to be a terrifying threat, but these guys are dealing 25-50 points of damage per round apiece, it won't take long to kill a giant mean T-rex.
:(
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
King of Feathers (modified) CR 12?

AC 12
HP 200
Speed 50'

SQ: Darkvision, See Invisible, Misty Step 60' (at-will), Legendary Resistance x3, Dire Wasp Swarm

Multiattack. The tyrannosaurus makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its tail. It can't make both attacks against the same target.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: (4d12 + 7) piercing damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 17). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the tyrannosaurus can't bite another target
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: (3d8 + 7) bludgeoning damage.




Dire Wasp Swarm (Large swarm)
AC 11
HP 40
Speed 30' Fly

Damage Resistance Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing
Condition Immunities Charmed, Frightened, Grappled, Paralyzed, Petrified, Prone, Restrained, Stunned
Senses Blindsight 10 Ft., passive Perception 8

SQ: When the swarm enters the square of an enemy or a PC ends a turn inside the swarm, they take 1d4 damage. Casting a spell requires a DC 10 Concentration check.

Attack: Bite +3, 4d4+3 damage
 
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Rabbitbait

Explorer
Nice. I'll use that. I was going to make him teleport as a bonus action so that when he first sees them he will teleport behind them and attack from the back. I'll also play him as highly intelligent (but still savage), so he will recognise the weakest characters and make use of opportunities. If he looks like being defeated he will get the heck away and then start stalking the party once he has healed (if they are still in Omu).

"Clever Girl"....
 

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