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The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 18: Thwomps, And Dragon Heads, And Brass Golems . . . Oh My!

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Hello again. When last we left our band of stalwart opportunists they'd just survived an Yrthak attack and learned something useful about their current environment. The fact that that something useful was data they could have acquired from numerous sources beforehand was not relevant.

From that point on, any time they had to stop or fight one of them would cast an orison or use a racial spell like ability. This of course led to no end of (Remember, the dice giveth?) primal magic events. The most common of which was the Teleportation Storm, which teleported anyone who failed the save 400 + 40/level feet in a random direction.

In most cases this resulted in a trip of 640ft for all such party members. Of course Quagrim felt it necessary to spice such events up. So when the gnome cast a racial ability of his people he yelled 'FIREBALL!' (which would be the spell a gunslinger would choose) before being teleported 840ft away. Everyone else made the save. He then proceeded to cartwheel back to the others.

This went on for several days before the group ran into a Phoenix that performed only a cursory interview before asking them for help. He explained that it was unable to clear a recently unearthed tomb, and had created a sandstorm to keep others out. He asked them to clear it before an ancient evil could be released. In exchange he'd teleport them to the opposite side of the Anauroch to the final resting place of Aunaria. Not wishing to wander the deserts in search of the ancient city for an undisclosed amount of time, the group agreed.

The tomb in question lay 3 days travel north of the Phoenix's lair. The only real hurdle on the way manifested as a group of Lamia that made the unfortunate mistake of surrounding the group. The poor bastards . . . The tomb itself started with a stair leading 20 feet down into the dessert, with a massive crossbow trap at the base. Fortunately the group was able to spot the trigger. One of them then carried a large stone down and threw it on the offending tile, triggering the trap. Once inside they found a room with a peculiar device in the center of a room. It sat on a rotating pedestal with two arms extending from opposite sides. At the end of each arm was a half sphere with a foot by foot by 6 inch square hole carved in it. The empirical process quickly revealed that a lever to the side would slam the two half spheres together.

The other passages were blocked by elemental walls, except a room with an elemental cube with 12 inch sides. They quickly discovered that placing the appropriate elemental cube in a wall would neutralize it. The wrong cube would bind to the wall, creating a new element. As they accumulated cubes from various puzzles they figured out that if they put two different element cubes in the device and slammed them together they created a merged cube. This was necessary for some of the hybrid walls. They also found several dragon heads made of different metals. They found that if they placed an element cube in a dragon head made of its associated element (ex. ice for silver) it would create that dragon's breath.

So it became a test of figuring out which cubes to use where, and which to combine. To their credit, they only had to reset the room tomb (by having the entire group leave) once. A complete breakdown of the puzzles and traps can be found here.

It is worth noting that when the group decided to cheese (the term our group uses for using magic to avoid solving a puzzle) the traps with magic they did not gain the benefits of xp or stat bonuses. That xp was to show how the character had challenged themselves. I personally don't consider magic shortcuts to be challenging to the character. What was that? You want to know how they cheesed the traps? Well of course you do. They used cheddar . . .

Seriously? Why not rub my nose in the ways they ignored such tests of skill and intelligence. Look lets just forget it could we?

I see. You're not going to let this go. Fine then.

Room 2: Quagrim pointed out that Zubat could have scrambles grab the gold object and then use Maker's Call to pull the eidolon back into the hall, ignoring the wall completely. Room 4: Quagrim again pointed out to Zubat that he could summon a rock elemental that could move through the ground, bypassing the thwomps completely. Damn that meddling gnome. Room 5: Vex used her adamantine sword to cut through the gates. The group kind of had to let her. She'd been threatening to cut through possible load bearing walls from the first room. It was only when I did the math for Dan, showing just how many swings it would take, and informed him I'd make him make every check that he calmed his redecorating gene.

Room 10: Vex went ahead with a pole pressing on tiles. Unfortunately she could not press enough to collapse a tile and was forced to make a reflex save or be lost in an empty pocket universe. She actually failed initially, but Dan blew a hero point to add 4 to the attempt. Why the group elected an inquisitor to be the one looking for traps is still beyond me. Sadly, while Vex couldn't find loose tiles, she did prove rather conclusively that it took about 60 pounds of weight to collapse them. The gnome weighed 35 lbs soaking wet. I'm sure you can see where this was going. God damn that meddling gnome! Note: Due to the fact that half the group was down with a rather nasty flu at the time I decided to add what I dubbed Tomb Blight to room 6. I love it when art imitates life . . .

Eventually the group made it to the Mummy Lord within. As soon as it saw them it thanked them most cordially for its release. There would of course have been more (possibly even important info they needed), but Velic was having none of this etiquette bullshit. So as the mummy was putting the best foot forward the cleric was busily smashing its big toe with his mace. Needless to say the fight was much shorter than I'd thought it would be.

They then found that an evil tome had been placed within that had caused the rising of this once good wizard. Not to mention several Netharese knickknacks. Certainly Vernor Pratt would be interested in such items. As they exited the tomb they found the good archaeologist already waiting at the entrance. He offered them everything he had for that tome swearing that it would prove he was right. Upon pressuring he explained that he believed the weave wasn't what everyone thought it was. That he'd been laughed out of academia for his theories. And that that book would prove him right. He implored them to give it to him.

But the book was so evil they couldn't let it loose. They instead summoned the Phoenix to help them. They'd needed his help to finish the Mummy (Zornesk was currently occupied smacking its remains merrily with a mace of disruption every few minutes) anyways.

When the phoenix arrived they handed it the book. Again the archaeologist pleaded for it whilst the fire bird perused its contents. It completely ignored him, instead destroying the vile item before their very eyes. Vernor screamed in anguish at the loss but the phoenix calmed him by promising to share what it had learned of the weave while it had looked for the means of the books ending.

At this point Velic actually had the nerve to ask if they could still have the Brazzen Egg they'd been promised. Looking ready to spit the archaeologist refused. He did still buy the other artifacts they'd uncovered, after which the Phoenix kept its word and teleported them to Anauria. It's last words were of warning, that the ancient Netharese had returned and claimed ownership of the entire desert and all that was within. Apparently they didn't think highly of people looting their great ancestor's handiwork.

Of course, after the teleport they found themselves almost in the shadow of the floating city of Thultanthar.

What? It keeps things interesting . . .

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