The Sundered Tomb Continued: Determining What Happened to the Mages and Mercenaries

Let’s take what was established about the Waymoot region in the my last Sundered Tomb post and use it to inform a brainstorming session to figure out the fates of the mages and mercenaries that invaded the Sundered Tomb.

On to the sequence of events. (The numbers that follow correspond to new events, not to the numbers in the map above.)

1. The first rule of this dungeon: Nothing boring monster-wise, as per the following quoted text from a post by l0lzero over at EN World, which was lost in their recent database crash.

  • “More low CR monsters. Everyone wants to run a game where you start out at level one, and you end up fighting a couple animals, a couple undead, and then it’s back to goblins, kobolds, and orcs for another few levels, and then you’re off to the actual show. Low levels are just so freakin’ boring. (snip) Give me some quality freak monsters of 1 cr and less so that people aren’t afraid to throw them at 1st level characters.”

Emphasis mine.

2. The blast report from the door ward going off (at area 1) could be heard for a few miles, and the bleeding-eared mages and mercs didn’t waste any time marching inside, the better to be first before anyone else came along. So that’s 2 apprentices dead, and 2 still alive.

3. The backlash shorted out a magical gate leading from the Sundered Tomb to the Waymoot Castle Catacombs (not sure where the gate on the Sundered Tomb side is located just yet).

4. This cut off the troll expedition.

5. The troll expedition was part of a larger force that entered the Waymoot Catacombs by means of another gate. (The trolls from the Feywild are seriously out to do harm in Waymoot, and that’s a possible future campaign plot point for the PCs to explore.)

6. This second gate led from the Waymoot Catacombs to another, smaller excavation-turned dungeon in another part of the Waymoot region. (I.e., there are other dungeons to be accessed from the Catacombs, for possible future play opportunities.)

7. The trolls first rule was not to be discovered. Their second was to slay all that spotted them and to eat the corpses–gorging themselves if necessary–and to turn everything they could not eat over to the metal keepers.

8. Uhm…what are Metal Keepers? OK, Metal Keepers are barrel-sized mounds of living flesh with low intelligence and no visible eyes. Basically a blog o’ fleshy stuff. They are native to the Feywild and share ancestry with trolls (and jaod–pie-sized creatures of flesh that live on human faces, and that can be shaped and molded to form disguises, of which a few are in circulation among spies and rogues in Cormyr), and they take on humanoid form by absorbing into their flesh metal armor, coins, weapons and tools, and using them to form skeletons (first) and then external metal “skin” (from coins and the like) second. They are not hostile unless attacked, and always try to escape when truly threatened (read: fire). Anyone who speaks Troll can command them to disgorge their metal, much like telling a dog to sit. They preserve all things metallic they keep in their bodies, needing only water, sunlight (or firelight) and minerals from laying on rocks to survive, plus an occasional meal of corpse or rotting plant matter. In tombs absent sunlight they harden up into dry mounds. They will disgorge their metal in a communal pile near underground lakes where magical light or phosphorescent illumination is present and they can swim around in their fleshyblob form.

9. Metal keepers make good cannon fodder. They regenerate like trolls do, they are dumb enough to follow crazy orders (though they won’t run into a blazing inferno), they don’t get confused because they can’t understand complex orders–they just stay put until told to what to do with one word: attack or stay or disgorge–and they don’t flee until after they are truly hurt by fire or acid or magic, or any spell or substance that dries them out. A Heat Metal spell will cause them to open up and disgorge their metal contents in short order. When they’re hurt by fire or acid they make a fluted keening noise to warn their kind, who submerge themselves in the nearest water. They swim in water like seals. They can be hacked into fleshy bits, and these bits will form back together. Fleshy bits of one metal keeper and another metal keeper will gladly join together to form their own blob. They tend to linger wherever they are left to fend for themselves–and so where their troll masters fell in the Sundered Tomb. They dislike heat. Cool and wet first. Cool and dry second. Sunshine in moderation. Eat once a month. They tend to breed only when there is too much metal to go around. This is as simple as splitting in two. Blobs who’ve gained enough metal to form a humanoid body will depart when more than four or five occupy the same area. They eat dead flesh, clothing, rotted leather and plant matter.

10. The main entry hallway and the topmost chamber (areas 2 and 3) were devoid of trolls and metal keepers.

11. The trolls waited patiently in areas 4, 6 and 7, to assess their foes before attacking.

12. Two trailing mercs were skewered on a stag spear plundered from area 4, the spear wielded by a troll attacking from the last entrance to area 4 (at the top of area 5 hallway after the bend).

13. They were hit east to west, the spear driven through the neck of one merc and fully into the torso of the other.

14. 10 mercs left.

15. The double doors to the main chamber (area 8) are stuck fast. Not even the trolls could open them.

16. One mercenary was skewered by boar spear and bled to death at the double doors. His attacker was a troll to his right, in area 7.

17. 9 mercs left.

17. The ceiling at the end of area 5, and before the double doors to area 8, will end up blackened from smoke produced by burned troll and human flesh. That smoke stain will trail to a taper along the roof. It happened because air flowed out from other parts of the dungeon towards the newly made opening in the entryway.

19. The flanking rooms (area 6 and 7) will become blast-scorched and bone filled. (And during the adventure they’ll be web-festooned, with mostly harmless spiders that crawled in from the outside, and possibly a giant spider.)

20. The flanking rooms each hold one greasy, fire-blackened troll corpse.

21. Area 7 holds three mercenary corpses. They went after the spear troll.

22. 6 mercs left.

23. Area 6 holds the corpse of one mercenary lieutenant. He faced off against a spear-less troll solo, driving it back into the room.

24. 1 lieutenant left.

25. The rooms were torched by fire magic after the trolls won those close quarters fights.

26. The mercenaries did a good job; the trolls *were* hacked up pretty good–in some cases to pieces–but they killed the mercenaries or wounded them sufficiently that they would bleed to death, and in any event the trolls began regenerating so they were burned hastily *after* the rest of the mercenaries and mages funneled through rooms 6 and 7 and into the main chamber at area 8.

27. So, the section of hallway after the dogleg right was where the troll ambush commenced, and the back troll got it started, the better to surprise the front rank of mercenaries who may have turned towards the sound of danger. That first troll was no match for the mercenary commander and the free mage. The former hacked the troll’s head off and the later burned both head and body to a cinder with her magic.

28. In the main chamber two trolls attacked, and were immediately doomed to dance forever as per a permanent version of the spell Otto’s Irresistible Dance that was cast by the free mage. They yet remain when the PCs show up. (This should be an interesting encounter: Low level PCs vs. two trolls who can’t move out of their space.)

OK, that’s all I have for now on the events that transpired.

Thinking ahead to the actual adventure:

29. One of the rooms off the main chamber has a closed door where a Metal Keeper blob dried up. The PCs can experiment with it if they force the door. It’s shaped like half of a big watermelon, but it’s the color of an old dry bread loaf.

30. At least one fully humanoid Metal Keeper (I need a better name for them) should be glimpsed moving into area 10 when the PCs make their way into the main chamber (area 8).

31. When the work of figuring out what happened is done, remember to think about what may have come out of the dungeon (probably a couple Metal Keepers) or made its way into the dungeon (giant spiders, common animals, etc.) in the intervening time between when the mages and mercs met their doom, and when a group of PCs show up to explore the dungeon.

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