D&D Encounters: Princes of the Apocalypse (Episode 2.2)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on May 26, 2015

princes-of-the-apocalypse-coverOur hears had made names for themselves in Red Larch and were enjoying some downtime in the small town. However, as they got to know some of the locals they realized that some NPCs were not as friendly or helpful as others. This made the PCs suspicious. At the end of the previous session the PCs were given a map and told they’d find the answers they were looking for in the Sumber Hills, a few days journey outside of town. What they found was an ambush that nearly cost the PCs their lives. Enraged by the betrayal, the PCs rushed back to Red Larch to confront the people they believed set them up.

We continue to provide recaps from our past few sessions while we get back into the swing of things and get back to sharing our weekly adventures one week at a time, as they happen. Yesterday you read our episode 2.1 recap and today we’ve got episode 2.2. Tomorrow we’ll share episode 3.1 and that will bring us in synch with where we actually are at our FLGS, Face to Face Games in Toronto.

We’ve finally found another full-time DM so we’ve split our groups into three tables. We’re still trying to figure out who’s playing at which table and under which DM, but for now I’m still running with some familiar faces. During this session my party of four consisted of the following PCs: Elf Bard, Dwarf Fighter (Hammer), Human Sorcerer (Wild Magic), and Human Monk.

The Sinkhole

We picked things up with the PCs about 30 minutes outside of Red Larch. They’d been gone about 10 days and were plenty steamed at how things ended up in the Hills. With revenge on their mind they pressed on. However, as they finally got to Red Larch they noticed some kind of commotion happening in the middle of the main street. People were gathered around and shouting and screaming. Many of the locals were rushing towards the excitement to see what was happening. The PCs did likewise.

Calls for ropes and ladders were heard above all the other rabble. As the PCs got closer they realized that a sinkhole had opened up below the street. From what they could make out, people had fallen into the hole when it appeared and now there was an effort afoot to get them out of the hole.

The Constable was on the scene when the PCs arrived and was trying to keep people back. Likewise a number of the towns most prominent citizens and shopkeepers who had rushed over to help were trying to keep people back. When the PCs got to the forefront they could hear the cries from the hole. Three children had fallen in. Without hesitation the Monk grabbed a rope, handed the end to the Fighter, and then jumped into the hole.

tomb-of-moving-stonesEntry Cavern (T1)

The sinkhole had opened above a large natural cavern about 100 ft around. In the centre was a pile of soft earth where the ceiling had caved in. The children were unharmed having fallen on the soft sand. They were quite scared but the Monk calmed them down. Meanwhile the Fighter secured the rope and rappelled down. The two PCs in the hole fastened the rope around the kids and one by one helped them get hoisted up.

When the last child was safe, the town’s elders called for the PCs to climb back up. Instead the Wizard and Bard jumped down to join their comrades. The Constable called down and told them he’d keep things safe up top while they explored.

A tunnel headed off to the north. On the east side of the chamber was a stone door with a metal ring. Next to the door was a wineskin filled with water, and two well-worn cloaks. The Fighter pulled the ring and the door opened effortlessly. The PCs proceeded down the passage.

Stone Sentinels (T2)

The passage descended and then levelled out after 60 ft. On either side of the passage were stone doors. Each door had a relief carving of a Dwarf in chain mail upon it. The PCs opened the south side door and followed the passage. It ended at a privy which had not been used in a long time. The Monk remedied that by casting stinking cloud the old fashioned way. Once back to the main passage the PCs decided to head through the north side door.

Charnel Chamber (T5)

The heroes followed the winding passage for a while before it opened into a small square room. On the far side the passage continued onward. On the floor in the middle of the room were three humanoid bodies. Feasting on the remains were Giant Rats. The PCs were concerned that these bodies may be undead so the attacked with spells. This surprised the Rats, and motive them to attack the PCs. From cracks and crevasses in the walls more Rats emerged.

The melee combatants fought the Rats while the ranged attackers continued to attack the humanoid remains. The fight took longer than expected but in the end the PCs were victorious. The bodies were not undead and didn’t animate. While searching the bodies the PCs found that some symbol had been etched into their skulls. It wasn’t clear if this was done before or after they’d died. Finding nothing else useful they proceeded onward.

Hovering Stone (T6)

The next square room was empty except for a large black stone floating 3 ft off the ground. The PCs were cautious and reluctant to touch the stone at first. Eventually the Wild Mage tapped the stone and it moved. Some experimentation revealed that there was a spot in the centre of the room that made whatever was placed there weightless. The PCs pushed the stone out of the way and stepped in to test the theory. The Wild Mage floated.

Curious about this phenomena the party waited while the Bard cast a Detect Magic ritual. The ritual gave insight into the school of magic and the exact area of the weightlessness zone, but nothing else was discovered. The PCs put the rock back in the floating zone and proceeded onwards.

Dwarf Statue (T7)

The cavern eventually ended at a stone door with an iron ring identical to the one they’d first passed through. The PCs opened the door and rushed into the room. In the centre of the room was a life-sized statue of a Dwarf. The statue had clearly been broken but someone had used wooden planks to try and reinforce it and put it back together. On the floor in front of the statue numerous gems and coins were spread haphazardly on the floor. A dagger was also among the valuables. There were doors along the east and west walls.

There was concern that the Dwarf statue might once have been alive and stepping into a bad zone transformed him to stone. Fortunately the Bard still had her Detect Magic active and scanned the room for magic. The only thing magical she found was the dagger. This revelation gave the PCs courage enough to approach the statue. On the wooden frame holding it up someone had inscribed the following message: Petrified Ironstar (?) Dwarf, found 1459 DR in Red Larch West Quarry in broken condition. This confirmed their suspicion that this was once a real Dwarf. They collected the loot and the dagger and headed out the door to the west.

Antechamber (T4)

This room was identical in size and shape to the one the PCs just left. In the centre was a large 8 ft tall upright stone. Pinned under large stones on the floor in front of it was a small humanoid. On the far west wall was a door with a narrow viewing slit in it. Next to the door was a series of pulleys, chains and levers. Standing watch was a Half-Orc.

The Half-Orc turned to face the PCs as they entered the room. He told them they weren’t supposed to be here. They didn’t say the words. The heroes had no idea what words they were supposed to speak and tried to talk their way out of this mess. It didn’t work. The Half-Orc attacked them and they made short work of him.

The humanoid under the rock was a small Human boy about 10-years-old. The PCs removed the stones and used magic to revived him. The boy promised to be good. He said his father would be back soon. He was here as punishment. The heroes tried to get the boy to come with them but he would not. He just kept saying he’d be good. They did manage to learn that he was being punished for not delivering a letter, but he didn’t have the letter now and didn’t know what it said (he can’t read).

The boy revealed that his father was one of The Believers along with three other townsfolk including Gaelkur. He also said that The Believers would visit The Delvers who resided back the way the PCs had come from. They left food and water for the boy as they prepared to head back through the other door in the previous room.

Before they left they decided to look through the viewing slit in the door. The hallway beyond looked normal, except for a smooth ceiling. A curious PC pulled one of the lever and a crashing sound rang out from the tunnel they could see through the slit. When they looked out they saw that a wall had cut off the chamber. They reset the lever and pulled another one. The same result, but the wall was closer that the last. For the next few minutes the PCs pulled all the levers. They didn’t seem concerned about the noise or the time it took to play with the chains and levers. Once they grew bored they left. The boy would not accompany them.

Approach (T8)

Passing beyond the door in the east wall of the Dwarf statue room the PCs entered a short hallway. At the end was another stone door. In front of the door an old man sat on a bench whittling a stick. He told the PCs they were not welcome nor worthy to pass beyond the doors and that they should turn back. They were in no mood and pressed onward. The man told them if they entered they’d face the wrath of The Delvers. When pressed for more details the man refused to say more. The PCs tied the man up and forced him to walk ahead of them as they opened the door and entered the next room.

Chamber of Moving Stones (T9)

The final chamber was quite large, over 100 ft on each side and over 20 ft tall. In the centre of the room was an odd array on monoliths, some upright stones and some arranged in three-stone arches. Six low stone slabs rested along the walls of the room’s perimeter. Each held the mummified remains of a humanoid.

The old man reluctantly led the PCs into the room. Once all the PCs were inside the old man shouted out a warning and called for The Delvers to protect him. The doors slammed shut and the PCs were assaulted by a loud, thunderous boom. The damage was incredible and the PCs were badly wounded. The Wild Mage noticed a figure hiding behind one of the rocks. The effect was a spell cast by that person. However, the PCs were really hurt so they spent the round healing as best they could. Unfortunately, they remained grouped together so the evil spellcaster once again cast Shatter and this time two PCs fell unconscious.

The Wild Mage managed to get the spellcaster with a couple of Magic Missiles, but it wasn’t enough damage to drop him. One Magic missile did hit the old man who the party brought in with them, killing him instantly. The spellcaster made his escape through a secret passage before he could be stopped. Again the PCs spent the round healing and reviving their fallen comrades.

Then the doors flew open and four men in leather armor burst in. They called themselves the Bringers of Woe and said they were here to punish the PCs for disturbing The Delvers. It was a dangerous combat because the PCs were all so close to 0 hit points. Fortunately the PCs rolled really well and the Bandits weren’t able to do sufficient damage to drop any of the PCs. The heroes didn’t hold back, and killed all attackers.

Once the room was cleared they looked around. The mummified remains were Dwarven and all looked like they’d died from crushing wounds related to mining accidents. There was a small stash of personal effects in the far corner. This was likely where the spellcaster was hiding out and these were his personal belongings. The most valuable and unusual thing the PCs found were four Mirabar trade bars.

The passage the spellcaster fled through was collapsed about 20 ft beyond the room. It would take hours to dig it clear and by then the villain would be long gone. The PCs decided to return to the surface. When the passed back through the room where they encountered the Giant Rats the bodies were gone. There was also no sign of the boy anywhere. When they got back to the sinkhole and were helped out they gave a complete recounting of the events to the Constable.

To be continued.

Thoughts

Things always go more quickly and seem to run smoother when it’s a small party. This group of four did a good job with this mini dungeon crawl. My only concern was that they were very unforgiving and didn’t keep anyone alive (except the boy). Whenever they encounter a villain they always killed them. No one thought to keep some alive for questioning. They also wasted a lot of time which allowed some bad guys to do things behind the scenes, something that may hurt the PCs in future sessions.

This session’s adventure in the Tomb was a good one-night adventure. It didn’t yield a lot of XP which I felt was a problem. The Necromancer’s lair at Lance Rock was a lot larger, a lot tougher, and gave up a lot more XP. Perhaps the two encounters should have been reversed? Just a though for next time.

The villainous spellcaster managed to escape from my party, which is likely how things happened with most groups. However, his identity and purpose remains a mystery if the PCs kill everyone they meet. Fortunately they spent the last session meeting more of the local NPCs so they can potentially spend some time asking questions about the caverns beneath the town next week.

The only other thing I’d do differently if I ran this again was add more traps or force the PCs to take the route where they’re most likely to encounter the traps. The way it’s set up now they can easily bypass the trapped area, which my group did. By adding a few more traps you give the PCs more opportunities to find and interact with the traps, and you get a chance to soften them up a bit. After all they’re likely at full everything when the begin this session so challenge them and force them to expend resources.

How was your experience in the Tomb of Moving Stones? Did you suffer any PC loses? Did you capture or kill the villain? Did your group go down the hall with the cage traps? What did you think of that room?

Recounting Encounters Podcast

Listen to Derek Myers, Craig Sutherland, and Marc Talbot (from 20ft Radius) recount our weekly experience at D&D Encounters. We share the highlights from our respective tables and we talk about what worked, what didn’t and what we might have done differently. Find all episodes of Recounting Encounters on iTunes.

Actual Play Podcasts

Each week we record our D&D Encounters session and make it available to you for download every week. These recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at times it may be difficult to hear everyone. Some language may be inappropriate for all ages, although we try to keep it as family-friendly as possible.

Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.


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