[D&D 2e] The Tomb of the Lizard King 2
Mist: Human Shadow Walker (Mage/Thief) Level 5Jairus: Elven Mage/Thief Level 3/4
Kell: Human Ravager (Barbarian) Level 4
Sanaka: Human Windwalker (Priest) Level 5
Gunel: Human Fighter/Gladiator Level 5
Garrin: Gnome Cartographer (Thief) Level 5
Droop: Goblin Lackey (Fighter) Level 1
A gnome cartographer named Garrin joined the party. He walked into Waycombe at dusk, intrigued that it was empty. He entered the only intact building with lights on and introduced himself. Droop, the goblin, took a liking to him immediately. The party spent the night at the inn in Waycombe, splitting watch duties between the non-spellcasters.
During the first watch, Kell saw two men walking out into the field behind the inn. They started yelling toward the town, but she couldn't make out what they were saying. She woke Mist and Gunel. The men were too far away to understand. The three kept eyes on the men until the two gave up and headed back into the forest. There was no other commotion during the night.
[Note: It was at this point the party should have gotten their first view of the black dragon Aulicus, when they had no place to run. This may have emboldened them to stand up and fight, which would be much different than what happens later on. Instead, the three ignored the men in the field and the encounter was averted.]
In the morning, Busby the innkeeper talked Mist into letting him depart town for the west toward safety. After she acquiesced, watch Captain Barto Trume also talked Mist into letting him head back to the capitol. Only the party remained in Waycombe...And maybe a crazy hermit that was said to live near the swamp.
[Note: The adventure as written said these two men, Barto and Busby, would not join the party for any reason. The party had pretty much conscripted them, and I had been looking for a way to get them to leave.]
Mist and Jairus scouted out the hermit's hut. It was rather small and ramshackle, and they could hear off-key singing inside. They also found a raft tied up at the edge of the swamp to the south. They kept watch while Sanaka knocked on the hut's door.
The door opened, and a hand holding a dead fish appeared. The hand moved the fish back and forth, as if scoping out the area. A foot pushed the door open the rest of the way. "He says the coast's clear. Who are you?" The man in the doorway was filthy and disheveled.
Sanaka and company introduced themselves to Stephen DeMaris, who was a constant flight of ideas. [Note: I almost feel too capable playing crazy NPCs. I hammed this guy up, probably far too much.] They asked him about Sakartha, which seemed to ground him for a moment. He offered to take them into the swamp after his friend Sakartha.
The party begrudgingly got on Stephen's raft, unsure of the lunatic's trustworthiness. After a day of poling the raft through the swamp, he abruptly stopped for the night and fell asleep then and there. Kell secured the raft. Sanaka and Garrin went exploring the nearby solid ground jutting out of the swamp. They found the tracks of a large lizard, which led into the water on the other side of the land mass. On another nearby land mass they found a giant toad. Neither wished to explore further, and they returned to the raft.
In the morning Stephen awoke and stunned the party by saying, "Only a few more days left to get to the middle of the swamp!" They didn't want to believe the crazy hermit, but were forced to consider how large the swamp might be. They expedited the trip by making more poles and having the burly warriors push at the fastest rate they could sustain.
After two more days, a violent interaction between Kell and a giant frog, and a giant lizard sighting, the party poled into view of an ancient temple jutting out of a large island. They decided to hole up one more night and approach the temple rested.
They attached the raft at the foot of a stairway rising up out of the water. They noticed a couple boats there as well. Garrin saw a human sunk into the water, his back bristled with crossbow bolts. The party instructed the antsy hermit, who became more agitated the closer they got to the temple, to lead the way to his friend Sakartha.
Kell walked through the outer temple ruins at Stephen's side. At the back of the temple was a shell mosaic, which showed itself to be a shell curtain when 10 crossbowman stepped through it. They stuck Gunel with 4 bolts and killed the hermit with 2 bolts. The party attacked. Jairus Greased an area, knocking two attackers down. Sanaka Blessed the party, and the two warriors took out the crossbowmen with little trouble. Mist was also able to Shadow Walk to sneak up on one and backstab him straight into the heart. [Note: Each warrior rolled a natural 20 during the fight. I allowed them to cleave through two crossbowmen, who were only F0. The cleric yelled "Shaundakul," the name of his deity, each time. He also yelled "Shaundakul" when the shadow walker backstabbed a guy to death.]
They spent little time before heading beyond the shell curtain. They saw a mosaic on the right, depicting a war between humans and lizardmen. The humans were losing. There was another mosaic on the left with a lizardman holding a scepter and bowing down to an unidentified demon. In the wall straight ahead was a bas-relief of the same demon. There were three large pools set into the floor between the curtain and the far wall. Lastly, centered in front of the wall was a stone altar.
The party explored the inner temple for just a few minutes, setting guards at the pools. Sanaka checked out the altar, with Jairus watching his back. Jairus had just found a hidden door in the floor behind the altar, when the wall around the bas-relief opened and a black dragon poked his head out. "Who's disturbing my guards and my rest?!" [Note: The adveture, as written, states the dragon does this and then attacks. I needed to show the players a little mercy here.]
Everyone froze. Sanaka tentatively answered with something like "we were sent to scout this area. We didn't realize you were here. We will leave you alone."
"And never return?" The dragon more instructed than questioned.
"And never return." The party headed immediately back to the raft. Kell got in her own boat, as did Garrin. They rowed/poled back to the spot they had previously spent the night. Garrin stated that the dragon's lair and the unexplored trap door were too tempting for an honest cartographer to ignore. He wanted to return. After a bit of talking, Mist agreed to return with him. The others steadfastly refused any talk of returning and stated they would wait at the hermit's hut at the edge of the swamp no longer than 5 days before presuming the two dead.
Garrin and Mist returned to the ancient temple. Stephen's body and the body of one of the crossbowmen were missing, presumed eaten. Mist Shadow Walked to the curtain, and Garrin followed. She peeked behind the left edge of the curtain. Garrin could hear the shells rattle, far too loudly for his liking. [Note: I did roll a Move Silently check for Mist, and failed quite superbly.] The two froze in place. A few minutes later the door around the bas-relief opened again. The shadow walk had just worn off, and the dragon stared at the two return trespassers. The dragon hopped forward and breathed his acid breath at the two while they stood there stunned. Garrin failed a saving throw and was melted where he stood. [Note: I rolled quite a bit above his max HP.] Mist made her saving throw and took off back toward the raft. The dragon lurched forward and bit off her right arm. She stared at the stump, horrified, as the dragon slammed a foreleg into her back, knocking her over. She as summarily devoured like an afternoon dessert. Thus ended the noble careers of the Shadow Walker and the cartographer.
The other party members waited 5 days as promised and then returned with all haste to the Count of Eor. They claimed an end of the brigand raids, after the death of the 10 crossbowmen at the temple. They explained that the black dragon was the cause of the evil in the land and received release from the Quest. The Count of Eor let them go with his blessing, relaying plans to petition Waterdeep for assistance dispatching a black dragon in his domain.
Thus ends the true, if abbreviated, accounts of events. Thus ends the group's attempt at module I2: The Tomb of the Lizard King.