The Tanius Campaign Journal – Chapter 20: Back To The Task At Hand

The Tanius Campaign Journal
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Chapter 11 Chapter 12
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Chapter 17 Chapter 18
Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Behind The Screen
Campaign Analysis D&D Drinking Game
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I was so wrapped up in the last portion of Renlia’s tale that I didn’t even notice I had stopped writing. Embarrassed with myself I apologized as I caught up on my notes.

The tavern had mostly cleared out at this point, but I noticed the bartender was keeping a keen eye on us as he served the few patrons that remained. Josh must have noticed my gaze shifting over to the barkeep because he immediately assured me that anything he might have seen or overheard tonight wouldn’t leave the tavern.

With my notes up to date I turned back to Renlia. I explained to her that I needed to know the full tale if I was going to be able to help her straighten her story out. She laughed at my insistence on sticking to the version of my story where I was just a simple half-ling who was looking to help.

She shook her head sheepishly, and after taking a sizeable gulp of ale she continued telling her tale.

Someone Forgot To Salt

Campaign Log Day 7 – Part 7
20th day of Kythorn – Night’s Heart
Year of The Rebuked Storm – 1574 Dale Reckoning
Endgar Outskirts – Blackheart Manor

Although everyone was certainly happy to hear that the hag was dead, there was some concern of the validity of Sturgis’ statement. You see, as a ghost he was unable to move her body too and from the ethereal plane, meaning that the party would have to accept his word that the deed was done.

As our heroes discussed these concerns they noticed that the inclement weather was starting to subside somewhat, and the strange opaque darkness surrounding the manner seemed to be receding. Accepting this as a sign that the hag’s weird magic was leaving the area, they decided to trust the ghost and press forward.

The party started off by exploring the rooms adjacent to the dining room. They carefully stepped through the door near the pile of rubbish left behind by the animated swords and armors, and entered what appeared to be a kitchen. They were relieved to see that there was nothing remarkable about the kitchen at all. The cutlery looked like it hadn’t been used in quite some time, but overall everything seemed to be in working order.

The party found a door on the opposite end of the kitchen leading to what appeared to be a meat locker. The moment they opened the door a horrific smell filled the air. On the opposite end of the room were several piles of decomposed meat hanging from hooks on the ceiling. Further investigation revealed that this meat didn’t appear to come from any form of livestock they were familiar with. However, given the emotional state of Renlia at the time, our heroes decided that it might be best to leave this particular mystery unsolved.

With the upstairs completely explored our heroes returned to the hidden door they found in the library. Standing in combat formation with Rkard in the lead they moved the bookshelf and began their descent into the unknown.

Wet Work

The room at the bottom of the staircase made our heroes sick to their stomachs. It appeared that this sub-level was some type of interrogate room. All manner of horrible torture tools lined the floors and walls, and the dried blood on the surface of the contraptions indicated that they weren’t just for show.

The back half of the room was a few feet lower than the area near the stairs. Our heroes eventually noticed a lever attached to the wall on the opposite end of the room. However, the situation was complicated somewhat by the fact that the back half of the room appeared to be flooded due to the heavy rains seeping through some cracks in the foundation.

Before the party was able to devise any sort of plan, Rkard’s curious nature got the best of him. The half-orc started high-stepping his way through the water towards the lever. He made fast progress but before he could reach the back wall a watery tendril emerged from the water and wrapped around his limbs and torso.

Roll Initiative

Party: Bellamy(Sor-4), Kiddo(Ftr-1/Wlk-3), Kroul(Clr-4), Lilyth(Drd-4), Ungoldor(Rog-4), Rkard(Bbn-4), Renlia(Brd-4)
Enemies: 2x Water Guardians
Base Difficulty Rating: Medium
Modified Difficulty Rating: Hard – Party is Ambushed
Expected Outcome: Moderate HP Loss
Actual Outcome: Moderate HP Loss
Loot: None

Tactical Considerations: Rkard deciding to proceed haphazardly puts the party in a tricky spot. Fortunately, Rkard being isolated from the group isn’t a major setback since he is easily the most capable character of the group when it comes to fighting solo.

How It Went Down: Rkard was surprise attacked by the water guardian in the first round which resulted in him being hit and grappled. He actually had some trouble initially shaking the creature off, but with barbarian rage providing advantage on his escape rolls he managed to escape by the third round. The party ended up splitting damage between then guardians initially, but eventually shifted their focus to the second guardian who was starting to wreak havoc on their back line. After a few rounds the rogue guardian was brought down. With the biggest threat eliminted the party shifted their focus on the guardian engaged with Rkard and took him down as well.

Behind The Screen: Initially I expected a more cautious party members like Bellamy to investigate the water before going in. Had this happened I would have had the guardian pull him and start the fight that way. However, their haphazard approach actually ended up being somewhat beneficial. Instead of me cherry-picking soft targets one guardian was locked in with a raged Rkard the whole fight meaning it was stuck dealing half damage the entire encounter. Between Ungoldor’s magic bolts, Kiddo’s eldritch blast, and Sturgis’ withering touch the party was able to cut through the guardians resistances fairly effectively, and kill the creatures before any serious damage was done.

The party jumped into the water after Rkard, but before they could reach him another large watery creature emerged from flooded floor and charged the group. Ungoldor and Kiddo fired bolts and beams at the watery mass trying to hold Rkard down while the rest of the group attacked the newly emergent threat.

The group panicked initially, but were relieved to see Rkard’s brute force was too much for the creature to contain. The barbarian was able to break free, and in a fit of rage started to break watery chunks off of the blob with his maul. Sensing Rkard had things under control the party focused their collective might on the other creature, and were able to bring him down in short order.

With the first threat dispatched our heroes slung their spells, swords, and arrows at Rkard’s quarry. The creature once again had Rkard in his grasp, but before he could be dragged down Sturgis stuck the creature with his ethereal arm. This disrupted the last traces of magic holding the creature together, causing it to burst into a harmless watery cloud.

Satisfied that the threats were taken care of, Rkard completed his trek towards the end of the room and triumphantly pulled the lever down. As the lever moved the party could hear the grinding of gears in the walls, but the noise stopped once the lever was at rest.

Once the room was quiet Sturgis informed the group that the lever should be the mechanism that opens the crypt. Sensing that they were approaching the end of their journey the party communed before moving forward. With wounds being to mount, they decided that they should barricade themselves in the master bedroom again, and treat their wounds before what was hopefully their final descent into the crypt.

DM Note: Time Is Running Out

Prior to this dungeon the party had been approached by Josh of the city watch. He told the group that their heroics during the Endgar Riots(the campaign opener) earned them a spot in the coliseum battles taking place at the end of the Tanius Festival. The catch was that they only had 72 hours before the start of the game. This means that they functionally had 2 to 3 opportunities to take long rests before time ran out.

This external time constraint is what led to the party opting for a short rest instead of a long-rest at this point in time. As a DM I was extremely happy to see that this was an effective way of limiting long rests mid-dungeon, and plan on implementing a similar strategy later on in the campaign.

The Way Is Shut

After patching each other up the best they could, the party once again formed up and marched back down the stairs. The tumultuous weather outside had settled down to a gentle rain, and with renewed determination our heroes approached the crypt to the East of the manor.

The door to the crypt still appeared to be shut, however a not-so gentle prodding from Rkard caused the stone doors to budge. After another size-able shove the door swung open, revealing a staircase leading into the depths below.

On the floor near the entrance was a strange little rod. Most of the party thought it was rubbish, but Bellamy decided to take a closer look. After some investigation he noticed that there was a small button on the end of the rod. So he decided to do what any sensible person would do when presented with a strange device of unknown origin… he pressed the button.

Treasure Horde

Item: Immovable Rod
Item Type: Rod
Description: This flat iron rod has a button on one end. You can use an action to press the button, which causes the rod to become magically fixed in place. Until you or another creature uses an action to push the button again, the rod doesn’t move, even if it is defying gravity. The rod can hold up to 8,000 pounds of weight. More weight causes the rod to deactivate and fall. A creature can use an action to make a DC 30 Strength check, moving the fixed rod up to 10 feet on a success.
Recipient: Bellamy

The rod immediately went rigid. Bellamy noticed that he had nowhere near the strength required to move the rod around in this state. As Bellamy continued to test the rod Sturgis deduced that this rod was part of the device used to seal the crypt. The ghost pointed out a groove near the door that the rod could be inserted into, which was aligned with a button pressing mechanism that was controlled via the secret room in the manor.

Once Bellamy was finally done testing the limits of the rod, he pressed the button again which caused the rod to fall to the floor. Pleased with himself he sheepishly picked up the rod and stored it in his pack. Upon realizing the rod was magical, Lilyth had an unnatural desire to take the rod from Bellamy, but she was able to keep her urges in check for the time being.

The party formed back up at the top of the stairs. Their battle formation consisted of Rkard and Kiddo leading the charge, Lilyth and Kroul in the middle, and Ungoldor and Bellamy covering the rear. When they reached the bottom of the stairs and turned the corner they were faced with a curious situation.

They were in a narrow hallway with three sets of evenly spaced pathways leading to the left and to the right. Moving to the first intersection revealed that the pathways on both sides lead to small rooms containing several sarcophagi. At the end of the hallway was a single pathway turning to the left.

Not wanting to dig into the diseased remains of the long dead quite yet, the party decided to focus on the task at hand and head towards the heart of the crypt. However, as they walked by the second set of burial rooms an armored figure carrying a long sword with a bow slung over his back stepped out from the pathway they were trying to reach.

The party stood their ground with weapons at the ready. The figure looked up at the party revealing his haggard and colorless face. It immediately let out a ghastly scream, and before our heroes could react they heard the lids of nearby sarcophagi slide open.

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