For our last few sessions I’ve been running a slighly modded version of Purple Duck Games‘ module AL2 – Sepulcher of the Mountain God. This post will contain some spoilers for that adventure, so read at your own risk.
After emerging from the underground river that carried them potentially thousands of miles from the small village which had previously been their whole world, the Company of the Starless Sea found themselves in Split River, a booming mining town. It is centered around an ancient and enduring mountain highway built by a forgotten empire; to the north the highway splits and spreads throughout the 1,000 Valleys where it remains the primary means of trade and transit between valleys. Heading south leads to the southern edge of the 1,000 Valleys and beyond that ultimately to Punjar, Tarnished Jewel of the Lorian Sea, where the iron, precious metals, and glow-rock mined in Split River sells for a premium.
Rather than heading to the cheap flophouses littering the edge of the mining sites, the party managed to barter their magic chaos incense censer for two weeks stay at the town’s finest inn, the Obsidian Sage, a many-floored rest stop and bathhouse as old as the highway itself. The name comes from an extremely lifelike black stone sculpture of a man working at a desk that sits on a raised dias in the center of the tavern room. The party acclimated themselves to the surroundings, played to the locals’ fascination with their emergence from the underground river, and began what looks to be regular patronage of Marlborough’s House of Enigmas. In said shop, Percival the halfling haberdasher managed to secure the purchase of 4 doses of giant centipede venom, a mild toxin with a severe impact on those it affects — complete and permanent amnesia.
They also picked up on some local rumors and gossip and decided that their next excursion would be to the recently uncovered tomb doors on one of the mining paths above town. Being a but smaller in number, they elected to hire local drunkard and miner Marcus Hayes as a guide and torch-bearer. Shifty Jack quickly dubbed the hireling “Roger” and the rest of the party followed suite, despite Marcus’s protestations.
After a two hour hike up a mining trail, the party reached the doors to the tomb, only to discover that three like-minded folk had beat them to the punch. These others hadn’t noticed them, though, so the party stayed in hiding to watch the rivals’ efforts to open the doors — efforts that ended with all three of them crushed between two horizontal stone columns that shot out from the surrounding rock like pistons. Now aware of the exact threat, Shakey Dog Buchanen (resident thief) proceeded to examine the entrance. During his 30 minute attempt to gain safe entry, the trap was triggered once but he managed to narrowly avoid doom.
Once the threat of the door was disabled, the party crowbarred the heavy stone doors partially open and proceeded into the darkness beyond. The encounter with the barbarian zombies was a tough one, with both halflings ending up on death’s door. Percival was saved through great effort at filthy, filthy healing by Sherman Funk, former gong farmer and cleric of Nimulrun. Ippie Skabipillie, halfling chicken butcher, was not so lucky and met his end that day.
They found the path through the stalagmites and stalactites on the southern wall of the cavern and came to the shrine of Ee-Rah and the great hall beyond. Sherman Funk swiftly proceeded to “sanctify” the ritual bowl from the shrine with excrement and then put it in his sack of night soil to be used as a scoop. Olaf the Oaf, strong and dim-witted mendicant, picked up the heavy stone idol of Ee-Rah and hid it in a nook of the cavern for later retrieval.
Next, they passed through an open set of double doors painted with what appeared to be very old dried blood. Then came a closed set of engraved bronze double doors, which Shakey Dog examined, went to open, and got splattered by as they slammed forward, being as it was actually a single spring loaded plate hiding the actual wooden doors that led forward.
At that point, Alex being short any player characters, he decided to roll up Marcus/Roger as a 0-level to play. Marcus had already been sketched as a somewhat despondent drunk, so Alex immediately started playing him as someone very unsure about continuing in light of what he had seen thus far, thinking it was about time to get back to the tavern since his flask had run dry. That’s when Percival said, “Here, drink this,” and Marcus took a swig of the giant centipede poison.
“There, aren’t you feeling better now?”
“Roger, are you feeling better? Nasty bump on the head but that drink should clear you right up.”
“Wha … what? Who? Where am I? Who are you people?”
“Oh, still a bit groggy. It’ll be fine though. We’re your friends. Your name is Roger, and you love to open doors.”
“R … Really? I don’t know … Why are we in this dark tunnel? Where the hell am I?”
“You are with friends, and you were just about to open these doors right here. It’s really your life’s purpose, door opening.”
“No. No! Where is this crazy place?! Who are you crazy people?! Who am I?! AHHHHH!!!!”
At which point Marcus/Roger bolted up, opened the door after all, and ran straight forward screaming at the top of his lungs.
On the other side of the door was a long room full of columns and leading toward a throne on which a giant skeleton sat, sans skull. Above the skeleton was a huge carving of the face of Ee-Rah, the barbarian mountain god. And in sconces on four of the columns were large animated stone servant of the mountain god.
Marcus/Roger just kept running and screaming while the rest of the party tried to figure out how to handle the large animated statues moving to attack. Eventually he started pounding on the wall looking for a way out, which opened up a secret door, which he also proceeded to run through screaming. Very shortly thereafter he ran over a trip wire, causing a significant portion of rock to fall from the ceiling and bringing his running and screaming days to a very definite end.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party had to dispatch four large, angry statues, and then deal with the wrathful visage of the Mountain God himself, he insisted he could destroy them but would instead demand restitution. If they could recover the skull of Veyache, the champion on the the throne, from the servants of the mire-god Gelhidres who dwelt below, he would let them go on their way.