Expedition 17: The Tomb of Champions

Two tombs in the necromantic zone of 6.13 plundered

Silanya Campaign, Expedition 16: January 14th, 2017

Adventurers: Raevori, daughter of Leshanna (log-taker, wizard [Raevori] 4), Jean-Pierre du Veyrir de la Grand Contumace Saint-Emilion (cleric [Forge] 3), Sovan Dareshin (map-maker, bard [Lore] 4), Amara Invictus (wizard [necromancer] 3), Pierre (cleric [Trickery] 2), and Virtue (wizard 1)

Expedition Length: 2 Days (both spent in hex 6.13)

Major Character Changes:

There are now PCs who are members of the Codeguard.
This is incredibly significant. See below.
Raevori is a Boxbearer and Keykeeper. Finnigan is her other Keykeeper.
Guildmaster Fior is a Boxbearer and Keykeeper. Ezra is her other Keykeeper.
Clementine is a Boxbearer. Valentine and Melora are her Keykeepers.
Amara is a Boxbearer and Keykeeper. Pierre is her other Keykeeper.
Jean-Pierre is a Boxbearer and Keykeeper. Sovan is his other Keykeeper.

Despite Pierre being rather heavily battered by the end of it, he made a full recovery.

Earnings for Expedition:

Raevori: 1363 xp + 457 gp + jury-rigged magical scrollcase
Jean-Pierre: 1363 xp – 656 gp + a gem of fireballs
Sovan: 1363 xp + 694 gp
Amara: 1363 xp + 694 gp
Pierre: 1363 xp + 694 gp
Virtue: 1363 xp + 694 gp
LMFfAG: 88 gp

Virtue levels and becomes Sila’s first illusionist ( + 4 hp)!
Jean-Pierre levels to become the 4th 4th level character and gets an obscene number of hp ( + 16: 8+5+3 retroactive from Con Boost)!
Pierre levels and gets second level spells and a more moderate number of hp ( + 3)!

Exploration Summary

I struggle to convey the import of what we uncovered in this expedition. We fought some undead people and acquired a lot of treasure and almost died (twice, although the second was far more obvious than the first), but what we uncovered incidentally was by far the most significant.

In the room of the Enigma in the Tomb of the Champions of Silanya, we found a scroll case. Inside that scroll case were four encoded pages. After a week of code cracking, the combined efforts of myself, Finnigan, Sovan, Amara, myself, Jean-Pierre, Clementine, myself, and most of my stockpile of maresh, we were able to decipher it. Here is what we found:

In the deepness we bound the first, and gave seven lives to tame it.
In the deepness we sealed it’s mind, but left its power free.
In the deepness in a mithral cage with white gold chains of energy
The start of New Silanya’s dawn. The body of an evil god shall set us free.

From here the path is clear. The rituals compel and bind, though they may cost us dear.
A holy trust, a power great is given to our land this day.
And seven heroes, seven fools, who gave their lives to pave the way.

If you find this, the way was lost, but with these words it can return.
The mages’ power here is writ. Use it wisely or all shall burn.

There followed a short arcane formula, which was beyond us to comprehend at the present time.

The implications of this are staggering, and the formala we found was split into 5 parts. Each lockbox contains two parts of the formula, and each of the boxes also contains one of the four original sheets. At least two boxes would have to be lost to break the formula, and at least three are needed to assemble it.

Based on this and legends of the Champions of Sila, the blasted region in hex 4.11 is placed under maximum embargo until further notice, by order of Guildmaster Fior. Any who enter this region without authorization will be questioned, painfully and lengthily, and then probably killed.

Day by Day Exploration Log:

Day 1:
We set out for the necromantic region of hex 6.13 in a light snowfall, heading across 4.13 and 5.13. We are all swaddled in newly purchased cold weather gear.

In the middle of 5.13, Amara and Pierre notice movement in a small manor. I ask Pierre for the blessing of the god who is so secretive that no-one knows their name, and so empowered, proceed to invisibly reconnoiter the farmhouse. I see a pair of large Blazing Banner auxiliaries brawling with a half dozen of the Blazing Banner.

Upon my return to the party, I relay this information succinctly, and the decision is made to engage. Sovan, taking the initiative, uses their famed Calm Emotions spell to quell the fight. This stops the blazing banner in their tracks, but fails to affect the auxiliaries, who squash one of the Blazing Banner. The fight resumes, and is stopped by Sovan’s second Calm Emotions. Using Comprehend Languages, Sovan Dareshin proceeds to interrogate these brutish creatures about the political situation of the plains, as well as their current circumstances.

It transpires that the auxiliaries were paid to fight the Crested Skull, but fled because they didn’t like charging into the arrows that the Crested Skull so adeptly throw at them. The Blazing Banner plan to whip them to compel them to fight. More germanely to guild interests, the Crested Skull extend somewhat out of the plains to the north, and have large moving ambush groups. They are highly mobile, and so keep their numerical inferiority disadvantage minimized. The GrosQua work with the Blazing Banner sometimes, and have a truce of some sort with the Crested Skull (this explains why they were not wiling to aid the Qua). The LUA are highly powerful (possibly more so than the Blazing Banner), as they have buildings to the east out by the water, as well as their fortress-quarry in 9.14.

While this is going on, I use my on-going invisibility spell to lift a sack of coins and the Blazing Banner’s fancy sword. Virtue then uses an illusion to make it seem that the sword was stolen by the auxiliaries, and the brawl resumes. We leave without incident.

Proceeding towards the large marble doors in 6.13, we walk into the necromantic field that encompasses that hilly region. The marble doors are a little to the east of where the two roads join in this hex, and they face southwest. On our way to the doors, a quartet of fresh Blazing Banner corpses animate and we dispatch them with ease. They are slow and highly clumsy. I could scarcely fail to hit them (AC8). Amara siphons off some spiritual energy from them in the form of temporary hit points, but as the air shimmer of these effect fades, her mushroom gem flashes purple and the energy coalesces into her bone bracer. It appears that her mushroom blessing synergized with her magic item, which makes some sense as purple is the mushroom color of synergy / augmentation.

We arrive at the fancy marble arched doors. It has an inscription that says it is the “Tomb of the Eight Heroes Who Fought Together And Died Together.” Before we go in, I remark, “See, this is why elves cremate their dead: so our most powerful heroes don’t come back as unique and annoying undead.” Jean-Pierre replied (I would almost call it a riposte, but he doesn’t seem capable of the type): “I am very glad your most annoying people don’t come back as undead.”

We open the doors with the aid of Virtue’s, Pierre’s, and Jean-Pierre’s stonecunning (the guild’s entire complement of dwarves came on this expedition). There is a cluster of 10 undead milling about. In the ensuing fight, I learn that undead fear the powers of the chain I wield just as the living do, and Jean-Pierre turns 2/3s of our foes. Of note, when Jean-Pierre turned undead Amara’s dead hand spasmed and the light around the bone bracer faded (all stored temp hp lost). Jean-Pierre commented: “I’m sehrry. I deedn’t theenk that tuhrneeng ahl evil enurgees wohld ahffect you. E’m sehrry for geveeng you ze benefit of ze doubt.” Of note, his diction slipped slightly into a dwarfish vernacular in the presence of evil among the party.

The remaining undead facing us (4) all gnaw at Pierre, completely ineffectually. “It makes you wonder why the bards spend so much time hyperventilating about the zombie apocalypse,” I quip to Virtue. Semi-related: Pierre mentioned that he is 300 years old, about as old as my mother. It was an orphan on the refugee fleet that fled Silanya, and he’s spent two centuries carving monuments to the gods.

We go down 400 stairs, ending up over 150’ underground chasing the undead. Two had succumbed to traps (which we notice the pattern of and easily avoid, credit to Virtue for first noticing the suspiciously simple pattern, and credit to Jean-Pierre for pointing out that this temple probably was using it to avoid accidentally killing its stupid, stupid pilgrims. Adjectives mine), and the last four confront us at the bottom of the stairs.

There are carvings and murals on the walls of the Champions of Silanya, a group that lived and died about 1,000 years before the Corruption. They bound some great “accursed” evil in the western portion of the continent “in a land that will remain forever blasted” → probably that place in 4.11. This entire conversation occurred as the last four undead were shambling up the stairs towards us, and we then dispatched them.

At this lowest level we find a pair of shrines to the champions with various precious offerings. The Champions were venerated as demigods.

The story on the walls goes that the Champions were an adventuring party, consisting of:
2 great spellcasters (a female [bearded of course] dwarf and a male human)
1 warrior of the gods (elven male cleric, of a faith similar to Pierre’s)
1 axeman of legend (male dwarf)
1 swordsman of legend (female human)
1 archer of legend (male human)
1 storyteller of legend (male halfling)
and 1 enigma (vague)
They came out of no-where to fight this final battle. No-one seems to know them before, or the thing they fought. Most of their equipment was destroyed in the final battle. I commented at the time that I smell a con of some kind.

From here,the stairs start going upwards again. They go up 75’, emerging in the middle of a large (70’ across) octagonal chamber. A dozen pillars hold up the ceiling, and 8 doors ring the edges, one for each side of the room.

Jean-Pierre detects that there are 7 undead, 1 in each room, not moving. 1 room is empty. Enigma? There is 1 pillar per person (the enigma column has been defaced, unclear when), and 4 pillars, each with a different representation of the accursed evil. The representations are wildly inconsistent.

Each ‘door’ is actually a stone archway with a smooth stone wall that faintly radiates abjuration magic. We decide to knock down the wall to the non-magical tomb (the one without undead). Once we do, we find a way to open it (there was a very well hidden mechanism), and stone-cunning plus my natural brilliance determine how to open the other tombs. They will be easy to open, hard to interfere with opening, which is concerning as there is a mechanism on the inside to open the tomb. The sarcophagus of this room is completely bare, and when we open it is it empty. This is probably the enigma room.

Poking around the room, we find a secret compartment with a sealed stone tube. We try to open the tube. It gets hot, and Sovan throws it away just in time before it explodes. Amazingly (20) it explodes outwards but the inner explosion didn’t trigger, even though its purpose was to destroy the inner contents. The scroll is a cypher, and I can’t trivially (20, modified) crack it. I can modify the scroll case to be a one-use weapon, though, which I later do in town meticulously but without difficulty. Of note, the runes that guarded this scroll case are from a different era, as a Glyph of Warding would have been triggered by being moved.

We proceed clockwise from the room with no undead, trip a mechanism, and open a chamber. We see a mummified halfling body standing up in its alcove. The moment the door opens, his eyes open and he charges us with a shortsword while throwing a bead of fire at Pierre and Jean-Pierre (damaging both of them), while hissing “Come to me, friends.” We rapidly drop the halfling while deploying my flaming sphere and Jean-Pierre’s spiritual weapon. We then have two rounds to deploy around the stairs (hiding Virtue and Amara behind the stronger adventurers) before the doors open. Amara uses the energy she’s harvested from earlier fight to reanimate the halfling as a weak zombie under her control, demonstrating the extended power of the mushroom gem + magic item combination.

The elf cleric and an invisible human mage pop out first. The mage color sprays and Pierre is blinded. The cleric guiding bolts me and is stupefied when I effortlessly dodge out of the way, tipping a nearly flawless attack off my Shield spell (AC20, miss). Her attack was given after by her choreographed positioning. Classic cleric. We launch a flurry of attacks back, including the flaming sphere on the mage, and the cleric goes down to Amara’s magic missile (popping up from the safety of the stairs, then getting back into cover) while the mage disappears again.

Then a dwarf in robes (sorcerer), a human archer (ranger), and a dwarven axeman (barbarian) pop out. The sorcerer bathes myself, Pierre, and Jean-Pierre in burning hands, dealing 7 damage to the less nimble types and 3 to myself. The ranger lets fly two arrows at Pierre. The first bounces off his trusty splint mail, but the second drops him, damaging the muscles in his shoulder so he can’t use his shield as effectively (-1 AC). The barbarian charges, but is tripped by me lashing out with my invisible chain and loses his attack.

Sovan heals Pierre so he’s back on his feet just in time for him to eat 14 points of fire damage from a more successful burning hands from the sorcerer, and he goes down again. His mobility is slightly impaired (-2 Dex). I slam the barbarian with an empowered firebolt from close quarters, back up slightly, and position my flaming sphere towards the archer. The halting zombie is harrying the archer.

The barbarian charges me again and is tripped again, getting two attack but at disadvantage both times. He misses, twice. The swordswoman of legend finally opens her door, revealing herself to be a heavily armored sword and board fighter, and charges…JP. The two tanks bounce off each other, then JP is tripped for 5 damage in a surprisingly sophisticated maneuver for a body so ensconced in metal. JP spiritual hammers the tank in the back, then takes the dodge action. In a battle of tank vs. tank……………..this sentence never ends because that battle never ends…. [Meta note: METAPOD VS METAPOD! HARDEN! YOU’RE THE STRONGER METAPOD!]

Virtue magic missiles the sorcerer, only for it to be shielded. We aren’t going a great job of focusing firing this battle, except for the first two snipes, where took out their healing (if it even worked), so actually on reflection we did alright. My excuse is that I was busy dueling the barbarian while burning the archer with my flaming sphere.

The sorcerer fires off a twinned magic missile, slamming into Jean-Pierre and Sovan, who barely avoids becoming a boar, and retreats down the stairs. Amara takes his place, rushes into battle with a surge of heroism and harvested souls. The archer is frustrated by the ball of fire and zombie on them, draws two swords, eviscerates the zombie, and rushes in. The barbarian axemen charges me. I drop into a crouch and ready a Shield spell, then straighten up and relax, as his posture is all wrong. 3. 3. Obscene misses.

Pierre uses his last spell to revenge himself on the dwarven sorcerer, blowing her away with a guiding bolt THROUGH a spell shield. The archer goes down to Jean-Pierre with a spiritual hammer to the back of the head. I continue duelling the axeman. Amara eats two attacks from the archer and retreats.

The wizard (only a wizard could be so clever set this up), blinds me after four rounds of hiding from somewhere where the rest of the party can’t see him (a small tomb on the edge). Against the odds, I see him before my vision goes dark. The axeman manages (barely) to hit me while I’m blinded. Pain erupts down my left side as I take 15 points of damage. I am still standing with 14 hit points. Despite his onslaught, that was only the second time this combat I’ve been damaged. On my turn, I dodge and shake off the blind, positioning the flaming sphere on the tank. The rest of the party also focuses the sword+board lady but doesn’t drop her.

The clever wizard color sprays me. I shield before I lose my sight again to protect myself from attacks, and hunker down, still dodging. WHAM. WOONG. 20. 22. The barbarian’s attacks both bounce off my spell shield. I then disengage, blind, to retreat down the stairs, as my flaming sphere drops the tank, with some help spotting from the rest of the party.

The human wizard rolls a 1…and a 1…firebolt cantrip attacking himself, dropping himself. “These heroes are a pale shadow of what they once were.”

Pierre finishes off the axeman, bolstered by Sovan’s heroism spell (to have the HP to keep fighting), with 9 points of damage. I, Raevori, had dealt 43 points of damage to him. “Monstrous kill steal,” Pierre says. Dwarven lingo is so strange.

The fight is over. It lasted a full 1+2pause+7 = 10 rounds.

We cremate them at the bottom of the stairs, slightly on the other side, so the smoke doesn’t foul the tomb chamber or give away our position unduly. We fight a massive wealth of ceremonial armor and weapons in the chamber (so of which they were using to fight), for 1600 gp. NOTE FOR FUTURE EXPEDITIONS: we found one secret compartment in this chamber, search for others more exhaustively at some future date.

Day 2:

Because only Pierre is injured, and the doughty dwarf insists that we press on, we proceed to check out the doors to the north side of the hills, searching for the source of this necromantic field (the Champions were given unlife by it but certainly weren’t its source).

There are OLD…far older than the 1,300 year old place by far. There are occasional piles of bones that we have to smash periodically to prevent them from animating.

After some time, Virtue hears a raspy raspy sound echoing through the corridors. We go to investigate, and Pierre is paralyzed by a pair of ghouls. Two more ambush us from behind and paralyze Sovan and bite Jean-Pierre. Fortunately, Jean-Pierre’s famously indomitable constitution kicks in, and he turns them, driving three of them away, along with Amara’s latest zombie servant.

All told, we kill 8 ghouls in this place without further incident, as the others come in ones and twos. We even recover Amara’s zombie. We find a burial chamber with an elevated coffin surrounded by silver valuables.

Sovan investigates and sets off all the traps. He takes 16 from contact poison and turns into a boar (took damage from ghouls earlier), then the ceiling collapses on him for 13 more damage. Thanks to his relentless trait, he is still standing at 1 hp. He heals himself to 14, then I burn off the contact poison on his hand.

We take a breather (short rest), then Amara has his two zombies pop the sarcophagus open. It is just dust, but there are silver valuables in the room worth 350 gp.

I was hasty. There was one more ghoul ambush of incident. A pair of ghouls ambush the party from the front, doing 22 damage to JP before dropping. In the process, Virtue roll 1,1 and then max damage on a firebolt (10), doing 10 damage to herself. She would have injured herself if not for Jean-Pierre’s Aid spell. I also missed three times in a row with my own firebolt cantrip, but at least was able to not be in the way when Pierre charged in to do some good [Pierre: Raevori is being modest here. I was going to crash into her before her parkoured off the walls to get out of my way (Acrobatics 22)]. We find another coffin, clear the traps using a zombie (which survives, remarkably, and collect 80 gp of silver things. Like the previous one, it just contains dust.

On our way out, we find a secret door, dodge the associated trap, and find an ornate sarcophagus covered in silver and copper, surrounded by more silver valuables. We have the zombies open it. It contains a body, which leaps from the ground FAST, but we obliterate it before it gets to take an offensive action. The head rolls away from the pummeled corpse, rising into the air and glowing with green fire.

It full strength fireballed the room. Fortunately, only our zombies were standing in the room, as they take 33 damage. If it had fireballer the 6 of us in the doorway, several people would have dropped and it’s quite likely that someone might have died (Virtue, Pierre, and Amara, on a failed save). We snuff its flame (with repeated blunt impacts) before it gets to act again, and collect a massive magical ruby from its skull, 200 gp from the room, and a sarcophagus worth 170 gp that contained an undead monstrosity that might have killed several / all of us.

We then proceed back to town, dragging the valuable sarcophagus with us.

Complete summary of collected loot:

60 gp Sack of Blazing Banner large mercenary pay
35 gp Ornate Blazing Banner Leader sword
250 gp worth of religious offerings from the shrine area
90 gp worth of religious offerings from the tomb area
1600 gp worth of ceremonial weapons, armor, and other accoutrements of the Champions
350 gp worth of silver valuables in an ancient tomb
80 gp worth of silver valuables in a less impressive ancient tomb
200 gp worth of silver valuables in the super-sealed ancient tomb
170 gp massively heavy copper and silver sacrophagus

150 gp Jury-rigged magical scroll case boom tube (6d6 force damage, 1 off use, spell attack)
1350 gp Gem of Fireballs, 1350gp (requires attunement). The Gem contains 3 charges of Fireball (non-recharging). Only one can be used per day, but they are full Fireballs (8d6 damage). While attuned, the wielder can also use the gem to make a fire ray attack that is xd6, where x is the number of remaining charges. This is a spell attack that uses the wielder’s proficiency bonus (if a spell caster) and highest mental ability modifier. Each fireball is worth 450 gp (for calculating future expedition expended costs).

Costs: 1 identify spell + 4 ritual components + 3 healing potions (270 gp)

Total experience from monsters defeated:
3750 xp, most of which (2450 xp) is from defeating the Champions of Silanya (CR3, in their faded form, worth 1/2)

TOTAL: 7435 xp, 4165 gp


James_Elcombe Del_

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