T … is for … THE TOMB OF ANNIHILATION #atozchallenge

 

 

ACERERAK is a legendary and powerful lich who travels the planes of existence. He has built many tombs through the multiverse to lure in adventurers and treasur hunters in order to feed upon their souls. The Tomb of Horrors is the one tomb that most grizzled explorers talk about around the tables of taverns. Many have tried to find the tomb and lost their lives doing so. Those few who have found the tomb do not return.

This is the same for the Tomb of Annihilation.

 Few today even know the tomb exists, and thus it remains an enigma. Rare are the tavern tales that lure adventurers to its gates, and its horrors remain undocumented in the libraries of Candlekeep. The reason for this is simple: not one person who has entered the tomb has returned to tell the tale.

When Acererak returned to Faerun, he chose the dark continent of Chult to construct his newest tomb. He culled the indigenous tribes making them his followers. Some came willingly as cultists, seeing Acererak as a god. Others were forced into slavery.  With his new army of workers, he carved the tomb out within the fearsome and unforgiving jungles. The legendary lich devised brutal trials for each devious chamber, and sprinkled riddles and illusions throughout to deceive intruders. When the building work was done, he fed the slaves to his deathtrap, testing its efficacy. When he was satisfied, he turned his cultists into powerful undead creatures, tasking them to defend the tomb.

Each living being who lost its life within the influence of the tomb fed Acererak’s phylactery as he continued to wander the Planes.

Every few decades, Acererak returned to Chult to tinker with the tomb’s traps, add treasure to its vaults, and rumors to lead more explorers into his trap. His planar wanderings have influenced the tomb’s mishmash of architectural styles, and have populated it with strange and deadly monsters.

Then came the Death Curse.

Acererak claimed as powerful artifact. He placed the device within the bowels of the tomb, trapping the souls of the dead and draining life from all those who have been raised from death by magic. This worldwide “death curse” not only prevents the raising of the dead, but also causes creatures that were previously raised from the dead to wither and die.

And now souls pour into the land of Chult daily, seeking an answer to stop the Death Curse.

And as each dies, Acererak’s power grows.

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INCURSION OF CAMP VENGEANCE

As Vrae’Ree, Tessa, Arlan, Tharivol, GrrrgRoot, Adabon, Emanuel, and Aldon boarded the Star Goddess, they watched the zombies below slowly move into the still smoldering ruins of Camp Vengeance. The zombies seemed disinterested in the airship and remained focused the entire time on the camp itself.

Soon, about twenty zombies managed to lumber into the camp. Many fumbled in the overgrowth, impaled on the spikes in the trenches, or stumbled within the rubble. But the few wandered to the middle of the camp and lingered near the crater where (according to Adabon) Commander Breakbone had ordered the two wizards to cast fireballs, thus setting the camp ablaze.

The zombies began digging into the ground, tearing up soil and rock. Within moments, one of the zombies unearths a small chest. It fumbles around with the chest, trying to open it. Finally, another zombie lumbers forward and begins smashing the chest with its fist until the box shatters, revealing a an item wrapped in a colorful cloth.

The zombies tor at the cloth, casting it. As it falls to the ground its easy to discern that it’s an Order of the Gauntlet flag. The zombies begin moving away from the camp slowly, carrying whatever was in the chest with them.

 

S … is for … STRONGHEART #atozchallenge

 

 

STRONGHEART is a Paladin, a lawful, good fighter who aids any who need his help. His worst enemy is WARDUKE.

Years ago the two were friends, but the Heartstone brought out their strongest qualities. STRONGHEART, aided by PERALAY and RINGLERUN, escaped unharmed, but WARDUKE  became twisted and evil.

STRONGHEART’s horse, Destrier, is a nihrain horse, and has helped him in several adventures.

STRONGHEART’s sword Purlblade was given to him by some dwarves he helped.

Few folk argue with this 6’2″ giant clad in shining plate mail atop his great white stallion. Throughout the land his deeds have made his name stand for justice and right.

 

 

R … is for … RINGLERUN THE WIZARD #atozchallenge

 

RINGLERUN is a wizard who uses his knowledge of magic to defend the helpless, help the weak, and protect the innocent. His study of magic is focused on Law and Order. He always does his utmost to help mankind against the forces of Evil.

RINGLERUN has a full white beard and piercing eyes. He favors robes, and has a Staff of Power. Long ago, RINGLERUN and Kellek were adventuring and discovered the massive Heartstone that changed Kellek into an evil man, bringing out his hidden flaws, and purified RINGLERUN, making him wise and more just. Since that time, RINGLERUN and his friends have opposed Kellek and his friends. Although he knows Kellek plans to destroy him, RINGLERUN is not worried,as he knows that right will prevail. He is loved by the townsfolk of Ten Towns for his kind ways. They seek his protection against Kellek.

 

THE COOKIE THIEF

A woman was waiting at an airport one night, with several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock, as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took, he took one too, when only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other, she snatched it from him and thought … oooh, brother. This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled, and sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, then she sought her book, which was almost complete. As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise, there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair, the others were his, and he tried to share. Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

By Valerie Cox in “A Matter of Perspective”

 

Q … is for … QUIPPER #atozchallenge

Quipper are a type of fish much like that of a piranha. They are usually found in tropical waters like those within the jungles of Chult. However, they are able to thrive in fresh water as well. They are small fish, averaging between eight and ten inches long. The largest normal Quipper recorded was measured at two feet. They are either silver or black in color, with a saw-edged belly and large, triangular-shaped teeth that close in a scissorbite.

 For sheer voraciousness, the Quipper has no equals. There are many tales of cattle unfortunate enough to enter Chultan waters being stripped to the bone in a few minutes by these creatures. Quipper attack anything, including humans, and they usually attack in a swarm called a shoal numbering between five and fifty fish.

Quippers are meat-eaters; their usual diet is fish, but they will eat any animal that enters their territory. They have no natural enemies. Their cutting teeth, like those of sharks, flay the flesh from their victim as they attack. They are capable of reproduction (which occurs year round) after only a few months of life, and their life span is about four years.

There are no common uses for Quippers, either as trade goods or magical components. Primitive tribes in Chult sometimes use Quipper teeth as a decoration. Quippers are occasionally sought after by evil wizards and lords, who use them to populate their moats and dungeon traps.

PROJECT: “CHULT TREES” (#3)

 

This is likely the most difficult step of making the jungle trees scatter terrain. I snipped apart the trees and used a combination of white Elmer’s Glue and Gorilla Gel Super Glue to secure the tree shafts to the wooden bases. This step was difficult because I miscalculated the size of the tree shaft and the hole in the wooden wheel. So the hard part was playing around trying to get the trees to glue into the base, meaning I had to sit there and hold each one until it dried enough to stand on its own. Not the worst thing in the world but time consuming.

 

 

Check out past posts on this project:  Step #1 and Step #2

P … is for … PHIZ #atozchallenge

 

A Phiz is a mystical entity found exclusively in sylvan woods and faerie settings, or in the Feywild. They appear for the most part on trees within the wilderness, although they have been seen on old, large wooden doors, enchanted houses, bridges, drawbridges, and other old, large, wooden structures. It is a spirt that can move from place to place, appearing within wood, usually oak, ash, or thorn. It is very wise, and usually appears to provide individuals with information or knowledge.  A Phiz’s extensive knowledge of an area’s history and memories of anyone who has ever passed before its eyes. It is capable of remembering entire conversations that may have occurred throughout the span of its life. It is also prone to know volumes of lore and speak many languages that no human or elf can even hope to find nowadays, much less remember.

A Phiz is not disposed to give its sage-like knowledge to anyone because it does not wish to be haunted by every philosopher and sage in the realm. A Phiz is rarely senile despite its great age, although to fool some seekers it pretends to be. They are reclusive and often act old and weary or irritated with the intrusion of its privacy. Phiz do not like to be sought out, they prefer to seek.

A Phiz is not afraid of death and cannot be tricked or forced to reveal knowledge and information by threats or coercion, It would rather die by the axe than give information to those arrogant enough to threaten it. Phiz are disinterested in wealth and often laugh at those foolish enough to promise gold and riches. The only way to receive any information from a Phiz, other than its possible willingness to divulge it anyhow, is to offer it powerful magical items or rich faerie food — a very dangerous proposition either way.

O … is for … OTHELSTAN #atozchallenge

Othelstan worshiped Tiamat through the Cult of the Dragon and controlled the village of Parnast nestled in the Greypeak Mountains. His duty was to monitor all visitors and merchandise passing through the village. He collected any magical items that were passing through the village and its surrounding area to be passed on to the Cult. From time to time, Skyreach Castle would pass through the area and collect whatever magical items had been captured. Othelstan kept wyverns on hand for the purpose of flying to and from the floating castle.

Othelstan was defeated when a group of adventurers came to Parnast and liberated the village from the clutches of the Dragon Cult.

 

EXPEDITION TO CAMP VENGEANCE

A 19th Level Storyline told by DM Big Rich

Divider

The story of Castle Adikos and The Apotheosis Stone ends and the Tomb of Annihilation begins.

THIS CAMP IS ON FIRE

Vrae’ree Everhurden, Arlan Strangeways, and Tessa teleported to Camp Vengeance from Castle Adikos. They immediately realized that the camp was in ruins, razed to the ground by explosions and fire. The only remaining structure was the Western Watchtower. High in the top of the tower, the two large bells sung to and fro, near silently. All around them, the remains of the camp continued to smolder, the embers glowing red in the light of the pale half-moon.

Vrae’Ree soon discovered his comrade, Adabon, buried within the rubble of the Eastern Tower. The Wood Elf was injured, his arm hurt badly, but he was alive. The Drow Evoker used Telekinesis to lift the huge wooden beam off of Adabon, allowing Tessa and Arlan to drag him to safety. Afterwards, Arlan helped to redirect the wooden beam to allow Vrae’Ree to set it down away from the ruins of the watchtower.

Although Adabon seemed rather tight-lipped, he did inform the three heroes that three others who were travelling with him were buried in the rubble: GrrrgRoot, a Wood Elf Chultan Guide hired to lead them from Port Nyanzaru to Camp Vengeance along the river; Tharivol, one of the Neverwinter Nine who had recently been working with the Order of the Gauntlet; and Emanuel Can, a rogue from the Order of the Gauntlet.

The three worked together to excavate the enormous pile of rubble while Adabon sat quietly, watching. It took nearly two and a half hours for the group to dig Tharivol out of the fallen watchtower. When they pulled him carefully to sit near Adabon, the two exchanged glances but said nothing. After another twenty minutes of searching, the three had to declare that Emanuel was lost. As Tessa, Vrae’ree Everhurden, and Arlan took a short rest from their hard work, they could not know that Emanuel had polymorphed into an ant. The trickster sat watching nearby on a chuck of rubble just watching the others through tiny ant eyes.

None of the adventurers seemed to be talkative. Arlan, Vrae’Ree, and Tessa didn’t ask the others what had brought them to Camp Vengeance, and Adabon and his companions didn’t offer any explanations. Maybe they were all just worn out and exhausted. Maybe they just didn’t care. But more than likely, assumptions were made and that was the end of it.

A Z-REX, TWO BATIRI, AND A HOARD OF ZOMBIES … OH MY!

As the group rested, they started to hear strange sounds out in the jungle. At first they heard a large animal bellow. Some more time passed. A little later, they heard something moving in the high grasses to the North followed by loud munching. This got the best of the group and they decided to check things out. Arlan Strangeways, and Tessa followed GrrrgRoot towards the edge of the Western Trench. Adabon and Tharivol followed behind the Ranger, watching in silence. Emanuel remained in ant form, watching from his perch. GrrrgRoot walked to the edge of the trench, brandishing his polearm, and watched as a four foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex lumbered out from the cover of the jungle to stand on the opposite side of the trench. It was obvious that the beast was undead, and it was munching on some sort of flesh, although the type of meat was unknown at this point. GrrrgRoot slashed the monster across it’s neck and torso, opening a massive wound and causing it to tumble into the trench when it was impaled on several of the pungi sticks.

At the same time, Vrae’ree Everhurden, High Mage of Neverwinter, decided to go explore the Western Tower … alone and invisible. The Dark Elf, cloaked by Greater Invisibility, discovered that the tower was inhabited by two young goblins who were having a lot of fun swinging on the belltower ropes like it was a see-saw. He noticed that the clappers on the bells had been removed and that was why they were not making noise. Vrae’Ree scared the goblins down to the second level, and took a look out around the area from the top of te tower. He noticed a large group of hundreds of humanoids, a wall of flesh, moving towards the camp. He then used Feather Fall to hop down to the ground, heading back towards his comrades.

Emanuel Can decided to focus on the land around him, using his Druidic powers to Commune With Nature. He gathered a lot of vague information about the area of the Aldani Basin but the foremost threatening at this point was the presence of a large hoard approximately 600 zombies approaching the camp from the South, West, and North. The only direction they were not coming from was that of the East, towards the river.

They decided to hunker down and defend the camp rather than running away. The group took their places in the Western tower, shooing away the two goblins who were still hiding in the tower. They watched the goblins run away towards the river, then turn to run along its banks to the South.

The heroes started to plink away at the approaching zombie horde. GrrrgRoot used his magic to make the jungle plants overgrow and become hard to move through impeding the movement of the horde. After some time, a single zombie made its way to the front of the horde. As they watched it, they saw that the zombie broke from the horde, dashing towards the camp. As the zombie fumbled through the difficult terrain of the overgrown plant life, it cursed angrily in Orcish.

Tessa took aim and shot at the zombie. The arrow hit solidly in the left shoulder. The zombie cried out in pain and went down. Then it started to shout in Common: “Adabon! Tharivol! GrrrgRoot!” It shouted as it struggled to stand up. “Don’t leave me to the zombies! Help me please!”

Confused, Vrae’Ree glanced at Adabon. The tight-lipped Elf shrugged. “He’s with us.”

REPRESENTATIVE ALDON

Adabon finally explained to the rest of the group what had led him to Port Nyanzaru. At first, he simply travelled to Chult because he heard that Vrae’Ree was stirring up trouble with the Factions. He also wanted to check out the rumors of a “Dark Elf Savior” moving through Port Nyanzaru and healing the sick, lame, and dying.

After arriving in Nyanzaru, Adabon ended up travelling to Fort Beluarian, the central power of the Lord’s Alliance in Port Nyanzaru. There he met with Liara Portyr, ruler of the Fort garrisoned with Flaming Fist mercenaries from Baldur’s Gate. This is where he ended up meeting Tharivol, who had broken away from the soldiers at Camp Vengeance due to Commander Breakbone’s increasingly nature of madness. The two remained at the Fort for a few days, getting to understand some of the politics of Port Nyanzaru. It was a complicated political situation but one thing was obvious: The Merchant Princes ruled Nyanzaru.

Aldon was asked to travel to Camp Vengeance to check on its stability as a base camp for explorers on River Soshenstar. This expedition was funded by one of the Merchant Princes named Jobal. Adabon and Tharivol were asked by Liara to accompany Aldon to the camp. GrrrgRoot joined the party as a guide.

Aldon was being surrounded by zombies. but Adabon’s arrows put them down in group of seven or more at a time. Arlan devised a clever rescue plan using a combination of his Engineering and Pirate skills. Using a grappling hook and rope fired by Tessa’s bow, Arlan advised Aldon to tie the rope around his waist. That being done, Arlan swung off of the Watchtower, rappelling to the ground and using his weight to pull the Half-Orc representative across the ground towards the Watchtower. Aldon squealed in fear as he was pulled through the thick jungle plantlife, coming to a rest near the edge of the far side of the Western trench. He quickly untied the rope from his waist, and slid down on his backside into the trench.

THE STAR GODDESS

As the heroes managed to slow the oncoming zombie horde with various tactics, they became aware of an approaching airship. Although Emmanuel was convinced that the airship was dangerous, Vrae’Ree encouraged the rouge to hold off on attacking. Arlan used his goggles to observe the ship, realizing it was a Spelljamming vessel much like his own ship, The Lucille.

As the ship positioned itself over Camp Vengeance, they were brought aboard the Star Goddess, a ship hailing from Neverwinter. They discovered that the ship’s captain, Thasselandra Bravewing, was hired by King Neverember to come find the heroes. Although she was not specific, the crew of the Star Goddess used magic to locate and track the heroes. The crew included the following Halruaan Humans:  Ra-Dar the Navigator, Master-At-Arms Faix Haranis, and three other crewmen named Brax,
Nhar, and Velio.

Thasselandra smiled at the party. “I heard you might need some help.”

 

 

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