Tomb of Annihilation (short play account & spoilers, o/c!)

Omu. The party has 7 of the puzzle cubes.

I’d prepped that the first 15 minutes the players would actually be pursuing a pureblood Yuan Ti who had escaped into some ruins after a fight in the streets saw her brethren. Mentioned it but the players totally ignored it. Note to sell, if a NPC escapes at the end of a session and pursuit is put off till next session, players may be completely disinclined to pursue.

So, right to the long rest I guess? I have an issue with long rests basically making the resource depletion not matter, as it drains out the tension of that resource depletion. So I had a sort of loose system that the more you did in Omu, the more likely you wouldn’t have a night encounter. This has an out of game benefit in that you spend more time on game world events rather than random encounters. Anyway, they had done quite a bit so they got that much wanted long rest and got to the next morning.

I had prepped that the next 45 minutes or so would be negotiating with Ras Nsi and the red wizards for the puzzle cubes they hold. The thing about Ras Nsi is that if you just tell him about the soulmonger, he basically wants to give you the puzzle cube. The book says to leave a trail to Ras Nsi’s base when the party have seven cubes. Okay, heads on poles, leading all the way to the front tunnel.

So do they call to the front door or something, demand to know more?

No, one PC introduces himself with no actual purpose for being there, just saying hi. So the Yuan Ti tell him to tie his hands up and come in. Because they like slaves, really. Why not? Okay, door opens and then the invisible Barbarian wants to block the door. Then there was fighting, then a fireball, then a negotiation with a remaining, surviving Yuan Ti (after the only other survivor was intimidated into submission) and a readied action that could have made things worse. Interesting thing about readied action – whose interpretation of ‘I attack any enemy that comes into view’ is the one to use? If it’s the player, then they can attack anything they want, because they can declare anything as an enemy. Not much point setting conditions on a readied action in that case.

Anyway, Barbarian runs in further, runs into and manages to resist the gaze of Basilisks, then runs away like heck past the monk who had stepped in. The Basilisks march up from where the Barbarian ran from, the monk does not fare so well but shadow steps back through the door as he petrifies, then becomes stone!

There is a further negotiation, which I grant was at my suggestion but it was to be with the Bard closing the door and talking to the Yuan Ti without the rest of the party. As an offering of good will, you see.

Well, the Bard doesn’t die and they seem to come to an arrangement to see the boss, Ras Nsi.

I’m going to skip ahead here, because it really did go quite straight forward at that point – except in the middle of snake people town, they had the gall to ask for more from Ras after he gave them the cube. And I did give more – two healing potions each! And the wizard wanted spells now…that’s not really in the book at all. Actually the healing potions weren’t either, but it’s like almost that the act of generosity was like a kind of precedent that more aught really to be given because the NPC wanted to support them Consumables are okay to hand out but permanent is a different ball game.

All that actually ate up the last hour and forty five minutes of the session! I think I’m going to have the NPCs wear their hearts on their sleaves a bit in future so players don’t try to fight their way in through stuff just because they think they have to. If they get some cues from NPCs and ignore the cues and fight (and who knows, the NPCs might be lying, so that’s understandable), that’s okay. But I’ll make the NPCs a bit less mysterious and a bit overly open on information like that Ras Nsi wanted to see them so come on in. The thing was the book has the front guard wanting a bribe to get in – I thought that’d be interesting to have that resistance that he’s open to being bribed, but I think the players thought they’d have to break in.

In the end we do time extension and do a quick meeting with the red wizards, which a hireling and ex red wizard hireling of the party had arranged. Just a quick ten minutes, unless it breaks out into a fight. The book actually says the red wizards will fight the party once the party gets the second last cube (the wizards having the last one). But…it just didn’t seem necessary or to go anywhere to do that? The party was going to be the wizards trap detectors and clear a whole bunch for them and then die…why kill the thing that’ll die for you? So I based it on whether they could remember their contact with Valindra Shadowmantle to basically smooth over the relation, as the wizards were told by Valindra she’d sent some stooges, but they wanted to test these adventurers for themselves. Like something lurching from the mists of time, the party members who had met her did remember. Then the red wizards asked for her second name. Dammit! So the Bard does a persuasion check to sort of ‘Klaatu barata *cough!*’ their way through it. It wasn’t a big deal test, like they’d fight if the party failed to get the last name. But the party might have to bribe or do something clever or say something clever.

Anyway, they manage to appease the red wizards and they get the last damn puzzle cube! Took about ten minutes IRL to play out. If it had come to a fight, that’d be done next week. Now to be completely confused by the front of the tomb of annihilation next week!

But yeah, that door breach at up time like anything! Shenanigans at the door and multiple waves of enemies, etc.

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