Kill Acererak 4: Dragonslayers & Lich-destroyers

Kill Acererak 4: Dragonslayers & Lich-destroyers

In which the Sigil 6 slay a Black Dragon and dissolve Acererak’s Soul Jar in the dragon’s acidic drool.

PIC: The Free City of Greyhawk's heraldry surrounded by vines.

TEXT: The Sigil 6 are in a nameless bog just east of the Free City of Greyhawk. They have made this journey to... KILL ACERERAK.

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

When the Sigil 6 gathered in Sigil to share a magical meal created by Shepherd, their Cleric, they had no way of knowing that this last merry meal would offer a magical effect, making them immune to fear effects, would make what could have been a difficult battle much easier.

They had no reason to know that Acererak had arranged to have Āeksio hen lōz Tegun (the King of the Swamp in Old Valyrian) lair in the archlich’s tomb so that any who came here to attempt to destroy its Soul Jar would have to contend with a dragon and its kobolds.

Aeksio hen lōz Tegun lasted 1.5 rounds. The Sigil 6 was on point. Crits were rolled, good decisions were made and the dragon’s kobold guards did not make it in time. Bugwump stuck the final blow, though he was reticent to take on any fancy titles like dragonslayer or the King of the Swamp.

Orune, their wizard friend from the Free City of Greyhawk, died in the battle. Shepherd raised dead, using a diamond from the dragon’s hoard. I asked Shepherd’s player to describe the hour-long ritual and he did so, offering vivid details. He described the diamond, placed on the wizard’s brow disappearing.

I said, “You can see a pale, ashen angel of death with black bone wings taking the diamond and putting it in a satchel, filled with such diamonds. From the satchel on its other hip, it took out Orune’s soul and put it back in his body. ‘We have watched you and your friends face down death time and time again. Know that from here on out your enemies will grow far more dangerous…’

“In-game, that totally happens. Out of game, I’m going to make an effort to make the combat encounters a bit more difficult. I’m not going to be a jerk about it but I’m going to try to raise up the challenge level a touch.”

I’ve asked some strategic minded friends to join a small FB group to help me brainstorm about these kinds of fighty encounters. I’m not frustrated the the players won. I wonder if I could have made some of these fight encounters a more fun challenge.

How are we counting up the dragon hoard? Like this:

Text:
	The coins you swept off the blood-stained floor coated with acid, pryed from the scales of the dragon's corpse and dragged out of the swamp are not only coins. They are a catalogue of civilizations destroyed by the dragon’s greed. Spending this kind of ancient coinage attracts attention. Your dreams have been strange since acquiring it, as if the dragon's arcane blood has seeped into the gold.
	When you spend money from the the Dragon's Hoard, tell the DM what you want to buy and in what marketplace you are trying to purchase this item. The DM will set a DC if it is possible to find such a thing in the marketplace. If not, the DM will let you know who the merchants' gossip networks say might have such an item or a map to a tomb where such an item could be found. If the item is common, the DM might just ask you to check off a gold coin or two (maybe three if it is really opulent) without a roll.
	When you roll, mark a gold piece off of the fortune below. You may add +1 for every gold piece you mark off of the fortune.
	If you succeed, you purchase the item without a problem.
	If you fail the roll the player may choose to take on the Dragon Greed:
•	Spending from a dragon's hoard puts one in touch with terrible greed. The character becomes obsessed with whatever they purchase.
Or the DM will choose one more more:
•	you draw attention from a dangerous faction
•	purchase an item/service that has a complication attached to it
•	the merchant demands an exchange of services, wanting the skills that adventurers are known to possess.
	1 Gold Coin = 1 month room & board in most cities for 6 adventurers.
	
Dragon Rampant and 10 rows of 4 gold coins to check off.

Next Game: The Sigil 6 will party, from the Free City of Greyhawk to Sigil and deal with some of the fallout of their amazing actions.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Kill Acererak 3: Just South of the Cairn Hills

Kill Acererak 3: Just South of the Cairn Hills

In which the Sigil 6 get to the Free city of Greyhawk and purchase a flying carpet to head to the swamps south of the Cairn Hills.

PIC: The Free City of Greyhawk's heraldry surrounded by vines.

TEXT: The Sigil 6 are in a nameless bog just east of the Free City of Greyhawk. They have made this journey to... KILL ACERERAK.

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

They made solid rolls in getting out of the negacano, avoiding the 48 Days Later Frost Giants and the grasping undead hands. Gord the Rogue took them to a portal under a bridge that led to the Free City of Greyhawk. All they know is that in a swamp east of Greyhawk City is Acererak’s tomb – this is where they can destroy the lich’s Soul Jar.

Gord told them a bit about the Free City of Greyhawk…

The Free City of Greyhawk's heraldry surrounded by vines.

“Do you have any pterodactyls? Flying zebra? War Ravens? What is going on with this place?”

The Sigil 6 were not interested in hoofing it. They checked the harbor for flying ships and when they saw none they sought out other flying options.

They bought a flying carpet from a smug wizard from the Society of Magi for a small fortune from their Ravenloft Fortune. As they were leaving an earnest wizard who had had a run-in with a vampire wanted to know about the coin they used to purchase the carpet. Orune the young wizard hitched a ride with them. Everyone is trying to figure out, is Orune a Red Shirt or is he the survivor who shares the Sigil 6’s story with the world.

The Free City of Greyhawk's heraldry surrounded by vines.

A Roc came out of the clouds, grabbed a Froghemoth from the nearby swamp and fly northward to drop the creature against the hard rocks and eat the remains. They circled the skull hill within which was the Tomb of Horrors. One of the entrances was collapsed with adventurers’ corpses. There were discussions of using Rock to Mud to get into the tomb, digging until they hit a room. We had a few missing party members, so we decided to end there and start at the entrance to the tomb next week.

The Free City of Greyhawk's heraldry surrounded by vines.

Next Game: The Sigil 6 will enter the Tomb of Horrors.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Kill Acererak 2: The Knife, the Jar and the Eye

Kill Acererak 2: The Knife, the Jar and the Eye

In which the Sigil 6 find Acererak’s Soul Jar, hidden near the Eye of Vecna – also Lord Soth gains power and a gaggle of necromancers gain the resources they need to make wealth management plans so they can start thinking about saving for their retirement.

TEXT: Traversing the Shadowfell's coldest mountains, the Sigil 6 are attempting to KILL ACERERAK.

PIC: Black and White negative volcano

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

With them help of Kuru’s abilities as an Arcane Trickster Rogue and Trundle’s abilities as a Ranger with levels as a Cleric of a God of Portals, the Sigil 6 made their way past the vicious Frost Giant clans whose mountain fortresses surround the archlich’s sanctum, a volcano in the Shadowfell that spews negative energy rather than lava.

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There were two gates, big enough to welcome a Frost Giant host in the side of the negacano. Shepherd communed with the Raven Queen to know that the doorway with the green limestone eyes was the true door and the doorway with thousands of green gems representing Acererak’s eyes as depicted on the gate’s carvings was the deathtrap. But even the true door had a Wraith Lord within it.

Jusko stepped up, with a dagger given to him from Lord Soth, as a way for the Knight of the Black Rose to find the fallen knight of House Hajek should he perish. Jusko invoked his noble background and addressed the wraith as a still-living king. “The Knight of the Black Rose is seeking you and your host.” I had him roll a Persuasion. It worked.

Why did this work? I’m thrilled you asked.

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Before the game, while eating dinner I grabbed an empty Hex Flower sheet I made ages ago. I set it up with 3 circles, with different resources the factions within Acererak’s mountain might fight to claim once they realized their Lich Lord was dead.

More on the Hex Flower tool here.

I rolled twice to see where each faction was – one roll for each day. Acererak’s wraiths, the Wyrmghasts, were on the verge of exodus, of deserting their posts just a day ago. The Wraith Lord was holding them in place by a slim margin and they still had the apprentices and ghouls to deal with. This was a powerful leader looking for a way out. The Hex Flower told me so. In walks this fallen knight with a token of The Death Knight in his hands and a promise of a way out.

I need a word for this, for those moments where the players gain something and then use it in ways you had never anticipated. Reincorporation, maybe? I don’t know. It is a thing and is always a source of delight.

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Hellewynne sniffed out the Soul Jar, having smelled the odd mix of alchemical agents and necromantic ritual items before. It was in an isolated crypt that none of the factions had attempted to go near. The door read, “My Greatest Rival.” They carefully dispelled the Power Word Kill trap and found a gauntlet holding the Eye of Vecna. A few spells let them know that the gauntlet was the Soul Jar, hidden next to a legendary and powerful necromantic artifact.

The group unloaded and ditched the vampire accountants they had been holding a portal hole since Gloomwrought and Mage Handed the items into said portable hole.

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Next Game: The Sigil 6 will try to get the Soul Jar to a swamp just outside of Greyhawk City – in a backwater Prime.

Meanwhile, Lord Soth just gained a host of wraithguards and the necromancer apprentices who followed Acererak will start thinking about investment opportunities.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Kill Acererak 1: Plans & Deals

Kill Acererak 1: Plans & Deals

In which the Sigil 6 decide to venture into the Shadowfell once more, this time in order to destroy Acererak forever.

TEXT: Traversing the Shadowfell's coldest mountains, the Sigil 6 are attempting to KILL ACERERAK.

PIC: Black and White negative volcano

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

There was an hour of discussing what to do. They decided to use the 8 Lich’s Soul Jars as leverage to cut a deal with the Lich Congress, getting the Tomb That Walks off their trail and then doing their damnedest to get to where Acererak keeps his Soul Jar before he can come back.

The Lady of Pain brokered a meeting with Kaasary, the Herald of Orcus (thank goodness for the Fantasy Name Generator’s Lich Names) on a magic-dead area in the Maze. They agreed that they get the Tomb That Walks off their trail and the specific way to destroy Acererak’s Soul Jar. The Herals also agreed to notify them if they should learn that Acererak has reincorporated.

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Acererak’s Soul Jar is in a heavily trapped volcano in the Winterfell, a mountain that spews negative energy, not lava. The volcano is surrounded by tribes of oathbreaker Frost Giants who owe Acererak some ancient debt. Once they have the archlich’s Soul Jar, they’ll have to take it back to his home, a small Prime Material world. They were given a map to a swamp a few days journey from a city called Greyhawk.

The players are talking about using this item they received from a Gnomish Deity after a previous adventure.

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The Lady of Pain gave Trundle a blue-white rose with vicious thorns that was a key that opened a gate to a nearby mountain in the Shadowfell. Trundle wrapped it around his shield. Jusko buried a piece of broken amber from the golem they destroyed in Demi-Plane of Dread’s Amber Temple.

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Next Game: The long slog to Mount Acererak, a volcano spewing negative energy. They haven’t rested, not knowing when Acererak will reincorporate.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 6: Beheading Acererak

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 6: Beheading Acererak

In which the Sigil 6 used a Wish to avoid Death and then beheaded Acererak.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Acererak had a strong start. The group was bloodied. Bugwump had died from a Power Word Kill and the only thing that saved him was the ability to re-roll a Counterspell. I described the Pale Frog-Kin, an avatar of death from Bugwump’s homeland. “Are you Bugwump, of the Sigil 6?”

Bugwump signed and then flipped the avatar of death off as he went back to life to get another chance.

Then Jusko closed with the archlich. Trundle had closed with Acererak but hadn’t been able to land a shot.

Acererak attempted to use a paralysis touch ability but did not roll well enough to get by Jusko’s 24 AC. And Jusko rolled a nat 20 with a vorpal sword.

Acererak’s green gem eyes started to lose their glow but before they turned to dust they managed to say, “Well done. I will reform soon. We will see if you are so lucky next time.”

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The group looked into some nooks and crannies of the dungeon, found the library and did some research.

Shepherd cast Legend Lore to try and find Acererak’s Soul Jars and/or Lair. I’m thinking that ancient Omuan legendary warriors, folk who were far away from their home when Omu fell to Acererak tried to kill him and never returned.

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Next Game: You know where Acererak’s Lair is…now what?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 5: Keep on Truckin’ a.k.a. Enter Acererak

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 5: Keep on Truckin’ a.k.a. Enter Acererak

In which the Sigil 6 enter the Tomb of Annihilation again but this time they encounter the tomb’s architect.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Before entering the Tomb of Annihilation, Kuru met up with Dacaad and offered whatever support he could and when they parted ways the little Halfling Arcane Trickster said, “Keep on trucking.” This became the words of the night.

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It was a slow start. I didn’t sleep well last night and didn’t have much energy. We levelled up characters, read up on shiny new 6th level spells and made tentative plans to re-enter the Tomb and get the Lich Soul Jars that they knew to be littered on the floor of the balconies above the Death God’s Nursery.

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Trundle had Moa, an Omuan deity in his head again, as he did when they first entered Omu. This gave the Sigil 6 access to the Godroads once again.

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They got into an area called the Chapel of Hate, with the altar to Orcus that they had used as a hasty exit a round or two ahead of Acererak. I rolled a d20, thinking that Acererak would arrive on a 20. Whenever the group stopped to do something – I added another 20. Discussion about what to do with the captive lich, 2d20. Looking over the hallway to the north and deciding not to mess with it – 3d20. Cutting away the Ward on the portal to the balconies above the Death God’s Nursey…4d20.

20.

Timestop. Finger of Death on Bugwump. Chain Lightning on everyone (didn’t do anything to Shepherd because he’s in a Flesh Golem shell).

And we’ll roll initiative next week. I described what it is like to know that time has stopped and that Acererak was staring at the staff Bugwump had acquired the last time the group was in Chult – the staff that had once belonged to the lich.

Sword crossed with key subject divider

Next Game: Acererak is in the building.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 4: Slaying the Queen of Feathers

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 4: Slaying the Queen of Feathers

In which the Sigil 6 slay the Queen of Feathers in front of Dacaad and return to Omu, a lost city in the midst of being rebuilt.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

Helewynn’s player always wants to leave her weapons in their scabbards and do some outside the box stuff. I’m worried that 5e’s hit point bloat has attempted to mechanically curb this amazing instinct. Her Moon Elf jumped off her War Raven with a silver chain in her hands, wrapping the blade around the Queen of Feather’s mouth and wrestling her to the ground. When the Queen of Feathers attempted to throw her off, a 20 was rolled in the dueling athletics roll. The Moon Elf Barbarian dragged the legendary T-rex to the ground.

I described the Queen of Feathers desperately trying to get Helewynn off of her, using her Misty Step ability. I described it as stepping momentarily into the Astral Sea returning to Chult 20 feet above the ground but there was no shaking this elven bad-ass.

Kuru put a stone with Immovable Object on it on the back of the Queen of Feather’s head, pinning her in place. Jusko offered his vorpal blade, the one Kuru had ripped from the Queen’s head when they first met, and Helewynn beheaded the beast.

Trundle mentioned checking the corpse for magic items and I rolled on an online random table that generated a pile of magic items, adding in that she also had an undigested Githyanki Silver Sword.

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Dacaad warned the group that the kobold cliffs could be dangerous and cautioned against going to the Yuan-ti part of the city. “Turns out, when people worship a hungry snake god who wants to end the world by eating it, diplomacy is tricky.”

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The ancient Omu trickster snake god is back in Trundle’s head now that he is back, giving the group access to the Godroads again.

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The Sigil 6 hit 11th level tonight. Shit is getting real. I think we’re going to go from 1 to 20. Exciting.

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Next Game: A feast in Omu and then getting the Soul Jars they know are in Acererak’s trapped tomb.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 3: The Heart of Ubtao Hospital

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 3: The Heart of Ubtao Hospital

In which the Sigil 6 once again travel south across Chult on pterodactyl-back.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

The crew asked their merchant prince friend, Jessamine, whose nephew they saved from Zhent kidnapping and whose sister they have travelled with across the planes and consider a part of their Sigil 6 Family. They asked her if she knew of any of Acererak’s spies in Port Nyanzaru. She said she would look into it.

I described Jessamine’s face losing its smile as they left and she ordered the kidnapping of a merchant who was a known worshipper of Orcus. She got some intel out of this merchant through unkind means and send it to the Sigil 6 in a letter. Acererak does return to the Cradle of the Death God and is not planning on harming the Sigil 6 himself, believing that other forces will do that for him if he just waits long enough. Also they learned that Acererak lost some standing with other liches when his plans to make his own Death God fell through.

They travelled south and met a Ranger leading a group and he explained Dacaad’s leadership, “He seeks to unite the tribes and peoples across Chult as best he can. Dacaad has placed tablets in all of Ubtao’s deserted holy places, with a litany about what he needs to do to apologize to the people of Chult for abandoning them.”

There was a cool moment where this Ranger asked why they were on Chult. Jusko put it in a cool way, “We are being hunted and need help we can only find here.”

The Ranger nodded, “Being prey is a terrible thing.”

The Heart of Ubtao, a floating stone half a mile above the ground, was now being used as a hospital by healers, led by Ebelle, an elder. Bugwump rudely suggested they destroy the Teleportation Circle to Red Land of Thay rather than hoping a stone with a Dispel Magic Rune on it will lock it closed.

Ebelle took his advice and so they used Kuru’s Stone to Mud wand, digging up the circle from its stone roots and throwing it off the Heart. They were gifted a flying steed, a winged zebra, as a thank-you. Trundle loved the steed and so it is his.

Next Game: They could see a man on a hilltop, sipping from a canteen, sword across his lap. The Queen of Feathers, a legendary T-Rex is hunting him nearby, almost ready to pounce. That man is Dacaad.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 2: “I don’t know; Scry casual.”

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 2: “I don’t know; Scry casual.”

In which the Sigil 6 Scry the Cradle of the Death God.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd and what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
Sigil 6 Subject Divider

The Corpseflea formerly known as Failed Soldier is now Shepherd. The player described the character not at all responding to the old name.

Love it.

Some players were missing tonight, so we had a low-key scry and chat. It was a lovely downshift.

Shepherd, the Corpseflea Death Priest, scryed into the chamber where the Sigil 6 had destroyed the Death-God Acererak was growing in the dungeon under the Lost City of Omu. He saw 8 Lich Soul Jars and with a Gem of True seeing, saw an invisible lich, bound by iron over its arms, legs, face and hands.

In the Chapel of Hate, they saw the Nothics chained to the wall and with a solid Arcana check, Bugwump explained that Vecna seeding false manuals that did not turn necromancers into liches but into Nothics, one eyed beasts with only vague memory of their previous lives. They also saw the secret doors down the hallway they hadn’t explored because I messed up and shared a map with the secret doors on it.

* shrugs * Eh.

During their last delve into this mess, they had access to the Godroads. This time they do not. They bought a Teleport Scroll as a safe retreat measure.

I really like re-visiting old places, seeing how things have changed. I’ve got fun ideas about the Lost City of Omu and how Chult has changed in the months since the Sigil 6 was here.

An ambitious tribal leader is uniting factions throughout the continent.

Next Game: Into the jungle. No, really.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 1: Return to Chult

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 1: Return to Chult

In which the Sigil 6 return to Port Nyanzaru.

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Failed Soldier and what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

We discussed some shopping options and picked up matched Rings of Protection +2 with the Sigil 6 symbol on it. Yes, the group has matching rings. Items were bought and discussed and they spent down some of the fortunes they’ve accrued adventuring.

One thing was certain, they needed to go back and grab the lich’s soul jars their gnome friend, Dosk, picked up in looking over her scans of the tomb.

They went through a portal that took them directly to Port Nyanzaru and could feel the weight of the Death Curse was gone. The city was even more vital and full of energy now that death wasn’t hijacked.

There were more folk from the country and jungle in the city, people of different dressed and different makes of weapons and heraldry. It turned out that someone named Daacad was uniting the tribes to fight off the undead plague and some of Daacad’s folk were in the port to demand the Merchant Princes did their fair part to make Chult better.

Jusko had given their Ranger Guide, Tefnek some gold to purchase him an apartment. She got him an apartment made from a grounded ship, staked down on a black sand beach just outside the city. Jusko surfed and Tefnek suggested he stay and settle down but Jusko refused (I didn’t quite say, “Drew, do you want to retire this character?” but I came close).

The group got saddles on their pterodactyls and we ended a bit early there. We had some players missing and decided to start the journey back to Omu with more people at hand.

Drew:

Bugwump and Kuru discussing the merits and flaws of deliberately provoking interdimensional tears in the fabric of spacetime — as our opening scene — was pretty damn entertaining.

Trundle being interested in bringing back Omu to Chult was cool too — Trundle as a chosen of the gods trying to seek a solution involving gods, fun. Also the Incredible Hulk themesong for Trundle the Roadcursed was fun.

Anthony constantly CONSTANTLY brainstorming plans, side grifts, fallback plans, opportunities.. someone get him a job managing disasters somewhere, his brain is shockingly good at engineering solutions out of the detritus around him.

“Judd, did you engineer this bad guy or is he from some supplement?”

“Basically, what I did, was put a Demilch into an Iron Golem. Pretty simple.”

Bees bioengineer new queens. Whoa.

Bugwump hates flying, “I find this method of conveyance appalling.”

I kinda liked that the ship-apartment was the old Styx Boys boat. And that I got the old Slav out onto the water to get some night surfing in. Maybe the matchmakers will work some miracles. I thought about retiring him, but I think walking out on the S6 when they’re being hunted — plus having no idea what I’d play next — makes that hard right now.

Next Game: Into the jungle.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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