I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017. It was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s the follow up campaign – 2018’s ‘Tomb of Annihilation’. We used experience points rather than milestones/level-based progression, which led to some ‘xp grinding’ along the way. Each session was 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing; don’t forget these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar. If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them. And maybe even if you aren’t.
The party was separated from each other. Davor’s Ranger met up with Dan’s old Halfling Paladin, who we last saw petrified in the gardens of Nangalore (a friendly party came by and restored him, and he made his way with them to Omu and the tomb. As expected, they were all killed and he was the lone survivor…), who met up with Daniel’s Bard and Clinton’s Fighter (still underwater). Dan’s Paladin cured the Fighter (and would cure Morgan’s Druid as soon as he had his next long rest).
Off to the long sloping corridor where they found a three-armed gargoyle statue and a crawlspace leading to a secret room with a giant rolling Stone Juggernaut. Dan’s Paladin and William’s Goblin Monk decided to climb all over it, activating it and causing it to roll over several party members in the corridor beyond. Eventually Dan’s Paladin recovered a 5000gp gem and the party escaped to die another day.
Off to fight the Shambling Mounds in the hexagonal entry room, then to the next room where the party found five wardrobes, each of which had to be opened and the inhabitants fought in order to progress. Battles with Orcs, Mezzaloths, Will-O’-Wisps ensued. And they met a friendly Modron Monodrone, as well, who wasn’t much help but was cute.
Next, one more cupboard to open…
The party finished off the last wardrobe, battling a Bone Devil. Through the portcullis to a long corridor, where a magic ring in a devil’s head caused all clothing and metal to dissolve. Mark’s Barbarian ditched his weapons and claimed the ring to switch off the trap.
Beyond the arch was a huge Mechanus Chain, flowing between two interplanar vortexes. Realising jumping into a vortex might hurt a bit, the party went down the stairs into the den of the Sewn Sisters, a coven of night hags (who weren’t home). They encountered a feeble clone of Mark’s Barbarian, three dolls created from children’s souls that granted charms to the owners. After battling the Sewn Sisters (with Davor’s Ranger popping off to the ethereal plane twice to do so), the party moved onto the five doors, using the heads from the skeletons they collected.
Solving a puzzle in each of the rooms (including gaining some boons by eating magical food, destroying a Scarecrow servant and Davor’s Ranger using up his final etherealness to pull a ghostly lever), the party opened the skeleton gate and walked down the stairs into the room containing the Atropal and the Soulmonger!
Next week: SHOWDOWN! Don’t miss it!
The party confronted the Atropal, a huge, gurgling and quivering mass of creature linked to the Soul Monger via an umbilical cord. Dan’s Paladin tried talking to it using his comprehend languages charm, but it wasn’t in much of a mood to chat. While Daniel’s Bard used her wand of wonder to cast a stinking cloud around the Atropal, Mark’s Barbarian broke the ice by literally breaking the Soul Monger’s shell. Dan’s Paladin used his smites to do massive radiant damage and Daniel’s Bard finished the crystal cylinder off with a cloud of daggers spell. The Soul Monger was destroyed, the death curse lifted from the world!
Meanwhile, Clinton’s Fighter and Davor’s Ranger fought a wraith summoned by the Atropal, Morgan’s Druid successfully polymorphed the Atropal into a cat (meow!), but it changed back when it was hit by shards of the breaking Soul Monger. Fighting in a poisonous cloud ain’t fun, as Morgan’s Druid found out when he beast-changed into a giant eagle and flew into it. Mark’s Barbarian and Dan’s Paladin, along with Davor’s Ranger, finally took the Atropal down. Then the troubles began…
Acererak appeared, straight outta’ Compton! He showed what a 20th-level Necromancer Lich can do, spells-wise, zipping his sphere of annihilation around the room and using power word kill on Daniel’s Bard (yay for possessing spirit I’jinn’s temp hit points!), blasting the party with chain lightning, other nasty things and using counterspells. Mark’s Barbarian bravely confronted Acererak face to face, but was taken down, revived and then taken down again. Morgan’s Druid and Davor’s Ranger were taken out. Dan’s Paladin fled through the magic gate to another part of the dungeon, where he stabbed Artus Cimber (who was tied up in a bag on an altar, so naturally you’d stab him) and freed a Nothic he ended up fighting. Daniel’s Bard was frightened off but came back to revive Davor’s Ranger. Meanwhile, Acererak followed Dan’s Paladin, who made a run for a corridor and head butted a few walls before finding a way through to another room, where Artus Cimber was getting his gear on!
Phew! So much tension!
Next week: Will Dan’s Paladin survive? Will Artus get dressed in time? Will Mark’s Barbarian and Morgan’s Druid wake up? Will Acererak destroy the party and have his revenge for them killing the Atropal, his baby god, perhaps making a dreary monologue at the same time? The very final instalment of Tomb of Annihilation is next week! Same bat time, same bat channel!!!
Dan’s paladin ran into Artus Cimber in Acererak’s library, which they promptly hightailed from via a secret passage and returned through the portal to the Atropal lava room. Acererak followed, raised some dead minotaurs and faced off against Mark’s Barbarian, who bravely sacrificed himself to leap with Acererak into the lava below!
Thinking it was all over, the party decided to go home, but Acererak, looking a bit lava-worn, dragged himself up and then had to face off against Clinton’s Fighter, Morgan’s Druid and Dan’s Paladin, who delivered the killing blow, pushing Acererak’s body over the edge into the lava (“And I would have gotten away with it, too, if not for you dang kids…” Acererak was last heard saying). I’jinn said goodbye to Dan’s Bard, dissolving his wonderful wand of wonder.
As in all B-grade movie endings, the place started falling apart, so the party ran heroically back to the portal to the temple and through a secret door to a black ooze pool that transported them to the obelisk outside the front of the tomb. Then the whole cliffside collapsed.
After an uneventful return to Port Nyanzeru, the party were rewarded with magic items and the thanks of a grateful world. Or at least, a few bawdy ballads in the local inns. Mark’s barbarian received a statue in his honor, where his son eventually journeyed to pay his respects, only to be eaten by a Spinosaurus (Doh!). The rest of the party hopped a boat through the Bay of Chult, encountered the dragon turtle, escaped with very little dignity and eventually made their way back to the Sword Coast on another ship, pretending that incident never happened.
All’s well that ends well!