Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Storing and Transporting LEGO Bricks and Minis

The LEGO Dungeons & Dragons group on Facebook recently had a discussion about sorting and storing LEGO collections. I kept my comments on that thread fairly short, but then decided to expand upon them here. This column will give a quick overview of how I sort and store my LEGO collection, and how I transport LEGO miniatures with me to games. This is simply how I do it, and my priorities will continue to change over time, so simply take away whatever ideas you think will help you, and feel free to ignore the rest.

My personal LEGO collection totals over 50,000 bricks. That's just the sets for which I have documented piece counts; that number doesn't include any of the sets from my early childhood for which I no longer have boxes or booklets to identify the set, or any of the loose bulk bricks that I've bought through Pick-A-Brick, grab bags, Bricklink, eBay, etc.

To give you an idea how much space that takes up in my house, the 6' x 3' x 1' bookshelf in the photo below (left) holds most of the bricks that I'm not currently using in any projects: small tackle boxes of tiny and/or specialized parts on the top shelf; larger boxes of bulk bricks sorted by color on the next two shelves; minifigure parts and accessories on the shallow shelf below that; more bulk bricks; and boxes of random, rarely-used specialty parts on the bottom shelf.

The 5' x 2' x 1' pantry cabinet above (right) holds tackle boxes with LEGO miniatures on the top two shelves. This is where I keep minifigures and minifigure-scale creatures sorted out by creature type and where I keep boxes of minis that I've prepared for games I'm running. The bottom shelf holds LEGO Games and some additional minis, and the remaining shelf holds my and my wife's dice collections and random other gaming accessories.

Wherever possible, I prefer boxes that have good, strong latches, to prevent lost pieces. Some of my older bulk boxes lack such closures, but the newer ones (like the Room Essentials boxes with green clips in the first photo) were bought specifically for them. I'm much pickier when it comes to the tackle boxes that I use to sort parts and minifigures. After all, if the lid isn't tight, then carefully sorted parts can drift into neighboring bins, as well as escape the box, and then you've lost pieces and labor.

For my smallest parts, I use shallow tackle boxes with many compartments, like the ones below. The smaller boxes on the right have a very simple snap along the edge of the lid, but the ones on the left have actual latches. (Both kinds of box stack very nicely, as you can see above in the bookshelf photo.) I use these boxes for very tiny parts like 1x1 plates, 1x1 and 1x2 tiles, and 1x1 cheese slopes, as well as small specialized parts, such as printed tiles and Technic pins and axles, that I don't want to waste time digging around for in a box of bulk bricks.

The boxes shown below are a bit larger and are used to sort larger pieces that I have in volume. These three hold the collection of bricks that I use as miniature bases: 2x2 and 2x3 plates for Small-Medium creatures (bottom), 4x4 plates (top), 6x6 plates and radar dishes for Large creatures and 8x8 radar dishes for Huge (right).

For minifigures that are not currently being used, I keep most of the bodies in a large divided ArtBin case (below left), with accessories and extra heads in a second, shallower case (below right). I recently had to separate out weapons into their own tackle box as well (not shown).

The pantry cabinet holds a number of tackle boxes in which I have minifigures, and minifigure-scale monsters, sorted by creature type (animals, humanoids, undead, etc.) or by campaign. The photo below shows a few examples: small animals and vermin (including those often encountered in swarms, top left); other small animals (bottom left); larger animals (top right); and humanoids (bottom right). Both the size of the minis and the number of them I own will determine what size tackle box gets used.

My regular gaming group meets at the home of two of my players who have a toddler. We gather there to socialize over dinner, then help clean up and set up the game space while they put their son to bed. This arrangement means that I need a convenient and secure way to transport my LEGO miniatures to and from game. (It's also one of many reasons that I very rarely use any kind of terrain other than a gridded easel pad or battle map.)

For an ongoing campaign (whether I run at home or elsewhere), I will use one of my smaller tackle boxes to hold the PCs' minis, and put any creatures that I need for upcoming sessions in a couple of larger ones. The photo below shows two examples: The small box on the right holds minis for the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure that I've been running for my kids, as well as the PCs for the "Champions of Floris" game that I hope to resume with them someday. However, the latching on this style of box is not really secure enough for transporting it away from home, so I make sure to put a rubber band (or better yet, a hair elastic) around the box to keep it tightly shut.

The larger box on the left holds the minis for my current "Time of the Tarrasque" campaign; it needs more space in order to hold the cavalier's camel. (The other minis are just some extra NPCs, for now.) I used this same box for my "Winds of Freeport" game, when I needed space for an elasmosaurus companion and an occasionally enlarged crocodile. This box has good latches, so doesn't need any extra binding for travel.

The Creative Options carrying case shown at right holds one 1.5"-deep tackle box (like the Tarrasque party box above), plus two 2.5"-deep boxes, and has an undivided storage bin in the top. I typically use that top compartment for dice, scratch pads, snacks, and the occasional large mini that won't fit into any of the case's tackle boxes. If needed, it can hold an additional tackle box instead.

(As an aside, yes, the bottom box in that photo does not match the carrying case. It holds the minis from my HeroQuest boardgame, which are some of the few non-LEGO minis that I still use regularly. I call this my "mook box," as it holds a good number of goblins, orcs, and undead for use when I don't want to bother custom-building LEGO miniatures for everything the party might encounter. Conveniently, it's just a little smaller than the 2.5" deep boxes that came with the case, so I haven't needed to re-box these minis.)

I have acquired a few extras of both sizes of Creative Options boxes so that I can easily swap them in and out of the case as needed. This was very handy when I was running my "Gorilla Island" adventure, because I had many more minis prepped for it than would fit in this one case. By organizing those minis by what sections of the island they would be needed for, I could easily grab the one, two, or three sets that would be needed for a given session.

I typically acquire new tackle boxes at Michael's (check the bead aisle first) or the sporting goods section at department stores like Target or Wal-Mart (though you might need to search a while to find some that aren't sold full of fishing tackle). Larger storage boxes can be found in the home storage department of most large stores. In the past, I have also found useful storage containers at The Container Store, fabric stores, and art supply stores. Ironically, I have bought very few LEGO brand storage containers because, sadly, they rarely have sturdy latches and hinges, and never have the kind of movable dividers that I prefer.

That concludes this brief tour of my LEGO collection and my storage habits. I hope this was helpful to anyone thinking about how to better organize their collection. As always, feedback in the comments is welcome!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Time of the Tarrasque #6: Where All the Bodies are Buried

Every few decades, that dreaded abomination, the Tarrasque, reawakens from its long slumber. At such a time, the world's greatest heroes must defend the world from its nigh-insatiable appetite. Sometimes these heroes fail, and civilizations fall. And even when they succeed, the lands in the Tarrasque's wake are changed forever.

Previous Sessions: 
Interlude: Edel and the Virrens

The elf bard Edel returned to the Virren home that evening to meet Naladella's father, Laeroth. This elderly, silver-haired high elf commiserated with him over the loss of their homeland, Fendorlis. Laeroth had been a minor noble with contacts in the royal court, so while he was not present for the destruction of Amaranth Palace, he had heard fragmentary stories of what happened.  He knew that the "Eight Swords of Amaranth," composed of King Mellaranthiel and the greatest heroes of the elven court, attempted to defend the palace from the Tarrasque, but half their number (including the king) were slain by the beast.

When the kobolds of the Zolothi Compact conquered the kingdom a few years later, many high elves swore the Oath of the Bloody Tree, promising to avenge their dead and reclaim their homeland. Some of the Sworn lead the resistance against the Zolothi. Others led and defended the survivors who sought safe haven elsewhere. Laeroth claimed to know some of the Sworn, but communication with the rebels was, naturally, rather difficult.

Fendorlis was made a Zolothi province, and is now ruled by Viceroy Thraximandrykar, a half-dragon kobold general. The kobolds have used their sorcerers and growing fleet of airships to pacify the region to an extent, but the resistance still fights on. Two major holdouts that Laeroth knew of were Changir, the orc-infested southern border, and the Dragon's Eye, a gnomish stronghold on the Dragon's Head peninsula.

Laeroth eventually revealed that he was a dreamspeaker, a rare type of mystic with special powers over dreams and sleep. This gift allowed him to send messages to others via dreams. He used this power to keep in contact with other dreamspeakers scattered by the diaspora--but over the past few decades, age and war have thinned their ranks to a bare handful.

Sadly, Laeroth did not know Edel's missing mentor, Ruvaen Luvaris, but was familiar with the city where the bard last saw him during the invasion.

However, the older elf was able to give some information about the surviving Swords of Amaranth. These include: Corodel Zorliss, former captain of the royal guard, a famous swordswoman, and one of the first to swear the Oath of the Bloody Tree; Seledrine Delune, royal archivist, who led part of the diaspora to Radavalion (kingdom of the gray elves); Tornask Starbrow, a gnome holy man and explorer originally from the Eye; and Aiziria, a fey mistress of plant magics. Laeroth has had occasional contact with Aiziria since the conquest, and believed she could be found in the Eye.

In return for Laeroth's information, Edel told him about his own recent adventures. The young bard believed that his new companions might, in time, become allies in the effort to retake Fendorlis. This news pleased the elder Virren--though he was surprised that a high elf would count half-orcs among such allies. He found Edel's story about the death cult quite disturbing, but admitted to not being well-versed in non-elven religions, so was unable to contribute anything on the subject that the bard did not already know. Laeroth advised caution, but observed that this seemed a good opportunity for Edel to test his mettle and start making a name for himself.

Session #6: Where All the Bodies are Buried

During Fatou's training period, the rogue Jubair and cavalier ZhaZha spent some of their idle time scheming about ways to make more money. One of their plans involved writing up a deed to the world--the entire world--in the name of "Blackbeard the Undying" (which Jubair thought "sounded like a good death cult name"). They have yet to show off their handiwork to any fellow party members, or potential marks.

Edel spent a good deal of time exchanging geography lessons with the half-elf monk Lucretia, comparing notes about their elven heritages. (She is a half elf, kin to the wood elves of Allasimar on the northern continent.) Edel shared most of Laeroth Virren's news about Fendorlis with her.

Meanwhile, the half-orc inquistor Jumari was determined to track down more death cultists. During her last stay in Zahallan, before the caravan adventure, she had encountered a gang of graverobbers. One of them had borne a symbol of Asmolon's cult, and she suspected the existence of a black market for body parts. She decided to stake out a local cemetery as a way to find more of these criminals. She chose the graveyard attached to the Temple of the Sun, formally known as the Garden of Orlar (after the halfling name for the Sun). Her first few attempts had to be cut short because the temple's patrols detected her presence; her darkvision helped her elude pursuit by the human guards.

Then one night, she managed to evade the patrols long enough to see something of interest. Flickers of dim light drew her towards the northern side of the cemetery, where she saw a half-dozen figures gathered around a burial plot. Three men dug up the grave while a fourth held a heavily-shuttered lantern for them. Two others, a man and a woman, stood a short distance away, keeping watch. Jumari patiently remained hidden to watch them. After a while, the male lookout--a burly half-orc in light armor--relieved one of the human diggers, but the woman merely supervised, giving occasional hushed orders. Eventually, she spoke to a smaller figure that Jumari hadn't seen at first. This was a halfling, who started skulking in the inquisitor's direction. Jumari retreated; the halfling followed her, keeping behind the cover of stone monuments as much as possible. When the little sneak got close enough, he tried to hit Jumari with sling stones, but missed. He then hissed, "Get Spooky," and a black cat burst from cover and darted off towards the rest of the graverobbers. Jumari rushed the halfling and downed him with a bleeding touch attack. She lingered long enough to wipe his blood off her hand with a rag, which she pocketed. She then left quickly, before the cat, which she suspected was a familiar, could bring reinforcements.

The next day, the party reunited to exchange news. The wizard Fatou announced her new status as a cleric of Yaziel, goddess of the moon and magic. Edel shared some of his news about his homeland, complaining that Fendorlis remained in the hands of despicable kobolds.

Jumari reported on both of her encounters with graverobbers, which prompted a discussion of how to address the problem. Fatou suggested they write a letter to the temple to warn them of the issue, while Lucretia proposed posing as guards to catch the villains. ZhaZha was in favor of finding and beating up the cultists, leaving one left to question to squeeze for information about the operation. Jumari pointed out that telling the temple would result in more patrols, which would likely scare off the graverobbers they wanted to catch. Edel suggested they all visit the cemetery during daylight first, before making any further plans. and the others agreed.

The Garden of Orlar was a large walled memorial garden in the southeast corner of Zahallan. It stretched nearly half a mile from the temple hill to the town wall. A number of temple servants and townsfolk could be seen around the grounds, which reassured the party that daytime visits were commonplace here. As Jumari led the group into the grounds, they passed a funeral service for one of the sun god Talitar's flock. Fatou paused to watch the proceedings from a respectful distance, curious about how similar such rites were to her experiences in the capital. The others split up to look for disturbed graves.

Edel and Lucretia wandered through the southern side of the cemetery, but found no disturbed earth there. They paused at one of the larger mausoleums, but could not read the Halfling script carved over the door.

Jumari led Jubair and ZhaZha towards the northern side of the grounds, where last night's crime had occurred. Two temple servants were refilling a grave there, overseen by a cleric chanting some prayers. Rather than disturb that work, the trio scouted around at a distance. Jumari found the marker beside which she had taken down the halfling, and found copious bloodstains on the ground. She doubted the loss was fatal, as she saw signs that someone had kneeled here, plus both human- and halfling-sized tracks leading away. The tracks led them to the north wall of the cemetery, where they found signs that the graverobbers had climbed a section with a rough patch in need of repair. They searched around to see if any tools had been concealed nearby for a later attempt, but found none. After the temple folk finished their work restoring the violated grave, Jumari took a closer look to see how recent the burial had been. Based on the dates on the stone, the deceased was interred a couple months before--too long ago to provide a fresh corpse to any robbers, but likely still more than just bones.

Lucretia and Edel returned to the others. The monk asked Fatou if she wanted to go inside to talk to the priests, and the newly-minted cleric agreed. Inside the main entrance, they found a large open area where visitors, priests, and temple servants passed in and out on various errands, while a handful of armed warriors in temple livery stood guard, and a minor cleric greeted visitors. Fatou approached this priest in order to ask some questions. She started by inquiring why Zahallan had separate temples for Talitar and Yaziel, while back home to the south, she was accustomed to all the Javanian gods being worshiped in a single shared site. The priest explained that when Zahallan was first settled, this temple had been founded by a group of clerics specifically dedicated to the sun god Talitar. Some generations later, a pair of powerful wizards took up residence here, and endowed a temple to Yaziel, goddess of magic and the moon.

Fatou then revealed that a friend of hers had witnessed a graverobbing incident here, and she wished to speak more privately with someone in authority. The priest's cheerful demeanor vanished. He declared that they needed to speak with the castellan about this. and led them to an office located just off of a wide corridor leading towards the sanctuary. Here they were introduced to Castellan Kasim, a halfling man dressed in a fine chain shirt, a prominently displayed holy symbol, and additional badges of his office. Fatou, with help from Lucretia, told him about the graverobbers, and added that she and her companions had discovered an Asmolon shrine in the desert. They had also been the ones responsible for the capture of the cultist thief at the Blind Camel the previous month, and understood that she had been brought here for questioning. The two women declared that they wanted to help further with rooting out this cult. (Their approach, while blunt and meddlesome, was at least perfectly honest and forthcoming.)

As Kasim questioned them further, he located the report on the thief, and pried Jumari's name from them. He insisted on hearing the half-orc's testimony before taking further action. Fatou realized that the castellan had used detect evil on her and Lucretia during this discussion, and excused herself. She promised to bring Jumari, or to send a message with her information, and also promised to stay off the grounds at night without the castellan's permission, as she did not want to stir up bad blood between her temple and his.

Meanwhile, the others went to take a closer look at the northernmost mausoleum in the Garden, which was labelled "Taroon" in both Common and Halfling, Edel recognized this as the surname of the current Constable of Zahallan, Sheik Nerida Taroon (a human woman). While ZhaZha stood lookout, Jubair approached the door and found it locked. He attempted to pick the lock, but failed, so moved away from the building to avoid being seen working at it. This turned out to be wise, as a pair of temple guards passed by moments later. They eyed the PCs warily--particularly Jubair, whose cheerful wave seemed suspicious. But seeing the PCs moving along, they resumed their patrol.

Fatou and Lucretia found their friends, and relayed the result of their talk with Kasim. After some discussion, Jumari agreed to speak with him, and Edel accompanied them in case a more diplomatic voice was needed. Kasim questioned the half-orc at length, until she gave complete enough answers to satisfy him. When Jumari stated that she planned to kill any death cultists she found, Kasim pointed out that there were ways to take them alive, as prisoners for further questioning. Jumari acknowledged the sense in that, and admitted that she should have brought the halfling graverobber to him instead.

(During this talk, Kasim used detect evil on Jumari and Edel, while the inquisitor determined that the castellan was both lawful and good. This information made her more willing to trust and work with him. Her divinations also gave Fatou enough clues to guess that Jumari was some sort of inquisitor, which added more fuel to the wizard's curiosity about her.)

Kasim asked the others what they proposed to do about the graverobbers. The PCs wished to stand guard in the cemetery, without the temple guards interfering, so that they could try to catch these criminals. Kasim asked if they knew how the robbers got into the grounds. Jumari explained about the wall, and at the castellan's request, led him to the spot. Once there, Kasim concurred with the half-orc's findings, and asked further questions about what she had seen of the intruders' locations and movements.

While they waited for the others to return, Jubair and ZhaZha checked out the other large mausoleums in the Garden. Jubair was able to read the name "Jurjani" on the southern crypt, and recognized this as the name of a prominent family of halfling merchants in town. A third large mausoleum stood atop a large hill at the garden's center. The religious iconography here was elaborate, even by this cemetery's standards, and its exposed position made the rogue give it a wide berth.

The rest of the group located their two missing members and introduced them to Kasim. When Jubair asked if he could use the central mausoleum to stake out the cemetery, the castellan sighed, and very politely asked him not to--the temple's departed priests were interred there. Edel persuaded Kasim to agree to let the party keep watch in the cemetery--at least for a few nights. The castellan introduced them to the guards who were on the roster for patrol duty that night, so that those minions would be aware of the plan as well.

That night, the party chose their positions for staking out the north side of the cemetery. Jumari would hide near the grave that was disturbed the previous night, and make use of her detect evil ability as she kept watch. Jubair would hide near the north wall, while ZhaZha patrolled part of it. Lucretia and Fatou would wait near the Taroon mausoleum. Edel would wait outside the wall, using detect magic, to watch for the cultists' approach.

(Next time, we will see whether the stake out succeeds...)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Unearthed Arcana and Freeport, Part 4 (Class Options, Part 2)

My previous review of "Unearthed Arcana" columns covered the new class options for Barbarian through Fighter, plus the revised Ranger class, with suggestions for using them in Green Ronin's Freeport setting. This week's column covers Monk through Wizard, plus the new 20-level Artificer class.

Monk: Monastic Traditions (12/12/2016): Monks who follow the Way of the Kensei gain additional training with weapons, providing them with more weapon proficiencies and more tricks in combat. Those who follow the Way of Tranquility are seekers of peace, and are skilled diplomats and healers. The latter choice is probably less than optimal in a rough-and-tumble town like Freeport, but might make for an interesting challenge in a campaign more focused on social interactions than murder-hoboing.

Paladin: Sacred Oaths (12/19/2016): The two sacred oaths in this installment are designed for villains rather than heroic PCs. A paladin with the Oath of Conquest, also called a hellknight, seeks to subjugate his enemies, not merely defeat them. A paladin with the Oath of Treachery, or blackguard, has no allegiance or code and will use any means to secure his own power. These paladins exist alongside the Oathbreaker from the DMG, and often have ties to the devils of Hell and demons of the Abyss, respectively. Even in Freeport, hellknights and blackguards rarely act openly--not only is the worship of devils or demons among the city's very few capital crimes, but a paladin of Treachery prefers deception by his own nature.

Artificer (1/9/2017): This "Unearthed Arcana" article presents the Artificer as a full 20-level character class replacement for the wizard subclass from the initial "Eberron" column (2/2/2015). This class works very well with Freeport's unusual mix of eldritch magic and experimental technology. The Alchemist specialist would probably be the better-established tradition, with the Gunsmith only appearing very recently, with the advent of black powder weapons.

One point that needs clarification is whether the Gunsmith's Thunder Cannon can be used by a non-artificer. If so, this would make an artificer highly prized as an ally who can provide firearms more cheaply than mundane gunsmiths--or a target for thieves or kidnappers. (I have submitted this question via the feedback survey.)

Ranger and Rogue (1/16/2017): This article presents two new ranger conclaves that can be used with either the Player's Handbook ranger or the "Unearthed Arcana" revised ranger. The Horizon Walker will have plenty of work in Freeport seeking out planar portals and the threats they can unleash (possibly leading to encounters with hellknights or blackguards!). The Primeval Guardian could be drawn to Freeport to commune with the jungles of A'Val--or might visit them to escape the city's oppressive corruption.

This column also offers one new rogue archetype, the Scout, who is an expert at woodcraft, mobility, and group tactics. This subclass will enhance the effectiveness of any party that prefers stealth and advance warning to simply running headlong into trouble, especially at higher levels. One issue with the Scout, however, is that a previous "Unearthed Arcana" ("Kits of Old," 1/4/2016) used the same name for a fighter archetype, which could cause some confusion.

Sorcerer (2/6/2017): This installment presents an update to the Favored Soul, which is radically changed from the version presented in "Unearthed Arcana: Modifying Classes" (4/6/2015), but is still easily used in Freeport. The column also presents three completely new sorcerous origins: Phoenix Sorcery, Sea Sorcery, and Stone Sorcery. Of these, Sea Sorcery is clearly the best thematic match to Freeport, and could result from having a merfolk, nereid, or marid ancestor. Stone Sorcery would be common among crag gnomes (who are masters of earth magic), while Phoenix Sorcery could be found among the azhar; sorcerers of either origin might be drawn to Freeport to explore Mount A'Val.

This column lacks an air-based sorcerous origin because Storm Sorcery previously appeared in "Unearthed Arcana: Waterborne Adventures"; the final official version appears in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.

Warlock and Wizard (2/13/2017): The Hexblade and Raven Queen warlock patrons both have ties to the Shadowfell, so they are likely to be interested in the elusive places near Freeport where the barriers between the material and shadow worlds grow thin. The Raven Queen also hates intelligent undead, and Freeport seems to attract such horrors in droves. This article also presents several new eldritch invocations for various warlock patrons from both the Player's Handbook and the "Unearthed Arcana" series.

Only one new arcane tradition for wizards, Lore Mastery, is presented. These academics are likely to have ties to the Wizards' Guild in Freeport, or to seek to study texts possessed by that guild or by the famous library of the Temple of Knowledge.


For ease of reference, I've compiled a list of all my previous columns discussing running D&D Fifth Edition games set in Freeport.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Time of the Tarrasque: Funeral Customs

After the introduction of a death cult and the heroes' first encounter with undead in my "Time of the Tarrasque" game, I felt it necessary to give more thought to some of the funeral customs that the characters might witness in the campaign.


The Sultanate of Asasor is composed primarily of humans and halflings that worship the Javanian Pantheon (the original religion of the halflings). The central conflict of that mythology is the eternal war between Talitar, the good god of the sun, life, and healing, and Asmolon, the evil god of death, destruction, and the undead. Apart from them stands the moon goddess Yaziel, whose duties include guiding the dead (whether good, evil, and neither) to their final homes in the outer planes.

Funeral rites for the dead help both the living and the dead make peace with their loss. These rituals purify the dead and prepare them for their journey to the afterlife. In most of Asasor, bodies are buried in the ground or, for those who can afford it, in family monuments (usually of stone). Worshipers of the Javanian pantheon prefer to be buried in specially consecrated ground near a temple, in order to benefit from the protections of the gods and their priests.

Cremation may be an option if a city becomes too overcrowded to allow burial of complete bodies, or if the deceased's remains needs to be transported a great distance. An outbreak of undead often results in more widespread use of cremation, for the duration of the immediate threat and some time afterwards, because the burning of bodies prevents most forms of reanimation. (It also makes returning the dead to life by more benevolent magic more difficult, but only the wealthiest can afford such miracles anyway.)

In the Lokoran Desert and other inhospitable places, a burial might not be as simple a task as in fertile farmland. Sandy dunes shift over time, and are vulnerable to digging animals, while rocky badlands might lack sufficient earth to cover the remains. In these regions, a tomb might be excavated from bedrock if time and wealth allow, or a natural cave or hollow might be used as a crypt. Alternately, a well-made cairn of stones provides at least minimal protection from scavengers.


In the human Empire of Thovalas, military expediency has done much to influence funeral customs. The bodies of slain soldiers are frequently burned on pyres, often sharing a fire with fallen comrades from the same unit. Such cremations help curb the spread of infection that runs rampant near battlefields, denies the enemy the chance to dishonor the fallen (whether to erode morale, or perform black magic), and saves the army the burden of having to transport the bodies home. In the case of a fallen general or other distinguished officer or hero, the funeral pyre will be larger, so as to burn longer and brighter, and the charred bones are sometimes recovered for return to the deceased's next of kin or liege lord. If the army finds itself in a place lacking sufficient fuel for burning, they will resort to earth burial, cairns, or other means to dispose of their dead respectfully.

Among the civilian population, burial is common where space allows. In most farming communities, the dead are buried in fields and orchards so that their remains will nourish the crops. (The wise will invest extra labor into burying the dead deep enough to not be disturbed by plows.) Large urban areas that lack room for cemeteries will build crematoriums outside of the city, where the constant smoke and stench will bother as few as possible of the living. Many urban families hire special porters to transport their dead to the crematorium after memorial rites are concluded; for many poor families, this fee represents the bulk of their funeral expenses. (In a prosperous, lawful city, these collectors are well paid and carefully monitored; in a poorer town with lax authority, they are easily corrupted.)

The Elves

Most elves, including those of Fendorlis, believe in returning the dead back to the natural world from which they came. For most, this means an earth burial, often beneath a tree or in a meadow, or near a powerful fey site. If the deceased had sufficient status, the location might be marked with anything from a carving in a tree's bark to a ring of standing stones, but normally the community simply preserves the knowledge of grave sites as part of its oral traditions.

Elves who have left their homelands often attempt to make arrangements for their remains to be returned to that native land. Failing that, burial in some other fey-haunted woodland is the next most acceptable alternative.

Orcs and Half-Orcs

The orcs of the Lokoran Desert (and many other places) revere the memory of their worthy dead, but rarely enshrine their remains. Many tribes are unrepentantly savage barbarians and cannibals. who consider their fallen enemies--and sometimes their own dead--to be a valid food source.

Those that worship the Tarrasque often look to that beast as a model, claiming that anything that they are strong enough to kill and eat is theirs by right. The stronger the creature killed, the more glory earned, and the more strength received from consuming it. Even those tribes who have turned away from outright cannibalism still find their hunting and warfare influenced by this philosophy--warriors seek suitably dangerous game to prove their worth, and after defeating a challenging foe (whether intelligent or not), many take a trophy from the body. Any dead bodies not collected for food are left where they lie for the scavengers to devour, unless the body is too close to the tribe's lair or camp (in which case they will remove them to a safe distance, to avoid polluting water sources or attracting undesired animals to their homes).

Half-orcs raised among the humans and halflings of Asasor often adopt their ways--sometimes even worshiping the Javanian religion (see Asasor, above). Others alter their old traditions to be more palatable to non-orcs, such as abandoning all rituals that involve mutilating or consuming any sentient being's corpse. Some desert settlements, consisting almost entirely of half-orcs, engage in sky burial: carrying the deceased to an exposed height for scavenger birds to pick clean, then collecting the bones for storage at a sacred site.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Time of the Tarrasque #5: Beetle Mania

Every few decades, that dreaded abomination, the Tarrasque, reawakens from its long slumber. At such a time, the world's greatest heroes must defend the world from its nigh-insatiable appetite. Sometimes these heroes fail, and civilizations fall. And even when they succeed, the lands in the Tarrasque's wake are changed forever.

Previous Sessions: 
The PCs' minis, with upgraded equipment (L-R): Jumari, half-orc inquisitor; Jubair, human rogue; Fatou, human wizard (with owl familiar Nochaesh); Lucretia, half-elf monk (zen archer); ZhzZha, half-orc cavalier; and Edel, elf bard.
The party spent some time discussing whether to press on or withdraw to rest. The inquisitor Jumari convinced the rogue Jubair and wizard Fatou that they needed to finish clearing the tomb of any possible trace of the death cult, and the rest of the party somewhat reluctantly followed along rather than splitting their forces.

Jubair scouted ahead into the tunnel out of the last room. After a short distance, he caught sight of a pair of cat-sized beetles that glowed with a sickly greenish light. When he returned to report to the party, he was uncertain whether he had actually seen these "ghostly beetle things, with whiskers," or was merely hallucinating from the poison from the iron cobra. He wondered aloud whether the entire party was hallucinating--perhaps they were still outside, in the sandstorm?

His strange behavior convinced the group to retreat upstairs, report to their employer and the rest of the caravan, and get some much-needed rest. The party took turns standing watch in the room with the trapdoor to the lower level, with Jumari sleeping upon the door itself. Before going to sleep, Jubair proposed to the cavalier, ZhaZha, that they find a way to bring her war-trained camel with them, which led to an unproductive (but humorous) discussion of how to fit a camel through a door sized for a person, then safely down the ladder to the floor below. Their conclusion was to not annoy the camel.

The sandstorm arrived soon afterwards, and the caravan spent a noisy night sheltering in the tomb. The winds were still blowing in the morning, when the party prepared to return to the lower level.

This time, two ghostly beetles were near the breech into the tomb's worked spaces, and immediately attacked the party when they reached that entrance. One was quickly dispatched, leaving nothing behind but a puddle of disturbing slime behind. However, two more arrived--one of them passing straight through the wall and attacking Fatou. Jumari recognized the bugs as being some sort of ectoplasmic creatures--not quite ghosts, but not fully solid, either. Her falchion easily cut through two of the insects, but not before ZhaZha, Jubair, and Fatou had fallen from nasty bites. The bard Edel healed the first two, then Jumari pulled out some scrolls to assist him.

Once everyone's wounds were attended, the group continued down the earth and stone tunnel, which led through a series of small chambers to a dead end. From the muffled sound of blowing winds, they guessed that this room was near the surface of the rock wall from which the tomb's entrance was cut. After some searching, the monk Lucretia found a boulder-like slab that formed that secret door. Due to the raging storm outside, they left that door closed for now.

The party returned to the worked portions of the complex, and gave every room a thorough search, but found no more rooms or treasure. During this time, Jumari, Jubair, and ZhaZha decided to return to that last secret door. The overly-inquisitive inquistor opened it, and received a faceful of sand as a reward. The brawny cavalier shoved the door closed before too much sand blew in to prevent its closure, and they returned to the upper level to wait out the storm.

Fatou took this time to use mending on some of the shards of obsidian from the shrine room, in an attempt to piece together what the cult object had originally looked like. She was able to reattach some of the largest pieces, but the smaller shards proved too much of a puzzle. Jumari, however, could now see enough of the shape to conclude that it had been a statue of some wraith-like figure--clearly another symbol of the death god Asmolon. When she asked why the wizard was trying to repair this unholy object, Fatou tried to explain her interest in learning about their enemy, but ultimately ended up stopping and bagging up the remaining pieces. The evoker then started working on a map to this place, so that she could inform her goddess's temple of its location so that it could be properly purified at some future date.

The storm stopped soon afterwards. Once the caravan cleared sand from the exits, they were able to continue south to Zahallan, which they reached two days later. All six fledgling heroes decided to part ways with the caravan there, and collected their final pay from Lucan Midorichal.

The party also sold much of the gear that they had taken from the tomb, and from the orcs they had fought a few days before then. Having agreed to keep working together, they pooled their new funds to purchase a wand of cure light wounds for their communal use. Edel was chosen to carry this item, which would allow him to continue to serve as a healer while freeing up his own precious few spells for other purposes.

Fatou announced to her new friends that she planed to spend some time studying at the temple, and asked that they not leave her behind. She did not, however, explain her plans in any detail--which led the ever-paranoid Jumari to fear that the wizard's keen interest in Asmolon's relics meant that she wanted to join that god's cult. She mentioned this theory to Jubair, who, as an amateur conspiracy theorist, swallowed the idea whole. However, when the rogue repeated it to ZhaZha, the cavalier told him that the idea was ridiculous. She also assured him that Jumari couldn't be one, either. This left the poor rogue very confused. He ultimately concluded that none of his new friends could be death cultists, because none of them were boring enough to be such awful people.

Jubair spent the next few days visiting his relatives in town. He is an orphan, but has an uncle and aunt in Zahallan who help him out from time to time when he takes breaks from his solitary life in the desert.

Edel took this time to track down a Fendorlian elf family he had learned about when the caravan was last in Zahallan. Laeroth Virren lived in a modest home near the city's East Gate. Part of the building also served as a bowyer's shop run by his daughter Naladella. This elf woman turned out be a tough-looking warrior bearing the scars of old battles. Edel perused her wares, and found an elven-styled shortbow that suited him well. As they discussed his purchase, he asked if she had news from their homeland. His pleasant manner and appreciation for her craftsmanship caused her to open up readily, and she explained that she and her father had left Fendorlis during the Zolothi conquest (when dragon-led kobolds overran the high elf kingdom--the same invasion that caused Edel to leave home). Her father Laeroth was a spellcaster who, despite the distance, had the means to keep in touch with contacts he had made before the diaspora. She rarely heard much of that news herself, as she was the pragmatic one of the family, focused on making a living here. Edel asked if he could meet her father, and she agreed, instructing him to come back when the shop closed for the day.

After a few days, Lucretia visited the temple to check on Fatou, and learned that the young wizard was studying to become a cleric of Yaziel, just as her late mother had been. Fatou asked the half-elf's advice on what to do about the unholy scripture they had found in the tomb. The monk recommended that she leave it with the elders of the temple, so that they could study it and dispose of it as they saw fit. This matched Fatou's own thoughts, so she took it to the halfling mullah, Jenana Nasrud. She explained how she had acquired it, and shared her thoughts about studying it in order to better understand and fight the evil cult. The mullah commended her instincts on the matter, and thanked her. Nasrud promised to study it further, and assured Fatou that, even though such works were forbidden by holy law, the best place for them was in the hands of the priests of the Mistress of Secrets.

Lucretia visited her friend again a few days later. This time, Fatou asked her to arrange for a letter to be sent to her father, Zarqa Damiri, in Almazur. Lucretia knew that Lucan Midorichal would be leaving town soon to return to the Shield, and would pass that way, so agreed to ask him to deliver it. [The monk had letters of her own to send back to her contacts in the Shield through him, so this errand was no burden to her.] Fatou revealed that she had left home without telling her father. Both her parents came from magical lineages--her father administered a school of magic, and her mother had been a priestess of the goddess of magic. After her mother's death, her father had pressured Fatou to follow his path, but she felt drawn to her mother's calling as well--and now that she had left home, she had the chance to do both.


The PCs are now second level, and all but Fatou will be continuing in their original classes. We have some additional downtime activities to conclude over email before our next session--including some additional shopping, Edel meeting with Laeroth Virren, and Jumari hunting around town for traces of the Asmolon cult on her own. Depending on how extensive all that is, I will either repeat the highlights at the beginning of my next session summary column, or write it up as a separate "interlude" post.

Also of note, Jumari has yet to share her own religious affiliation with her new comrades. They know only that she can cast divine spells, presumably with no obvious holy symbol, but do not know that she is an inquisitor. We expect some further discussion of religion to occur once the rest of the party learns about Fatou's changed status. If nothing else, the newly-minted cleric is extremely curious about what exactly Jumari is!

For this adventure, I used The Desert Tomb, a map from the Dyson's Dodecahedron blog, as a starting point. I redrew it to fit onto a more easily drawn grid, then populated it with monsters and treasure.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Time of the Tarrasque: Sources Used

While I was developing the "Time of the Tarrasque" setting, I had to make some decisions about which Pathfinder sourcebooks to use for my new campaign. These choices affect which books the players are free to reference while creating, playing, and advancing their characters, and also affect which books I will be using as GM. Many of these decisions were informed by how familiar my players and I were with each book: how long I had owned the book, and how much (if any) of its content we had used in past games. This column will review those decisions. For this purpose, I have grouped sourcebooks into primary, secondary, and other sources, based on their level of usage in the campaign.

One house rule that I have in this campaign (and in almost every other RPG that I run) is that if I don't own a sourcebook, it's not allowed in my game. In order to properly judge how a given book might affect my campaign, I insist on having a copy that I can study at my own convenience. And while PDFs and the SRD are very convenient for ease of reference and portability, I vastly prefer print materials when reading any significant amount of text (such as when reviewing a new acquisition for potential use).

Primary Sources

These are the core books that the players and I can expect to use almost every session. 

Core Rulebook [CRB]: All races, classes, feats, equipment, and spells in this book are available to player characters. This is the one and only book that I expect each player (or player household) to possess their own copy of.

Advanced Player's Guide [APG]: All new classes in this book are available to player characters. Most other new material in this book is freely available as well, though APG spells are considered uncommon and thus less easy to find and learn than CRB spells. (See "Spells" on the campaign wiki's Character Creation page for my house rule about uncommon divine spells.)

Advanced Race Guide [ARG]: At the start of this campaign, only the core races are available as PCs. Most alternate racial traits and other race-specific options for those races are allowed; however, I have made a few cosmetic changes to some races (such as bonus languages) to better fit my world's history and geography, which I have noted on the campaign wiki. I may allow other races as PCs later in the campaign, if it fits the story to do so. Meanwhile, I will be using material from this book for NPCs of the non-core races. (Orcs, hobgoblins, and kobolds will all feature prominently in the campaign, for example.)

Bestiary: Players can use this book for reference for mounts, familiars, and summoned monsters. Otherwise it should be considered GM's-eyes-only unless I specifically say otherwise.

Secondary Sources

The players can expect these books to come into play on a more limited basis. 

Adventurer's Armory: Most equipment in this book is available, with GM permission. I will allow players to use the alchemical power components rules.

Animal Archive and Familiar Folio: These two books provide new options for familiars, animal companions, and mounts, which players can choose with GM permission. 

Bestiary 2 and Bestiary 3: In general, monsters from these two books are not as common as those from the first Bestiary, but there are exceptions. I reserve these books for my own use.

GameMastery Guide: Most of this book consists of advice for GMs on running the game, which will certainly inform my campaign. As for the crunchier bits, I have used the sections on the planes and settlements in designing the world, and will be making regular use of the NPC Gallery.

Ultimate Campaign: So far, we have only used this book for background traits and drawbacks, and (for a few players who were interested in using it) the background generation system. However, I plan to use the downtime rules on a trial basis when the opportunity arises, and I will allow PCs to use the retraining rules. The mass combat rules will likely see use at some point before the campaign ends.

Other Sources

I am reserving these books for my own use for now, for one or more of the following reasons:1) they are GM-specific sourcebooks, 2) I haven't decided how much of their content to use in the game, or 3) I want to limit the scope of character options until later in the campaign.

Advanced Bestiary (Green Ronin Publishing): This collection of templates will see occasional use in the campaign. 

Advanced Class Guide [ACG]: This is one of my most recent acquisitions (just a few months ago), so I have not yet had an opportunity to try out the new material in it. I found most of the new hybrid classes to be rather complicated for my tastes (requiring more text and/or bookkeeping than the older classes) so I am not currently using them. Also, many of the archetypes and feats in this book are designed to let a character gain the abilities of another class, making the end result feel very similar to a new hybrid class. On first read, this seems to go against the "niche protection" design philosophy behind much of the rest of the game system. I will need more time to study this material (mostly by seeing it in play at Pathfinder Society events) before I decide what, if anything, to allow. There are, however, a few spells, feats, and magic items that look like they'll be useful for this campaign even if I never introduce any hybrid classes.

Bestiary 4 and Bestiary 5: I haven't owned these two bestiaries as long as I have the first three, so naturally they feature less prominently in my plans for the game. In addition, these two books contain a selection of monsters that require the Mythic Adventures rules, and Bestiary 5 has several that require the psychic magic rules from Occult Adventures (see below about those sources).

Monster Codex and NPC Codex: I will use NPCs from these two books from time to time. 

Mythic Adventures: "Time of the Tarrasque" is meant to be an epic campaign, so I will almost certainly introduce these rules at some point. However, I don't intend to do so before the PCs have attained several levels. We need more time to get acquainted with the characters before they ascend, and I want to make sure everyone has mastered the core rules before adding this additional layer of complexity. 

Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic: Along with the ACG, these are my newest acquisitions, though I have owned all three in PDF ever since they were part of a Pathfinder Humble Bundle in early 2016. Between the PDFs and the Pathfinder SRD, I was familiar with bits and pieces of these two books before I owned them in print, and I do intend to use some of this material in "Time of the Tarrasque." However, I plan to put off implementing them for a while yet, just so that my players and I can keep the amount of information that we have to juggle to a more manageable level during the early phases of the campaign. The heroes might occasionally encounter a NPC who knows one or two feats or spells from these books, but those will be rare secrets that would require the PCs to do something special to gain access to them. I have no plans to ever allow firearms, gunslingers, ninja, or samurai, as they do not fit the world I've built. (I'm still undecided about magi, but they would be extremely rare at best.)

Ultimate Equipment: At the moment, I only own this book in PDF, but intend to acquire it in print eventually. I will be allowing new items from this book on a case-by-case basis (and already have for a few common items, like bandoliers, which should be easily available but only appear in this book). 

Sources Not Used

Finally, I own a few Pathfinder books that I don't expect to ever use in the course of this campaign.

Freeport: The City of Adventure (Green Ronin Publishing): This huge setting book includes a great deal of excellent content that can be used in any Pathfinder game. However, I just concluded a Freeport campaign this past fall, so am unlikely to use the new crunch from this book unless and until I run more adventures there.

Inner Sea World Guide: This book (which I only own in PDF) is very specific to the default setting of Golarion, so has very little that I would ever consider using for my campaign. (I also own a handful of Pathfinder Player Companions specific to Golarion, which likewise would have very limited usefulness for this campaign.)

Occult Adventures: I don't have any plans to introduce psychic magic into "Time of the Tarrasque," and (like the ACG) this book's new classes are a bit complicated for my taste, so I don't foresee using this book for the campaign.

Time of the Tarrasque #4: Rock Bits on a Dais

Every few decades, that dreaded abomination, the Tarrasque, reawakens from its long slumber. At such a time, the world's greatest heroes must defend the world from its nigh-insatiable appetite. Sometimes these heroes fail, and civilizations fall. And even when they succeed, the lands in the Tarrasque's wake are changed forever.

Previous Sessions: 
As the caravan moved on with its walking wounded, the wizard Fatou and the cavalier ZhaZha studied the sky and predicted that a sandstorm would come through this area the next day. The bard Edel recalled a stony ridge near their route back to Zahallan that would provide much better shelter than the endless dunes, so the band headed that way. 

The next day, the caravan reached the stone ridge. Lucretia's sharp eyes soon spotted a portico carved into one of the larger outcroppings. The PCs went ahead to investigate as the drovers continued to move the pack animals that direction.

The small, columned portico had once been covered in carvings, but most of the details were either chiseled away or eroded by the desert and time. There was no obvious entrance from the portico itself, but a stone door could be seen to the right of the columns. The rogue Jubair examined the door, found no traps, and opened it. Unable to see far inside, he let the half-orc inquisitor Jumari explore in his stead. Inside was a small, empty tomb whose wall murals had been defaced to the point of being almost impossible to make out. A small alcove on the far side held a shattered coffin and much unidentifiable debris. 

Meanwhile, the others searched the shaded area among the columns. Fatou spotted a venomous snake hiding under a piece of fallen rock, so she stepped away before zapping it with a force bolt. That angered the serpent, but it slithered away to hide elsewhere. 

The monk Lucretia found a secret door in the center of the carved wall. This led into a long gallery which sported two murals on the longer walls. Jubair, Edel, and Fatou joined her in investigating this space, while ZhaZha stayed outside with her camel. One mural showed the military exploits of a warrior in distinctive armor. Jubair thought that this person must be Gorza, a hero among the local orcs and half-orcs. The opposite wall showed robed figures ambushing and murdering this warrior, then dismembering the corpse in a gruesome ritualistic manner. Fatou recognized the ritual black robes and some of the gory details as belonging to the death god Asmolon's cult. About this time, Jumari rejoined them by finding a secret door linking the empty tomb with this hallway.

The party paused here to inform ZhaZha and the rest of the caravan about what they had found. The half-orc cavalier tied her camel to one of the columns outside and went in to see the gallery for herself. She didn't recognize the imagery, but did know Gorza's name, explaining that he was considered a hero in her home village (though she seemed reluctant to say more about her own past). 

Beyond the gallery, Lucretia and Fatou found a room with walls blackened by paint and soot. On the far wall stood a dais, on and around which were strewn shards of obsidian. Fatou concluded that this was once a shrine dedicated to Asmolon, but that someone has shattered whatever cult icon once stood here. 

Edel hung back so that he could provide light with his cantrips. Meanwhile, Jumari led Jubair and ZhaZha through a door off of the gallery. This led to a series of small storerooms filled with decaying furniture and containers. The first room contained two flying severed heads, which attacked ZhaZha and Jubair but were easily obliterated. In the second storeroom, Jubair found a box in better condition than the other stores, but heard the sound of moving coins inside. ZhaZha smashed open the box with her pick, and two mummified hands sprung out to attack her and the rogue. These animated claws inflicted some minor wounds, but were unable to grasp hold of their targets before being destroyed. After encountering so many ambulatory body parts, the trio were now paranoid about what use the rest of the bodies had been put to!

Lucretia and Fatou investigated the other door off of the gallery, which led to a chamber containing four skeletons, which attacked. Fatou's force bolts and Lucretia's arrows quickly downed a couple of them, but one of the surviving undead mauled Lucretia, knocking her unconscious. Edel healed her while the other half of the party rushed to the scene to help finish off the skeletons.

The combined group then finished exploring the storerooms. The last one contained a pair of animated eyeballs that trailed nerves that formed spindly wings. These creatures sprayed fluid at Jumari (who resisted) and Fatou (who dodged), then closed to attack. Lucretia impaled one with an arrow, while Jumari cast disrupt undead to finish off the other. (Fatou noticed that when Jumari cast her spell, the red birthmark on her face flushed a darker color, but the wizard failed to grasp the significance of that effect.) In this last room, the party found a small coffer holding silver coins, and a case of masterwork bowyer's tools (which Lucretia was very pleased to claim). 

The party searched the storerooms more thoroughly, and located an everburning torch, which was given to Fatou since she is a spellcaster who rarely uses weapons. They also searched the skeletons' chamber, where ZhaZha found a secret trapdoor down to a second level. The party paused here to inform their boss that this level of the complex was clear, which meant that the rest of the caravan could lead the animals inside and take shelter now.

Below the trapdoor was a short corridor that led past a door then split into two passages. The door led to a room containing an armored skeleton laid to rest upon a stone bier. The body began to move, but Fatou zapped it with magic and Jubair charged and stabbed it before it could attack. ZhaZha and the rogue then finished it off as it tried to stand. This gave the party their finest loot since entering the tomb: a breastplate, shield, and longsword, all of masterwork quality, and a magical amulet. Edel determined that the amulet was a protective item, and the party all agreed that Jubair needed it most. Jumari requested the breastplate, and ZhaZha took the sword and shield. The bier bore an inscription identifying the deceased as a champion of the Lord of Endings (Asmolon). 

One branch of the passageway led to a room where a cave or burrow had broken into the worked stone room, but the opening was five feet or so above the floor, so the party decided to put off exploring this direction for now. The other branch took them to a small treasure room where Jubair spotted the movement of an articulated metal snake. This iron cobra bit and poisoned him. The venom's damage made the rogue fall unconscious, but Edel soon revived him. The magical snake proved to be difficult to damage, but Fatou's force bolts slowly wore it down, and ZhaZha's great strength finished it off when she finally managed to connect with it. Jubair tried to use his roguish skills to extract any remaining doses of poison from the defunct construct, but only succeeded in poisoning himself again. Jumari thoroughly smashed the remains before he could try again.

The treasure room contained three chests. The first held gold coins. The second held a divine scroll (blood biography) and a pile of documents containing unholy texts of Asmolon's cult. Jumari claimed the scroll, and wanted to destroy the blasphemous writings, but Fatou insisted on keeping them for study in order to better understand their enemy. The third chest contained a longbow that had been preserved with an unguent of timelessness, as well as an unused pot of the same substance. Lucretia claimed the bow, as she had been trying to save up money for a better weapon; this one was not masterwork, but would let her make full use of her strength. While she and the spellcasters examined it, Jumari noticed the name "Gorza" inscribed on the bow in Orcish. 

At this point, the only remaining route to explore is the tunnel out of the neighboring room. Edel and Fatou expressed a desire to rest and recover their spent spells. However, Jumari is eager to continue exploring. She is obviously focused on clearing this place of any remaining trace of the death cult, and if the isitoqs' master is still around, he or she might know they're coming. Plus, there may still be some danger to the caravan above if they stop now. Despite his poison damage, Jubair is willing to follow her. However, we will have to resolve this little disagreement over tactics next time...


The ambulatory body parts: beheaded (Bestiary 4), crawling claws (Bestiary 2), and isitoqs (Bestiary 4).

The tomb map at session's end, showing the locations of all creatures encountered so far. (I will share the source of the map I based this on next time, after the adventure has been completed.)
(Edited to add Edel's latest verse)

Time of the Tarrasque, verse 4 
by Edel Naergon [Chris LoBue]

En route we learned a sandstorm would assail
Us, so we sought a place to remain hale.
A stony ridge we found nearby, and more,
As we found both a clear and secret door.
One led to a tomb, long since pillaged, and
The other led deeper beneath the sand.
Two forks, the party split to check, while I
Remained where I could keep both under eye.
Three battled severed body parts, still live,
While two against some skeletons did strive.
I healed my fellow elf when she did fall
While other stepped up to destroy them all.
Down a trap door, more living bones, still armed
Were put to rest 'fore we were further harmed.
Further down, the party found a snake
Whose armor and venom did make us quake.
Our team triumphed after a drawn-out fight,
Though rogue twice felt the viper's poison bite.