Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Sunless Citadel #3: Through the Dragon Door

Our heroes for The Sunless Citadel include:
  • Raven Flare, female tiefling rogue 2 (urchin)
  • Kalitni, female human ranger 2 (hermit)
  • Xuri, female blue dragonborn sorcerer 2 (wild magic; sage)
  • Sir Dain (NPC), male hill dwarf paladin 2 (knight)
  • Erky Timbers (NPC), gnome acolyte rescued by the party

(Warning: Spoilers for The Sunless Citadel follow.) 

Last time, the party recovered the white dragon wyrmling that had been stolen from the kobolds by their goblin neighbors. As a reward, they received a key that they hoped would open a dragon-carved door they had found elsewhere in the dungeon. They also reached 2nd level.

After a long rest to recover from that most recent quest, the party returned to the dragon door. The key fit perfectly, and the door opened easily. From the thick dust everywhere and the stale air, they could tell that the room beyond had not been entered in ages. The chamber contained four alcoves in which stood pedestals topped with small crystal globes.  Three were cracked and dark, but the fourth glowed with a blue light and emitted soft tinkling noises. The heroes were very paranoid after their experiences the day before, so moved slowly into the room, carefully checking for traps. They found none by the time they crossed half the chamber, so Kalitni went closer to the glowing orb to examine it. As she approached, it began to playing brooding music, and Erky was frightened enough to flee towards the exit from the citadel. Xuri followed him to make sure he came to no harm, while Sir Dain decided to try smashing the magic globe. His attacks made the music louder and more discordant, which caused Xuri and Kalitni to panic and run. The paladin struck again, cracking the globe and stopping its noise. Meanwhile, his three frightened friends had reached the front door of the dungeon, and the compulsion ended when they could no longer hear the music. They hurried back to the others, to find Raven Flare pocketing the damaged crystals in case they were worth something.

The door at the far end of the room led to a short hallway, in which the rogue easily detected a pressure plate trap and used her tools to disarm it.

Beyond the hall was a chamber with a 10-foot-tall marble sculpture of a dragon. The party approached it cautiously, but once Raven Flare came close to the statue, it spoke a riddle. The heroes pondered it for a moment, then the answer came to the rogue, who spoke it aloud--and a secret door opened on the far wall!

The next hallway had more alcoves, which this time held marble statues of elves in plate armor. Xuri concluded that these figures represented the original guardians of the dragon cult that once operated here. At the end of the hall was a 10-foot-deep spiked pit, with an archway opening into a room lit by flickering green light. Xuri, ever curious, quickly moved to the ege of the pit to better see the room beyond. That chamber was tiled in purple marble, and a large marble sarcophagus stood at its center. This coffin was carved to resemble a dragon, with a head at one end and wings folded over the lid. The lid was fastened down with several rusty iron latches.

One of the alcoves nearest to the pit was empty of any statue, and proved to have small tracks in it, which led to the edge of the pit. Further examination of the alcove revealed a secret door to a small room. After clearing away some dust, Xuri found a message in Draconic runes about a "dragonpriest" who had been entombed alive for his crimes. Kalitni discovered a secret trapdoor in the floor below the inscription. Beneath this was a narrow crawlspace that led under the room beyond the pit.

Sir Dain led the way through the cramped tunnel, and was attacked by something when he opened the trapdoor at the other end. This turned out to be a quasit who had been invisibly waiting for them to enter the room. Xuri cast a spell at it, and Kalitni used her keen sharpshooting skills to hit the tiny demon despite the awkwardness of the crowded tunnel. That knocked the monster away from the trapdoor, allowing the party to enter the room. As they looked around, the quasit's body slowly dissolved into smoke. [The party got in a couple lucky hits that took it out before it could attack again or flee. Its at-will invisibility power could have made it a real nuisance otherwise!] 

The room beyond was lit by a torch enchanted with a green continual flame, which fascinated Xuri, so she promptly claimed the torch. The party gathered around the sarcophagus to examine it (except for Erky, who decided to keep under cover by the trapdoor). Xuri and Raven Flare were eager to open the coffin to see what was inside, and Kalitni helped them open the rusty latches while Sir Dain stood ready for trouble. Xuri struggled with her latch, opening it only after her two companions had each opened two or more. Raven Flare pushed aside the marble lid--and inside the coffin was the body of a troll, dressed in rotted finery and a few silver baubles. The monster's eyes opened, and it snarled and started to rise out of its tomb.  Raven Flare impaled the troll with her rapier, and Kalitni used hunter's mark to make her bowshots count. The giant mauled Xuri, knocking her unconscious, but Erky promptly came to her side to heal her. The heroes managed to bring down the troll pretty quickly due to its weakened state, but its regenerative powers meant that it didn't stay unconscious for long. The party soon learned to ready attacks against the troll reviving while Xuri tried to hit it with chill touch; her second attempt succeeded and finished off the troll by preventing it from healing on its turn.

Cutting the troll down to size.
[Raven Flare's player was especially lucky in this fight, landing two critical hit sneak attacks thanks to gaining advantage from flanking. Being 2nd level now, she also survived a hard hit from the troll, which took her down to 1 hp. This was a very welcome change from the three or four times she was knocked unconscious while 1st level!] 

The party stripped the body and sarcophagus of valuables, which consisted of some jewelry and coins, a ceremonial dagger, and four spell scrolls. Sir Dain and Erky split the scrolls between them, as they were the only ones who could read them. [As an acolyte, Erky's spells are drawn from the cleric list, so I ruled that he could use these, too.]

This room had no exit, so the party needed to backtrack. They had expended most of their spells in the fight with the troll, but were at full health again after a quick goodberry spell from Kalitni, so decided to push on to explore elsewhere.

The Sunless Citadel: Past Columns

#1: Down into the Ground
#2: Lost Dragon

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