Some DM's really pride themselves on stumping the party - some esoteric clues that only a cryptologist can decipher. They lord their superiority over their players with a deadly trap or and impossible puzzle.
The group ran into a snag - due to an unfortunate missing of a certain room across the Grand Hall, they were unaware that there were two Mausoleums flanking the area across the bridge - the north one housing Odin, and the south one housing Thor.
My rule is simple - 45 minutes. Tops. If the group can't find the clue or figure out the problem - I'm not going to force them to beat their head against the wall. I'll start handing out clues. Unless they either get it, or its obvious they aren't.
Nothing ruins a game faster than NOT being able to proceed due to some bit of lore that only the guy behind the screen is privy too, and giggling as the other 6 people around the table aren't having any fun.
So I was happy to reveal the missing clue that there was another tomb - and they took it from there. Including the plan involving potions of fire resistance, haste, screaming, and oil.
I was tempted to use the potion miscibility table - but that would have just been me being petty. :)
Write up follows:
Karis made some attempt to open a conduit to his god but Tyr was not responding to his pleas. The party was wondering what to do and how to help, but the half-ogre asked to be left alone. The rest of the group nodded and then moved on; Karis was going through the effort of gathering up all the broken and loose stonework he could find.
We decided to search out the local shops, hoping to find anything of interest or value. The first place we came to was once a swordmakers, but had been severely looted and ransacked. So we moved on to the next shop which was a weaponmakers – but it too had been picked clean over the ravages of time.
There was an axesmith’s next, with a “runelocked” door – and thought was given to opening it, but it was decided to wait for Karis as it might have something dangerous within. So we crossed the street to the only other shop with a standard marking it: the arbalests.
The place wasn’t nearly as beaten up as the other shops and the party took their time really giving the place a once over when their careful poking about disturbed a large spider. The arachnid pounced on Fodder and sunk its fangs into the war-wolf’s neck – injecting the druid’s pet with the spider’s venom. There were attempts to sweep it away or strike it, but they were not effective, until Gwyn grabbed the spider and held it – getting bit himself! While he was being attacked, Smokey came up and with a single swipe – obliterated the spider.
Detheron administered was elixirs he had to kill the poison in both the wolf and the dwarf and the rest of the party learned that there was nothing of value in the shop.
Meanwhile, while Karis was ruminating about his deeds and loss of Tyr’s blessing in his life, he was working up a sweat and thinking about his god, praying. And then he felt his consciousness elsewhere. He was in a large Heorot, the smell of peat fires and ale very strong. Warriors of all ages and of all types were gathered about the center cleared area where Karis found himself standing with a 7’ tall oddly nice looking human to his one side and a 13’ impression of the one-handed god of justice Tyr on the other.
He pled his case and Tyr listened and the other warriors and gods listened on – and Loki (the other person in the amphitheatre) was defending Karis’ actions against the goblins but Karis was not going to be tricked and stayed loyal to Tyr. Tyr told Karis that he would have to prove himself penitent for 24 hours and then he’d get his powers back. Loki told him that when Tyr was done with him, to look him up and he’d have a place for him.
Then Karis felt himself back where he was before and finished up his cairning of the goblins and praying over them. Then he walked down the hall to the party and both groups filled in the others with what they had learned so far.
Decision was made to go check out the rune locked doorway at the Axesmith as Detheron had one more stone affecting spell – and could widen one of the windows BARELY large enough for a lithe human to get through. Like Zoltan.
Our resident thief entered the shop – untouched for a century and a half. It was thick with dust but there were over 2 dozen samples of pristine dwarven axe-craftsmanship in displays all over the store. And directly over the archway was the shop’s masterpiece. This one axe that stood out. Hanging over the arch to the back portion of the shop, it is double bitted, about 4’ in length and the handle is wrapped in a strange pebbled leather as a grip. The metal is shimmering steel with wavering veins of red and orange flaring across both bits like flowing water. There is a carved dragon’s head between the bits and the shaft of the battle axe is hexagonal and turned clockwise. A number of Dwarven runes spell out the weapon’s name “Blaze” across the mirror like surface of each bit.
Zoltan wanted to give the place a once over – and like any good thief – looked for the cash box. It was still there, and he carefully pulled it out, trying to see if it would come. It did so – but in doing so, he triggered the trap and a poison dart shot out – hitting him in the wrist and he passed out.
The party waited but all they saw was Zoltan go down to get something and then nothing else. Eventually Detheron as the next smallest was voted to go in and see what had happened. He slithered through the window and Karis gave him a shove – knocking the druid forcefully through until he fell free and slammed his head into the counter. Detheron cursed the half ogre and made his way to Zoltan. He was unconscious and would need to be treated for the poison. Another precious elixir was administered and although the venom was taken from the wound, the thief was still unconscious.
So Detheron made to take the battle axe off the wall – and triggered a warding glyph – shocking himself for a sizeable amount of lightning damage and causing him to back away. After healing himself, he decided it was best to take what we could and leave. Meanwhile Gwyn was opting to enter next and with Karis’ help and more shoving, the dwarf was pressed through the window. Detheron was passing masterwork dwarven axes through to the party members as well as the metal cash box and eventually Zoltan’s unconscious body.
Gwyn was holding Karis’ lightning nullification rod and steeled himself for the pain – reaching up quick and knocking the “Blaze” battleaxe free. He got a nasty shock but caught the axe and stepped free.
With treasures in tow, we went back to the Temple of Odin and sealed the doors with spikes. Looking over our gathered goods. Karis forced the cash box opened showing us a small pile of golden coins as well as some 200 thin disks of mithril silver. Holy Crud!! The party knew this was a kingly sum and we rejoiced at our good fortune. Zoltan was awakened and the party ate and drank and got comfortable – eventually going to sleep for the night.
We awoke the next day, our 5th day underground by our reckoning, (Karis still hadn’t gotten back his powers yet) and talked about what was to happen. We wanted to get over the Chasm and into the Mausoleum doors on the north side of the hall over there to see about getting a holy symbol from a dead priest within. With the symbol, we could calm the hammer in the Thane room and then get the Runekey – the same runekey we would be able to use to open all the doors – one of which would and should be the treasure vault.
But the bridges and chasm were guarded by at least a 10 count of gnolls mounted on shocker lizards and we needed a plan to get over there. The gnolls had better vision than any of us in the dark, and if we used a light source, we would stand out like sore thumbs.
As usual with this group – fire came up. And it was a good plan. The party took all the burnable materials from both the temples of Odin and Thor: mattresses, bodies – everything. They piled it up in the Great Hall past the 3rd street and Gwyn used his fire building skills to soak it properly with oil (4 full flasks) – and then we lit it and made and WHOLE lot of noise.
We waited in the dark for only a little while before the gnolls came to investigate. Once they were there we ran in the dark hand in hand down the Great Hall, to the Chasm, crossed the bridge, and went to the closed door to the mausoleum with Odin symbols on it. Zoltan picked the lock and the party entered – the gypsy staying behind to sling the chains back through the door and making it appear it was still sealed before cloak-portalling in.
They entered a large mausoleum. The ceiling was domed 30’ over their head, the center of the room dominated by a 30’ diameter dais 3 tiers high, sporting 7 stone sarcophagi in a star pattern. Symbols to Odin abound on the coffins, their beauty and detail still visible over a century and half after they were first carved.
The walls have niches in them, 5 high and encircling the entire room, about half of them sporting dwarven skeletal remains. There was a feeling of peace in here, a sense of rest and well being.
The group was on edge – and decided to take a LONG time checking the room out. Zoltan tapped out a large area of the floor before getting to the dais – where he looked the place over with long and loving care. There were 7 dwarven priests in repose, all patriarchs to Odin, all long dead. They were identified as follows with name, date of death, and honorific:
Huroon Granitelip 134, 23rd Age Beloved of Odin
Mansheer Ironforge 129, 24th Age Seer of Visions
Tharis Ironforge 141, 25th Age Master Axesmith
Duodis Ironforge 163, 26th Age Sunderer of Chains
Baliyn Feybane 182, 27th Age Murderer of Hundreds
Feridon Ironforge 231, 28th Age Minister of Peace
Pator Deepdelve 282, 29th Age Giantbane
And then it was – now what? According to the paperwork clue we had found – we were looking for someone who stayed behind to seal up the city and summon the hammer. According to the paperwork that we had from Dargan’s Folley – we had surmised the dwarves abandoned Wodenvarelse between 150 and 160 years ago. And the current year is 174 of the 30th age. And an age is 300 years.
There were no markings on the sarcophagi that showed a symbol and the party was VERY loathe to open them and poke around. But when they did the math – they were looking for someone who was dead about year 15-25 of the 30th age – and no one in this chamber showed it.
Zoltan was looking around for any secret area or whatever – and in front of Pator’s tomb, discovered a hollow where skilled dwarves had made a hidey space. With Amal’s help, the two of them lifted the block free and uncovered some long empty skins and sacks, an old crossbow, and a thin leather quiver with 6 bolts within. A detect magic followed and 4 of the bolts showed some magic – but two of them showed tremendous magic. The party looked those two bolts over and were REALLY pleased to discover that they were Blessed bolts! Blessed bolts of Odin!
As happy as they were – they were stumped. Where was the symbol? Should they start opening tombs?
It was after some serious reading of the hints and clues and putting their heads together (and a friendly prod from the DM) there was a note in the poem that talked about the symbol being one of Thor – and this was a Mausoleum to Odin. There HAD to be one for Thor! And with the Dwarven penchant for symmetry in the design of the city – there was another doorway similar to this one across the grand hall.
But it was some 200’ away – in the dark – and the gnolls had come back. And we would have to fight our way through them. It would be difficult and most likely suicide.
So heads were put together and the group came up with a REAL ingenious plan! And yes – it involved fire!
Zoltan would drink the potion of Efreetiskin, cover himself in oil, give his equipment to the party to hold, and then drink the potion of Haste. Then he would set himself ablaze and with the wolf’s head helm on and a REAL noticeable target, would run out of the room as fast as he could and scream and weave and yell and run as fast as he could down back across the bridge and through the Great Hall, leading as many of the gnolls as he could with him.
With him acting as a diversion, the rest of us would run across the hall to the other door, open it, sneak inside, and shut it hopefully before anyone would notice we were there.
It was bold, crazy, foolish, and genius!!
And let me say, it went off as they expected. The shocker lizards could not keep up with the racing Zoltan and he led the mounted and running gnolls on a merry chase – only getting struck once by an errant bolt. Meanwhile the rest of the group charged across with only two gnolls barring the way. Gwyn shield slammed one of them, his new shield he took from the inner sanctum of the temple of Thor gave a loud SPAKOW and smacked the gnoll off his feet. Karis ran into the other who held on as tight as he could – until Amal tore him free from the half ogre and beat him about the neck with his cudgel.
Coruth’tae fired off a focused knock spell and the lock on the Thorian Mausoleum slipped free and the group ran in, shutting the door behind them. We caught our breath while Zoltan ran until his fire extinguished and then he cut left and doubled back – leaving the gnolls searching the darkness for him- his boosted speed and haste taking him swiftly back to the bridge where he crossed it and rejoined the group. We shut the door and congratulated ourselves for a good plan that worked out great.
The room was set up like the other one, except with Thorian symbols and there were only 5 sarcophagi in the center. Karis went up and read off the names as:
Curon Fireforge 162, 25th Age Opened the Way
Thundin Hammerhand 203, 26th Age Scourge of the Elves
Kanthar Trollslayer 241, 27th Age Master of the Written Word
Ulin Rockhome 274, 28th Age Dragonsbane
Iodin Ironheart 23, 30th Age Father and Friend
And there it was – Iodin’s coffin was the RIGHT priest and the RIGHT year. Karis laid his hand on the cover and shoved it to the side…and the game stopped here for the night.