Location: New Vasselheim, Othanzia, Issylra
Date: 1 Sydenstar 845 PD (calendar of Exandria: https://criticalrole.fandom.com/wiki/Calendar_of_Exandria)
Rinn – half-elf sorcerer/rogue
Stubby – half-elf artificer
Tāmerai – gnome bard
Absent Party Members:
Bob the Therapist – changeling warlock with a couch for a familiar
Tunk – bugbear monk
- Find the Sword of Kas.
- Destroy the Sword of Kas.
- Return to ground level, all four of us alive and intact.
When last we left our heroes, they had just followed a ‘hidden’ tunnel from behind Osysa’s couch, up to ground level. They walked through Old Vasselheim, noting locations that still stood (very few) and those that were entirely gone (many), on the way to the Raven Queen’s temple. Stubby entered the Raven Queen’s blood pool and accepted her challenge to find and destroy the Sword of Kas.
Later that same day…
Stubby uses one of her gadgets to project an image of the Sword of Kas for the others, now that they can all see the dual timelines flickering in and out of each other (Minor Illusion). One of her family must have shown her the original in the same way, at some point. Knowing what their target looks like, they can now proceed. The Raven Queen did say that there would be a way, once under the catacombs, to destroy the sword. The team ponder their next steps as they pore over their maps of the catacombs and do a quick shuffle of who’s got what weapons.
Tāmarai tests echos and opines that there’s a room or alcove — some sort of wider space — down the hallway towards the catacombs, but the sound is muffled rather than perfectly echoey. Bodies? Sound-baffling curtains? Undead? Fisch doesn’t smell anyone alive down there, but just standing at the top of the stairs tells Tāmarai that she’ll get a migraine from spending time down there. (He also doesn’t understand catacombs and visiting the dead.) She then takes a moment to give Stubby Fortune’s Favor, just in case. Then they head down.
Marching order: Rinn and Stubby, Tāmarai, Fisch.
Logic: Sneaky; insists on being next; smol; protecc from bacc
Unlike the brand-new Stoneshaped stairs in Osysa’s lair, these are old. Ancient, even, and worn unevenly by the passage of hundreds or thousands of feet. As they progress down the stairs, the four are greeted by an increasing smell of musty, fussy funk. It’s similar to a forest fire, put out by rain the next day, plus mold. Stubby feels that someone was down here recently (well, “recently”), burning something. The time-duality shows itself for a moment, showing a bit of paint on the walls. It’s very old, but shows either the Raven Queen or one of her champions, flying around with enormous black wings, wielding a huge sword. Flames like anything.
The room is a tomb. Bodies are stacked up, some looking relatively freshly buried (say, five years or less), some waiting to be buried. One has been cut through with a big hole. Yes, there is a pit THROUGH the body. There are also three swarms of giant rats, just happily munching away on some of the bodies. Rinn notices that at least one of them is foaming at the mouth, so therefore these are not going to be friends. Rabid rats need to be put out of their pain, and that’s that.
The four gesticulate and whisper through a plan, and fortunately the rats are too preoccupied with their mouth-foaming and their noshing to notice.
Stubby and Rinn sneak in. Stubby climbs the big rock and pours acid directly down onto one of the swarms, scattering several with it. Rinn throws a whole vial at another swarm, and in a stroke of good luck, the shattering manages to take out the whole swarm at once. Tāmarai shoots at the third swarm with her crossbow. Fisch simply waits his turn: he has no ranged attacks, and isn’t the quietest.
Once the acid (or arrow) hits each group of rats, there’s a loud, angry squeaking. The rest of the fight goes quickly. Stubby and Rinn get bitten, but resist the disease and poison. Tāmarai’s shooting actually manages to hit something, for the first time that this group have seen. Fisch smears quite a few of the rats into rat jelly. Even Sentri’s little air-dart-gun thingy manages to take out an entire rat. Good times. What’s more, it’s a surprisingly well-coordinated attack, especially for having been decided in seconds while standing right in the room with their opponents. They’re becoming a group. A real group. With tactics and everything. Fisch even thinks to put the big rock over the hole through that one body before they move on, just in case.
The burnt smell is stronger in here, they notice once the immediate (potential) threat is dispatched. But it’s not really like moldy forest fire anymore. It’s more identifiable now: the smell of heat itself. As in a forge, or when someone leaves the cast iron skillet heating up without putting food in it to cook. It’s also hot… *There’s lava*. Sometimes. There’s a time-flicker showing the room in a different state, a really well-kept mausoleum. The four decide to leave that alone until they have the Sword of Kas, but agree that that’s probably what the Raven Queen meant about a way to destroy it here.
Abandoning the lava, the group head further down that tunnel. They come to a door (not trapped — they check).
Marching order: Stubby and Rinn, Tam, Fisch.
Logic: No ME first; no ME first; Smol; Protecc Bacc
This room contains a plinth with an altar, not opposite the door but on the wall to the right. The plinth has a package on it, surrounded by something squishy and jelly-like and cube-shaped. Tāmarai looks up, finding a dirty, cracked ceiling (and a time-flicker: a beautiful, ornately decorated ceiling, very rococo).
They consider how to get past whatever the thing is (Rinn whispers “Gelatinous cube,” having had them described to him by the Slayer’s Take), but Stubby wants to see what’s in the package. She sends an Acid Splash towards the cube, and it does look a little damaged from it.
Based on Rinn’s recollection that gelatinous cubes are generally slow-moving, Fisch thinks he can beat the cube. They all want to move on, but Stubby suggests that the package inside the cube might be the sword they seek. So she waltzes right up to the cube, ignoring Tāmarai’s please, and sticks her hands right inside it and just pulls the package out. It stings her arms, but she parades it triumphantly back to the hallway, where the other four are waiting.
The package is wrapped in a cloth that is noticeably degraded. It’s tied very nicely, but with no labels, warnings, or traps. While Stubby and Tāmarai argue about who should open it, Rinn casts Blade Ward on himself and does the deed. Inside the cloth is some leather wrapping, and inside that… a suit of armor.
Now they’re paying attention. Tāmarai casts Detect Magic and looks at the whole room before focusing on the armor. The cube contains some little hints of magic from a variety of schools; the hole in the floor was made by divine magic; the armor has a simple but very effective enchantment (+3) and is also black, with a feather motif, because apparently some guard was really into the Raven Queen’s aesthetic. Then there’s another discussion about whether it would be offensive or forbidden for someone not working directly for Herself should wear this, but eventually they all decide that Stubby is working for the Raven Queen, so she should be fine wearing it. They take some time while she puts it on, giving Rinn her own studded leather since his isn’t that great.
Tāmarai suggests that they all get out of this room and try to just avoid interacting with the cube any further. The others agree and they all skirt around the cube to get into a side corridor… except for Tāmarai. She remains just barely in the corridor, using Mage Hand to fish around inside the cube for the more magical things she’s seen in there, a heavily enchanted shield and some bones with necromantic magic emanating from them.
Removing the shield wakes up the cube.
Rinn shoots a Witch Bolt over Tāmarai’s head while Tāmarai goes in for the bones. It takes her a couple of tries to get it, but once she does, she and the others retreat into the corridor, far enough inside that the cube probably can’t follow them. The shield is… cursed. Tāmarai wants to leave it behind, but Stubby suggests keeping it and getting the curse removed. The bones separate, but Tāmarai does keep the skull.
Moving forward, the team check for traps, but don’t expect to find any. It gets hotter and hotter as they go on, and the smell of heat increases. They’re close. Very close.
The corridor widens abruptly into a room. Some stalactites cling to the ceiling, and some have fallen to the stalagmite-riddled floor. Two large chests flank a small altar or dais with a wooden box on top. There’s a pool of water, possibly oozing up from some underground spring, with another chest inside. Two hallways lead out of the room, and from their vantage point, it looks like one goes to a room (probably?) and the other becomes upper bar in a T-intersection. There are bones on the floor, notably a goliath, and more bones protrude from the ceiling amid the stalactites.
Because she’s still got magic sight, Tāmarai can point out that both chests emit Enchantment magic, and the box appears to be leaking wisps of Necromantic magic (and also has etchings that resemble feathers), and the chest in the water looks to have illusion magic on. It all seems a tad sketchy, but at least this room doesn’t seem burdened with time-duality, a welcome relief to those who were starting to get headaches.
Stubby steps up to the plate and checks the first chest for traps. As she finds none, Rinn picks the lock. Upon flicking open the chest with the tip of his knife, however, Rinn abruptly becomes short. And young. He looks like a pre-teen or just barely teenager. It lasts for almost a minute as Rinn panics, Fisch and Tāmarai are concerned, and Stubby is highly amused. Then it’s gone.
The chest is empty.
Stubby checks the further chest for traps and finds none. Rinn picks the lock. He uses the dagger to open the chest.
Everything turns to shit. Well, no. Everything turns to Fireball.
The explosion singes Tāmarai’s eyebrows just a skoche. She’s the lucky one. Stubby and Rinn are thrown backwards, burnt and unconscious before they even hit the floor. Even Fisch is knocked over by the force, badly hurt, though still conscious (bearly). In a panic, Tāmarai goes around pumping Healing Word into everyone, her voice echoing in song without words. They all sit, shaken, for a long moment, feeling their wounds and how close they were to not just being wounds.
[Out of character: 26 points of fire damage were enough to take out Rinn and Stubby because they’d both had wounds before. It wasn’t enough to have killed Fisch, but it would have put him in a very precarious place. It was also enough to kill Tāmarai if she’d been just one step closer. This was nearly a TPK (Total Party Kill).]
Then, predictably, Stubby wants to look into the last box. “Come on, it’s in the middle of the altar! It has to be the important one!”
Disbelieving for a moment that her charge could be so reckless after receiving the largest smackdown of her life, Tāmarai simply stares at her — and then as Stubby heads for the altar, sternly orders, “HOLD. Perhaps instead of risking even greater damage from what we are clearly meant to understand is the most important and therefore probably the most protected of this lot, perhaps let me?” She summons Mage Hand and wiggles it.
Fortunately, everyone sees reason. She does stay back while Stubby checks for traps and picks the lock, but when that’s done, Stubby backs up and Tāmarai remotely opens the lid.
She fishes around inside, wondering if this box is also empty, and is rewarded by the sound of something… metal? stone?… scraping the inside of the box. She also notices, with her remaining arcane vision, that the necromantic magic fogs out more strongly now that the box is open. “I think you are right. This is the important one. Maybe it is what we seek.” She lifts the object out. It’s a knife. A black knife that leaves a smoky, wispy trail visible in the air, like Orthax farts.
Given the small size of the box, it had been obvious that the Sword of Kas couldn’t be in there in full size, but there had been a hope that it might have been magically shrunk, or that the box was a Box of Holding and could hold more than it seemed. But no. This obsidian blade does not resemble the illusory Sword of Kas that the Raven Queen showed to Stubby. This is not their desiderata.
Stubby uses Identify through her tools, not to have to touch the blade. (Tāmarai and Fisch talk about what Stubby is doing, and Tāmarai brags the whole on her super-smart charge.)
Raven’s Feather Dagger:
This magic dagger with a blade of pure obsidian becomes as light as a feather once one attunes to it. It is said an inky blackness trails from the tip of the blade with every movement. You gain a +2 bonus to Attack and Damage Rolls made with this weapon, with or without attunement. If attuned, when you hit with it, the target takes an extra 1d6 necrotic damage. When you hit an undead with this weapon, they are no longer considered resistant to necrotic damage if they were before. Proficiency with a dagger allows you to add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll for any attack you make with it.
Take your meds.
Don’t forget to love each other.
Is it Game Day yet?
Raven’s Feather Dagger (Stubby)
Assassin’s Shortsword (Tam)
cursed shield (ask DM)
necro-magic skull (ask DM)