Crashing through a dense patch of mangroves in the Vast Swamp, a massive red scaled stegadon sighted the would be tomb raiders. The bony armored dinosaur . . .
Sue: Don’t you mean ‘behemoth’?
DM: Er . . .
Sue: That’s what the guy at the game store called ‘em.
The bony armored behemoth raised its horned head in a roar as the lizardmen atop the howdah lifted their javelins and took aim at the four adventurers.
Through conversation with NPCs in their regular campaign, Kay, Sue and Tess possessed some knowledge about the Tomb of Horrors. When I announced my intention to run them through ToH, they were really excited at the chance to take on Acererak’s challenge.
They obviously were not listening to the stories they had heard about the place.
The Seven Dwarves
One such story was shared by Galem in the Winter Wolf, the only tavern in Eastbrook. He was a dwarf fighter who had entered the tomb with six of his dwarven clan thirty years prior. In the end, he was to emerge only with his closest friend Rhen, the rest of his dwarves fallen to the foul tricks and traps laid out by the demilich.
Galem’s sad tale came out in small portions throughout the regular campaign as intentional build up. The full tale was finally shared with The Delvers after they too had experienced a great loss. It was then that I offered the girls a chance to try it for themselves.
Peter quickly lead the others deeper into the swamp, the four of them dodging the tribal weapons being thrown at them as the stegadon created a path of destruction in its wake. Suddenly the large reptilian beast reared on its hind legs, the lizardmen wheeling back on top trying to keep their balance. The party looked on as the lizardmen reversed direction, their beast of burden leaving large muck prints that were now quietly filling with waters of the swamp as the trampling sound of the fleeing stegadon grew distant.
They had learned Acererak was born a cambion, that he was once apprenticed to Vecna, that he at one time worshiped Orcus, and that he built the Tomb of Horrors in the Vast Swamp as almost a challenge to all who would dare enter. The secrets of his ascension to demilich were vague with only fragments of information uncovered by the the players.
Skull City, Moil and the Fortress of Conclusion were never mentioned, nor would they be known to these high level characters thirty years before their present campaign timeline.
It was quiet, the only sound was the buzzing of insects. Surveying their location, they found themselves in a small clearing with a hill surrounded by various make shift camps and supplies scattered about.
They had arrived.