The Roleplaying Diaries of Bryan Stephens
Following a dream calling him to The City of Wati , the cleric of Orisis, Tumani Tor, arrives at the Explorer’s Outpost, Terhk's Fine Expeditions. At the edge of the city. Suddenly, he feels as if he is reliving that dream. There he sees Kepher ibn Masud from his dream and walks up to him for an introduction. Kepher is startled, but being a man of faith accepts Tumani’s story. Kepher, himself, felt called to this very spot today, and both are seeking to enter the necropolis as a team. Seeing they need more than the two of them, especially someone good with ancient traps, they set off for the Whispering Stone gaming hall to see if they can find someone else.
While Kepher studies the job board to little avail, Tumani scans the room. He spots a young woman drinking alone in the corner who has clearly noticed the two men who are out of place in his hall. Before Tumani can note her, a well to do man strides up, ale in hand, and claps Kepher on the back. It is an old acquaintance of the paladin, a sword arm, Keva Devar. Kepher introduces the two and they start to talk about expanding the team. Tumani excuse himself and casts detect evil. While many in the bar glow faintly crimson, the woman alone does not. Tumani heads over.
After a brief hello, Tumani sits down with an offer to pay for her current drink. While she tries to cover it, it is clear to the perceptive cleric that the woman is alone and somewhat disoriented. He is not sure she even knew the city she was in. Tumani asks if she has a facility with “locks” and “machines of ill intent” and she takes his meaning. He invites her to join their party, and she agrees as long as he expenses are paid until they can sell their first loot. It is at this point that the boisterous Keva yells for the to join him. Tumani smiles and tells the young women , ”He is paying.”. It is at this point they introduce themselves to each other. She is Ina, a newly arrived person with no other current job.
The four gather, and Tumani informs Keva of the need to cover her charges. Keva spends well to cover drinks and food for the group, and invites them all to his family home for the night. The group decides on a name, The Lost Fragments and Kepher goes to register them.
Over a thousand years ago, the cult of Lamashtu unleashed a terrible disease called the Plague of Madness on the city of Wati. More than 60 percent of the city's population perished in the streets and in their homes, and Wati was virtually abandoned for over 450 years. In 2953 AR, the church of Pharasma returned to Wati and established a new temple in the city's ruins called the Grand Mausoleum. Walling off much of the original city, the Pharasmins transformed the abandoned settlement into an enormous necropolis, consecrating it in honor of the city's dead. Over the next 1,700 years, people returned to rebuild a new city adjacent to the old one, and today the living city ofWati is more than three times the size ofthe old city. Seven years ago, Pharaoh Khemet III, the Ruby Prince, formally opened Osirion's ancient tombs and burial sites to foreign explorers. Khemet III understood that adventurers who've traveled great distances in search of treasure typically do not return from whence they came to sell their discoveries. Instead, they typically sell or trade what they do not keep as quickly as possible at the closest civilized community with an economy strong enough to absorb an influx ofvaluable antiquities. The Ruby Prince's policy has attracted not only explorers to the desert nation of Osirion, but also countless scholars, private collectors, special interest groups such as the Pathfinder Society, and financial interests from all across the Inner Sea. A minor industry has sprung up just to support visiting explorers, and an even larger infrastructure has come into being to serve foreign investors and traders. Every opening of a major site has heralded an economic boom, for the local area and Osirion as a whole.
Unlike many of Osirion's tombs and graveyards, however, the Necropolis of Wati has remained largely untouched, in no small part because of local taboos and the protection of the Grand Mausoleum's priests. But Khemet III has now ordered the local authorities and church of Pharasma to open Wati's necropolis to exploration for the purpose of discovery, study, and economic stimulus.
With the necropolis opened by royal decree, the priests of the local temple of Pharasma, the Grand Mausoleum, have been tasked with assigning sites ready for exploration to adventuring companies in a lottery. The adventure assumes that the PCs have already formed an adventuring party and have registered for this lottery with the priesthood of the Grand Mausoleum. Registering is not difficult; there are no background checks or special fees or requirements. A priest simply records the name of the group and the names of its members and gives them a token that they should present when the group receives its first assignment at the lottery's opening ceremony.
The lottery's opening ceremony takes place in the Sunburst Market in the center of the living city of Wati, between the Grand Mausoleum and Abadar's Sanctum of Silver and Gold. An array of other adventuring groups have assembled, and the ceremony has attracted throngs of local people as well as street vendors. The next afternoon, the four are gathered to await their call.
The bustling desert city of Wati is near bursting with excitement. Adventurers from every corner of the Inner Sea region have assembled here beneath the hot Osirian sun to explore the tombs of the city's necropolis, waiting only to be assigned their first sites for exploration. Surrounding the participants, the public has gathered to observe the ceremony as well. There is a festival-like quality in the air, and numerous street vendors are hawking goods and refreshments to participants and spectators alike. Some merchants have even brought what can only be considered adventuring gear to sell as last minute convenience items to explorers, while others advertise that they'll buy recovered treasures and antiquities from those who visit their establishments.
In front of the imposing edifice of the Grand Mausoleum, an immense awning has been erected between decorated pillars in the market to provide shade for the priests of Pharasma overseeing the lottery. Beneath the awning, two urns sit atop a table elevated a few feet above the ground on a wooden stage constructed for the event. The high priestess of the Grand Mausoleum, Sebti the Crocodile, sits behind the table, while two acolytes confer with her at either side.
The lady speaks:
“Let the lottery begin! Although many of you have requested specific sites to explore, we must leave these matters to fate. The Lady of Graves is a far better judge of destiny than we of this mortal sphere. The gates of the necropolis will open at sunrise tomorrow. Use this evening to prepare yourselves for the task ahead. Let these rules guide you in your endeavors in this holy place: remember how this came to pass, every slave's hut is a memorial, and honor the departed. May you go with the Lady's blessing.”
The characters are given a copy of the The Rules of Tomb Exploration which outline their limits, all of which make sense to the party. When the Lost Fragments are called up, Kepher goes to receive their mission. Their first assignment is an actual tomb that predates the creation of the necropolis. The group can enter the city as soon as the gates open the next morning.
|Campaign Date||Abadus 6-7|
After the assignments, Tumani suggests they see if they can find other teams to visit with. They end up going to the Tooth and Hooka Inn. They run into two groups, the Dog Soldiers, who are composed entirely of halflings and their back of trained dogs. They are wild and boisterous and the party steers clear of them. Of more interest are the Daughters of the Desert, an all-female adventuring party. Both Keva and Ina head over interested in information and perhaps romance. Keva does most of the talking. The women are led by a Ulfen woman, Sigrun, and is composed of a Rahadoumi and two twin sisters wearing veils. Sigrun is keep to document the history that Keva gives her and the Daughters learn more about him than the other way around. The depart with a promise of dinner the next night after both parties have entered into and exited the city.
The next day at 6:30 the sun comes up and the Lost Fragments enters into the city with a car from Keva’s family behind them. Their target is on the far end of the Necropolis and they want as much time to be at the tomb as possible. It takes them a little less than two hours to get there. The Tomb itself is a rectangular stone mausoleum sits alone in what appears to have once been an actual cemetery. The trunks of a few dead trees poke out of the sand around the tomb, and a hot breeze whistles through their desiccated branches. A set of massive stone double doors is affixed to the northern side of the structure, beneath a facade bearing the likeness of an Osirian man. Windblown sand is heaped around the crypt, partially burying the doors that lead within.
Looking at the outside, it appears someone in the past had maybe tried entry. After taking some time to shovel the sand away, they struggle to open the doors with crowbars. Finally it is opened and they leave the doors ajar to let light enter. Inside, they find the Antechamber. There is stale air and a layer of dust and stand in the floor. Stone faces of Pharasma and Anubis. There is also a warning in ancient hieroglyphs about robbers and curses.
With great effort, the men work to roll the stone aside while Ina uses her pitons to lock it into place. As they just get it settled, a solitary ghost scorpion wanders in out of the sun. Ina sees it first and shouts as she readies her dagger. Tumani is able to turn and ready his flail just as the creature attacks Kepher. The monster stings him, but he is not poisoned. Heavenly hurt, however, Tumani heals him before moving around the monster. Everyone begins beating on the creature, with Tumani assisting Ina in flanking it. The monster goes down. Tumani further heals his companion and the group moves into the next room.
This square room is starkly devoid of any markings or adornment. In the center of the chamber's floor, a square shaft drops straight down into darkness. A faint musty odor rises from the pit. A single piton has been hammered into the stone floor by the northeast corner of the pit, and a dusty length of rope dangles from the piton into the darkness of the shaft. The rope crumbles to dust when Ina touches it. Tumani places light on a stone and tosses it down, reveling a 60’ shaft with very smooth walls. After some discussion, they take time to use pitons and their ropes to create a 150’ circle of rope going around the pitons to lower themselves. First Kepher lowers the other three, and then Keva uses the system to lower Kepher. They plan to use this to leave.
In the lowered area, mirrored images of a warrior in side profile, facing inward, are carved on an ornate pair of stone doors in the west wall of this square room. The figure is depicted wearing padded armor, with a scarab-shaped shield on the arm facing the viewer, and a raised khopesh held aloft in the other. A crumpled humanoid body lies directly in front of the doors. A hint of decay hangs in the air, and a dried stain mars the stone floor under the body. A square shaft in the ceiling leads straight up into darkness.
They move ahead slowly, with Ina checking for traps. Unfortunately, the hallway ahead of them is so well disguised she does not find one. The group, however, does not believe this long hallway could be clear. They move in, four abreast, with the heavily armed fighters holding shields against the wall. As they expect, there are darts hitting them. Even though most of the darts are stopped by the shields, Keva, Kepher, and Ina are all struck. They all step back and Tumani heals the group. Kepher uses his flail to slam the plate 15 times, with darts coming out 9 more times. Satisfied the trap is over, the group moves down into a Foyer with northern and southern doors. Tumani suggests they go north and Keva south. Ina and Kepher agree north, and they move up, with Ina ever checking for trap.
They enter the room to see a brightly painted chariot and small chest. Ina finds a trap but fails to disarm it. Fortunately, her damage is slight and the clear poison on the trap has long dried out. Inside are potions, art, and books. The group is happy for its finds. As they move deeper into the other half of the room. Ubashati warrior dolls leap from a diorama and attack! They manage to defeat the dolls, and again Tumani uses more healing energy to shore up the party. There are five more chests without traps this time. Again they find more ancient items they know they can sell. They also find out that the tomb of Akhentepi’s mistress is also attached. This may mean finding a secret door or two.
The time of day is 10:30am. There is a lot more tomb to go.
|Campaign Date||Abadus 7-8|
Moving ahead, the group adopts a rhythm. Ina checks for traps and unlocks doors, Keva and Kepher enter the room, and Tumani comes behind searching for secret doors. They cross into a new room with a magical mirror that Tumani warns them not to look in. Keva notices tracks in the floor between open doors on either side. Tumani tosses a coin and they go west. As soon as Keva enters the room, two giant camel spiders emerge and attack. The other three race into the room soon they are all dead. After some quick healing, they see the room is a chapel and preparation room for bodies. As devotees of the old gods, Kepher and Tumani give brief prayers and meditations. Crossing to the other doors, the passageway leads down broken stairs. It is on this difficult terrain they are attacked by a sandling.
Another hard fight ensues and the party triumphs over the strange sand elemental and head down the shaft. There are two sets of doors, once ending in a dead end and there others are locked. Tumani finds a secret door in the dead end, but it is not designed to open from this side and they are not able to open it or destroy it. Ina is unable to pick the other doors lock and they are equally durable to the secret door. Tired, hurt, and exhausted, the group decides to return to the chariot room and spend the night. They retrieve supplies from their cart and shut and look the only set of doors into the room. Nothing happens over the night and they wake refreshed and ready to take on the day. With a good night’s sleep, Ina has no trouble opening the locked doors. What they find are steps down and more doors. Then they find this again.
Finally, the group opens doors into a burial room. There is a raised dais with statues and a sarcophagus on it. The group carefully moves around the edges. Ina and Tumani find a secret door each, but Tumani manages to trigger a trap. Arcs of lightening fill the dais. The doors at the far end of the room open while the ones they came through slam shut. Water starts to pour into the room. Ina opens her door to see if it is a way out, but it just opens to a storage room. She races to the doors where the water is coming out but cannot close them. Meanwhile, the sarcophagus leaps up and attacks Keva, biting him and slamming shut around him. Tumani and Kephar race to attack the construct and beat the thing into splinters while Ina opens the other doors.
It is clear to Ina that the water was supposed to fill the room, but the two thousand year old trap was just not able to do it. After a couple of minutes the water runs away. The group follows the stairs to find a hallway moving back towards the secret door they could not open, and another to the north. They cautiously move forward, and find the chamber of grave goods meant to support Akhentepi in the afterlife. There a swarm of flesh eating cockroaches erupt, attack Ina and Tumani. She flees, throwing up at the thought of these things, and goes behind the protection of Keva. Tumani falls back and the swarm moves over Kepher. Ina throws alchemical fire to deal with the swarm and the horrible bugs scurry away. Tumani heals the group again as everyone stops throwing up.
The tired team moves through more doors and a hallway until they find the real tomb. As they cautiously explore the room, another construct, this time an iron cobra hisses and bites Tumani. Poisoned the cleric starts to attack. The whole team leaps forward, surrounding the small cobra and attempt to kill it as it keeps striking at Tumani. Fortunately, it no longer hits and the manage to kill it.
After a rest and nothing else happening, the group spends the rest of the afternoon organizing, moving, and hauling up to their wagon, the precious objects they have found in the tomb. They hustle to return to the temple to report. Their loot is stored at Keva’s home, and they head to the Tooth & Hookah where some of the other groups are gathering.
Tumani is new to adventuring. While the other three have all seen combat before, Tumani’s training has all been in a cloistered environment. Shortly after hitting the Tooth & Hookah, he is well into his drinks. Even so, it is clear to him that the Cryptfinders are lying to the group about their adventure, claiming to have fought a mummy! He calls them out on in, specifically their cleric of Sarenrae, before unsteadily walking to hang with the Dog Soldiers. They are drinking hard as well, missing several of their dogs killed fighting a gelatinous cube in a tannery, and the leaders is looking to raise money to purchase more.
Keva and Ina go to the Daughters of the Desert, and Keva tries to impress their leader, Sigrun Firehair. She is totally uninterested, and he moves her from indifferent to unfriendly. Ina, on the other hand, manages to strike up a strong relationship with their barbarian that results in their own evening together.
Eventually, the men get Tumani home, who most likely should not have been drinking the same day he was poisoned by a snake.
|Campaign Date||Abadus 9|
The next morning, Kepher goes to get their next assignment, and they are given a map to a noble house once owned by the Pentheru family. It is an easy journey, and the group reaches the gates in the morning. Keva and Tumani are both frightened by a haunt at the entrance, a powerful impression left over when the city was gripped in madness. After they calm down, the four enter into the home.
At first they explore the outside area, inside the walls of the estate but not yet inside the home. This includes the servant homes and other outdoor areas. They stumble into a giant centipede that erupts from the sand, hungry and eager for a meal. They are able to defeat it with much less difficulty than they encountered against foes in the tomb a day ago. Further searching leads to attacks by a Devil Dog which they surrounded an beat to death.
In one set of quarters, there are three skeletons on the ground. Using detect undead Tumani confirms they are risen, and he and Kepher race in. Tumani staggers one, while Kepher smashes another. The stagged one is smashed when it stands up. The third skeleton tries to attack but Kepher is able to manage it easily.
The old granary is home to a beetle swarm, but Keva’s shield keeps them at bay. While Kephar stands back, Ina and Tumani use alchemist’s fire to burn the swarm before it can leave. Inside are more skeletons, but just bones this time. They find an adamantine flail which Kepher takes. The courtyard searched; they enter the dwelling proper.
They move through into the kitchen and down the eastern half of the lower floor. They find a decapitated skeleton on the privy, missing its head. Further down in the entrance hall, three skeletons stand guard. While the fighters advance, and Ina uses her bow, Tumani attempts to run back around to flank, through the central courtyard. As he races past, a lovely woman emerges from the center and asks him to help her defend the house. He ignores her and moves to the fight, but the last of the three skeletons is already down. Kepher took the brunt of their attacks and Tumani heals him. However, it is then the two notice that Ina and Keva are under the effects of a fascinate effect. Kepher charges the being and it reveals itself to be an evil outsider sandman. A wave of sleepiness washes over them, and Keva falls to the ground, sleeping. Kepher and Tumani shrug it off and Kepher smites the monster. Tumani heals his friend, and Kepher continues his attack, killing the creature.
After getting their companions oriented, the four search the area and find magical scale mail and a magical cross bow, as well as various coins. They then move back north, only to find a table set with 6 heads on 6 goblets. Before they can do more, the 6 heads arise and fly at them. Kepher knocks one from the air and Ina uses her bow to strike one. While the other three engage in combat, Tumani calls upon his god and emits a burst of energy, not to heal, but to harm the undead attacking them. All but 1 just expires, and Keva smashes the last one that is about to attack Ina.
They move to the final corner of the downstairs area, where the stairs lead up. Tumani and Ina both feel the heat of breath on the back of their necks. It is another haunt. Searching the area, Tumani finds and picks up a magic ring. This triggers vision:
In the final days before the Plague of Madness overtook the house, Pentheru the Younger's daughter, Ariseti, met with her fiancé in this room. Her fiancé wanted to elope, but Ariseti demurred, wanting to wait until the “troubles” afflicting the city passed before announcing their engagement. Unfortunately, neither of them survived the plague and the chaos that followed it. A search of the debris in the room turns up Ariseti's lost engagement ring with a successful DC 20 Perception check. As soon as the ring is touched, a ghostly scene superimposes itself over the ruins of the room, as translucent furniture and decorations like potted palm trees and richly upholstered divans waver into existence. In the center of the room, a ghostly young man clasps the hands of ethereal young woman. They speak in Ancient Osiriani, but any listener can mysteriously understand them, regardless of language.
“I'm so sorry,” the young man says. “I can't find the ring I bought you anywhere. I just had it!”
“It's all right, my love,” the girl replies quietly. “It's not the right time to tell my family anyway.”
“Come with me, Ariseti! Come across the river where we'll be safe!”
“Not just yet, darling. My father says we'll be safe here. You go, and when all this is over, you can come back for me, and we'll announce our engagement then.”
She pauses, and reaches out to touch the man's forehead.
“Are you feeling all right? You're burning up!”
With this the vision ends, as first the figures fade from view, followed by the room and its furnishings. The ring is a ring of protection +1 but it is cursed. Tumani shakes off a magical illness induced by the vision. He somehow realizes that only by freely giving the ring to another person out of love can the haunt be permanently destroyed.
Moving up the stairs, they first enter the guest room. Inside is another headless body, but this one’s head seems to have been pulled off, not cut. They find a wedding ring of the daughter of the house. Moving to the next room, which is a master bedroom, they hear doors opening and shutting, but cannot see anything doing it. Kepher detects evil and can sense three forms upstairs but is unsure what they are.
Tumani continues to investigate the master bedroom and finds a dresser that is hiding a secret chest. It is locked and trapped. Ina cannot get it unlocked and Tumani smashes it in frustration and is struck by a poison dart for his trouble. While hurt, the poison has thankfully dried out. He then shield smashes the dried hornet’s nest in the room and a vaguely magical headband falls out.
The group moves forward and is attacked by a div of some sort. Keva lands a incredible smashing blow upon it and it is killed by the rest of the party before it has a chance to respond. With the evil extra planer monster killed, the party discovers the other evil were two flying heads, a sort who’s bite can breed you into one of them. The party is able to avoid this disease, and they deal with these undead. They search the rest of the upstairs and take notes. There is a chest with a very fragile wedding dress inside that Tumani is sure he can use mend on if they wait a day for him to prepare it. They agree they will spend the night here and then head to the crypt.
Descending into the crypt, the group immediately run into an adherer, a horrid, mummy like creature that was once human. Keva attacks it and his hammer is suddenly stuck to it! The monster reaches out and grabs him, holding him as well. Tumani races forward, reaching between the sticky bits to heal Keva. Kepher uses his Alchemical fire to alight the monster, which soon burns away its stickiness. Tumani keeps healing while Kepher and Ina strike it with mighty blows. Despite the resilience of the creature it goes down, though Keva keeps seeing his life pass before his eyes.
Moving deeper, Kepher is sure something if off about the stairs but no one can place it. They slowly explore and find many unfinished passages to other rooms. In one rough carved area, a swarm of ubashki cats stir. These stray cats killed to protect the vault charge for the group, surrounding Kepher and biting him. The group pounds on the swarm, but Tumani holy magic to burn the undead is most effective.
Finally, they move into the final room, the tomb of the Pentheru the Younger. The hieroglyphs on the walls tell the story ofPentheru the Younger in Ancient Osiriani, starting with the elevation ofhis father Pentheru the Elder to nobility, his subsequent death, and Pentheru the Younger's inheritance of his father's title and lands. The story boasts oftheir prosperity and success as land managers, the justness with which the family lived their lives, and the care with which they treated their slaves and servants. The text calls upon the gods to smile upon Pentheru the Younger and bless him with a good and just life in the Great Beyond.
Opening the sarcophagus they find the body and a small cat mummy. This guardian releases magic, making three of the members feel shiver in their spins for a moment. Keva, however, is frightened and runs away, out of the tomb. As the fastest, Ina goes after him in time to see him impaled on spike traps on the stairs. She goes to his aid and calls for Tumani, who comes to heal him with the last of his healing magic for the day. Kepher spends the rest of the day and evening to take notes and rubbings of all the carvings to take back to the temple of Pharasma.
After a full night’s rest, Tumani is up early to mend the dress and now that chest can be moved safely. They is a lot of items they have to gain from this house. Keva and Kepher happily load the wagon and the group heads back out of the Necropolis.