The West Wing
The East Wing
Prior to entering the Tomb of Stephen Amber, the amber globe had surrounded the party one final time, allowing the party to sufficiently prepare for their final sojourn. Mazaramus, Gandi and Sneaky all levelled up, and Mazaramus gained Skilled proficiency with the quarterstaff. Mazaramus was unable to spam invisibility spells during his training, and had to settle for making himself invisible.
Having mapped out the outline of the tomb, a square structure, 250’ on each side and 50’ tall, they prepared to enter. Mazaramus, in his usual gung-ho fashion, flew forwards and pushed open the large double doors. Beyond was a 50’ square room. A large blue-scaled reptilian creature that had been resting on a huge pile of silver coins, flew up and soared towards the doors and towards the party that were assembled some 100’ in front of the tomb.
Those with long range missile weapons prepared to fire them at what was obviously a blue dragon. Mazaramus, Lithanor and even Bhakragh prepared to launch fire ball spells at it. The dragon won the initiative and unleashed its lightning breath, hitting Morgan, Talanius and Sneaky. Morgan made his saving throw, taking 20 points of damage. Talanius and Sneaky failed their saves. Talanius was mortally wounded, being reduced to -9 hit points. Sneaky was slain by the bolt.
The missile fire at the dragon was totally ineffective, but the barrage of three fire balls slew the creature. Merick rushed to assist Talanius, and along with quick intervention by Klaus using the staff of healing, were able to prevent him from dying.
Turning to their fallen comrade, they saw an amber light surround Sneaky. After a while, the light subsided and Sneaky was restored to life.
DM’s note: At the end of the module it states that Stephen Amber, once restored to life, can use his ring of wishes to restore up to four characters who had been slain earlier in the adventure (“even if the character was disintegrated, jellified, etc.”). Having slain characters sit it out until the end of the adventure isn’t much fun, so I had the slain character revived immediately. The feast in the west wing, as I explained earlier was so broken that I didn’t count this for ‘used’ resurrections and would not allow this to ruin the campaign or the adventure, hence the get-out that I had written in.
Klaus used as much healing as he could to bring Talanius back to a reasonable state of health. Relieved that Sneaky was still with the party, they ventured into the tomb. The dragons’ room contained the huge pile of silver coins that Mazaramus had seen earlier, 86,000 silver pieces in all. Mixed in with the coins were a large number of fairly valuable gems. They marked this for picking up later. There was no way that they could carry that much treasure, and sifting through it to find all the gems would also be too time consuming.
Two doors led from the room, one in the centre of each of the east and west walls. Lithanor’s player had taken over mapping for the tomb (I had told him he needed the practise and this was a very easy dungeon to map) and got confused, wondering how there was a door in the opposite wall and in the wall that they had just walked through the double doors from, before realising that he had the map sideways.
Lithanor went towards the door in the west wall (arbitrarily determined by which way up the map was in the module, the tomb is “out of space and time” and whether there even is a north, south, east and west in this place is debatable) and felt that there was severe heat emanating from whatever was on the other side of it.
Sneaky went to the east door and decided to listen at the door. She heard what sounding like fairly strong winds or rushing air on the other side.
They were indecisive about which door to take. At first, they chose the east door. Opening it, they found that it lead into an area 50’ across leading eastwards some 50’ before turning north. There was no floor, only a sheer drop, although a cloud, 10’ wide led eastwards from the door, following the turn in the wide corridor.
Mazaramus was about to scout ahead on his broom of flying when he realised that he was no longer invisible, having cast a spell at the dragon. Bhakragh used his ring of spell storing to cast fly on himself. He flew slightly ahead of Mazaramus. Lithanor, cursing at no longer having the Enchanted Sword of Sylaire, ran along after them, finding that the cloud was safe to walk on.
They got to where the cloud and the corridor turned northwards. Some distance away, they saw a reptilian flying creature. It shrieked and flew towards the party. Mazaramus turned his broom around and flew back to the rest of the party waiting in the dragon chamber. Lithanor ran too. Bhakragh, disappointed at not getting some action, shrugged his shoulders and flew after them. Mazaramus and Bhakragh had no problem escaping from the creature. Lithanor barely made it through the door and slammed it shut, leaving the winged creature shrieking on the other side.
They decided instead to try the west door. Opening it, they found that the walls were lined with flames. Although still very hot, it seemed that there was a safe path, 10’ wide leading westwards from the door. After some 50’, the path turned northwards, still with flames on the walls. Talanius drank his potion of fire resistance before they ventured any further.
No sooner had he drunk it, the party decided that this way was even more perilous, and they should go back and try taking on the winged creature instead.
The creature had flown back to the north-south corridor by now. Mazaramus and Bhakragh flew ahead while the rest of the party followed with missile weapons ready. Rounding the corner, they saw the winged creature again, which once again flew straight for them. This time Mazaramus held his nerve and unleashed his second fire ball at it, severely wounding it. It had a fair distance to cover before reaching them. Mazaramus won the initiative roll and was able to finish it off with a magic missile volley (he could now create three magic missiles with each spell, instead of just one).
The creature plummeted down. Bhakragh pointed out that it had a poisoned stinger in its tail, and told the party that this creature was a wyvern. Sneaky felt a strange tingling sensation as something materialised in her hand. It was a triangle, 3” on each side, dissected by a single bar and made of some strange, semi-transparent, yellow material. To look at, it didn’t even seem substantial, yet Sneaky was still able to hold it.
They continued along the cloud. After about 150’ or so, the cloud turned west, as did the corridor, and ended at a door after about another 50’.
They opened the door, which led into another 50’ square room, with two other doors leading from it, one in the west wall opposite, and one in the south wall.
In the room was a 14’ tall humanoid figure wielding a large club. It faced the party, looking to smash them to pulp. Bhakragh rushed in first, followed by Gandi, Morgan and Lithanor. The party won the initiative and the four fighters slew the stone giant before it could land a single blow.
The giant had been guarding a chest. Sneaky went to check it while the party investigated the other two doors. The west door also radiated heat, and they suspected that this was the same area that led westwards from the dragon room. The door in the south wall was firmly closed and inset with two triangles, each 3” on each side.
They rightly guessed that Sneaky’s yellow triangle, as well as one that they had to acquire, was needed to open this door. They also guessed that they would need to brave the flames to acquire it.
Having found no traps on the chest, and failing to pick the lock, Morgan smashed the lock with his claymore. In it they found a stash of 5,000 gold pieces, a very fancy looking rapier, a sealed tube and two potions.
Sneaky grabbed the rapier. She had always wanted one. As soon as she held it, she tried a few practise swings, and liked the feel of it. To the rest of the party, she was clumsily swinging it about, not being proficient in the use of any kind of sword.
Mazaramus took the sealed tube and opened it, finding a scroll inside. He took it out and eagerly read it, hoping to find magical runes indicating a spell scroll. Instead, it had a picture of a fly trapped in amber. It was a cursed scroll. I allowed Mazaramus to make a saving throw vs spells, although technically, cursed scrolls don’t generally allow saves. He fluffed it anyway, and was transmuted into a fly trapped in an amber ball.
I let Mazaramus make an intelligence check. He passed it and was able to concentrate enough to project his thoughts and speak to the party through the amber. Mazaramus didn’t realise that his ‘voice’ outside the amber ball was a high pitched squeak.
Gandi took the two potions and examined them. One was a red liquid, one was a green liquid. Gandi hurriedly put them back in the chest.
Sneaky decided that she would test them. As she drank the red potion, Lithanor suggested that they might be potions of time travel. Sneaky heard his words as though she herself were speaking them. Sneaky wondered if she had travelled moments back in time and was standing where Lithanor had been standing earlier, explaining why his voice sounded so close.
Nevertheless, she tried a sip of the green potion. She disappeared and reappeared moments later. Conclusion: she had travelled forward in time a few seconds.
It turned out that they were a potion of clairaudience and a potion of invisibility respectively, but you can see how they drew those conclusions.
Wishing he had a cane to put Mazaramus on top of, Lithanor carried the amber fly with him.
Their only course of action at present was to enter the corridor of flames. Talanius’ potion of fire resistance was still in effect, and Bhakragh still had his fly spell running. Sneaky took a dose of her potion of invisibility (her old one that she still had from The Keep on the Borderlands) and scouted ahead.
The corridor did indeed turn southwards, the walls lined with flames, as they expected. About halfway down the long corridor was a large reddish-orange reptilian creature, almost snake-like except for the two forelimbs, wreathed in flames. Sneaky was about to line up for a backstab when the rest of the party came around the corner. The creature, a flame salamander, rushed at the party. Bhakragh, Gandi and Morgan advanced ahead of the rest of the party to meet its charge.
Sneaky was able to get her backstab in as the creature rushed past. It gouged at Morgan, causing little more than a flesh wound with its claw, though Sneaky and the three that had advanced all took damage from the heat given off by the salamander. Fighting the pain caused by the creature’s intense heat, Sneaky had a sudden desire to switch to using the rapier that she had found, though the party slew the salamander before she could use it.
The salamander burst into flames and which quickly disappeared in a cloud of black smoke. As it did so, a 3” wide triangle of red metal appeared in Lithanor’s hand.
They returned to the room where they had fought the stone giant and placed the two triangles that they had gained into the triangular indents in the door. They fit perfectly and the door opened.
DM’s note: The triangle ‘keys’ are not part of the module. This is something
that I added, otherwise the party might have
skipped some of the encounters. I felt that the party was more than capable of
taking on all of the monsters in this part of the adventure (being frazzled by
blue dragons notwithstanding) without too much difficulty.
|"The Four Elements...together form the|
strong fifth element...Boron!"
(Brother Silence - Dorkness Rising)
By now, Mazaramus the fly had been able to wriggle his front arms free a little bit and was able to gesticulate sufficiently to be able to cast his spells out of the amber globe that he was trapped in.
They opened the door in the south wall, finding that it led into another fifty foot square room, with another door in the centre of each of the east and west walls. In the room was a bat-winged, lion-like creature with a man’s face. It coiled its tail around to reveal several spikes on the end, and aimed the tip towards the party.
Gandi rushed in to attack the creature. The rest of the party cautiously advanced, some covering Gandi with missile fire, and Mazaramus launched a volley of magic missiles at it from inside his amber bubble. Although they inflicted a fair amount of damage, the creature fought on furiously, slashing Gandi with a foreclaw and launching some of its tail spikes towards the party, but only managed to cause a slight wound on Morgan with them. Talanius fired his crossbow and finally felled the creature, which they had now identified as a manticore.
Mazaramus figured that certain manticore parts might be useful for spell research and creating magic items, so Gandi collected a few body parts, under Mazaramus’ direction. Meanwhile, Bhakragh’s fly spell ended and he landed quite gently on the ground, as he had only been floating a few inches above the floor.
Whilst Gandi was cutting up the body of the manticore, Sneaky, now under the control of the magical rapier that she had found, waved it about and indicated that there was a pile of gold coins near the south wall. The party could see no coins, but when Sneaky poked about with her rapier, they could hear the jingling of coins. After a short while, the pile of coins was sufficiently moved about to disrupt the invisibility spell that had been hiding them.
Sneaky mentally made a promise to herself (actually to the intelligent rapier that was controlling her) that she would train herself to use the rapier properly at the earliest opportunity.
Sneaky listened at the two doors. Beyond the eastern door could be heard the sound of lapping waves. Very little could be heard beyond the western door apart from the occasional strange ‘glopping’ sound.
The party had figured out that the side ‘corridor rooms’ corresponded to the four elements. They had already had the Fire and Air encounters. The east door must lead into the Water encounter, so the west door must lead into the Earth encounter area.
They opened the west door and found that it lead into a 50’ east to west by 150’ north to south room. On the same wall, some 100’ to the south, was another door. The entire room was filled with mud, the depth of which was unknown to the party.
“This shouldn’t be too difficult” said Mazaramus “I’ll just fly across on my…oh wait. Damn!” Lithanor was again cursing not having The Enchanted Sword of Sylaire. They would have to think of something else.
They thought of using Lithanor’s rope of climbing to swing across, but the ceiling was 50’ above the ground and they wouldn’t be able to swing more than a few feet, let alone the 100’ to the other door. Sneaky using climb walls wouldn’t be much good either. She could get to the other door, but how to get the rest of the party across?
Bhakragh suggested using his wall of stone spell that he had on his ring of spell storing. He asked Mazaramus for more details about how the spell worked. The entire wall had to be within 60’ of the caster. If he could get nearer to the centre of the room he could create a wall of stone sufficiently long enough for the party to climb on top of and cross to the southern door.
Sneaky was getting somewhat annoyed that all these clever wizards and spell-casters couldn’t conjure up a solution. She began absent-mindedly tinkering about with the potions that she had bought from Gilles Grenier and, without realising it, opened one up and took a sip. She began floating off the ground. Even Gilles couldn’t get it right. Instead of making love potions, this one was actually a potion of flying. Who knows what the other two were. Before they could discuss the solution further, she drank the entire potion.
Bhakragh, realising that they now had a way to get across the mud, offered to lend the ring of spell storing to Sneaky, but she was loathe to accept it. The party suspected that her rapier was having some influence over her. Klaus cured her of her wounds that she had incurred earlier from the flame salamander. Without the pain of her wounds to distract her, Sneaky was able to focus and override the controlling effect that the rapier was having on her (though she was holding to her vow that she would train herself to use it properly).
Sneaky flew to a point about halfway between the two doors and cast wall of stone using Bhakragh’s ring. Lithanor then used his rope of climbing, attaching it to near the top of the nearest end of the wall of stone. One by one, they began climbing up and walking along the top of the wall towards the southern door. Most of the party had climbed up, but when Klaus started climbing the rope, the mud erupted and a huge, roughly man-shaped creature made of mud attempted to sweep him from the rope. Morgan and Bhakragh ran back to assist Klaus. Lithanor fired his bow at it, but his arrow simply sunk into its muddy body without causing any damage. Gandi was still at the doorway, and could reach the creature, a mud golem, with his axes. With their magical weapons, they soon despatched the golem, which collapsed back into the mud.
Once it was slain, a triangle made of some dark green stone, 3” on each side with two of the sides joined by a single bar, appeared in Morgan’s hand.
The party decided to head back to the manticore room and go for the other door, knowing that they would need to defeat whatever was in there to get the fourth elemental symbol that they would need.
Opening the eastern door, they found that it opened up into a room with dimensions that mirrored the mud golem room, including a door 100’ to the south on the west wall. The entire room was filled with water. The depth was difficult to gauge, but was probably about 50’ deep. Some large dark shape could barely be made out moving about in the water.
After some discussion about how they would deal with whatever this shape was, Bhakragh volunteered to cast water breathing on himself in order to jump in and fight whatever it was. Sneaky, even though she wouldn’t be able to breathe underwater, could fly in and help out.
Mazaramus pointed out that he could use his phantasmal force spell to help out if needs be. Now this is where one of the most hilarious suggestions I have ever heard came up. He suggested that, given that the illusion would remain for as long as he concentrated on it, and the only limit was his imagination, he could use the illusion to perpetually cast spells if he created the illusion of a spell-casting creature. One drawback was that the phantasmal force would remain in the area where it was conjured up, and couldn’t be moved from that area. Lithanor proposed that they could move the illusion along with them if it was created on a floating disc!
Bhakragh cast his spell and jumped in. Sneaky flew into the water after him. Moments later, Sneaky flew out of the water, a terrified look on her face and said “We’re going to need bigger swords!”
Bhakragh, at the bottom of the large pool, was fighting a Great White Shark. It had swung in and taken a chomp at him. Any normal man would have been bitten in two, but Bhakragh was made of sterner stuff. Despite his lack of freedom of action, he had managed to slice at the shark with his sword as it lunged at him, leaving a large gash down its side.
Sneaky regained her composure and flew back down to help Bhakragh. Lithanor took a deep breath and also jumped in. Mazaramus carried by Lithanor, cast a phantasmal force to create an illusion of a brain collector to fight it. Sneaky got in a couple of hefty strikes as the shark circled back. Bhakragh missed with his swing. Mazaramus’ brain collector bombarded the shark by casting illusory magic missiles at it. Finally, Lithanor bubbled out “smibble yob sobble oba bibb” as he plunged his longsword into its head, slaying it.
Bhakragh and Lithanor managed to get out of the water without too much trouble, despite being weighed down by their armour, using the rope of climbing and given a helping hand by the more mobile Sneaky. With the shark slain, a 3” wide triangle made of a light-blue tough coral like substance appeared in Klaus’s hand.
They left the shark room and returned to the mud room. Using the rope of climbing and the wall of stone, they traversed the room without too much problem.
Sneaky went to the door first. Her Hear Noise check failed, so she opened the door slightly and peered inside. She caught a glimpse of some large scaly creature and heard the hissing as though of several giant snakes. She quickly closed the door again.
Mazaramus suggested that, trapped in his amber ball, he was practically impervious to physical damage. If they rolled him into the room, he could cast his last spell, a magic missile at it before the party charged in to take it on.
Sneaky opened the door again and rolled Mazaramus-fly-trapped-in amber into the room. The scaly creature was now fully visible to Sneaky. It had five snake-like heads sprouting from its body…a hydra!
The hydra lunged at the amber ball, knocking it about the room with its heads. Mazaramus was spinning around too much to be able to concentrate enough to cast his spell.
The party rushed in as fast as they could, having to enter two at a time as they made their way down the rope of climbing (I have to say that that item has been an absolute godsend, it has come in useful so many times).
Gandi and Morgan began hacking away at the hydra. It tied initiative with them and was able to attack both of them with all five heads. The warrior and the dwarf were too well protected by their armour for the hydra to land an effective blow.
Lithanor and Bhakragh joined the fray. Mazaramus had stopped rolling around and was able to unleash his salvo of magic missiles, slaying it.
Looking around the room, there was no treasure, visible, invisible or otherwise. It was a 50’ square room with doors in the centre of the west (that they had entered by), east (that led to the shark pool) and north walls. The north door had two triangular indents in it, 3” on each side. Unlike the previous one, these triangles were pointing downwards.
Before they inserted the elemental triangles into the indents, Sneaky thought of checking the door for traps. Her rapier swung upwards and pointed towards the door. She then simply said “It isn’t trapped”.
Klaus and Gandi put their elemental keys in the triangular indents and the door clicked and opened slightly.
Cautiously, they entered the room beyond, a 50’ square (surprise surprise!) room with no other exits.
The main features of the room were an ornate mahogany casket in the centre of the room, and a large tapestry covering the entire wall depicting the assassination of Stephen Amber. At the head and foot of the casket were a silver candelabra holding burning amber (had to be) candles and an iron brazier with perfumed smoke rising from it.
The party examined the tapestry. They guessed that the perpetrators of the assassination were Henri and Catharine d’Amberville. Although they had never seen Catharine in her true form in the flesh, they worked it out by the depiction of the throne room where they had found their skeletons (and where Talanius had been possessed by Catharine).
They turned their attention to the casket and lifted up the lid. Inside was a skeleton dressed in rich velvet robes and wearing a gold crown. On the inside of the lid was inscribed the words “Burn the tapestry to break my curse” (either in common or somehow telepathically translated from French by some magical means).
Lithanor suggested that they not be too hasty and make a more thorough check of everything first. Gandi decided that he’d had enough of all these strange worlds and set fire to the tapestry using his tinder box.
The tapestry quickly caught ablaze and the room began filling with smoke. The door that they had entered through had closed and locked itself. After a short while, the skeleton in the casket began to glow, flesh began to appear on it. Soon, the smoke somehow dissipated. The glow on the body in the casket disappeared. A healthy man, apparently in his early-forties, lay there. He blinked his eyes a few times before opening them, pulled himself up into a sitting position in the casket and looked around at the party.
“Is one of you going to help me out of here then?” he said, with only a trace of the French accent that the rest of his family had.
DM’s note: I prefer to have Stephen Amber younger looking than he is portrayed in GAZ 3: The Principalities of Glantri. He just looks too Dumbledory/Gandalfy in that picture and I’m not all that keen on it. Plus I’d already envisaged him as somewhat younger when I read the module several years before the Gazetteer even came out.
They helped him out of the casket. No introductions were necessary. This was obviously Stephen Amber, and he seemed to know exactly who the party members were. He thanked them profusely for breaking his curse and freeing him.
He answered the party’s questions as best he could, mostly about why Henri and Catharine had assassinated him, whether Simon was involved (he wasn’t), why Simon wanted Stephen resurrected when his motives seemed to be in opposition to Stephens, and so on.
Stephen had some questions of his own. What world were the party from? What year was it? Why was the wizard now a fly trapped in amber? He then explained that he would cast a spell that would return the party to their own world and time, outside Castle Amber, near to where they had first entered it, along with the treasure that they had collected (or rather left for collection later).
Stephen cast a spell and touched the amber ball containing Mazaramus the fly, and he was restored to his normal self. He then cast another spell, this one seemingly a very powerful one. The air swirled around the party, and moments later they found themselves outside Castle Amber. The grey mist was gone, and they could see the surrounding hills and countryside. Nearby was a huge pile of coins and other treasure.
They looked towards the mansion. It was dilapidated and crumbling. In some places the ceiling had fallen in, and through a huge gap near the centre of the southern side could be seen what remained of a withered forest. Only the foyer where the party had left their horses seemed reasonably untouched by the ravages of time.
Stephen pointed towards the foyer and said “Your horses should be fine. Like yourselves, they were not of our world, and should not have been affected by the decay that the centuries have wrought on my mansion.” He then added “Oh! Sorry about the illusion of your mule dying. I had to convince you to not try going through the mist”
Just then, a unicorn came trotting out of the hole in wall leading to the indoor forest, accompanied by an amber–robed woman. She looked up and saw Stephen and the party and they both came up to where the party was waiting. The woman looked like an older version of Aurena who they had met earlier on in the adventure. Back then she was a young woman, barely twenty, in appearance. Now she looked to be in her mid-thirties. The unicorn, being immortal, was no older than when they had first seen it.
Tears were streaming down her face and she ran up to Stephen Amber, saying “I couldn’t stop the forest from dying.” She then looked at the party, a vague recollection on her face. “It’s you! It’s been centuries since I last saw you. You made it through the portal then?”
Stephen explained to the party that the transposition from Averoigne to the characters world, the Known World (later known to some players as Mystara) was supposed to have occurred some centuries earlier, but Henri and Catherine’s meddling had upset this somewhat. He would have his work cut out for him to put things back to how he would want it.
Stephen once again thanked the party for breaking the curse and freeing him. He rewarded each party member with a very valuable piece of jewelry and a magic item. He offered to take the party wherever they wished to go, but said that they were more than welcome in the soon-to-be restored Principality of New Averoigne. Dwarves and clerics need not fear the persecution that was evident elsewhere in the Principalities of Glantri, even Simon d’Amberville.
Mazaramus pointed out that Simon was dead. The party had slain him. Stephen said “I’ll have to rectify that as well. Simon can be somewhat adversarial, but he does have his uses in the grand scheme of things.”
Stephen was aware of Mazaramus’ interest in the Seven Secret Crafts of Glantri, and would see what he could do to find a contact that could sponsor him, once he had decided which Craft he was interested in. The same applied to Lithanor if he was interested.
For now, Stephen offered to take the party wherever they wished to go. Between his magic, Aurena in gold dragon form, and the unicorn’s teleport ability, they shouldn’t have too much problem getting the party and their treasure back to civilization.
Oh, and everyone is due for a level up.
No mules were harmed during the playing of this adventure.