Tomb of Horrors

The Last Astral Engine

The Heroes attuned the newly acquired gems to their respective locations on the crowned skull of Nerull. Upon placing the first gem, an Aspect of Nerull was summoned. The heroes handled the challenge ably and quickly resumed placing the gems. As the last gem was attuned to its place a portal opened in the skull’s mouth and the gems drained of their energy leaving astral diamonds as residue. The heroes gathered themselves and entered the mouth of the skull for another location.
The trip was brief, but shocking. They arrived in the chamber of the last Astral Engine, the focus point for the essences of the dead gods in this grand tomb. Rising under the engine was a God-Golem, the residence for the spirit of Acererak . The Heroes attacked and kept their enemy stunned and off balance. They quickly destroyed the construct made from the parts of dead gods.
Over the slain body of the God-Golem hung the Astral Engine about to explode with rampant unfocused power now absent of the influence of Acererak. The Heroes combined their arcane and religious powers to disable the engine and destroy Acererak‘s phylactery. The engine and the chamber grew cold and dark as the power faded away. After a short time of investigation, the Heroes realized their victory was hollow. Though Acererak’s body and phylactery were destroyed, the essence of the demilich and its true body were still missing. They knew that it would take days for the demilich to create a new phylactery which gave them some time to hunt it down and possibly destroy it permanently. The hunt was on once again.
The Heroes left the Necromanteion and entered the ruins of Pluton. They were met there by servants of the Raven Queen. The dark mistress was pleased that Acererak was driven from her adopted home. In return for their service the Heroes were given free and safe passage to Sigil. In the City of Doors, the Heroes consulted every Diviner and Sage they could find. The way forward however, was clouded in terrible power and the Heroes were left with only one clue…“The broken skull lairs once more beneath the broken skull.”

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Bringing Back the Dead

The Heroes quickly defeated the Eladrin sorcerer Hethsporad, though escaped into the Feywild swearing vengeance. After securing the fifth gem, the heroes returned to the chamber dedicated to Nerull and continue to try portals. A series of portal jumps demonstrated to them that Nerull’s chamber connected to everyplace in the Dead God’s Tomb that they had been so far, even if the path back was not direct. Two new rooms were discovered. One was back to the Tomb of Horrors contained underneath Skull City that contained nothing. The second was to a room in the Shadowfell that contained shelves of crumbling artifacts and the sixth gem. After retrieving the final gem, the heroes were set upon by ancient ghosts and a trap filling the room with necrotic ooze. The adventurers managed to escape before drowning in the black ooze. They gathered their resources, rested and raised Tanner back from Pelor’s side to join them in the next stage of their quest. They now needed to discover the function of the gems they had worked so hard to obtain.

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Mapping the Tomb

The Heroes, their party forged anew, began to hop portals from one location to another in an effort to map the tomb. The greatest excitement occurred when they found a band of devils led by a Vampire Lord Berserker. They quickly dispatched the devils and were able to easily overcome the Vampire Lord once they were able to put their numbers to bear. However, it was the forgotten god for whom the room was made that provided them the greatest challenge. A brightly glowing pool in the center of the room was host to the fading spirit of He Who Was. The old god demanded fealty from those who battled in the room and punished those who would not offer sincere prayer. Saint Tanner would offer allegiance to no god but Pelor. He Who Was crushed the life from his body for this perceived transgression. Tanner’s body settled to the ground in gentle repose. His face was serene and his wounds began to slowly heal, but his soul was no longer attached to his mortal remains. The party moved his remains with honor with the assumption that Tanner continued to serve at Pelor’s side until they could resurrect him.
The Heroes ventured on and reached the limits of the portals they could travel. After wandering for a bit, they discovered a portal hidden at the bottom of the slime pit that once held the giant ooze that attempted to devour them during the battle with multiple gods’ aspects. This portal led them to a room dedicated to Nerul that seemed to house locations for the deposit of the gems that seemed to be a feature of the rooms they were traveling amongst. Realising they possessed only four gems and there seemed to be places for six, they decided to try additional portals. In Nerul’s chamber there were more portals than the number of rooms they visited previously. The resumed the search for these powerful gems.
The first portal they tried brought them to a new room with a curious inhabitant. An boisterous Eladrin greeted them with an offer that if they defeated him in a game he would award them the gem stored in this chamber. The game did not go well for the Eladrin Hethosparad and at the conclusion of the Heroes celebration of victory, he attacked!

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Aspected Battle Royale

The Heroes divided their forces into two teams knowing they could do more damage that way. The first team comprised of the Ranger, Human Cleric, Fighter, and Rogue, launched themselves into a portal and found themselves transported to a small shrine to a god of war and conflict. The floor was littered with the weapons and corpses of Legion Devils and combatants from the passing ages. Standing amongst the carnage were animated constructs of the weapons and armor of the fallen. The constructs quickly attacked the new arrivals. The constructs of swords and shields proved to be of little concern compared to the whirlwind blenders of weapon shards. The team barely survived the carnage but emerged victorious and decided to rest in order to heal their wounds and recover their powers.
The other team consisting of the Paladin, Dwarven Cleric, Wizard, and Shapeshifter, walked through a portal to find themselves in a frigid, tapestry covered shrine to a god of holy justice and slayer of demonic foes. The heroes found only the remains of the slain god Amoth, in the form of a pile of frozen bone shards. On top of the pile of bones was a glowing gem that appeared to be siphoning arcane energy from the chamber to somewhere else. The team acquired the gem at personal cost to the wizard, but unknown to them, they woke a slumbering threat. The team moved through another portal before their doom would awake. on the other side of the newest portal, they discovered a Cult excursion lead by an Aspect of Vecna. The battle with the cultists of Vecna was interrupted with the arrival of the Aspects of Orcus and Demogorgon who awoke in the previous room and followed them through the portal. At the same time a great green ooze that was thought to be a pool in the middle of the rotting chamber animated and moved to attack any living creature. The Aspects of Vecna, Orcus, and Demogorgon fought each other and the heroes in a swirling melee and explosion of magical powers. The battle was an epic saga in the flesh. Once again our heroes were victorious and gained another gem, though the purpose of the gems remained unclear. The team walked through a portal into the chamber of the god of war and the Heroes were once again reunited. They rested together and determined their next sortie into the godly tombs of Pluton

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By the Power of Castle Black Skull!

The Heroes arrive in Pluton and waste no time charging ahead to do battle with the undead hordes waiting in the shadow of Nerull‘s fortress, Necromanteion. They discover that in addition to the powerful undead creatures, the very environment of Pluton is hazardous to their continued existence. They battled through fields of blades that rose to attack them and areas covered in red mist that tried to kill them from within. They battled hordes of undead creatures attempting to rebuild the monuments to their master in death, Nerull.
As they reached the literal mouth of the Necromanteion, they encountered an assault party of Devils who were branded with the symbol of Vecna adding another mystery to their quest.
Once they penetrated the gates of the fortress, they entered the abandoned throne room of Nerull. Three portals stood active in the hall, heavily warded to protect them from intruders. The throne itself held tempting treasure. The party’s thief risked death or professional humiliation and recovered nine black sapphires, an orb of drastic resolutions (+5), and a gem of opening. In doing so he also triggered a message from their deadly host:
The old gods fall, and from their blood, I rise
Lay waste to all that I despise
And when I shred your souls
Drink deep your lives
I hear you scream for mercy
Beg surcease
Entreat your faithless gods for death’s release.
But all the gods whose fealty you swear
Cannot protect you here
And like the dead gods who now do my will
Your fallen gods before my god-king’s throne shall kneel.
The God of Mercy, gone to dust
Now metes out justice I decree.
The God of War, betrayed by blood,
Takes up my dread authority.
The Nameless God who chaos felled
Bequeaths his name and power to me.
The worlds within this world within
Shall fall like every world I see.
And at the end of all that is
The God of Death who death possessed
Stands in my thrall like all the rest.
Your fools’ valor leaves you helpless now
And all the choice last left to you
Is to decide which dead god’s shrine
Will be the final thing you see—
Which dead god now defends the path to me.
The God of Undeath, crowned anew
The God of Death whose name you fear
I am Acererak
Your feeble lives end here.

The Heroes steeled themselves, broke down the wards to the portals, and split their party to surge forth and begin the next stage in their defeat of Acererak’s plans. Victory or Undeath!

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Undeath in the Vault of Betrayal

The Heroes move forward and discover a gravity defying room housing a deadly gargoyle. After a short period they adapted to the room where every wall was a floor and to move too quickly meant a tumble and fall to another wall. The Heroes quickly overcame the gargoyle and discovered a movable pedestal that opened into a tunnel. The tunnel lead to an alter and a hidden, trapped floor. The floor gave way and dropped some of our Heroes ninety feet to a painful and sudden stop. Just as the Heroes began to recover, the trap unveiled a sinister surprise when the ceiling also fell on them. All survived, however, and they discovered an opening in the central pillar holding the altar revealing another tunnel.
The tunnel led to the heart of Moghadam‘s vault of betrayal. After a hard fought battle the Heroes overcame the evil shadow of Acererak’s architect. Moghadam‘s sword and Ruinblade was recovered and the Heroes carefully considered adopting the weapon to aid them in their quest. They also discovered Moghadam’s library containing a treasure trove of information of Acererak‘s plans.
In his madness, Moghadam gained an understanding of what Acererak’s betrayal implied for the demilich’s future plans. Epic rituals drained the original Tomb of Horrors turning it into the Abandoned Tomb. Acererak drained away eldritch essence underlying centuries of terror to fuel his dark plots. The full nature of those plots remains unknown, but Acererak‘s ambition has grown since his failed apotheosis. Where once he yearned for godlike power, he believes now that he can become something greater.
The demilich’s eldritch engines tap into planar energy. The fey engines stole the burgeoning life energy native to the Feywild. The larger engine in the Shadow Tomb tapped into the essence of death in the deepest Shadowfell. Acererak‘s plan now rests on the creation of one final eldritch engine — this one designed to steal enough energy to elevate Acererak to godhoood. Moghadam believed that this engine would be set in the Astral Sea, but he had no knowledge of where it would be built or when its construction would begin.
With heads full of knowledge and packs full of plunder the Heroes left the Abandoned Tomb. They packed up a bejeweled skull (35,000 gp), a staff of storms +4, a guardian’s cape +4, an Ioun stone of perfect language, a deadblast bone, and 100 pounds (54,000 gp) of materials and scrolls. The Heroes descended into Skull City and reunited with the Skullbreakers at the Haven after minor encounters with the persistent denizens of the undead city. The Heroes shared the story of their adventures and let the Skullbreakers examine the lore they secured from the tomb. Though they were pleased at the possible destruction of such a powerful evil being, the Skullbreakers could not give the Heroes any more information to continue their quest to stop the machinations of Acererak.
With lack of leads or a way to escape Skull City, the Heroes settled into a routine of searching patrols of the city and the surrounding landscape in an attempt to find a way out. After a few weeks the Heroes were set upon by a band of shadar-kai. The band of assassins resembled those the Heroes encountered before in the Shadow Tomb. The assassins did not directly attack the Heroes, but identified themselves as servants of the Raven Queen and bid them to travel with them as their mistress had a task for them. After no small amount of convincing, and the promise of transportation from Skull City, the Heroes departed with the assassins through a planar portal. The Heroes found themselves in the legendary city of Sigil. The assassins would not allow them to wander and explore, however, as time was of the essence. The Heroes were led to an out of the way location in a winding maze of alleys. In a room draped in mysterious darkness, the Heroes were greeted by an Avatar of the Raven Queen. The Avatar expressed the Raven Queen’s displeasure at Acererak‘s presumptive attempt at apotheosis and the effect it could have on the planes, not to mention his violation of her realm in the Shadowfell. The Avatar invited the Heroes to pursue and defeat Acererak and in return for the service would grant them boons in the form of magical equipment and improved powers as well as transportation to a location identified by other servants as place where Acererak’s servants are at work. Realizing there was little negotiation possible with an Avatar of a god, especially one of the Raven Queen, the Heroes agreed. The Heroes were then introduced to two new companions also selected by the Raven Queen’s servants to join them on their quest. The team was joined by a Half-Orc Rogue and a Dwarven Cleric. After a brief exchange of equipment with the Avatar’s handmaidens, the Heroes were led to a planar door. The Heroes passed through the portal and arrived in Pluton…

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Grottos and Twins

The Heroes enter a grotto and encounter a fine golden yellow mist. Suspicious of mists in all their forms, Galinn attempts a dispel that eliminates the mist and its charm magic. The Heroes discover a female eladrin who was imprisoned in the grotto and used by the charm magic as a dangerous foe for visitors to the tomb. As a reward for freeing her, she gives the heroes a key and directions a hidden passage in the chapel of the tomb. The Heroes take two keys discovered in the tomb and use them to open the chapel’s hidden passage. The passage leads to a pillared hall with a face of the Devourer. The Heroes trigger a trap manifesting evil simulacrums of themselves that they must defeat in order to survive. Galinn and Mal work together to arcanely defeat the trap. Behind the Devourer the Heroes discover another passage into darkness…

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Animated Remains

The Heroes wandered through a largely abandoned dungeon and came upon a mummification laboratory. After a brief search of the room, the Heroes were attacked by a sextet of shambling mummies. The Paladin narrowly avoided contracting mummy rot and otherwise the Heroes were largely unharmed in the encounter. Upon a search of the laboratory the Heroes found a silver trinket resembling a sword shaped key. They searched more of the dungeon finding numerous open doors, an abandoned pillared hall and discovered a partially natural grotto filled with water and a yellow mist. The Heroes prepared themselves to enter the unfamiliar environ…

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An Insubstantial Choir

The Heroes delved into the Abandoned Tomb after many distractions to attempt to find Moghadam. Despite the tales of deadly traps and monsters, the Heroes were surprised by the emptiness of the dungeon. Spike pits were left uncovered, doors left unlocked and untrapped. Secret doors, easily found, led to other secret doors seemingly with no purpose. They finally stumbled upon an abandoned shrine to unknown and forgotten powers. Initially, nothing of interest caught their attention until they were ambushed by the insubstantial conglomeration of tortured souls intent on devouring the Heroes’ essence. The battle was hard fought, but the Heroes prevailed. After a short rest, they determined they would continue the search.

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Return to the Abandoned Tomb
The Heroes interrogated the corpse of the witch the townspeople of Huntress burned. Through repeated castings of their Speak with Dead rituals, the Heroes discovered that the witch was actually a woman who felt discriminated and mistreated as a newcomer to the village. In an attempt to gain vengeance upon those who visited harm upon her she cast a ritual and called forth a creature from the Astral plane. The creature helped the woman punish those in the town who were mean to her, but did so in a very brutal manner. The creature attacked in the middle of the night and erected a tree of the bones and tongues of the transgressors. The townspeople of Huntress, suffering under the astral creature’s threat, decided to take action and kill the witch. They rose up, flayed her, dismembered her, and burned her remains. They did not bury her heart, however, leaving out an important act required to banish the creature and end their curse. Instead of removing the threat, the astral terror was set free of the witch’s control and continued to follow the letter of her instructions in her absence. The town continued to suffer in terror. The Heroes took action and buried the woman’s still beating and bleeding heart. The act summoned the astral creature in a weakened state. Now lacking its invisible nature, the creature called forth its horrible tree, made from the bones of thieves and the tongues of the weak, to attack the heroes as well. After a hard fought battle, the heroes prevailed and put the spirit of the witch and the fear of the town to rest. By defeating the creature, the Heroes also restored the portal they were traveling through to working condition. In the aftermath of the battle the heroes were able to attain a Cloak of Invisibility +5 and an Amulet of Protection +5 Although the terror was defeated the fear and hopelessness of the villagers remained. It was not a magical effect, but one earned from long subjugation to terror. Although waylaid by a portal mis-transfer like the Heroes, Dragoon volunteered to stay behind and further protect and guide the town back to health and prosperity. After a period of rest and recuperation, the Heroes revived their two companions trapped in their tapestry prisons. The heroes said their goodbyes to the town of Huntress, and walked back to the edge of the settlement and disappeared again into a portal to continue their sworn quest. They arrived painfully in a new location. The Heroes fell awkwardly from a stone wall, as the exit of the portal was not oriented the same as the entrance. The Heroes fall on and over each other and rolled to the stone floor. The hallway they appeared in was completely dark, lit only by the Heroes’ magical items. Several pits gaped open along this long hall, and bent, corroded spikes adorned the bottom of each one. Decaying murals and paintings on the walls hinted at humanoid shapes. Despite the current scraped condition of the floor, several sections had the remains of designs and inscriptions. One corridor led off to the west, and its position required them to bypass one of the pits to reach it. They had seen this hallway before in one of the many cross planar visions that occurred during their time in the Garden of Graves.

The Heroes reached the Abandoned Tomb, and it finally looked more like a Tomb of Horrors

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