We return to our heroes contemplating their next move in the temple on Taboo Island. The first thing they noticed was that Kilos Battlebrand was gone, but Pat was there in his place. One might speculate that they are one in the same, since it is rare for them both to appear in the same place at the same time. Finias Jinx was also gone, having flown away after consuming a potion they found in one of the upper rooms on a whim (thinking it might heal him). They could only wonder where he went. They decided to press on and passed through the mouth of the large carved face; they could see a corridor beyond. Before they headed down the corridor, however, Wikki pulled out one of his scrolls (acquired in the Haunted Mansion in Saltmarsh) and animated nine skeletons from the remains of the BBQed tribesmen.
After fifty feet or so, the corridor turned and led to a set of stairs. The stairs, however, led only to a rough stone wall. The wall did not appear to be part of the original construction of the temple. They searched and searched, but were unable to find a secret door and concluded they couldn’t get past the wall. They headed back to the secret room from which they inadvertantly incinerated everyone and everything in the great chamber and passed through the floor opening Wikki found earlier.
Wikki used his skeletons to attack the four snakes coiled around the statues, sighing with relief when the snakes starting spitting venom into the eyes of the skeletons. The bony undead made short work of the reptilian menaces, but as he ordered them to move down the corridor out of the way, they triggered a pressure plate in the floor, causing a portcullis to crash down, trapping them in the room. Our intrepid heroes searched the room thoroughly, but were unable to find any secret exits or retraction mechanisms (though they did find a small gem at the base of one of the statues). Fortunately, brute strength was sufficient to lift the portcullis and they could hear the clanking of a ratcheting mechanism that kept it raised once they got it up.
As they explored the corridor beyond the statue room, they were concerned by a series of holes on the wall near the floor. They were unable to ascertain their purpose, but were convinced it wasn’t good. Herrick suggested that perhaps they could use skulls from the burned children upstairs to plug the holes, but that suggestion was quickly dismissed and they pressed on. The corridor stretched on longer than any other they’d explored so far, ending in a right turn that led to a door. In front of the door, was a ten foot-wide circular shaft of stone. They could hear bubbling at the bottom, but could see nothing. Wikki’s infravision revealed the presence of something quite hot, though it was definitely not lava. They decided to circumvent the hole and open the door.
Beyond the door, lay another corridor. To their left, stairs went down. To their right, another portcullis, beyond which was a door. Our heroes elected to raise the portcullis. Brute strength once again prevailed, and two of them held the portcullis up while Herrick removed the door near the shaft from its hinges. He initially wanted to lay it across the shaft, in case they needed to quickly retreat that way, but it was easy to see the door wasn’t long enough. Instead, he used it to brace the portcullis in the up position, since there seemed to be no mechanical means with which to do so.
The door beyond the portcullis was damp and swollen. They decided to let the portcullis down before forcing the door open. When they opened the door, a deluge of water gushed force. Were it not for the portcullis, they would have been washed down the stair, or worse, down the circular shaft in the other room. When the rush of water subsided, the room (and corridor) was still knee-deep to a human. Wikki sent two skeletons ahead into the room to scout. Herrick and Pat followed behind. Halfway across the room, the skeletons tripped, sending a spray of an oily liquid across the room from the walls. The liquid ignited upon contact with the water. Pat dove under the water in time, but Herrick was coated in the flammable substance and went up in flames. He submerged in an attempt drown the flames, but the substance continued to burn under water. Lorelei smothered his flames with her cloak, minimizing the damage he sustained. The two skeletons were incinerated.
Using the door as a flotation device, Herrick paddled across the room to the other door. It, too, was swollen with water. When he got it open, he was greeted with another gush of water, though not nearly as strong or long-lasting as before. A corridor lay behind, so the party pressed forward. More holes were along the walls of this corridor, near the water line. As they approached, a horde of giant rats swarmed out and began to attack them. While they made short work of the unusually large rodents, Wikki was bitten severely and the wound began to fester almost immediately*.
They continued down the flooded corridor to a dead end. This time, they found a secret door. The room beyond was vast, and filled with murky water. A large passageway was at the opposite side of the room and appeared to be choked with rubble. Along the same wall, about three-quarters across the room was another door. They explored a bit and found stairs that descended, discovering that at the bottom, the water would be well over the head of the tallest member. They retreated back to the secret door and formulated a plan to use the three doors they’d found so far as rafts. So, they backtracked and removed the other two doors from their hinges and began to float across the room toward the large passageway. Wikki stayed in the shallow water to cover them with his bow.
Three large sharks attacked as Herrick, Pat, and Lorelei reached the center of the room. The vicious fish swam around the rafts at great speeds, leaping out to attack what was probably the first fresh meat they’d had in a long while**. Herrick’s was the first raft upended by the sharks. Since he was wearing plate mail, he sank like a stone while a shark continued to attack him. Between the shark biting him and the water filling his lungs (there were rolls for that), he didn’t last long. Lorelei’s raft was upended next, and she met a horrible fate in the jaws of a shark, as it leapt out of the water at her mere feet from the safety of the shallow water Pat made it back to the shallow water, seriously wounded, but between her and Wikki’s arrows, they managed to kill the shark attacking her.
Battered and beaten, the surviving members of the party regrouped with the skeletons they left behind in the statue room. Pat the Dwarf elected to stay with the tribesmen, living an idyllic life of fishing and eating fish and drinking.
Sadly, I short-changed my players and screwed up the final room for this session. The point at which they entered through the secret door contained a giant oyster containing the very black pearl they’d been seeking. Somehow, in my excitement surrounding the sharks, I missed that part of the description. Still, I shall grant it to them as though they’d found it, along with the other treasure in the rooms they missed.
This session was nearly a TPK because of the rather illogically place sharks (see the second note below). During the session’s epilogue, Wikki managed to get a Cure Disease cast upon him by the village witch doctor (it was his only third level spell; had the witch doctor not had it, Wikki would’ve joined the ranks of the dead (see first note below). As a group, we decided to move forward to the mid-level Basic D&D Phase of Doctor StrangeRoll. Everyone will advance to 35,000 XP (or create new characters at that level) and “Lucky” Copperpot’s caravan will depart Saltmarsh for his next destination with Wikki Swiftwind, Finias Jinx, Kilos Battlebrand and three new companions. I gave them the list of mid-level adventures I had and as a group, we decided where to head next: The Desert of Desolation.
The missed treasure from the temple on Taboo Island will be added to the list of items they can choose from when we begin the next adventure, part 1 of the Desert of Desoloation series, I3: Pharaoh.
Basic D&D is pretty deadly. We briefly discussed how there were more options and more ways to mitigate death in future editions. I think it’s still more forgiving than AD&D, but time will tell when we start Phase Two.
*FIRST NOTE: This was a disease he caught. There was 1-in-20 chance to catch the disease. I chose “High” and rolled a 20. There was an incubation period of 1-6 days, I rolled a 6. There was a 1-in-4 chance of dying from it (otherwise you’d be sick & incapacitated for 30 days), I chose “Low” and rolled a 1. I did inform the player that he would be increasingly ill over the next six days with no real detriment to his abilities, but after that, he would be dead unless he could find a cure before that time…yeah, I could’ve just described it over the next six days worth of sessions and then had him drop dead on the sixth day if he didn’t find a cure disease, but the Doctor StrangeRoll campaign is about having fun with all the editions, not seeing how much of a hard-ass I can be.
**SECOND NOTE: Honestly, I’m not sure where three 12′ mako sharks were getting enough food to sustain them in a room that was essentially locked off from the rest of the temple complex. The tribesmen from above weren’t coming down here (they’re the ones that bricked up the corridor upstairs, and all signs indicated that it happened a LONG time ago. The rats couldn’t get through the secret door and there was no indication that their tunnels entered this room. But, that’s the way these old modules were…monster ecology didn’t really enter into it. I suppose we could assume the sharks made their way into this room via underground rivers…but Taboo Island is one of the highest points on the Isle of Dread, so really, they’d have no way to even get to the lake in the caldera and enter the temple anyway. *sings MST3K theme* Just repeat to yourself it’s just a game, I should really just relax.