After defeating a corridor full of zombies, our heroes decided to find a relatively safe location and rest for a bit. They returned to the secret door and fortified their position well enough to enjoy a brief respite. After their rest, the returned to their search for an exit.
The winding, maze-like corridors eventually led them to a room with two perfectly preserved bodies. When disturbed, the man and woman sprang to life, challenging the explorers first in Olmec, then in an antiquated form of common. They demanded a tribute for having had their glorious sleep disturbed. Dissatisfied with the party’s meager offerings, the two attacked.
Herrick chose to not deliver a fatal blow to the woman after they defeated her companion, hoping to interrogate her. Having been asleep for several thousand years, due to the silver powder they found near the pair, she, one of the Nacehual, or Achieved Ones, provided little useful information. The party did learn the name of the location onto which they stumbled, however: the shrine of Zotzihaaha in Tamoachan.
Having established that they were under in a sunken city from a long-vanished civilization, they agreed to let the monk return to her sleep, following her instructions to do so. More exploration revealed what appeared to be a tomb with dozens of statues in various states of disarray. Brief searching of the tomb revealed a few trinkets, but nothing else. Then continued their delving, eventually finding a route to a higher level. Through cautious exploration and clever planning, the party avoided traps which might have led to their untimely deaths.
When they arrived at a chamber dominated by a life-sized statue of a cat-man, an unsettled feeling came over them. They carefully searched until they found a secret door leading to a small, sloped passageway. Leaving the statue and various other curiosities in the room untouched, they prepared to investigate the chute….
I didn’t expect the PCs to try to interrogate the formerly-sleeping monk, and as always, I was hideously poor at handling the situation. I could have used it as an opportunity to drop some decent history, but I wasn’t really ready for that since I literally dropped this whole location into their adventure as a way to get back into D&D after the hiatus caused by moving.
“The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan” (the classic AD&D adventure updated & reprinted in Tales from the Yawning Portal) fits pretty seamlessly into Tomb of Annihilation, though. It feels like a location that COULD be buried underneath the jungles of Chult (or the Amedio Jungle, since my version of the Tomb is in Greyhawk. In fact, until I wrote this (if any of my players read this far), I’ll bet they thought it was actually part of the Tomb of Annihilation book. This whole side-trek does serve a useful purpose in the overall ToA adventure, though; my PCs are speeding through the content too fast and while ToA is “supposed” to be deadly, I don’t want to say “Hey, suddenly you gain 3 levels” nor do I want to just have a dinosaur eat them because they beelined for the end game before they were ready. My players gamely bought into the “There’s a time sensitive curse and you only have X days before WE ALL DIE HORRIBLY FOREVER AND EVER” hook, perhaps taking it a little more seriously than the adventure writers expected (and that’s on the writers, not my players; don’t design your adventure around such a time sensitive hook if you really want things to be a wide-open sandbox). It’s fine with me. I’m not going to force them to take their time if they want to speed to the Save the World part. I do plan on giving them the tools to have a fighting chance, though.
Due to a player absence, this will be our last Tomb of Annihilation session until after we all return from Gen Con. We’re going to revisit our Blades in the Dark characters at the next session. Uxorious Gethsemane-Prince, the Crimson Crow, will scheme again!