Posted by : David Guyll August 17, 2011
After the party destroyed all the undead, the ghost of a dwarf appeared and asked them to avenge his death (as well as the deaths of all the other victims in the pile of bones). He explained that a dragonborn defiler had killed him, bound his soul, and questioned him about a lost city. After it was clear that he had no worthwhile information, the dragonborn discarded his remains. The party agreed, and shortly after setting out to find the dragonborn's lair hit a hurdle in the form of an insanely complex tile puzzle.
I am generally not a huge fan of puzzles, especially riddles, because I find that they tend to grind the game to a halt as the players spend too long before finally resigning themselves to a score of Intelligence/History checks, or DM mercy. The tile puzzle was 7 x 7 squares and required that a magical circuit pass through four elemental tiles in a specific order before a door would open. Taking a page from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, I allowed them to make Intelligence checks to "solve" one or more tiles, as well as allowing them to bypass the puzzle entirely by foregoing all XP. This would allow them to work at it for the reward, or just say fuck all and keep the adventure going.
After about half an hour, they solve it they did, to the tune of 300 well-deserved XP.
Inside they found what I described as the poor-pharaoh's tomb; a sarcophagus surrounded by a treasure trove with more similarities to a yard-sale than treasure; wooden masks, primitive weapons, clay jars and tablets, tattered rugs, etc. Sardis's nigh-30 Arcana check allowed him to notice an enchanted bone dagger with a scorpion spirit bound to it (+1 poisoned dagger). Once Maximus picked it up however, a skeleton composed of numerous different creatures (bone golem) animated and attacked them, along with a sand golem hidden in the sarcophagus that Jiga easily spotted (and denying me a surprise attack, boo).
After a fairly quick fight, they found a hidden passage behind the sarcophagus. Taking the right passage first, they discovering a cluttered bed chamber with a glass shard that contained a faint glimmer of intelligence, but at least had the capacity to store magic (obsidian spellshard). The final tunnel lead to one-part arcane lab and one-part operating room, complete with the dead body of a dragonborn. Once they approached it, the dragonborn's ghost appeared and started hurling shadowy bolts. They beat it down easily enough (especially considering that the obsidian spellshard granted necrotic resistance), causing it to take refuge in its corpse which animated as a zombie until they destroyed it, forcing the ghost to reappear for a final showdown.
I gotta say that I am so glad that I read Ghost Story before running this fight, as Jim Butcher provided some great description on ghosts becoming damaged and destroyed. Anyway, once the ghost was destroyed they relived its final memories, in which the dragonborn informed a genasi with festering green markings of the location of something in the Giant's Rib Mountains, before promptly being murdered. Unfortunately we stopped here, but at least the characters are now privvy to something larger afoot. Hopefully all this talk of a lost city will usher them in the right direction once they get their asses out of Balic.