With week 8 we surpass the half-way mark of our journey through Dark Sun. The players began the adventure this week having discovered a shaft of worked stone leading down into darkness. There were handy rings set around its rim for the attachment of ropes or other climbing devices. The torch they tossed down landed 25 ft below in a dusty shallow pool. The room seemed very old and undisturbed.
Soon the party descended. I quickly described how after the first to go down reached the bottom, he was afraid to move much or disturb anything until the rest were down. The room was made out of yellow stone blocks, 5 feet square. The floor was made out of the same size paving blocks, but each of the stones was at a slightly different level, making the footing not quite difficult terrain, but still worrisome. Pak Cha, with his supernatural insectoid perception, was able to spot with his 100 eyes, a tile adjacent to him that was elevated slightly higher than the rest. None of the rest of the party had high enough passive perception to automatically spot any other squares.
I described the rest of the room, starting with the broken fountain – a monstrous head whose mouth was caked with dust, and likewise filled the shallow pool with its 2 ft high walls. Then there were the huge stone braziers, that looked like unburnt coals were piled in each, but remained unburned. Against one wall was a fallen over rack of relics and runes of various nature, many of them trimmed with glittering amethyst. Finally, there were two stone tables at each end of the chamber, and upon each of the four tables lay an incredibly ancient cloth-wrapped mummy. Phye immediately moved to investigate. In doing so, he stepped on a tile that shifted under his weight. He heard a rumbling against the back wall, and suddenly an obsidian spear shot out at him, narrowly missing. As he stepped up to the stone table the mummy sat up, the cloths falling away to dust, to reveal a strange being crafted of sand and shards of obsidian. It opened its mouth to say “You have dared to desecrate our tomb – for that you must die!” or something of the like.
The spear trap reset and fired a second time at Phye. Then it was Pak Chas turn, who was about to find out that the trap may have been sprung, but was still functioning. Stepping upon the previously discovered pressure plate, he was dismayed to hear a grinding of gears and a spear to shoot out at him. It struck him, and its blade was poisoned to cause additional pain and agony.
Aside: This led to a lengthy discussion to the nature of the trap. I will hereby, for the edification of all, note the specific mechanics of the trap as I interpret it, and as described by the adventure, and with additional author clarification on the publishers forums. The trap has certain pressure plates (DC 17 to locate, or 14 if adjacent) If the plate is stepped on, the trap activates, firing as an immediate interrupt at whoever stepped on the plate. It then begins on the initiative count directly after the player who activated it. On its turn, it will fire at everyone who is standing on a pressure plate, and it will also track and fire upon the last person it targeted. In addition to this it STILL will fire, as an immediate interrupt, anyone who is unfortunate enough to uncover a new plate by stepping on it, though its placement in initiative order will remain static. Simple, right? Flavorfully, it was described as there being three slots in the far wall. Trundling between them was a magical spear chucker, like an arcane ballista maybe, able to target any square in the room.
The trap could be disabled, and Jarvis made it his goal to do just that. on his first move, he purposefully stepped on a square to provoke the spear chucker, then used his special retaliation power to ignite it in flames. This reduced the traps effectiveness (-2 to hit) and counted as 1 of 3 successes to disable it. By this time, the trap had fired 5 spears and only made a clunking sound when it should have fired. There were four crystal golems in the room. The first was made of sand and obsidian shards. He pummeled at Yuka wgho rushed forward and used his Athasian wrestling skills to grapple with it and hold it in place. The crystal golem became agitated when the obsidain spear trap ran ot of ammo. Standing against the wall next to each trap opening was a bundle of 5 more spears. The obsidian golem seemed to want to get to those bundles, though Yuka held him in place.
The trap was never to fire again, thanks to Yuka keeping the golem from reloading, until Jarvix had the chance to reach in and using his arcane skills he disrupted it some more. A thrust of a spear deep into its inner workings stopped the trap once and for all.
The second golem was made up of sand and chunks of uncut emerald, and he charged forward to the area of the dusty pool to pummel about him with his great crystalline fists. He opened his emerald lined maw to utter a silent scream – waves of psychic energy knocked back Kindrock and Morg, dazing them. They retaliated with the brute force they are known for, and these two power houses tore down the crystal golems one by one. Devastating strikes shook the chambers, and Kindrock was able to make plenty of melee basic attacks against those he had marked. Soon the third golem, this one was composed of uncut amethysts and agates, joined the fight with the two blood-bathed warriors while trying to cross the room.
Crystal fists flew, great axes chopped, then suddenly time seemed to stop as a thrust by Phye against the fourth golem, this one composed of ruby fragments, went awry with a natural one. This was the magic spear discovered earlier, but that didnt stop Steve from deciding to use reckless breakage and re-roll the attack. The missed attack twisted and struck true, hitting the golem, but snapping the blade from the haft. That was a moment of greatness.
Incidentally I play with the rule that a magic weapon can be mended during a five minute rest, so he only lost the weapon for the duration of the battle, however, I want to say that he had already decided to sacrifice the spear before I explained the house rule, moment of greatness indeed. My rule was originally going to be that you had to use the mend ritual, but since no one had it, that was pointless. It is the rule in my home campaign, however. I am assuing the campaign guide will elucidate us on the affect of reckless breakage against magic items, which Im sure must have some way to survive.
Meanwhile the Mantis Shaman faced down the ruby golem, as it made straight for him. The fought toe to toe as the thri kreen managed to light first one brazier (dimming the fire in the ruby golems eyes) then finally he managed to light the second fire. When this happened, half the sand supporting the Ruby Crystal Golem drained away, leaving a bloodied foe. At almost the same time, the obsidian golem suffered the same fate. However, both the emerald golem and the amethyst golem were both dealt with the old fashioned way, in bloody combat.
It leads one to ponder how the emerald and agate crystal golems might have become weakened through subterfuge rather than
The party was victorious and scooped up 175 gp value worth of uncut gems afterwards, as well as some ancient ceramic coins painted with dull gold lacquer. It was a challenging battle, made tougher bay doubling the number of golems, and by wild usage of the spear trap. Some of the players may have skeptical of the trap, and I can see that point, but I stand by it as suitably awesome. Its magic after all.