Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Vestin Tomb playthrough and revisions


Ran a one-shot at my local brewery via Meetup. Decided that if I wanted to play more, and of what I like, I'm going to have to do it from the opposite side of the table... And the brewery folks (a few who are also players of various games, tabletop and otherwise) were warm on the idea and happy to set a table aside for me.

Since it was my first public play, I wasn't sure who would show up or drop in, so I had a fistful of pre-gens and a couple different scenarios available, depending on party size, player experiences, etc.

I ended up with three folks for the first run-through - A Meetup attendee, a coworker, and my other half. All were reasonably experienced players, and brought prepared Old School Essentials characters (tonight's system of choice). 

I asked the table a few questions to get them thinking of their world and associations or significant events between the characters (to establish that the characters knew one another, and hadn't just met in the tavern...)

I picked The Vestin Tomb as an option for Sunday night's session. A 10-room space, a couple of branches, but linear otherwise, but hopefully some atmosphere.

original map

The PCs were: Frederick (thief), Jax (barbarian, accompanied by Goober, the MVP wardog), and Elorna (halfling). I bumped the new folks to 2nd level, plus threw them a man-at-arms and 1st level mage with a spare scroll for a boost.

Spoilers galore:

The three (and their hangers-on) carefully scouted and entered the cavern, assessing the tracks entering and departing the cave. Goober sniffed the wolf tracks and peed on the cave entrance. Noting the bone pile in the side-cavern, Jax scrambled up and poked around, determining that they were from a recently-departed predator.  She also found the small treasure pouch hidden within. Frederick shined his torch into the next cavern, but didn't see or hear anything of importance.

Continuing down the main corridor, the party found a pool, currently occupied by a orc corpse. Frederick, in good thief fashion, lined it out with his grappling hook, and went through the pockets. Elorna lit a second torch and went full CSI Greyhawk on the corpse and scattered footprints in the sand.

Somehow (DM's bad d6 rolls) this did not awaken the orc guard and his dire wolf until CSI Halfling bumbled into their resting spot. A quick back and forth between the two groups, with the players making consistently poor rolls until Frederick one-shotted the orc. The wolf fled, after leaving the halfling moderately chewed.

What was in that vial, again? The mage confirmed that it was a potion, but not of the healing kind (using detect magic and some arm-waving). Dammit.

With a key recovered from the deceased guard, the party cracked open the tomb door (inscribed with the motto of the Vestin Brotherhood, "We'll leave the light on for you."). Cautious listening detected a subtle rattling, and the mage confirmed that the room was filled with supernatural energies as his detect magic spell faded. The party noped out of there and headed back to the side caverns.

They poked their way through the caverns without incident (no rockfall, and the DM forgot to stage the revived dead party in the caverns. More on that below).

Entering the room with the 'Reaping Angel" statue, enough intimidating description of its visage and sharp wings convinced them all to give it a wide berth. 

And... they were back in the room with the scary sarcophagi. ("Dammit!") Discovering that the bones were noisy, and little else, the party went CSI on the corpse within, and finding the poison dart that led to its demise, investigated an open sarcophagus, finding the mechanism. Jax's prized crowbar and some cautious angles allowed them to open the undisturbed sarcophagus without harm. Recovering the grave goods, the party all but their backs into opening the portcullis, and jamming it open with a sarcophagus lid, continued on.

Hearing the murmurs and chants, they cautiously approached (at this point, we realized all three classes had stealth skills - quite useful for creeping on unaware guards...). Frederick backstabbed one guard, but Elorna's arrow went wide. More frenzied combat ensued as the demon manifested itself in the summoning circle (I rolled a d4 hazard/countdown die and gave the party two rounds before it could leave the circle and wreak havoc). Fortunately, the halfling found her stride, and made a significant hit on the necromancer. Unable to cast spells between multiple hits, he soon fell. 

The demon, now manifested, sneered at the PCs. It looked at them, and then the corpse of the necromancer. "Well, you didn't call me here, he did. And since this place has no hold on me, I will return. But I will take my price." (as it captured the screaming soul of the deceased necromancer.)

The party, shaken, stood in the silent room. Good adventurers, they did remember to go through the necromancer's pockets, at least.

One door left. Open it? Well, we've come this far. Would be a shame. A grotto with a stream and ornate sarcophagus. Must have been the head guy. Luck was with them, and they crossed the stream without incident (or lampreys). Cracking the lid, they were confronted by the skeletal priest. Confirming that the source of the desecration was eliminated, the priest gifted them with his sword and faded away.

The party fled as the caverns rumbled and began to collapse, cinematically bursting from the cavern entrance followed by billowing dust and rock fragments... 

Hey, who's lawful in this group? Oh dang. Only the barbarian.... Heh. 

On the other hand, the 'cursed' ring of protection functioned perfectly fine on the chaotic thief.

So I now have to resolve why Jax would accept a magic sword, and an intelligent one at that. But that's the next session's problem.


OK, a few notes on the adventure. As one does, I found awkward language bits and typos as I ran the party through. So a few fixes there. 

I forgot to place the doomed adventuring party, so they were never encountered. Considering the run-time (around 2 hours), it wasn't a big deal, and the zombies could have caused more trouble than they were worth with respect to the overall scenario. But I'll highlight their placement for the next DM.

I forgot to describe the doors. There are only two, but might as well describe 'em...

I'll add the hazard timer to the demon summoning. As well as better physically describing the demon, so I don't have to do it of the cuff.

Cleaned up a bit of formatting and enlarged the map and font - I had printed the document out booklet-style for table use, so things were a bit cramped. Better for old eyes...

Return to the Tomb here:


  1. Sounds like a great time. Really like the map of the tomb. I like to have underground waterways intersect with such spaces when I can. Often leads to secondary and tertiary spaces to go explore.

    1. Thanks, was good to run. Made notes on the session and my own running.
      And yes, I do grab maps with water. Underground, water is dark and indeterminate, so intimidating even without a hazard ;)