PF: This Dungeons and Dragons story comes from an adventurers league game, when I ran Tomb of Annihilation from an encounter involving a seemingly inconspicuous Obelisk. My Adventure' s League group is about 60 people- nine of which are GM's which get broken down into tables with 6 or 7 players. The groups are synchronized so they run through the same encounters session to session. That way after the game is over They can all complain about the same stuff they ran into. The Tomb of Annihilation module takes place in the continent of Chult, with the characters running around doing various missions. The actual tomb in the name doesn't come until the end, and its full name is "The Tomb of the Nine Gods". It was built by a necromancer that traveled through the Multiverse; Acererak, who had managed to hunt
down and murder the Nine Gods of Old and entombed them there. Before most games we have a GM meeting where we sit down and talk about the upcoming session in order to make sure we're all on the same page. This night was important, because the players had actually managed to arrive at the tomb. We're talking about how to try and sell the dungeon's a real and dangerous place. GM1: Yeah, the tombs really deadly. There's a lot of instant death traps and some pretty- High-End encounters are statted out. I mean- Did you guys see what's in that obelisk? PF: What he was referring to was we were given a sheet which was a summary of the various encounters and their XP cost, and on the sheet, there was one encounter labeled, "The Obelisk Encounter" In our campaign notes was an asterisk saying: WARNING DO NOT RUN THIS ENCOUNTER UNLESS YOUR PARTY SPECIFICALLY KNOCKS OVER THE OBELISK!! IF THEY DO THEY, THEY'RE JUST ASKING TO DIE QUICKLY AND HIDEOUSLY! The Obelisk they're referring to was just outside the Tomb of the Nine Gods. There's this empty courtyard there with short grass and some ruins. The area is- pretty boring. There's not a whole lot to find. Sitting in the center is this nondescript obelisk with a plaque on it. What's supposed to happen, Is that the players go past the obelisk see that there's some writing, they read it and just keep walking. However, it says that if the players push the obelisk over it would trigger a separate encounter. HGM: "We're not supposed to be running it," The Head GM explained. "I mean, in order for the players to encounter that- 'thing' They will first have to cast identify on the obelisk, which I mean, let's be perfectly honest- Why would they? And then they would have to decide: 'Oh, hey, let's break this rock and then try to knock it over'. Let's be real, that's probably not gonna happen." And we all start laughing! It's a joke! Jokes are funny. I like jokes. GM1: "Yeah, but- What if they do though?" [sigh] HGM: "If they do, You have my permission to murder your entire table's characters. Don't hold back because at that point they're just asking to die." PF: The head GM gave a disclaimer to the players before the game started: HGM: "We are in the Tomb of the Nine Gods, now Acererak's Dungeon, it's do or die. The GM's have been asked to print out extra character sheets and bring them to the games so that if you die you can just get a new one. There are some things, in this dungeon, that can instantly kill you. This is your warning. You're on your own now. Your fates are in your own hands." So we begin play. All the tables are going through the same area and everything "seems" to be going fine They're trying to solve a puzzle door, They read the plaque on the obelisk, and they walk through the courtyard, and proceed on to the next section. *Heavy Sigh* Then- comes to my table, they solve the puzzle door and are on to the next section * stammering* Start heading off to the dungeon. And then, for god knows WHAT reason, The halfling Bard decides to double back around to the courtyard and says, hB: "You know, I'm gonna cast Identify in that obelisk." PF: Sure, I say. And I tell the halfling that as he stares at the stone for a while, he's suddenly taken aback. It almost seemed like there was something in the stone staring back at him. Something watching him. Something with powerful magical energy and that there is an entity trapped within this stone work And he can see a flash of eyes there for a second. And he has to make a save against being frightened. Then our cleric goes- CL: "I take a swing at the obelisk with my Warhammer!" PF: And he rolls a crit. So I described how it's like when Gimli strikes the One Ring of Power with his axe, blasting him backwards and knocking him to the ground it appears like there is some kind of magical aura that prevents you from destroying it. Then I hear the other player at my table say: OP: "Let's knock this obelisk over! We're gonna take it down!" PF: In real life the player shouted this out and his voice carried over to the other tables Several other groups heard what he said and I get looks from the GMs at the other games, From across the room because they all know what's up. One of the DM starts waving to me mouthing GM2: Goodbye. Because he knows I'm not gonna have a table in a few seconds. Another one whispers to me just do thumbs up or thumbs down. Thumbs up= they did it, thumbs down= they didn't. I informed the players that in order to knock over this obelisk It takes players collectively pushing on it with a total strength score of 60 between them So you would need three characters with Strength 20 or five with 12. So the group teams up and together They all work to knock the obelisk over. Well, I guess everyone's dead now. At that there's a loud crack as the rock shatters when it hits the ground [dramatic scary music starts playing] Clouds go dark, lightning rumbles in the distance. These strange black vapors issue out of the rubble, swirling around them with this mad cackling. The halfling goes *Groans Nervously* hB: "We probably shouldn't have done that, should we?" The DM at the other table is saying quietly-
"Thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs up?" I looked at the other DM I just give a thumbs up and he starts cackling. What you have to understand is that Acererak has traveled around the multiverse and collected very specimens and things. There was one he found in the abyss which he's like,
"You're coming home with me." and sealed in an obelisk. Wasn't the best place to keep it in my mind. The strange vapors coalesce into a hulking creature and I informed the players, "What was inside of that obelisk, Was a goddamn Nalfeshnee!" Standing before them is this big pig-like creature 20 feet tall or so with these stubbly black wings and tusks He kind of looks like the monster form of Ganon from The Legend of Zelda NA: *snorting throughout* "Huh you all look so delicious, I wonder which one I should be eating first?" P1: "What the hell is this guy?" PF: Congratulations, you guys just summoned a type four demon from the Abyss! He's a pig demon Let's boogie The Barbarian goes first and he swings his Great Axe at the Nalfeshnee. The demon blocks the blade with its bare hand and casually knocks it aside like the thing is just a toy. NA: "Your mortal weapons are no match for me!!" PF: And I let the players know that this creature has high armor class and resistance to non magical weapons Then the wizard casts a spell, that just ricochets off the Nalfeshnee's flabby belly. NA: "That tickled." PF: I let the players know it also has resistance to magic as well ALL magic. There is nothing that this group has that can get a solid hit on this guy. P1: "Wait, so this guy has magic resistance AND resistance to physical damage? That doesn't sound fair!?"
*laughter* PF: You're right- It's not. So while the other tables are just casually walking through the courtyard, my table is having this epic fight to the death of this type four demon Which is teleporting around taking swipes at them. Now with all of this build up the fight itself, was actually kind of boring The Nalfeshnee when it gets summoned is only there for a finite number of rounds So the players just had to wait it out. With seven high-level characters the group can actually soak a lot of damage and have access to several healing spells and potions so the demon didn't actually have enough damage output to kill them And they didn't have enough damage output to kill the demon. So it was just a war of attrition. Before FINALLY the thing had to return to the Abyss. Eventually the demon leaves saying: NA: You're too much trouble than your worth. I'll make sure to come back, with friends! And I'll get your heads next time!
hB: What's your name? Uhh… Skel- Skep-
Skellik? Drogor? Bieles?
Something with a "Z" maybe, Zalkin? Zalkin that's a demon's name right? We'll go with that. Zalkin will be coming for you! *Maniacal Laughter* Once the fight was over the players asked me, "Do we get any experience points?" PF: "No!" "Are the- Are there any magical items in the obelisk? That was *stutter* protecting?" PF: "No!" "What what just happened?"
"In the book It says the Nalfeshnee shows up fights and then vanishes- You guys get nothing from it."
After they encountered that "thing" they were a little on edge for the rest of the dungeon That was probably one of the strangest fights I've ever had to run Maybe it wasn't the most well-designed encounter, but I thought it was kind of funny besides it's kind of why I play D&D is to encounter the strange and unexpected. [acoustic guitar outro music