Inspired by a side discussion on the merits of traps on ChattyDM’s post “Old School, New School and Gygaxian Naturalism (or not)” – and based very closely on actual recent events in our campaign.
Thorbjorn came to his senses, the dark swirls of concussion receding from the periphery of his vision as he blinked the dust from his eyes. How long? A few seconds, no more – he was sure, he’d only blacked out for a few moments at worst. He prayed it was not otherwise. He heaved his shield upwards, shoving away rubble that would have struck him in the head. At least one piece had, before he’d gotten his shield up, but his helm, coif and arming cap had saved him from serious injury – at least, he hoped. Too early to tell yet.
He swore a curse at Loki, the god of ill-fortune. Then checked himself. No. He had been stupid. How could he have fallen for such an obvious trap? He, who had explored the depths of the Lost Temple of Bundushatur, who had penetrated to the very heart of the Tomb of Xenous.
He started to rise, shaking off other bits of the collapsed ceiling that covered him. He knew he would be covered in bruises by tomorrow, but his limbs all seemed mostly functional. No badly broken bones or internal bleeding – his mailshirt and the padded gambeson beneath had protected him.
A strong pair of hands helped him to his feet. “You OK, Boss?” It was Harald, his trusty bodyguard and right-hand man. His face was caked in dirt, and a trickle of blood ran from his nose. But he seemed all in one piece too, thanks be to the All-Father.
It was the message that had distracted him, had made him rash in his haste to respond. He had received a Sending from Eritai, the High Priestess of the Church of Seven Faiths in the city that lay somewhere above them through thousands of feet of rock. A coup was taking place there on the surface, and the Council Chamber had been taken by force. Thomas Fitzherbert, a former council member unmasked by Thorbjorn and his companions as a member of an evil cult of Set worshippers and who had gone on the run, had returned with a mercenary force and some of the local troops somehow co-opted to his cause, and had declared himself ruler of the Yeomanry. Eritai had asked that Thorbjorn return with his party to help in overthrowing the coup as soon as he could. He had given the order to depart the chamber without delay, carrying away the treasure that lay on the dais to be investigated later.
“Father Thorbjorn….Harald….Snorri’s in trouble, he’s pinned under some rubble and he’s not moving!” It was Jonathan Flynn, nephew of Cerys the sorceress, who spoke. Though still angry at her for her recently discovered trafficking with demonkind, he wished Cerys were here now…he missed the old days, when he and his old adventuring companions had been a closer-knit group. So many of them had fallen by the wayside, some turned traitor, some departed on quests of their own, some departed for the world hereafter.
He and Harald made their way over towards where Snorri lay, skirting around a large heap of rubble in the centre of the room covering the dais that had recently held the crystal sarcophagus – now shattered into a million shards, it had clearly been a fake, and not the artifact that they had sought.
The broken, twisted bodies of several grimlocks lay amidst the ruin. One or two of the eyeless subterranean humanoids still stirred, but he would see to his own first. Let Sithrim attend to them – they were his people, after all. It was fortunate, at least, from Thorbjorn’s viewpoint, that most of his own party had been standing about the periphery of the dais and had thus avoided the worst of the cave-in that had occurred when the sarcophagus was lifted by the grimlocks and the supporting pillars at the dais corners magically shattered.
Thorbjorns’ eyes narrowed as he observed Sithrim the drider lurking in the exit passage, muttering something in his sibilant tongue to his blinded medusa companion, Persipkis. Those two seemed to have rather conveniently left the room just before the trap was triggered. Had they known about what was going to happen? His party had made an alliance of convenience with these two denizens of the underworld, and their grimlock followers had been useful manpower, that much was true, especially to dig out the filled-in tunnel that had led to this chamber. But he didn’t trust them further than he could throw them. Especially not the spider-man. He hated spiders. A phase spider had killed one of his cohorts, once. He would have words with Sithrim shortly.
Harald heaved the boulder off of Snorri’s abdomen and Thorbjorn checked him over. Blood ran from a deep cut to his forehead and a little tricked from the side of his mouth. But he was still alive – just. Laying his hands upon the young lad he muttered some prayers and called for the divine aid of his gods to save this brave soul from an inglorious death, asking Bragi the patron of bards to help one of his own. To his relief, the colour returned to Snorri’s cheeks and his breathing steadied. His eyelids fluttered.
“Hey…Snorri my boy…best skip this part when you write the song of our exploits down here, eh?”
Thorbjorn did a head-count. Seemed like they had gotten off lucky, after all – aside from Snorri, they had all sustained minor injuries, except for the two elves who had somehow managed to evade the falling masonry entirely. They had that usual faint air of smugness about them. Or did he just imagine it?
Harald and Jonathan heaved Snorri up between them. There were ominous creaking sounds coming from the ragged, broken reaches of the ceiling above them. A secondary cave-in seemed imminent.
“Come on…let’s all get out before the whole lot comes down. We’ve been lured into a fool’s errand down here while our enemies have taken over the city. They probably set all this up to get us out of the way.”
They all hustled out of the chamber – just in time, as a groaning rumble ensued followed by a mighty crash.
The party made their way surfacewards towards whatever awaited them in the city above, their goal of finding the resurrection sarcophagus of their arch-enemy the Falcon abandoned. Meanwhile, the dust settled atop hundreds of tons of rock that now firmly buried the dais, beneath which, in a reinforced chamber warded against divination, lay the very crystal sarcophagus they had been seeking…
Note to any of my players who might read this: the last piece was added for dramatic effect. It may or may not be true – but you can rest assured that either way it’s of no relevance to you now!