Last time, in my D&D group’s run-through of the great 5e campaign Tomb of Annihilation, the group made their way deeper into the jungle. Once again, it was Roland (my Aasimar divine soul sorcerer), Dri (dragonborn barbarian), Egedul (dwarf barbarian), Varina (half-elf ranger), and Slith (dragonborn rogue). Orga, a half-orc cleric, was on the boat (her player was missing).
After recovering from the specter attack, the group rested, and headed out early the next day. Around mid-morning, Slith noticed something strange. A mountain that seemed to float above the ground, dripping blood onto the jungle. Remembering what the knights had told them of the Heart of Ubuntu, they decided to investigate.
As they approached, they saw that the “blood” was actually red-colored water. They collected some in an empty container, and Roland determined it was water died by iron deposits. The group then tried to get up to the mountain. They threw a grappling hook in hopes of catching it on something, shot an arrow tied to a rope, and climbed a nearby tree to get closer. Nothing worked. They decided to press on, and return if they came up with a solution.
The next day, they moved on farther into the jungle, their guide, Salida, growing more intent on keeping their path [we realized we’d kind of forgotten about her after we left the city]. Varina, keeping watch, saw something approaching. Slith snuck up, and saw a were-tiger creeping towards the group. Assuming it was an enemy, he hurled a dagger at it. The were-tiger roared, and leapt at him. Slith ran back to the group.
The rest of them had been waiting for Slith’s return. Hearing a crashing noise, they saw him run out of the jungle, shouting “tiger, tiger!” Alarmed, the group prepared their weapons. [it was kind of a humorous scene as we acted it out]. The were-tiger burst into the clearing, and was met with a hail of blows. Varina scored a good hit with her bow, while Egedul and Dri nearly knocked the creature to its knees with their axes.
Roland then strode forward, and suggested the were-tiger surrender, so they could talk [I went last in initiative, and rolled successfully on persuasion]. The weretiger shifted back into human form, and the group recognized Acaza, another of the guides from the city. She was irritated with the group’s attack, but still relayed her message; they had discovered Salida was working for the Yuan-ti, the evil serpent-folk of Chult, and were leading them into a trap.
Salida denied this, and the group attempted to get one of them to confess they were lying, to no avail [none of our insight or intimidation checks were working]. And then the group nearly fell apart.
Dri suggested torturing Salida to get her to tell the truth, or just killing her to be safe. Roland explained that would be wrong, and counterproductive if the other guide was lying, as they would then be stuck with either no guide or a lying guide. Varina said to separate them and explain they would kill the other guide to see how they reacted; both of the guides were fine with this, so that didn’t help.
Dri became more insistent on killing Salida, and Roland refused. Dri moved to kill her anyways, and Roland summoned a spell, threatening to incapacitate him. After a tense standoff, Dri backed down. They decided to keep both of the guides with them, and figure out who was telling the truth. [the player said his Chaotic Neutral PC would just kill the guide. In-character, I explained why that would be wrong and not helpful. When he persisted, I tried to explain out of character that CN doesn’t mean torturing and killing. The DM also pointed out to the other players (who were CG) that they’d be opposed to torture as well. This may be the topic of a future post, how to properly run CN characters, and deal with them in a party.]
After travelling the rest of the day, the group stopped for a rest. Dri suggested Slith search Salida’s bags. He found a serpent amulet he identified as belonging to Yuan-ti. He woke up Roland, and showed him. Roland, feeling betrayed after having nearly engaged in combat to protect Salida, was furious.
He kicked her as she slept to wake her up. Brandishing the amulet, he demanded she tell them the truth now. She tried to deny it, but saw that she was surrounded by the party. She explained that she had been hired to lead them to the Yuan-Ti leader in Omu. He was afflicted by the death curse and wanted the group to help him. She also told them the amulet identified her as a yuan-ti ally when encountering guards.
The group decided to keep her with them, but kill her at the first sign of treachery–Roland was ok with this, now that they knew she was evil. She agreed to lead them to the Yuan-ti, but didn’t want to go inside for fear for her life. The group headed deeper into the jungle…
[I’m really liking the pacing. It was still a lot of “random” events, but with a little bit of the story thrown in at the end. I credit my DM for this. The tension among the group was a little disruptive, but everyone seemed ok–I sent a message apologizing if I had monopolized time with my character, but no one seemed to mind. See my recent posts on how to bicker within groups for more on this.