16 July 2023

The Tomb of Serten and the Helm of Laga Vulin (Greyhawk campaign)


9.1 Back in Hommlet (Wealsun 21st – 23rd)

Our intrepid adventurers — Erik (the mountain dwarf fighter from the Lortmils), Althaea (the high elf wizard from the city of Tringlee), and the brothers Godric (the human rogue from the Barony of Shiboleth) and Cedric (the human cleric of St. Cuthbert) – have returned to Hommlet after spending several weeks in the gnomish town of Gneissvale. The party is accompanied by the gnome Zeno Zacklington and his assistant Berta. Zeno had acquired the village’s trading post from the party and plans to establish a branch of the great Zacklington trading empire in Hommlet.

While in the village, the party updates the Council on the party’s recent activities, as well as the threats posed by brigands and gnolls to the trade route between Hommlet and Gneissvale. The adventurers explain that the “flaming eye” symbol used by the dark denizens of the Moathouse, including the now deceased Lareth, is one employed by the followers of Iuz. However, Iuz could not have been involved with the original rise of the Temple of Elemental Evil a decade ago, as he was not active on Oerth during that time. Nonetheless, the Iuzians are implicated somehow in the re-emergence of the Temple as a threat to the region. The party also introduces Zeno and Berta to the Council. Godric speaks with Jaroo Ashstaff afterwards; the druid assures Godric that the Wood Elves are likely to remain at their camp for a couple more months. 

While relaxing at the Inn of the Welcome Wench, the party is approached again by Furnok the half-elven “treasure finder.” After chatting a bit, Cedric begins lecturing about St. Cuthbert and presses a pamphlet of Sayings of the Wise Foole into Furnok’s hand. Suddenly the half-elf is overcome with weariness and excuses himself for the evening. Althaea approaches the hulking warrior Kobort and the enigmatic Baklunish wanderer Turuko; she purchases a round of Umberdeep Ale for them all. Erik challenges the brutish human to an arm wrestle and is victorious. Kobort reveals that the two now have a “big job” but stops talking after a pointed glare from Turuko.

Over the next couple of days Erik orders some new shoes from Americ the leather-worker, while Cedric spends time at the Church of St. Cuthbert. Godric flirts with some local wenches and plays cards with Furnok. He notices that the half-elf scoundrel is using marked cards, but still plays three games in order to not let on that he aware of the other’s perfidy. Furnok and Althaea play a game of chess. Althaea loses the game – and a platinum coin that she wagered. Despite his charm and wit, the party declines the half-elf’s renewed offer to accompany them.

9.2. Another ambush north of Hommlet (Wealsun 24th – 25th)

Early on the 24th day of Wealsun the party heads north from Hommlet, seeking the Tomb of Serten, which the mage Burne told them is located at the northern edge of the Kron Hills, adjacent to the Emridy Meadows. After an uneventful day, the party camps for the night. As dawn approaches, and Cedric is on watch, someone appears behind the priest and mutters, “This is for Rannos Davl and Lareth!” A dagger is thrust into stunned cleric! The treacherous merchant and assassin Greemag pops into visibility at the same time, his hand wielding the bloodied weapon. The party is under attack!

The evil gnome who assaulted Erik back at the Moathouse appears, as do Kobort and Turuko. The gnome hurls a sphere of electricity at Cedric, but the orb bounces off his helmet and fizzles out. However, Cedric is knocked out by Koboart. Erik, Godric, and Althaea rouse themselves. Kobort’s head explodes from a blow delivered by Erik’s staff of striking. Godric casts “Sleep” and both the gnome and Turuko fall into a dark slumber – a slumber from which they never awake, thanks to some fast work by the rogue and dwarf. Althaea casts “levitation” on Greemag, which hurls him twenty feet into the air. She then blasts the assassin with some magic missiles. Cursing in rage and agony, Greemag consumes a potion which transforms him into a pseudo-dragon; he then rapidly flies away. The party worries that this will not be their last encounter with the iniquitous servant of Elemental Evil.   

Among the loot found on the dead gnome and two humans, the party finds three pouches of “Dust of Disappearance.” They find one empty pouch and infer that the magical Dust is why they were so easily ambushed by the would-be assassins.   

The party pulls the bodies to the side of the road and decides to return to Hommlet. On their way back, Godric spies a caravan approaching. Wary and weary, the party hides from the peaceful merchants before resuming their journey. As night falls, they arrive back in the village. The adventurers inform Canon Terjon of what happened to them before retiring to the inn for several rounds of Umberdeep Ale.

9.3 The journey to the Tome of Serten (Wealsun 26th – 28th; Richfest 1st – 2nd)

While shaken by their recent experience, the party is determined to travel to the Tomb of Serten in order to recover items usable by allies of St. Cuthbert in their struggle against the forces of Elemental Evil. 

As the party journeys north again, they spot a gryphon flying overhead. Althaea casts Invisibility on Vick the mule. Eventually the gryphon loses interest and flies away. 

Further along in their journey, on the 1st day of Richfest (Midsummer), the party encounters the druid Darr. They learn that Darr is a friend of Jaroo and a follower of Obad-Hai. The friendly druid shares some whisky (“water of life”) with the party, much to the delight of Erik, and warns them that undead sometimes rise from their resting places upon the battlefield of Emridy Meadows. The party shows the symbol of the “burning eye” to Darr, and tell him about their experiences with cultists, bandits, and so forth. Impressed, the druid gives the party a potion of healing before departing and wishing them “Gentle Rains.”

After parting ways with Darr, the party leaves the road and heads northeast towards the Tomb of Serten.

9.4 The Temple of Serten (Richfest 2nd)

By noon of the second day of Richfest the party reaches the location of the tomb. Upon a lonely hill stands a mighty, gnarled oak tree. Beneath the tree’s boughs sits a flat rock, upon which is engraved the symbol of St. Cuthbert. Cedric channels the divine grace of St. Cuthbert onto the symbol – and a huge stone tomb is revealed! It is clear that the creators of the tomb wanted it to be found by followers of the divine saint.

As the party approaches the tomb a booming voice declares: “I’m certain that you know my name, speak the same in order to gain.” Godric says, “the same!” but nothing happens. Amused, Cedric says, “Serten,” and the doors slide open. The party enters. There is an altar at the far end upon which lies a human figure, donned in plate armour, a shield, and wearing a helmet. On either side of the altar stand statues depicting human priests wielding cudgels. As the party approaches, the left statue says in a kind voice, “Powerful magic should not be forgotten in a hidden tomb, when it can be used against the rising tide of evil.” It then smiles and winks at Cedric!

Cedric discerns that the statue to the right of the altar is holding a real cudgel, one that emanates holy energy. He removes it and discovers that it is the “Cudgel of Serten” – a mighty weapon to be wielded by champions of St. Cuthbert. Cedric then turns to the altar, on which lies a young man wearing plate mail decorated with a starburst ray, one of the symbols of St. Cuthbert. The shield also bears this symbol. Cedric touches the man – and his hand passes through the body. It would appear that the young man is only an illusion, which explains why he still looks alive. The armour and shield, though, are quite real and blessed with mild enchantments. Cedric claims them in order to better serve St. Cuthbert. 

The helmet is none other than one of the legendary Helms of Laga Vulin. (Laga Vulin was a famous dwarven smith who created many items of power long ago.) Cedric passes the helm to Erik, as the dwarf has been seeking it ever since he was exiled from his clan in the Lortmil Mountains. According to legend, the helm cures the wearer of any poison, including the effects of alcohol. At last, Erik can drink as much as he would like without ever suffering a hangover the next day! Could his lifelong dream, his greatest desire, finally be realized?

Erik puts the helm on. Suddenly he feels quite … odd. He is overcome with a commitment to Law and Order. The dwarf finds himself disgusted by his past lack of willpower and wild nature. He is struck with a crushing sense of remorse at his wasted life. How could he have been so chaotic, so hedonistic? Erik sees the world through new eyes – decidedly Lawful eyes.

Has Erik gained a legendary helm … or has the helm gained a dwarf servant?

[Other posts about this campaign can be found here.]


The colour map of Hommlet is from here.

The Overland Map is from Goodman Games’ The Temple of Elemental Evil (book 1). Modifications are by me. 
The brown lines indicate roads. The green lines are forest boundaries. Hexes with green dots are forested areas. The light blue symbols are inns.
The dark blue dot is Serten’s Tomb. The dark green circle is the Wood Elf Camp. (Both are labelled.)

The picture of Obad-Hai is from Dragon #69 (1982).

The map of Serten’s Tomb is from Goodman Games’ version of The Temple of Elemental Evil. (I removed the numbers.) 

Once again, my adventure notes were helped greatly by those of one of my players (Mark K).

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).