“You proceed to skillfully unlock the door and with a soft click, the lock opens. You gently push the door and peek into the room. Roll for Perception.”
Jason rolled his d20. “23.”
The DM nodded. “The room before you is a square one, with walls, floor and ceiling made of rough grey stone. There are torch holders positioned on the adjacent walls and four torches are currently lit. You can see that the room is completely empty, save for a red carpet that leads to a small pedestal, where an object seems to rest. What do you do?”
“I bet it’s the Queen’s Comb!” exclaimed Mandy with enthusiasm. “We should go in and get it!”
“Hold on,” Jason said. “Let me check for traps first.” He rolled the dice and frowned. “17.”
“From your current standing point, looking from behind a slightly open door, you do not see any traps in the room.”
Marco sighed and began searching through his character spell sheets. “Here we go again.”
“I carefully push the door open and step inside the room,” Jason said.
“You open the door and step inside,” the DM announced. He said nothing more, eyeing the other players from behind his master screen.
“Go on,” hushed Mandy. “We’ll be right behind you!”
“Actually you should stand back a little. I have a feeling something’s going to happen. Can you keep the door open for me? I’d hate to get trapped inside with some monster.”
“Sure thing, J! I hold the door open.”
Jason nodded. “I begin walking up to the pedestal, keeping alert to any sounds or motions around me.”
“I stand behind Mandy and keep a Cure Wounds ready,” said Marco.
The DM nodded and rolled a die behind the screen. Then he looked back at them as if nothing happened. “Jason, as you walk slowly on the carpet, you feel with your foot that there is a change in the solidness of the ground…”
“I jump back!”
Mandy and Marco watched intently as Jason rolled his d20. “27!” They all looked at the DM.
“You place your right foot in front of you and feel the carpet couldn’t support your weight. Your roguish instincts tell you to move back and with the help of your half-elvish agility you perform a flawless backflip, making a three point landing a foot back from where you were.”
“Way to go J!” Shouted Mandy and clapped. “I would like to pull on the carpet to see what’s underneath it.”
“Roll a straight Strength check.”
“Hey barbarian, I’m still standing on it!”
“Jason, roll a Dexterity saving throw.”
Both Mandy and Jason rolled. One cheered and the other sunk his face in his palms.
“24! I’m a strong girl!”
Jason made a thumbs down sign.
“Are you kidding me?” exclaimed Marco. “You rolled a one again?”
“Mandy, with your barbaric strength and dwarvish durability, you manage to pull the carpet perfectly, like pulling a cloth from a table without disturbing the cutlery. But Jason, despite your flawless pull, still gets knocked off balance due to him being preoccupied with congratulating himself on the previous jump he made. Jason, you fall forward, flat on your face and take 1 point of damage.”
Mandy laughed. “Whoops.”
“As the barbarian pulls the carpet, a meter by meter hole is revealed right before you Jason, and since you fell flat forward, your head is now dangling over the hole. You can see it is at least ten feet deep and immediately a fume of acid hits your nostrils, rising up from below.” The DM rolled some dice. “You suffer an additional 8 points of acidic damage, as the purplish fumes engulf your head.”
“I knew it!” said Jason and finally looked up from his palms. “I told you there was something going on. I quickly push myself away from the hole.”
“You manage to push back without a problem and as soon as you’re out of the fumes’ way, you can breathe more easily.”
“Whoa, you almost fell in there, J,” said Mandy. “Good thing I pulled, now we know where the hole is.”
“I could tell you that, you idiot,” said Jason with indignation. “You almost threw me in.”
“Hey, my intelligence is a flat six,” Mandy defended herself.
“Guys, can we just check the pedestal?” said Marco. “I don’t want to spend more time here than necessary.”
“Yeah, I’m on it,” said Jason and roleplayed dusting himself off. “I get up, walk around the hole and step to the pedestal. I’m being careful not to breathe in the fumes.”
“I follow him!” exclaimed Mandy and made a gesture of walking triumphantly.
“I stay outside and keep watch,” said Marco. “And I keep my spell ready.”
The DM nodded. “Very well. Jason, you walk up to the pedestal, avoiding the hole with care. Mandy follows behind you. Nothing out of the ordinary seems to happen and now you’re both standing in front of the pedestal.”
“I would like to inspect the object on it, without touching it,” Jason said. “And if the dwarf tries to touch it I slap her fingers with my dagger.”
“Mandy, do you try to touch the object?”
Mandy though for a moment. “No.”
“Jason, you can see that this indeed is the Queen’s Comb, the artifact that Lady Thornwood hired you to steal. The comb itself is made of ivory and pure white, with golden ornaments laced on its ridge and small gemstones embedded in the material.”
“Could I try to estimate its worth?”
“Make an Intelligence check.”
As the dice rolled, Mandy let out a laugh. “And I’m supposed to be the dumb one!”
“Again?” Jason nodded. “Very well. You look at the comb intently. It looks… fancy.”
“Being a dwarf and all I find that description lacking at best,” said Mandy through laughter.
“Nevermind,” puffed Jason. “I’d like to look for traps.”
“Make a Perception check.”
Jason rolled. As the die stopped he eyed everyone with a cocky grin. “Natural 20.”
“Ah, the balance corrects itself,” sighed Marco.
“You inspect the comb from all sides and angles. There appear to be no strings or hidden mechanisms behind or above the pedestal. Trying carefully to pry the comb from its position with the tip of your dagger you do notice, however, that there is a pressure mechanism in place and that the comb is resting on a small pressure plate. Drawing from your previous experiences with such things, you deduce it would take a very careful and delicate swapping of objects of similar weight, to avoid triggering the mechanism.”
“I think I have some empty vials that should weigh about as much as the comb…”
“I grab the comb and run it through my wavy hair!”
All three of them looked at Mandy who gestured a lady dwarf combing her hair gracefully.
“You what?! No, I stop her,” Jason said quickly.
“Can I see what they’re doing in there? Can I intervene?” asked Marco.
“Jason, Mandy, make a strength contested roll. Marco, no you do not see as their backs are turned towards you.”
“Damn it. 14.”
“Woohoo! Natural 20!”
“Jason, you spot Mandy’s hand reaching for the comb and before you can even attempt to stop her from grabbing it, the barbarian swiftly picks the object and places it in her hair, where it gets stuck due to her dwarvish hair being very oily and quite messy. Her action was so swift that even the pressure plate mechanism paused for a slight moment, before it got triggered.”
“I quickly jump-”
“Hold on,” said the DM. “This happens instantaneously now. First, the door slams shut, as no one is holding it open anymore.”
“Nooo, ah damn it!” exclaimed Marco.
“Secondly, there is a magical ringing sound that seems to be going off over the whole palace. You did not check for magical traps and this one just got triggered. And thirdly, you can hear the acid in the hole beginning to bubble and rise up. What do you do?”
Jason looked angrily at Mandy. “I’d like to push that fat dwarf in the hole!”
“Hey, who are you calling fat? I’m well built!”
“If you’d like to push Mandy, I’ll have you roll-”
“No need DM, I’m just angry,” said Jason and nervously fingered his dice. “Are there any windows in this room?”
The DM shook his head. “No, there are no windows. Only bare stone walls.”
“DM,” said Marco. “Can I try to open the door?”
“How would you like to try?”
Marco thought for a moment. “First I would like to see if they’re simply closed shut or if there is some magic involved.”
“Make an Arcana check.”
“DM,” said Jason, his voice somewhat panicky. “You said the acid was rising? Could I estimate how long before it reaches over the hole.”
“I take out my Hammer of Krush and wham at the door,” said Mandy and performed an imaginary hammer strike with her arms.
“19 on Arcana,” said Marco.
“16 on Intelligence,” said Jason. “Damn it.”
“No wait, it’s 20! Sorry, forgot to add this thing… I’m nervous.”
“That’s alright, 20 was just what you needed. You can feel a slight pulsing sensation that covers the entire surface of the door and although you do not know exactly what this is, you do know it is some sort of magical barrier. Jason, you estimate you have about four to five minutes before the acid spills over.”
“Can I shout to them that the door is protected by magic?” asked Marco.
“You can,” said the DM, “but first, Mandy will have a swing at the door, as she announced it already.”
“Great,” puffed Jason. “We’re gonna die in some horrible explosion and get dissolved in acid.”
Mandy thought for a moment. “I changed my mind. I don’t hit.”
The DM looked up from his screen. “Mandy… no metagaming.”
“Oh fine! I slam that sucker as hard as I can!”
“Roll to hit.”
“Please miss,” prayed Marco.
Mandy rolled. “13. I rolled poorly.”
“Still hits,” said the DM. “It’s a door, not hard to hit.” He then proceeded to roll quite a lot of dice behind his screen as the others awaited the outcome in tense silence. “Please make a strength saving throw.”
Mandy picked her die in silence and rolled. Jason and Marco both inhaled audibly at the outcome of the roll. “7.”
“Very well,” said the DM. “You suffer 43 points of force damage and are thrown in the air as the magical barrier that covers the door explodes in a burst of arcane energy.”
“Are you still alive?”
Mandy checked her max health. “I’m at 2 hitpoints guys.”
“I told you we should rest before going to the palace!” exclaimed Marco.
The DM nodded. “Barely conscious and feeling terrible pain all over your body, you are flung away from the door and towards the acid pit. Please make an acrobatics check. With disadvantage, as you’ve been thrown unwillingly.”
“Can I try to catch her?” asked Jason.
The DM though for a moment. “You are still standing at the pedestal. You’d first have to go around the acid hole and then position yourself in front of the hole, to try and prevent her from falling in, should her roll go badly. Do note that you’ll have to roll for strength.”
“Not my finest attribute,” said Jason and thought what to do.
“I’d like to cast Dispel Magic on the door,” said Marco.
Mandy rolled her two rolls. “The lower one is 12.”
The DM turned to Jason. “Do you assist in catching her? I need an answer quickly.”
“Nah,” said Jason. “I’ll do more damage than good.”
“I hope I rolled enough,” said Mandy.
“Badly wounded, but your dwarvish sturdiness is enough to keep you vigilant and you manage to catch yourself right on the edge of the acid hole.”
“Get your ass away from that hole!” almost shouted Jason. “The fumes can kill you!”
“You’re right!” said Mandy. “I move away from the hole.”
“Can I cast Dispel Magic now?”
“So. Mandy, you manage to carefully move away from the hole, from which acidic fumes start to fill the entirety of the room. I’ll have to ask both you and Jason to make a constitution saving throw.”
“Oh for the love of…”
“Marco, as you begin to prepare for casting, you hear hurried footsteps coming from the hallway and some voices shouting. The ringing alarm is still going.”
Marco tightened his jaw. “I finish casting the spell.”
The DM nodded. “Very well. You place your hand on the door while clenching to your holy symbol and a bright white light spreads out of your palm and sinks into the door, melting away whatever spell was placed upon it. When you are done, the door appears only to be closed, no more magic protecting it.”
“I’d like to run and open the door!” exclaimed Jason.
“Hold on,” said the DM. “What did you roll on Constitution?”
“Crap. A 11.”
“Are you serious?” asked Jason.
Mandy placed her palms on her face, dreadfully awaiting what’s to come.
“Don’t worry, I can heal you both, just wait ‘till I get in the room…”
The DM rolled some more dice. “Jason, you manage to shrug off the majority of the acid fumes. Having previously taken in a full breath of them made you somewhat accustomed to it. You suffer 2 points of acid damage, but are otherwise okay. Mandy, you are already very hurt and do not have the strength to resist the fumes, thus taking full damage, which is 5 and are considered choking. The air becomes unbreathable to you.”
“I’m out,” said Mandy. “Unconscious.”
The DM nodded. “You have three minutes untill you suffocate. And two minutes until the acid spills over the rim.”
Jason, Mandy and Marco exchanged silent looks. Time was running out and so were their options. The DM gave them a few moments to think up a plan.
“Alright,” said Jason, “here’s what we do-”
Then, all of a sudden the door burst open and the DM’s older brother came into the room, his face all excited and celebrating.
“Yo you guys, the quarantine has just been lifted! They say the virus is being contained and that they’ve found a vaccine! It’s being distributed right now…”
“Shhh!” All three players waved at the man to not disturb them.
“Now may not be a good time, Dean,” said the DM. “We’re kind of in a tight spot here.”
Dean looked at the four of them, hunched over a table filled with dice, pencils, character sheets, a dungeon map, salty snacks and drinks of choice. He smiled at them and made a gesture of apology.
“Seems like you’ve already found your own cure.”
“D&D, man,” said the DM and winked at his brother. “It’s more infectious than any virus.”