The PC's get the hell out of the frogmonster and doo-doo troll place to go crash somewhere else for the night. Everyone got the shit kicked out of them, but the PC's have these fancy new levels now, so they're ready to go back in a grind out more XP with their brontosaurus, shield guardian, bullywug, and whatever the hell Lilac is.
The next morning, they wake up and Zanzibar portents for like a couple of 2's or maybe a 4 thrown in there. So he's ready to arm wrestle something BIG!
The party returns to the marshy swamp ruins which we will call Mauratal because it's what the map says. They trod through the muck and reach a solid chunk of dirt with a mass of dead trees and a beaten-ass looking church. 🌱 thinks everyone in the adventuring party would be better if they had a bit of McSneakiness, so he casts pass without trace and the PC's creep factor goes up a bit, leaving behind no tracks or traces of their passage.
The fact that the 20 ton dinosaur trailing behind them now has a stealth bonus of +9 and leaves no evidence of her mountainous footsteps is just baffling, but rules are rules and 🌱 ain't even done digging into his repertoire of weird shit yet so fine, it happens!
Zanzibar sends his owl familiar forward to check out the beaten-ass church and the dead trees and sees a lot of dead people! GHOST dead people! The owl's just out here going full Haley Joel Osment and finding like 15 Chultan Bruce Willises.
The party enters the spooky woods, and Dur-Dur-Dur waves at the ghosts. The ghosts don't wave back. Not a lot of people ever really wave back. As the PC's keep stepping into the spooky woods, the ghosts close in on them.
The party considers finding out how to free the ghosts.
"If we free them, do they go to the afterlife?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"Hold on!" Valour interrupts. "Remember what happens when things to to the afterlife right now? Also... Rem, can we have a ghost army?"
I decline the party's attempts to turn the campaign into Return of the King, regardless of the already established world-ending ring of power and the blossoming tide of evil being reborn in the south. You get two blatant Lord of the Rings examples in this campaign, and you already used them!
🌱 waves at a ghost child, and it touches his hand. He feels a little dizzy, makes a fuzzy comment about a Yoshi's Story level, but shakes off the feeling. He's damn near made of shrooms, so it's hard for him to hallucinate. If anything, the ghost starts freaking out a bit instead.
The PC's arrive at the busted up church, and Zanzibar climbs into Stevorn's arms because he loves the feeling of sweet, hard shield-bro against his soft genie skin. As they enter the church, they see what looks like an abandoned warzone. Busted walls, chunks of brick and rock, and overgrown plants litter the interior.
On one wall is a massive carving of Pretzelcoatl, some winged serpents, and dinosaurs leading the first humans into Chult. Above the PC's, the ceiling has a massive hole letting in beams of sunlight. Eku pokes her head in through the hole and examines the old temple.
The PC's are worried that something dastardly is lurking in here, so they send Minion outside to wait with Eku since Minion is "precious to us."
Okay, three Lord of the Rings examples then...
"Hey guys, looks like someone has been digging some holes here?" Dur-Dur-Dur says, opening a door to a meeting room and seeing that the whole back wall has collapsed into a pit.
The pit is spooky, scary, some-kind-a-ominous, and giving everyone the willies. Bruce willies. So Zanzibar football-chucks his owl down the pit to do more reconnaissance, and the bird is promptly ripped apart by a black dragon wyrmling that lashes out and tears it to utter ribbons.
Zanzibar relays to everyone that a baby black dragon is chilling out somewhere in the pit, and everyone debates how they're going to tackle this issue. Eku is too large to get inside the temple, which means the party will be short an unusually stealthy brontosaurus in case combat shenanigans occur.
"Let's try to talk to it," Valour says. "It hasn't shown us any aggression yet."
"It has only shown us aggression!" Zanzibar screams, lamenting the loss of his owl. You know, the owl that he never named.
"Well dragons probably eat owls," Valour says.
"Dragons aren't real!" Dur-Dur-Dur argues.
"Dur-Dur-Dur, why don't you go down there and confirm that dragons aren't real?" Valour says.
Well Dur-Dur-Dur ain't one to back down from a challenge, so he shimmies to the edge of the pit and sees a black dragon wyrmling chilling at the bottom of the pit, staring at him. He doesn't consider waving.
Zanzibar starts metagaming the concept of ghosts and monsters and how this little baby dragon is the central antagonist of this dungeon or something. "I think it is unlikely that the thing that is in the bottom of this pit is less dangerous than what's outside."
Dur-Dur-Dur hears the word "outside" and walks out to Eku and Minion, telling them "We may have discovered a Dur-Dur-Saurus, sit tight... Acually, Minion! Go check out the thing!"
Dur-Dur-Dur pulls Minion inside and shoves the frog champion to the edge of the pit.
"Don't!" Valour says, making Minion sit back.
"Guys," Zanzibar butts in. "You know how in World of Warcraft when you walk into a dangerous zone... things just, you know, kick your ass? That's been happening to us with the froghemoth and the trolls. This is probably the same. And the dungeon master is making us roll dice for strange reasons."
The Dungeon Master thinks Zanzibar has a point, since the PC's are level 4 and this adventure is set for PC's between levels 11 and 16... but they don't know that. And everyone but Zanzibar wants to investigate what's down this black dragon themed hole, disregarding any of his complaints.
Dur-Dur-Dur convinces Minion to have a rope tied around his froggy waist. They send the frog waddling down the pit, then ask what he sees.
Minion manages to croak out in common, "Big... Black... Dragon!"
"Ugh," Dur-Dur-Dur says, slapping a hand to his face. "It's a dinosaur!"
The grown ass black dragon and its two wyrmlings let out a massive roar from down in the pit, and Dur-Dur-Dur bolts backwards as fast as possible, dragging Minion back up like a piece of bait on a fishing pole.
🌱 wants nothing to do with a grown-ass black dragon, so he bolts out of the room as well. Actually, almost everyone in the initiative round just tactically retreats like crazy, dragging Minion along by the rope so that he's out of harm's way.
Everyone escapes from the chamber with the pit as the dragon surges forward! Oh wait, everyone except...
"LILAC YOU MUST DIE FOR ME!" Zanzibar tries to get Lilac to distract the dragon, but he rolls a natural 1 on his Persuasion check, so safe to say it's going to be pretty awkward between the two of them.
The momma dragon lobs a line of acid straight at Zanzibar, striking Dur-Dur-Dur and 🌱 as they try to retreat. As Zanzibar screams in pain, he redirects half of the damage (27!) into Stevorn, and Dur-Dur-Dur manages to stay alive due to his rage. 🌱 drops to the ground instantly. Zanzibar is wobbling around on 4 hit points after being the only one left in the room with the monster.
The dragon whelps soar out of the church, seeking retreating prey.
Stevorn clanks over and grabs 🌱 to keep him safe, and Zanzibar misty steps like a son-of-a-bitch out of the room. Dur-Dur-Dur keeps running as well from the dragon, but Eku positions herself near the roof of the temple (freaking Brontosaurus rogue shit). 🌱 heals himself and climbs out of Stevorn's tight, snuggly embrace, then Valour lays all the hands on Zanzibar.
Outside the church, a wyrmling zooms into Lilac and coats her in a spray of acid breath, almost dropping her. The other wyrmling careens around the church's corner, but Eku is ready! She ninja-smacks the wyrmling with her tail, sending it crashing into the ground DEAD!
The mother dragon hears the lamenting cries of its slain child, then soars out of the decrepit church and rains acid onto Eku, burning her hide!
Zanzibar joins Lilac outside and magic missiles the wyrmling, while Stevorn stomps out the doors and uppercuts the wyrmling, crashing it into the temple in a crumpled heap. Stevorn chants "PROCESSING RESPONSE... VICTORY... 'STEVORN WINS!'"
Eku grits against the pain, rears her hind legs up, and donkey kicks the mother dragon with a 60 damage critical hit that is much more impressive than Dur-Dur-Dur's stupid critical hit javelin throw from the previous turn that everyone just forgot about. Hell, I even went back and deleted that part of the write up. It's just not there anymore! Nobody cares! You tried to be cool, but a brontosaurus kicking a dragon out of the sky is just so much cooler!
That's right, the dragon even failed a strength save to resist falling prone, which means tumbling out of the sky and crashing back to the floor of the church.
Damn that brontosaurus can do some crazy shit!
With the dragon subdued, the party reverses their retreat and goes on the offensive. 🌱 drops a kamehameha moonbeam on the disoriented dragon, Valour hides under Eku and casts sanctuary on himself, and Lilac positions herself so that she can be within range to miss on her next attack.
The dragon gets up from her tumble and flies backwards, deeper into her lair. The PC's then gather around the entrance, knowing that the dragon has only one way to escape. But they'll be waiting! Eku wants in on the action as well, so she just starts kicking down the church wall to get inside.
Valour runs through the hole that Eku made, but as he joins the rest of the PC's, the dragon flies towards them, using her frightful presence to shake Lilac, Minion, Valour, and Eku. Zanzibar is doing fine since he's finally not alone, so he peppers the dragon with magic missiles.
Stevorn ain't dealing with Valour being a scared little bitch, so he chucks the paladin at the dragon while Dur-Dur-Dur closes in and swipes at it, missing.
The dragon lets out a big sweep with her wings, buffeting Valour and Dur-Dur-Dur. She then swipes at Dur-Dur-Dur with her tail, but Zanzibar uses a portent to cause her to miss. Afterwards, she barrels forward and snatches up Minion in her free claw.
Why is only one claw free?
Because the other three claws are clutching her treasure hoard! She plans on flying away with her loot and the party's favorite NPC!
SHE CAN'T DO THAT!
Zanzibar unloads more magic missiles, and Stevorn misty steps above the dragon, ready to bring both fists into the dragon's head, but the totally awesome idea doesn't quite work, and Stevorn tumbles off the dragon's back and lands on the ground. Lame! That's ten points to Team Cash-Dat-Boi-In-For-Spellbook.
The dragon stabs repeatedly at Minion with her tail, dropping him to zero hit points. His life force ebbs out a bit, but 🌱 uses healing word to keep him afloat. The dragon swats Minion again with her tail, and Valour does everything he can to bring the foe down with his spear.
Eku bursts through the final wall, coming face to face with the dragon, and as the dragon starts to fly out of the room, Eku takes her attack of opportunity and CRITS AGAIN!
The dragon tries to fly off, but Eku's final kick in the mother dragon's face sends her soaring off into the dead forest, crashing into a dead heap with Minion and her treasure scattered nearby. The PC's run as fast as possible as Minion is forced to make death saves, but 🌱 manages to reach the frog champion in time to use healing word.
Just before 🌱 can celebrate saving his friend, a ghostly child approaches him and places his hand on 🌱's shoulder. 🌱 fails his charisma save, the ghost disappears, and 🌱 feels an extra presence lurking inside of him.
"... I guess this is what a two spirit is!" 🌱 says, then absorbs a shitload of XP with the rest of the party.