Dead in Thay features teams of adventures raiding the sprawling Doomvault dungeon compound. The adventure stands as a great idea for an Encounters season, because multiple parties can simultaneously raid as they seek and destroy Szass Tam’s Phylactery Vault. Each week, groups can reform and stage forays into the complex. This premise delivers the fun of multi-group play, while avoiding the usual Encounters issues caused by a changing cast of players.
As much as I like the concept, Dead in Thay presents players with a daunting amount of background information that they must understand. During my first session, as I tried to explain how the Doomvault operates, and as my players struggled to digest a fraction of it, I realized that the adventure screams for a player’s handout.
So I created one.
You can read the content of the handout at the end of this post. You can download a PDF version of the handout here.
Next: We return to our regularly scheduled posts on observation and perception at the game table.
Dead in Thay Player’s Handout
You begin in an unmapped Gatehouse with teleportation circles that provide access to the Doomvault.
The Doomvault hides a Phylactery Vault containing the souls of the liches who serve the Thayan leader, Szass Tam. Groups assaulting the Bloodgate slew the lich Tarul Var, one of these undead servants. Tarul Var may have reformed in the Doomvault, near his phylactery. He poses a deadly threat. In the Doomvault, you must gain access to the Phylactery Vault and destroy it. As you explore, seize opportunities to destroy the Red Wizards’ monstrous creations.
Dread warriors patrol the Doomvault. After one round, even from a distance, Tarul Var can take control of any dread warrior not accompanied by other Red Wizards. Not only does this alert the lich to your presence, but he can also cast spells through the dread warrior.
Your ally, the paladin Isteval, has lent each party a circlet of limited telepathy, which enables you to communicate with the other parties inside the Doomvault.
The Doomvault consists of 9 sectors, each subdivided into 4 zones. To begin, each party may choose to enter a zone through the black gates mapped in areas 1, 23, 33, 38, 49, 61, and 77.
Glyph keys are crystal pendants on bronze chains, which open magical gates in the Doomvault. Glyph keys can be attuned to the zones in the Doomvault complex.
Syranna gives each party one glyph key attuned to the zone they choose to enter first.
Somewhere in each zone is a Contact Stone marked by a circle of magic glyphs. Someone at a contact zone holding a glyph key can speak to Syranna in the Gatehouse.
You can attune a glyph key to a zone in one of two ways:
- Copy an attunement from one key to another. A different creature must hold each key, and then one of the holders must spend an action to make a successful Intelligence (Arcana) check.
- Bring a glyph key to a Contact Stone, where Syranna can attune the key to the zone where the stone is located.
A glyph key can be attuned to more than one zone.
White and Black Gates
The Doomvault includes two types of magical gates.
White gates create walls of force that bar passage. To open a white gate, you must carry a glyph key attuned to one of the zones bordering the gate.
Black gates enable teleportation to other black gates in the Doomvault. Black gates follow these rules:
- To enter a black gate, you must hold a key attuned to the zone where the gate is located.
- To teleport using a black gate, you enter the gate and think of your destination.
- Anyone who enters a black gate may teleport to the Gatehouse.
- Anyone who enters a black gate may teleport to the Seclusion Crypt, a demiplane only accessible by your characters, which offers you a place to rest and recover.
- To teleport from the black gate to a black gate in another zone, you must have a glyph key attuned to the destination zone.
You can teleport from the gatehouse to black gates in the complex using a glyph key attuned to the destination zone.
With either type of gate, someone holding a properly attuned key can stand in the gate and hold it open so others can pass. With black gates, the person holding the key decides on the destination.
The Seclusion Crypt
The Seclusion Crypt appears as an empty chamber, isolated in time and space. While time passes in this demiplane, no time passes in the world. This magic causes you to age one month for each hour spent in the crypt. Each time after the first time a character visits the crypt, the character’s hit point maximum drops by 5 until the character can complete a long rest outside the crypt.