I sat down to write today’s comic and thought to myself, “Self? When the crap did your players lat use an item in an inventive way?”

And my self replied: “You mean like with the masterwork snorkel?”

Allow me to explain.

First and foremost this is another adventure from my long-running Pathfinder 1e megadungeon. Our heroes were seeking the true tomb of the local Important Dead Guy (IDG). Because IDG was a diabolical bastard, the dungeon was almost 100% puzzles and traps. My players loved to hate it, which is why they celebrated so hard when they actually figured something out.

Here’s the relevant bit from Room 324 of Monte Cook’s Dragon’s Delve.


Summary: This elaborate tomb is designed to throw off intruders.

Sights and Sounds: An almost supernatural calm hangs in the air of this large chamber. Four thick, elaborate columns stand in the western half of the chamber, carved with the images of cloaked figures on four sides. In the north, a wide alcove holds a shrine with the painted statue of a weeping woman. Its opposite in the south holds a smaller shrine with an engraved plaque. Between them, a dust- covered but still serviceable carpet of black and gold threads lays on the floor. In the eastern end of the chamber you see three sarcophagi. The centralmost reclines in a painted alcove, bearing many registered panels of relief carvings. The other two, flanking it, are smaller and have carved lids.

The Columns: Each of the four columns has four robed figures carved into it. A Search check (DC 25) reveals that one of the figures on the northeast column has a hidden switch. If activated, this switch makes the figure in the northern shrine begin to cry real tears.

The Northern Shrine: This shrine features a mourning human woman in traditional funerary dress. If the switch on one of the columns is activated, the woman sheds a few actual tears. (This is a partially mechanical, partially magical effect, with a faint aura of conjuration.)

The Southern Shrine: This shrine features a plaque with engraved writing. No manner of magic or skill can decipher the words– they appear to be in no known language. However, if touched with the tears produced by the northern shrine, the writing becomes clear. It reads, “This is the true tomb of the Wizard-Priest Orr… Put your hand upon his coffin and ask for his blessing.”

As you might guess, this slightly convoluted setup is all about guess-and-check gameplay. If the players muck about and start opening tombs at random, they’re likely to activate the tomb guards in the smaller sarcophagi. That was something of a theme in the Tomb of Orr: Use brute force rather than brains, and you get punished. My players had begun to cotton on.

“What’s going to kill us this time?”

“Where’s the trap?”

“Everything’s a friggin’ trap!”

The dungeon had taught them well. They began to check every little column and crevice. They poked at the carpet and the plaque. They threw divinations and detections spells at the tombs. They mage-handed little rocks at the statue to see if she’d spring to life and attack. And that’s when they rolled their first decent check.

“The woman in the funerary dress,” I said, “Seems at first to be an unremarkable statue. Peering into her stony expression, however, you notice something odd about the eyes. This statue isn’t entirely solid. It looks as if something is meant to comes out of her tear ducts.”

That was the only hint they needed. My players went into a huddle. They reasoned and logic’d. They went through the party inventory. And when they came back out of ye olde conference room, they brought a plan with them.

“I have a small black of sealing wax,” said the bard.

“I have a masterwork snorkel,” said the bloodrager.

“I have the confused condition,” said yours truly.

Then they did one of the cleverest things I’ve ever seen players do. They used the wax to seal one end of the snorkel to the statue’s eyes. Then the bloodrager blew into the snorkel.

“Make a Strength check,” I said.

“Can I rage first?” said the bloodrager.

The resulting torrent of magically enhanced lung capacity surged through the pipes behind the statues eyes, to the robed figure in the northeast column, and up to that statue’s hidden switch.

“You can see its ears jiggle slightly,” I told them.

“I stick my finger in its ear!” said the jubilant bard.

And that’s the story of how my brave band of dungeon delvers got fat loot (if not the fattest loot. The real Tomb of Orr lay deeper down.) In any case, they earned their reward that day, and I’ve never been prouder of them.

What about the rest of you genius adventurers  though? When was the last time you made like Swash and Buckle (and my own ingenious delvers) and used an item for other-than-its-intended-purpose? Give us all  your best cannon pistols and arrowheads of total destruction down in the comments!


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