Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Lost and Alone" - Out of the Abyss, Chapter 5

"Warlord" Kettle with his swords: Jelly and Jam

What follows is an illustrated dramatic retelling of my group's play through of the D&D campaign setting, "Out of the Abyss". SPOILERS for anyone wishing to play in this campaign.


Fifteen escaped slaves
lost and alone in the Underdark
on their way to Gracklestugh
the city of the Grey Dwarves
are separated by a massive cave-in
they agree to reunite 
at the Cavern of the Crimson Column...

Talorean - Half-drow abandoned at birth to be raised by wolves.
Angolwen - Wizard of mixed human/elven parentage.
Kettle Bearclaw - Halfling baker living among dwarves.
Pain Grille' - Halfling street urchin from Waterdeep.
Virtue - Tiefling paladin and a mysterious wild card.

Hemeth - Duergar trader rescued from Sloobludopp.
Ront - Thuggish orc from the surface world. Respects authority and follows Talorean's commands.
Eldeth - Dwarven scout from Gauntlgrym, competent and proud.
Prince Derendil - Elven prince in the body of a brutish quaggoth.
Sarith - Drow guard sentenced to die for murdering a fellow guard.
Buppido - An uncharacteristically friendly Derro with secrets. Everyone assumes he's an assassin.
Jimjar - a roguish deep gnome who likes to wager on everything.
Topsy and Turvy - Deep gnome twins who define word "annoying".
Stool - a myconid sprout that follows Kettle like a pet follows its owner.

There was a cave-in. Talorean was injured and unconscious. Ront refused to leave his side. Topsy left the group and ran away into the darkness desperately searching for her brother.
Moments later, Angolwen noticed her bag containing her wand, spellbook, and components was missing. Topsy had evidently taken it.

Hemeth refused to risk getting lost looking for Topsy. Buppido offered to accompany Angolwen in finding Topsy and retrieving her belongings. They would return soon.

Buppido led Angolwen through some small passages, some barely large enough for Angolwen to crawl through. They came to a bend in the cavern, Buppido signaled to wait and scouted ahead. He returned and said that he had found Topsy up ahead, resting, and that Angolwen should sneak up on her. He would guard her back.

Angolwen crept forward. As she rounded the bend, she saw that the passage led to a dead end and that Topsy was nowhere to be seen. She turned around and saw Buppido raise a wavy-bladed kris dagger, growling, "You will make an excellent sacrifice!"

DM Note- I gave Buppido a poisoned dagger with only one use of 3d6 poison damage drow poison. 
He plunged the poisoned dagger into Angolwen who staggered back, wounded but alive. She fought back but was unable to cast her spell. He stabbed her again. Angolwen finally cast her spell, burning the derro with magical fire. He cursed and turned to flee. As a parting shot, she kicked him between the legs as hard as she could. The injured derro screamed as he ran off into the darkness, leaving Angolwen lost and alone.

DM Note- Buppido had 3 hit points left when he turned to flee. Angolwen made an unarmed attack of opportunity with a critical hit! Angolwen's player described it as a kick to the nards. Unarmed attacks do 1 point of damage, doubled to 2. He had 1 hit point left and fled into the darkness.

Angolwen wandered the caves alone for several hours, not knowing which turn to take or through which passage she originally came. Eventually, she saw a dark silhouette lurking ahead. As she came nearer, she saw that it was a diminutive rat-human hybrid watching her at a distance. Most remarkbly, the hybrid was holding the bag containing her belongings. Whether the creature somehow stole her belongings from her without her noticing or whether it obtained them from Topsy, she knew not.

The rat-thing noticed her approach and fled. Angolwen cast a web spell in front of the rat-thing, blocking its escape. The rat-thing turned and rat towards her. It tried to run past her but Angolwen intercepted it and grabbed her bag. The rat-thing cried, "No-no-no-no!" and escaped her grasp. The rat-thing joined another of its kind waiting nearby. The other rat-thing glared at Angolwen until its parter ran past, then both rat-things ran away together.

Angolwen was once again alone in Underdark. She wandered for many more hours, foraging a few pounds of mushrooms to eat and sleeping a few hours when she became too tired to walk any more.

As she wandered alone in the dark, Angolwen became aware of the sound of creatures shuffling towards her. She stole a look around the bend and saw the slow shambling approach of four quaggoths, bestial albino bear-men and slaves of the drow. She cast a spell to disguise herself as a drow and waited for the creatures to come into view.

To her surprise, the four creatures shuffled past her, ignoring her presence. She looked closer and saw small mushrooms and fungi growing from their heads and faces. She recoiled in disgust and let the brutes shuffle past unmolested.

A few hours later, Angolwen came across a massive cavern. The ceiling of the cavern collected a softly glowing gas that provided dim illumination over the remains of a ruined city. Angolwen searched the city but found nothing but half-demolished walls and collapsed ceilings. She continued wandering.

Stopping to rest, Angolwen foraged for food and water and was able to find a few pounds of edible mushrooms and a large pool of fresh water. She filled her two gallon water skins and laid down to rest for a few hours.

Angolwen awoke to a yellow-brown slime creature smothering her! She was able to crawl out from under it and blasted it with magical fire, but the slime creature had consumed her food and water, dissolving her water skin with its acidic secretions. She grabbed her spell bag and moved away. The jelly creature followed her slowly. Angolwen kept her distance, moving away as it moved closer, and zapping it with magical fire until the brown slime monster was dead. Unfortunately, she was not without food or water.

Angolwen wandered lost through the subterranean caverns for what must have been days. She could find no food or water and had become exhausted. She dragged her feet and staggered through the gloom.

Kettle and Pain were arguing about inconsequential matters when they spied a bedraggled figure shambling out of the darkness. It was Angolwen! She had finally found the other half of her split party. They immediately shared what food and water they could with her and laid down to rest for several hours.

The party's rest was interrupted when it was attacked by five goblin raiders and their boss. The assault scored some initial success as it swarmed over the party as it struggled to wake and get to their feet. Eventually, the goblins were repulsed and the boss was forced to flee. Kettle called out, "Know that you were defeated by Warlord Kettle!" to which the goblin boss replied, "Curse you, Warlord Kettle! I will have my revenge!" as it fled into the darkness.
The Goblin Boss will have his revenge!

After the goblin attack, the party gathered their gear and continued to travel through the caverns to the Crimson Column. They came across a strange series of passages and caverns. It was as if the they were traveling through the interior of a cyclopean stone sponge. It seemed all too easy to become lost in such a bewildering array of passages. On top of that, Pain noticed that he had become light headed and dizzy - the cavern was filled with poison gas!

They were about to turn around and find another route when they heard the sound of cries for help coming from within the sponge-like caves. The cries became weak and faded, as if they had fallen unconscious. Pain and Kettle were discussing ways to connect ropes and safely explore the caves a few hundred feet at a time when Virtue ran past them in a daring rescue attempt. Pain and Kettle exchanged a silent look of exasperation and ran after her.

Inside the gas-filled caves, they found three male shield dwarves. The dwarves were dressed in rags and looked malnourished. Virtue, Pain, and Kettle grabbed them and carried them back.

Once revived, the dwarves explained that they were slaves from Gracklestugh. They had reached the end of their usefulness and were set free in the Underdark. They had been wandering for who-knew-how-long, lost and hungry. Although they were loathe to return to the place from whence they escaped, they were more afraid of dying alone in the dark and agreed to join the party. Once back in Gracklestugh, they would be disguised.

The party retraced their steps and found another path that avoided the gas-filled chamber, adding miles to their route. They continued on their journey, stopping to rest three more times without incident.

After the third rest, they found themselves in a passage sloping down. As they descended, Pain once again became light-headed and dizzy. They were descending into a pocket of heavier-than-air gas. Unwilling to add more miles to their route, they continued ahead.  The passage eventually reached its nadir and turned sharply upward. At this point, severl members of the party, including the three dwarf slaves, could take no more of the noxious gas and collapsed. As the party paused to attend to the fallen, four tentacled monstrosities emerged from the ceiling of the passage!  Sarith called out, "Gricks!"

The gricks had bodies like snakes with heads replaced with four writing tentacles around a gnashing beak the size of a man's head. Each tentacle ended in a sharp barb. The tentacles moved through burrows in the stone and emerged to drop upon prey that fell unconscious.

The gricks dropped on the party. Two of the gricks busied themselves grabbing the bodies of the fallen dwarves in the rear of the group while the other two attacked the rest of the party at the front of the group. A brutal fight ensued! The thick hide of the grick seemed to deflect blades and arrows. At one point, Angolwen case a Thunderwave spell, killing one grick and gravely wounding the other. Unfortunately, her spell also had the effect of thoroughly dismembering the bodies of the fallen dwarves. Eventually all the gricks were slain but several members of the party had been severely wounded.

On the assumption that gricks dragged their prey back to their lairs, Pain decided to climb into the grick tunnels. He found their now abandoned lair, as well as a full suit of plate mail which was claimed by Virtue, the only member of the party who would benefit from wearing such heavy armor.

Kettle decided to butcher the gricks for meat to add to their food supply of foraged mushrooms. With 73 pounds of fungi and 56 pounds of grick meat, the party was doing well for food. Unfortunately, they had found little water and were down to 13 gallons of water when they decided to stop and rest.

The rest was uneventful. Unfortunately, no one noticed when they were spied upon by an advance party of drow scouts.

At the conclusion of their rest, while the party was gathering their gear to continue their trek, they were taken by surprise when a force of eight drow warriors led by Shoor and Jorlan. Near them was Mistress Ilvara. She pointed her writhing tentacle lash at the party, "There they are! Capture them!"

Mistress Ilvara!


DM Notes-
It may read like not a lot of substantive events happened this week. Just a bunch of random encounters. Unfortunately, what my write-up isn't able to capture is the amount of role-playing and interaction going on between the players and each other and with the NPCs. They finally got a chance to sit and talk with some of the NPCs they wanted to get to know better.

There's the beginnings of a romance starting between Virtue and Sarith. 

Stool follows Kettle around like a loyal dog, albeit one that talks like a ten-year-old. They take watches together. 

Kettle has declared himself "Warlord" and has fashioned a makeshift banner that he wears on his back. 

Pain got a chance to get to know Jimjar and Prince Derendil a little better.

Ront has become a loyal follower of Valorean and will do anything the half-drow nature paladin says.

Despite his seeming hatred of them, Pain has formed a kind of love-hate bond with the twins and was actually kind of sorry to see them disappear. 

What's also encouraging is that the players have vowed to keep all of the NPCs alive and help them all return home. Zero breakage. The three dwarves that were killed by the gas and later eaten by gricks don't count, apparently, because they were added later. Nor does Hemeth. They count sending Eldeth off with her clansmen as a "mini-ding" since she's reunited with her "people", as do they count leaving Suushar to rebuild Sloobludopp. 

They never liked Buppido and I was very happy to finally get a chance for him to try to murder someone! He may have left the party but I have a feeling he'll be back!

The crazy thing is, they're only HALFWAY to Gracklestugh! Hopefully we can speed things up a bit next week. 
Sarith, looking a little bedraggled after fifteen days wandering the Underdark.