Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Out of the Abyss" - Out of the Abyss, Chapter 23

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.


A rag-tag group of fugitves
experience one adventure after another
as they travel the Underdark
searching for a way home.

After helping to save Blingdenstone
from the Pudding King and his
army of oozes, the surviving 
escapees from Velkenvelve prepare 
for the long journey to the surface world...

Virtue - tiefling paladin and warlock, a mysterious wild card of unknown allegiance.
Ront - orc barbarian seeking redemption for his failures.
Ficus Asëa - eladrin sword-mage who became lose while helping escort deep gnome refugees back to Blingdenstone.
Jimjar - deep gnome rogue who likes to wager on everything.

Breya- human bard, sent to rescue Wulfric from duergar slavers, now seeking a way back to the surface.

Starshine - A mute moon elf, an escaped slave from Menzoberranzan.
Santaka - a baby red dragon, loyal to Virtue.

The were-rats of the Goldwhisker clan were cured of their affliction thanks to Virtue. The tiefling paladin now turned her attention to Prince Derendil.

Prince Derendil
Prince Derendil had maintained since their initial meeting that he was an elven aristocrat from the Overworld who had been polymorphed into the body of a vile quaggoth and sold into slavery. Virtue offered to remove his curse and return him to his true form. Prince Derendil accepted the offer and Virtue performed the ritual over the prince. Starshine the moon elf bounced and clapped at the prospect.

The prince jerked as if violently woken from slumber. He looked around confused. His eyes narrowed in comprehension. He bared his teeth as he understood where he was and who he was. He looked nervous. He acted like an animal cornered. Virtue formed her magical glaive and watched him cautiously. Starshine became nervous and backed against the wall.

Then the quaggoth took a deep breath and exhaled. He calmed himself and relaxed. He spoke and though his words were elvish he no longer did he possess the lyrical accent and affectation of an elven prince.

The quaggoth formerly known as Prince Derendil explained that he was once an ordinary quaggoth. He had been a slave to the drow. The madness that currently plagued the Underdark had affected him. He had come to believe in the fiction that he was an elven prince named Derendil. Now the curse was lifted and he could think clearly. But he was no mere quaggoth slave. His time with the fugitives had affected him deeply. He now saw the world through new eyes and with greater understanding.

He thanked Virtue for lifting the curse and he asked her to thank the others for the gift of conscience.

DM Note- Player Agency
We did the restoration of Derendil "off-camera". I told the players the outcome according to the book, with Prince Derendil becoming a quaggoth and attacking as he tried to flee. The players were unhappy with that ending so I gave them a poll of several better options. Virtue's player suggested the above so that became the new "canon".  

The tridon had finally arrived for the deep gnome guides to lead the Overworlders out of the Underdark and back to the surface. The guides included four svirfneblin guides and one pack lizard. Before they set out of Blingdenstone the Overworlders bade their farewells to their fellow fugitives and newfound friends.
Mister Floop
The flumph known as Mister Floop was a native of the Underdark and decided to continue his nomadic exploration of the lower world. The flumph would accompany Derendil through the Underdark as the quaggoth sought out the Society of Brilliance.


Glabagool the intelligent and friendly gelatinous cube would live and work in Blingdenstone where he would help keep the passages clean.


Breya and her companion Wulfric would be returning to the surface using a different route and would not be accompanying the other Overworlders.


Jimjar would accompany the expedition to the Overworld but would return to Blingdenstone with the deep gnome escorts.

The expedition then said goodbye to the dour and unemotional deep gnomes of Blingdenstone and set off in search of the secret path that led home.

The deep gnome guides led the expedition to what they called "the Long Stair". They explained that this secret stairway was one of the few passages to the surface. They entered into a large chamber. The far wall of the chamber contained massive stairs carved into the stone, winding into a passage cut into the ceiling. The chamber was littered with the ancient statues and giant cyclopean blocks of quarried stone.

No sooner had they entered the chamber when the path behind them became walled off with sticky impassable webbing cast from the spinners of massive spiders. They were trapped!

Their adversaries emerged from their hiding places within the chamber. Six quaggoths led by the drow commander Shoor emerged from behind the statue and quarried stone. Four drow led by the commander Jorlan took their positions spaced evenly along the stairs. A giant spider clung to the wall to the left while another giant spider sat atop the ancient statue. At the top of the stairs just below the passage into the ceiling was Mistress Ilvara.

The fugitives froze.

Ilvara called out, "I have come for my property! Render unto me the orc, the tiefling, and the deep gnome. They are slaves of the drow and belong to me. Surrender them to me and the rest of you may leave."

Ront looked back at Ficus. Would the elf sell them out? Ront wondered what he would do if the situation was reversed.

Ficus looked at Virtue. Virtue nodded in return. Ficus looked back at Ilvara and called back in response, "How about instead you surrender now and become my servant?"

Ilvara's eyes flashed with anger. She called forth the demonic powers of her goddess Lloth, summoning a swarm of insects that enveloped the travelers in a vortex of pestilence! The insects ate away at the living flesh of everyone caught within the maelstrom.
Starchild, RIP
The travelers found themselves surrounded by magical darkness that impeded their vision. Only Virtue's infernal magic could see through the inky blackness.

Starshine screamed and fell! Her body was covered by the ravenous swarm. Virtue alone saw the fate that befell the mute elf. She grit their teeth at the death of the innocent slave girl and spun to face her drow opponents.
The travelers quickly moved out of the swarm and the darkness and faced the charge of the quaggoths while arrows rained upon them from the stairs. The spider to the left clambered down and engaged the left flank while the spider on the statue cast webbing onto those below.
Ront charged the stairs and was met by Shoor. The two clashed swords in an epic struggle.

Virtue and Santaka fought their way past quaggoths  on their way to the base of the stairs.

Jimjar and the other deep gnomes occupied themselves fighting the giant spider that climbed down from the statue. When they were done with the spider they held the center against the quaggoths.

Ficus cast a spell of haste upon himself and easily defeated the quaggoths and giant spider that blocked his path. Ficus held his magical blade Dawnbringer aloft. The shining blade of light blazed forth with the full light of day. The drow shielded their eyes. Jorlan ordered one of the archers to cast darkness upon Ficus and the light of the blade was momentarily obscured.
Meanwhile the drow on the stairs would illuminate groups of fighters with magical faerie fire and create additional zones of darkness to block line of sight for the spellcasters. Little did they suspect that their darkness spells had no effect on Virtue.
Santaka took a running leap onto the base of the stairs and tore the throat out of a screaming drow archer. Jorlan rushed down the stairs to engage the baby dragon. Ilvara ordered that the dragon be captured alive. It would be useful in the future.

Virtue made her way to the dragon's side. Together they defeated Jorlan and continued their path up the stairs. Ficus defeated the quaggoths of the left flank and dashed across the room at an inhuman pace. Once he left the zone of darkness the room once more flared into brilliant daylight. Ficus paused only to cast another spell of haste upon Ront before joining Virtue and Santaka on their way up the steps.
Ront continued his struggle with Shoor. He eventually killed the drow and moved to help the Jimjar and the other deep gnomes take out the remaining quaggoths.

The Overworlders made quick work of the drow archers and made their way towards Ilvara. Ilvara called upon the aid of Lolth and was surrounded by whirling spider spirits. Virtue advanced up the stairs and was set upon by the attacking spirits. Ilvara brandished a magical rod. The end of the rod branched into many writhing tentacles. The tentacles lashed out and grabbed Virtue. Virtue was held fast!

With magically enhanced speed Ront left the remaining quaggoths behind and charged the stairs. There he joined Virtue and the rest in confronting Ilvara.
Ilvara's Wrath

Ilvara was now alone and desperate. She once more called upon her goddess Lolth for aid. With tears in her eyes she beseeched Lolth for the aid of the demon queen's handmaiden known as Yochol. But her call for help went unanswered. Ilvara had been abandoned by her demon-goddess.

Ficus dashed past and struck Ilvara with Dawnbringer. The elf attacked in a blur. Ilvara crumpled under the flaring onslaught of the magic sword. The elf paused over the fallen Ilvara. He considered taking her prisoner or leaving her to survive in the Underdark. The drow priestess looked back and sneered. Dawnbringer cleaved through Ilvara and cut her in two. The priestess was dead.

The travelers continued their journey without further incident. They climbed the miles and miles of stairs.

They eventually emerged in the ruins of an ancient city covered in trees and littered with fallen walls and columns. They said their goodbyes to Jimjar and the other deep gnomes and thanked them for their assistance.

The time eventually came to part ways. Ficus left for elven lands. Ront returned to the hills of his tribe. Virtue made her way back to civilization.

The surviving fugitives from Velkenvelve were no longer fugitives. They were free. They were safe. they thought about those who didn't make it. The halflings Kettle Bearclaw and Pain Grille'. The half-elves Angolwen and Talorean. They even spared a thought for the drow prisoner Sarith who was eaten by a Xorn.

The story of their escape from the Underdark was over. But the ultimate story of the Rage of Demons had just begun.


With that, we finish the first half of Out of the Abyss. The current plan is to take a few weeks off from D&D and play Hollow Earth Expedition. After that, we will decide if we want to return to Out of the Abyss or if we want to play something else D&D. 

Several of the players were dissatisfied with Out of the Abyss. Their complaints ranged from annoyance at the survival section in the first part of the adventure to lack of agency in several chapters to lack of a sense of place. These are all valid concerns. 

Some players want to continue and finish the story. Others aren't interested in finishing. We'll see how they feel when we re-convene in a few weeks.

In the meantime, get ready for some astounding tales of exploration and adventure with the daring heroes of The Seekers of the Unknown in the Elixir of Life!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"The Battle for Blingdenstone" - Out of the Abyss, Chapter 22

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.


A rag-tag group of fugitves
experience one adventure after another
as they travel the Underdark
searching for a way home.

While in Blingdenstone,
they discovered that the old
Royal Quarter was controlled
by an insane Deep Gnome
called the Pudding King,
who intends to use
his army of oozes, slimes, and jellies
to take over the city!

Chief Senni has called
a council of war
to decide what to do...

Virtue - tiefling paladin and warlock, a mysterious wild card of unknown allegiance.
Ront - orc barbarian seeking redemption for his failures.
Ficus Asëa - eladrin sword-mage who became lose while helping escort deep gnome refugees back to Blingdenstone.
Breya- human bard, sent to rescue Wulfric from duergar slavers, now seeking a way back to the surface.

Jimjar - deep gnome rogue who likes to wager on everything.

Prince Derendil - Elven prince in the body of a brutish quaggoth.
Starshine - A mute moon elf, an escaped slave from Menzoberranzan.
Mister Floop - a friendly flumph.
Glabbagool - an inquisitive but friendly Gelatinous Cube.
Santaka - a baby red dragon, loyal to Virtue.
Wulfric the Tinker - a male human and expert engineer and inventor.

Breya and Ficus were returning to Blingdenstone after successfully helping Yantha Coaxrock of the Stoneheart Enclave locate the lost location to Entemoch's Boon. There, Yantha had created new Earth Elementals two for the defense of the Stonheart Quarry and one for Blingdenstone itself.

Ficus asked Yantha if he could have an earth elemental. Yantha told him no, they were too valuable and were needed for the defense of the city.

DM Note- True story. This will become incredibly funny later.

Breya, Ficus, Yantha, and a handful of escorts, had just entered the gates and passed through the maze when they were met by a messenger.

"I am here to inform you that you are to be summoned to Diggermattock Hall for a council of war."

Yantha, taken aback, blinked and responded, "Of course. I'll be right there." She turned to her companions, "I'll meet you afterwards."

Ficus and Breya nodded.

The messenger continued, indicating Ficus and Breya, "My orders say that you, too, are invited."

Ficus blinked away his surprise and he and Freya followed Yantha and the messenger to Diggermattock Hall.

Dorbo and Senni
Senni had assembled representatives from each of the factions of Blingdenstone.

The room was filled with svirfneblin, were-rats, and ghosts.

Before Senni called the assembly to order, Ficus and  Ront exchanged greetings. When asked about the others, Ront said Jimjar wasn't invited and that Virtue was late. Ront did what he could to bring Ficus and Breya up to speed on the events of the last few tridons, but Ront was Ront.

During the introduction, Chipgrin waddled over and introduced himself to Ficus and Breya, saying he had heard all about them and that it was a pleasure to meet them. Ficus was dubious of the were-rat but withheld judgement.

Chipgrin the Were-rat

Senni called the council to order, introducing each of the factions.
  • Senni's husband, Dorbo Diggermattock, stood with Sark Axebarrel and the city guard.
  • Yantha Coakrock represented the Stoneheart Enclave. 
  • Kazook Pickshine represented the interests of the Miner's Guild.
  • A few of the city's ghosts hovered near the spirit of Burrow Warden Jadger.
  • Chipgrin led a small contingent of Goldwhisker were-rats.
  • Ront stood alone but welcomed the arrival of Ficus and Freya. 
Senni looked around the room, desperately searching for Virtue who still hadn't arrived. She soon gave up and asked (sigh) Ront (sigh) to relay his experiences with the court of the Pudding King.

Ront did his monosllyabic best to tell the story of how Chipgrin led them to a back passage, telling how they encountered the "Big Ghee-Hode" and the booming voice that told them to leave. He told of the walls covered in slimes and molds and jellies which shook and jumped along with the loud voice. 

During the story, the assembled deep gnomes looked at each other with increasing confusion as Ront used as many big words that his limited vocabulary could muster. 

When he finished, Senni thanked him and asked Chipgrin to continue, "What can you tell us about this Pudding King?"

Chipgrin told his story and said that the Pudding King was planning to take over Blingdenstone, and that the Goldwhiskers would leave before that happened.

Dorbo shouted, "Good! Leave! Clear out! You've never been welcome here!"
Sark Axebarrel, Captain of the Guard
Chipgrin hissed in defiance, but was silenced interrupted by Ficus, "Stop it! Dorbo, I've seen how many soldiers you have. If what Ront says is true, you'll never defeat the Pudding King with only thirty guards. You're going to have to work together with the were-rats if you want to have a chance."

Dorbo sat down. 

Ficus continued, "What do the rest of you have, what else do you bring to the table?"

Yantha offered, "I brought an Earth Elemental."

Ficus approved and pointed to his former master, Kazook Pickshine, "Master Pickshine, do you have any oil? How much alchemist fire do you have?"
Kazook Pickshine, Alchemist and leader of the Miner's Guild

Kazook answered, "We've got some lubricant but no lamp oil, if that's what you're asking. I only have a handful of flasks of alchemist fire."

"Could you make more?"

"Yes, but I'd need to acquire some more ingredients from the myconids in Neverlight Grove."

Ficus shook his head, "That's too far away."

Dorbo interrupted, "What about weapons? We've fought some of these slimes and our weapons melt away! We need better weapons from Gracklstugh!"
Ront shouted, "NO GRACKLSTUGH!"

Ficus agreed, "No, it's also too far away. What about you ghosts?"

Barrow Warden Jadjer cleared his throat and hovered higher, "Thanks to the efforts of these brave Overworlders, I believe I can rally the ghosts of Blingdenstone to our aid."

Ficus then said, "Okay, I've got a plan. I say you deep gnomes launch an attack against the Pudding King and all his oozes. This will distract him. Meanwhile, our team can sneak in the back way and attack the Pudding King in his throne room."

Dorbo excitedly interjected, "Yes! A frontal assault! We could put the earth elemental in the front. It would be the point of the spear. Meanwhile, the were-rats," he nodded towards Chipgrin, "could follow behind and be the shock troops. My men would bring up the rear."
Barrow Warden Jadjer, Ghost
Barrow Warden Jadjer offered, "The ghosts could weave in and out of the walls, causing mayhem!"

Dorbo nodded, "Yes! Perfect!"

Ront suggested, "Are oozes like cave slugs? Will salt hurt them? You could hurl salt with slings."

Kazook shrugged, "Couldn't hurt, I guess."

Senni brought the council to a close, "Excellent, then we have a plan. We shall assemble at the start of the next tridon. Assemble what you need and meet in the Trader's Grotto. We'll attack the House Center

After preparing and resting for a shift, the various teams assembled for their missions. The Overworlders were escorted into the Goldwhisker Warrens to the edge of the Pudding King's court. There they waited for the messenger with the signal that the attack had begun.

A few moments later, a messenger ran up and gave the signal. The Overworlders entered into Pudding territory. Ront, fearing the effect an ooze would have upon his blade, carried a two-handed bone club.

They entered into a large chamber with a pond of water on the left wall. They were met by three grey oozes and an ochre jelly. This initial resistance was soon defeated.

Virtue remembered that the path ahead led to the throne room. However, that path led past a ruined rothe' stockade containing a gibbering mouther, a beast the party was unwilling to confront. The party faced a decision - go forward and risk the gibbering mouther or go right and risk getting lost.

Virtue knew that the path to the right led to the old House Center, but perhaps there was another way past the gibbering mouther. She looked down the passage towards House Center and saw a quivering dark mass on the ceiling. She pointed it out to her companions and she, Ficus, and Breya peppered the dark shape with ranged spells. The dark shape retreated into a hole in the ceiling.

The party advanced. Ront led the way until he was standing under the hole containing the black shape. Suddenly the black pudding dropped from the ceiling, barely  missing Ront as it fell to the passage floor with a sickening wet "THWAP!" Simultaneously, two grey oozes emerged from the passage walls, attacking the rest of the party with their pseudopods.

Ront attacked the black pudding with his club. To his surprise the club began to dissolve! Ront dropped the club and switched to his sword. To his further horror, the sword split the black pudding into two halves with each continuing to attack independently from the other! After the others defeated the grey oozes with magical attacks, they helped Ront defeat the puddings.

They advanced forward and found themselves in the House Center where they witnessed the great battle raging near the entrance. They backed away, ignoring a side passage to the left, and decided to take the route past the gibbering mouther.

After returning to the cavern with the pond, they decided to take the path that led to the ruined stockade. Ront led the way and almost walked into a transparent gelatinous cube occupying the hallway. Ront was able to dodge out of the way as the cube advanced.

Ront, Virtue, and Santaka fought the gelatinous cube while Ficus withdrew to a safe distance behind a pillar. Unfortunately, Ficus was then attacked by an ochre jelly lurking in the darkness.

Virtue left the cube to Ront and rushed to aid Ficus.

Both the cube and the ochre jelly were eventually destroyed.

The party advanced forward, reaching the cavern that was once a deep gnome temple and later used as a rothe' stockade during the drow occupation. In the back of the cavern, they could hear the horrible cackling of the gibbering mouther, but the abomination made no effort to leave its home near the temple.

As they entered, they were met by four quivering black puddings!

Ficus ordered everyone to back up to the passage where they could constrain the puddings. Ront and Virtue held the front line against two puddings at a time while Breya and Ficus cast spells from the rear. Breya was able to damage two of them with a fireball spell.

The other two puddings acted with unusual intelligence, a trait bestowed upon them by the Pudding King, and kept out of sight of the spell casters.

Ront's club continued to degrade as he fought but thanks to the continuous spell attacks and Virtue's magic halberd, they were eventually able to defeat all four puddings and continue.

The gibbering thing ignored them as they continued towards the Pudding King's throne room. The Overworlders came upon an intersection of several passages. Standing in the middle was an old wrinkled deep gnome wearing a tattered cape. The deep gnome's features were wrinkled and droopy. His body was covered in wet glistening slime.

The Pudding King was waiting for the Overworlders, "I see my welcoming party failed to keep you properly entertained. No matter, my loyal children, Princess Ebonmire and Prince Livid, shall tarry with you while I complete my preprations to welcome the Faceless Lord!"

At his signal, a black pudding and a grey ooze poured from holes in the ceiling, forming roughly humanoid shapes. The black shape was vaguely female while the grey shape was that of a young boy. The female spoke, "Yes, father. We shall have oh so much fun with out guests!"

The boy ooze jiggled evily as he chuckled.

The Pudding King looked pleased, "Excellent! Devour them, my precious children! Make your father proud!" With a wave of his hand he turned into a cloud of mist and blew away down one of the passages.

Ront charged and battle was joined. Prince Livid fell quickly. Princess Ebonmire gurgled a horrid scream at the death of her brother, "You will pay for that!"

Princess Ebonmire began hurling globs of black goo at the Overworlders, forcing Ficus to withdraw in pain. Ront engaged her in a fierce melee.

The Princess proved a match for Ront, splitting several times and reducing both Ront's club and two-handed sword to flaccid ruins. With a howl of anger, Ront was forced to reluctantly withdraw and his place was taken by Virtue.

DM Note- Ront was down to 1 hit point and had to withdraw to drink a healing potion. He had ruined both his weapons and was not reduced to daggers.

Eventually Princess Ebonmire was defeated. As she burst into a large puddle of black syrpy liquid, she disgorged two arcane tomes bound in troglodyte hide. Both books had titles in gnomish, so Ficus put them away for later. The party continued their pursuit of the Pudding King.

After navigating the confusing passages and caverns of the House Center, they eventually came upon the chamber of the Pudding King's throne.

In the rear of the large cavern was a stone throne, behind which stood the Pudding King. The ceiling dripped with dangling draperies of green slime.

The Pudding King laughed, "Callooh! Callay! Now you can join the party! You can be one with the Faceless Lord! Just let yourselves be eaten and disgorged!"

The Pudding King
The party studied the dripping green slime and hesitated at the entrance. The Pudding King cast a spell upon them and they were engulfed in a cloud of noxious gas! Coughing and gagging, Ront, now wielding one of Virtue's halberds, charged the Pudding King behind his throne, dodging green slime as it fell from the ceiling with Virtue not far behind. Breya moved out of the gas but stayed towards the rear of the room.

Ficus moved into the room and disappeared, only to suddenly reappear behind the Pudding King!

The Pudding King was just about to move the killing cloud over Breya when he was attacked by Ficus wielding the brilliant sun-blade known as Dawn! The Pudding King lost his concentration and the cloud dissapated!

The Pudding King then tried to magically disappear into a puff of mist but was stopped by a counterspell from Ficus.

The Pudding King reached out towards Ficus, grabbing his arm. Ficus began to wither like a raisin as his life force was drained by the magical Blight spell.

Green slime fell on Virtue, singing her with acid, but her instinctive counterattack flared forth into a halo of fire, burning away the slime instantly!

In a last ditch effort, the Pudding King turned himself into a black pudding. Ront attacked the pudding with his halberd cutting it into two. He attacked again, splitting again. There were now three black puddings, but the Pudding King had been split too many times. Some quick application of firebolt spells and a gout of flame from Santaka finally destroyed all three black puddings.

When the last pudding was burst, it reformed into the wounded body of the Pudding King, "You haven't won! No! We will rise from our children! We will be reborn from the Faceless Lord! Juiblex will consume the banquet of the Queen fo Fungi and we... will... all... grow...!"

As the Pudding King died, so too did the intelligence of the oozes he controlled.

Soon after the Pudding King's death, Sark Axebarrel and Dorbo Diggermattock rushed in followed by several battle-weary guards. They announced that the jellies, oozes, and slimes suddenly stopped fighting as an army and began to flee before their attack! The battle was won!

The Overworlders were escorted back to the massive geode palace in House Center where Senni, Chipgrin, the were-rats, and the guards were mopping up and killing every last ooze that remained. When Senni learned what the Overworlders had done, she came over and thanked them.

The following shift, the Overworlders were properly rewarded at a ceremony in the now liberated royal palace. For their efforts in defeating the Pudding King, they were awarded a magical Stone of Earth Elemental Control!

DM Note- Ficus got his earth elemental! 

After the battle, Virtue spent the next four or five tridons curing the were-rats of their lycanthropy. Meanwhile, the deep gnomes prepared an expedition to the surface.

The Overworlders were returning home!

Next week: The journey home!

Coming soon: We'll be taking a short break from Out of the Abyss for a few months and playing something different. I'm currently thinking of a science fiction space opera game in a galaxy with magic and space gods. It's going to be a Star Wars knock-off in the tradition of Message From SpaceBattle Beyond the Stars, Starchaser: the Legend of Orin, or Starcrash. 

Finally, I leave you with this: Trevor, who plays Virtue, dropped his huge d20 on his own nutsack, causing much pain and laughter, and when the dice landed on the table, it rolled a natural 20! PERFECT!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"Goldwhisker Warrens" - Out of the Abyss, Chapter 21

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.


A rag-tag group of fugitves
experience one adventure after another
as they travel the Underdark
searching for a way home.

The fugitives continue their work
helping the deep gnomes of Blingdenstone.
After defeating the medusa Neehedra
and re-consecrating the Steadfast Stone,
they rescued many deep gnome hostages
from a drow trap in the Stonehart Quarry.

Now in order to secure passage to the Overworld
they must carry a diplomatic message
to the wererats of Goldwhisker Warrens.

Virtue - tiefling paladin and warlock, a mysterious wild card of unknown allegiance.
Jimjar - deep gnome rogue who likes to wager on everything.
Ront - orc barbarian seeking redemption for his failures.

Ficus Asëa - eladrin sword-mage who became lose while helping escort deep gnome refugees back to Blingdenstone.
Breya- human bard, sent to rescue Wulfric from duergar slavers, now seeking a way back to the surface.

Prince Derendil - Elven prince in the body of a brutish quaggoth.
Starshine - A mute moon elf, an escaped slave from Menzoberranzan.
Mister Floop - a friendly flumph.
Glabbagool - an inquisitive but friendly Gelatinous Cube.
Santaka - a baby red dragon, loyal to Virtue.
Wulfric the Tinker - a male human and expert engineer and inventor.

Upon returning from their rescue mission to Stoneheart Quarry, the Fugitives from Velkenvelve rested and recuperated. They awoke the following shift and gathered in the common room of the Foaming Mug inn. Ficus, Breya, and Wulfric were nowhere to be seen. Jimjar was entertaining Starshine with sleight-of-hand games. The mute moon elf would sile and clap excitedly at every new surprise.

A few moments later, a runner appeared to summon the Overworlders to Diggermattock Hall. Virtue, Jimjar, Ront prepared to leave. Prince Derendil said, "Perhaps our royal personage may be of some assistance with this matter? We get so lonely and bored being left behind."

They said, "Sure, come along. Starshine, please stay here."

Mister Floop floated up, "I, too, shall join you!" The others shrugged.

Virtue spent a moment looking for Glabbagool and soon all six were returning with the runner.

Senni and Dorbo, the co-regents, had a mission for them. Senni had drafted a letter to be delivered to Chipgrin, the leader of the Goldwhisker clan of wererats. She wanted the Fugitives were to deliver the letter in the hopes that their neutrality would be accepted by the wererats.
Dorbo and Senni Diggermattock
Dorbo handed Virtue the sealed letter and leaned close, whispering, "While you are there, take note of their numbers and defenses. I am confident that this offering will fail and, when it does, I will be sending in a force of city guard to clear out the warrens once and for all."

The great metal doors that kept the Goldwhisker Warrens sealed away from the rest of Blingdenstone were opened and the Fugitives cautiously entered the forbidden quarter of the city.

Jimjar cautiously scouted ahead. He easily noticed that the cavern ahead was lined with holes in the walls and noted the pressure-sensitive plate concealed beneath the heavy tarp and covered with cave dust. As he disarmed the trap, four deep gnome guards wearing rags and bits of armor came charging out the darkness.

The guards demanded that the intruders lay down their weapons and surrender!

Virtue complied, dismissing her magical halberd and holding up her hands. She showed the letter and explained, carefully, that they had come to deliver a message to Chipgrin. The Diggermattocks wished a truce in order to deal with the oozes that were plaguing the city. The others, meanwhile, kept their weapons in hand but stayed their attack.

The deep gnome guards hesitated. At the mention of the oozes, two of the guards exchanged a knowing glance.

Virtue continued, reassuring the guards that they meant no harm. Jimjar muttered something under his breath.

One of the guards became agitated, "What did he say? WHAT DID HE SAY??"

Ront rushed forward, slapping the guard down with the flat of his sword. The guard went sprawling to the floor, clutching his face in pain. Ront pointed his sword at the second guard and shouted, "NA-GO-SHAY-SHUNS OVER!!"

The other guards shrank back, "Right. Um. This way." and led the Fugitives towards the Miner's Hall.

The Fugitives were led into the Miner's Hall, a large cavern where ore was once smelted into metal. The forges now sat dark and empty but the room was alive with dozens of disheveled deep gnomes. They were lean, wiry, with long noses and beady eyes, and wore pelts and rags.

The largest and fattest among them stepped forward. One of the guards whispered into his ear and he turned towards the outsiders, announcing, "Greetings. I am Chipgrin, leader of the Goldwhisker Clan. I hear you have a message for me. Come. Join me in my office."
Chipgrin Goldwhisker
He led the Fugitives up a stairway cut into the stone to a wide ledge overlooking the hall. There were chairs here and a large throne covered in the pelt of a cave badger.

"Let's get down to brass hobnails, then. You were sent by the Diggermattocks, 'cause they want us out, am I right? Well, they might get their wish soon enough, see, but in a way they ain't likely to cheer about!"

Virtue asked what he meant.

"This whole here city, see. It's getting run over by them oozes, what with the Pudding King controlling them! It's getting rough to survive here in the old warrens. So we figures we might takes our chances elsewhere."

Virtue was intrigued by the mention of the Pudding King and asked for more.

"Oh, I remembers him from when he worked in the tunnels, and my kin saw him when he returned. I know who is he is, what he's doing, and - most of all - where he can be found! I know all about he what calls himself the Pudding King!"

Virtue inquired further, "Is he tied somehow to the demon lord Jubilex?"

"I have no ideas whats a Doobielick is. I ain't never heard of that so I can't say.  But enough about that, what's this about a letter?"

Virtue gave Chipgrin the letter. Chipgrin opened the letter, read it thoughtfully, crumpled it up, and threw it away.

"It's what I thought. Senni wants our help to fight the Pudding King! Hah! The words of the Diggermattocks aren't worth the trillimac its written on! I care not for their offering. I know that Dorbo wants us all dead! It's probably some kinds of what ya call a ruse to get us to leave!

"Well, they'll get their way soon enough. Blingdenstone is doomed and we're leaving it to him. Sure, we could team up with the Diggermattocks, but I don't TRUST the Diggermattocks! But you, you are outsiders. I have no reason to distrust you, yet. What do YOU think? Do you think this offer is genuine? If we were to team up against the Pudding King, would the Diggermattocks honor their agreement or would they turn on us?"

Virtue considered Senni's genuine optimism against Dorbo's antagonism. "I think if we helped, they'd honor the deal. We'd make sure of it. But maybe as a sign of good faith, you could show us where we could find the Pudding King. Do you have a map or something?"

"Hah! We're Svirfneblin! There are no maps! But you got yourself what ya call a deal! We'll take you to where you can find the Pudding King, fair and square!"

Chipgrin and a handful of guards led the Fugitives down some abandoned tunnels, past some that reeked with foul smell, and to a dark passage, from which echoed a thousand constant squicking sounds.

"Be careful of this here passage, it be trapped. To the right is the House Center, former palace of the royal family. Keep going straingt and you'll find what was once a Rothe' stockade. Behind that is where I think he hides him what calls himself the Pudding King!"

Virtue said, "This shouldn't take too long. Lets get in there, take him out, and leave!"

Jimjar took a deep breath, "All right, let's do it!"

Mister Floop shuddered, "Mmm.. Your optimism is DELICIOUS!"

DM Note - Jeffy's Back!
One of our long time players, Jeffy, returned for one night only after being gone for over a year. We gave him Mister Floop to play because Mister Floop is right up Jeffy's alley. He slid into that role like he owned it! He had us cracking up every five minutes!

The Fugitives advanced cautiously. Jimjar was sent ahead to scout.

Jimjar went towards the House Center to take a peek. As he approached, he could feel his boots begin to stick to the wet muddy ground, only it wasn't mud it was slime.

In the House Center, he saw the massive hollow stone geode of the palace, over a hundred feet in diameter, suspended from the ceiling by immense columns of crystal. Other crystals rose from the ground to pierce the sides, forming stairs and entrances. It was as he remembered, only now the entire structure was covered in writhing pulsating slimes and amoebas!

The wet slurping sound was deafening. The walls of the cavern were covered in slime - dripping, sickening, green slime! The room was filled with dozens, scores, possibly hundreds of types of slimes of various color and consistency, yellow, green, black, grey, all mixed together in a disgusting stew!

A disembodied voice echoed through the cave, "What this, what's this? Visitors? Now? Not yet! We're not ready! Go away, pests! I will call upon thee and all of Blingdenstone to announce our glad tidings of the Faceless Lord to come at the proper time! Begone!"

Jimjar's eyes grew wide as the waving tendrils and pseudopods waved and danced to the booming sound of the voice. When the voice stopped, the slimes began to slowly move towards Jimjar.

Jimjar bared his teeth in concern and retreated from the room. He rejoined his companions and told them what he saw.

"Let's not go that way!" was the consensus.

Virtue and Jimjar both noticed Glabbagool slowly wandering towards the House Center. Virtue called for Glabbagool and the gelatinous cube snapped out if its trance. "Sorry. I'm here. What?"

"Are you okay?"

"Um. Do you not feel that?"

"Are you still in control, Glabbagool?"

"Yes? Yes! Yes I am!"

They pushed on to the old rothe' stockade. Behind the stockade was an ancient temple, long ruined. This room, too was covered in slimes, puddings, and oozes, blocking the path to the room Chipgrin indicated beyond. The oozes quivered and slowly heaved in their direction.

The Fugitives carefully backed away. Once again, Glabbagool moved slowly towards them. Virtue and Jimjar both called for Glabbagool but this time the call was too great, they were unable to snap the ooze out of its trance.

Ront ran forward and slashed his sword across Glabbagool's gelatinous side, cutting a wide gash. Glabbagool immediately returned to normal. "Sorry! Sorry! Let's go!"

The Fugtives retraced their steps, wary to avoid disturbing any slimes.

Upon exiting the Warrens, the Fugitives returned to Diggermattock Hall to report. Virtue said that the Goldwhiskers would consider making peace and helping Blingdenstone against the Pudding King. Virtue reported on the impending departure of the Goldwhiskers and described the scene in the old House Center. Virtue told the Diggermattocks of the Pudding King and of some impending event suggesting that action be taken sooner rather than later.

Virtue was about to suggest some kind of covert mission when Senni cut her off, "We should act immediately! Please offer my invitation to Chipgrin to join us at a council of war. You, too, are invited and your input would be invaluable." She turned to her guards, "Summon all the clans and guilds. We must make plans for war!"


Next week: the Battle for Blingdenstone!