Once again, I am playing catch up on the blog posts. I was remiss for several months. We played several games of Mutant Crawl Classics, which was semi-documented in the last blog post. We also played several sessions of other board games.
This week, we were in our third session of Out of the Abyss. This little gem has been on the bookshelf since mid 2015. I just haven’t got it to the table, since I have so many other things I want to run and play.
This is a nice little adventure in the Underdark. I have a love hate relationship with the Underdark. First of all, it involves elves. I hate elves. Their hoity toity holier than thou attitude just pisses me off. I can’t explain it. I just dislike elves. The only version of elves I ever liked was in the Monster Hunter novels, where the elves were trailer trash. In Monster Hunter, J.R.R Tolkein was a fanboy of the Monster Hunter organization, but was never allowed to really be involved. In the MH world, the goblins and orcs are the good guys. They were brutal horrific fighters with magical abilities to use weapons, but they fought for good, and the Elves were a bunch of self possessed poor white trash, living in run down single wide trailers at the end of a long private road.
Most depictions of elves in fantasy involve a beautific people who live forever and have an ambivalent view on the rest of the world. They have some form of inherent magic.
Woot, I am an elf, I live in trees. I can cast magic and have a lot of filigree on all of my shit. I prance around looking down my nose at everyone else. Whoop-de-fucking do.
Look at this bastard. He (she?) is the prototypical elf in most fantasy games. He even rides a moose, not a horse, not even a deer. I mean how fucking full of yourself do you have to be to ride a moose? A llama may be cool, but a fucking moose? How goddamn motherfucking pretentious is that?
Some people want to play this. Me. No. I want to have my half orc kill the bastard in many ways.
See, this is the type of character I like to play.
I think the problem is that when I look at all of the rules in a game, magic tends to become very complicated. In general, I don’t like the magic in a high fantasy game. Magic is a ridiculous expansion where mages are stupidly overpowered in my opinion.
Look at the 5th Edition cantrips. The magic users and clerics have cantrips that they can pop off every round all day long that do damage. In 1st edition D&D, cantrips didn’t exist. I remember getting a book in the early 1980’s that introduced cantrips as low level useful spells that allowed for the mage or cleric to be somewhat useful after their limited spells are consumed for the day. The cantrips were like light, or prestidigitation, or some such thing. These cantrips were interesting and allowed for role play.
In Mathfinder and D&D (any version 3.0 and beyond) mages and clerics have massively powerful spells that they can pop off in one round. This doesn’t make sense to me. A massively powerful spell should take a while to generate and manifest itself… in my mind.
One way to control the magic craziness in D&D and Mathfinder is to limit the mage’s use of magic to one or two colleges of magic. In GURPS, you have a tree of spells that you need to have specific spells in order to get other spells. You don’t just get to cherry pick the spells based on what you want to do. You need to follow a college of magic, and get all of the prerequisites for a spell in order to get the use of that spell.
In Dungeon Crawl Classics, you have the opportunity to botch a spell, and if you botch it badly enough, something bad happens. It can be really bad.
D&D has some rules which are not usually followed by players, where in order to get a spell, you need to spend time learning the spell, along with some money. Many players who are magic users or the such level up inside a dungeon, and then select the new spells that they can have, since, of course, leveling up allows you to have more higher level spells, along with more spells in your spellbook. What people don’t seem to understand is that there is no gift from god that drops new spells on you. If you are in the middle of a dungeon, you need to find a new spell, and even if you find a scroll or a mages book which can grant you new spells, you still need to spend time (in some cases weeks, or months) to understand and master the spell. If a magic user levels up in a dungeon, and doesn’t find a scroll or mages book, and spends the long time to learn the spell, they shouldn’t get to use the higher level spells, unless they take the 1st level spell and cast it at a higher level.
Somehow, rogues magically get better at sneak attacks without being trained. Fighters get better at fighting without being trained. Players get new feats without being trained.
Now that being said, in an adventure like Out of the Abyss, that is problematic for spellcasters and fighters. There is no real downtime for the player characters to learn a new skill, feat, spells etc. The learning of new feats, skills and spells should be tied to finding a master who is willing to take on the PC and be paid for learning the new ability. In Out of the Abyss, the PC’s are in a very hostile environment, and are always being chased by the Drow. There is no downtime.
But back to magic users. They are OP in most fantasy games. They are able to pop off a bunch of hefty spells and sleep overnight and then magically, they are ready to go the next morning full strength. In many fantasy novels and movies, magic is mercurial, and saps the strength and vitality of the person using it. They must prepare for long periods of time to do something heroic.
Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings spent most of his time dispensing wisdom to the party, and had only a few times where he popped off a spell. His spells took a while to create, as he spent several “rounds” conjuring the result he was looking for. Gandalf did this for simple spells like light, or when he smashed his staff into the ground to create a shockwave.
In D&D, Mathfinder and a lot of other games, magic creates a situation where there are few consequences to your actions. If you screw up or are unlucky and take damage, you have a healing potion available, or a cleric available. Magic works without any real potential of failing in a manner that is bad for the players. There is no mercurial effects in most RPG’s magic.
This is something that I don’t care for. Knowing that you can charge in and be healed without any real consequence. If you are too badly hurt, or are killed, well, then with a diamond worth 1,000 gold and a good cleric, you can be resurrected.
Being glicked by a group of nasties, or a single nasty always results in being able to wake up and be just as bad ass as before. There is no real mechanic to be really hurt.
In Runequest, you can be mortally wounded, or lose an arm or leg, or some other thing that leaves permanent damage. There also aren’t a lot of ways to use rune magic to magically become fully healed.
In Harn, one of my favorite RPG’s of all time, magic had very limited use. A mage could be very powerful, but obtaining knowledge to cast spells was a huge deal. In Harn, you needed to pay your way to your feudal master. This meant that your normal day to day life cost money, including taxes that had to be paid. You have to work at least 8 months out of the year to make enough to feed yourself, pay your taxes and pay for the rent on the land that you farm or live on. If you are injured, then this could significantly affect your ability to have a livelihood and earn enough money to pay all of your living expenses.
Also in Harn, magic is complex and rare. There are a half dozen schools of magic, and the mage can really only specialize in one at a time. This means that each mage is not stupidly powerful. The spells also are not intended to give a benefit to the party not be something that kills everything.
Another thing about Harn magic is that the random roll for how well the magic occurs is based on how loudly the mage is, along with how wildly the mage gesticulates during the incantation. Spells take several rounds to manifest themselves, all the while the mage must be in full view, waving his hands and being loud. The louder and bigger the incantation, the better chance to be successful. If the mage is quiet and makes small movements, then the roll has negative attributes. Since the spell takes several rounds to pop off, the mage is an arrow magnet during this time.
Another advantage of Harn is that there are no fucking elves in it. Dwarves exist, but they are a vermin who starts out as a larvae and end up being a nasty piece of work for people to deal with.
So, since I dislike magic and high fantasy RPG’s so much, and hate elves, why, you ask why do I want to run Out of the Abyss?
Well. If you have to play with elves, then Drow are probably the best thing to play with. Nasty sneaky horrible Drow elves. I like the Drow. They are despicable, conniving, nasty creatures. They have a matriarchal society where the females take their pick of the male(s) they want to use for their pleasure. The males are all backbiting nasty critters trying to get noticed by the female clerics. Any male with intelligence is allowed to possibly become an arcane sorcerer who are always kept in check and kept from becoming too powerful by the female clerics.
Drow are interesting. I like the fact that their innate abilities include causing spheres of darkness, cast faerie fire and create magical balls of light along with being able to levitate. I don’t want to play a Drow. They interest me as enemies for the party, but not as player character races. Other people can have Drow characters, but not me. They are elves, after all.
But most importantly, Drow are evil. They are nasty evil vile creatures who will murder their own family to be able to move up in the social order.
I read a lot of the Drizzt books. I suffered through several of the books where poor Drizzt wanted to be a good guy, and somehow overcame his actual nature to find his true nature, as a good guy. I always rooted for the bad guy, not Drizzt. I found Drizzt to be unpleasant and wimpy. “Wah, the sunlight hurts my eyes, but I will endure it because I don’t want to be evil!” I liked the view into the underdark for all of the bad guys trying to kill off Drizzt and his friends.
I find the bad guys more interesting than the good guys. Take for example Star Wars. I always wanted the Empire to win over the terrorists. Now the story line is told from the perspective of the victors, and the terrorists tell the story about how the empire is awful, always doing nasty things to the poor terrorists. Yes, they even call themselves “rebels”, but they are simply terrorists. The “rebels” are nothing more than ISIS in space. Luke is Osama Bin Laden. His destruction of the Death Star murdered millions of peaceful Empire citizens. Keep in mind that Vader didn’t need to show the terrorists that he could use the Death Star to destroy planets, it was all because the terrorists kept forcing his hand, well his mechanical hand. The terrorists, or “rebels” (more accurately called “Space ISIS”) was intent on forcing their way onto all of the people living peacefully under the Empire’s loving embrace.
The Empire took care of their people. If you worked hard and loved the Emperor, and most importantly, didn’t buck the system, you would survive. If you thought that you should have a bigger piece of the pie, but weren’t wiling to work within the Empire’s rules, then you would be punished. Work within the Empire’s rules, and you could live well.
Same with Start Trek. I always wanted more stories about the Klingons, Romulans, and other “bad guys”. I mean I suffered through the entire TNG series watching Number One try to figure out if he looked better with, or without a beard. Riker was a pansy. I really didn’t care about some of the characters like Tasha Yar, or the almost romance between Dr. Beverly Crusher and Captain Pickard. The thing that always got me was Riker stroking his beard, then stroking his freshly shaved chin, then the next episode, he had a beard again, always stroking it. I think he thought that stroking his beard made him look butch, or maybe intelligent. The character evidently didn’t realize that stroking his beard or bare chin was just a distraction at best. It didn’t make him look wiser or tougher. Another thing about TNG. Every damn time the show got interesting, and a major space battle was almost ready to occur, peace broke out. So many almost cool TNG episodes were ruined by Gene Roddenberry’s pacifism. That an Lwaxana Troi. Now that was the only character on the show that could make me turn off the show. OOH! TNG is on tonight… aaaaand… Lwaxana Troi is one of the characters. Meh, I need to go clean the toilet instead. Now I love Magel Barrett. I especially love the fact that Southern Pacific used her voice on automatic train warning systems. When certain things on sections of railroad tracks failed, her prerecorded voice was used to warn the train operators of the problem. But… Lwaxana Troi was too awful a character for me.
I am sure that there are people out there who want to play nasty elveses. They are probably thinking “Why would anyone want to play something that is chaotic?” That is fine. They can play their game their way, I will play my game my way.
I have said it before. I have to spend my entire work week being nice, assuming positive intent, and finding constructive ways to solve problems. I have no problem doing this. I agree with the concept and general good end results that comes from this. But I find the evil nasty backstabbing fascinating. I am not a backstabber. However, I do like playing a character that is evil, or at least chaotic. I find that playing a character that upsets the apple cart regularly is fun. Is it fun for everyone else around me? Maybe, maybe not.
I really have a chalenge when I am playing a role playing game, and other people at the table are roll playing their engineered character. I run into many players who want to design the perfect character. Woot, I have a 29 AC, nothing can hit me! or Woot, I have a +18 on any arrow shot that I do, and if I enable my second sense as a free action, I get to shoot a flurry of arrows from behind cover that gives me 3 shots at +18 with an extra 12 damage per arrow, and I can reroll any misses twice!
Meh. I don’t want to engineer characters. I want to have a character that has critical flaws, and generally doesn’t help the party all the time, but has something that is good enough that the party needs to keep this asshole around. While the other players may be roll playing (as in rolling dice to the maximum benefit), I role play (as in use the character talents and flaws to make the story interesting)
When I was a kid, some of the other kids I played with all wanted to create characters with 17’s or 18’s on all of the D&D standard attributes. They got the plus infinity unobtanium vorpal blade. They got the magic items that made them invincible. And then someone bought Deities and Demigods, and they wanted to fight gods. I found this to be uninspiring. There was no story. There was no challenge. It was just a race to see who could get to to the highest level and most bad ass the first. I figured out that I liked playing a character that had to struggle to do well. I enjoyed failing and dealing with that failure. I didn’t want to be a superhero. Being a superhero just makes it so that the DM deals out more massively nasty monsters. Wow, somehow, Lolth has taken an interest in me, and is personally attacking me? No. Not likely. It is more likely that I am going to play an overconfident but mediocre thief who will be jailed regularly because he messed up the big heist.
I also like playing the absurd characters. One of my favorite characters ever was a gnome barbarian. He was an uncouth nasty cur who caused problems for the party since he was such a horrible little shit. However, he was also a killing machine. In a battle, this little guy would go in and tank and take hits and deal more back, which allowed the party to snipe off the bad guys with magic and arrows. However, if you put him in a polite society, he would get bored and start reaching under his loincloth and wipe his shit on door handles, expensive furniture, pee in the potted plants, finger paint with offal and food on the walls, belch, fart, loudly exclaim that he wanted a tall woman with large breasts to mate with right now, etc. Since we had to go to polite company to get our jobs, this made it very interesting for the party’s face man to get the polite company to negotiate a good rate for each mission.
The role play made it interesting to me. I find it interesting on some level that I love role play, but hate elves. With all of the deep lore on elves, it would seem that I would enjoy playing that up. Not so. I am not sure why, but elves just piss me off.
So why would I like this adventure? Well, if you are going to be involved with elves, why not be involved with evil elves who are horrible? Who wants to be a goody two shoes elf, when you could be this?
Now, I don’t want to play a Drow. I don’t understand people who want to play elves in the first place. But to be able to play an elf that is in blackface? After all, who thinks that playing in blackface wouldn’t be a nasty way to almost be a racist mother fucker, but be able to justify being in blackface because you are playing a racist motherfucker instead of a real racist motherfucker. Because that is what roleplaying is all about, isn’t it?
No, it is not.
Now people who play with me know that I am quick to include an NPC that is the perfect poor white trash racist asshole, usually as an enemy NPC, not usually as a friendly NPC. I also slip into scary accurate bubba southern bumbling mumbling moron speech at will. I do the NPC’s because I find that bad NPC’s should be hateable. Is that a word? Probably not, but you get the idea. If you are playing a modern or post modern game, having someone as an NPC who is somewhere between full on Klan / white supremacist / ignorant moonshiner / sexist / government hater / little dick / shit for brains is an easy way to create an NPC that has something the players want and need, and have to deal with until they can get him drunk and drag him around on the sidewalk, grinding the tip off his penis and make him very uncomfortable. There are some people who will read this that understand that this is not a metaphor, but actually what the party did to one bubba NPC in one game we played. I provided the NPC, the party drugged him then dragged him, pants around his ankles, on the sidewalk and literally ground the tip of his penis. In later sessions, he was seen with a gigantic codpiece that protected his junk.
Roleplay is about telling a story. Stories need conflict. Stories need bad guys and good guys. Stories need interest. I find the underdark, drow and the possibilities of demons interesting. The book is also really well written.
So the players all sat down and made up characters. They spent a good amount of time getting their characters ready, getting gear, and ready for anything that came their way.
Well, almost anything. Each of the PC’s thought that they were going to be on a guard detail for a trade caravan. They individually show up for an interview in a bar, and black out after accepting a drugged drink.
No one knew anyone else. They all woke up in a cell that was completely dark. They were all in their underclothes. Nobody had anything.
All that work to create the stuff they needed to adventure. No longer in their possession. They woke up in the dark next to a bunch of other people, and had to figure out what to do.
The first episode was frustrating for the players, who were expecting an adventure to dive into. Instead, they found themselves captured by slavers who were going to send them to Menzoberranzan to become slaves. Possibly food, possibly toys for the female clerics, possibly just killed in some bizarre ritual to Lolth.
The player characters are as follows:
Mike is playing an albino elf (actually a wood elf) but pretends to be an albino drow elf wizard. This could be interesting, since he knows little of the true lore of the underdark.
Collin is playing an elf ranger. Goddamn elves. Fucking elves. Why do these players want to fuck with me?
Shari is playing a gnome monk. So far, she has not learned to catch arrows, but that is probably coming.
Eric is playing a cleric. I don’t remember the race at this time.
Bill is playing a gnome barbarian. He left his clan after being accused of stealing armor, which he says he didn’t, but somehow has armor that matches the description of the stolen armor in his possession. Bill likes to rage.
Sue is playing a halfling rogue. She seems to be intent on backstabbing others and not checking for traps before she picks locks.
The cell that the party was in had another dozen or so others, including several key individuals.
Stool was a myconid who may be a helpful ally as an NPC. He is slow to move, but has the ability to psychically link with others who breath in his spores. Stool has no eyes, ears, or hands, and is essentialy a toadstool with two stumpy little legs. He doesn’t move fast, but is able to connect with others through the spores and see what they see, hear what they hear, and if Stool chooses to, communicate to that being. This could be a good thing. Stool also sounds a little like Jeff Spicolli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Bupido is a male Derro, who is very suave and debonair. He seems to always have things under control, and even in the worst of situations, he is in control.
Derrindil is a male Quagoth, or at least that is what he appears to be. Instead of coming across as a brutish thug, he is urbane, intelligent and claims that he is actually a wood elf prince who was cursed to this form. He is convinced that the longer he remains with the curse, the less likelihood that he will be able to get back to his old self. He does have fits of rage at times, where he says afterwards that he can feel himself slipping more into the beast that is consuming him.
Ront is a sad case of an Orc that has lost himself. He escaped into the underdark after a dwarf war party destroyed his village and clan. Fearing for his life, he fled instead of fighting. This act of cowardice has scarred Ront’s soul, and he is unable to do much other than whine and moan about his situation.
Sarith is a Drow warrior who was disgraced, captured and is being sent back to the city of Menzoberranzan to pay for his transgressions against Lolth and the Drow society. He is sullen and not very talkative. Go figure. A Drow with an attitude. Sarith has a special ability to slip out of his manacles, and get his hands and feet free.
There are several other NPC’s, but I chose to not add too many to the list with backstories. This is challenging because each of the NPC’s have something good and bad to add to the adventure. Handling all of the NPC’s along with the adventure is a little challenging. The adventure suggests that each of the players each be given an NPC to manage. This is problematic as the NPC’s all have some form of backstory that is contrary to what they actually present themselves as.
I chose to reduce the number of NPC’s that are detailed, and will keep them in reserve for when they are important to the story.
The other NPC’s also include two Drow clerics, The head Drow priestess is Ilvara, and her apprentice is Asha. There are also two main Drow warriors, Shoor and Jorlan.
Shoor was the lover of the head priestess Ilvara until Shoor was badly injured by an ooze. He sufered acid burns over much of his face, and he also lost several fingers on his sword hand. The Drow clerics could save Shoor, but not reconstruct his face or hand. As such, Ilvara dropped her lover like a bad penny and started up with Jorlan as her new lover. This meant that Shoor went from being the number one male to something just above the rabble. He is jealous of Jorlan and now hates his former lover and is looking for ways to cause her problems.
The party has no way of tracking time in their prison cell. They know that food appears to be served once in a while, but not often enough for it to be considered three times a “day”, whatever that is in the underdark. As near as the party can tell, they are fed roughly once per 24 hours, with a weak mushroom broth with some small pieces of mushrooms in the broth. The soup is served in thin clay bowls, and are essentially just enough calories to allow the slaves to not starve to death.
The slaves are required to do work. This work involves very limited access around the outpost, gathering water, moving bags of stuff, and other things that their bevy of Drow taskmasters don’t want to do.
They do find out from listening in on conversations from their captors that the party that is to take the slaves to Menzoberranzan is late. The party usually comes every 10 days, and it has been 16 days without the slave tenders coming to take the slaves away. Since they are in an isolated outpost, and there is no communications to the rest of the underdark, they can do nothing but wait.
The party’s knowledge of the outpost is limited. Mike can link with his spider familiar and allow the spider to move around the compound and see what the spider sees. They are able to piece together some information about what the compound make up is.
The party also learns that there is something at the bottom of the waterfall that is in the middle of the compound. No one knows what it is, but sometimes the Drow go on patrol and are never heard from again. Likewise, any of the trash or offal that is dropped from the compound to the pool at the bottom of the waterfall are never seen again.
After several days, the Sue’s rogue is able to observe and copy how Sarith releases himself from his manacles. She teaches the other party members how to do the same thing.
Then Shoor comes and tells the party that he intends to release them. He wants to make his former lover look bad for losing the slaves. The Drow will hunt them down, and likely kill them in the hunt, but he will make his former lover look bad. All he asks is that they die well. Shoor tells the party to be ready to escape when the time is right.
At the end of the first session the party hears ungodly screeching coming from the cavern and Shoor comes to the cell door and unlocks it and states “it is time”.
The next session should have been easy. All the party needed to do was get some of their stuff back, as in find it, then get to the lift and down to the floor of the cavern. They would be 2nd level at that point.
Do you think they did this?
The 2nd sesion started out and the party expected that Shoor would be helpful and provide their gear to them. Not so. Shoor just opened the gate and walked away. The party decided to do some exploring. The moved through the compound over rope bridges to different areas that they had been through before. As they passed one of the rope bridges they decided to explore. After all, so far, they hadn’t found anything useful.
Sue checks for traps and opens a door to one room, and looks in. She sees a giant spider inside the room, and shrinks away. She is pushed into the room from someone behind her, and the spider doesn’t move. It is a statue in devotion to Lolth. Feeling much better, she walks in and starts looking around. Aaaand is then hit with an attack by another giant spider who was hiding behind. The giant spider bits Sue, knocking her out, then spins her into a cocoon and drops through a trapdoor in the floor. The rest of the party comes into the room and attacks the spider, eventually killing it but not before it did some nasty damage to the rest of the party.
In the lower room, they found the female cleric’s regalia including silk robes and a tiara Most importantly, they found some of their stuff, like thieves tools, the mage’s magic tokens, and weapons and armor that were not theirs, but somewhat usable.
Coming back up to the room with the spider statue, the party was pretty woozy from being hurt by the giant spider.
Mike took the time to put on the (female) cleric’s garb and was thinking this would be a good way to bluff their way around the other guards. Except that Mike is an *albino* elf, not a black skinned Drow. Now we spent a lot of time discussing whether Drow were black faced or purple faced. Originally, Drow were black skinned. Somewhere along the line, TSR or Paizo, or Wizards of the Coast figured out that black faced drow might be offensive, so they changed the artwork to purple skin instead of black skin. Does that matter? I don’t know.
Mike, realizing that his Lilly white skin would not pass the visual test, chose to rub ash over his face and hands. It was pretty much like this…
They go back out onto the pathway and a flying demon lands on the pathway, with a dead Drow guard in each hand.
Mike realizes that being an albino elf, in Drow priestess regalia and ash rubbed on his skin is not a good idea, when the demons seem to be making snacks of the drow..
Now this is where Collin comes into his own. As a ranger, he chose demons as his “must kill” enemy. He didn’t pick serial practitioners of the masturbatory arts as his preferred enemy. He didn’t pick Drow elves as his preferred enemy. He *had* to pick demons.
Now this should have been a simple thing. It should have been kind of like the Scooby Doo episode, where the pals all see the big baddy and scream out “AIIIGH!” and run the other way.
Not with Collin. Collin charges in and takes a swipe at the demon. Mike chooses to assist. The demon is having nothing to do with this, instead the demon one-shots Collin’s character and hits Mike badly before flying off. Well, the party then screamed “AIIIGH!” and then with only Shari and Sue still alive dragged the bodies of the ranger and mage off.
Shari and Sue drag the bodies the opposite direction that will result in everyone leveling up to 2nd level. Literally. The could go in the direction that is back towards their slave cave, directly opposite of the direction of the lift that takes them to “safety” and 2nd level.
They also choose to go in the only direction that results in them having unexplored areas of the outpost.
Shari and Sue drag the two other’s bodies down the stairs, and find two Drow elves watching out into the large cavern at the demons fighting. Sue and Shari push both of the Drow off the ledge. The Drow fall for a while, and then apparently land on a giant spider’s web. The last sounds that the Drow make involve screaming in agony.
Shari and Sue decide that they need to hide out and get people stabilized and back up to full health. So they go in the door next to the ledge. Unfortunately for Sue, there is a Quagoth in the room that glicks her. Shari manages to push the Quagoth off the ledge with an amazing strength roll, avoiding a TPK.
Now what to do? Shari takes out the caltrops that they found and lays them out on the steps into leading to their temporary lair, and tries to figure out what to do.
End episode 2.
Start episode 3.
Bill shows up for this session. We all tease Bill about a bunch of stuff. Also, Mike from Hippyland is there with his son. We spend a lot of time that normally would be game time talking with Hippy Mike, his son and teasing Bill.
After a couple of hours, Hippy Mike leaves with his son. It was a lot of fun to reconnect with Hippy Mike, but we had a game to play.
Bill insisted that since he didn’t play last session, he should be full strength and ready to go this session. I can live with that, as there are so many ways to equalize the situation (ie, knock him out and start out with the same level as every other character).
The session starts out with six Quoggoths coming back to their abode, which Shari and Bill are trying to defend. The fight is short and brutal. Shari kills one of the Quogotths, but they rush in and knock the remaining elements of the party out.
The party finds themselves waking up in the slave pen again, in their underwear. With Shoor standing at the gate saying “You had one job. One job and you messed it up.” After some chiding from the Drow, he says that he will arrange once again for the party to escape. But they must promise to die well.
The party gives Shoor some reassuring yet noncommittal responses to dieing well. and he disappears. The only slaves in the pen are the party members. The other NPC’s appear to have made good on their escape, or they were killed in their escape.
Several meal cycles later, Shoor comes by and unlocks the cell door and drops bundles of equipment and armor on the ground saying “it is time” and then walks off.
The party finds that someone (maybe Shoor) has knocked out all of the guards and they have a clear path to the lift. Shoor operates the lift and lowers the party to the floor of the cavern reminding them to die well.
So the party is at the bottom of the lift.
They are off the stairs! I mean really off the stairs!
Time to level up. 2nd level, woo hoo.
Bill wants to wear the chainmail armor that Shoor gave him. The problem is that gnomes are shorter than elves. This means that the drow chainmail is way too long. So Bill proposes to gird his loins.
Now I have heard this term before, and wasn’t aware of what it meant. Bill found this picture and showed me.
A few questions. Can you tie chainmail armor into a knot at your crotch? If the chainmail armor is about twice as long as you are tall, how does that work? The example that Bill provided appears to be cloth, not chainmail armor. What does it feel like to run along with a 30 pound ball of armor bouncing off your manly bits? Especially since the gnome barbarian is named “Ginormico” presumably due to his tripod like stance.
I think that Bill was thinking more of this:
While I was thinking more of this.
or probably this…
But it is a “fantasy” game, so Bill can have his loins girded, if that helps him through the night. I still prefer the dachshund in chainmail myself.
The party realizes that they have dry canteens, and no food. They decide to fill their canteen from the rushing water. They remember that something bad was in the pool, but figured that they were far enough away from the waterfall that they should be ok dipping their canteens into the water.
Something wet, no, moist slaps against Bill, causing a lot of bludgeoning damage and acid damage. Sue immediately wants to know what happened. I remind Sue that she doesn’t have dark vision and there is no visible light in this part of the cavern. It is kind of like when I had to remind Sue, and Mike, and Collin that they were unconscious earlier and were not aware of what was going on when Shari was fighting the Quogoths. Sue gets slapped also and Mike says I should cast some light. I asked Mike to make a wisdom saving throw, and Collin decided to also make a wisdom saving throw.
Both rolled well enough to realize that it probably wasn’t a good idea to cast light so near the Drow slave catchment area. Bill gets attacked several more times and his chainmail armor is effectively destroyed. Several members of the party also try to scrape the slime or ooze off of Bill doing damage to their own weapons.
The party decides to run.
But which way? The path at the bottom of the lift (where 2nd level is the boon) goes right and left. Which one is the right way? Collin senses that the water is going to the right, and the air is moving towards the left. Obviously, they need to go in the direction that the air is moving towards, right? Maybe.
I will point out that as of this point, the first real decision was made by Collin’s ranger. IF everyone dies because the party went left instead of right in the passage, that is all on Collin, correct?
So the party moves off down the passage. Up the passage? Who knows. There are no dwarves in the party, so no one can tell if the slope of the path is up or down. No one is trying to map the passage either. That isn’t too bad, since there have been no forks in the passage yet. At least none that the party have tried to find.
They are concerned that the Drow will begin hunting them, so they really just want to get as far away as possible.
The party continues along the path, and come across Stool, who is walking about a third as fast as the party can up the tunnel, away from the slavery.
They pick up Stool and he is happy to be with the party again. They continue for a long time and find an area where the tunnel is lit with a dim phosphorescent glow. The party tries to figure out if this is a fungus or some other such thing. Stool explains that this glow is from a magical property, ancient deep magic, called “Faerzness” This type of magic can be something that some races can restock mana and be able to perform more powerful magic while within the zone, or the magic can go horribly wrong. Since Stool isn’t a mage, he doesn’t understand all about how it works, but he has bonded with some creatures which have explained this to him.
Stool also wants to go to his home, of Neverlight Grove, where the mushrooms all live in harmony and his kind can defend the party from the other horrible underdark beasts and creatures.
The party thinks this is a pretty good idea, unfortunately Stool has no idea of how to get to Neverlight Grove. In any event, they had two ways they could have left the Drow slavery and they chose this way. Hopefully it will all work out.
After a day of travel, the party enters another area with Faerzness and Collin and Mike spot a symbol carved on the wall. It looks like this:
The symbol has no meaning to the members of the party, but the more they look at it, the worse they feel. It causes them to become nauseous, and they feel a creeping fear at the edge of their psyche. Collins ranger, sees a vision of a beast roaring and charging at him.
The beast appears to be very scary.
The party moves on.
After a while they come across some fungus that is growing out of the walls. The fungus appears to be casklike. The party tries to see if this would be edible. They smack at it, and it shatters releasing several gallons of what appears to be clear water. The flesh of the casks is slightly purplish, white, and tastes like and chews like tofu. Each party member tries a bit and finds that it is filling, but not particularly satisfying. I ask each party member to make a constitution saving throw, making the appropriate raising of the eyebrows and “tsk tsk” sounds while writing down notes on a piece of paper.
Is the flesh of the kask edible, poisonous, not good? Who knows. Well, I know, and the party members only know that I made notes.
A while later, the party comes across a sheer cliff at the end of the tunnel. The cliff raises 80 ft in the air up a shaft. At the bottom of the tunnel are two humans dressed in rags, and they are either catatonic or cowering in fear. Sue demands to know which one they are. I point out to Sue that she doesn’t have darkvision, true sight or any other form of visibility in the dark, so she probably can’t even sense that they are there.
Mike, on the other hand doesn’t generate light to help her. We joke with Mike, asking him to tell his wife that she can’t see in the dark… Long story… not for here.
Long story short, the party decides not to try to climb the wall. The party has chosen to press on for the first day in to the second day without resting. This means that they are low on magic, and have the first level of exhaustion. Since they are exhausted, they must roll with disadvantage on specific tests of skill.
The party is split. Sue wants to climb the cliff and drop the rope ladder that they see a the top. here is some faerzness up there. Sue is convinced that she can do it, disadvantage or not. I remind the party that they did obtain four 100-ft lengths of spider silk rope, iron pitons and a hammer to set the pitons. Sue could climb the cliff face and set the pitons so that if she fell, she would be roped off and wouldn’t fall too far.
Logic didn’t matter. Collin was certain that he could shoot his hand crossbow to the top of the cliff with the spider silk rope attached and snag the rolled up rope ladder and pull it down.
So Collin tried three times, and ended up breaking three of his crossbow bolts. In the end, he did shoot a crossbow bolt and snagged the rope ladder. But it was tied off at top, so there was no way to get enough leverage to pull the rope ladder down.
Sue climbed up without any problems, untied the rope ladder and dropped it down.
The party climbed up the ladder, and left the two humans in rags at the bottom, not bothering to try to save them.
IT was now time for a long rest. Hopefully, the Drow would not catch up to them.