D&D Encounters – Out of the Abyss – session 3-4

out-of-the-abyss-coverWe had another great turnout this session at Tabletop Tyrants, with another new player each joining Jon and Patrick’s tables. My table once again consisted of:-

  • Stuart, playing Exom, a level 4 Human Wizard (Zhentarim)
  • Jason, playing Io, a level 3 Human Monk (Zhentarim)
  • Rose, playing Morwenna, a level 3 Half-Elf Rogue (Zhentarim)
  • Sil, playing Raggia, a level 2 Elf Druid (Zhentarim)
  • Phil, playing Captain Astrid Alexis Astor, a level 2 Human Paladin (Order of the Gauntlet)

Having escaped from Velkynvelve the heroes and their fellow former prisoners decide where they want to go. The myconid, Stool, wants to go home to the Neverlight Grove (but doesn’t know the way), Buppido the Derro wants to head to Gracklestugh, while Shuushar recommends heading to his home, Sloopbludop. JimJar the svirfneblin says his home, Blingdenstone, has tunnels returning to the surface, but Topsy and Turvy seem more eager to visit anywhere other than home.

After discussion the heroes agree to head to Sloopbludop and then make a further decision from there and begin heading to the Kuo-toa settlement at a moderate pace. The journey should take them about 8 days in total and the first day they make good pace until they come across a widening of the tunnel ahead which has a reddish glow. Investigating they discover a handful of giant fire beetles but the insects prove little more than a minor inconvenience and the party quickly resumes their journey.

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With no further interruptions they finally decide to find somewhere to rest up “overnight” with the elf and half-elf splitting the watch between them. Unfortunately the night did not prove to be uneventful as a mustard coloured jelly mass was oozing along the tunnel towards their resting spot.

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Exom and Raggia recognised the creature as an ochre jelly, realising that it had an immunity to lightning attacks. While Io and Astrid prepared attacks for when the monster came closer, Morwenna darted ahead and struck the first blow. To the rogues astonishment the creature did not simply die, instead it formed a fist shaped pseudopod and slammed the her almost off her feet. Her companions quickly rallied to her aid, and Captain Astrid swung her mighty greatsword straight down on the monster scoring a critical hit that surely would destroy it.

Unfortunately the jelly was merely split into two smaller jellies which continued to fight on. Thankfully with the combined attacks of Io, Morwenna, and magical strikes of Exom and Raggia it didn’t fight much longer. Returning to their camp the rest of the night passed uneventfully.

However upon awakening they find that one of their companions has passed away, Sarith the drow, is dead. Io and Raggia examine his body and discover a stab wound from either a dagger or shortword, as well as the fact that his rash seemed to have become open sores that give off a puff of spores when touched rather than ooze puss. When the heroes ask the rest of the prisoners who’d done this no-one admits to it (apart from Turvy who stands before Morwenna and says he’ll admit to it if she wants him to). Leaving the dead drow where he lay, the party continue their journey.

They hadn’t been moving for long when Exom’s owl familiar picked up the sounds of someone (or something) following them stealthily. Finding a suitable are the heroes prepare to ambush whatever it is, Exom using his illusions to make walls for them to hide behind while Io acted as bait.

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It wasn’t long before a trio of drow scouts appeared and rather than confront them immediately the heroes use their concealment to begin making ghostly noises. The drow fired their hand-bows at Io who was then made invisible by Exom, furthering the ruse of a ghostly encounter, and Morwenna used her skills of deception to issue a ghostly warning. Two of the drow faltered and swiftly fled back down the tunnels but the third held his ground.

Raggia has morphed in the form of a dire wolf and bounded out of the illusory wall to pounce on the remaining drow, knocking him prone as her companions swiftly backed her up and took the drow prisoner. Interrogation revealed they were scouts for Ilvara’s hunting party, out looking to recapture the prisoners from Velkynvelve. Using intimidation and deception (Exom pretending to place a curse on the drow) they convince him to take recover Sarith’s corpse, take it back to Ilvara and tell her that the others are all dead. The weak-willed drow swiftly agrees and makes a rapid exit when released.

Eventually satisfied that they weren’t still being followed the heroes begin looking for their evenings resting spot, coming across a cave opening half filled with swirling steam and hissing sounds. Investigating they discover that there are natural steam vents in the chamber and that the steam is oddly refreshing. Still worried that one of the other prisoners could be a murderer they ask if they would volunteer to be tied up “for their own protection”, unsurprisingly Turvy is the first to volunteer. In addition to Raggia and Morwenna taking turns watching, Raggia puts her hunting traps around the cave entrance and Io decides to stay awake and help keep watch.

After a few hours Morwenna notices that Topsy is shrinking and within moments is replaced with a furry rat which scurries for the entrance only to be caught in one of Raggia’s traps. Io meanwhile is watching over JimJar and Shuushar and panics when he sees the svirfneblin begin to grow tentacles. When he calls his companion over and they look more closer however there is no sign of anything untoward.

In the morning Topsy is once again his annoying self and looks sheepishly at the party, haltingly admitting that he sometimes becomes a rat but assures them he’s not dangerous. Shuushar hasn’t awoken and fearing that he might be dead the heroes gather around but are happily surprised when he awakes with a snort. JimJar has begun to take bets on who the next one of them to die will be (Turvy excitedly bets 5 silver that he’s next).

The heroes gather the group together and continue the journey through the tunnels of the Underdark, eventually the path is blocked by an underground stream some fifteen foot across. Io and Morwenna gracefully launch themselves over with running starts, taking ropes with them to aid others in crossing. Shuushar happily gets in the water to aid from below and between them they manage to get everyone over safely.

When it comes time to rest once more Io decides he really needs to sleep and so only Raggia and Morwenna take turns again. However Raggia and Io suffer disturbing dreams of a large flat black reflective surface which begins to bulge upwards before giving way to a terrible visage breaking through. A pair of large heads looking a cross between an ape and a dog come first, massive yellow eyes glowing in the darkness. Broad muscular shoulders lead an equally massive torso but the creatures arms are what draw the eye, not arms at all but massive tentacles. The heads swivel back and forth as if looking for something, then they seem to focus upon the dreamer and the fanged mouths open in a roar – just as Io and Raggia awake in a cold sweat.

Thankfully nothing else disturbs their rest and in the morning they prepare to move out once again, but another of their companions was never going to do so again. Eldeth the dwarf shieldmaiden had had her throat slit in her sleep.

Fully aware that they had a killer in their midst but not wanting to spare the time to investigate further the heroes get the party moving once more. It’s shortly after midday when the come across a chamber littered with bones (humanoid and animal). Io and Morwenna, being lightest of foot go first and easily make it through to the exit on the far side without incident, Exom and Astrid do so also, but Raggia is in dire wolf form and decides to roll in the bones in the hopes of getting some interesting skulls stuck to her spines to make her look scarier.

She managed to get a meaty looking orc skull but then noticed a trio of large bull skulls, before she can grab one though they start to rise, the surrounding bones pulling together to form massive bodies below them.

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Exom used his illusions to put up a wall in front of the majority of the party as Io and Astrid readied to attack anything coming within range of their weapons. One of the monsters (the heroes identified them as minotaur skeletons) came close the false wall and the monk, paladin and rogue quickly dispatched it. Meanwhile the other two charged the druid/wolf, trapping her between their horned heads with such force that as they stood back up she fell to the floor gasping for breath.

Minotaur

Exom conjured some magical missiles to strike at the enemies, but also struck Raggia with one, safe in the knowledge that all it would do is trigger her transformation back to her humanoid form. Getting back to her feet she called upon her own magic to create a thunderous wave of energy that threw the monsters away from her before again changing into wolf form as her companions move forward to assist in engaging the skeletons.  The battle was brutal and bloody but thankfully Astrid was able to call upon her goods divine blessings to assist her blows which proved highly effective against the undead.

Battered and bruised, and only half way to Sloopbludop, the heroes find a campsite and settle down for another (hopefully quiet) nights rest.

That’s where we left it for this session, with the party’s companions dwindling and one of them possibly being a murderer – how could this possibly end badly? The eagle-eyed among you may have recognised the maps used in this session, they’re from a previous season of Encounters (season 10 – Council of Spiders) which involved drow and the Underdark, it’s nice to be able to re-use these and they looked good too. Hopefully I’ll get the chance before the next session to dig out some of my 4e monster tokens for future use.

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