During week 2, our first session in the Doomvault, we discovered just how deadly this killer dungeon really is. Our party of seven spent most of the time running form monsters only to be forced into a fight with two Gorgons. The creatures’ breath weapons petrified two PCs leaving us with 5 PCs and two statues.
On the plus side one of the other parties exploring the dungeon found a master Glyph Key that was attuned to all gates (except the Temples of Extraction). They came to us, since the Gorgon fight happened within sight of a Black Gate, and copied their key’s magic into ours giving us complete access to the Doomvault. Now we have to figure out how to proceed.
This week at Hairy T North in Toronto we ran three tables: table 1 (DM: Craig) had four players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had six players, and table 3 (DM: Tim) had seven players including me.
My party consisted of the following PCs: Tiefling Wizard, Human Cleric, Warforged Monk, and Halfling (Kender) Rogue, and Dwarf Barbarian (my character). The Gnome Wizard and Elf Ranger began the session stoned.
Death of a Character
This season if a PC dies the player has two options. They can bring in a brand new character or they can invoke the death charity option called “Walking Dead.” Syranna, the rebel Red Wizard who brought the PC to the Doomvault can use the magic of the dungeon to bring back a slain PC as a soul-bound undead. They return with half hit points and function mechanically like they did in life (with a few added undead immunities). They cannot leave the Doomvault or they’ll instantly die. If they are not returned to life by the end of the adventure they will eventually transform into a Wight.
My DM took pity on the petrified PCs. Although they were technically not dead and shouldn’t have been able to benefit from the Walking Dead option, he allowed them to do so if they wanted to. The player running the Ranger decided to bring in a new character, an Elf Druid. The other player opted to transform his Gnome Wizard in a soul-bound undead.
Before proceeding to the next area some PCs decided they needed to rest. The party still had two vials of water from the Fountain of Recover which would grant the benefits of a short rest. The spellcasters who’d used a lot of resources wanted a long rest so they opted to use the Seclusion Crypt. This is a pocket of space on a demiplane (think portable hole). Time passes within the demiplane, but no time passes in the world. Despite caution from Syranna that using the Seclusion Crypt too frequently could have negative side effects two PCs used it.
Now that the wounded PCs were healed and refreshed, we moved onward into unexplored territory of the Forest of Illusion.
Forests of Slaughter
With the Gorgons defeated and the party refreshed we moved from the Gorgon Lair (#48) west towards the Hook Horror Next (#46). However, our DM switched the encounters for areas #46 and #49 so we were actually heading towards the Gate Carven. For whatever reason, we decided to hug the north wall of the cavern during our approach to area #46. This kept us away from the Cockatrice Roost (#47) which likely would have left more PC trapped in stone.
In order to pass from area #46 to area #65 in the Ooze Grottos we needed to pass through a White Gate. The gate was guarded by two humanoids that we could tell were undead. Rather than fight our way past we decided to return to the Black Gate in the Gorgon Lair and use our newly empowered Glyph Key to teleport right into the Black Gate in area #65.
Red Master (#65)
When we arrived in the cavern we saw an enormous pillar of thick, red liquid stretching from floor to ceiling. The DM described it as a pillar of red Jello because it was quivering and shaking a bit. Inside the translucent pillar was a Red Wizard. It was unclear if he was alive or dead but his eyes were closed.
If this Red Wizard was trapped within the pillar by accident or for some form of punishment, freeing him might earn his favour. We tried a few tricks with ropes and Mage Hands to get him out of the pillar but the red substance seemed to be acidic and burned anything that touched it.
Eventually the Red Wizard’s eyes opened and he freely stepped out of the pillar. He asked who we were and what we were doing here. Our recently revived undead Wizard said we were looking for a way into the Temples of Extraction. The rest of the party face-palmed, realizing how bad it was to reveal this information. The Red Wizard immediately attacked.
We decided to run into the next room to escape this new foe. Most PCs ran away, but the undead Wizard couldn’t resist firing Magic Missiles at the Red Wizard. The Cleric and my Barbarian stayed back to block the Wizard while the rest of the PCs fled. The Red Wizard managed to get all the PCs with a massive Fireball. That got us mad so the decided to kill him. The parties Wizards both used empowered Magic Missile spells to ensure hits. The Cleric and Barbarian both attacked with weapons and dropped the Red Wizard. When he died his body melted into goo and flowed back inside the red pillar.
White Maw (#64)
When the first four PCs entered this room while running from the Red Wizard they realized that the room was remarkably clean. The floors and walls were smooth and white. In the centre of the room was a cracked black pillar.
After defeating the Red Wizard, the Druid, Monk, Rogue, and Tiefling Wizard moved right up to the White Gate where they waited for the Barbarian to use the Glyph Key. The floor and walls near the gate were not white.
When the undead Wizard, Cleric and Barbarian stepped onto the white area it shifted and changed shape. The White Maw (an exceptionally large Ooze) engulfed them forming a bubble that closed off the passage and trapped the three PCs. A voice echoed throughout the bubble accusing the PCs of slaying the Red Master. The quick-thinking PCs realized they might talk their way past this obstacle and tried to bluff their way past. That didn’t work. They instead turned to intimidate with greater results. Unfortunately the White Maw was not of one mind. While the PCs intimidated the first personality a second more aggressive personality took over and attacked.
The four PCs trapped between the newly formed white wall and the White Gate immediately attacked the wall. When the Rogue’s weapons hit the White Maw they started to dissolve. Contact with the Ooze damaged weapons permanently. The PCs switched to missile weapons and magic.
Inside, the Barbarian tried attacking the pillar but that didn’t help. The undead Wizard was knocked unconscious before he could cast Lightning Bolt leaving the Cleric and Barbarian to duke it out with the room-sized Ooze. After exchanging blows with the creature from the inside and outside leveler heads managed to talk down the White Maw and convince it to let us pass. As soon as the passage to the White Gate was revealed the Barbarian ran to it and used the Glyph Key to let the party pass through.
Spawn Vats (#63)
Before passing through the White Gate completely, the party took a quick breather inside the portal. The undead Wizard was unconscious and none of the magic healing the party had would work on his undead form. The Cleric decided to cast Animate Dead as a ritual to once again bring the Gnome Wizard back into the game. The DM allowed it.
The PCs could see through the white veil into the area #63. They noticed four undead guards tending the vats. The party decided to let the Cleric take the lead. We’d act like we were supposed to be in this room. If questioned the Cleric would exert his dominance and if necessary threaten the undead with his divine powers. We decided to drop the Red Wizard Merric’s name if asked for a contact.
Before we stepped into the room the Cleric decided to command his newly animated undead ally not to speak unless he was casting a spell. The PC failed his save so he was silenced.
The PCs didn’t get far before the Deathlock Wights stopped them and demanded they explain their actions. For a few rounds the deceit seemed to be working. And then two PCs noticed a Red Wizard poke her head out from behind a curtain for a brief second. After that the undead got aggressive.
My Barbarian won the initiate with a natural 20. He quickly slipped behind the curtain to see what was back there. He spotted a Red Wizard hunched over an alchemy lab. With a natural 20 on my Stealth roll I managed to sneak up behind her and get my sword under her throat. I told her to call off her goons as we weren’t here to fight. She did. The PCs on the other side of the curtain realized the enemies had backed down. The Tiefling Wizard acted next and followed my Barbarian behind the curtain. He relayed what was happening to the rest of the PCs.
I told the Red Wizard we only wanted her Glyph Key which I could see hanging from her neck. She gladly gave it up as long as we left her and her experiments unharmed. We agreed.
The Rogue sneaked behind the curtain and took a few choice items before he and the rest of the party moved into the passage to the north. My Barbarian apologized for the way the interaction went down, but the Red Wizard showed no fear or sympathy. She told the PCs it didn’t matter that they lived because when she finished her experiments they’d all be dead.
This was another fun session. I find I’m really enjoying the opportunity to be a player at public play again. However, I am trying really hard to separate what I know as a DM from what my character would know. I think I’m doing ok so far.
I think our DM did the right thing at the start of the session by allowing the PCs to escape their stone prisons and take the Walking Dead option. I was also happy to see one player did it. It certainly speaks to his commitment to his character rather than a desire to just power game.
Again this week we faced monsters that were fully capable of wiping out the party. Fortunately we’re learning that talking and running are both acceptable alternatives to fighting everything we see. Regrettably what we’re saying is getting us into more trouble that just attacking outright, but we’re learning from these mistakes.
It was refreshing to finally face some actual Red Wizards this session. After heading through the Forests of Slaughter and the Ooze Grottos we were sure we were going to face nothing but monsters. Since part of our objective is to find Glyph Keys attended to the Temples of Extraction we needed to move to areas of the dungeon that looked like they’d be populated by people and not creatures. Our perseverance finally paid off.
What areas of the Doomvault has your party explored so far? How many PCs in your party have died? Have any taken the walking dead option?
- Pre-generated characters: Visit our D&D Next Pre-Generated Character Library where you can download the level 6 pre-gens that came with this season’s adventure.
- Players Map: Download a map of the Doomvault, this season’s super dungeon, from the Wizards of the Coast website.
Recounting Encounters Podcast
Listen to Derek Myers, Craig Sutherland, and Marc Talbot (from 20ft Radius) recount our weekly experience at D&D Encounters. We share the highlights from our respective tables and we talk about what worked, what didn’t and what we might have done differently. Find all episodes of Recounting Encounters on iTunes.
Note: New episodes of Recounting Encounters will be available in our D&D Encounters Archive and on iTunes on Wednesdays moving forward. Now DMs can listen before they play.
Actual Play Podcasts
We continue to record our D&D Encounters sessions and make them available to you for download every week. These recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at times it may be difficult to hear everyone. Some language may be inappropriate for all ages, although we try to keep it as family-friendly as possible.
Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.