D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 4)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 5, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverLast week the party faced a Red Wizard Lich whom they destroyed, an ooze the size of a room which they managed to talk their way past, and a Red Wizard alchemist from whom they stole a Glyph Key and managed to escape unscathed. Let’s see if they’ll be as fortunate this week.

At Hairy T North in Toronto we ran three tables: table 1 (DM: Craig) had five players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had seven players including one person brand new to D&D, and table 3 (DM: Tim) had eight players including me.

Our party had the following members this week: Tiefling Wizard, Human Cleric, Elf Cleric, Warforged Monk, Halfling (Kender) Rogue, Gnome Druid, Gnome Mage (currently Walking Dead) and Dwarf Barbarian (my character).

Ooze Grottos

The party began this week’s session in the hallway leading north out of the Spawn Vats (#63). We quietly advanced and peeked into the next room we passed, the Ooze Temple (#62). We spotted Deathlock Wights carrying buckets with steaming contents around the room. We didn’t want to know what was going on or what was in the buckets (although we did make a few low brow jokes about some possibilities). Fortunately the monsters didn’t see us so we kept heading north.

Bone Room (#61)

Scattered around the room were three large piles of bones. In one corner was a Black Gate and down a hallway we could see a White Gate. A Wight approached us as we entered the room and asked us who we were and why we were here. We managed to convince him that we sent by the Red Wizard we’d encountered last week and were to deliver a message. He agreed to let us pass unmolested.

At that moment the Black Gate activated and an Elven Cleric stepped out (welcome new PC). Her presence clearly upset the Wight despite our attempt to keep him calm and passive. We knew he’d turn on us any moment so we piled into the Black Gate and left the room.

Since my character was the one with the master Gate Key I had to decide where we were heading next. In previous session a couple of the other players said they liked the look of the rooms shaped like stars. That was as good a place to go as any so I sent us to the Black Gate in room #44.

Far Realm Cysts

Caverns of Chaos

Chaos Lair (#44)

grickWe stepped out of the Black Gate and into the room. It was pitch black so we used magical light to see. The room was shaped like a giant star. We were at the top of five levels, each about 10 feet lower than the one before it. On the next level down we saw two Gricks (although the party didn’t recognize them since this group never went to Harpshield Castle last season).

Before moving ahead we took a minute to examine the Glyph Key we’d acquired last week. It turned out one of the areas it was attuned to was the Temples of Nature zone in the Temples of Extraction. Score one special Glyph Key for team heroes! We immediately copied it to the other two Glyph Keys and divided them among the party.

grellWith the keys sorted out, we peered over the ledge and used ranged attacks to hail missiles and magic down on the monsters. They didn’t stand a chance although I later learned that the DM did increase their hit points in order to make the encounter a bit more challenging for a party of eight.

We climbed down and the repeated this tactic when we saw two more Gricks on the next level down. The results were the same – a resounding and relatively easy victory.

At this point we noticed a floating monster near the ceiling in one of the star point caverns. It was a Grell although we had no idea what it was, just that it looked scary and was flying. However, it didn’t seem to pay us any mind so we ignored it for now.

gibbering-mouthWe descended another level and peered over the ledge. This time we saw two Gibbering Mouthers. The PCs didn’t know what they were but continued using the same tactics to attack. This sequence of combat got the Grell’s attention so now we were fighting on two fronts.

The Grell targeted the softer spellcasters at first but the melee combatants quickly moved in and took care of business, dropping the Grell after just three rounds. The Gibbering Mouthers were unable to climb up to our level so they were at our mercy. The Monk and Rogue jumped down to engage them in melee and did a great job of defeating them without taking much damage.

Eldritch Altar (#45)

far-realm-cystsWith all the monsters defeated we cautiously proceeded down to the final level. In this area was an altar made of jet-black stone. Carved on the sides were faces that we recognized as ours. On top of the altar were shadowy images of weapons and equipment which exactly matched the items in our combined inventory.

The Clerics and Wizards put their combined knowledge to work but were stumped as to what this altar was all about other than it radiated powerful transmutation magic.

The Monk and my Barbarian were worried about what some chaotic PCs might do next so we climbed back up to the top level of the room and waited at a safe distance.

After shooting the altar with arrows and magic the Human Cleric bravely (stupidly) advanced towards the altar. He touched it. Nothing happened. He placed his weapon on the altar. Nothing happened. Someone suggested he place a magic item on the altar. He would not. And then I shouted that he should try placing a potion on the altar; that was a magic item. He agreed and produced a Potion of Diminution (shrinking potion) from his backpack and placed it on the altar. Nothing happened… at first.

After a minute a flash of energy shot out from the altar through the potion and blasted the Druid. Her body fell lifeless to the ground. The nearby PCs checked and her body was alive but unresponsive. The Cleric picked up the potion and could hear the Druid’s voice calling from within the vial.

It seemed that her soul was now trapped in the potion. The Cleric was going to pour the potion down the Druid’s throat but first decided to just place the vial in her hand. She immediately awoke. However, she realized that if she let go of the potion her body would slump over and her soul would be again trapped in the potion vial. Seeing only one solution she drank the potion and let go of the empty vial. It worked! But she was now 1/10 her normal size, which for a Gnome was already quite small.

With no other immediate threats and no one else willing to tempt fate by messing with the Altar, the party climbed back to the top of the room which is where we’ll pick things up next session.

Thoughts

This was another great week for my table. It was a bit slow with eight players, but the combat in D&D Next is usually so quick it’s not really a big deal. This is a close-knit group so their pretty relaxed and enjoy the social aspect of playing as much as the mechanics.

I applaud the DM for having the good sense to give the Gricks’s more than the 9 hit points listed in the monster section. They were still pretty easy to defeat but at least they survived a couple of rounds each and did manage to get a couple of hits in before dying. It was refreshing to have a week were we weren’t just running and getting the crap kicked out of us.

Finding the Glyph Key attuned to the Temples of Extraction was a huge win for our table and the groups playing at our FLGS. When the opportunity presents itself we’ll meet up with the other parties and copy our Glyph Key to theirs ensuring that we can all get to the Temples of Extraction at the end no matter what else happens between then and now.

One thing that still seems to be challenging for our group is the lack of loot. Only one PC in the party has a magic weapon so far. We know that some monsters have resistance or immunity to non-magic weapons so we’re hoping to get better swag before we encounter any such creatures. I believe the other groups at our FLGS are having this same problem and it’s crushing them. We’ll see if we get lucky in the coming weeks.

Where is your group in the Doomvault? What path have you followed so far this season? Have you have any PC deaths yet? Any TPKs?

Additional Resources

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.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe June 5, 2014 at 10:43 am

Again, I remain super impressed with how much your group gets done each week in a 2 hour block… though the NEXT rules and an experienced party probably help with that.

We ran a 4E version of the adventure at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA, and had 2 tables of 5 and 6, respectively. This week we were in the Blood Pens, where the party teleported in to meet several folks fighting off Red Wizard “experimenters”… since we had new PCs to introduce. Once they defeated them in a hand-waved combat (I decided that a Healing Surge worth of damage was lost from each of the new players, which put them on slightly more even-footing with the rest of the party, who’d been through 2 sessions of resource-draining already), the party was free to deal with the rest of this zone. They spent a decent amount of time wandering around the large fields of undead-tended grains & the cattle region (where undead also tended to cattle), but were interrupted by a floating skull w/ gems for eyes… a demi-lich, which the party understood was clearly out of their league.

However this particular demi-lich was somewhat insane and chatty, and talked all about how she was there to help her granddaughter, who had transcended her body in a different way, becoming something closer to the swarm creatures she was experimenting with. Of course, this was all a ruse to allow the granddaughter, Thurla, to sneak up on the party with some other monsters.

This fight was designed to be uncomfortable. Thurla had become a shape-shifter, calling herself “the Formless One”, and was basically a mix of a swarm druid and that creeping maggot thing from Book of Vile Darkness. Basically she was a humanoid form composed entirely of maggots, that could also cast magic. She had a rechargable move power that let her shift through enemy squares (I had lots of fun describing the thousands of maggots swarming over people), giving them vulnerable 5 poison (SE). Of course, the other monsters all did poison damage, so this made the fight much harder-hitting. There were some swarm minions, too. Oh, and I got to insert a Simpsons reference into this fight with the other monsters. I figured since experimentation was done on lots of critters here, and since Thurla was into swarms, there was no logical reason for her not to have (and this was the monster’s name) “Dogs, with bees in their mouths, and when they bark, they shoot bees at you” (a classic Homer line).

My favorite part of the fight was completely unexpected. A 12-year-old player decided he did not “want to be like Michael Vick”, so he refused to hurt the dogs. I quickly decided that the dogs were probably nice to begin with, but were angry and hurt because there were bees inside of them. So every time someone damaged a dog, they were actually “knocking the bees out of them”, and when they reached 0HP, the dogs ran off happily, since they no longer had bees inside of them. The rest of the table was willing to go along with this, and it kept the young player happy, so we ran with it, and it worked out great. I love when an on-the-fly change like that can make a fight more meaningful for a player. If I can get a young player to cheer when a monster is not killed, I think I’m maybe doing something right.

Next week the party heads to the Masters’ Domain, where they might have an all-skill challenge session. I’ll chat with my players first to see what they’d rather try. All-in-all, though, a very good week.

2 Vobekhan June 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm

If I had used the full 8 vampiric mists in the Temple of Blood I would have butchered my party, as it stands they took a beating from just 4 of them (though managed to destroy 2 before fleeing). In hindsight I realised I misread zone links and allowed them to escape through the Conditioning Court.

When they decided to try and rest in the Wizards Court I decided to roll for a random encounter every hour and on third roll got a patrol.

As it stands the heroes are now in the Seclusion Crypt for the first time, and our Cleric/Bard/Druid/Mage (aka Captain Skillmonkey) has asked how he copies new spells into his spell book) this could result in some major aging :-) though I couldn’t find any information on how old age affects characters, hmmm.

3 Dan June 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm

This week, my group had 5 players: a tiefling bard, a warforged bard, an elf ranger, an elf (ranged) fighter, and my halfling barbarian/monk/rogue/cleric.
We ended last week standing over the corpses of several owlbears. As we were caked in gore and filth and slime from previous rooms, we decided to bathe in the pool and take a short rest. The ranger then scouted the area to the north, where the next portal was. He found a glowing pool, but no foes. Our bards worked together to discern it’s nature, and determined only that it was beneficial abjuration magic. The warforged waded in, sinking to the bottom, and drank some, and the curse on him ended. We attuned our 2 keys and left for the next area.
We found some tracks that seemed like they belonged to deer, and heard cries for help suddenly. We tried moving quietly, but our clean human scent gave us away. Suddenly, 4 creatures with the bodies of deer and the faces of badgers. A fifth, smaller one stood further away, the origin of the cries for help. These creatures (leucrotta) attacked us, but the ranger decided he wanted to talk to them to gain their assistance. Unfortunately, the party was split, and the leucrottas wanted us for lunch.
The party dispatched all but one, which was knocked unconcious. We tied it up, and I used spare the dying to revive it. We asked it a few questions, such as what it knew about the area and why it attacked. It attacked because it thought we were food, and it could only tell us about “long arm chokey things” (I’m guessing chokers) in the area we didn’t explore. Then the ranger intimidated it into accepting him as its master, and it joined us. We went through the portal into the forest of recovery.
In the next area, we found anot her glowing pool, and the leucrotta drank from it, healing it. We drank, and felt rested ourselves. In order to gain access to the ooze grottoes (our next destination), we had to move south to access the contact stone first. Our next area was filled with tall grass, and the ranger saw movement in the distance, and warned us as he left to check it out. Suddenly, a large canine creature with a goblinoid face leapt at him, and several goblins attacked the main group. After a lengthy battle, during which the tiefling was knocked down (and nat 1’d a death save), and nearly died. Considering that the ranger was a good distance from the party, I opted not to rage, instead preparing to spare the dying on any allies needing it. As it turned out, we managed to reach the ranger just in time to prevent her soul from being devoured by the creature, which turned out to be a barghest.
At this point we were about half an hour past closing time, so we cleaned up for the week. Next week’s destination: the short rest pool for several.
So far, luck and tactics have been with us, so we haven’t lost anyone yet. Some of it has to do with the fact that several players have been absent at different times, and act as reinforcements, and we have had to police resources to an extent (reminding other players that wanton use of limited resources can get us killed later, and that we can’t rest every week). I also think our meticulous planning helps us keep track of where we will be safest and what we may have to face soon.

4 shane jensen June 10, 2014 at 6:26 pm

In League City Texas, we ran two tables with the guys vs girls going on.

The guys table ran through the forests of slaughter again to try and clear it out.

The girls ran through the abyssal prisons, and had a rough time with all the Vampires.

Rather than a long write up though this week, I’ve written the guys adventure in script form.
http://www.md1840.com/dnd/Adventures?pageName=_season18_p4_t1&pageTitle=Return%20to%20the%20Forests%20of%20Slaughter&season=Dead%20in%20Thay&week=Week%204

Overall we had 4 tables of D&D going on with one 4E game and one home brew.

We also had numerous potential players watching the fun, so hopefully well have 4 tables by the climax!

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