We left the party in the Far Realms Cysts sector of the Doomvault. They’d just cleared out the Caverns of Chaos zone. The Gnome Druid’s soul had been trapped in a potion which she drank… and then shrank since it was a Potion of Diminution.
This week we saw a noticeable drop in the numbers at Hairy T North in Toronto. We expected to lose a few regulars week in and week out over the summer, but not so many in one week. Table 1 (DM: Craig) had four players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had five players, and table 3 (substitute DM: Derek) had five players.
That’s right, I got to DM again this week as our regular DM was out sick. So our party was down a Barbarian, but the five remaining party members at my table were a Warforged Monk, Halfling (Kender) Rogue, Gnome Druid (1/10 her normal size), Human Cleric, and Gnome Wizard (currently an undead PC thanks to the Walking Dead option).
Far Realm Cysts
Before the party could leave the Chaos Lair (#44) they received a telepathic communication from one of the other parties. The group marauding through the Masters’ Domain had cleared out most of the Red Wizards stationed there and they were ready to take on a bigger challenge.
They were near a Black Gate and wanted to know if they could meet up with us so they could copy out Glyph Key. During the last session we told them we’d found a Glyph Key attuned to the Temples of Extraction and they wanted to go there next.
Since we were near a Black Gate and not in any immediate danger the other PC teleported in, copied the Glyph Key, and teleported out. The party briefly discussed whether or not they should follow the other party to the Temples of Extraction but decided to let them try alone first.
Prison of Filth
Otyugh Lair (#42)
After the party passed through the White Gate they could either head through a set of closed doors to the south or an open room to the north. They opted for the open room first.
The moment they passed through the White Gate they noticed the smell. As they moved towards the Otyugh Liar the stench got much worse. By the time they got to the actual room they had to make Con saves to not be nauseated. The Warforged Monk and Undead Wizard were thankfully immune since neither of them breathes. The other three PCs failed and threw up.
The room was filled with all matter of decay and animal waste. Needless to say there were a lot of poop and fart jokes made for the next 15 minutes. They party didn’t want to wade through the rotting garbage until they had a plan so they remained still at the mouth of the room, looked at their map, and discussed options.
After a few minutes the PCs heard the sounds of little girls laughing and playing. The Undead Wizard and Warforged Monk heard nothing. The living PCs realized they were hearing these sounds in their minds. The girls’ voices asked the PCs for candy and treats.
At first the party suspected some kind of undead was haunting this area, but the Cleric was able to rule that out quickly. They decided to talk with the girls explaining that they had no candy. Then another voice, this one an adolescent boy, joined the conversation and asked for food. The party wasn’t sure what to do but was reluctant to take action. The male voice became a bit more agitated and aggressive.
The Rogue had been scanning the room, watching for danger, and when he rolled a natural 20 he spotted four medium sized creatures slowly advancing towards the party’s position under the waste and garbage. He alerted his allies and the party immediately threw whatever rations they had at the creatures. The voices expressed happiness and gratitude for the food as the monsters ate it all. The voices were clearly coming from these creatures.
The party was able to identify the monsters as Otyughs – creatures that can and will eat anything. It seemed that this room was a giant sewer where the Red Wizard deposited their waste and these monsters were the means by which the waste was disposed of.
Three larger Otyughs began to move from the back of the chamber towards the PCs. The Cleric decided to try and talk to them. He said he could cast a create food and water ritual that would produce fresh nutritional food for the creatures. The adults were willing to wait and when the food magically appeared they feasted. With full bellies and no signs of violence from the party, the Otyughs were willing to talk.
They explained the function of this room and the one to the North. The PCs asked if they liked it here and said they could bring them someplace else if they preferred. The Otyughs liked that idea. So the PCs decided they’d bring the Otyughs to the Forests of Slaughter after they’d explored this zone.
Garbage Transfer (#41)
The party moved to the door that divided rooms 41 and 42. The Undead Wizard opened the door and saw 20 Skeletons standing around. He alone entered the room. Two nearby Skeletons approached with outstretched hands. He gave them bits of scrap metal he’d found earlier. They took it and sorted it into piles of similar materials scattered around the room.
Any garbage that was organic was obviously sent to room 41 while anything that the Otyughs couldn’t eat was sent here where it was sorted and possibly reused at a later point. After finding no treasure they Wizard left.
Summoning Chamber (#43)
With the Otyughs in tow, the party headed through the south doors towards the Forests of Slaughter. The room ahead had a large blood-red circule inscribed on the floor. With a natural 20 on his Arcana check, the Wizard had no problem identify this as a summoning circle linked to the Far Realms. He also knew exactly how to manipulate the symbols to make the circle inert.
The rest of the party followed the Wizards’ instructions and managed to deface the summoning circle. Unfortunately the Cleric misunderstood his task and was shocked by the evil magic of the circle. It messed with his mind (disadvantage on all Int, Wis, and Cha saves and skill checks, plus no spells that required concentration). The Cleric had a Remove Curse spell ready and cured his own mind of the madness.
The PCs used their Glyph Key to open the White Gate that led to the next sector and let the Otyughs loose in area #60.
Before going back through the Otyugh Lair the Undead Wizard decided to return to the Seclusion Crypt for a second time. He needed hit points and a few spell slots. He also wanted to pen some spells from scrolls into his spellbook which he wouldn’t otherwise have time to do. When he returned a few seconds later he realize his maximum hit points had been reduced, and unexpected consequence of using the Seclusion Crypt once too often.
Warren of Eyes
Slime Slaves (#40)
Rough stone steps lead down into a cavern filled with about one foot of glowing green slime. The Monk took point and was the first to wade into the slime. It didn’t attack or do any permanent damage. As no other dangers seemed to be present the party advanced into the next chamber.
Beholder’s Domain (#39)
Hundreds of unblinking eyes stared at the party from the smooth green walls of this large, star-shaped chamber. The green slime covered the floor in this room too. The PCs advanced slowly, careful not to get too close to the walls.
The Rogue managed to roll another natural 20 on his perception check and noticed a large spherical creature floating down towards the party from the ceiling above. Before he could shout a warning, one of the floating creature’s eye stalk spied the party’s Wizard (dressed in a Red Wizard robe he’d found a few sessions earlier) and blasted him. “Die, Red Wizard,” its deep voice bellowed in satisfaction.
The Wizard failed his Con save and realized he was turning to stone, something that had happened to him earlier this season. He threw off his red robe and pleaded with the monster, shouting that he was not a Red Wizard. He was undead and had hair. His cries for mercy quickly faded as he failed a second Con save and was petrified.
The party realized that the creature was a Beholder. It was covered in scars and showed signs of battle damage; some recent and some old. Two of the Beholder’s eye stalks were limp and looked dead. This Beholder had seen a lot of action in its life.
Despite his clearly weakened appearance the party decided not to attack it and instead tried to reason with it. They explained that they were not here to fight him. They were here to fight Red Wizards. This intrigued the Eye Tyrant so he allowed them to tell their tale. The party held nothing back. When they’d finished their story the Beholder was convinced they could be trusted.
The Beholder told them his name, Thaxalia, and that he was a prisoner of the Red Wizards. He’d killed any patrols that tried to pass through but the Red Wizards often tortured him for retribution or fun. He hated the Red Wizards and if freed from this zone he’d wreak havoc upon all of them.
Thaxalia asked the PCs to give him a Glyph Key and help him pass through the barrier, something he’d been unable to do on his own. They tired but realized the Beholder couldn’t work the Glyph Key. The Beholder was convinced that the Glyph Keys needed to be re-attuned to allow for a non-humanoid to use it. The PCs agreed to reverse-engineer a Glyph Key to learn its secrets, even though doing so would destroy the key.
With some great knowledge checks the PCs learned the secrets of the Glyph Keys and were confident the Beholder could use it. Since that wasn’t the case there must be something wrong with him. He was not pleased at that suggestion but some fast talking kept him calm. The Cleric tried casting Remove Curse on the Beholder and that did the trick. Thaxalia demanded that the party give him their remaining Glyph Key, but they were reluctant. Again, good Persuasion checks kept the Beholder calm and he eventually revealed that one of the dead guards concealed in room #40 by the slime might have a Glyph Key, which it did.
The party copied the new Glyph Key to theirs and gave it to the Beholder along with a map of the dungeon. He realized that the Glyph Key would give him total access to the Doomvault and that made him very happy. He floated towards the Block Gate in the next room intending to leave the PCs.
Sinkhole Cavern (#38)
The 10 Zombies in this room didn’t know enough to get out of the way of the Beholder as he headed towards freedom. Thaxalia blasted all the Zombies, clearing the room before he got to the Black Gate and teleported away.
As the PCs watched him go they realized they didn’t tell him that they had friends adventuring in other parts of the dungeon and that he shouldn’t attack them on sight. Oh well. That’s a problem we’ll handle next week.
It was fun to get back behind the DM’s screen this week (metaphorically speaking since I don’t actually use a screen). I was very happy that the party realized they could successfully overcome the encounters by talking to the monsters. We ended up not having any combat this week, but I think the group had fun, I know I did.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Beholders as NPCs so getting to run Thaxalia was a real treat. I tried to make the Beholder seem powerful and I think his obvious scaring and battle damage helped instill that idea. If the PCs decided they wanted to fight it they had a reasonable chance of success, but they did the sensible thing and they talked. As such they made a very powerful ally. I can’t wait to see how the three DMs use Thaxalia in upcoming sessions.
I look forward to going back to playing next week, especially as the PCs have now hit level 7. We’ll see how much more our party can take and dish out with the level bump.
How is your party progressing through the Doomvault? Did you suffer any fatalities this week? Have any other groups encountered the Beholder yet? Did you fight or talk? How have monsters you’ve freed changed areas of the dungeon?
- 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.