D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 6)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 19, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverDuring our last session the party befriended Otyughs and released them into the Forests of Slaughter. After that we convinced a Beholder that we were not working with the Red Wizards and helped the Eye Tyrant escape the zone in which he was imprisoned.

This week at Hairy T in Toronto we had a great turnout. Table 1 (DM: Craig) had six players, table 2 (DM: Hillel) had five players, and table 3 (DM: Tim) had nine players. One of the players at table 3 was new to D&D Next but had extensive experience playing 3.5e.

At table 3 we ended up with the following party members: Human Cleric, Elf Cleric, Gnome Druid, Elf Druid, Halfling (Kender) Rogue, Warforged Monk, Tiefling Wizard, Gnome (undead) Wizard, and Dwarf Barbarian (my character).

Far Realm Cysts

far-realm-cystsWe picked things up moments after the Beholder used the Black Gate to teleport way to another sector of the Doomvault. The party was eager to move on so we headed through the White Gate and into the next zone.

Lake of Madness

Dark Water (#36)

The room was dark but we could hear the sounds of water lapping nearby. As the only PC with darkvision, my Barbarian scouted the area. In the centre of this large star-shaped room was a massive pool of water – the water rippled as if something beneath the water disturbed the calm recently. In the alcoves around the room were enormous globes of water suspended in the air.

Seeing no monsters or immediate threats I called the party forward. Most PCs were fascinated by the floating globes. They confirmed the globes were just water and anything that touched the globes was sucked inside it. No one wanted to drown so we left the globes alone.

A telepathic voice bellowed in our heads asking who we were and why we were here. We’ve learned in the past few sessions that few creatures in the dungeon seem to dislike the Red Wizards so we honestly answered that we were her to disturb the Red Wizards’ experiments as we sought an escape from the dungeon. Unfortunately our Persuasion rolls were terrible. The voice grew angry with us calling us untrustworthy and commanded us to leave its home. We gladly complied and moved onward, not wanting to discover what manner of beast lived in a pool of water so deep and dark.

Compelling Light (#37)

The first thing the party noticed as they approached the next room was the lights. All colours of the rainbow shone in this room. They seemed to come from crystals embedded in the walls. The second thing we noticed were the monsters – six Wights and a Dread Warrior just stood in the room, staring at the crystals. Before we could assess the possible dangers the lights hypnotized the party. The Elf Druid, Elf Cleric, Monk and Barbarian all fell victim to the pretty lights.

The rest of the party tried to wake the rigid and unresponsive PCs but were unsuccessful. The Cleric and Wizards put their combined knowledge together and realized the crystals were the source of the light and the source of our problems. If dispelled it might free us. But that would likely free the monsters too.

Before casting Dispel Magic on the crystals the non-hypnotized PCs disarmed the monsters and searched through their pockets. After taking anything dangerous or valuable (including another Glyph Key) the Cleric cast the spell. All hypnotized creatures immediately woke up.

The Dread Warrior demanded to know who the PCs were. The quick-thinking Undead Wizard, dressed once again in Red Wizard robes, stepped up and claimed to be a new Lich assigned to this section of the Doomvault. His 19 Deception check was enough to convince the dim-witted guard. When the Dread Warrior asked where his weapons were the “Lich” said that strange things were happening in this sector including items disappearing without explanation. He ordered the monsters to go and check out the areas the PCs just came from in search of anything strange. They followed his orders and left without incident.

The party didn’t know how long the bluff would last so we bolted for the nearest exit. As we left my Barbarian heard screaming and pleas for help in the telepathic circlet. The party in the Temples of Extraction was getting their butts kicked hard. Every few minutes there were more screams and calls for aid. And then the cries ended abruptly.

Forests of Slaughter

Forest of Death

Behir’s Lair (#56)

forest-of-slaughterWe quickly and quietly entered the next area. The terrain in the forest cavern was scorched and gouged. The turf was overturned, revealing the stone floor beneath. The Rogue and my Barbarian scouted the room to try and find the source of this damage and we found two Behirs. Fortunately they were sleeping so we left them alone.

The party moved quickly and quietly across the southern wall of this area. Despite the lure of grey light from the area to the south, we ignored it and kept on going until we reached the White Gate and passed through. The passage on the other side was normal dungeon stone again.

Golem Laboratories

Iron Golem Foundries

Golem Forge (#97)

golem-laboratoriesWe headed along the corridor and down some steps towards bright light and tremendous warmth. When we reached the chamber, the first thing we noticed was a huge crucible in the centre of the room. Near it were two Red Wizards and two Apprentices huddled around an incomplete Golem. Six Iron Golems stood at attention against the walls of the room.

The party quickly realized that the Red Wizards were the biggest threat in this room. If they got a chance to command the six Golems we wouldn’t stand a chance. I won initiative, charged the nearest Red Wizard and attacked, hitting twice. The Druid went next and cast Sleet Storm in the centre of the room. The four Thayan spellcasters all fell prone as did my PC. The party advanced and attacked with ranged weapons as best they could.

The Red Wizards spent their full turn standing and then moving out of the ongoing storm. I managed to kill the Red Wizard in front of me before he could act, leaving only one for the rest of the party. The Rogue and Cleric easily took out the other Red Wizard before he could activate the Golems.

The Apprentices were forced against a wall to avoid the storm which set them up perfectly for the Wizard’s Lightning Bolt. He fired and they died. By the end of the second round we’d secured the Forge.

With things under control I decided that this party of nine could afford to go down a body. Realizing that there was a Black Gate in this room, I could easily teleport to another area of the dungeon and assist another party. Using the telepathic circlet, I asked the party in the Temples of Extraction if they still needed help. The answer was a resounding yes. Fortunately they happened to be back in area #105 which also had a Black Gate. I told my party that I was going to aid another group. I handed off the circlet, bid them farewell and good luck, and then teleported away.

Temples of Extraction

temples-of-extractionMy Barbarian stepped through the Black Gate and arrived in area #105. The party before him consisted of a Warforged Paladin, Human Monk/Bard, Elf Cleric/Wizard, Elf Cleric/Rogue, and Drow Druid/Monk. They quickly brought him up to speed on their adventures in the Temples of Extraction and then we moved on to the next zone.

Temples of Oppression

Temple of Shadows (#102)

Our passage down the hallway was blocked by closed doors. The party said that so far none of the doors were trapped, but I checked just to make sure. Finding no traps I opened the door. The room was pitch black, fortunately my character has darkvision.

Inside he spotted six shadowy figures skulking around the dark room. In the far corner was a three-step stone dais with four jet black pillars. An unconscious humanoid was suspended between the pillars. The party told me they’d seen the same thing in all the previous rooms of this sector. The bound individual was one of the Chosen. They possessed the power and blessing of their deity and the Red Wizards were extracting the godly essence from them. Traps in each room were being powered by the Chosen’s essence. Killing the Chosen stopped the effects.

The Wizard cast a Light spell on a crossbow bolt and fired it into the room. The light barely penetrated the magical darkness. The Druid stepped up and cast Daylight. This cancelled the dark effects. The six monsters were indeed Shadows and they didn’t like the light. The rest of the party allowed the Wizard to step up and cast Fireball into the room. Without the darkness the monsters all had disadvantage on their saves. They all failed and they all died, including the Chosen. Easiest room ever!

With the monsters out of the way the party easily disabled the magic of the shrine. As they’d done this a few times before my arrival it didn’t take long and they knew exactly what needed to be done. We exited through the room’s only other door and continued onward.

Temple of Ooze (#101)

red-wizard-1This room was also barred by a closed door which we checked for traps, found none, and then burst open. In the middle of the room was a Red Wizard. Between her and us was a Wight leading two Grey Oozes and two Ochre Jellies. To our right was another shrine, identical to the ones we’d seen before. An unconscious humanoid was suspended between the pillars of this one too. Around the hexagonal room, the shinny walls seemed to move and ripple occasionally.

Before anyone, friend or foe, could act my Barbarian charged into the room and attacked the Red Wizard – that got things started and we rolled initiative. Fortunately most of the party went before any of the monsters. The party’s Wizard managed to hit the Red Wizard with his Ray of Frost and then my Barbarian landed two solid blows, the second one a crit which dropped the Red Wizard (unconscious, not dead). Meanwhile the Bard killed the Chosen which returned the rippling walls we’d carefully avoided back to solid form.

The rest of the party worked together to easily take down the Wight and the two Grey Oozes by the end of the fist round. The Ochre Jellies were so slow that they couldn’t get within melee range quickly enough to be harmful. It only took another round and a half for the ranged attackers to take out the Jellies. With monsters dispatched we quickly and easily disabled the shrine.

Next week we’ll interrogate the captured Red Wizard and then continue onward, deeper into the Temples of Extraction.

Thoughts

Over the past few months we’ve run more than a few large tables. D&D Next is certainly easier to run with larger groups than any of the previous editions (especially 4e), but I’m learning that seven is the manageable max. Once you hit eight or more players things start to get unruly. Players start to have side conversations waiting for their turn and hearing the DM can become more challenging. I knew from the outset that our group of nine would have problems.

At the beginning of the season I realized that this group was going to be large but I really wanted a chance to get to know these players and the DM a bit better. Unfortunately as people brought their friends the numbers ballooned. I don’t begrudge anyone for wanting to be at the same table as their friend, but it made things tough. Realizing I was the odd man out I took the opportunity to join another group this week. In game I don’t think there will be any issues, but out of game it was a bit disappointing to switch.

Both tables I played at this week saw combat, and both groups gave the spellcasters a chance to show off their power. Lightning Bolt, Sleet Storm and Fireball were all put to maximum effectiveness and devastated plenty of monsters. At level 7 we’re starting to see just how powerful Mages become in D&D Next.

As my new group terrorizes the Temples of Extraction I worry that in game we’re missing important details about what’s really going on. We’re killing everything in sight that looks hostile but not seeing any noticeable benefit of doing so. Hopefully one of the other groups can help us add up all the facts and figure out what to do. I fear that killing all the monsters won’t be enough.

How is your group doing? We’re half way through the season; does it feel like you’re half way through the dungeon? Have you found a Glyph Key to the Temples of Extraction yet? Now that you’re PCs are level 7 do things seem any easier?

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 covaerage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.


Looking for instant updates? Subscribe to the Dungeon’s Master feed!


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe June 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

Lots of fun last night at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA. We had 2 tables of 5, both running my 4E conversion of this season. In this week’s adventure, the party was in the Golem Laboratories. First they had to get past bubbling-hot pools of mud where the ghosts of Thayan zealots were creating the perfect clay for clay golem creation. A skill challenge (which most failed) got them across the room without taking fire damage from the boiling mud. The next room had a floor of roiling stones, with more stones being teleported in through ceiling portals. It turned out there were stone giants walking in the pools of stone (which were much deeper than the party realized), picking out the perfect stones for stone golem creation. Another skill challenge got them across the stones, taking minimal damage.

Finally, the party came to the Iron Golem Forges, where 2 genies had been enslaved to work the giant pool of molten metal in the middle of the room, smelting iron golem parts. As the party entered, an undead Red Wizard with many tattoos on his head appeared and confronted the party. This was Kazit Gul, the chief administrator of the Doom Vault, who had received reports from other zones and felt it was time to finish the party. He activated several dormant golems lying around the room, then teleported away. The party had a very tough fight against an iron golem, a stone golem, and a flesh golem. The battle was on.

When the golems were (finally) defeated, the party still had the genies to contend with. Since this was the 5th session in a row without an extended rest, I also knew that I had to write-in a way for the party to rest & level-up. So the golems, who’d couldn’t break their command not to help the party leave, instead summoned their uncle, Mihajlas, who was less bound in his actions.

NOTE: I inserted Mihajlas from a Dragon Magazine article a few years back… he’s a traveling genie merchant with a “tent of pleasures”. Inside, the party could rest on pillows of impossible softness and wrap themselves in blankets of unending coziness. They could also use the gold they’d been getting to buy some stuff. Specifically, they had a chance to buy Rare items a bit above their level. I figured since this is the last season we’ll run before Next hits, and since they’re getting to level 8 after this rest, it was about time they felt a bit more empowered with cooler-than-average magic items. They also could have purchased a ritual to remove the soulbound undead status, but nobody was suffering that.

I must admit, while putting together that list of Rare items, I realized that WotC did NOT balance out their distribution of Rare items across levels/item types in 4E. Even among armor & weapons of different types there was a great disparity (and some were unusable, like the power items & chainsaw swords from that future-tech Dragon Magazine article). Made it really hard to make a shop list that had at least one thing that every player type could use.

The session ended with the party taking an extended rest & leveling up to lvl 8. Next week they’ll be off to the Forests of Slaughter.

2 Dan June 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

This weekour usual DM was sick, so I had to DM again. First, last week the party got roughed up pretty bad, and we lost a bard and our corpse-eating horse mascot to gorgons’ breath. Because of location, there was no access to the seclusion crypt to rest, so we had to rest in the forest of illusion. As we wrapped up our rest, we saw 5 humanoids coming from the other direction: a red wizard, 2 apprentices, a dread warrior, and a dragonborn prisoner. (This is how we had decided to introduce the dead bards new character and an old player who had missed the first part of the season)
Our party addressed them, and the red wizard requested to join them (forgetting his companions). The apprentices both tried to attack the red wizard with cantrips, but missed. The apprentices fell quickly, and the dread warrior was engaged by our dwarf fighter and tiefling cleric of war (still distraught at the loss of his horse).
A few solid hits from the dread warrior worried the dwarf, but we made quick work of him.
After some deliberation, we decided to accept (if not trust) the red wizard and the dragonborn prisoner.
Our party now had a tiefling cleric (war)/fighter/barbarian, a warforged bard, a dwarf fighter, a human mage (red wizard evoker), a half-elf ranger, a dragonborn cleric (light), an elf (archer) fighter, and my halfling barbarian/monk/rogue/cleric (war). The dwarf wanted to take a short rest already, but since we had just woken up, we wouldn’t allow it. We moved on to the next area, knowing that it housed hooked horrors. We quickly killed them, and attuned our key. By this time it was already almost closing time, and I glanced at the next encounter to decide if I should risk starting it up. I chose not to.
This week we got a late start because people came late and needed to make characters. Then our one player (same problematic one as last week) kept trying to derail the group from actually progressing and telling me i shouldn’t do things the way I was and generally being a nuisance, so we didn’t get much done. It is getting frustrating.
In addition, the other group found a key to the temples of extraction and decided not to inform our group. Not sure why.
I do know that the other DM really dislikes this campaign, and wants to end it as quickly as possible, which I feel is having a worse effect on the fun and cooperation between groups.
Not sure how I feel about this.

3 Joe June 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Yeah, trouble players can make it rough for any DM, @Dan. And DMs who aren’t into it will suck fun away from the whole group. If you keep DMing, you might consider trying to pull aside the problem player beforehand to just “check in and see if there was anything in the game that you could do to help him have fun”, which will also open the door for you to explain how you are trying to help the other players have fun as well, so if you need to ask him to “help” you do that, his attention might be less focused on being disruptive.

I have a couple players who are (I believe) at various levels on the autism scale, which certainly doesn’t make them “problem” players by any means, but sometimes means that I spend a lot longer making sure they’re okay with what’s going on. And then if another player isn’t sensitive to these players, things get really difficult to manage. I’ve had to specifically ask certain players to be wary of how they act around these other players just so that everyone can have fun together and not feel overwhelmed/rushed/looked-down-on. Thankfully, I have a table with many other helpful players who are willing to step in and help me guide the story where it needs to go, regardless of what’s going on. But it’s a really difficult challenge for any DM, and scattershot seasons that don’t offer concrete plot guidelines make it even harder.

4 Vobekhan June 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm

We didnt get to play this week as I was ill and our other DM was out of town.

The players are enjoying the game but seem to be at a loss as to why they’re actually there. I’veben giving out the lore as they find it and both tables have been sharing information freely but neither has found anything regards the “endgame”.

In the podcast (over on 20ft radius) you mention the monster knowledge checks, we’ve been using the same sort of format (Nature/Arcana/Religion lore checks as appropriate.

5 shane jensen June 20, 2014 at 11:38 am

Down in League City, Texas (South side of Houston)

We saw a continued increase in purlayer base this week! We ran two Dead in Thay tables, with 6 players at each.

One table went through the Abyssal Prisons, while Iran my group through the Predator Pools.

My table though didn’t seem to like the polls very much, and since only one player had a key properly attuned, he led them through the first gate he found to the Golem Laboratory. There they found their first Dreadguard, who nearly wiped the party out, once Tarul Var began channeling spells through him. After a desperate battle, they quickly retreated to the safety of the Black Gate.

The other group did very well, and have now a working alliance with the Vampire in the Prisons, and freed Sherlendra. They also rediscovered Perchenska from Scourge of the Sword Coast. They didn’t kill her on sight though, although those who had dealt with her before wanted to.

Next week I am bringing on 2 more DMS and we should finally be able to run a full 4 tables.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: