D&D Encounters: Out of the Abyss (Episode 3.1)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 28, 2015

out-of-the-abyss-coverLoud voices arguing and accusing one and other alerted the Kuo-toa patrol that interlopers were nearby. Undetected, the Kuo-toa surrounded the party and sprang forth to ambush them.

This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto we had a noticeable dip in our numbers. We had to merge two groups together just to get my party up to four players. Only one of my regulars was present. Overall we had about 20 players at four tables. My party consisted of a Human Rogue, Aasimar Cleric, Drow Paladin, and Human Monk (new player to the store).

Unfortunately the dangling mystery of who killed the NPC Halfling they’d met last session and the fate of the false Dawnbringer sword had to be put on hold as the key players involved weren’t present this session.

Prisoners Once More

kuotoa-01As the party argued over what exactly happened to the Halfling diver they’d met in the last session the Kuo-toa jumped them. The fish men didn’t bother trying to parley; they immediately attacked the PCs. The Monk and Rogue worked together to try and take out as many Kuo-toa systematically as possible. The Paladin identified the Kuo-toa leader and faced him alone in single combat.

For the first couple rounds the PCs held their own, but as the NPC allies fell the PCs quickly found themselves facing grim odds. The level 1 Monk and level 2 Cleric both fell when they were each forced to fight three Kuo-toa. The Paladin and Rogue realized the Kuo-toa weren’t attacking to kill, merely to incapacitate. The two PCs could not hope to survive so they surrendered. They were promptly knocked out.

When the PC awoke they were tied together. Their captors were getting the whole group on their feet and began marching them away. Shuushar, the NPC Kuo-toa had been trying to talk to the aggressors all through the fight but didn’t get any responses. He was again trying to parley and again having no success.

About 30 minutes later the party was once again beset upon by Kuo-toa. These fish folk didn’t attack the PCs, rather they attacked the monsters who’d captured the PCs. They freed the PCs from their bonds and encouraged them to flee. The PCs grabbed their gear, got a few good licks in, then followed their rescuers into the tunnels of the Underdark.

When the group finally stopped running the Kuo-toa priest cast the Tongues spell so they could all speak freely to one another. She introduced herself as Ploopploopeen (Ploop) the archpriests of the Sea Mother. Until recently her people were of a singular faith. However, her daughter Bloppblippodd (Blopp) has become the new archpriests of the Deep Father, a rival deity. This has caused a rift among the Kuo-toa of Sloobludop. The PCs were captured so they could be presented as live offerings to be sacrificed to the Deep Father.

Ploop asked the PCs to help her restore order in Sloobludop. If they accompany her as “prisoners” she can use them to force a confrontation between herself and her daughter. Shuushar immediately sided with Ploop and did his best to convince the party to help her. The promise of material rewards did the trick.

To Sloobludop

sloobludopThe PCs accompanied Sloop and her contingent of Kuo-toa warriors back to Sloobludop as their prisoners. She brought them to the Sea Mother Shrine where she explained the plan. She’ll parade them to the Deep Father Shrine where she’ll present them as a peace offering to her rivals. Assuming they accept the faithful of the Sea Father will begin their ritual sacrifice. When Ploop gives the signal the PCs will burst free and attack the priests. This will disrupt the ritual and cause chaos. Ploop will restore order and win back her people.

Some of the Sea Mother faithful present at the debrief voiced concern that outsiders are required to help them complete their plan. Eventually the PCs convinced the doubters of their value.

A short time later the PCs were marched to the Altar of the Deep Father and presented as sacrifices. Ploop mades a passionate speech about unity and the Deep Father worshipers accepted her friendship. The PCs are brought forth to be sacrificed. On the ground before the altar is was a badly wounded Duergar.

Bloop, the archpriests of the Deep Father, moved forward to begin the ritual. The acolytes encircle the altar and those who were to be sacrificed. The Kuo-toa faithful in the circle began to dance and chant as the ritual began. Most of the Kuo-toa who reside in Sloobludop came to witness the events. Just as Bloop stepped forth to being the final incantation and order the PCs to be killed one of her own priests attacked her, knocking her unconscious.

Deep Father vs. Sea Mother

The PCs immediately attack anyone affiliated with the Deep Father. The Paladin and Rogue charge the betrayer who attacked Bloop. The Kuo-toa commoners present don’t know what to make of this and everyone began screaming and pushing. The Deep Father acolytes fought back against the PCs and the NPCs still with them. Derendil and Buppido both fought wildly. Jimjar and Eldeth grabbed Stool and began to flee to safety. In the chaos Shuushar was grabbed by Kuo-toa and pulled into the crowd.

The PCs continued fighting for a few rounds before they realized the ritual that had begun actually had some success despite not being completed. In the shallow waters where some Acolytes still cast the spell, creatures from beneath the water grabbed them and pulled them under. Red pools began rising to the surface as the Kuo-toa were being eviscerated by unseen attackers.

The Deep Father faithful stood their ground fighting the Sea Mother’s clerics. The Deep Father leader was a strong combatant and managed to fend off the constant attacks of the two PCs in his face. The other PCs continued to battle the lesser opponents. After a few more rounds the evil priest pointed out to Darklake where bubbles and foam began to form out on the water. “Leemooggoogoon!” he cried.

Hey, What’s That?

demogorgonBursting forth from the water was a thick, oily tentacle, and then another. Two monstrous heads that both resembles baboons broke the surface next. The heads were both connected to one huge and grotesque creature. It’s eyes were red and burned with bloodlust and madness. The giant creature stood over 30 feet tall and as it fully emerged from the water it let out a ferocious roar. Demogorgon, Demon Prince of the Abyss, was loose in the Underdark!

Seeing the Demon drove everyone mad. The PCs had to make saving throws, which only two of the four succeeded (even with inspiration). The Kuo-toa were fighting and fleeing. Or they were stunned or driven mad. It was utter chaos. The PCs made a mad dash for the gates of Sloobludop as they attempted to flee for their lives. Those who made their saves grabbed the PCs who did not. Derendil succumb to the madness and went into a blood rage. The last the PCs saw of him he was eating the hearts of those Kuo-toa he’d killed with his bare hands.

The PCs had to avoid being crushed or attacked as they fled aside dozens of Kuo-toa, but in the end they all made it out of the town safely. They met up with the NPCs who’d had a head start and what was left of their party ran until they found a safe place to take a short rest. Derendil and Shuushar were gone. But Jimjar managed to help the wounded Duergar who was also to be scarified out of Sloobludop adding one more to the party.

To be continued.

Thoughts

For those people playing the free PDF the encounter at Sloobludop is the grand finale. However if you’re only planning to play the PDF then you’re supposes to complete four mini-dungeon crawls before reaching Sloobludop. But for those groups who plan to play on, this is merely chapter 3 and you’ll get to those four dungeon crawls in due time.

I had some new faces in the party this week, but fortunately for everyone they were at the exact same spot in the adventure so there was good continuity.

The Koa-Toa all have long, complicated, hard to pronounce names. While playing I realized I was mixing them up. I think I managed to cover my flubs, but internally I scolded myself. Note to DMs who have not yet run this encounter – make a cheat sheet and keep the NPC and names straight!

The sacrifice scene seemed like a bit of a cheat. The PCs attacked the bad guys but despite their efforts the story required certain things to happen. I tried not to make it so evident that no matter what they did things were going to happen a certain way. In the end the players felt like they did have an effect on the story so that was good.

The appearance of Demogorgon was certainly a surprise to the players. They all had enough sense to flee at top speed when the Demon Lord showed up. Until now I haven’t played up the madness aspects of the adventure. That will change starting next week.

Has madness played a big part in your games yet? What are some of the crazy or memorable things madness has caused PCs to do at your table? For PCs who have failed multiple saves vs. madness how have you changed the play style of your PC?

Podcasts

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.

Actual Play Podcasts

  • Each week we record our D&D Encounters session and make it 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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1 Don Webb October 28, 2015 at 9:38 am

Interest is waning. I have started putting up posters in hopes of getting more players/

2 Dan October 30, 2015 at 11:27 am

My shop has had 3-4 tables steadily for the past year or so, though we’ve noticed a trend: during the school year, we lose a number of players due to encounters being held on a school night. Still, it is great to see d&d bringing together players young and old.

As for progress, we have one table who have made it to Sloobludop thus far, and they also had the good sense to flee from the demon prince. The other 2 tables (mine included) are behind for a number of reasons. Our party just managed to escape the Drow prison this week by taking Asha hostage. We managed to collect all PCs and npcs, but ended the session before deciding on our next step.

3 Rico November 4, 2015 at 6:13 pm

@Ameron, I’m just curious as to why you made the changes to the narrative that you did (Ploop from father to mother, having one of Bloop’s own followers, rather than Ploop, attack her). It’s not a big deal. I’m just curious about your thought process. What did you feel that added to the narrative? Personally, I like the symmetry of having the Sea Mother represented by a male priest and the Deep Father represented by a female priest.

4 Ameron (Derek Myers) November 5, 2015 at 10:30 pm

@Rico
I didn’t make the changes intentionally. I had a really tough time getting all the names straight and it wasn’t clear in some cases if the NPC was male or female. I read the section over a couple of times and it just wasn’t making a whole lot of sense to me. As it was playing out it became a bit clearer that I’d mixed up the gender of some NPCs but by then I was stuck so I rolled with it. My players didn’t realize I’d made changes so it all worked out in the end.

5 Vobeskhan November 8, 2015 at 1:42 pm

We have 3 regular full tables this season. The other 2 tables have both completed the Sloopbludop section and are continuing with the rest of the hardback adventure next time.
Due to missing a session through illness my group were still halfway to fish-town and our last session was the Lost Tomb. Hopefully they will be making it to Sloopbludop this coming session, so I will be taking your advice and making a cheat sheet for the NPC names in advance.

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