D&D Encounters: Out of the Abyss (Session 4.1)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 4, 2015

out-of-the-abyss-coverThe party was still recovering after seeing the Demon Lord, Demogorgon, with their own eyes. Somehow Demogorgon was lose in the Underdark. A truly terrifying predicament. With Sloobludop destroyed behind them, the party needed to decide where to go next as they sought safe haven and a means to get back to the surface.

We ran four full tables of six at Face to Face Games in Toronto this week. My group had the following characters: Human Monk (3), Human Rogue (4), Drow Paladin (4), Elf Wizard (3), Dragonborn Fighter (3), and Human Druid (3). The party also had a few of the NPCs who escaped from the Drow prison with them including Buppido, Jimjar, Eldeth, and Stool. They’d also picked up a new companion, a Duergar named Hemeth who was to be sacrificed with them to the Deep Father in Sloobludop.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The NPCs told the party that the two closest underground cities are Gracklstugh (a Duergar city) and Blingdenstone (a Svirfneblin city). Both will take about 20 days to reach by foot. One requires going east around Darklake, the other requires going west around Darklake. Buppido and Hemeth pushed for Blingdenstone saying they have contacts in the city who can help the PCs get back to the surface. Jimjar said the same about Blingdenstone, but he was less passionate about going there. The party was easily convinced to go to the Gracklstugh.

Over the next few days the party wandered, foraging for food and water and meeting with marginal success. They manage to find enough food and water each day to survive that day. They don’t go hungry, but they don’t acquire enough to build a reserve.

On the fifth day the temperature began to rise in the passages they were traveling through. Without warning the ground began to rumble and the passage shook. The party sprinted ahead. They avoided taking damage from falling rocks, but hot steam began shooting out for the cracks scalding some of them. Worse yet, lava began rising from cracks in the floor. The Fighter and Druid both suffered severe burns from the molten lava.

As the rumbling subsided and the PCs ran onward the passage opened into a large open cavern. The Druid barely managed to get into the cavern before he dropped unconscious from his wounds. The rest of the party fanned out. None spotted the danger lurking above them on the ceiling.

Death From Above!

Large tentacles reached down from the shadows of the ceiling and lashed out at the Fighter and Paladin. As the party looked up they saw a Roctopus – a cave dwelling octopus. It clung to the stalactites and tried to grab the PCs. The Rogue and Wizard used ranged attacks, the Fighter used his acid breath, and the Monk and Paladin used stalagmites as ramps so they could gain height and jump to attack with melee weapons.

The Wizard was the next to fall as the Roctopus continued to lash out and attack. The Paladin ran to his fallen allies and used Lay on Hands to revived the Druid. When the Druid awoke he jammed a Goodberry into the Wizard mouth to revive him too.

Once all six PCS were conscious again the fight began to turn. The Roctopus moved away from any stalagmite so as not to be subjected to melee attacks. However, the melee fighters switched to bows and that took care of that. The Roctopus was killed by missile fire. The party cut up the creature’s remains knowing that they’d need food.

The Ooze Temple

ooze-templeThe next few days were uneventful as the PCs continued onward to Gracklstugh. Suddenly the cavern began to tremble and there was a cave in directly in front of the party. They backtracked and discovered there was also a cave in behind them too. They were trapped. Fortunately the Rogue spotted a crack in the wall just wide enough for a person to squeeze through that wasn’t there before the tremor. What the party discovered when they passed through was a small chamber.

A passage connected to the chamber and branched off in two directions. The Fighter, Wizard, and Druid went east; the Rogue, Paladin, and Monk went west. The NPCs stayed put while the adventurers explored.

The eastern passage snaked north-east for about 30 ft before it opened into an enclosed room. The walls of the room glistened with dark, dripping water. As the PCs realized this was a dead end and turned to leave the water that had pooled on the floor behind them formed a large blob and attacked.

The Druid, who had transformed into a Giant Spider tried to entangle the creature in a web. Unfortunately as the web touched the living liquid it dissolved. The Fighter attacked the monster with the glowing sword he’d found in a previous session and scored a hit. The sword’s glow dimmed as the monster’s acidic form began to eat away at the weapon. The Wizard used Magic Missile to attack safely from range. The monster attacked and missed. The Druid ended the fight by chomping down on the liquid creature. The monster’s form lost integrity and it splashed back into puddles on the floor.

The western passage came to a square room. In the northern wall a passage continued onward. This group was also attacked by Gray Ooze the at first looked like nothing more than water dripping down the walls. This Monk attacked with fists and the Rogue attacked with ranged attacks. The combined assault destroyed the Ooze quickly.

Friend of Foe?

gelatinous-cubeWhen the party looked northward they saw a skeletal Drow form floating towards them. In their minds they heard it speak to them. “Who are you and why do you trespass on my domain?”

The Paladin used his Divine Senses on the undead creature but was surprised when he did not detect undead. He concluded that this must be some kind of illusion or other madness effect and told the party as much. The Monk proceeded cautiously towards the figure. When he got close he realized there was some kind of pane or surface separating him from the skeletal form.

The suspicious Monk slowly pressed his spear towards the skeletal Drow. When it encountered the pane the Monk realized the surface was not completely solid and the spear passed through. The Rogue approached with a light source and they finally realized that the skeletal form was encased in ooze. The could not get through the passage.

The party responded mentally that they were lost travelers looking for a way out. The voice replied that there was no way out, but it would allow the party to search if they’d like. It moved back and allowed the party to proceed.

When the Fighter, Wizard and Druid rejoined the party the skeletal Drow again spoke to the party telepathically. It welcomed the new arrivals and asked them why they were here. The Fighter saw that the skeletal Drow’s equipment was all corroded and worthless, but his mace was still in exquisite condition. He concluded that it must be magical and demanded it. The creature was insulted and asked for an apology. The greedy Fighter refused, hit with his acid breath and then moved in to slash at it. The Wizard also fired Magic Missiles at it.

The party tried to dissuade this unprovoked attack, but the PCs wouldn’t back down. The telepathic voice gave one warning to stop or it would defend itself. The Fighter and Wizard responded with curses making their intentions absolutely clear. The Gelatinous Cube moved to engulf the closest aggressor, the Wizard. The caster was completely engulfed. At the beginning of his next turn he began to feel the corrosive effects of the acidic ooze and fell unconscious. The Fighter continued to attack, his glowing sword completely destroyed in the process. The Gelatinous Cube continued to speak to all telepathically saying it was willing to back down if the aggressors stopped attacking and apologized. The Fighter refused.

The rest of the PCs tried to convince the two raging PCs to stop fighting, but they wouldn’t listen to reason. Despite the stupidity of these two PCs, the rest of the party managed to free the engulfed Wizard and revive him. The Fighter took three solid hits from the Gelatinous Cube and his armor begin to deteriorate. He finally agreed to apologize and the monster stopped attacking.

The Gelatinous Cube moved off to explore the area the PCs just came from. It gave a final warning that any attacks against it would result in retaliation. The party tried to reason with the two loose cannon PCs but they didn’t listen and felt their actions were justified by their greed.

Moving through the rooms the party came to a chamber with four hallways to the west and a rough hewn passage to the east. The Monk and Rogue headed down the eastern passage to explore. They heard the sound of rushing water and discovered that the pool of water filling the chamber was rising. Water was pouring in from cracks in the ceiling. The estimated that eventually the room would fill completely and could even fill the areas the rest of the party was exploring in time.

Back in the other chamber the party divided into teams of two and each took a passage. The Monk and Rogue noticed that there were loose flagstones and avoided stepping on them. The Paladin and Druid likewise spotted the danger and avoided it. The Fighter and Wizard did not and the Fighter fell through the floor into a pit where he had to battle a Gray Ooze alone. When the Ooze was dead (and the Fighter’s armor was a bit worse) he climbed out.

The four hallways all met up after a short bend south. Before the party was a door. On the door and the walls were carvings of swirling shapes that looked like waves and tentacles. The Wizard made a Religion check and realized this place was a temple to the Demon Lord Juiblex, lord of slime and ooze. They checked the door for traps and finding none when inside.

In the centre of the room was a fountain with a raised edge and filled with black water. In the middle of the fountain was a destroyed statue. Carved into the walls of the octagonal room were seven niches. Four of the niches contained abstract statues, two were empty and one allowed water to seep into the room through a crack in the ceiling.

While the Monk and Rogue were searching the murky water of the fountain the others each examined the four statues. The Fighter realized that these were Gray Oozes in some kind of suspended state. He decided to touch one. That animated all four and they attacked the unsuspecting PCs.

The fight was extremely one-sided as the DM dice were cold and the PCs hit with every attack. The PCs sustained minimal damage by the time they destroyed the four attackers. With no other dangers present they searched the water and found coin, jewelry and a Dagger +1.

Getting Out

Now that the party had defeated all possible monsters in the temple they systematically searched everywhere for another exit. After two hours they’d still found nothing. By then the water had begun to spill into the rest of the temple. The entire area would be submerged in mere hours.

They rechecked the water pool searching for any kind of drain or other way the water could escape. They found nothing. They even checked the pit traps looking for secret passages. Nothing.

They decided to ask the temple’s only intelligent inhabitant, the Gelatinous Cube. It confirmed that there was no other ways out. The Wizard cast Detect Thoughts to confirm the Gelatinous Cube’s honesty.

The Druid finally suggested they try to get out the way the water was coming in, through the ceiling. To do that they needed to wait for the chamber to fill with water completely. The Druid transformed into an octopus so he could grab anyone who couldn’t hold their breath long enough or swim fast enough to escape. Eventually the party swam upward and 30ft up they broke the surface and found their exit. Everyone made it out alive.

To be continued.

Thoughts

It was nice to have a full table with all my regulars after being short some people for the past few weeks. The challenge was keeping everyone engaged. I’m finding that the NPCs can be a useful source of information and I can use them to guide the party, but it makes combat encounters more difficult. I don’t want the NPCs to actively participate, but it doesn’t make sense that they’d just stand on the sidelines and do nothing. I’ve toyed with giving each payer an NPC to use during combat, but they seem to have enough trouble getting to know their own character I think this would just slow things down even more. Another challenge of having all the NPCs participate is that they should earn equal shares of the XP. To avoid any of that I just say they’re hanging back and they get no XP or treasure. It doesn’t make sense in the context of the story but it makes things easier in the context of the game.

This week we did one of the four mini side trek dungeons. Groups planning to run the full adventure from the hardcover book will see these encounters as they journey from place to place. Groups just playing the free PDF adventure are expected to do all four of these before reaching Sloobludop. The Ooze Temple was a good one to begin with because the party could find up to two magic items. In this case they only found one. I liked that finding the exit required some puzzle solving which the six players did finally manage to do without help.

A couple of my players have been playing their characters like jerks. It’s borderline disruptive but so far I’ve been allowing it. However, this week the disruptive and impulsive actions resulted in the loss of magical treasure that the party could have used and the loss of a potentially powerful ally. I think I’ll let the players know that if they can’t be better team players in game that they’ll have to leave the group. I hate to force people to play their characters a certain way but when one player’s actions have a negative effect on everyone else’s good time things need to change.

Has your group done the Ooze Temple? How did your experience differ from that of my group? Did the intelligent Ooze join your party? Did your players figure out how to escape the dungeon or did they need help? How many other parties are headed to Gracklstugh?

 

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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Share this:
1 Vobeskhan November 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

another great write up, haven’t run the Ooze temple yet but looking forward to doing so even more now that I’ve read this.

2 Sword Coast Junkie November 10, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Cool, I really like the change of pace in the smaller dungeons. My group is currently stuck in the Oozing Temple and will float out into the Darklake soon, I think.

Check out our story here!
http://swordcoastjunkie.blogspot.se/2015/11/oota-ep-2-oozing-temple.html

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