During the last session the heroes followed Droki into The Whorlstone Tunnels where they stumbled upon Buppido’s secret shrine dedicated to death and dismemberment. When the Derro spotted his fellow ex-prisoners he attacked them. The resulting battle was difficult and almost cost a few PCs’ their lives. In the end the party defeated Buppido and his minions, but not before he turned invisible and fled.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto we were back up to five tables with nearly 30 players. My group was back down to five heroes including the Dragonborn Fighter, Human Monk, Elf Wizard, Human Rogue, and Half-Orc Barbarian. Lots of offense, no healing magic. Guess how that worked out for them this week?
Dancing with Myconids (Area #3)
The party decided to follow Buppido’s path. The natural passage continued for a few hundred feet before they saw one passage branching off. When they looked in the side chamber they saw it was occupied by five dancing mushroom men (Myconids). The Fighter immediately walked up to them in a non-threatening manner. The lead dancer released spores so they could communicate.
The rest of the party approached more cautiously, waiting for the Fighter to tell them what he heard. The Myconid troupe leader called himself Voosbur. He invited the Fighter and his friend to join the troupe in their celebration of The Lady. The rest of the PCs didn’t see the harm so they joined in. The Rogue was more cautious and hung back. He noticed on of the smaller Myconids stood apart from the others and wasn’t dancing. He also noticed that behind the Myconids were two Quaggoths. They were covered with a strange rash that covered most of their bodies. They remained motionless when the party approached.
The heroes who were dancing asked more about the Lady and how the Myconids got here. They explained that the Lady blessed them with her gift and that she transported them here while they dreamt. The PCs thought that was amazing and were very enthusiastic to learn more. Voosbur offered to share the Lady’s gift with them so they could better understand the euphoria they felt. The Fighter accepted on behalf of the group.
Voosbur released spores engulfing all the PCs but the Rogue. The Fighter, Monk and Barbarian all chose to fail their save. The Wizard made his save but pretended to succumb to the gift spores. Those infected could hear and feel a rhythmic music and felt a sense of joy.
Meanwhile the Rogue was talking to the smaller Myconid who used his telepathic spores to communicate. He said his name was Rumpadump and he expressed fear for the others. They’d been behaving strangely since they received the Lady’s gift. He told the Rogue that his friends were in danger if they accepted the Lady’s gift. Unfortunately it was too late for that warning to be helpful.
The PCs continued to dance and have fun with the Myconids. Although no one approached or interacted with the Quaggoths, the Wizard noticed the rash they were infected with and realized he’d seen that same symptom before – Sarith the Drow who was in the prison with them at the beginning had the same rash. The Wizard also realized that the Lady the Myconids were referring to was likely Zuggtomy, Demon Queen of fungus and rot.
The Rogue began to try and coax his friends to leave the troop and return to their mission. The Wizard now felt the same way. The others were reluctant to leave. However, Voosbur suddenly stopped dancing and said that the Lady wanted them to return. So they walked single file out of the room and down the passage. The Quaggoths followed in silence.
The Fungi Thicket (Area #5)
As the party followed the Myconids and their Quaggoth companions farther down the passage they noticed the way ahead was blocked. Fungi as tall as a man blocked the path. The Myconids didn’t slow down. Voosbur turned to address the PCs who accepted the Lady’s gift and told them to follow. Voosbur stepped into the plant and vanished. The other Myconids and the Quaggoths followed. All except the little guy, Rumpadump. He asked if he could join the party rather than go with the others. The Party agreed to let him stay, feeling he would be a good friend for Stool.
The Barbarian moved closer to the fungi forest to examine the plants. In his mind he felt he plants calling him. He felt if he stepped into the plants they would transport him someplace else. He tried it. He stepped into the closest plant and reappeared about 40 ft ahead exiting from another plant. Just as he began to call out to his allies to explain what happened biting swarming insects burrowed to the surface of the earth on which he stood and began biting him.
The Monk and Fighter rushed in to help. Hundreds of small insects continued to surface and climb onto the Barbarian, biting him. It took a few rounds but eventually the party squashed all the bugs. The Fighter decided he’d had enough. He decided to return to the cavern entrance and wait for Droki to come past again. The rest of the group took the passage to the west and eventually exited the Fungi Forest.
The Cultist Hideout (Area #12)
The party wandered aimlessly for a bit turning this way and that before they noticed a flicker glow coming from a passage ahead. Firelight was illuminating an area ahead. They also heard low groaning and chanting.
The Rogue and Monk decided to advance quietly and take a look inside the room. On either side of the entrance cavern patches of fungus and mushroom grew wildly. They decided to avoid going near those. However, in doing so they failed to notice a concealed pit and both PCs fell in. They took minimal damage and easily climbed out. Onward they went, deeper into the room.
Within they saw a two-headed Death Dog penned in a cage. Next to the cage a Derro sat fiddling with a crossbow. Beyond him were sleeping furs and a cook fire. Multiple Derro were clearly living here. As the PCs crept in a bit more they noticed that the chamber had two levels. On the lower level they spotted four Derro chanting around a magical summoning circle. In the centre of the circle was a Derro priest leading the ritual and beside him a statue with two heads. Dense patches of fungus and mushrooms grew in the corners of the room on both levels.
The scouts backtracked and explained what they saw. The party decided to do a full out assault despite not being completely fresh and being short one member. The Monk and Barbarian ran up to the cage and attacked the Death Dog through the bars of his cage. They didn’t drop it, but they hurt it really badly. The alarmed Derro nearby dropped his crossbow, ran to he cage door and opened it, freeing the wounded animal.
Only one of the Dog’s heads managed to score a bite but with max damage rolled it dropped the already wounded Monk. The Barbarian wanted to rage but was all out for the day. Instead he attacked the Death Dog and with the Rogue’s help they managed to kill it. The lone Derro grabbed his crossbow, shot at the PCs, and called out for help.
From the shadowy cover of the fungus patch on the far side of the chamber, a giant Ettin awoke, stood up, and moved towards the attacking PCs. The Wizard used Mage Hand to administer a healing potion to the fallen Monk. When the Monk regained consciousness the Ettin was adjacent to him but didn’t attack him, focusing his attacks on the Barbarian and Rogue.
The entire party spent the next two rounds attacking the Ettin but their dice were ice cold and only one attack managed to connect. To make matters worse, the Ettin landed a hard blow on the Monk dropping him unconscious again. The Barbarian and Rogue wouldn’t back away. They were determined to drop the Ettin.
By this time the Derros conducting the ritual heard the commotion and stopped their spellcasting. They grabbed crossbows and climbed up the ladder so they could investigate the source of the problem. They all shot their crossbows at the PCs. It looked like the heroes were about to kill the Ettin, but that didn’t happen. Instead the Ettin knocked out both the Barbarian and Rogue on the next round. The Wizard wisely turned and ran away. Somewhere back in the tunnels was the Dragonborn Fighter. He could help.
To be continued.
Players need to remember that although most encounters will be balanced and they should have a chance of being able to defeat the monsters before them, in some cases things will not work out that way. In some cases a bad decision or an unlucky roll will cause a significant shift in the balance. That’s what happened this week. The party was down one PC (the Fighter) which meant one less guy to deal damage and absorb hits. When the Monk fell early in the combat and the Barbarian realized he was out of Rages for the day, the group should have done a strategic retreat. They chose to press on and it cost them.
As the DM I saw the disaster coming a mile away. I tried to go easy on the party when I could by keeping the Etten out of the fight for a few extra rounds and not bringing the ritual casters into the fray for a few rounds after that. The danger should have seemed apparent, but the players either didn’t see it or didn’t believe they could fail. Lesson learned, I think.
The Whorlstone Caverns are a vast interconnecting network of caves which will likely take the group a few more session to fully investigate. I’m guessing after this defeat they’ll do more exploration and less confrontation in the coming weeks. If they do they may actually get through the whole thing in one or two more session.
Has your group explored the Whorlstone Caverns yet? How did you manger it? Did any of your PCs die? Any TPKs?
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