So to follow up from last week, my hunch was incorrect and Valantis, Dovahkiin, and Bernard Valyrian have all permanently perished. The players were looking forward to making new characters, so it turned out fine. I’ll talk about our new party members when we split up into teams. In any event, we all meet up at the gatehouse to share our findings, though there’s no time for even a short rest. D’OH! Some newcomers “captured” by our benefactor Serana join us to replace our fallen comrades. The next zone we decide to explore is the Abyssal Prison. Obviously, we have no idea if Shelandra or Kelsin have been captured, but on the off chance that they were, the prison would be the most logical place to look.
So Serana gives us some keys to teleport into the Abyssal Prison zone. We split into the following teams:
- Anya, an Elven Mage; unsure if she’s a Wood Elf or High Elf
- Sam, a Human multiclasser (Level 1 Fighter, Level 5 Cleric), and newcomer to the party, replacing Valantis…rest in peace, my monk friend.
- Scoiatel, a Half-Elf Paladin, and newcomer to the party, replacing Dovahkiin
- Selwyn, an Elven Ranger
The other team is comprised of:
- Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
- Crassus Gaius – A Human Fighter, eternally sarcastic and quick-witted, and a newcomer to the party, replacing the other former newcomer Bernard Valyrian
- Szenden, a Half-Elf Fighter specializing in defense
- Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter specializing in offense
- Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety
Gavan’s team elects to go to the ‘Fiendish Arena’ area of the Prison, so we teleport into a room adjacent to a fighting pit, where we can hear the faint sounds of fighting and occasional screams. Standing in the room with us are six undead people, who are capable of speech! One of them asks us what we’re doing here. We mention that we’re here to watch the fights, to see if anyone we know is in there. They do confirm that there is a female combatant in the fighting pit. They get a bit suspicious of us, thinking we may not belong there at all, so we quickly make our way to the pit with the intent to join the fight and save whoever is down there.
The area with the fighting pit had a figure sitting on a throne overseeing what was going on, a pale figure wearing expensive clothing. Everyone in the party was guessing this guy was likely a vampire. As he seemed to be the guy in charge, we ask to join the fight below. The vampire, whose name we never actually learn, asks for a drink, confirming his vampire status. We decline, but he lets us join the fight anyways. I guess our politeness was paying off?
So into the pit we went. In the pit were ten other prisoners, and one of them we recognized to be Shalendra! But there was no Kelsin in sight. The prisoners were fighting a vrock. We join in the fight, and while the vrock eventually was defeated, it rather easily killed six of the prisoners. We notice that the vrock appeared to have been tortured, which confirms the strange experimentation’s we’ve heard goes on in the Doomgate. The vampire watching the event thought we’d kill it sooner…jerk! However, he also states that he needed the vrock to die anyways, so he was letting us all go. How very considerate of him.
We take Shalendra and the three extra prisoners back to the gatehouse, when Gavan receives a strange telepathic communication from Selwyn via the circlets we got from Serana. Their group found Shalendra…wait, what? Clones? A changeling? Split into multiple beings / personalities? Who knows, but suddenly thing just got a lot more complicated. Shalendra refuses to talk to Szenden or Tassidar on account of them being half-breeds, and she’s a bigot, which is consistent behavior from the Shelandra we met in the Scourge of the Sword Coast adventure. Gavan asks her what happened after she was sucked into the bloodgate. She says that she was captured by the red wizards and held in a cell, before being forced to fight in the pits. When asked about Kelsin, who ran after her, she states that she doesn’t know. Gavan tries to communicate telepathically with the other group, to try and get them to return to the gatehouse and hopefully get to the bottom of this mess, but he learns that they’re indisposed at the moment battling a fire elemental. Gavan whispers to Jek and Hadar about what the other group shared with him, and to keep an eye on Shalendra, while we decide to continue exploring.
We return to the arena area and eventually find ourselves in a room with three mystic circles on the floor. Naturally Gavan blows his arcana check, and the best he could figure out is that the runes are abjuration runes. There happens to be a globe hovering above us, and lightning suddenly rains down on us every minute or so. There happens to be locked steel double doors in front of us, but no amount of strength can budge the doors open, and of course, we have no rogues in the group. It doesn’t help that lighting rains down on us every few moments or so. We eventually turn our heads in shame and return back to the gatehouse, where the other group is waiting for us. There are indeed two Shalendra’s…well, there goes the neighborhood. Also, Selwyn is acting rather strange, overly chummy with the Shalendra they found. Not only that, she gave jewelry to Anya, originally gifted from the Duke of Daggerford, as payment to protect her…which is odd. A number of us could not recall Shalendra having any type of relationship with the Duke during Scourge of the Sword Coast. What could be going on here?
At some point, Gavan suggests to our newcomer paladin, Scoiatel, to use his divine senses to see if they can reveal anything about the current situation. This prompts Selwyn to try and stop him, and naturally, chaos ensues. Some people attack Selwyn, Selwyn attempts to stop Scoiatel and fails, it was all rather chaotic. Not just figuratively, but literally as well; for whatever reason, nearly every player was talking over one another.
So while in initiative order, Gavan was planning to ask both Shalendra’s what item was taken from the estate by us and returned to her. Actually, I was planning to have Gavan whisper the question to each Shalendra. The correct answer should have been ‘diary.’ But it never came to that, because our new paladin rolled a higher initiative and went first, and was able to use his divine senses to sense the presence of a fiend from the fake Shelandra. Her cover blown, she transformed into the succubus, and it becomes apparent that Selwyn is under her thrall. The battle continues for a bit in really cramped quarters, before Szenden finally put her down with his magic sword and as the last time we fought a succubus, she was literally reduced to a pile of ash. Selwyn snapped out of his charmed state, rather confused over the past several moments.
In hindsight, I should have thought that the succubus in question could have been Natasha from the previous adventure. After all, she was betrothed to the Duke of Daggerford, which explains why she had so much jewelry from the Duke himself. It made no sense that the real Shalendra would have that stuff.
On a side note, I am incredibly excited that Wizards of the Coast finally revealed their release dates for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, including a Starter Set, Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and two adventures: Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat. They’ll start trickling in this coming July, with products released throughout the remainder of the year. To top that all off, it looks like wholesale changes are coming to D&D Encounters.