D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 9

So last night’s D&D Encounters session was madness! Okay, I’m exaggerating. It was, in fact, interesting, though incredibly slow paced. Unfortunately, our second DM had to bow out due to work issues, and the person who wanted to take his place had never DM’d before. Never. Not once. Ever.

Unfortunately, Dead in Thay is probably not the best adventure for a rookie DM to start off on, unless he / she happens to be particularly gifted in multiple areas, such as improvisation, terrific memory, organization, etc.

Anyways, we had people show up late again, so it was interesting to see our party start from three and balloon to ten over the course of a couple of hours. We had one GM throughout the night, where our regular started things off, then he tagged in the newbie GM to give him a shot. I’ll just list everyone at once. The big damn heroes of the week include:

So we start off in the Ooze Grottos. Interestingly enough, the area we teleport into is literally called ‘Entry Point.’ I guess the Red Wizards got tired of trying to think of creative names for their ‘Doomvault.’ Anyways, the first room we teleport into has a single wight and three ooze-like monsters that we later discover to be Ochre Jellies. We basically went in guns blazing, deciding that our previous attempts at subterfuge weren’t worth the effort. Then again, we only had two clerics and a mage at the time, so we may as well go for it.

We made short work of these monsters, discovering very early that these jelly monsters split into smaller monsters when damaged by slashing weapons like swords. These smaller monsters, while possessing less health, had the same attack strength, so we stuck to blunt and piercing weaponry, along with magic.

The second room we explored was basically a temple, with pews, an altar, the whole nine yards.. Arranged across the pews were skeletons, and three wights were pouring a slimy substance on these benches, creating ochre jellies! Taking out the wights became our top priority in the ensuing battle, before we took out the created ochre jellies.

Both rooms we conquered yielded nothing in terms of clues or treasure. Our gaming session basically ended here. We discussed re-organizing encounters; when it began we had agreed to meet at 6:00, but tardiness due to real-life issues had crept into all our lives.

For next week, we’ve agreed to have two groups: one will begin at 6:30, and the other will begin at 7:00. I’ve also agreed to step in and GM, and will thus be helming the 7:00 time slot, so that should be interesting. I guess Gavan is retired for the moment…

As for our rookie GM, I didn’t think of it last night, but he’s still interested in DM-ing, so I’m thinking the best way for him to get his feet wet is to buy the D&D Starter Set that comes out next week, try to organize a group of people to get together, and DM the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure in the box. Alternatively, this guy is also a rather hardcore player of Warhammer 40k. His ginormous chest of Warhammer figures is impressive. Maybe he’d be more at home running RPG’s based on that intellectual property. Fantasy Flight Games puts out quite a number of products in that regard: Black Crusade, Dark Heresy, Deathwatch, Rogue Trader. There’s even a Fantasy RPG version of Warhammer: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There are options; he just needs to put in the time to prepare and figure out how he’d like to proceed as a GM.

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D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 8

So last weeks adventure in the Doomvault was interesting, as always. We started out with one group, but eventually split into two groups as people started piling into the game store. I suppose that’s one of the cons of a casual play program; it’s okay to show up late. So the initial group of Crassus (Fighter), Gavan (Mage), Raven Evergreen (Rogue), Sam (Cleric / Fighter), Tassidar (Fighter), and Waxon (Cleric) elect to explore the ‘Far Realm Cysts’ of the Doomvault.

We we teleport into an area called the ‘Lake of Madness.’ Yes, there’s a lake before us, as well as orbs of water floating around the it. We notice that there are ripples in the middle of the lake, slowly disappearing, so we know something recently submerged as we teleported in. Crystal, having fishing gear, courageously elects to toss her line in there. That does not turn out well, as an Aboleth emerges and mentally takes control of Tassidar to attack us. I honestly don’t recall how the battle went, but I believe either Crassus or Sam was poisoned by the creature. We parley, and for a glyph key (which we give him), he lets us know that to keep Crassus (I’ll just assume it was him) alive, we need to keep him hydrated, and a remove curse or lesser restoration spell can cure him. I think Waxon cures him.

At this point, we divide into two groups. Group one consists of:

Group two consists of:

So Gavan’s group teleports into the same area and we go south in a cavernous area filled with six wights and one dread warrior. However, all these creatures appear to not be paying attention to us. In fact, they’re completely out of it. That doesn’t meant things go well for us. As soon as we enter the cave, we’re asked to make wisdom saving throws. Everyone fails except for Szenden and Waxon. Everyone else succumbs to some strange force and enters the cave acting…out of it. It doesn’t take a degree in quantum physics to realize that this cave is magically trapped.

In initiative order, every turn we attempt wisdom saves, and slowly but surely retreat from the cave. Sadly, Gavan cannot cast dispel magic (he’s out of high level spell slots) to remove the trap, so a tactical retreat seemed to be are best course of action, for the moment.

Thankfully, there’s another cavernous area to explore east of the lake. In that area, there are holes, a glyph on the wall that allows us to communicate with our red wizard sponsor Serana, two zombie ogres and eight regular zombies. With no traps to keep us down, we make rather short work of these enemies and contact Serana for guidance. Naturally, she gives very little if any, but our Calishite friend Hadar (whom I mistakenly always call ‘Hodor’) emerges from the shadows, saying that it looks like we can use a hand, and gives us a scroll of thunderwave. We ask if he’s seen Kelsin, but he has not. Then he disappears in Batman fashion.

We then head south down a flight of stairs to an area called the “Warren of Eyes.’ There are hundreds of unblinking eyes staring from the greenish slime-covered walls and stones. Rather quickly, a beholder named Thaxileeya emerges, and he has a broken glyph key. We also notice that some of its eye stalks are damaged, probably from red wizard experiments. We test his key out, and confirms its ineffectiveness. Somehow, since the beholder hates the red wizards, we manage to use that ‘common enemy’ mindset to our advantage and it gives us free passage through his area, in exchange for…for…crap, I didn’t write it down. I must have been distracted at that moment, as I usually write all this stuff down. If memory serves me correctly, either we freed it or promised to eventually free it when we’re able.

In any event the play session ended there. As for the other group, while I don’t have all the details, apparently, our bard Coronna died…

Then somehow came back to life!

In the meantime, I have a theory going on; when we got trapped in Thay, we found Shalendra rather quickly, but have been rather unlucky in finding Kelsin. My theory is that we have X number of sessions to find him, and if we don’t something bad will happen to him. In other words, I am very worried we’ll discover his animated corpse, or his living, experimented-on body.

Finally, I don’t remember if I ever posted a map of the Doomvault. Here we go:

Doomvault_Map-Dead_in_ThayEDIT: Ooops! Forgot to mention an interesting and amusing development that slipped my mind earlier. So our group returned to the Forests of Slaughter to find that pool that restored health. Tassidar immediately drank its waters…and found his total hit points cut in half! Gavan’s diagnosis was that his body was basically overloaded with the strange magic found in these waters. Despite the multiple sessions we’ve played, it’s probably been at most a week (and probably far less) of time that has passed for our characters, so the waters magic was still strong in his body. I can’t confirm this, but I have a theory that remove curse might remove this condition…

I also forgot to mention that Gavan elected to use the Seclusion Crypt again. I really had to, since Gavan was completely out of magic, and since there’s no opportunity to rest…it’s either this, or run around with no magic to contribute to the group. Since it’s the second time he’s used it, his total hit points are now reduced by 5 (42 to 37.) Our Dungeon Master confirmed that a remove curse spell will get rid of this condition, which is why I think that same spell might be able to help Tassidar. The only issue is that it’ll take up one of my 3rd level spell slots, and I only have three of those to begin with.

D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 7

So this past Wednesday’s D&D Encounters session was insane, in that we had four new players and zero pre-generated characters. And while character creation is not terribly complicated, that is not entirely true the higher the level of your character. Create a first-level character? Probably can do so between 10-20 minutes, depending on if you’re a newbie, how fast you write, how fast you make your decisions, etc. Create a seventh-level character, with many more options to choose from, and the amount of time it takes to create a character multiplies exponentially. Add to that the fact that there was only one hard copy of the rules available, and creating the four new characters was taking quite awhile. I hope the seemingly in-depth character creation didn’t turn people off to the game itself.

Speaking of the game itself, since one of the dungeon masters was away at Origins, we ended up having one huge group with one guy to run the game. So predictably, combat was as slow as a turtle (not the teenage mutant ninja variety), and with people talking over one another like at most bars and taverns in the world during peak hours, I hope the new players weren’t turned off by the experience. I did make an effort at the end to explain that we normally split into two groups, so it normally isn’t this much of a slog.

I also found it interesting that some people did have the playtest rules on their tablets, but it was honestly easier to look up the rules on a hard copy, and to find what you wanted much more quickly. Despite the dominance of digital over the printed word, there are still moments when a hard copy is superior. This was one of those times.

But I digress…

Our big damn heroes for this week, together once again, include:

  • Anya, an Elven Mage; unsure if she’s a Wood Elf or High Elf
  • Coronna Tumblebelly, a Gnome Bard
  • Crystal Evergreen, a Human Cleric
  • Crassus Gaius – A Human Fighter
  • Emrose, a Half-Elf Cleric, and newcomer to the party
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Genju, a Human Monk and newcomer to the party
  • Jarvan, a Human Barbarian and newcomer to the party
  • Rob, a Human Ranger and newcomer to the party. Also, apparently his name isn’t really Rob, but for this week, it is indeed Rob
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter, specializing in being seven-feet tall, and three-hundred pounds

So we had some unfinished business in the Blood Pens to take care of. One of the groups last week peeked through a door that led into, according to our map, the ‘Dark Gardens’ with a young black dragon, as well as one wight, two dread warriors, and eight zombies wearing robes, all commanded by a red wizard. This week, we returned to cause some ruckus.

And ruckus, we caused, as after strategizing, we basically charged in. We allowed our bard to sing us a song that buffed our stats, which tipped them off that there was noise coming from the door. Perhaps our strategy wasn’t as sound as we had thought?

In any event, we were told way back when we first came to Thay that the Dread Warriors, if they weren’t defeated in the first round of combat, would be able to communicate telepathically with the Lich leader whose name evades me at the moment…wait, Szass Tam? So we made them the priority, relying on long range attacks and spells to wipe them out. The red wizard instantly surrendered, and after some parley, we agreed to let him live for loot and information. Among our newest acquisitions are: 2 glyph keys, a gold circlet set with rubies, a gold cup, a potion of healing, a scroll of fly (this spell will probably go into Gavan’s spellbook), oil of etherealness (basically rub it against yourself and become incorporeal & invisible for 1 hour; could be very useful), a potion of poison, a diamond, and 100 platinum pieces (worth 500 gold in D&D terms.)

So the red mage (whose name is Thuria) tells us that a demilich slumbers beneath the Doomvault, and that in the Far Realm Cysts (an area of the Doomvault we haven’t explored yet), the creatures there guard a powerful shrine…perhaps the phylactery vault we seek is there?

In any event, our short venture ends here. Gavan did suffer quite a bit of damage in the battle (in D&D terms he went from 42 to 17 hit points,) but He only cast one spell, so I’m not sure it’s worth it for him to rest in the Seclusion Crypt. Perhaps one of the Clerics can heal him before we begin exploring next time? Or he could probably down a healing potion.

D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 6

Including myself, we started the play session with three players; we ended it with eleven players, as people trickled in late one-by-one. It was perhaps the strangest play session I’ve ever experienced. Case in point, our dungeon master purposefully scaled down the first potential combat encounter. As people came in and joined us, he kept adding more and more miniatures to the playmat to scale things back up.

But I digress; Sam (5th level cleric / 1st level fighter), Waxon (6th level cleric), and Gavan (6th level mage) teleported into the Blood Pens, specifically the Hatchery, which was filled with pens. These assorted cages contained different creatures: lizards, spider-people, behirs, hook horrors, etc. We were suddenly joined by Tassidar (6th level fighter) and Szenden (6th level fighter.) Suddenly, the three guards in the room went up to four, there were now two red wizards instead of one, as well as an apprentice mage. Carvings of angelic faces adorned the walls.

Even though Gavan was disguised as a red mage, he is not trained in deception, nor is he terribly charismatic. In other words, a fight broke out, where Gavan unleashed a fireball, and the fight ended relatively quickly, with the female red mage (and apparent ‘leader’ of this area) bargaining for her life. After a ton of negotiation, we let her live for: a potion of climb, a potion of healing, a scroll of dispel magic, a magically embellished mace +1 (which Tassidar grabs), a crystal glyph key, and a ring of keys for the cages, and a passphrase (“That which is dead, stays so.”) that will allow us to go through an adjacent room, littered with zombies, unscathed. So we escort her back to the gatehouse and let her go. Which reminded me that the only way into the Doomvault is through the gatehouse, which explains why we can’t rest there for long periods of time.

So with everyone having shown up, we now split into two groups to continue exploring the Blood Pens area. Group one consists of:

Group two consists of:

  • Crystal Evergreen, a Human Cleric, and newcomer to the party
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Selwyn, an Elven Ranger
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter, specializing in being seven-feet tall, and three-hundred pounds
  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety

The next room we inspect is essentially a converted slaughter house, with twelve humans butchering pigs, and an undead guy directing traffic. Some of the twelve humans are feeding the pig guts to an Otyugh, chained to a wall. Despite some initial fumbling, we actually make our way to another door, walk through, and slam the doors shut.

Before our eyes, we appear to be on a segmented catwalk, approximately ten feet above the ground floor. Below us are massive wine pens, with one smaller pig getting beaten up by the others. Standing on the catwalk are five skeletons, two apprentice mages, and two wights. Tassidar jumps down to save the smaller pig, while a fight breaks out. The battle isn’t terribly difficult, but takes longer than it should do to our inability to better position ourselves in battle. In other words, there’s not a lot of space on the catwalk to maneuver. Still, we win the battle, and searching the bodies, we find four more glyph keys, one on each apprentice and wight. Gavan casts ‘Detect Magic’ on the pig we saved, and discovers that it is the product of transmutation magic. Gavan asks the pig to oink once if it was magically transformed into a pig, which it does. We have a nice scroll of ‘Dispel Magic,’ but decide to hold off on using it until we return to the gatehouse and tie up the pig. No telling what we’re unleashing on the world.

At the far side of the room appears to be a floating disk. Gavan recognizes it as a Tenser’s Floatking Disk spell, and it appears to float on over to a corridor. However, an invisible wall of force protects the corridor. It doesn’t make sense that the disk would float on over there, unless there was a way to get through. After some experimentation, we discover that as long as each of us hold a glyph key, we can pass through. We have five in total; four from this battle, and one we acquired from Serana to explore this area, so we’re set.

Or so we think; we don’t really explore the next area in detail. We know from our map of the Doomvault that there’s a room with a teleportation circle nearby. However, peeking through the door, we see that it is filled with an very large number of enemies, and we’re thinking that we may be biting off more than we can chew. So we opt to retreat to the gatehouse to re-think our options.

At the gatehouse, Gavan uses up the scroll of ‘Dispel Magic’ on the tied up pig, and it transforms into a Halfling named Dreven. He appears harmless, though he doesn’t really have much, if any, knowledge of the phylactery vault, nor has he seen anyone resembling Kelsin. Our journey for the moment, ends there.

The funniest story of the night was the other group; they apparently entered a room filled with zombies that gave them no attention. Then Coronna decided to poke one, and they suddenly became very hostile. They all made a break for it. Even though I wasn’t in that group, simply imagining how it went down gives me a chuckle.

In great news, we’re to level up our characters to 7th level next week!