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Eric (Tidus) is back in the driver’s seat and will be our main story man. He’ll be in black, Jon (our DM) is in blue, and I will be in red. Take it away Eric..
We started the session right on time with Brubax the Goliath barbarian, L’eau Dur the Water Genasi warlock and myself, Tidus the Triton cleric.
Our current Underdark location: a bar in the trade area of Blingdendeep, a Duergar city. Jon described the architecture, the society and the many weird and interesting humanoids populating the market (not well enough to be memorable :(, apparently). We were drinking/eating a thick and viscous alcoholic stew made of mushrooms. Gross! Want to know what else is gross? L’eau Dur suddenly had something caught in his throat and coughed up a baby skull. Huh. It bloomed into a flower and the flower opened to reveal a tiny fairy with a scroll for him. Warlocks, ammirite?
I love all the random fae/magick junk that pops up whenever L’Eau Dur is around. I’m sad Jim Clocks missed this because his jaw would have hit the floor. Jono: So is this just because L’Eau Dur’s pact magic is from the fey nobles so you’ve just decided that they are constantly messing with him? Is this normal Warlock fare or just something you added for extra spice?
Warlocks present an interesting puzzle for a DM. They automatically come with a superpowerful NPC attached to them, but if you use the superpowerful NPC too much then you’re not being fair to the other PCs (or possibly to the warlock). On the other hand if you ignore that side you’re missing a delicious opportunity. I really like warlocks being kind of mysterious and a little disturbing and so some window dressing like L’Eau Dur’s crazy Faerie Court sending skull-o-fairy-grams amuses me.
There was a commotion outside and the trio went out to see what was happening. A group of drow were raising up a broken and obviously tortured human on a cross, and were preparing to burn him alive. The characters had a brief discussion about whether to help the pitiable human or not, but eventually morals and self-interest won out when the human exclaimed that he knew the way to the surface.
In the ensuing negotiation for the life of the victim, L’eau Dur and Brubax described how they would torture the man and Tidus helpfully offered up L’eau Dur’s hard-earned gold as payment for his life. The drow still needed more convincing, so L’eau Dur conjured up an illusion of him torturing the man (this was puzzling to the drow, why do these surfacers want to torture this other surfacer?). The matron fell for it, but her cronies did not, which as far as a the back-stabbing drow go is the perfect result. The man was purchased, healed and given some time to rest.
He introduced himself as Ser Braum, 3rd Arcknight of Cormyr, an elite order of the Purple Knights of Cormyr. None of the party members knew what that meant, but it sounded important. Regardless, Braum said he knew the way out. But first, he wanted his gear back that the drow had taken from him. L’eau Dur bought him two hammers, but he insisted his armor and hammers were irreplaceable.
I have selected an image of Jorah Mormont to represent Braum. Because nothing says “sad, disgraced knight” like Jorah Mormont.
In the outskirts, the adventurers found the drow camp. The simple plan: Brubax would sneak around and L’eau Dur and Tidus would distract the guards. L’eau Dur’s crazy idea to cast another illusion detailing a horrible vision of torture for the guards worked. (It’s not a trick, it’s an illusion). The laughing guards distracted the the leader of the camp, and she stormed out of her tent frustrated and angry with the interruption. Tidus and L’eau Dur backed away as she whipped the guards for their dereliction. This was enough time for Brubax to lift a tent flap and to find Braum’s bundle. He also found a small chest, and lobbed both silently into a nearby mushroom patch. Brubax then faded into the darkness.
Good job guys not resorting to stabbing the drow at either interaction. It really is different without the Rogue, eh?
Pretty nice of you guys to piss off more drow on behalf of a guy you just met. Braum had some sympathy going for him.
Having recovered Braum’s gear, the four set out to find the surface. Braum was tight-lipped, and while we didn’t forcibly pry the information from him, he did reveal that he had committed some sin, and that his god had punished him with a divine curse. He acted as though he deserved it, refusing any and all clerical or magical assistance. It quickly became apparent that Braum truly was in a sorry state. While obviously capable, his curse left him unable to perform even the most basic actions.
While near an underground sea he unwittingly attracted a pyrohydra and although he bravely charged into battle, couldn’t land a single hit. He also demonstrated an unusual curse effect; he was effectively immortal. He took seemingly mortal wounds, but his wounds didn’t seem to affect him. L’eau Dur resolved the battle by polymorphing the ferocious beast into a clam and tossing it into the water.
Real question: This is the second time a huge badass monster has been polymorphed into a little helpless thing. Giddeon pulled the same stunt on a hook horror a few sessions back. Why don’t we just do this every time we fight a boss?
If the thing dies, it reverts to its normal form with all its hps. DnD has always had a bit of a problem with the “save or die” spells and effects, and 5th edition is actually way better about it than previous editions. Polymorph requires concentration; giving it up for an hour to CC one target is a pretty big deal. That said, polymorph is one of the more powerful tools in an arcane caster’s toolbox.
We encountered a big ole’ herd of what I think were Rothé and dumb-dumb immediately failed his stealth check and was about to be stampeded and trampled. Jim tossed an exploding pot he had picked up in the underground city below Baldur’s Gate as a distraction, allowing Braum to get away and not be trampled underfoot by a bunch of Underdark Buffalo. Did he say thank you? No. He did not. Snap judgements are Jim Clocks’ jam. It was at this point that Jim promptly turned against this stranger.
The rothé were from 1981’s Fiend Folio. Also the Drow book. They also show up in Nethack and Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. Why are game designers into packs of angry subterranean yaks? I’ve lost so many elf wizards to packs of rothé you don’t even know.
I want to know though.
It was then that L’Eau Dur pulled Jim aside and muttered under his breath that he perhaps should not have saved him in the first place. The warlock shared his letter with the rest of the party.
The letter was presumably from his fey patron and went something like:
Pawn is promoted
Find he who lies about his colours
His curse is your way out
Or something like that.
Braum was a little curious about the letter. So Jim immediately set himself to the task of antagonizing Braum a whole bunch. He shouted profanities, and even stabbed Braum.
Jim decided that “lose him” meant “kill him”. (He was ungrateful and my friend the warlock strongly hinted that we should get rid of him, what’s not to kill?) The party for the most part let him do his thing, knowing he couldn’t really kill Braum… to Braum and Jim’s chagrin. Once he tired himself out we continued trying to find the way out of the Underdark.
The trip itself was supposed to take two weeks, but two weeks came and went and stretched into a month. Ultimately, in a large, flat, empty cavern Braum tripped over a single loose stone and fell flat on his face. It was the last straw for some of us. It was time to “Lose him.”
In one of my favorite “Jim Clocks the Bully” moments, Jim made an elaborate show of checking the mundane rock to see if it was a trap. Braum kept protesting saying the obvious: it was a just a rock. But Jim persisted. There was no way that a simple rock could so easily trip up a big cool Dragon Knight. Ha ha! Stupid Braum.
It was after this that Jim yelled at him some more. Sick and tired of wandering around the Underdark for so long, all their run ins with Deep Dragons, drow, hook horrors, driders and now this cursed idiot he had had enough. Jim demanded that Braum come clean. Tell us who he really was and what he was hiding. Because if he didn’t actually know the way out, there would be hell to pay.
Braum begrudgingly admitted that he was no longer a Dragon Knight. He had been disgraced at excommunicated from the order. Why? We never found out why.
Well, yeah, you showed up and were an an asshole to him. Why would he talk to you after you stabbed him?
Oh, I didn’t expect him to tell Jim. Jim also absolutely did not care. People get kicked off pirate ships all the time, sometimes for no reason. Who cares what this dude did?
Brubax the barbarian was the unlikely one to step up and speak with Braum. Braum insisted that the way out was “Just on the other side of this cavern” as he had been for the last few weeks. Brubax gently told Braum that we were no longer going to accompany him. Braum begged, but Brubax was firm. Finally, Braum accepted his situation. He pointed us in the right direction and promptly went in the wrong direction. We moved through the last cavern and found stairs leading to beautiful fresh sewer air! We were out of the Underdark! Success!
Braum was crying a little.
The moment of elation was short lived though. Why?
The entire surface was covered in snow and ice. Checks notes. And it is not winter time.
Looks like our old friend Glacius Rex is up to some shit.
No one expects the Kingdom of Ice!
Join us again in 2 weeks when we join “The Barbarian and the Abominable Snowman”.
Yep, that’s the next adventure.
Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.
Eric plays a Triton Cleric in Big Fish and also once went to Otakuthon for us and interviewed Hamlet Machine.