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Friday, 9th October, 2015, 09:32 AM #1
[CAMPAIGN] Out of the Abyss [SPOILERS]
Started Out of the Abyss today. I'm going to keep a record of the campaign to share material for others that might be interested.
Apothicas DeVir: Drow Elf Paladin (Oath of Vengeance) 2/Wizard (Bladesinger) 12. Apothicas has his own reasons for joining the group that he has not fully revealed. He joined the party in Gracklstugh.
+1 rapier, +2 studded leather, piwafwi (drow cloack of elvenkind)
Jharzzle De'vir: Dark Elf Deep Stalker Ranger 8/Ftr (Eldritch Knight) 4/Rogue (Arcane Trickster) 2. A noble son of the fallen House De'vir. He was captured seeking to free his imprisoned brother from Velkynvelve.
Piwafwi (Cloak of Elevenkind), +1 studded leather
Tytus De'vir: Dark Elf Oath of Vengeance Paladin 10/Fighter (Champion) 4. A noble son of the fallen House De'vir. He has sworn vengeance on the noble houses of Menzoberranzan. He murdered three drow that were part of a Menzoberranzan raiding party. He was taken captive by the remaining members of the party and deposited in Velkynvelve until he could be transported to Menzoberranzan for "justice".
Fangs: +3 vorpal longsword.Spoiler:
+1 shield, +2 plate armor
Dar: Human (Variant) Oath of Vengeance Paladin 6/ The Fiend Warlock 2/Sorcerer (Infernal) 6. A large, reddish-blonde human male caught wandering naked by a drow patrol from Velkynvelve. He was alone with no possessions that did not fight his capture.
Rod of the Pact Keeper +2: :Spoiler:
The Ruby Blade: Weapon (longsword), artifact (attunement):Spoiler:
Cinshariel Vel'shadri: Dark Elf Lore Bard 14. A noble daughter of House Vel'shadri. Her sisters drugged her and made a deal with Ilvara Mizzrym to imprison her in Velkynvelve indefinitely.
Note: We're allowing rogue sneak attack with any weapon in this campaign to see if there are any serious balance issues for doing so. Fanorian plans to sneak attack with a Greataxe.
I'll update the characters as they gain levels given some plan to multiclass. We generated stats using 4d6 drop the lowest rolling seven times arranged as you wish. We allow maximum hit points the first three levels. All feats are allowed.
Note: I'm allowing the players to use some of the material from the Underdark Unearthed Arcana. The changes were made at the start of Session 4.
Friday, 9th October, 2015, 01:20 PM #2
Session 1: Escape from Velkynvelve
For the first prison session the following is important:
This is an adventure start that requires proactive, creative players that are willing to work to escape. Brute force is not very effective in this initial scenario. Absent gear the players with scavenged items have little chance in a fight against a few quaggoth and armed and armored drow.
Introducing Jorlan and Shoor's rivalry to the prisoners naturally is an important part of making this initial scenario work as it is written. The players don't have to work with Jorlan, but it makes the scenario run smoother if they do. If you want to come up with something else involving Ilvara or Asha, that would work as well. There are many opportunities for players to use drow treachery to their advantage to escape. I used Jorlan as the module recommended. I was able to insert it naturally once Buppido the Derro revealed the rivalry to the players. They took the bait even though they are aware that Jorlan will hunt them down to regain favor as soon as Ilvara's confidence in Shoor is sufficiently damaged.
You should be open to creative uses of the scavenged items. They are mostly useless. If a player comes up with something creative, I would go with it. I allowed a player to kill the tarantula pet and use its fangs as a crude lock pick. In a cinematic campaign, I figured a character carefully shaping a spider fang using the stone wall might be able to make it small enough to possibly pick a lock.
Last edited by Celtavian; Saturday, 10th October, 2015 at 09:43 AM.
Saturday, 10th October, 2015, 10:47 AM #3
Session 1 Play Report
Fanorian actively pushed the interaction with the prisoners and bringing the group together. He managed to bring Ront the Orc in line with an intimidation check after a smack in the noggin. He talked with Prince Derendil and didn't know whether to believe his elf prince story or not. He spoke a little with Buppido who made himself useful by keeping an eye on the guards and warning the PCs when they approached.
Eraxis befriended Sprout the Myconid Sprout. They have Eraxis muzzled so he can't use magic inside or outside the cell. Sprout allows Eraxis to communicate with the others. Fanorian used his crude tarantula fang lock pick to unlock Eraxis's muzzle. Eraxis kept the muzzle in place to keep up appearances. Sprout is considered very useful by the party due to his rapport spores.
Cinshariel receives special treatment. The male drow guards won't harm her. They will punish anyone that harms her or touches her. She receives separate food. She is not sure why she is imprisoned. Fanorian was rude to her. Sareth tried to fight Fanorian who beat him into unconsciousness. Cinshariel is not sure she wishes to participate in an escape plan and refuses to harm other drow because then she would be a criminal. Her upbringing in Menzoberranzan has made her aware of drow law.
Tytus antagonized Shoor during guard checks. Shoor insulted him. He spit in Shoor's face. Shoor beat Tytus unconscious, woke him up, then beat his brother Jharzzle in front of him. He informed Tytus that every time he insults him, he and his brother will be beaten. During the beating Fanorian lifted the keys off Shoor using Sleight of Hand. He unlocked several sets of manacles, then gave the keys to Cinshariel because she was receiving special treatment. Shoor noted the lost keys later in the day and returned for them. Cinshariel gave them back to him with no fight stating she took them off Shoor because he was a fool that allowed himself to be distracted by prisoners fighting. He could do nothing but accept the chastisement of a female drow.
Eventually Jorlan did his rounds. Buppido told Fanorian about the rivalry between Shoor and Jorlan after Jorlan was disfigured causing a loss of favor and a demotion by Ilvara Mizzrym. Fanorian made conversation with Jorlan figuring he had nothing to lose offering to help the disfigured dark elf. He informed Jorlan he stole the keys off Shoor. Jorlan was intrigued. He told Fanorian if he stole the keys again making Shoor look incompetent, he would overlook his escape when it was time to hunt the prisoners down and punish them. This did not apply to any other prisoners in the cell. If Fanorian could manage to kill Shoor, that would be even better. Jorlan on his next round gave Fanorian a key to replace the cell key he planned to take off Shoor's key ring before returning them. He told Fanorian to make sure to return the key ring or everything would be thwarted.
After seeing Fanorian's machinations, Dar joined Fanorian's plans.
Jharzzle tried to get an audience with Ilvara Mizzrym to discuss an earlier offer that involved allowing the brothers freedom if they provided useful service to Ilvara. He was refused by Shoor and Jorlan. He was told Ilvara will grant him an audience she determines it is necessary, no sooner. Dar did not trust Jharzzle speaking with Ilvana thinking he might reveal their plan. He felt it might be necessary to kill the drow males because they might be plants to provide intelligence on the prisoners. They should watch the drow closely when they interact with each other and the other drow.
The final encounter of the night was Tytus provoking Shoor again while the prisoners crowded the view of the guards screaming for Shoor to beat Tytus. Fanorian lifted the keys, exchanged the wrong key for the cell key, and returned the keys to Shoor. Fanorian has the key to the cell. They will plan the final details of the escape the next sessions.
The events occurred over the course of 4 days after the characters ended up in prison. So a total of around ten days for the first person placed in the prison. If their first escape attempt isn't successful, future attempts may suffer consequences due to the physical health of the players.
I plan to allow each player to play an NPC prisoner in addition to their character in combat. I think this is the most efficient method for utilizing the NPC prisoners in combat. I'll make sure the NPCs are not used in a suicidal fashion unless it occurs in a fashion that makes sense.
I believe acquiring weapons quickly will be extremely important if the characters' escape attempt is to be successful.
I think the quaggoths might a be problem. They have a lot of hit points and a good Athletics score which will allow them to grapple prisoners or throw them off the edge with a good chance of success allowing the giant spiders to secure prisoners. It will be important that Prince Derendil assists the party with the quaggoth guards.
Last edited by Celtavian; Saturday, 10th October, 2015 at 12:52 PM.
Wednesday, 14th October, 2015, 08:33 AM #4
Session 2: A plan executed
Starting Note: I gave the players enough xp in the first session to obtain 2nd level for good role-playing, planning, and the various interactions involving skills and for taking a beating.
The characters finalized their plan. They would execute their escape at shift change while all the prisoners were present in the cell before the new shift came to collect a third of the prisoners for labor.
Fanorian attempted to enlist the aid of the three deep gnomes and the female mountain dwarf Eldeth. They refused to assist him in anyway due to his association with the drow PCs. Fanorian attempted to intimidate Topsy and Turvy to no avail. The two deep gnomes stared at him waiting for him to carry out his threat. Fanorian did not press them. He turned his attention to Jimjar and Eldeth. Jimjar refused to participate once Fanorian had threatened Topsy, the deep gnome woman. Eldeth refused to cooperate due to Fanorian's association with the drow PCs, his threats to the deep gnome, and his orc blood and association with Ront. Eldeth challenged Fanorian to a fight. He beat her unconscious. Ront, relishing kicking a fallen dwarf, killed Eldeth and proceeded to eat her. No one interceded. They hid Eldeth's body in the back of the cell. They told Ront he should throw her corpse into the webs to attract the giant spiders.
Shift change occurred. The players quickly updated the returned prisoners on the plan. They executed. Fanorian unlocked the cell with the stolen key. He snuck out and attempted to move down the stairs to lock the quaggoth cave. He failed his stealth check even with the help of an inspiration. He was spotted by the drow guards. He rushed the guard tower. A buzzing and demonic screeching filled the cave. Chaos ensued.
Tytus, Jharzzle, and Fanorian rushed the guard tower. Eraxis, Cinshariel, and Dar provided spell support. Prince Derendil moved down the stairs to interdict the quaggoth. Ront threw Eldeth's corpse into the spider webs. Topsy and Turvy ran and leapt off the cliff into the water. Jimjar, Shuushar, and Stool hid in the cave. Sarith moved with Cinshariel. Buppido followed, but hung back waiting for an opportunity.
The drow and the PCs exchanged fire. A well placed acid splash by Eraxis hurt the drow guards badly. Tytus used a command spell to force a drow guard to unlock the door. Fanorian rushed through the unlock door and took a drow's shortsword off him before he could draw (opposed Sleight of Hand versus the drow's dexterity). Jharzzle knocked the drow whose sword was stolen out with a well placed punch. Dar killed the other drow with an eldritch blast. Prince Derendil killed the drow at the northern outpost. They fought the Elite Drow Warrior. He almost killed Fanorian and Jharzzle the first round. They managed to land good hits on him. Tytus smote him with a critical hit that put him down the second round of combat against the elite drow warrior. The PCs took control of the tower.
Three quaggoth emerged from the quaggoth quarters. Ront had followed Prince Derendil down the stairs, One quaggoth threw Ront off the side of the cliff into the webs. Prince Derendil was killed by the three quaggoth and thrown into the webs. The quaggoth proceeded up the stairs. One of them attacked Dar doing a lot of damage. The quaggoth are more dangerous than the drow it seems. That is where we ended.
During the fight Cinshariel provided a few Bardic Inspiration that were not used. She used vicious mockery a few times. Nothing critical provided yet.
1. The elite drow was doing poison damage with his blade. I don't like the fact that a creature without a magic weapon and who is a humanoid seems to be able to generate poison on his blade at will. This doesn't work for a few reasons. The first reason is they give no duration or number of hits for this poison, yet it is supposed to be mundane poison. The second and more critical problem is what happened afterward: the PCs took his sword. It damages verisimilitude if the PCs are being struck round after round with a poisoned blade, yet once they pick up the blade the poison is useless. So I wrote the following modification so the elite drow warriors operated like a humanoid and the players could loot the poison and use it:
Elite Drow Poison: A drow warrior can apply a damaging poison to their weapons. This poison remains active until the drow draws the weapon or ammunition. A single use of this poison allows a weapon to remain poisonous for a minute or affects ten pieces of ammunition. An elite drow warrior must take a short rest to reapply poison to a weapon, otherwise they follow the normal rules for poison use.
I allowed the PCs to recover poison from the drow elite warriors that works on their weapons, though they don't have the skill to apply poison like an elite drow warrior. I consider it a drow secret how the poison is applied. I didn't want it to be an unlimited ability given they are humanoids with no natural ability to generate poison.
2. I allowed the Sorcerer to scrounge a piece of cured leather to cast mage armor.
3. I used the demonic flight distraction recommended in the campaign book. It worked very well as I had all the major drow save for those on the north end focused on preparing to repel demons. I commend the campaign designers on this distraction. It's cinematic, fits in with the story, and would definitely draw the attention of all the most powerful drow at the outpost providing an excellent opportunity for escape. A very well-incorporated and well done story element.
Last edited by Celtavian; Wednesday, 14th October, 2015 at 08:50 AM.
Sunday, 18th October, 2015, 04:39 AM #5
Campaign House Rules
War Caster: Add: Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesnít impose disadvantage on your ranged spell attack rolls.
Dueling Mastery: You have learned an aggressive fighting style capable of delivering deadly strikes to vital areas.
When wielding a one-handed melee weapon in one-hand and not utilizing a shield including unarmed strikes, you can strike a vital area on your opponent taking a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If you hit, the attack does +10 damage.
If you score a critical hit while wielding a one-handed melee weapon in one hand and not utilizing a shield including unarmed strikes, you do an extra weapon die of damage.
Hunterís Mark: The damage increases to 1d8 against a rangerís favored enemy.
Add following ability to bard, druid, cleric, sorcerer, and wizard.
Extra Concentration: Beginning at 5th level, you can concentrate on a second spell that can be no more than half of the maximum level spell you can cast (rounded down). One of the two spells you are concentrating on must be a spell cast on at least one other allied target other than yourself (but can include yourself if the spell includes multiple targets). If you are required to make a concentration check, you make a separate roll for each spell. For example, a 6th level wizard can cast up to 3rd level spells, allowing him to cast and concentrate on a second spell of 1st level or lower. So a 6th level wizard could cast fly on the fighter and tashaís hideous laughter on an enemy while maintaining concentration on both.
Light Domain: Corona of Light: Add sunbeam and sunburst to light domain spells. These spells do not count against a clericís spells known.
Sneak Attack: Sneak attack works with any weapon.
Inspiration: You can have up to three points of Inspiration at one time. You can still only use Inspiration once per turn.
Ability Checks: Ability checks do not automatically succeed on a natural 20 or automatically fail on a natural 1. If you roll a natural 20 and the ability check does not succeed, you may roll a second d20 with no modifiers and add it to the result of the first roll. If this still does not succeed, the ability check fails.
If you roll a natural 1 on an ability check and your ability check succeeds, you must roll a second ability check with no modifiers against the original ability check DC to succeed. If the second roll fails, the ability check fails.
Saving Throws: The same rule for attack rolls applies for saving throws. A natural 1 is an automatic failure and a natural 20 is an automatic success.
Friday, 23rd October, 2015, 09:00 AM #6
Midsession 2 Conclusion
Cinshariel, Dar, and Jimjar finished the three quaggoth on the stairs. Cinshariel used an illusion of a yochlol and deception to order the quaggoth to desist attacking delaying them for a few rounds. Dar hexed the quaggoth at the top of the stairs and threw it into the spider webs. Jimjar the Deep Gnome helped kill the quaggoth after it freed itself from the webs and crawled up the rock wall to melee range again. Dar dropped on the last quaggoth, but was revived by Cinshariel. He used his Lay on Hands to bolster his hit points.
Sarith the Drow was killed protecting Cinshariel from quaggoth attacks.
1. Quaggoth are tougher than the regular drow. High amount of hit points and climbing ability allows them to navigate the odd terrain more easily than drow.
2. I rolled out the Flight of Demons fight. The four chasme killed the vrock in a single round. The vrock had no chance at all. After seeing how futile the fight was between the chasme and vrock, I had the vrock fleeing from the chasme for narrative purposes.
3. The chasme assaulted the drow after killing the vrock. They killed three drow warriors and two quaggoth before the priestess of Lolth banished them. I switched out a few of the listed spells for banishment. It took both of her fifth level slots and one 4th level slot to banish the chasme. The demon fight not only provided a distraction, but depleted the resources of the most powerful caster at Velkynvelve and some of the troops.
4. I allowed the PCs to recover their armor, weapons, and some of their gear from the armory. I had water skins, foodstuffs, and similar items stored elsewhere. No easy recovery of items to make foraging easier in The Underdark.
Saturday, 24th October, 2015, 09:35 AM #7
Session 3: Into the Darkness
The players retrieved their weapons, armor, and a few combat support goods like thieves' tools and rope. There was a brief argument concerning escape routes. Karzak and Buppido leapt into the water. They out ran the gray ooze and hid in the darkness.
Tytus tried to make his way to the lift against the wishes of his brother Jharzzle. He ran into drow and retreated to the armory tower. They locked the door and followed Karzak off the ledge with Eraxis casting feather fall. The gray ooze attacked Tytus while he was slowly making his way to shore in chain mail. The party killed it, but it tarnished Tytus's armor and weapon (-1 AC and damage). They spent a short bit of time deciding which direction to flee. Buppido pushed Gracklstugh. Jimjar offered to lead the humans and Sprout to Blingdenstone, but could not guarantee the safety of the drow. Shuushar wanted to return to his people at The Darklake promising boats to cross the lake to Gracklstugh. The party decided to take the South Passage to Gracklstugh because the heavy armor wearers didn't want to risk fighting in the water.
The party ventured the South Passage with Buppido, Sprout, Jimjar, and Shuushar. They have a ranger and two Outlander backgrounds, so survival was much easier than for a party lacking those character types. They moved at a fast pace the first two days using goodberry for nourishment.
The first day they killed a Carrion Crawler taking refuge in a cave area where they sheltered for a long rest. The latter part of the day they were assaulted by Grimlock Raiders and Fanorian avoided a Steam Vent.
The second day they met Y the Derro. They had a brief conversation with Y that amounted to little more than a confirmation they were traveling in the right direction. Later the same day a tremor caused a lava fissure to open. They had to choose whether to run forward to keep on the path to Gracklstugh or back towards Velkynvelve. They chose to move forward. Some of them suffered contact with lava which burned them badly, but killed no one. When they ran forward, Jharzzle the ranger acting as forward scout was ambushed by a Grick Alpha. The Grick Alpha was a formidable enemy almost felling Karzak, Jharzzle, and Tytus before Tytus used Vow of Enmity on it and landed a Divine Smite critical killing it.
That ended Session 3.
1. The encounter tables seem well done. The terrain features are more interesting than I thought they would be. My only gripe is I wish they had provide XP values for terrain features that do damage or require the use of resources to overcome. I chose to make up experience point values for terrain features that cause the party to expend resources or effort whether healing, skills, or spells to overcome.
XP Values for Terrain Features:
A. Steam Vent: CR 1/4 (50): Affects a single creature for minor damage with an slightly above average save number.
B. Lava Swell: CR 2 (450): Affects everyone for high damage with an average save number. Not continuous.
I'll add more terrain features when I decide what xp I feel they are worth according to how much of an effect they have on the party.
2. The creature choices on the table aren't too bad either. The use of tables will become monotonous and I recommend preparing encounters in advance and working them into the mix to keep encounters feeling fresh and interesting.
3. If you have a party with a druid or ranger, goodberry all but eliminates the threat of starvation. You'll have to work with dehydration. I recommend a few days where they can't find water to instill some paranoia into the party from the threat of dehydration. I'd make it have a real game effect such as levels of exhaustion.
4. Drow Pursuit: I've been thinking about the drow pursuit. I'm thinking Ilvara will not come herself immediately. She is going to send Shoor, Asha, a second elite, a few drow warriors, and some quaggoth . None of them are trackers. This makes things difficult. I'm wondering a bit why the module designer didn't decide to include a tracker or two with the drow if they intended the drow to pursue the PCs. I might work one in by modifying one of the elites or making a few the quaggoth trackers. I'm leaning towards quaggoth trackers because that seems more like a drow to use some other creature for a menial physical task.
Monday, 26th October, 2015, 08:29 AM #8
XP Values for Terrain Features
XP Values for Terrain Features: If it's not on the list, I didn't think the terrain feature should give xp.
A. Steam Vent: CR 1/4 (50): Affects a single creature for minor damage with an slightly above average save number.
B. Lava Swell: CR 2 (450): Affects everyone for high damage with an average save number. Not continuous.
C. Gas Leak: CR 1/2 (100): Fairly high passive perception to detect. Damages the group if undetected. Slows travel avoiding. Easily avoided if detected.
D. Cliff and Ladder: CR 1/4 (50): Requires a moderately high climb check. Slows travel if climb check fails. No damage to group.
E. Rockfall: CR 5 (1800): Requires multiple saves almost ensuring the party takes some damage. Save is above average difficulty. Affects entire party. I raised the CR substantially for this hazard. This hazard hammered a level 3 party hard requiring substantial use of hit dice and healing resources. It knocked one party member unconscious and nearly two others. It did more group damage than a fireball. Nasty hazard. If it were coupled with a creature, it would make for an extremely dangerous encounter. I believe the party could have killed a CR 5 creatures using less resources.
F. Gorge: CR variable: You can make this feature as difficult as you want to make. It slows travel by a day, I'd probably go with CR 1/4 (50) if that is the only penalty. If you require climb checks with potential, boost the CR according to the danger in accordance with the difficulty of the climb checks and potential damage taken. I tend to give a CR 1 for ever 3d6 damage dealt with a moderate climb check. I'd increase the CR by 1 for every 5 increase in the climb check and another 1 for every additional 3d6 damage.
G. High Ledge: CR 1 to 2. Average save. Easy to get advantage. 20 to 60 feet CR 1 (200). 70 to 120 feet CR 2 (450).
H. Horrid Sounds: CR 1/2 (100). This only gives xp if you are using the Madness rules. If not, don't bother giving xp.
I. Muck Pit: CR 1/4 (50). Minor difficulty that slows travel. Could be a problem if combined with a creature attack.
J. Rope Bridge. No xp or CR 1 (200).Only give xp if combined with a creature encounter where the bridge becomes a hazard that increases the difficulty of the encounter.
K. Sinkhole. CR 1/4 (50). Affects one party member. Slightly above average save. Easy to rescue affected PC.
L. Slime or Mold. Brown Mold CR 2 (450). Does high damage with above average save. Green Slime CR 1/2 (100). Fairly easy to spot and avoid. If not avoided, can be costly. Yellow Mold CR 2 (450): Difficult save. Moderate damage, but powerful continuous effect.
M. Webs. CR 1/4 (50): Slows travel for the day, but no great danger.
I made this list because I like hazards other than combat to give xp. I feel xp makes a hazard feel substantial and worthwhile. When you get xp only for combat, it makes many players feel like they are wasting their time with activities other than combat. Feel free to use this list for your campaign. If someone wants to toss it on a Google doc or similar document for easier distribution, feel free to do so.
Last edited by Celtavian; Friday, 30th October, 2015 at 08:21 AM.
Monday, 26th October, 2015, 07:34 PM #9
I love the notes from someone that's DM'ing this. Awesome resource. Thank you!
Tuesday, 27th October, 2015, 01:54 AM #10
I always wanted to do a Story Hour. I tried one once, but I found writing in an interesting manner using a weekly D&D campaign to be too difficult and time-consuming. I also felt like I was taking too much creative license with the PCs putting dialogue in their mouths that they would likely not use. When I saw MerricB, Nebulous, and a few others doing campaign recaps, I felt inspired to do my own. A recap allows me to relay what is occurring in my campaign in a straight-forward manner including how I organize a campaign as a DM. I felt that might be more helpful to other DMs as well as providing an interesting look at the different methodologies of DMs and groups including house rules, monster design, experience point distribution, and the like. I may throw in a few story flourishes now and again if I feel so inspired. I do hope the information I provide helps a few people with their campaign, even if it is just to provide them some simple tools for making traveling more productive for gaining experience points or combat more challenging.
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