D&D 5E [CAMPAIGN] Out of the Abyss [SPOILERS]

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.

The Characters...

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.

Magic Items
+1 rapier, +2 studded leather, piwafwi (drow cloack of elvenkind)

[sblock]DeVir Amulet. His amulet was one once worn by Ginafae Devir. It is a circular amulet made of black onyx with purple crushed diamond forming a purple border on the outside of the circle that hangs on a mithral chain. It can serve as an arcane focus or divine focus for a worshipper of Shar, the goddess Ginafae turned to when she was forsaken by Lolth. This amulet allows the user to Commune with Shar 1/week. This is how Apothicas came to be a paladin of Shar, which he currently keeps a secret from his uncle.[/sblock]

[sblock]Spellsong Whip (legendary, attunement): The whip is 8 feet long. It is constructed of a mithril-infused length of tarrasque hide with an 8 inch mithril handle. The whip was constructed by Vizeran DeVir over decades to be used by his son when the opportunity to overthrow the rule of Lolth priestesses in Menzoberranzan and create a new hierarchy of magi. The time has come.

Abilities:
The whip is a +3 dancing defending whip that does 1d6 slashing damage.
While being wielded, the whip protects the wielder as though he were wearing a ring of spell turning. You lose the benefits if you are incapacitated.
While being wielded, the whip grants a +1 bonus to AC and saving throws. This bonus increases to +2 when Bladesong is active. You lose this bonus if you are incapacitated.
The whip acts as a +3 wand of the war mage granting +3 to spell attack rolls and negating the penalty for half-cover for spell attacks. Spells have their range extended by 5 feet due to the length of the whip as the whip is used to cast the spell from the whip’s tip. Even touch spells have their range extended by 5 feet, so a touch spell has a range of 10 feet when using the whip to cast it.
The whip adds 5 points to the damage absorbed when the wielder uses Song of Defense.[/sblock]

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.

Magic Items
Piwafwi (Cloak of Elevenkind), +1 studded leather

[sblock] Sassindra’s Spirit: The bow is a +3 Oathbow. Sassindra: The bow is inhabited by the spirt of a Sword Dancer of Eilistraee named Sassindra. In life she was an 11th level Sword Dancer of Eilstraee with the Light Domain.

Sentience: Int: 12 (+1) Wis: 18 (+4) Cha: 18 (+4)

Communication: The item can speak and read Elvish, Common, Undercommon, Abyssal, and Sylvan. It can communicate telepathically with anyone that carries or wields it.

Senses: Hearing and Darkvision out to a range of 120 feet. Her Perception (Wis) is +8 and her Passive Perception is 18.

Alignment: Sassindra is neutral good.

Special Purpose: Slay the Demon Lords of the Abyss.

Sassindra: Sassindra grants the full spellcasting ability of an 11th level cleric with light domain spells and an 18 Wisdom. The wielder can choose the spell list. Sassindra generally does not take any evil spells that deal with raising the dead. She casts spells on her initiative which is rolled with a +1 modifier (uses her Intelligence modifier). Any spells she cast use her concentration slots which includes the 5th level ability to concentrate on a second spell per our usual house rules including limitations. The only way to break her concentration is to destroy the bow which can be done by another god level being.

Sassindra also has all the abilities of the Light Domain up to 11th level. She can use them as needed per the normal limitations. Cantrips: Light, Sacred Flame, Resistance, Guidance, Spare the Dying, Mending.

Note: Moonbeam replaces flaming sphere as a 2nd level spell on the Light Domain bonus spell list.

Skills: Sassindra has Knowledge (Religion) +5, Perception (Wisdom) +8, Perform (Cha) +8, Medicine (Wisdom) +8, Survival (Wisdom) +8, and Insight (Wisdom) +8.

Personality: Sassindra Do’urden was a priestess of Lolth from Menzoberranzan that was captured by Eilstraeeans that defeated her surface raiding party. She had come to slay elves and take slaves. When they were defeated, she was shown mercy, something she had never experienced. It took years to redeem her. But after witnessing daily drow elves frolicking, singing, and loving on the surface world under the light the moon, she wept and her heart opened to the Dark Maiden’s redemption. After that she learned the teachings of Eilistraee becoming a powerful and faithful Sword Maiden.

Sassindra made many trips into the Underdark trying to redeem other dark elves from Menzoberranzan. She was captured by the drow and sacrificed to Lolth after enduring years of torture. She never forsook the Dark Maiden. When on the altar of Lolth being consumed slowly by spiders, she forgave those that had placed her there.

Sassindra is kind, patient, and forgiving. She wishes to protect and redeem dark elves and any that would turn from evil. She is dedicated and faithful to the Dark Maiden. She often sings having learned many songs of different peoples while on the surface. She has crafted more than a few songs that speak of her redemption, her love of the moon, her faith in the Dark Maiden, and her desire to redeem her people.

Sassindra will oppose evil wherever it resides. She will not tolerate evil in her presence. She is fearless in the fight against those that do evil. She will never give up hope no matter the circumstances.

Sassindra feels guilty for taking part in the destruction of House DeVir. She has temporarily given up her life in the Dark Maiden’s paradise to lend aid to Jharzzle DeVir in his time of need. She feels bound to him. Jharzzle can often feel her protective feelings towards him.[/sblock]


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".

Magic Items:
Fangs: +3 vorpal longsword. [sblock]Fangs is an intelligent longsword. It has revealed that it was wielded by former champions of Menzoberranzan chosen by trial by combat. The last champion failed Lolth's servants and the temple was banished from Menzoberranzan to this unknown location deep beneath the earth. All the followers of Seveltarm housed in the temple died of suffocation or committed suicide by killing each other in battle. The champion that last wielded the blade slew himself in the sacred pool offering his blood to Lolth and Seveltarm while asking for forgiveness. The sword has lain in the pool until Tytus claimed it.

Powers
a: The blade has revealed that it can hold spells cast by others or by the champion within it and cast them as needed. It will concentrate on the spell it casts. Mechanically it acts as ring of spell storing capable of casting the spells within it independently and concentrating on them. For spells like hunter's mark or hex, the only damage done with the blade will stack if the sword casts either spell and concentrates on it at the same time as the wielder.[/sblock]

+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.

Magic Items

Rod of the Pact Keeper +2: : [sblock]This rod is made of black steel and is about 3 feet long. Its head is formed like a mace with the faces of four devils sculpted with horns encircling it. It acts as +2 morning star if used in battle. With a command word, whip tendrils extend from the mouths of the devils like their tongues that act as a +2 whip that does an additional 1d8 necrotic damage and uses Charisma for its attack and damage roll. It adds +2 to the spell attack rolls and DC of warlock spells. You can regain one warlock spell as an action once per long rest.[/sblock]

The Ruby Blade: Weapon (longsword), artifact (attunement): [sblock]This is the ancient blade Darcain Brutalis wielded when ruling the empire of Diabolus Rex (The Devil King) which was comprised of many smaller kingdoms he ruled from the Ruby Throne in Valkan, a land ruled by a people known as the Valkanian, brutal sea lords from far off islands that colonized the area in ancient times. Darcain came to rule them by pacting with Asmodeus for power to defeat his enemies. The Ruby Blade was one of the items that granted him the needed power to rule. He abandoned the ancient gods of his people and built a society based on the hierarchical principles of Hell.

The ruby blade is a sword with a blade made of ruby and a handle of mithril. The blade is four feet long and the hilt about eight inches.

Weapon of the Sorcerer King: The ruby blade is a +3 longsword that can be sheathed in hellfire as a bonus action. The hellfire does 2d6 fire damage that ignores resistance to fire. The blade also works as an arcane spell focus for any arcane class, granting a +3 bonus on spell attack rolls and the DCs of warlock spells, fire spells, and spells that dominate or charm, and negates the penalty for half cover from spell attacks.

Blessings of Asmodeus: The blade can concentrate on one domination or charm spell leaving the wielder’s concentration free. If the blade is removed from the wielder, the concentration is broken. This effect functions even if the wielder has the blade sheathed.

Spells you cast using the blade as an arcane focus ignore the fire resistance of the target.

The wielder is immortal while attuned to the blade and does not age, even by means of magic or supernatural powers.

Hell’s Grace: The blade increases Charisma by 2 to a maximum of 24.

The wielder gains proficiency in Deception and Persuasion if he does not have proficiency in either skill. If the wielder is already proficient, his proficiency bonus is doubled.

Properties:
All holy water within 10 feet of the blade is destroyed.

Demons and celestials are always hostile towards the wielder feeling the presence of the power of Hell.

Destroying the Blade: The only way to destroy the blade is to redeem the wielder causing him to renounce his allegiance to Hell. If the wielder is redeemed and he chooses to worship another god while attuned to the blade, the blade shatters ending whatever pact with hell existed.[/sblock]

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.

Magic Items
Netherese Mandolln[sblock]Netherese Mandolin: This mandolin is made of black wood and its strings are made of human gut sinew. It is a twelve-stringed mandolin with two six-string courses. It is well-constructed and maintains its tuning indefinitely. It is a lithe and beautiful instrument that appears as though it is made of polished obsidian that does not lose its luster. The mandolin was made for Brysis’s favorite musician. She found having a musician capable of powerful magic allowed her to have a servant capable of assisting her even seemingly harmless social situations such as when a lover was visiting. The music from her servant’s mandolin could heal Brysis or hold her enemies still while she extracted what she needed from them. It is a potent magical weapon in the hands of a bard.
Powers: The mandolin is an instrument of the bards that adds +1 to the DC of bard spells. You can use an action to play the instrument and cast one of its spells, that spell can’t be cast again until the next dawn. The spell uses your spellcasting ability and spell save DC. The spells it can cast are: fly, invisibility, levitate, protection from evil and good, cure wounds (5th level), greater restoration (no component), hold monster.
When you use the instrument to cast a spell that causes targets to become charmed on a failed save, the targets have disadvantage on the saving throw.[/sblock]

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.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.

DM Notes:

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.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.

DM Notes

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.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Campaign House Rules

Feats

War Caster: Add: Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t 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.


Spells

Hunter’s Mark: The damage increases to 1d8 against a ranger’s favored enemy.

Classes

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 tasha’s 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 cleric’s spells known.

Sneak Attack: Sneak attack works with any weapon.

General

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.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.

DM Notes:
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.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.

DM Notes:

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.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.


DM Note

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.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
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.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Travel Checklist

Step 1: Choose Pace. Players choose pace.
  1. Fast: No stealth. -5 penalty to passive Perception. No Foraging. -5 on Navigation check. Note: A ranger with Underdark Natural Explorer negates the passive perception penalty for himself.
  2. Normal: No stealth. Can forage.
  3. Slow: Can Stealth. Can forage. +5 on Navigation check.

Note on Illumination: 1-3 area dimly lit by lichen and fungi. 4-6 area dark save for party light sources. Remember in the dark even darkvision has disadvantage on active Perception checks which also lowers passive perception by another 5.

Special Note: Any character besides a ranger with Underdark terrain for Natural Explorer does not lend their passive Perception to the group’s check when navigating or foraging.

Forced March: If the party chooses to march past 8 hours, each hour past 8 requires a Constitution saving throw equal to 10+1 for each hour past 8. On a failed save, the PC gains a level of exhaustion.

Step 2: Navigating: Make navigation check to avoid getting lost (Ranger with Underdark terrain cannot get lost). DC 10 Wisdom (Survival) check to stay on right path. +5 to check at slow pace and -5 if fast pace. If failed, wander in random direction losing 1 day of travel and increasing drow pursuit level by 1.

Step 3: Foraging Check: Check whether food or water can be foraged. DC 15 Survival (Wisdom) Check to find water unless otherwise noted (DC 20 in areas the DM deems have very little food or water).

Failed Check: No food or water found.

Successful Check: 1d6+Wisdom modifier pounds of food or gallons of water (roll separately for each). Note: Ranger with Underdark terrain finds double the amount of food and water.

Food per day by size: Small/Medium: 1 pound- Large: 4 pounds
Water per day by size: Small/Medium: 1 gallon-Large: 4 gallons

Note: Normal pace Outlander Background can find food and water for 5 party members if DM allows.

Step 4: Encounter Checks. Two per day.

Step 5: Rest. Party should decide rest schedule.

Continue steps until you arrive at a destination.


DM Note: I feel a checklist helps a DM keep track of all the required checks for daily travel in an orderly fashion. I highly recommend rolling and/or preparing all encounters in advance, though the table works surprisingly well for improvising. I improvised the first few days of travel. The terrain and creature choices seemed appropriate and were easy to develop into a quick, interesting encounter.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Session 3

Day 3: Party avoided a gas leak and killed an ambushing "rocktopus". It provided 32 lbs. of food that lasted them a few days. This was the only encounter of the day.

Day 4: They crossed a rope bridge over a 40 food wide and 50 food deep chasm. Eight quaggoth spore servants watched them clinging to the chasm walls. They ambushed the spore servants slaying all eight. Karzak nearly fell. They were concerned the quaggoth were servants of the drow tracking them. They wanted to eliminate any possibility of the quaggoth providing intelligence to the pursuing drow. Once they found the quaggoth were spore servants, they weren't sure what that portended.

Jimjar won 3 gold from Eraxis betting that Jharzzle could finish off a wounded quaggoth with his blade. Jimjar could no longer suppress his gambling addiction and started making random bets during the quaggoth battle because he had a hot hand with the hand crossbow. Jharzzle took none of his bets afraid the deep gnome would win.

Day 5: A tremor caused a rockfall. The party was pelted with rocks. It did more damage than the eight quaggoth. The sorcerer missed three saves and fell. He had to be dragged out of the debris. The bard and warlock/paladin almost fell. Most of the party took substantial damage with the lucky exception of Stool and Buppido. Three DC 12 Dexterity saves with each failure doing 3d6 damage is pretty nasty. I raised the CR on this hazard from 2 to 5. I felt the healing resources used to recover were substantial. If this had been paired with a creature encounter, it would have been a deadly encounter easily.

Karzak murdered Shuushar for "not pulling his weight" in fights. He butchered him while the kuo-toa was injured following the rockfall. Buppido urged him on. Jimjar doesn't want Karzak anywhere near him. He thinks he's a murderous psychopath half-orc.

The session ended with the first half of Day 5.

DM Notes: The step-by-step travel tool I wrote simplified and quickened the handling of travel. It works exactly as I expected it to work encapsulating all the relevant travel rules into one easy to follow single page step-by-step guide.
 
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UrbanZomB

Explorer
This thread is awesome! We are starting our second session tomorrow with the escape. With them probably making their escape and heading off to Darklake (from the sounds of it) I needed a simplified way to do the journey and your checklist is perfect! Thanks for letting us see your experiences in running this. This thread has been bookmarked!
 

vandaexpress

First Post
DM Note: I feel a checklist helps a DM keep track of all the required checks for daily travel in an orderly fashion. I highly recommend rolling and/or preparing all encounters in advance, though the table works surprisingly well for improvising. I improvised the first few days of travel. The terrain and creature choices seemed appropriate and were easy to develop into a quick, interesting encounter.

Love this checklist and thread, Celt. If my memory serves correctly, the guidance in the supplement is that getting lost means the party goes in a different direction for a random number of hours. I like your method much better of just penalizing them a day and boosting pursuit level. Much simpler.
 

Step 1: Choose Pace. Players choose pace.
  1. Fast: No stealth. -5 penalty to passive Perception. No Foraging. -5 on Navigation check. Note: A ranger with Underdark Natural Explorer negates the passive perception penalty for himself.
  2. Normal: No stealth. Can forage.
  3. Slow: Can Stealth. Can forage. +5 on Navigation check.

I'm starting Out of the Abyss tonight. I'll be using this checklist. Thanks!
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Love this checklist and thread, Celt. If my memory serves correctly, the guidance in the supplement is that getting lost means the party goes in a different direction for a random number of hours. I like your method much better of just penalizing them a day and boosting pursuit level. Much simpler.

I felt the same way. 1d6 hours for travel broken into days is not helpful. I didn't feel like keeping track of fractional lost days.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Tytus's Dream

A powerful male drow with a fierce countenance says, War is the ultimate expression of individual power, and only through battle and death can you realize the respect of your comrades. Hone your fighting skills constantly and teach those who will follow into the fray. Never give or receive quarter, and hope to die amid the bloodlust of battle against overwhelming odds.

Lolth’s face at the center of a web, crawling along the strands are fiends, huge fiends. A two-headed tentacled monster. A lady of fungi. A bubbling ooze with many eyes. A fiendish man with a serpentine blade. A minotaur fiend. A demonic gnoll. All walking through the Underdark leaving slaughter in their path while crawling along the strands created by the Spider Queen. Her plan. Her web of deceit. Her desire. Merciless, destructive, yet purposeful.

The voice says, Strike them all down. They are the strands of a vile web. Strike them down and strike at her.



DM Note: The initial text is tied to a particular Forgotten Realms deity. Tytus the paladin is not sure who he derives his paladin power from. This is an initial message sent by the entity that has given him the power for vengeance.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Session 4

Day 5-Second Half: Rolled two rockfalls in a row. I made the passage the PC was passing through an area of tortured earth. Tremors were common. They were caught in another rockfall (CR5 1800). A mad two-headed Stone Giant (used stats from stone giant in Gracklstugh) stood in their path. Dar and Buppido fell and were buried in the rocks. Tytus pulled Buppido free and Jharzzle healed him. Eraxis pulled Dar free and Cinshariel healed him. Karzak advanced and was felled by a rock surviving because of his orcish resilience. He played dead while Tytus engaged in the giant. The giant was no match for the combined power of a party of Underdark dwellers using their superior darkvision to launch attacks from the darkness. The sorcerer's shadow powers proved potent as he was able to hide in darkness the giant could not see through.

DM Note: Party gained level 4 after this encounter.

Day 6 and 7: They passed the area of tortured earth. Nothing of note occurred either day.

Day 8: The party came upon Hook Horrors fighting Gnoll Fangs. They slew them all.

DM Notes:
1. I made all the gnolls in the Hook Horror Hunt encounter Fangs due to the influence of Yeenoghu. I felt regular gnolls were an insufficient challenge for a level 4 party. I felt the Fangs fit the theme of the module better than standard gnolls.

2. Next weeks session should be longer than the previous sessions. I finally get a day off work against after 60 days straight of work. That means I can play later than I've been able to lately.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
DM Modifications and Preparation

1. NPC Modifications: I've advanced the surviving NPCs.
  • Jimjar: Increased hit die +1d8. +1 to Dex boosting to 16.
  • Buppido: Increased hit die +1d6.+1 to Dex. Added Sneak Attack ability.
  • Stool: Increased hit die +1d6. Increased Con to 12 boosting hit points by 3.

2. The Ooozing Temple: I've changed this to an ancient temple to Seveltarm. I'm planning to use the scenario to deliver a powerful magic item to the PCs, specifically to Tytus who serves an unknown patron. I plan to make this a scenario where the magic item is calling to Tytus, keeping him in The Oozing Temple to the brink of death. They must locate the magic item before death takes them. This will be a time trial as originally designed with a very potent magic item acting as a lure to keep them from leaving the area before it becomes a danger.

3. Lost Tomb of Khaem: The tomb of an ancient Netherese sorcerer is a perfect place to introduce some powerful magic items that will last for the length of the campaign. Magic items were handled fairly well in 5E. You are able to introduce fairly powerful magic items at low level in 5E and still modify the game easily to account for them. I changed the four specters in room 3 of the tomb to mummies that were favored servants of the sorceress Brysis. Her executioner, her favorite performer, her favorite apprentice, and her torturer. Each mummy has been rebuilt to employ the magic item the PCs will gain should they achieve victory.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Enemy Modifications: Common Drow Elf Warrior

I modified the drow warriors to make them a bit more traditional. I've made them all use two-weapon fighting to some degree. Thanks for Frylock for his easy to customize stat blocks.

ELF: DROW CR ¼ (50 xp)
Medium humanoid (elf), neutral evil
Armor Class 15 (chain shirt); Hit Points 13 (3d8); Speed 30’
STR 10 (+0) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0) INT 11 WIS 11 CHA 12 (+1)
Skills Perception +2, Stealth +4
Senses darkvision 120’, passive Perception 12
Languages Elvish, Undercommon
Fey Ancestry. The drow has advantage on saves against being charmed, and magic can’t put the drow to sleep.

Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the drow has disadvantage on attack rolls and Perception checks that rely on sight.

Innate Spellcasting: Dancing Lights (at will). Action to cast, 120’, concentration up to 1 minute. The drow creates four torch-sized motes of light within range, or one in the form of a Medium humanoid. The lights shed 10’ of dim light. As a bonus action, the drow can move them up to 60’ to a spot within range.

Innate Spellcasting: Darkness (1/day ). Action to cast, 60’, concentration up to 10 minutes. The drow spreads darkness in a 15’-radius sphere centered on a point within range, an unattended object in range, or an object the drow is holding. The darkness spreads around corners. The darkness dispels an area of light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower.

Innate Spellcasting: Faerie Fire (1/day ). Action to cast, 60’, concentration up to 1 minute. Each object in a 20’ cube within range is outlined in light. A creature in the cube may make a DC 13 Dex save to avoid the effect. If outlined, attacks against the target have advantage, and the target can’t benefit from being invisible.

ACTIONS: The drow can make one attack with a weapon and a bonus action attack with an offhand weapon.

(2) Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5’, one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage.

Hand Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 30’/120’, one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 13 Con save or be poisoned for 1 hour.
If the save fails by 5 or more, the target is unconscious while poisoned. The target wakes up if it is damaged or if someone uses an action to awaken the target.
20: bolts.
 

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