D&D 5E Neverlight Grove - What Level(s)?

pukunui

Legend
Anyone got any idea what the appropriate level range for the Neverlight Grove section of Out of the Abyss ought to be? It's kind of annoying that the book doesn't say.

NB. I'm aware that the first part of the adventure is fairly sandboxy, so the PCs could end up in Neverlight Grove from roughly anywhere between 3rd level and 7th level - if they even go there at all - but I'm wondering if it has a "sweet spot" for which it is optimized.

I'm planning on running it as a one-shot Halloween-themed adventure tomorrow night. There are five PCs in my group, four of whom are 4th level, while the last is 3rd level. Do you think that'll be all right?

I could potentially ignore some of the harder stuff that can be encountered in the grove, like the grick alpha and the two chuul spore servants (which I could reduce to one or swap out for other spore servants).
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
I think the point is that there are some spots that simply are too hard for your level.

And if your players haven't yet learned the art of running away, at least their next set of characters have learned...
 

pukunui

Legend
I think the point is that there are some spots that simply are too hard for your level.

And if your players haven't yet learned the art of running away, at least their next set of characters have learned...
That's not particularly helpful, as I'm wanting to make sure this *isn't* too hard for my PCs' level, since I'm running it as a one-off.
 

fba827

Adventurer
I'm still on the learning curve for figuring out difficulty but having said that, having 4-4th and 1-3rd should be ok but I suspect it'll be on the harder side because the adventure is assuming you have those pcs and some npc so from the prison potentially

So doable but probably difficult. Just needing to tread cautiously. So if looking for a little more fast and loose gaming for a one shot I'd either lower difficulty by maybe just reducing hp of enemies slightly or tossing in a npc that they find there to help who in turn can help them
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
Since it is a one shot, why not make pre-made characters for them? It can be fun to take a night off from your character.

It also means if things go horribly wrong their actual characters are fine.
 

pukunui

Legend
So doable but probably difficult. Just needing to tread cautiously. So if looking for a little more fast and loose gaming for a one shot I'd either lower difficulty by maybe just reducing hp of enemies slightly or tossing in a npc that they find there to help who in turn can help them
Yeah, I'm thinking about lower the difficulty. So I think I'll replace the grick alpha with an otyugh - which, of course, they can skip over entirely if they feel so inclined - and maybe only have one chuul spore servant guarding the entrance to the garden - which, again, they can bypass quite easily.

The fight with Yestabrod in the garden will be quite tough, but that's really the only fight that the PCs absolutely have to have. Everything else is optional. They can even walk right into Zuggtmoy's palace and attempt to talk to her without having to fight anyone (unless, of course, they make the mistake of insulting Zuggtmoy's wedding dress).

Since it is a one shot, why not make pre-made characters for them? It can be fun to take a night off from your character.

It also means if things go horribly wrong their actual characters are fine.
A number of reasons:

1) I'm running an episodic campaign, so pretty much every session is technically a one-shot.
2) I'm planning on having this be a possible dream sequence. That is, they'll "wake up" in the night and find their way down into the inn's cellar, where they will end up stumbling into Neverlight Grove. Whether or not they all end up dying, they will "wake up" in their beds again as if it was all a bad dream. Or, rather, a bad acid trip.

Besides, even if I were to make some pregens just for this adventure, I still wouldn't know what level to make them!
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
FWIW I have only read the scenario, but when doing so it sounded pretty hard.

I think there is even a bit in it where the still good leader urges the characters to flee while they still can. I got the feeling that was put in there to warn the characters if they ended up there early on.

If I were to guess I would say that 5th level would be a good target. It is a new tier of power as extra attacks and 3rd level spells are available.

This is without going back over the scenario to look at the actual challenges.
 

pukunui

Legend
This is without going back over the scenario to look at the actual challenges.
Going by the areas that have monsters marked in bold:

Fungal Wilds
1 x grick alpha (CR 7)
1 x shambling mound (CR 5)

~ The grick alpha is probably too hard for my PCs, but the shambling mound shouldn't be, since it's a solo monster. I think I'll replace the grick with an otyugh. Plus, neither of these monsters are things the PCs have to fight.

Central Basin
2 x myconid sovereigns (CR 2 each)
3 x myconid adults (CR 1/2 each)
10 x awakened zurkhwoods (CR 2 each)

~ This isn't intended to be a combat encounter, and I think that even if the PCs were to try and start a fight, the myconids would mostly just try to pacify them rather than attack them. The mad sovereign might try to capture them and plant them in the garden, though.

Garden of Welcome - Entrance
2 x chuul spore servants (CR 4 each)

~ This would definitely be too hard for my PCs, but it's a fight that's easily avoided by going around. If the PCs were to go this way, though, I could make it so there's only one chuul spore servant guarding the entrance to the garden.

Garden of Welcome
1 x Yestabrod (CR 4)
2 x drow spore servants (CR 1/8 each)
2 x myconid adults (CR 1/2 each)

~ This is a tough fight, but I think it's OK.

Garden - Wedding Rehearsal
12 x bridesmaids of Zuggtmoy (CR 1/8 each)
6 x chamberlains of Zuggtmoy (CR 2 each)

~ On paper, this is a super-deadly fight, but it's easy to avoid, as the creatures don't attack unless they're attacked first.

Yggmorgus - Mad Dance
1d6 drow spore servants (CR 1/8 each)
1d6 hook horror spore servants (CR 3 each)

~ Again, this could potentially be super-deadly or not, depending on how many creatures are in the group. I could always ensure there's only one hook horror spore servant.

Yggmorgus - Great Palace
1 x Zuggtmoy (CR 23)
12 x bridesmaids of Zuggtmoy (CR 1/8 each)

~ This isn't intended to be a combat encounter. Zuggtmoy only attacks the PCs if they damage her wedding gown. Otherwise, her bridesmaids try to shoo the PCs away. If that fails, Zuggtmoy uses her Mind Control and Infestation spores on them. And besides, if the PCs were to get into a fight with her and all ended up dying, I'd just have them "wake up" back in their beds anyway.
 
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pukunui

Legend
Looks good with those modifications.
Thanks. It's actually not a very combat-heavy scenario. It's revolting and trippy, yes, but there are only two instances where combat can't really be avoided - the monsters roaming the wilds and the monsters in the garden. The myconids won't attack except in self-defense, and the same goes for Zuggtmoy and her minions.
 

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