D&D 5E Rebooting Dungeon of the Mad Mage

pukunui

Legend
Hi all,

I am running DotMM for one of my regular groups. Our last session before the holiday break resulted in a (voluntary) TPK.

The PCs, all level 7, made a second attempt at taking on the drow priestess, T’rissa Auvryndar, and her minions in their lair on level 3.

One PC ended up as giant spider food, and the other three were subdued. As per the adventure text, I told the players that the drow would implant their PCs with spider eggs and string them up in the webs. I gave them the option of trying to escape, but they didn’t think there was much hope so opted to make new PCs and continue the adventure.

I had been sort of using the “multiverse game show” theme from the DotMM Companion, but now I’m thinking I’ll make it so Halaster wants this new group of PCs to clear out the dungeon so he can restock it fresh for the next season. So these guys won’t be broadcast “on air”.

I think I will also skip ahead by about a month in game.

So what I need to figure out is the drow situation on level 3. The first group of PCs managed to wipe out most of T’rissa’s forces. She’s got a few drow left, including the mage, and some giant spiders and that’s about it.

She can’t easily get to her sister on level 4 because the Legion of Azrok guards the way down. The hobgoblins, however, won’t necessarily know that the drow are badly hurt, and their boss is still without his magic dagger that gives him blindsight.

Should I just make it so nothing has really changed on level 3? Or should I make it so the hobgoblins have defeated / driven out the drow and are in the midst of reoccupying that part of the level? Or should I make it so T’rissa’s mother sends her some reinforcements?

I think my players want to get revenge, so T’rissa either needs to stay on level 3, or she needs to withdraw to a lower level so they can encounter her again later.

If the hobgoblins were to take T’rissa prisoner and hold her for ransom, do you think her mother would pay to get her back? I know Lolthian drow aren’t particularly loving or affectionate, but being a female member of a noble house should count for something, shouldn’t it?


We are hoping to play our next session on Monday, so I’ve got a few days more to think about this.

If you have any ideas, please share them with me!

Happy new year!
Jonathan
 

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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Dont forget she has now all of the previous PCs loaded with spider eggs with her!

I'd make them...Webbed Mummies!

Use the Mummy statblock and add them the burrowing worm feature of the Spawn of Kyuss (MtToF), refflufed as burrowing spiderlings instead of rotting fist. Also add the Nurtured One of Yurtus' Corrupted Carrier feature and Corrupted Vengeance.

Burrowing Worm. (Action)
A worm launches from the spawn of Kyuss at one humanoid that the spawn can see within 10 feet of it. The worm latches onto the target's skin unless the target succeeds on a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw. The worm is a Tiny undead with AC 6, 1 hit point, a 2 (-4) in every ability score, and a speed of 1 foot. While on the target's skin, the worm can be killed by normal means or scraped off using an action (the spawn can use this action to launch a scraped-off worm at a humanoid it can see within 10 feet of the worm). Otherwise, the worm burrows under the target's skin at the end of the target's next turn, dealing 1 piercing damage to it. At the end of each of its turns thereafter, the target takes 7 (2d6) necrotic damage per worm infesting it (maximum of 10d6). A worm-infested target dies if it drops to 0 hit points, then rises 10 minutes later as a swarm of spiders. If a worm-infested creature is targeted by an effect that cures disease or removes a curse, all the worms infesting it wither away.

Corrupted Carrier.
When the orc is reduced to 0 hit points, it explodes, and any creature within 10 feet of it must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 14 (4d6) poison damage and becomes poisoned. On a success, the creature takes half as much damage and isn't poisoned. A creature poisoned by this effect can repeat the save at the end of each of its turn, ending the effect on itself on a success. While poisoned by this effect, a creature can't regain hit points.

Corrupted Vengeance. (Action)
The orc reduces itself to 0 hit points, triggering its Corrupted Carrier trait.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Is the Chimera still alive? If so, she would probably bring that to her lair to be reinforcements. She might also "recruit" from the surface, so you could add some ogres or other fairly easy surface dwellers with darkvision.
 


pukunui

Legend
Interesting ideas! I do like the idea of using the previous PCs against the new ones!

@Maxperson: The chimera is dead. T’rissa just has her forces in the temple, plus some of the drow in the torture suites (including her sister/s - can’t remember if there’s one or two there). The previous party cleared out Drow Town, killed all the quaggoths, killed or freed all the trogs, etc.

Oh, there will still be those drow sentries positioned by the river near the bottom of the map as well. I suppose T’rissa could recall (some of) them.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Is she a high ranking priestess? She could have a few summoned yochlol with her.

Maybe 1 or 2 ettercap cultists of Lolth? (using the Fiend warlock from VGtM and adding it the traits of the ettercaps)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Is she a high ranking priestess? She could have a few summoned yochlol with her.

Maybe 1 or 2 ettercap cultists of Lolth? (using the Fiend warlock from VGtM and adding it the traits of the ettercaps)
Yochlol are probably beyond a level 7 party. My group basically knocked on her door and then went two rooms away to long rest, alerting her to their presence and then sitting there close by. I looked for demons she might summon and discarded the Yochlol as too powerful. I had a Vrock show up instead.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Yochlol are probably beyond a level 7 party. My group basically knocked on her door and then went two rooms away to long rest, alerting her to their presence and then sitting there close by. I looked for demons she might summon and discarded the Yochlol as too powerful. I had a Vrock show up instead.
uh, never noticed they were CR 10 demons. I mostly know them from the Drizzt comic book, where every priestess hangs with a bunch of those demons, so I thought they were like pimped-up quasit or something like that.
 

pukunui

Legend
I did have her attempt to summon a yochlol previously, but she failed and took the psychic damage. The mage succeeded in summoning a shadow demon, though.

Mechanically, she's just a drow priestess of Lolth. Storywise, she's one of her mother's many daughters, and the first one the PCs encounter. Her mother's down on level 11 or 12 (whatever level Muiral's Gauntlet is). T'rissa has (had) several sisters and a brother on level 3 with her, plus a sister on level 4. There may be some more siblings with their mother but I don't remember any others.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
You could always change her prepared spells to give her summon such as summon Bestial Spirit (Spiders), Summon Lesser/Greater Demons or Summon Celestial Spirit (Avenger). Those could help in a pinch to have her magically gain some henchmen.

Any possibility of animating the dead chimera as an undead creature? Skeletal or Zombie Chimera would be awesome.
 

I mostly know them from the Drizzt comic book, where every priestess hangs with a bunch of those demons, so I thought they were like pimped-up quasit or something like that.
Oh noooooo, they are pretty much like a big deal when it comes to Demons that Lolth uses. They don't have the monkier "Handmaidens of Lolth" for nothing. Plus I like the fact that if they turn into a spider, \small or large, it's always a Black Widow.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Oh noooooo, they are pretty much like a big deal when it comes to Demons that Lolth uses. They don't have the monkier "Handmaidens of Lolth" for nothing. Plus I like the fact that if they turn into a spider, \small or large, it's always a Black Widow.
It always felt strange to me that yochlol were buddy-buddy with Lolth when they look like they were taken from a family photo of Juiblex and his brood. :p
 

pukunui

Legend
Yeah, yochlol are weird. Perhaps they were originally spawn of Juiblex that Lolth co-opted.

The name “yochlol” looks like it’s some other word turned backwards as well.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Yeah, yochlol are weird. Perhaps they were originally spawn of Juiblex that Lolth co-opted.

The name “yochlol” looks like it’s some other word turned backwards as well.
yep,

it feels that, when Lolth/Juiblex created those, they wrote the name on paper, thinking it looked cool.

But then someone in the room tried to say it out loud, and it lost its coolness factor pretty quick.

Just like the Great Giff Civil War was started because the two faction could not agree on how to pronouce their own name.
 

Actually, yeah, I could never figure out why Lolth, whose whole theme is spiders, has like her right-hand demons be Demon Slimes basically. Unless Juiblex owed her a favor, made em, but for the purposes of Copyright, made their true forms take on that ooze look.

Honestly, I pretty much have Juiblex "act" like that annoying roommate that you pretty much can't get rid of. So I could see him being that much of a troll in regard to a situation like that.
 

pukunui

Legend
Apparently the old 2e Planescape lore has it that Lolth creates yochlols by torturing captured succubi. I note the 5e MM doesn’t specify their origins.


Anyway, the new party has begun to take shape in advance of our session tomorrow night. It looks like I'll have the following:
*A gold dwarf forge cleric / paladin who is the brother of one of the previous PCs
*A gold dwarf berserker barbarian who is the cousin of the above PC and his missing brother
*A human evoker wizard who is the sister of one of the previous PCs (a human champion fighter)
*A unique warforged kensei monk / undying warlock whose goal is to kill Halaster - I've made Jhesiyra Kestellharp her patron


Given that three of the above PCs are motivated by wanting to find their missing relatives, I think I'm going to make it so Halaster has stolen them away and hidden them deeper in Undermountain. Otherwise, it will be somewhat anti-climactic to have three new PCs go into Undermountain on a quest to find their relatives only to find them right at the start. So I will change up T'rissa's prepared spells and perhaps whip up an undead chimera to guard the temple but I won't include undead versions of the previous PCs.

Maybe I can make it so the drow have befriended the phase spiders that live nearby, and those spiders can attack the PCs from the rear while they're fighting the zombified chimera outside the temple entrance.
 

lichhouse

Dreamer
Just here to say I can relate. The first time my group tussled with the drow priestess, they ran for their lives. The second time, invading the ruined city from the south, was a near TPK (3 fallen characters became spider-fodder much like your players). After several side adventures, rebuilding their strength with new characters, and copious planning, the group just succeeded in taking down Team T’rissa. Glad to see other DM’s willing to be ruthless with the drow. Undermountain level 3 is amazing. As for your question, I’d bolster level 4 with her remaining forces so she can be a recurring villain.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Apparently the old 2e Planescape lore has it that Lolth creates yochlols by torturing captured succubi.

Not necessarily succubi, just lesser Tanar'ri, as far as I could find: "The chant’s that Lolth personally creates each of her handmaidens. but this ain’t true. The yochlol are recruited from the numberless ranks of least tanar’ri and subjected to unspeakable cermonies and torture to win their elevated station."
 

jgsugden

Legend
If you're advancing the time frame a moneth, they could have anything at their beck and call. A month is a long time to renew your defenses. They can access Skullport, hire mercenaries, make deals with a drow city to send more drow, etc...
 

pukunui

Legend
Not necessarily succubi, just lesser Tanar'ri, as far as I could find: "The chant’s that Lolth personally creates each of her handmaidens. but this ain’t true. The yochlol are recruited from the numberless ranks of least tanar’ri and subjected to unspeakable cermonies and torture to win their elevated station."
OK. I was just going by what I’d read on a wiki that cited a Planescape Monstrous Compendium as the source.

If you're advancing the time frame a moneth, they could have anything at their beck and call. A month is a long time to renew your defenses. They can access Skullport, hire mercenaries, make deals with a drow city to send more drow, etc...
Yeah, that’s true. The thing is: I don’t think I really want to prolong the conflict with this specific group of drow - at least not in this specific location - any longer than necessary. It will get boring fast if we keep fighting the same enemies in the same location over and over.

During that month, the neighbouring hobgoblins could also discover that the drow are in a weakened state and push them back.

Perhaps T’rissa pulls back to aid her sister on level 4. The drow on that level are cut off from the bulk of their forces on level 10 and are slowly being picked off by an aboleth calling itself the Lover in the Dark.
 

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