For the past couple of sessions, the heroes have largely been exploring some of the underground areas and tunnels that are said to riddle the Quail Valley. It has not been easy. They’ve suffered numerous wounds from their battles with the denizens of the Underdark that they’ve encountered, some of the permanent wounds. At the end of the last session, they were preparing to ambush a fairly large group of gnolls…a dozen of them. Perhaps the “good guys” will get to turn the tables with this ambush.
As usual, my GM comments are in [brackets and italics]. There are potential spoilers for The Vault of Larin Karr as well as the Crucible of Freya below the break.
The two gnolls in the front notice the party’s tracks and begin yipping and sniffing in their direction.
Serena and Cailana, taking advantage of the cover of darkness, shoot the two in front, taking them out with a single shot. Raspin shoots his crossbow and takes out another, and Faelan takes one out as well. Wink summons Rocky and sends him to burrow into the ground by the bodies of the fallen gnolls.
The three gnolls with the torches suddenly throw them into the lake plunging all into darkness. Cailana and Serena back away from the lake to press against the wall, as they hear splashing sounds along with some howling.
Raspin quickly lights a torch and the party sees a line of gnolls approaching with their shields raised to before them, forming a wall, while to the right, one approaches in the water.
Wink rends the veil and takes out three of them in one shot, while sending Rocky to attack one of the others. Cailana tries to shoot the one in the lake but strikes his shield instead.
The party continues to attack the gnolls, with Wink taking out the one in the lake. Cailana is trying to shoot the others but their shields makes it difficult. Raspin takes out another and there is now only one remaining, but he takes off at a run down the tunnel.
Serena runs after him with Raspin following her, but the gnoll quickly outpaces them so they both decide to return to the party. The party searches the bodies finding a few weapons but not much else. Wink decides to keep a flail and takes it with him as a melee weapon.
The party then decides to circumnavigate the lake to see what else is there, setting off with Cailana in the lead as Raspin and Wink keep light on the lake. Cailana thinks the party has gone halfway around the lake when suddenly a dark leathery appendage comes down out of the darkness, wraps itself around her and snatches her into the air.
[It was more rubbery and stretchy and not really leather…not that anyone got a really good look at it. 😉]
The appendage yanks her some fifty feet into the air towards a crevice in the wall. More tentacles come out of the crevice, as the one wrapped around her begins to constrict, and a beak tries to snap and bite at her. She tries thrusting her sword into the crevice to attack the creature but in the dark her aim is untrue and she misses.
Raspin, feeling (over)confident that he can fix this, shoots up into the darkness trying to hit whatever creature took his free drink source away from the party. The bolt, however, misses its mark and pings loudly against the rocks above Cailana.
Suddenly rocks, and a portion of the cavern wall, start raining down upon the party below, along with the creature and Cailana, both of whom fall unconscious. Cailana has also broken her sternum in the fall.
[The shooting roll was snake eyes…a critical failure. The player elected to take the Benny I offered instead of spending two (a house rule) to re-roll. I suppose it could have just been a hit to Cailana, but that would not be as interesting as the bolt striking a weak part of the cavern and bringing down a section of it. Those below all made their checks to avoid the falling debris so only Cailana and the creature were harmed.]
The party quickly decapitates the creature before picking Cailana up and taking her away from the wall to try and heal her. They manage only to revive her, such are the seriousness of her wounds.
[There really wasn’t a head to decapitate…it was kind of octopus in form…and it started to dissolve pretty quickly.
This was another random encounter. I don’t remember what I rolled exactly. I was quickly flipping through the Fantasy Companion to find an appropriate beastie and it opened to a Giant Octopus. A quick on the fly conversion and I have some sort of ambush predator relatively high up on the food chain. High enough up to explain why there are no tracks around this side of the lake. I wouldn’t be surprised if the party encounters another one at some point in their future travels in the Underdark.]
The battered party then decides to continue around the lake as it would take longer to retrace their steps than to continue forward. They reach the end of the lake to find another shelf. Not knowing how far out this shelf goes the party decides to settle in and try and let Cailana heal while Serena and Faelan pray.
[Both Serena and Faelan had suffered Backlash on prior spellcasting. As divine casters, per our setting rule, they would be unable to cast spells again until they had spent four hours in atoning prayer…or spent a Benny.]
Three hours have passed and all is going well when Raspin spots two sets of eyes peering up out of the water at us. Raspin thinks that they look remarkably like the water troll encountered before and watches as they sink back down into the lake. Another five minutes pass and Raspin again spots the eyes rising out of the water, this time closer.
The party is on edge as they continue to try and rest and pray, five more minutes pass when this time Raspin spots the trolls sneaking up on us, one from the left, and the other troll bursting up out of the water and rushing towards us.
Raspin and Faelen both attack the one coming out of the water, doing some serious damage. The smaller troll rushes Wink and attacks, injuring him.
Faelan kills the larger troll and Raspin turns and cuts its head off. Serena then grabs a torch and sets the head on fire. The smaller troll, seeing this, takes off running and dives into the lake.
Faelen and Serena try and heal Wink, with Faelen succeeding, however because of the shortened rest they are on unable to help Cailana heal any further […the Golden Hour had already passed and neither yet have access to a greater healing power.].
The party decides to head across the shelf, hoping that it goes all the way past the waterfall so that they can leave and head back to town. However, the shelf stops short, ending at the edge of the waterfall. The party decides to try and swim across the base of the waterfall to the other side rather than spend hours retracing their steps.
Serena goes first, tying a rope around her waist. After a bit of difficulty, she is able to make it to the other side. She grabs hold of the dangling rope [the rope the group originally climbed down into this cavern when they first arrived], while keeping the other securely tied to her. Cailana then follows and makes it across the waterfall. Wink is next, but as he is making his way across the pool of the waterfall, he notices an opening behind the waterfall. Rather than continue forward he decides to investigate and pulls himself up into a dark tunnel. Faelan heads over next, and he too discovers the opening behind the waterfall. He also decides to investigate, pulling himself up into the tunnel and calling out as he hears sounds ahead of him. He discovers Wink in the tunnel as well.
At this time Raspin heads into the water, making his way across the waterfall. He pulls himself up finding Cailana and Serena waiting. The women ask him where Faelan and Wink are, with Raspin answering that they already came across.
Both women respond that neither Wink nor Faelen have made it across, when they suddenly see a dim light appear behind the waterfall. Raspin is not very happy [muttering something about idiots] and the three decide that the others must have found something on their journey across, deciding to give them ten to fifteen minutes to finish whatever they are doing.
Wink and Faelen have managed to dry a torch [via Wink’s elemental manipulation power] and find a curving tunnel lies before them. It is littered with an assortment of bones of various sizes [and ages]. They follow the tunnel as it curves around and find a chamber with two piles of body parts, one large and one small [and numerous bones as well].
Wink, his curiosity overcoming his stomach and sense of smell, steels his nerves and searches the piles of body parts. He finds quite a stash of coins, and he and Faelen spend about ten minutes gathering them up, before finally realizing that the rest of their party is probably worried about where the two of them are and will be wondering what has happened to them.
It is as they make their way back to the waterfall entrance that they realize the rope is no longer there to guide them. They will have to dive through the waterfall, and try to swim in the correct direction. [Raspin had brought the rope with him…being the “last” to cross and all.]
Wink, flush with the success of his recent acquisition of coins, times it perfectly and makes a spectacular dive out through the waterfall. Faelen does the same, albeit a little less gracefully.
The two men make it back to the ledge and the party decides to head back up the rope. Serena decides to go first and makes it all the way to the top. Wink, attempts to follow her but finds the rope is too wet and he slips back down. He decides instead to dry off a torch to give the party some light with which to work. Faelan decides to make his way up the rope next and just as he has nears the top and is reaching out to grab the ledge, he misjudges the distance and plummets down into the water, barely missing Wink.
Raspin, decides enough is enough, and heads up the rope with the intent to pull the rest of the party up. He successfully reaches the top, and begins pulling up party members with Cailana going first. Faelen goes next, but as he is being pulled up he sees the small troll sneak out of the water and up along the ledge to attack Wink who is all alone.
Faelen, calling out a warning, tries a desperate move and throws his dagger at the troll, but misses, his dagger ending up in the lake instead.
Raspin pulls Faelan all the way up just as the troll viciously attacks Wink, incapacitating him in one blow (and causing a permanent spinal injury). As Wink collapses, the torch he was carrying falls into the water, sending the cavern into darkness once more.
The troll yells, “Send down the mama killer or I eat this one’s head!”
Serena quickly boosts Raspin so that he [literally] glows with health and vigor. Raspin then grabs the rope and quite agilely slides down the rope, landing on the ledge alongside the troll. The troll throws Wink into the lake as it yells “Mama killer” and attacks Raspin.
Serena tries firing an arrow down at the troll as Faelan loads his crossbow. Neither attack does much damage. Raspin quickly yanks out his weapon, but because his grip is still damp, the sword goes flying out of his hand and into the lake, following the fate of Faelen’s dagger.
The troll, sensing victory, attacks Raspin, but his anger causes him to swing wildly and miss. Raspin, seeing his opportunity, quickly grabs his mace to attack, but forgetting to tighten his grip on his weapon, his mace too goes flying into the lake! Faelan, trying to help, tries shooting his crossbow, but once again the bolt does little damage to the troll.
[If I recall correctly, a couple of critical failures were rolled and the player was already too low on Bennies to re-roll. Given the dampness of everything, it kind of made sense that Raspin lost his grip on his sword…and then his mace.]
The troll, once again attacks Raspin, but Raspin manages to absorb the blow and the two trade blows back and forth, each doing little damage to the other.
Raspin tries a new tactic and sweeps the trolls legs out from under him, knocking him down. Serena takes immediate advantage of the situation and shoots an arrow at the troll, incapacitating it. Raspin uses his shield to quickly take the troll’s head off ,and throws it into the lake, leaving the body on the ledge. He then retrieves Wink’s body from the lake and the party pulls both up to safety.
Serena takes a moment to heal Faelan’s wounds before starting to attempt to heal Wink, but she has exhausted all of her energy on Faelan. Faelan, newly healed, tries to heal Wink but manages only to revive him.
Wink, perhaps a bit addled by his recent experience, decides to try and dry a torch to provide the party with light. However he is much too injured to attempt such a feat and succeeds only in incapacitating himself, bursting his left eye in the process.
[Yuck! Wink now has the One Eye Hindrance as a result.]
Raspin, with both healers out of energy, does his idea of field triage, and manages to rouse Wink.
The party sets off on the journey back, but their pace is severely hindered because of Wink’s injuries. The journey, which would have taken three hours, will now take approximately nine.
Desperate to reach civilization and get some much-needed rest, the group alternates carrying Wink in an attempt to quicken their pace and manage to shorten their trip home by a few hours.
They make it to the well. Raspin climbs up first and then pulls the rest of the party to safety. Once up, they make their way back to the Drake, but it’s nearly 3 am and the doors are locked.
Banging on the doors they manage finally to rouse Bruno, who calls out “Who’s there?”
Raspin answers, “It’s us let us in!”
Bruno calls out, “Oh thank the Gods you’re here! We need your help!” and as he unlocks the door, a scream sounds across town.
[And that, of course, is where we ended the session. The party spent less than a day down in the Underdark, traveled close to six to eight miles round trip, and came back worse off than when they had entered. That’s the Underdark…a brutal and unforgiving place. My guess is that it will only be more brutal and less forgiving the farther or deeper that they travel. Again, that is the Underdark. It might not be the safest place for “Novice” or even freshly “Seasoned” characters…although many of the creatures down there might like freshly seasoned characters for a meal. 😯
Of course, it doesn’t mean that the above ground valley is all that much safer…depending on where the characters go. That’s the danger and joy of a sandboxy type campaign.
Beer Log: Beers shared this session using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.
- Stone Enjoy By 12.25.17 Unfiltered IPA: An imperial IPA. Okay, but nothing that I’d get overly excited about. A hit.
- MobCraft Hop Goes the Grapefruit: A gose with a taste of grapefruit and citrus. It wasn’t overly gosey and had a bit of an off flavor, but otherwise not bad. A hit.
- Jolly Pumpkin La Roja Du Kriek: It has been awhile since I’ve had a Jolly Pumpkin. Still doesn’t disappoint. Solid beer with a nice tartness and cherry flavor. A hit.]