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Posts Tagged ‘Dungeons and Dragons Encounters: Undermountain’

Psychic squids from another dimension

Week 6, the half-way mark. This week was the dividing line, the the dark crease between beginning and end. Week 6 was also a a time for us to each reflect personally, about what’s behind, and what’s in front, perhaps. And what better way to separate that gulf, that lonely expanse of personal space than with these nightmares come to life? Prone, bloodied, probed and penetrated deeply by the weapons of heroes. It shatters the mind to consider what psychic damage these stains in reality could cause. But let us begin at the beginning of the encounter…

Roy returned with his character Gayron, and it was good to have the twin-strikin’ ranger back. Even if he is a dragon-born, heh. (Actually the dragonborn, are new to 4th edition, and I despised them initially, due at least in part because they were a race that could never exist in a Middle Earth type world. My experience with different types of fantasy has grown over the years to include all manner of the fantastical, but in some dark corner of my brain lurks my subconscious, actually a Tolkein rules-lawyer, who catalogues and loathes any instance in the game that goes against the spirit of the Lord of the Rings. I have convinced it to grudgingly include the high magic of the First Age and the Silmarillion)

The party, 7 in all, set out in marching order towards the next encounter and the door magically opened upon approach. They moved into the room and looked around. I described the madness inducing aberrations who materialized, and so began a battle the likes of which could never be fully described without threatening to tear the last shreds of sanity from those who read the account, so mind-bendingly jarring were they. But I shall try…

Like a mass of tentacles, warped, slithering, spiking about in some macabre twisting frenzy. The tendrils would strike out, slap about, and slash at the struggling champions of virtue, sending them into psychic shock from the curling edges of reality that struck them with each tentacled tendril. They wept tears of blood, and heard through ears filled with blood as their brains quaked from the attacks from the Outer Realm. Oh, and oops, they are also insubstantial, like an octopus from another dimension.

These horrors, these stains of insanity, materialized and started slinging tendrils of madness. They came in 3 varieties, there were 2 melee lashers, 3 tentacled thought-eaters, and the tentacle captain a Pulsar, who stayed back and launched long-ranged tentacle mind-spikes. The encounter began, as usual, with Torak using his special ability to dash forward before initiative count. He did so to good effect, as he was to spend much of the combat immobilized, starting with he pulsar’s first attack.The dragonborn and rogue took the madness to the right. After the ranger softened him up with twin strike the rogue finished him on his with a massive sneak attack. the assassin, sword mage and ardent went up the middle, while Midge stayed just inside the door, launching lightning bolts, frost-hammers, and intimidation. Then the thought-eaters went, and they slowed or immobilized a great portion of the party, then dealt damage, focusing on the sword-mage.

My second mistake of the night happened next. (forgetting they were insubstantial for the first half of the first round was my first mistake. Luckily the rogue’s damage – over 30 points – would still have slain the freakazoid when added to the damage the ranger did, but I did have to take back the bloodied status that Midge thought she inflicted upon the pulsar.) I believe it was Richard who (thankfully) brought up the fact that the monstrosities were vulnerable to psychic attacks, which I had completely missed! I really need to work on my comprehension abilities when it comes to the monster stat blocks, especially for the oddities found in this adventure. So, I went back through and added the correct damage for Torak’s attack, which in fact bloodied the lasher who was lashing him; indeed, the lasher became the lashed.

Torak had a lasher to contend with, and the swordmage had a lasher and a thought-eater on him. He quaffed a potion on his turn, and also accepted healing from the ardent Kantash. The tendrils whipped him fiercely but her persevered. The dragonborn concenrated on the pulsar, and the rogue came forward to engage the lasher. Soon both lashers were down, and another tentacle-slinger soon followed, leaving a single thought-eater and the pulsar. They too were soon sent back to whatever hellish dimension that spat hem out, and the party engaged in some good old fashioned searching for awhile.

During the battle, the dark spectre had appeared on the balcony, silently watching the battle unfold. When one of the characters picked up the staff, the blue ghostess appeared on the balcony, and for a few second she seemed to relive some attack upon creatures in the room. The room was looted, and Torak was even gobbled up by the iron maiden when searching it, but the swordmage was able to break him out before taking further damage. Torak came out holding a healing potion as his reward.

It was interesting to encounter such strange creatures. While they do no pass the Tolkien Test, it was fun to imagine a horror-goth inter-dimensional psycho-beast from Realm X, or 6. Thinking back, I probably should have upped it by one more pulsar, which would have made this a really challenging encounter, but it was still challenging. Week 6 was a nice, casual battle with mind-warping monstrosities. No dailies or action points were spent, and no one was knocked unconscious, which was good and bad. Good for the players, as they didn’t get to see the special ability of the fell taints to feed on the unconscious and dying, which would have been very very bad.

And now we have crossed that great divide, and I look forward to next week, number 7, as we continue our journey to find out about Halaster’s Lost Apprentice. It has been pretty great so far.

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Afternoon turned to dusk on another Wednesday, and the dungeon beneath Game Cafe began to stir with life once again. There were five giant green tables lined up like sarcophagi in an ancient tomb. Decorations of fantastic nature covered the walls. Soon the tramp of many feet brought crowds to gather about those tables and the air became thick with the riotous battles taking place. So began week five of Undermountain, another packed house, with five dm’s, and another packed house.

Down by two characters, the doughty dragonborne and divine deva, who decided to stay in the spiral staircase for awhile “We’ve got your back!” (We hope that Roy and Dana can make a quick return to the game!) the party must face the challenges of the inner chambers of Halaster’s Lost Apprentice with merely six adventurers. There was the drow assasin Vishnu, the halfling sorceress Midge, the genasi swordmage Hax (alot), the human (-sh) ardent KantASH!, half-elf barttlemind Tordak the Bold, and human thug …uhhh Eddie. Oh yes, Stilgar desert-walker. These brave lads and lasses, trapped from escaping by a tunnel collapse, chose to press on!

And so they entered the chambers of the apprentice, and discovered its magical nature. A magic mouth spoke in some strange voice warning them of danger, and the party began snooping and poking about with many skill checks, and had soon picked the area clean of anything of value. which led to the assassin peeking through the slightly ajar door into the bedchamber. Soon the party had lined up in marching order and the swordmage kicked the door open. This led to the… how to describe it, the macabre scene taking place on the torn up bed in one corner of the room. The official description reads thusly:

AS you enter, cold seeps across your skin as you see two shadowy forms on the bed: one a lithe female composed of blue mist, lying beneath a formless creature of black smoke. At first, they appear to be romantically embracing, but then it becomes clear that the female ghost is struggling to escape while the other seems to be drawing her essence into itself – feeding on her.

They're not frakkin' around here.

Aside – I had trouble reading this aloud. Was I describing what I thought I was describing? Is this ghost-f@&#king?? Is this non-consensual ghost-f%$#king??? For some reason, the true meanaing of that text eluded me until I actually began to read it aloud. Naturally I was trying to paint a visual image, as I always do when describing a scene or location, and as I read on, my improvisational moves and voices and descriptive additions became more and more erratic. Then, as the paragraph ended, and we were told of it actually NOT being what we though it was (ghost-f***king) but that the black ghost was sucking the life force out of the blue ghost. It was imagery that helped resolve the scene, and someone Dave or Jenna perhaps, mentioned that the essence was being sucked out like the Dementors in Harry Potter. Ah yes, that is exactly what was happening, just a little “romantic embrace” while soul-sucking. We need a Patronus here.

This event provoked the battlemind to charge forward in outrage to the bedside as a free action before rolling initiative. As he approached he saw the black thing hiss and retreat out of the chamber, leaving marks in blood on the wall behind. The blue ghost(ess) collapsed into the tattered mattress and soon faded away.

Then – rats, rats, rats everywhere! And a homunculus! Small rats medium rats and giant rats, and a clay scout homunculus. And they came in waves, oh how they came in swarms and hordes from all sides. Squeaking and squealing and hungry and bearing their dagger-fangs The large size of the party drew even more giant rats until they were nearly surrounded by these ferocious rodents of unusual size. Their staggered initiative, and the fact that they began in concealed locations (including openings in walls) meant that during the first round of combat more rats and more rats and more rats (and a homunculus!) kept appearing until that tiny chamber was nearly full. Tordak was surrounded. They boiled out of the walls and under the bed and he was bloodied quickly, striving to defend himself. But he never gave up, and though he was knocked unconscious, he was soon back on his feet and by battle’s end took an incredible 45 points of damage. He received his moment of greatness badge, and I hope to give out one a week for the best move of the night until all PCs have had one. This is the second or third one so far.

The party had a difficult fight ahead of them, as they had no area affect or burst attacks. They had to cut them down one by one. The sorceress, out of harms way in the hallway, unleashed a barrage of lightning bolts that steadily depleted the rat population. The ardent Kantash strode forward and struck rats with his pole-axe right and left. He clove a path of rat pelts to the fallen battlemind, and inspired the warrior to rise again, healed. Then he went on to cleave more pelts, and heal more too. The rogue Stilgar soon found combat advantage and struck against a dire rat but he was too close to the rat swarm and took much damage from their swarming attacks.

The humunculus remained hidden until the start of round 2, when he unleashed a flank attack against the assassin, then flew up into the corner of the room. It turned out to be a bad move, as on the assassin’s turn he roasted him single-handedly, even while dazed, by spending an action point to hit him with two big attacks. The clay scout fell crumbling down to the ground, destroyed by the sweeping shadowblade of Vishnu. A flurry of attacks took place as the PCs tried to focus on the two sturdy dire rats while avoiding the rat swarm. The dire rats soon fell, blasted apart by lightning bolts, by Stilgar’s bludgeoning sneak-attack, and the mad attacks of the Ardent.

Minions had been steadily dropping by one or two each round until only one stood, my indomitable R-2 unit I stole from my son’s Star Wars mini. (He tells me it is actually an r$ droid).What can I say, he brings me luck, and sometimes nothing else will do, but most of the time its just that I need something small. This lil bugger of a minion was incredibly tough: he had been targeted every round of battle, and was the last enemy standing – only to be finally slain while making a kamikaze rush past the party.

Another battle won. Dead rats lay everywhere, in fact the floor was slick with the matted blood and fur of the hundreds of verminous corpses piling up in the room. (Thanks to the tweeter we have at the table, we try to incorporate the official tweets of Wizards during the event.) In better circumstances a rat-tossing contest might occur, or even a rat-bag fight (much like a pillow-fight, except fought with the bloated corpses of rats of all sizes great and small) but at least now the party knew they wouldn’t starve. Could one warm a cup of rat-stew over those blue-flaming candles, one wonders…

Anyhow, the night was won, the rooms were searched, the corpses looted (makes nice under-garments) and the treasures were gathered up. Healing surges were surged, using the “5-minute rest encounter” trick of getting the 1d6 healer bonus. I just had them add 3, and we were done.

It was another fantastic night, with a fantastic group of players, a fantastic venue, and and a fantastic D&D Experience. Can’t wait until next week.

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