Out of the Abyss

A Game of Gnomes

A Little Background

This campaign is a continuation of a number of homebrew adventures in a campaign setting based on ancient Greece. Sadly this was before Mythic Odysseys of Theros was released. That would have come in very helpful indeed.

I ran the campaign mostly as written, but transported the locations from the Forgotten Realms into my homebrew pseudo-Greece. That was quite easy, as most of the campaign takes places in the Underdark. The demon princes were turned into titans; locked away by the gods in primordial times.

I nicknamed the campaign A Game of Gnomes (after A Game of Thrones, of course) because of the large number of gnome player characters, who were often the driving force behind the party's actions.

Every campaign needs a certain balance in the amount of real danger. Some players really, really hate having their character die, while others absolutely need to feel the danger and actual consequences in order for events to be meaningful for them. The DM for our previous campaign (we rotate a bit) leans more toward the former, so for this campaign I decided to lean more into the latter. I rolled a lot of random encounters and really tried to convey how harsh and unforgiving the Underdark is. Though no player character ended up dying (5E characters are easy to take down, but don't actually die very easily), there were several times when the outcome of a single roll could have caused a death, and I never fudged a single roll.

This is probably the longest campaign I've ever run. (Or am likely to ever run again.) You certainly get a lot of value with this book. I do think I prefer to DM somewhat shorter campaigns though. If I ever end up running the campaign again, I would like to lean more into the weirdness. Really play up the Alice in Wonderland sort of feel. And dispense with the random encounters altogether. (Except for a few really fun ones, which I'd just insert whenever I though they're appropriate.)

The logs before Eve/Vesperes joined were originally written in Dutch.

13 August 2016 (Session 1)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Gombert
  • Robert

After the party's previous adventures and an unfortunate accident in his father's lab, Thorvild decides to better his life. He ends his specialization in evocation and takes up the mantle of transmuter and sage. To make this clear to the community (and perhaps to somewhat makes things up to his father) he throws a large birthday celebration in one of Rogos' 2 inns. All prominents of the island attent, Ulfgar gives and amazing performance, and the booze flows in great quantities. The party is a great success.

One of the guests who are lucky enough to just happen to be staying at the inn during this fantastic feat is a gnome called Zook, who came to the isle of Rogos to start trade relations with Zookania; a neighboring empire that nobody on Rogos seems to have ever heard of. During the party little attention is paid to this, but the next day several of the islanders are alarmed by Zook's small, demonic looking servant, and he is escorted to the archon.

Meanwhile, Ulfgar and Thorvild are summoned by the priest of Apollo. He has a terrible hangover from the party, but he has an emergency that cannot wait. Pilgrims to neighboring Delos have been attacked by harpies. After some questioning it appears that the harpies mostly just did a lot of screeching and persued the boat with rocks in their claws. Nonetheless, it is still somewhat alarming. They decide to take the issue to the archon.

In the archon's throne room, Thorvild's father attests that Zook's servant is indeed a demon (a quasit), but that this type normally listens to its master. Despite protests by the priest, the archon decides not to make a big deal of it as long as Zook keeps his servant out of sight.

After some questioning, Zookania is realized to be better known as Nykonos. This small and until recently uninhabited island falls under a neighboring lord that the archont doesn't think very highly of. The seems to find the situation rather amusing, but has no immediate interest in trade relations.

He is alarmed by the situation with the harpies, however. The pilgrimages to Delos are Rogos' main source of income, so any disturbance of these is to be taken seriously. He asks Ulfgar, Thorvild, and the priest of Apollo to investigate. Zook offers the use of the Zookanian fleet. His country is quite near the place where the pilgrims were attacked, so he too is concerned about the situation. The archon accepts the offer, arranges for provisions, and gives each of the adventurers 20 gp for their efforts.

The Zookanian flag ship turns out to be just large enough to transport the party. The wind is favorable, and the party reaches the location of the incident just before nightfall. Quasi the quasit polymorphs into a bat and discovers a few harpies on a rocky island.

The session ends with the party at sea considering their next move. The in game time is the end of the afternoon.

20 August 2016 (Session 2)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Gombert
  • Robert

After a lot of discussion about various relevant and irrelevant things the party goes ashore. Zook proclaims that Zookania's flag ship counts as a flag, and the island will now be known as Zookania's eastern province. Fronto laments that he didn't think of that first.

"East Zookania" is a very rocky island with a lower and higher part. The party has landed on the lower area and carefully sneaks to the higher area where the harpies had previously been spotted. When they arrive there they see 3 nests with 6 sleeping harpies. When Thorvild, Zook, and Quasi sneak towards them, they suddenly fall 20 feet through the rock. They land savely thanks to a Featherfall spell, but Thorvild immediately afterward falls into a magical sleep. The party concludes that both the terrain and the harpies are illusionary. Tee spots a cave opening at the same hight where Thorvild and Zook are now. He pushes Fronto down and then jumps after him.

Down below the party is caught in a crossfire of poisoned crossbow bolt, a web spell, some sleep spells, and a pack of giant spiders. The party tries to flee, but after a few rounds everybody gets taken out.

The following days are a fever dream of incoherent images. When the party members finally get their mental processes back on track, they realize that they are in a small case with around a dozen others. They wearing just their underclothes and are cuffed in metal collars and short chains that connect their arms to a metal belt around their waists. The guards are sadistic elves with dark skins and white hair. They make it very clear that the party members have been enslaved and need to act servile. It quickly becomes apparent that no form of magic works in the cave, which is closed off with a metal grate. Outside of the grate a large stalactite hangs. This must be hollowed out, as there is a windows behind which there are always guards.

The party uses the rest of the evening to tabulate their resources (5 feet of silken rope, a rusty metal bar, and two 10gp gems; all acquired and hidden during their imprisonment), gather and compare intelligence (the elves are known as drow; they worship a sadistic spider-titan called Lolth; the party is likely deep below the surface) and contact most of the other captives.

The other captives are:

Eldeth Feldrun
Speaks common. A female shield dwarf scout from an underground dwarven city called Gauntlgrym. She shares some basic information about the Underdark and the species of the other captives. The party is in a drow outpost called Velkynvelve. She expect that soon a heavily guarded caravan from the great drow city of Menzoberranzan will come to collect the captives. It will be very hard to escape then.
Buppido
Male derro. Speaks dwarven. Eldeth claims that derro are crazy and cannot be trusted, however Buppido is friendly, and seems quite sensible.
Jimjar
Male svirfneblin. Speak gnomish. A rogue with a devil-may-care attitude. Helpful.
Sarith Kzekarit
Male drow. Speaks elven. Wants to be left alone.
Topsy and Turvy
Female and male svirfneblin. Speak gnomish. Don't trust the other captives, including the party.
Ront
Male orc. Currently sleeping. Is reputed to be nasty fellow.
Stool
Myconid sprout; a small waling toadstool. Is able to facilitate telepathic communication with his spores. Is basically a child. Fronto manages to gain his trust. He advises the party to go to Neverlight Grove, where the myconids can offer them protection.
Shuushar
Male kuo-toa; a fish-man. Speaks undercommon. According to Eldeth and Jimjar kuo-toa are quite mad, but otherwise not bad. Shuushar proclaims to be a dedicated pacifist. He can detect invisible people. (There are none right now.)
Derendil
Male quaggoth; a big hairy monster with sharp claws and a reputation for fierce violence. Quaggoth normally speak undercommon and are not terribly bright. Derendil however speaks flowery elvish. He proclaims to be the prince of the elven realm of Nelrindenvane in the High Forest. The evil wizard Terrestor polymorphed him into a quaggoth and usurped his realm. The party has never heard of Nelrindenvane, though Thorvild thinks he may have read about it. Derendil is eager to escape and complains that he must constantly struggle to keep his mind from denegerating into that of a quaggoth.

The party has not learned much about Velkynvelve, but it supposedly houses some 20 drow, including 2 elite fighters and 2 priestesses of Lolth; about a dozen quaggoth; and an unknown number of giant spiders. There is likely a mage present.

25 September 2016 (Session 3)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert
  • Robert

After talking to the other prisoners, the party gets a better picture of Velkynvelve. To the right of their cell is a stairway that descends along the rock to a different cave. To the left is a waterfall that empties into a lake 100 feet down. Straight ahead is a rope bridge that leads to a hollowed out stalactite. From this stalactite a different rope bridge leads father to the left, to a narrow path along the rock that leads to a wide ledge with multiple caves and hollowed out stalactites. Also on this ledge is a lift to the floor of the cave, some 100 feet down. This floor is quite sizable, and has three caves entrances that lead to other parts of the Underdark. Velkynvelve is obscured by a large number of webs created by giant spiders.

The party tries to come up with a plan to disable the anti-magic effect of their quarters, but without success. When Skorr makes a not very subtle attempt to disable the runes using a metal bar, the guards are alarmed. Skorr is shot with a number of small crossbow bolt and a bunch of quaggoths enter the shove the prisoners around. The bar gets confiscated.

When after some time Buppido and Thorvild get taken out of the cell to be put to work, Doctor Inferno reemerges: Thorvild immediately burns a guard to a crisp. This causes a large fight to develop. The prisoners manage to take out 2 drow and 2 quaggoths (one of whom gets tossed in with the giant spiders), but when drow reinforcements arrive, the tables turn dramatically. Tee is knocked out by a single blow from the drow priestess, and this causes the party to follows Skorr's advice to jump down into the lake beneath Velkynvelve. Thanks to a number of Featherfall spells and a Fire Bolt in the webs, this goes fairly well. Skorr does get caught in a Viscous Blob, and Ront is literally ripped apart by a quaggoth.

Down in the lake, Fronto receives a telepatic message that states "Flesh for the Faceless Lord", which causes concern. The manacles also make swimming quite hard. Skorr is so stuck in the blob that he is unable to swim. Fortunately, Eldeth, Jimjar, and Shuushar come to his aid. While the party is trying to swim to dry land, they get bombarded by Insect Plague spells, and summoned giant spiders shoot webs at them. There is also an nearly invisible ooze in the water that attacks swimmers. Although the ooze and te spiders are defeated, Eldeth, Topsy, and Turvy all die in an Insect Plague before the party is able to flee into one of the corridors.

The session ends here. The party has a key from one of the guards that can be used to remove the manacles. Skorr is still stuck in the Viscous Blob, but Thorvild has determined that it should dissolve within an hour or so. Derendil should be able to carry/roll him in the meantime. Jimjar and Buppido have each managed to acquire a short sword and a light crossbow with some bolts in the fight. The party also has a dozen shackles, a length of rope, 2 10 gp gems, and a piece of flint. Velkynvelve is still (easily) within earshot, and it is obvious that the drow are not at all done with the party.

8 October 2016 (Session 4)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk

Lead by Sarith Kzekarit, who is fairly familiar with this part of the Underdark, the party races through various less used caves. He points out that Ilvara, the priestess leading Velkynvelve, will not rest until the party is back into her hands. He advises suicide if she comes close to her goal.

After some deliberaton a number of locations emerge where the party may find safety, or at least some equipment or intel.

The cave system the party fled into seems to run roughly in the direction of the Darklake. This is a large complex of flooded caves, generally considered to be in the territory of Gracklstugh. If the party continues in their present heading, they should arrive near Sloobludop on the Darklake in about 8 days. Gracklstugh is also on the lake, but quite a distance to the west.

The first day of the escape is otherwise uneventful, but the foragers are having trouble finding sufficient food and drink. Sleeping on the bare rock is about as comfortable as it sounds. Fronto has a very vivid nightmare full of torture scenes.

On the second day, the party runs into a huge chasm. The bottom is too deep to be seen, and only folks with 120' darkvision are able to see across. Fortunately, prince Derendil proves to be an amazing climber, and Tee and Thorvild have both memorized Featherfall. After Derendil discovers that the bottom is some 300' deep, the party jumps down. From there there the weaker and lighter climbers get carried to the top by Derendil, while the better climbers do so by themselves. When Fronto, Thorvild, and Buppido reach the top, and Derendil goes back down, Buppido suddenly attacks the others without provocation. The wizard gets his by a poisoned bolt, but manages to make the derro fall into a magical sleep. The derro is put in chains, but when Derendil returns, he explodes with rage and tears the betrayer apart.

Short afterward, Sarith, who was climbing up, gets attacked from out of a crack in the cliff face. An enormous brown mass brutally smashes into him and corrodes his back. Tee and Jimjar attack the mass, which appears vulnerable to Tee's Ray of Frost. The mass turns out to be an ooze that was hiding in a narrow crack.

Skorr takes Buppido's sword. The derro was also carrying a hand crossbow and some bolt. The latter go to Jimjar, who now carries 3.

15 October 2016 (Session 5)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk
  • Robert

At the end of the third day after escaping, the party arrives at a cave with walls full of large quartz crystal that shine with a soft light. The area appears to be covered in faerzress: a sort of background magic that is permeates many areas in the Underdark, in which spells (particularly divination and teleportation) function poorly or unpredictably. The crystals appear to have absorbed this magic to some extend. After some investigation the mages in the party concludes that the crystal can function not just as a light source, but also as weapons. If they break, the magic will suddenly be unleashed and blind anyone nearby.

Unfortunately, the crystals are solidly stuck in the wall, and the party has little energy and is in a great hurry. Derendil makes an attempt at pulling the most promising crystal from the wall, but it unfortunately shatters. It does indeed produce a very bright flash.

The party spends the night in the crystal cave, but sleeps poorly. Everybody suffers from terrible nightmares. Mountains of skulls, endless plains of ice, voices speaking ominous sounding languages, etc. It is too much for Thorvild and Tee too handle. After awakening, Thorvild sees ice-related delusions, and Tee cannot stop crying. Fortunately, after 10 minutes or so, both recover, but something has clearly snapped in both of the poor gnomes. The party thinks it is very suspicious and wonder if perhaps Velkynvelve's priestess has cursed them somehow.

Little of interest happens in the next few days. Getting enough food and drink continues to be difficult. Thorvild and Quasi nearly exterminate a rare species. Sarith doesn't want to share much about his past. The party encounters various species of fungi, inclusing some very large ones. Fronto thinks Sarith doesn't always lead the party in exactly the right direction, but that could just be because it is very hard terrain to navigate in.

When the party looks for a place to sleep at the end of the 6th day, they find a small side-cave. This turns out to be full of bones from many different species; including humanoids. It is so full that the floor cannot be seen. After some hesitation the gnomes from the group investigate. They discover two drow standing in the cave. The duo is standing still and only observes, almost as though they are undead. Jimjar has no trouble taking one of they short swords (and winning a bet with Fronto), and the party can just literally push them around. As if this wasn't strange enough, Sarith also starts acting strangely when he enters the cave. Hij starts babbling and is clearly very confused. His state improves a lot when he is escorted out of the cave.

The party is unsure what to make of this, but suspects the cave has some sort of anti-drow field. The party discusses how to remove the chainmails from teh drow. Zook decides to just Eldritch Blast one of this. This finally causes the duo to defend themselves. A fight ensues in which the drow prove to move slower and more awkwardly then is usual. When one of the two follows Zook out of the cave, Stool (who was standing outside of the cave) orders him to stop, which he promptly does. After Stool gives the same command to the other one, he explain thay these drow are a sort of "helpers" of the myconids. When flesh-beings "lie down", a myconid sovereign can turn them into "helpers". These helpers can then do chores for the myconid for a couple of weeks until they "lie down" again; this time permanently.

Now that the drow are out of the cave again, Sarith once again gets confused. Stool cannot explain this. The party decides to undress the drow-helpers, and has Stool order them to wait in ambush for their pursuers. After this Sarith feels a lot better.

The gnomes are now each wearing a few articles of clothing, and have made little hats from pieces of drow trousers legs. Sarith and Skorr each wear chainmail. (Though it is a poor fit for Skorr.) The party has 2 extra short swords and a wide selection of bones. (None of them long enough to use as a cane, but perfectly serviceable as clubs.) A thorough investigation of the cave also yield a mechanical spider (walks away when nobody is looking at it) and a book in an unknown tongue.

The party rests for the night(?). The Darklake should be about 2 days of travel away.

5 November 2016 (Session 6)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Gombert
  • Robert

The party continues towards the Darklake. Though their foraging is mostly ineffective, the party nevertheless has little trouble with supplies, as they happen to run into two small caves full of large fungi. Apart from a number of exotic specimens, which for instance emit light and turn on and off when being touched, or that cause people who consume them to conpulsively vocalize their thoughts, there are also some that are nutricious, and others that contain potable water. The party finds enough to have a 1 day reserve of food, and they take a number of the "compulsion"-toadstools. There is no reason to believe that Ulfgar's has ended up in Thorvild's rations.

Despite Sarith briefly getting lost, the party nonetheless heads in the right direction. After 2 days, Shuushar recognizes the area, and the party reaches the Darklake early on the third day.

On the way to neary Sloobludop the party runs into a group of kuo-toa who excitedly run towards them. It is quickly apparent that they mean to take the surface dwellers prisoner and sacrifice them to Leemooggoogoon the Deep Father. They are not very successful in this: most of them fall in a magical sleep, and of their two leaders one is killed and the other taken prisoner. Ulfgar turns out to have once learned a few things about kuo-toa religious practices. He remembers that kuo-toa often receive "revelations" regarding previously unknown gods. These gods then seem to become "real" purely due to the sincere kuo-toa faith. Unfortunately for them, few stay popular for long, and lacking faithful followers they fade away. Blipdoolpoolp is one of few exceptions to this rule. Her cult was previously strong in Sloobludop, but a discussion with the emprisoned leader makes it apparent that the cult of this recently revealed Leemooggoogoon is now at least as popular.

Ulfgar is able to convince the kuo-toa leader that the party only doesn't believe in Leemooggoogoon because they had never heard of him, and that isn't their fault. They believe to voluntarily accompany the kuo-toa to Sloobludop to learn more about Leemooggoogoon from his high priestess. Considering their alternatives, the kuo-toa decide this is excellent plan, and everyone sets off.

After only about 15 minutes, the company runs into another group of kuo-toa. This one proves to be led by the high priest of Blipdoolpoolp, and both groups decide to attack the other. The high priest kills the opposing leader with a few strong blows of his scepter, and this pretty much decides the fight. The only Leemooggoogoons who survive are a small group who converted to Shuushar's pacifism. The party keeps out of the conflict.

After the fight the high priest addresses the party. He introduces himself as Ploopploopeen, and claims that his prayers have been heard, for he needs the help of the surface dwellers. It was his own daughter Bloppblippodd to whom Leemooggoogoon revealed himself. She is now his high priestess and her fanatic devotion has caused many of Sloobludop's kuo-toa to convert. She has to die and to enable this Ploopploopeen will have to win her trust. He thinks he'll be able to do so by offering the party as a sacrifice to her god. During the ceremony he'll be able to get close to his daughter, and with the party's help he expects to be able to kill her. His assures the party that they'll be rewarded handsomely.

The party agrees and the company enters Sloobludop. The settlement has been built on the edge of the Darklake, but looks as though it was meant to be underwater. All buildings have multiple floors and rope bridges and nets haphazardly connect the building. The "walls" around the settlement are just poles with netting between them. These nets are full of sharp bone hooks. On the edge of the lake are many small piers with small boats. (Other Underdark dwellers are unsure why the kuo-toa bother with boats, as they are excellent swimmers.) The entire settlement looks decrepit, but has clearly existed for quite a while.

In the middle of the village stands a statue of Blipdoolpoolp the Sea Mother. Her image is that of a humanoid woman, but with the head and claws of a lobster. She is a scavenger goddess and sacrifices of her often consist of found goods. It is however also very respectful to vomit at her statue. Because of this the smell is awful and fishy. Next to the statue is the modest home of the high priest. The party briefly stops here while is messenger is sent to the high priestess. While waiting for a response the party receives two spell component pouches from the pile of offerings.

The high priestess accepts the proposal and the company walks a short distance to the water's edge where the altar to Leemooggoogoon stands. This is a wide stone with above it a construction tied to two poles. This constuction is made of leather, a dead manta ray, and two octopusses. It smells horribly and is caked with blood. At a little distance from the altar a beaten up duergar. Almost the entire village has come to the occassion and the party is surrounded by a circle of hundreds of kuo-toa. After the high priest ceremonially offers the sacrifice and this is accepted by his daughter, the crowd starts moving in a circle around the party while chanting. This circle is so wide that it partially goes through the water of the lake. The party is pushed forward at spear-point and the high priestess is about to kill the first sacrifice. At that moment her father deals her two massive blows with his scepter and a chaotic fight erupts.

With the party's help Ploopploopeen quickly dispatches his daughter and her most important followers, but before the situation can calm down, the kuo-toa in the water panic. Many of them get pulled underwater and the water colors blood red. Some party members spot glimpes of large manta rays swimming between the fish-men.

Bloppblippodd utters her final words: "Leemooggoogoon...!" At this the water starts bubbling and foaming, and two enormous slimy tentacles appear that easily tear down some of the village's buildings. These tentacles are followed by two gigantic baboon heads with enormous fangs and glowing red eyes. The heads and tentacles are attached to a body that is at least 30 feet tall, which slowly rises from the water, roaring with rage and madness.

The shock of this spectacle is enormous. The kuo-toa can do little else than madly screem "Leemooggoogoon!" The high priest is fully in shock. Derendil, Sarith, and Stool go crazy, but the rest of the party manage to control their emotions. Some of them now realize that Leemooggoogoon is also known as the titan Demogorgon, Prince of Demons.

While Leemooggoogoon/Demogorgon tears down Sloobludop and many kuo-toa get slaughtered, the party flees. The high priest follows them in shock after being spurred on by Shuushar. The "wall" of the city unable to resist fire and an opening is quickly created for the party to leave though.

The party reaches a side-cave. The sounds of slaughter in Sloobludop are clearly audible. Ploopploopeen and Stool regain their senses, but Sarith and Derendil do not. It is now the 9th day after the escape from Velkynvelve.

12 November 2016 (Session 7)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Robert

The party regroups. While Fronto uses Lesser Restoration spells to treat the madness of Sarith, Derendil, and Tee (who also proves to have gone mad), Thorvild, Ploopploopeen, and Shuushar gather some 20 fleeing kuo-toa. (Thorvild employs an improvised barrier, which more or less forces the kuo-toa to flee into the party's cave entrance.)

After having recovered from his madness Tee wants to invisibly fly into Sloobludop to try and grab some supplies. The other party members think this is very unwise and eventually manage to dissuade Tee.

Skorr questions Ploopploopeen about the environment of Neverlight Grove. By pure coincidence the high priest turns out to be quite familiar with that area, and he gives Skorr a description of the route there. The grove is situated north of Gracklstugh. A reasonable way to get there is to take a boat across the Darklake to the duergar city and walk the rest of the distance. The kuo-toa inform the party that the side-cave they are in ends near the Darklake father away from Sloobludop and Demogorgon.

When after a while not new fleeing kuo-toa pass the cave entrance, the entire group travels deeper into the cave, heading for Gracklstugh. Pretty quickly, this forces the group to enter the water, which the non-kuo-toa are not keen to do. (Especially when they have to swim a distance underwater.) It is clear that the group will need a boat of some kind. To this end the kuo-toa locate a giant zurkhwood. This is an enormous woodlike toadstool that is often used as construction material in the Underdark. The group works a day to turn the hood into a vessel large enough to contain all the non-kuo-toa. Now that the group should be able to effecively traverse the Darklake, they head to Gracklstugh. This journey will take about 20 days.

The first two days are uneventful. The group has little trouble getting enough supplies thanks to Create Food and Water spells and the survival skills of the kuo-toa. Monsters don't seem very interested in bothering such a large group. Fronto meanwhile manages to use a Sending spell to contact the surface world. Thorvild's father is very relieved to hear the group is still alive and promises to go to Naxos to learn the spell. He doesn't seem to truly get the news about Demogorgon.

After these aforementioned first two days, Ploopploopeen anncounces that his people want to head north to start a new village on the other side of the Darklake. Shuushar will accompany them, as his people clearly need him. Thorvild briefly considers joining his new teacher (of pacifism), but decides to stick with the party. Tee requests and receives an (un)holy symbol of Blipdoolpoolp. The kleptomaniacal gnome is drawn to the teachings of the scavenger goddess.

After saying goodbyes the party continues westward to Gracklstugh. After just half a day they get accosted by a group of those same manta ray beings they encountered at Sloobludop. They have since learned from Ploopploopeen and Zook that these being are called ixitxachitl, and that they think highly of Demogorgon. The party manages to prevent them from overturning the boat by fleeing to a nearby islet. It initially seems that they'll be stuck there, but Jimjar suggests that Thorvild casts a "Stinking Cloud" spell in the water to drive the ixitxachitl off. The vapours caused by the spell turn out to be highly explosive (almost exactly like a Fireball spell), and the effect is very loud and destructive. A number of mantas die and the rest withdraw.

It is now the 12th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

19 November 2016 (Session 8)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk
  • Gombert

The party continues on to Gracklstugh. Because Fronto's Create Food and Water spells take care of vital supplies, the route is known thanks to Ploopploopeen's intel, and the boat makes it possible to sleep while traveling, the partygenoten decides to divide into two shifts. This enables a much faster pace of travel.

The journey does not prove to be any less dangerous than before. Besides small dangers such as unexpectedly low ceilings and schools of aggressive fish, the Darklake also holds great dangers in the form of monsters. One of them, a squid-like flying monster, suddenly emerges from the ceiling and grabs Tee with barbed tentacles that apply a paralysing toxin. The creature absconds with this tasty snack and is only just stopped by a Hypnotic Pattern spell from Ulfgar. Afterward, the monster is identified as a grell; a dangerous ambush-predator that is not uncommon in the Underdark. If the creature had managed to get away with Tee, things would have ended very poorly for the gnome.

A second encounter a few days later proves even more dangerous. The party discovers that they are about to sail into a maelstrom. As everyone frantically tries everything they can to stop this from happening, 3 merrow appear. These creatures are a sort of large, bestial merman and have great strength. (Some party members know that merrow came to be when in the distant past a tribe of merfolk got corrupted by an idol of Demogorgon. They worship him to this day.) With pull Tee and Ulfgar into the water with their harpoons, causing them to have to swim for their lives. A third one first uses his claws and teeth to attack Thorvild, and then starts to destabilize the boat.

A harrowing fight develops in which the party is only barely able to stay out of the maelstrom. Thanks to, among other things, a "Stinking Cloud"/"Fireball" spell that Thorvild detonates under the boat, the merrow are killed, and the party manages to get away from the maelstrom. (The spell also causes the boat to rock wildly. Some party members are tossed overboard, but they all manage to grab on to it.) A Fly spell from Tee and an Hypnotic Pattern by Ulfgar also prove to be very useful.

The party manages to get back on course after a slight detour.

It is the 17th day after the escape from Velkynvelve. The party is now about halfway between Sloobludop and Gracklstugh.

10 December 2016 (Session 9)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Brinkie
  • Robert

The party continues traveling over the Darklake and encounters many small dangers, but no real threats. Thorvild's Leomund's Tiny Hut spell makes nightly rests a lot safer. A keelboat with kuo-toa didn't even notice the party sleeping peacefully under an oddly round "rock". (And the party barely considered mugging the kuo-toa.)

When after a few days the party sails onto a sand bar and is busy freeing the boat, a keelboat manned by duergar passes by. After some sort deliberation Jimjars calls them. They turn out to be headed to Gracklstugh with a cargo of iron ore. On payment of one of the party's gems, they are willing to lead to party to the city. With the duergar to guide them, the rest of the journey passes without further incidents.

While under way the party thinks about what to do in the city. Although the duergar are a very lawful bunch (they punish crimes severely) it would still be good not to appear weak, as non-duergar are afforded few rights. Based on what the ore-sellers tell them, the party plan to sell one of their hand crossbows in the Blade Bazaar. This should get the party (just) enough money to get some decent clothes and some basic equipment. After this, the party will pose as Jimjar's entourage, and hopefully get a job as, for instance, caravan guards. They may be able to land such a job in Gholbrorn's Lair, the only tavern in the city where non-duergar are tolerated.

It is the 17th day after the escape from Velkynvelve. The party has docked in a quiet corner of the harbor. The air is warm and oppressive.

7 January 2017 (Session 10)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert
  • Robert

With Jimjar as their nominal leader, the party goes to Gracklstugh's Blade Bazaar. The city forms a strong contrast to the surrounding Underdark. It is busy, warm, noisy, and the smog burns lungs and eyes. Luckily, the market is easily found. The party manages to make all their planned purchases (plus a nice collar for Detendil to wear, which makes him feel more civilized), although several merchants are rather weird. One suddenly goes invisible (a normal power of the duergar; they can also temporarily become as big as an ogre) but doesn't seem to realize so himself. Another starts to curse terribly for no discernable reason. The party doesn't pay it much mind and quickly heads for Gholbrorn's Lair.

The inn proves to be a literal hole ion the ground. It is a clammy and cold network of underground corridors with some meagure furniture. (Clearly easily defensible though.) The prices are out of proportion with the poor quality of the services, but it is the only option for outsiders, so the party takes what they can get.

The other guests (a diverse group of mostly outsiders) tell the party that there is a lot of unrest in the fauna of the Underdark. Caravans get attacked more often than usual, and there are even rumours that monsters and demons attack smaller settlements. The party still hopes to get hired as caravan guards to make some money, and perhaps even reach the surface world. One Ylsa Henstak is mentioned as someone who frequently sends out caravans. The party decides to visit her office.

Miss Henstak tells the party that she will not be sending out any caravans in the near future as it is currently just too dangerous. She does have another job for the party. She shows an impressive stack of coins and jewels, all from the surface world, and many even from the area that the party hails from. All these goods have at some point passed through the hands of the derro, but she has been unable to find out where they got them from. She want the party to discover this, because this is far from normal. The derro are a lower class in Gracklstugh who normally have no contact with the surface world. Generations ago they attacked the city, but they were beated and enslaved. Their slavery has since been ended, but they are still at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Their movements in the city are restricted and they live in unattractive ghettos in the two extremes of Laduguer's Furrow, a canyon that bisects Gracklstugh. This entire canyon and everything on the other side is off limits for outsiders. The derro are commonly considered to be sadistic delusional maniacs. The party will have to get creative to get the requested information.

Ylsa offers (after informing after what sort of things interest the party) the details of a commercially less interesting route to the surface world as well as to pay for their expenses. After considering the party decides that the risk is too big, if only because of the efficient and draconian "justice" practiced by the duergar. Sarith calls the enterprise madness and strongly pleads to stick with the original plan to head to Neverlight Grove, where the sovereign should be able to offer help, according to Stool. Jimjar is the only one willing to take the chance. This causes Ylsa to increase her offer with a necklace worth some 250 gp from the stack of surface world goods, but the party remains adamant.

On the way to the inn, the party sees a group of guards beat up a merchant while shouting "Herecy!" The party gets the impression that the city is going off the rails.

It is the 18th day after the escape from Velkynvelve.

14 January 2017 (Session 11)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Gombert

The party leaves in the direction of Neverlight Grove. On the way to the east end of the city they suddenly encounter a 2-stories tall, double-headed giant storming out of a side street. The behemoth appears scared and confused, and wildly smashes everything near it. Duergar go flying through the air, and the party decides that they should probably make themselves scarce. When it becomes clear that they have drawn the giant's attention and they are unable to keep ahead of it, they reluctantly face it. Most party members go for cover to sling spells, while Skorr, Derendil, and Jimjar get into melee. A fierce fight develops in which the giant proves to be resistant to Hypnotic Pattern and Sleep spells. With the aid of some duergar guards, including one clad in full plate who wields a flame throwing lance, the giant is killed. (The party later learns that these kinds of lances are powered by some sort of gas and are produced by one of the duergar clans.)

Shortly after the fight a second giant appears. This one has only one head, and is clearly distressed about the situation. The duergar don't seem surprised. (The party will later learn that Gracklstugh also houses a clan of stone giants.) The guards question the party. Neither group has any idea what is going on. Eventually the party is ordered to accompany the guards to Overlake Hold to talk to captain Errde Blackskull. The party is not at all eager to do this, but does not protest.

When the group is about to leave, the guards are suddenly stopped by a duergar in red priestly robes with patterns resembling flames. He introduces himself als Gartokkar Xundorn of the Keepers of the Flame. He states that Themberchaud has an important task for the party and they need to accompany him. The guards aren't happy with this, but they try not to show their discontent. They have the party promise to come to the captain when they are able to.

Gartokkar takes the party to the southern tip of the city, on the other side of Laduguer's Furrow. This area is normally forbidden for outsiders to enter, and the party is painfully aware of this fact. When asked about this, Gartokkar nonchalantly answers that this will not be a problem with him around. This proves to be correct, and the party reaches a large cave on the edge of the city, which is marked with all kinds of red flame-symbols. Gartokkar is leading the party into a nearby building when suddenly two enormous red glowing eyes beome visible in the darkness of the cave. A booming voice laughes that he did not know that he would be eating surface worlders today. Gartokkar introduces the voice as Themberchaud, Father of Flames, the Everburning, Heart of the Forge, Wyrmsmith of Gracklstugh. The Wyrmsmith appears to be a somewhat corpulent red dragon with a shoulder height of some 15 feet. He declares that the party are to follow him and walks deeper into the cave. This makes Gartokkar rather nervous, but he is urges the party to quickly do as the Wyrmsmith commands. In the cave the dragon nonchalantly mentions that it would be very unwise for invisible creatures to be following him.

After a few hundred feet, Themberchaud lies down on an enormous pile of coins and jewels (and it would seem also some potions). He asks the individual party members about their names, where they are from, how they got here, etc. He is amused by Thorvild's flame spells and commands him to Fireball a rothe carcass. To demonstrate his superiority he then unleashes his breath weapon no the carcass. The gout of flames makes the stone glow red and would clearly be more than capable of incinerating the entire party. He offers the party to become his agents. Without waiting for an answer he gives them their first task: to do whatever the Keepers of the Flame want them to do, but report to him directly. With a literally deafening roar, he shouts that Gartokkar is to give the party badges. He then turns around to indicate that the audience is over.

Back at Gartokkar the party is handed golden badges with a stylized flame. They also get one holy symbol of Laduguer (god of duergar). These symbols should allow the party to move freely throughout Gracklstugh, though Gartokkar warns that there are limits to what they can get away with. He is very curious about what Themberchaud wanted of the party. Apparently it is unusual for the dragon to get involved in these kinds of things. Ulfgar manages to give a satisfactory answer that doesn't really tell him anything.

In the privacy of the Keepers' building, Gartokkar explains that his organization has been robbed by the Grey Ghosts. This is an organization of despicable thieves and murderers, who also appear able to cast some sort of spells, but not using normal magic. The Keepers want the party to return the stolen item, a dragon's egg. He doesn't want to go into any more detail, and urges the party not to speak to Themberchaud about any of this, for the Wyrmsmith is very grumpy. In any case, it's very important that the matter be handled with the greatest discretion. Gartokkar ensures the party that they will be rewarded handsomely as soon as the egg has been returned to the Keepers.

Unfortunately, the Keepers doesn't know much about the Grey Ghosts and where they might be keeping the egg. They suspect that the Ghosts are based in the docks, but the only lead they have is a derro called Droki, whom they suspect of running errands for the Ghosts. This Droki is often spotted in the Blade Bazaar, and can be recognized by his hat, which is decorated with 2 displacer beast tentacles.

The party is not very excited about this job, but nonetheless asks Gartokkar if he can at least supply some equipment to make the job more likely to succeed. After some negotiating, he promises to supply some armor, shields, spellbooks, and some other things. This will take some time to gather, as the Keepers doesn't keep these kinds of things in supply. He thinks he'll be able to get most of these things by the end of the day. The party decides to visit captain Blackskull in the interim.

It is halfway through the 18th day since the escape from Velkynvelve. The party is still at the Keepers and unsure what to tell Themberchaud (by Sending spell, most likely).

21 January 2017 (Session 12)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk

The party heads to Overlake Hold to talk with captain Errde Blackskull. The journey is uneventful, but the party does spot a caravan with pony-sized tarantulas. These are called "steeders". The duergar use the males as beasts of burden and the (larger) females as mounts. The party wonders if these spiders originate with the drow, but they learn that this is not the case.

Overlake Hold proves to be an enormous hollowed out stalagmite. The exterior is full of chimneys dicharing dirty smoke, as well as terraces where catapults are stationed. The party reports as the gate and they are led deep inside. The "waiting room" can easily be mistaken for a cell, and it does not appear that the captain is in any great hurry to meet with the party. Encouraged by Jimjar, the party uses this time to come up with a message for Themberchaud. They use a Sending spell to tell the dragon that the Keepers want the party to retrieve a stolen dragon egg from the Grey Ghosts. Themberchaud calmly answers that the egg is to be brought directly to him and that he must be kept informed of all progress.

After waiting more than an hour, the party is escored to the heavily armored captain. She announces that outsiders like the party have essentially no rights and that most of her underlings would be happy to sell the group into slavery. She however, has learned to make good use of adventurers... The captain believes that there is a conspiracy to corrupt Gracklstugh, and she wants the party to help expose this conspiracy. She is unsure who is involved, but is convinced that the conspiracy must include the Council of Savants. This council consists of derro with an affinity for magic, and de facto governs the derro in the city. A certain Droki who is often seen in the Blade Bazaar is believed to be connected to them...

When this name is mentioned, Fronto is unable to hide his surprise, and he must admit that the Keepers of the Flame are also interested in him (as well as the Grey Ghosts). Captain Blackskull states that the Grey Ghosts are certainly also a corrupting influence that ought to be removed. She knows them to be thieves, but has never thought of them as being much involved with magic. She does know of another corrup organization called the Empty Scabbard Killers. They are assassins known for using unusual magics. She does not know of any connections between this organization and Droki, but does know that the derro, besides the Blade Bazaar, is often in the West Cleft of Laduguer's Furrow, and that he often seems to know where the guard will be, even if they are invisibly waiting for him. She wants the party to trail Droki and report to her. If possible, she wants him to be delivered to her. Dead if necessary, as long as there is proof for his corrupting activities.

The party more of less accept the assignment and are handed badges of the Stone Guard. (The king's guards; other guards exists, such as those of the various clans.) These will allow them to move about the city from the Darklake up to and including Laduguer's Furrow. (So they are actually not as useful as the badges from the Keepers.) The captain is very interested when told about the various strange (corrupt?) behavior of some merchants in the bazaar. She promises to make sure that the party will be able to leave the city unmolested when their assignment is completed, and will provide supplies from the Stone Guard armory. This could include steeders and potions.

It is at the end of the afternoon on the 18th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

28 January 2017 (Session 13)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Robert

The party goes to the Blade Bazaar in the hopes of running into Droki. Thorvild indeed spota the derro in his remarkable outfit and casts a Hold Person spell on him. Unfortunately, it doesn't take effect, and Droki notices that he is being hunted. He clicks his heels together and takes off with amazing speed. The party is utterly unable to keep up with him, but hopes to head him off in Laduguer's Furrow. Skorr, being the fastest party member, goes ahead of the group. He descends into canyon and heads for the West Cleft. There he hides near a cluster of abandoned guard stations. From his position he is well able to see that the Cleft is closed off with a wall and gate, and that there are duergar guards. He concludes that Droki likely has another way into the Cleft and gives up the hunt for now.

After some deliberation the party heads to the Docks, hoping to learn something about the Grey Ghosts. They see a large diversity of craft, including powered by great paddle wheels. Some discussion arises about how these wheels are propelled, and Thorvild loses a bet about this with Jimjar. (The wheels are sadly powered by slave labour.) He tries to pay this debt of 2 silver pieces from the party funds, but Skorr strongly disagrees.

After some time Fronto spots how at some distance, on a quiet pier, a merchant gets attacked by two duergar who suddenly appear and stab at him with glowing weapons. The party intervenes and both attackers are captures. An unusual thing in the combat is that one of the attackers did something magical and seemed to want to try to get away through the water. The glowing weapons of both attackers disappeared after they were incapacitated. Are they Empty Scabbard Killers?

The merchant is in bad shape, but Fronto heals him. He is called Werz Saltbaron and after a brief thanks tells the party to meet him the next day in the Shattered Spire, after which he runs away. The party searches the attackers and finds a charcoal drawing of Werz on fish skin. Apart from this they carry surprisingly few items. Some guards soon arrive and the party joins them to Overlake Hold to talk to captain Blackskull. The party agrees with the party that they are likely Empty Scabbard Killers. She will interrogate them and keep the party informed.

Because it is now the end of the afternoon, the party decides to return to the Keepers of the Flame, to see if Gartokkar has managed to get their stuff, which is the case. Afterward they return to Gholbrorn's Lair to spend the night.

The next day the party visits the Shattered Spire to meet with Werz. He tells them all kinds of interesting things, like how the duergar know what time it is (bell clocks), that the Grey Ghosts are duergar, that clanless duergar are called Calassabrak, that he is a member of clan Saltbaron and trades in gems, etc. He has no idea why killers are after him. He rewards each party member with a 10 gp obsidian gem and a round of quality dwarven ale. When the party asks if he might have a job for them, he tells them that he has some gems that need to be taken to Blingdenstone. The party already planned to go there (via Neverlight Grove), so they agree.

When the party are about to leave the tavern, a fight suddenly breaks out. Two very angry duergar attack each other without an obvious reason. Fronto tries to end the fight with a Create Water spell, which has some effect. Some other spells and the intervention of some of the guests end the fight. The party thinks the situation is very strange and take off.

It is the end of the morning on the 19th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

25 February 2017 (Session 14)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk
  • Robert

The party isn't expecting much, but nonetheless makes another round across the Blade Bazaar in the hopes of running into Droki. Sadly, their expectations are met. This causes the gnomes to decide to head into the West Cleft anyway. Sarith argues to instead leave the city for Neverlight Grove, but the rest of the group fears that Themberchaud will not allow this.

Near the West Cleft, the party inspects what they assume to be abandoned houses. They consider occupying one. Apart from saving money compared to staying in the inn, this would also be a good spot to keep tabs on the entrance to the West Cleft. In the end it is decided that Droki probably isn't using the official entry anyway, so it likely help the party to catch him. Seeing no alternative, the party heads to the gate. The Stone Guard badges get them in without trouble. The guards find it odd for non-derro to want to enter. Fronto asks about the "abandoned houses" and is told that these are actually guard posts that are sometimes used to surrepticiously keep tabs on the derro.

Right behind the gate, Thorvild discovers an improvised stall with a banner stating that the derro behind the counter is a tour guide. The party is elated and starts a conversation. The guide, who is called Ziinko, is clearly quite mad. For a maniac he doesn't seem like a bad sort though, and after a little negotating, the party pays him a gold piece for a short tour of the district.

The West Cleft proves to be a real slum. The multitude of buildings are small, unhygienic, poortly constructed, and uncomfortable. The road map is a chaos of open sewers, ladder, rope bridges, etc. It is swarming with derro. Most ignore the party, but whenever they don't, they always appear maniacal and aggressive. Ziinko keeps a high pace and this gives the other derro little opportunity to harm the party. On request he brings the party to a hatmaker. After kicking in the door and a brief fight with another derro (presumably the hatmaker, who objected against his door being kicked in) Ziinko shows the hat collection to the party. None of them are decorated with displacer beast tentacles, but Ziinko is willing to sell some at very competitive prices. (4 for the price of 1!)

The next party of the tour is somewhat hurried, as the group appears to be followed by a group of derro. During a short break to take a look at a wall painting of religious significance (a depiction of Diirinka, the god of derro), the pursuers manage to catch up with the party. A fight breaks out in which the derro prove to be no match for the party. After looting a few hooked shortspears and two repeating shortbows from the fallen, the party lets Ziinko know that they think it's time to head back. This is accomplished without further incidents.

It late in the afternoon on the 19th day since the escape from Velkynvelve. The party is just outside the West Cleft.

4 March 2017 (Session 15)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Robert

The party heads back to the inn to spend the night. The group is once again quite aware of how unreasonably high the prices in the inn are. Unfortunately, they have monopoly on housing for outsiders, so the party sees no other choice but to stay here once again. To help pay for things some of the captured derro-goods are sold.

The next day the party returns to the West Cleft. The tour guide cannot be found, but Fronto has a Locate Object spell. He can use this to find the direction to Droki's hat, as long as he is within 1000 feet. The party goes to the center of the cleft to maximize the chance of Droki's hat being within range of the spell. When Fronto casts his spell, the hat is detected to the north, in the direction of the Darklake.

The party follows the "signal", going around, through, and over derro dwellings. This causes some small altercations, but the party has little trouble dealing with those. A bigger problem is that the signal leads them all the way to the canyon walls. The hat is even father north, but there is no visible way to get there.

Much arguing, discussion, and experimenting follows. Fronto uses Thorvild's alchemical supplies to disguide himself as an exterminator which allows him entrance into a number of dwellings. Unfortunately, he does not find an entry into the wall, though Thorvild does discover a number of gems hidden behind a trap in one of the dwellings. (He decides to leave them where they are.)

Skorr and Fronto get into a fight. The half-orc angrily leaves the Cleft.

The rest of the party continues the search. After some time Fronto discovers that the signal moves around; also in vertical direction. It seems that Droki might be moving through a corridor. After searching for a long time (and after several home invasions) Tree notices a small horizontal crack in the canyon wall. After following it for a while he finds that it ends at a door. The party once again does their exterminator routine to gain entry. After knocking the inhabitant out (he objected to his cockroaches getting exterminated) they quickly discover a tunnel going into the rock, hidden behind a cabinet. After following this corridor for a bit, it quickly becomes apparent that the area is flush with faerzress. The air smells and tasted metallic, sound is strangely dampened, dripping water doesn't cause any echos, and the sort magical light dances in spiral shapes.

It is around noon on the 20th day after the escape from Velkynvelve.

17 March 2017 (Session 16)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk

Skorr returns to the party and the group goes deeper into the tunnel. It appears to be a cave of some sort that goes on for hundreds of yards at the least. The width varies, but is usually about 25 feet, and the ceiling is on average about 45 feet high. The walls are often damp, and the rock has many spiral patterns and shapes. The entire cave is full of faerzress. Tee puts some of the cave water into his water bag in the hopes that it has magical properties.

After having gone a few hundred yards into the cave, the party spots a small side cave on the left. When the group explores it, they quickly discover that it leads to a dead end at the small grove of mushrooms. Two species can be found: a 4 inch tall one with a narrow stem and a purple hood, and a 1 inch tall one with a blunt blue hood with white dots. Stool has no idea what kind of mushrooms these are; he suspects the faerzress has transformed them somehow. A Detect Magic spell does show that they are magical. Thorvild thinks the small one has some sort of ice magic, but he is unsure of the details.

A perceptive party member (Fronto?) discovers a deep crevice in the rock behind the mushrooms. It is too small to enter, even for the gnomes, and because the cave contains nothing else of interest, the party decides to go back to the main cave.

Not much father into the main cave the group discovers another side cave, this time on the right. This one smells unpleasant, but the party enters it anyway. After 10 yards or so, the cave includes a large, roughly circular space, some 100 feet wide. The cave continues on after this space. On the floor of this space are dozens of corpses of various races arranged into a spiral. Most have decomposed quite far, and even the most recent ones have clearly been present for weeks. When the party carefully explores the room they are surprised by a carrion crawler that was hidden amid the corpses in the middle of the spiral. This creature looks like a more than man-sized fat maggot with dozens of legs, a mouth full of sharp teeth, and a large number of whip-like tentacles. Fortunately, the creature's head proves to be quite vulnerable to Skorr's maul, so the fight is quickly ended.

When the party continues to investigate the cavern, Skorr spots a ghostly svirfneblin-head poking out of the floor and looking around. The party quickly runs away in the direction of the main cavern. When they look back, they see that a ghostly svirfneblin has emerged from the ground and is gesturing at them to come back. Thorvild enthusiastically gestures back, but the party decides that it is likely a trap and possibly an illusion, and they return to the main cave to explore it further.

After some 300 yards, during which the corrodor descends slightly, the cave floor becomes submerged for about 30 yards. This water is dark and murky and the party doesn't trust it. They toss some stones with Light Spells into it and when the light quickly becomes obscured, they decide to head back to the side cave with the apparition.

When the party appoaches, the ghost introduces himself as Pelek. He was originally from Blingdenstone and came to Gracklstugh to trade gems. On the way he ran into a friendly derro called Buppido. They decides to travel together. Unfortunately, Buppido turned out to be a psychopath. He used an excuse to lure Pelek to this cave and murdered him. All the corpses in the cave are victims of Buppido. When Pelek is told that the party killed Buppido, he is very relieved. Unfortunately it is not enough to put the ghost to rest. He thinks he will not be at peace until his remains get a proper burial with his people. The party promises to deliver all remains that they can identify as belonging to him to Blingdenstone. They find most of his corpse in the cave, but Pelek tells them that one of his hands was animated by the faerzress and took off. If the party should run into a crawling hand with an obsidian ring, then it is likely Pelek's.

When the party asks if Pelek has ever seen a derro with an unusual hat, he answers that he has seen a tiny man with a weird little hat run from the small side cave towards the exit. The hat is described as being very similar to Droki's. The party suspects that he has some sort of magic to shrink himself and travel through the narrow crevice. Going by Pelek's description, it would have to be a double-strength Reduce spell, but that spell cannot be supercharged.

The party searches the cave. The corpses have been relieved of any valuables. Tee does find some interesting belt buckles and some other trinkets. Another party member (Thorvild?) finds a stash with some coins, as well as a piece of fish skin with dwarven runes spelling "Worship Buppido". The party burns the fish skin.

The group heads back to the water and Derendil climbs across. There he finds another sizable grove of the magic mushrooms, and after some searching he also discovers a crevice behind them. Thorvild decides to take a chance and eats one of the small mushrooms. This causes him to shrink to about a quarter of his normal size; small enough to go through the crevice. The gnomes immediately harvest about half the mushrooms and enter the crevice. Skorr, for whom the crevice will likely be quite tight even when reduced, uses a rope to get across the water. The crevice proves to connect to the grove on the other side of the water. Sarith also climbs across, and in this way the enter party gets to the other side of the water.

The party follows Droki's tiny tracks deeper into the cave. After a few hundred yard the tracks go right into a side cave and the party follows. It is quickly apparent that this cave is densily overgrown with all kinds of mushrooms. After a few hundred yards it is practically a forest (though only about 5 feet high). Droki's tiny tracks are almost impossible to follow. There is a weird hissing sound, almost as though dozens of creatures are whispering in a cacophony of unknown languages. The sounds appears to be caused by wind blowing through oddly shaped mushrooms.

It is the afternoon of the 20th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

25 March 2017 (Session 17)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk

Skorr takes point into the mushroom forest, carrying Thorvild on his shoulder. The rest of the party follows. The area proves to have a rich variety of mushrooms, including torchstalks, which burn very well and are often used as torches. The party has little need for torches, so decides to leave them be.

After some 100 yards a side cave to the right becomes visible. Before the party can decide which direction to go into, Skorr gets swarmed by centipedes. As it is quickly apparent that there are far too many of the creatures to fight with conventional means, Thorvild tosses a Fireball spell right on himself and Skorr. This Fireball proves to be highly effective, but produces a terrible noise and ignites much of the forest. One of the torchstalks even explodes into a fiery cloud of spores.

After the party's ears have recovered a little, the group decides to continue following the corridor they're in. After a few hundred yards it turns sharply to the left. After about a hundred yards another side entrance appears, this time to the right. This side cave is clearly quite deep, but because Droki's trail continues in the original corridor, the party continues on their original course.

After another few hundred yards the corridor makes another sharp turn to the left. Just behind this turn the group arrives at a large space with a big mesa in the middle. Faerzress floats through the room as though blown by an invisible wind. From the mesa murmurs and whispers can be heard. A slope leads to the top.

The party sends an invisible Jimjar up to investigate. He doesn't see anyone, but he has a strange experience in which he hears sounds from all over Gracklstugh. It causes him a nasty headache, but he has the distinct impression of having heard Droki. After the party is apprised of this more of them go to the top. Most only get a migraine, but Thorvild is able to focus on Droki. The derro appears to mumble to himself about scrolls.

Tee meanwhile discovers another crevice and grove of magic mushrooms to the right of the entrance. This time there are just a few of the mushrooms. Droki's trail appears to lead into the crevice, so the party follows. At the other end (some 200 yards; but it feels 4 times as far) is another corridor. This one leads left and right. The party is unable to find a trail of Droki. Because the corridor to the right seems to ascend, they decide to go in that direction.

After another few hundred yards there is a corridor to the left. The corridor straight ahead has been closed off by a double zurkhwooden door with rough steel cladding. The doors are locked and there is a piece of metal blocking sight through the lock. With the aid of Thorvild's alchemists tools, Jimjar manages to get rid of the bit of metal and take a look at the other side. The corridor continues for a bit and then turns to the right. Just before this bend is a side corridor to the left. The party doesn't really know what to do with this situation. They eventually decide to take the unblocked corridor to the left.

After a hundred yards or so this corridors bends to the right. After another few hundred yard (in which the party picks up Droki's trail) it connects to a large space with a very high ceiling. Most of the space is taken up by a large pool of dark water. On the left of of the room is a ramp that ascends adjacent to the pool. On the right is a path along the water's edge to a corridor that leaves the room to the left.

The party investigates the pool. They toss a stone affected by a Light spell in the water and the light quickly becomes obscured. Before the party is able to draw any conclusions the water attacks Thorvild! A massive wave hit the gnome and tries to pull him into the pool. A dynamic fight ensues in which the party tries to slip past the pool via the path along the water's edge. The water mainly attacks Thorvild, who is severely wounded. Weapons prove to be (unsurprisingly) ineffective against the water, but spells do have an effect. (Though Thorvild did not beneit much from his Invisibility spell.) With a lot of trouble the party manages to reach the other side of the room. Thorvild then uses one of his last spells to break the water apart.

It is far into the afternoon on the 20th day since the escape from Velkynvelve. The party currently seems to be fairly safe, and thanks to Fronto in good health. They are running out of spells...

1 April 2017 (Session 18)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Robert

The party wants to continue into the lower corridor, but at the urging of Skorr they first explore the path up. Quasi is sent to explore and upon returning he reports that the slope continues into a corridor. After some deliberation the party nonetheless continues into the lower corridor. After a bit they pick up Droki's trail, so they appear to have made the right choice.

The corridor bends to the left and then continues for hundreds of yards until a side cave emerges to the left. This side cave is closed off with an iron fence. The fence is hinged, but is closed with a quality lock. The floor on the other side shows a spiral pattern made up of smaller spirals. Other than that little can be seen, except that the space expands to the left. When the party sends an illusion inside it is greeted with a hail of crossbow bolts, and the party thinks this warrants further investigation. After a little while the party shouts a nonsense story about them being a delivery service. On the other side a dwarf-like voice (could be a duergar or a derro) that they will open the door, which is done by a floating key. The party suspects that the key is held by an invisible duergar.

As soon as the party enters the room, they get attack by a trio of angry albino bears, and shot at with crossbows. (The party cannot tell from where.) A fierce fight breaks out. The party slowly fights their way back to the fence to give the bears less space, but gets harangued by invisible quasits. (Quasi is adamant he is not involved.) Derendil, Tee, and Thorvild are in mortal peril, but the party triumphs. When things calm down, the party takes off deeper into the corridor they were in. When after a few hundred yards they find a side entrance to the right that is closed by a surdy door, they set up camp. Thorvild remembers his father teaching him to recall spell slots, and uses this to cast a Leomund's Tiny Hut, which the party uses to rest for the next 8 hours.

The entire party party sleeps restlessly, and Sarith even loses all ability to speak. The drow is deeply panicked. The party concludes that the heavy faerzress must be to blame. When Sarith's troubles don't pass on their own, Fronto casts a Remove Curse. This proves effective.

With the party back at fullstrength, they return to the room where they had their big fight the previous day. On the way there, they run into a quasit and three creatures that look like a strange cross between a monkey and a bat. The party manages to take out the three after a short fight, but the quasit gets away. The being were able to produce an awful stench and were likely demonic (or perhaps devilish), because their corpses disappear in gouts of flames.

At their destination the party finds it to be abandoned. There are metal poles in between the spiral shapes. The purpose of the entire this is unclear. At the edge of the cave are big, sloppily constructed metal caves that were clearly used to keep the bears. There are signs of an encampment. At one of the wall the party discovers on of the familiar groves of magic mushrooms, along with another crevice and tracks left by Droki.

The party enters the crevice. After a few hundred yards it forks to the left and right. The party heads right and after another few hunderd yards arrives at a larger space. This room reeks of sulphur and vile chemicals. The light of a few campfires shows how five derro stand on a natural platform. They are singing in a strange cacophony. A two-headed dog sits in a cave and is being watched by a derro armed with a crossbow. Suddenly a green glow is emitted by a magic circle on the platform. A small humanoid statue in the middle of the circle starts growing a lump on its neck in the "rhythm" of the singing. It slowly grows into a second head.

The derro notice the party and a fight is likely to ensue.

It is early in the 21th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

15 April 2017 (Session 19)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Gombert

A fight breaks out. From the platform the derro shoot at the party with their repeating crossbows. The two-headed dog is let loose and attacks Fronto and Jimjar. One of the derro goes invisible. And from a corner a two-headed female giant appears, who swings a club in one hand and an axe in the other. Ulfgar employs a Hypnotic Pattern, but the enemies are not impressed. Fireballs and other direct damage spells prove to be more effective. The giant goes down in a hail of fire, and later the same fate befalls the dog and most of the derro. The derro who initially went invisible casts a few other spells until it is clear that the battle has turned against his side. After this he goes invisible again. The party does everything they can to stop him from getting away and with a lot of effort manage to capture him. He is shackled and interrogated.

The derro is called Narrak and despite his rough interrogation (especially by Fronto, who is in an uncharacteristically violent mood) is not very cooperative. He states that he was just quietly practicing his religion (worshiping Demogorgon) when the party stormed into his place of worship and slaughtered his friends. The party sees things differently and eventually gets the following information out of him. (The party also catches him telling various lies.)

The party also finds a second scroll amid the books, which turns out to be a sort of letter from Droki. It is very confused, but it refers to scrolls and Stonespeaker Hgraam, among other things. Thorvild remembers hearing Droki talk about scrolls when he was standing on the "listening mesa".

When Fronto starts setting a books on fire, Narrak becomes furious. He manages to escape from his shackles and cast a spell on the priest before being overpowered. Thorvild wants to take the books for their obvious great academic value. The rest of the party wants to destroy them. It is eventually decided that Thorvild is allowed to take them, but only if he carries them himself. (The entire collection weighs quite a lot. Thorvild is only just able to carry it.)

The party also finds a pouch containing 45 gp and 15 sp in an iron chest. The same chest also contains a potion containing some sort of salve. After magical identification this proves to be a Keoghtom's Ointment, with enough salve for 3 applications. This is a kind of "cleric in a bottle". Powerful stuff.

The party resolves to take Narrak to the Stone Guard. Narrak states that this is effectively a death sentence and refuses to cooperate unless he is granted his freedom. Only Thorvild is inclined to give Narrak what he wants. He thinks the derro is quite likeable.

The interrogation is frustrating to all involved. In the heated discussion, Derendil complains that he is still a quaggoth. Fronto remembers that he is now able to cast Dispel Magic and promises to cast this on Derendil tomorrow. He tries a Remove Curse first, but this is ineffective.

The party takes a long rest.

It is the 21th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

22 April 2017 (Session 20)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk

Refreshed from their rest, Fronto casts a Detect Magic spell on Derendil. The prince is very disappointed when this does not have the desired result. The party knows that success is not guaranteed if the targeted spell has a level higher than 3, so Fronto promises to try again. He won't be able to do so today, however, as he needs his other level 3 spell to create macaroni for the party.

Tee searches the cave and discovers a shrieker near the exit. This is a large toadstool that makes a terrible noise when you get near it. Of course he can't refrain from testing this. (Fortunately only after warning the rest of the party.) He also discovers a hole covered with a camouflaged plank. The plank is able to bear his weight, so he himself is in no danger. Beneath the plank is a hole of some 10 feet deep, with green slime at the bottom. Fronto recognizes the stuff and warns that it is horrible corrosive. If you see it on a ceiling you should definitely not walk underneath it, as it is pseudo-conscious and will fall down on you. Tee wonders how it could possibly get on a ceiling, as according to Fronto it is immobile.

The party asks Narrak if there are more surprises like this pit trap. He says there aren't, and the party is indeed unable to find any. There is another discussion about what to do with the derro. Jimjar confirms that the duergar will likely subject the derro to a show trial. Captain Erde Blackskull will certainly see Demogorgon worshipers as a corrupting influence, so the derro is right in saying that handing him over to the duergar is a death sentence. This causes Fronto to get second thoughts and there is another discussion in which Narrak learns that the party is mainly interested in Droki. (Because he is also a lead to the dragon egg, but Narrak is unaware of that fact.) The derro offers to give up Droki in return for his freedom. Thorvild likes this idea, but Fonto doesn't, because he doesn't trust Narrak at all.

After much more discussion the party decides to surrender Narrak to the Stone Guard anyway. Thorvild disagrees and makes an attempt to weaken Narrak's shackles, but Fronto notices and stops him.

The party leaves the cave and (in accordance with Narrak's information) takes a left. After a few hundred yards a strange monster breaks through the wall and enters the cave the party is in. It is a weird kind or organic globe with 3 legs, 3 arms, 3 eyes, and a big mouth full of harp teeth on its top. Thorvild recognizes it as a Xorn, which is a kind of earth elemental. The party decides to not immediately attack it, but to first make an attempt at communication with the aid of Stool's spores.

The creature is very confused and extremely hungry. It can only digest precious metals and gems. Fronto feeds it some silver pieces and Thorvild uses alchemy to temporarily turn a rock into gold. Once the creature has eaten this lump of "gold" it feels a lot better and the group strikes up a conversation. The xorn is called Xartorgorrakr and is a native of the elemental plane of earth. Some 10.000 heartbeats ago it felt a very strange sensation and he suddenly found himself in a place where everything is terribly polluted and where there is hardly any food. Ever since he has sought for a way back to his home, but he has been unable to find any. He is very sad and concerned.

The party feels for Xartorgorrakr. They explain that he is on the prime material plane and that precious metals and gems are very rare in this place, and tend to get hoarded. The only substantial supply they know in the area is Themberchaud's hoard, and they strongly discorage Xartorgorrakr from getting anywhere near that. The fact that it is surrounded by a large dwarven city doesn't help. It is very likely that all gems and precious metals in the area have been mined by them. They suspect that the xorn was brought here by a portal or a summoner. Because Xartorgorrakr has already spent a lot of time searching and hasn't found anything, and the party doesn't know of any other way to help him, they dejectedly advise that he dig straight down in the hopes that there is more food (or at least less competition) in the deepest recesses of the Underdark. The sad xorn thanks them and follows their advise.

It is the 21th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

29 April 2017 (Session 21)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Robert

Another discussion is held about what to do with Narrak. Three options are discussed:

  1. Handing Narrak over to the Stone Guard.
  2. Capture Droki with Narrak's help and then let Narrak go.
  3. Leave the city with Narrak's help, with or without the Council of Savants.

Derendil and Sarith don't want to spend another night in the faerzress. They sleep very poorly in those areas. This precludes option 2, because Narrak's plan involves waiting for Droki in the Whorlstone Tunnels. The group eventually settles on option 3, because everyone is tired of the duergar. Narrak does stay shackled. Jimjar bets Thorvild a gold piece that Narrak will betray the group.

The group continues on to the exist via the route described by Narrak. This does take them back to the entrance of the complex. Close to the exit Pelek once again waves to them. Thorvild has a chat. Pelek kept close watch on the area and spotted a tiny Droki leaving the tunnels. The ectoplasmatic gnome is sad that his hand hasn't been found, but is happy to hear Thorvild give the party's assurance that the group will go to Blingdenstone to bury most of his remains.

Not far from the exit, Zook casts a Detect Thoughts spell on Narrak and asks him about the names on Droki's letter. From his surface thoughts it is clear that he doesn't want the party to learn more about this. The warlock tries to pry deeply into the derro's mind, but Narrak is able to resist. The derro, now aware of what is going on, get extremely angry and has to be controlled with a Hold Person spell. Jimjar claims to have won the bet, but the rest of the party disagrees.

It is the 21th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

6 May 2017 (Session 22)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Robert

The party tries get more information from Narrak, but to little success. The derro is more and more convinced that it will do him no good. After some time the party gives up and continues on to the Stone Guard.

Just before the exit the party runs into a strange creature. It looks like a human-sized flying jellyfish with eyes on stalks and a big mouth on top of its body. The creature goes by the name Floomfazoom and is a flumph. He recognizes Narrak as a cultist of Demogorgon and strongly advises the party to kill him. The party indicates that they are planning to do so (indirectly through releasing him to the Stone Guard) and starts questioning the flumph. Floomfazoom and some others of his kind have wound up in the complex, but the other has since died. They were looking for though energy; their source of sustenance. The party is somewhat concerned about this, but the flumph tells them that he needs far stronger thoughts than they normally produce, and in any case the process is harmless to the thinker. This manner of feeding also enables his kind to listen into telepathic communication. His kind can only communicate telepathically. Their mouths are purely for breathing. He would like to leave the complex, but he sees no way to do so safely by himself. When he entered the complex he was made invisible by one of his companions. He does not know how to cast that spell (or any others) himself. The party invites him to join the group, which is he happy to accept.

The party manages to get out of the complex and the West Cleft without too much trouble. They have barely passed through the gate when Gartokkar of the Keepers of the Flame becomes visible. He is very disappointed to hear that the party hasn't gotten hold of the dragon egg. He wants to discuss the situation, but the party wants to go to the Stone Guard first. He is clearly displeased with the situation and loudly wonders what Themberchaud will think of this. The party persists, but does promise to go to the Keepers directly after having visited the Stone Guard.

At the Guard, the party is once again put into the "waiting room" for some time. This time it does not take long before the captain summons the group. She is happy to have Narrak in custody. He is clearly a corrupting influence and a link to the Council of Savants. This will greatly strengthen her case. She tells the party that the names on Droki's list all belong to stone giants, and that Stonespeaker Hgraam is the leader of the local clan. They have long had an alliance with the royal family of the Duergar. If they are corrupted this would certainly have grave consequences for the city.

The captain is true to her word and promises to help the party out of the city when their business in there is done. The party can select equipment with the Guard's quartermaster. They enthusiastically use this opportunity and spend hours selecting equipment from the Guard's armory and trading in armor, shortspears, repeating crossbows, potions, scrolls, steeders, barding, exotic saddles, foodstuffs, etc. at the Blade Bazaar.

It is late on the 21th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

20 May 2017 (Session 23)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk

Despite it being quite late the party somewhat reluctantly heads to the Keepers of the Flame to update Gartokkar before he gets even more annoyed. The tell him that Droki has ties to all kinds of criminal types, including cultists of Demogorgon. This last thing takes Gartokkar aback. The party indicates that they are still looking for the derro and have a few leads. The Keeper had clearly hoped for more, but has little choice but to accept the facts. Skorr and Fronto ask him various questions. He refuses to discuss the relation between Themberchaud and the egg. This is private information. The egg is not about to hatch. You have to heat it before that will happen. If it isn't heated, then this won't cause any immediate problems. The Keepers kept the egg in a secure room when it was stolen. The party can't get access to this toom. The Keepers didn't see the burglary take place. They did magically see an image of the thief: a duergar in grey clothes, including a cowl that obscured their face. Gartokkar is convinced the thief is a Grey Ghost, but Skorr and Fronto consider the evidence to be flimsy. Thorvild asks if they are psychomancers and Gartokkar indicates that they have psionic powers beyond those of the average duergar. The party thinks they get very minimal information and head back to the inn, where they spend the night.

The next day the group heads to the stone giants. They live in their own cave system called Cairngorm Cavern, which connected to the city through an entrance in the south west of the city. Non-giants are not generally allowed inside, but the party manages to convince the guard that they have important news for Stonespeaker Hgraam; the leader of the giants. The party warns the Stonespeaker that his tribe is being spied on by Droki, and that the derro passes the names of tribesmen to cultists of Demogorgon. After some discussion, it is realized that all of the names on the list belong to giants of the tribe, and that the statues in the cave of the cultists may have been used to corrupt the giants. The giants for some time have been suffering from nightmares. Rihuud, who had grown a second head, and Dorhun, whose name was on the statue that had grown a second head, were especially strongly affected. Dorhun was the giant who arrived on the scene shortly after Rihuud was killed. He is the Stonespeaker's apprentice.

The Stonespeaker is very worried by this development, and this worry grows when the party tells of how Demogorgon has recently destroyed Sloobludop. He tells the party that he has felt for some time how the rock cries out in pain, and that there is a madness going around. He wants to take the party to the king to report this terrible danger. Before the group leaves he gives the party the Stonespeaker Crystal. This polished crystal with the length of a human arm has long been heldby his tribe, but he has always known that it was meant for someone else. He is convinced that it was meant to be held by the party, and tells them that it can help them in the future. When someone attunes to the crystal it confers several benefits. First of all, it grants advantage to Investigation checks. Furthermore, it can be used to cast Speak With Animals (2 charges), Speak With Dead (4 charges), Speak With Plants (3 charges). If the bearer casts a divination spell, they can spend a charge per level of the spell instead of consumed material components. The crystal has 10 charges. Each day at dawn 1d6+4 charges renew up to the maximum of 10. The Stonespeaker warns that if you use all charges, you run the risk of permanently depleting the crystal.

The Stonespeaker and the party go to the hold of the Deepking. This is a dark and foreboding building between two enormous columns that reach all the way into the thick clouds of smoke at the ceiling of top of the cave. The massive stone walls are full of iron defensive works and are lighted by great bowls of basalt full of lava. Surrounding the structure is an enormous open area that seems entirely abandoned. Skorr, however, gets the distinct impression that it is actually full of invisible duergar guards.

The guards ar the gate of the Hold let the Stonespeaker and his entourage through without delay. Inside the Hold is as impressive as it is on the outside, and just as seemingly abandoned. At the end of a long corridor is a second gate and behind this an enormous throne room. Lava flows through channels in the floor and walls. The heat is oppressive and there is a strong smell of sulphur in the air. Massive black pillars support the ceiling. On the other side of the enormous room is an iron throne of a platform of obsidian. Seated on this throne is a crowned duergar in heavy armor. Beside him stands a consort in a suggestive garment made of golden coins. (Tee estimates that it weighs some 75 pounds and the coins alone should be worth 750 gp.)

The Stonespeaker ceremonially addresses Deepking Horgar Steelshadow V, and explains that Gracklstugh is severely threatened by Demogorgon, who is now in person in the Darklake, and whose cultists are actively corrupting the Cairngorm giants. Oddly, the king seems incredibly bored by this news. Only his consort (named Shal; a duergar who, despite her beard, has an incredibly sensuous appearance) listens intently. The king promises to sending some guards to the giants and clearly considers the matter settled. Hgraam is perplexed. He is not used to this kind of behaviour from the king. The party wonders if the king might somehow be involved in the threat.

Back in the cave of the giants the Stonespeaker proposes to personally take a look in the cave of the cultists. He wants to take a dozen of his tribesmen along. The party warns against spending the night there, but is otherwise fine with this idea. Fronto asks if the party might be allowed to spend the night in the giants' cave. Hgraam is happy to allow this, and will have a side cave prepared for the party. He will also try to catch Droki, though so far the giants' trap have proved to be ineffective.

It is the afternoon of the 22th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

27 May 2017 (Session 24)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Gombert

The party and the giants go to the tunnels to investigate the cultists' encampment. The group draws (by duergar standards; who are quite laconical) quite a lot of attention, but reaches the gates to the West Cleft without problems. The guards there are surprised, but let the group pass. The derro are as maniacal as ever, but the giants do seem to keep them at more of a distance than usual. At the entrance, the giants prove able to getting through by getting on their hands and knees. Fortunately, the tunnel soon widens and this allows everyone to move about easily.

After saying "hi" to Pelek's ghost the group arrives at the dark waters. The giants are far to big to go through the crevice (presumably even after consuming the magic mushrooms). They'd rather not get into the dirty water, but Thorvild and Ulfgar explain that there is no alternative. Reluctantly they wade across. Fortunately, the water is not very deep (if you're a giant).

The party turns right after the water and crosses the half-burned forest of mushrooms. They then head to the mesa with the weird mind-reading effect. Thorvild cautions that only the strong-willed should go onto the mesa. Ulfgar notices that the road ahead is through a small crevice that the giants will be unable to pass. The party had not counted on this and decides to backtrack and find another route. The party soon gets lost and wanders all over the tunnel system. On that journey they encounter a small cave system full of enormous spiderwebs, they rediscover the room of the water monster (this time via the entrance at the top), and eventually find the cultist encampment via the side with the pit trap and the shrieker.

The giants thoroughly investigate the room. The remains of the second statue probably bear the name of Rihuud. (It is hard to read; the statue falls apart upon being touched.) Thorvild uses the Stonespeaker Crystal to talk to the corpse of the ettin. He asks various questions regarding the worship of Demogorgon, but the corpse is not very cooperative. The general tone is that the cultists are everywhere and Demogorgon is unstoppable.

Ulfgar uses a Shatter spell to break the arcane pattern. Magic erupts from it in a great gout of green flame. The giants are relieved that it has been destroyed, but a few of them literally feel sick. Fortunately, Thorvild is a trained medic. He diagnoses the giants with cackle fever. This is a sickness that causes fever, fatigue, and disorientation; and which causes the sick to erupt in maniacal laughter when they are stressed. The patient will be unable to do anything else for a minute, will suffer from a terrible migraine, and will be extremly contagious. (Oddly, gnomes are immune.) The situation is serious, because the party cannot think of a way to get the giants out of the complex in a stress-free way. Fortunately, the party still has the Keoghtom's Ointment. There are too few applications for normal use, but with his medical, arcane, and alchemical knowledge, Thorvild is able to stretch the doses and apply jusr enough to each of the sick giants to cure them.

The group has what they came for, but the giants are hesitant to once again enter the dirty water. Cackle fever is caused by unsanitary circumstances and the incubation time matches with the time they waded through the dark water. The party expects there to be another exit to Gracklstugh somewhere in the complex. The giants propose to go find it and that is what the group does. After a lot of searching and wandering they find the door where the party rested a few days ago in a Leomund's Tiny Hut. The giants knock it out of its frame. Behind it is a winding corridor that slowly ascends.

After a few hundred yards the group comes to a pit-like cave full of misty faerzress that smells of decaying flesh. Shapes shamble around in the mist. At the top of the pit (where the corridor ends) a derro stands watching. The party captures him with little trouble. He is a cultist called Gortor. After the party promises to let him live if he cooperates, he starts blabbing. The pit is full of remains of victims of experiments by Narrak. (The leader of the cultists.) After some time the faerzress causes the remains to "animate". Gortor is tasked with keeping an eye on the pit and has been waiting for some time for his shift to end. He knows no other cultists than those whom the party already took out. The ritual and the statues were indeed meant to corrupt the giants. He thinks Narrak is an asshole, but respects his power. He joined the cult because Demogorgon is incredibly powerful and he hopes to also become powerful. The party tells him that Apollo is even more powerful and sends plagues and searing light at his enemies. They propose that Gortor become an apprentice of Fronto. The derro is sincerely excited.

Before the party leaves the cave, Thorvild gives the corpses a final rest by means of a Fireball spell. He then checks the area in the hopes of finding Pelek's hand. This proves to be the case. Though it is scorched, the obsidian ring is still easily recognized.

The party leaves the cave through a wide corridor. The eventually terminates in a forrest of magic mushrooms. (The corridor continues beyond the forest.) The party picks a large number of them to enable the giants to later crawl over a rope across the dirty water. While picking mushrooms, Thorvild discovers a hidden set of doors made of Zurkhwood. The giants bash these down and the group enters the corridor behind them. After a wide ascending turn to the righ it ends in a large, well lit cavern. Beams of white light shine through the faerzress and bioluminescence. In the middle of the cavern is a multi-layered mesa. Crude slopes connect the tiers and a the double top is corrected with a sturdy bridge. On one of these tops stands a large red egg. On the other stands a 50 foot high obelisk of a shiny dark metal with a few noticeable imperfections. (As though someone knocked some chips off of it.) A female derro is rubbing its surface. The obelisk emits a flash of light, causing the faerzress in the room to glow in unison. The derro bursts into laughter, grabs something off the ground, and starts writing into a small notebook.

It is late on the 22th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

10 June 2017 (Session 25)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Gombert

The party's extensive discussion draws the attention of the derro and a big fight erupts. The derro immediately disables Thorvild and Floomfazoom with a Lightning Bolt spell and also wounds many others. (If the Flumph hadn't partially moved out of the way it would have died of massive damage.) Fronto orders his new acolyte to get to safety. The acolyte is very surprised, but enthousiastically follows the order. Ulfgar, Jimjar, Derendil, a bunch of giants, and - after healing the wounded - Fronto storm into the cave. Before the rest of the party can join then, the air just behind the priest seems to solidify. It takes the party a while to figure out what is going on, but they eventually determine that the effect is a Wall of Force spell. Floomfazoom warns that he hears "thinkspeak" in the cave, but he cannot pinpoint the source.

From behind the force field Thorvild, Sarith, Floomfazoom, Stool, and six of the giants have to watch how the giants on the other side get bombarded by rays coming from the direction of the cave's ceiling. Two of the rays come from the eyes of a ball-shaped flying monster with sharp teeth, a central eye, a four eyes on stalks. The rays paralyze one of the giants, and other gets a severe headache. The monster is identified as a type of behorder; a monster from the underworld (but not specifically connected to the titans).

The third ray is green and shoots a hole straight through the shoulder of a very unhappy giant. The ray is recognized as a Disintegrate; a very powerful destructive spell. The party now spots a flying humanoid figure near the ceiling. This creature has a head reminiscent of a rotting octopus. Someone recognizes it as a mindflayer, but it is unclear what the rot means.

Right in the middle of the salvo of rays, Ulfgar manages to catch the beholderkin in a Hypnotic Pattern spell in which it stays stuck for the rest of the fight. After this one of the giants helps him onto the first level of the mesa. Derendil quickly climbs up to rend the derro savant (she is clearly a spellcaster) with his claws. Thorvild manages to get into the cave with a Misty Step spell, but the mindflayer counters all his offensive spells. The giants throw enormous rocks at the monster, but these are surprisingly ineffective. Jimjar shoots arrows at the derro. Fronto the Teletrooper is semi-voluntarily thrown at the derro by one of the giants and lands safely thanks to a Featherfall spell from Thorvild.

The mindflayer emits a burst of overwhelming psionic energy over the mesa, but those present weather it remarkably well. After that, the many rocks being thrown by the giants start wearing the creature down. The Wal of Force falls apart, and this causes the creature to psionically hiss "this is not over" and disappear. Thorvild thinks it left via a Planeshift spell.

After this the savant is taken down by a few good hits with a giant club. Fronto shouts that she needs to be interrogated, but it is likely too late. In any case, Derendil's bloodlust cannot be stopped, and the savant is reduced to a bloody mess. This leaves no direct dangers, and the party quickly takes care of te beholderkin, definitively deciding the battle int their favor.

The group discovers a coin from Sparta on the corpse of the savant, as well as a journal containing a list of various objects. Most of these are coins and juwelry, but the list also mentions all kinds of other objects. The list is written in dwarven and in multiple handwritings. The party suspects that the derro somehow used the obelisk to summon the coin, and investigates the thing. Thorvild discovers that it leaks magic from its imperfections, and posits that might be activated if fed magical energy. After experimenting a bit with cantrips he determines that it requires more magic as well as physical contact. He touches the monument and feeds it a level 1 slot. (A Feather Fall spell, I think.) This causes the obelisk and the surrounding faerzress to flash, and makes everyone on the mesa disappear.

Thorvild, Fronto, Ulfgar, and a giant discover that they are in the "open" Underdark, along with the dragon eff. Gracklstugh is nowhere to be seen an the surface worlders are unable to communicate with the giant without Stool's spores. The surface worlders have no idea where they are, but the giant eventually starts to walk to the south east. The gates of Gracklstugh fortunately proof to be pretty close, and thanks to the Stone Guard badges, the group can enter without any problems. The dragon egg, which is over a yard in length and weighs some 200 pounds, is hidden in the giant's bag.

The tired group returns to the West Cleft. (By now it is deep into the night.) The guard is quite surprised to see them arriving from the other direction. Ulfgar and Fronto say they discovered a route out of the city, but are unable to convey that it is (likely) one-way only. The guards are very concerned and demand that the party accompany them to captain Blackskull. The party eventually relents.

This time Erde Blackskull receives the party without much delay. She is very interested. This time the party does manage to clarify the situation. The captain sends an escort of invisible guard along with the party in order to secure the site and retrieve the corpse of the savant. The party does not mention the notebook or the coin. They do request that someone with knowledge of metals accompany them to inspect the obelisk, which is arranged.

The party walks all the way back to the West Cleft and goes back into the tunnels. This time Fronto finally decides to draw a map.

The ghost is visited again. He is happy that his hand has been found and that the party reaffirms their commitment to bring his remains to Blingdenstone. He notices that his ring looks different. As a ghost he can see things he couldn't see as a gnome. He can't explain this exactly; it is as though describing a new color. Ulfgar decides to wear the ring. This causes it to disappear without any other apparent effect, though Pelek thinks the dwarf looks different now. After some experiments it is discovered that the dwarf is now under the effect of a Stoneskin spell. (It will remain for another hour; after that the magic has been spent.)

After some discusion regarding the route and the dirty water, the group decides to enter the as of yet unexplored corridor leaving the room with the ghost. After a few hundred yards this opens into a larger space, after which it continues. In this room a number of mushroom-men dance while two moldy quaggoths stand near the wall. They don't appear to pay the party any mind, and the party decides that they are fine with that. They continue to follow the corridor and eventually arrive in the mushroom forest which Thorvild partially burned down. From here they eventualy, after some wandering and with the aid of the giant, find their way back to the obelisk. The non-teleported members of the group were just about to leave. They investigated the room and the obelisk, but could find no traces of the teleported folk.

The guard secures the room and collects the remains of the derro. The metallurgist does not recognize the metal of the obelisk. It is very exotic. The consensus is that the monument no longer does what it was originally intended to do. (Whatever that might have been.) It now interacts with the faerzress somehow. The behavior is likely to change over time. It is quite possible that it will do something completely different in as little as a week's time.

The party, the giants, and a guard carrying the remains of the derro head back to the city. The other guards remain to guard the site. The party cautions them to not sleep in the faerzress under any circumstances and the guards seem to take that to heart. On the way back the group passes the mushroom-men again. Stool is very surprised at the sight. These are his people, but they don't normally dance. Their spores are also strange; the party notices that they seem to have a slightly inebriating effect on them. Sarith meanwhile goes unhinged. His speech is slurred and he seems to simultaneously want to stay and leave. The party has the giants pull him away. Stool discovers that he knows one of the mushroom-men. It is a spout (young one) called Rumpadump. He is about the size and age of Stool, though he walks on two rather than four legs. He is the only one of the group who doesn't dance. When he is addressed, he tells that he was journeying with the others, and that he has no idea why they behave the way they do.

Ulfgar addresses one of the mushroom-men. He is called Voosbur and is the leader of the group. He is friendly and explains that his group dances because they are happy to be loved by The Lady. She is powerful and loving and guards over the myconids (the mushroom-men). He has learned of her through visions. She too is a kind of mushroom-person. His troupe has come here by travelling through her dream. (Thorvild expects some sort of Tree Stride spell.) Fronto asks how he feels about gnomes, and Voosbur indicates that he is fine with them. In fact, he would be happy to share the Lady's Gift with the party. This would enable them to also travel through her dream. Ulfgar politely, but strongly declines and urges the party to get away. Stool is worried about the strange behavior and asks that Rumpadump can come with them, which the party allows. The mushroom-men don't really care and go back to their dance. If the party reconsiders about receiving the Gift, they shouldn't wait too long, as the troupe will likely soon move on.

When the party resumes their journey, Sarith quickly feels much better. The party suspects that the myconids have some sort of drow-defense. They saw the same sort of behavior when they ran into some myconids between Velkynvelve and Sloobludop.

The party leaves the tunnel complex and the West Cleft and heads to the dwelling of the giants where they spend the night in a Leomund's Tiny Hut. (Because of Droki, who is still at large.) They consuly with the Stonespeaker about what to do with the dragon egg. The group would like to arrange it so that the Keepers and Themberchaud get their hands on the egg at the same time, and let them sort it.

It the 24th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

17 June 2017 (Session 26)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk
  • Goos (as prince Derendil)
  • Robert

Fronto makes another unsuccessful attempt to turn Derendil back into an elf. The party is still very unsure how to handle the situation with the Keepers and the dragon. After much discussion they decide to at least get the riding spiders ready, so they can take off quickly. After a reminder by Jimjar, the group also visits Werz Saltbaron to accept his job to bring uncut gems to Blingdenstone. The merchant promises that the party will be paid 50 gold on delivery. Prince Derendil manages to negotiate for an additional 5 gold paid in advance.

The group eventually uses a Sending spell to contact Themberchaud in which they state that they will leave the egg at the entrance to his lair. In this way the party hopes to leave the egg between the Keepers and the dragon, so neither party can blame them for leaving it with the other. Unfortunately, the Wyrmsmith uses the spell to reply that they are to bring the egg directly into his lair. The party does not dare to defy the dragon and sets off. Thorvild does leave a letter with the giants, which they will deliver to captain Blackskull after the party has left the city. In this letter he warns her of the strange behavior of the king and his courtisane. Enclosed is the savant's notebook.

Upon arriving at the lair of Themberchaud and the nearby temple of the Keepers, Fronto loudly proclaims that the party is going to visit the dragon. The Keeper on duty at the entrance feels slighted and loudly proclaims that you can't just do that without going through the proper channels, causing a shouting match to arise, which in turn attracts the attention of both the dragon and a whole bunch of Keepers. Themberchaud makes it perfectly clear that the party is to enter his lair, and the Keepers have little choice but to accept this.

When the dragon is back on top of his hoard, he takes custody of the egg, and immediately crushes it beneath one of his massive claws. The party is quite shocked, but the dragon feels no need to address the matter further. Derendil asks some questions about how he might return to his elven form. The dragon answers that that would require a powerful mage or (of course) a dragon, but that he is better off in his current form than in that of a puny elf. As a reward for capturing the egg, Doctor Inferno is allowed to pull another potion from a gourd. After that the audience with the Wyrmsmith is over. The portion proves to be a potion of Longevity. This is a rare potion that rejuvenates the body of the imbiber.

Back at the entrance to the lair, the party runs into just about every Keeper in the city. They give the party dirty looks and halfheartedly block the entrace. The party uncomfortably makes their way through and speeds towards their mounts, leaving the city towards Neverlight Grove.

The party is once again back into the "open" Underdark! This time much better equiped. Perhaps this is the reason that the first two days pass without incident. On the third day, though, the party is ambushed by six broad-shouldered and heavily armored orc-like creatures. (Later identified as orogs.) Besides being very strong and tough, they fight with coordination, and are remarkably quick for their size. After unleasing a salvo of javelins, the heavily armored brutes quickly advance and start attacking the party with their axes. The party is in a bad spot. Floomfazoom gets downed twice, nearly everyone is wounded badly, and after the cleric gets brutalized by two cooperating orogs, one of them is about to separate the head from the helpless gnome's body. Only because of Derendil's superhuman toughness and many Hold Person spells cast by Thorvild and Zook (followed by devastating attacks by Jimjar and Tee on the now helpless orogs) does the party manage to turn the tide and barely defeat the orogs. Had there been any more, the party would never have made it out of the Underdark...

It is late on the 26th day since the escape from Velkynvelve. The party is somewhere between Gracklstugh and Neverlight Grove. The party is starting to become aware of the complications around feeding their riding spiders, which are obligate carnivores. The males eat 1 ration a day, and the females twice that.

24 June 2017 (Session 27)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert
  • Robert

The party heads toward Neverlight Grove. Skorr's recently bonded totem, the elk, enables the party to effortlessly travel at high tempo. The steeders also makes travel much more comfortable and the terrain less daunting. Not much happens on the journey that the party hasn't had to deal with previously. Fronto makes a daily attempt to turn Derendil back into an elf, but still without success.

During one of the nightly encampments a caravan of 5 sfirvneblin and 2 giant lizards passes by. They are traveling from the dwarven city of Gauntlgrym to Blingdenstone. The party and the gnomes exchange information about the surroundings. Gauntlgrym is about twice as far as Blingdenstone and also deeper down into the Underdark. The gnomes have no interest in the orog gear and don't carry any goods that would be of use to the party. The groups part ways pretty quickly.

At one point a tunnel te party intended to travel through proves to be full of enormous spider webs. A trio of orcs also intended to pass through this tunnel. Skorr addresses them in the orc language. They are raiders from the surface world who got lost in the Underdark. They wish to return to the surface world, but have no idea how to accomplish this. The party uses an illusion to make it seem that you can easily pass through the webs, which causes one of the orcs to get stuck. The trio is killed in a short skirmish. They carried no useful loot. Fronto and Thorvild then use magic to burn a path through the webs. They go on for hundreds of yards, but no spiders show themselves. Thanks to the bountiful application of magic, the delay is not too bad.

After a few days the party hears a weak telepathic voice. It begs the party for help and idicates a rough direction. The party debates what to do with this. The majority believes it to be a trap. Tee bets Jimjar a gold piece that it isn't and the two explore. (The rest of the party think it is incredibly unwise, but allows them to explore a little bit ahead.) Just before they have to call it quits the duo discovers a dirty marble wall with an impressive stone door clad in bronze. The construction is obviously ancient and doesn't match the surrounding stone.

With great effort Derendil is able to open the door. Behind it is a room of about 30 by 30 feet. Along the right wall is an impressive stone diorama with an important looking woman (with the posture of a human) and all kinds of servants, bowls, candelabras, treasures, etc. The wall to the left has an impressive illustration of what seem to be flying cities. Across the room is a flight of stone steps. The party doesn't recognize the style in which the room is constructed and decorated. It is clearly very old, and very well put together. The diorama could be dwarven craftsmanship. The flying cities are very intriguing, but the party doesn't know what they represent.

The party eventually ascends the stairs. After about 20 feet connect to a platform from which a similar flight of stairs leads further up in the opposite direction. On the wall here is a giant stone plaque full of unknown sigils. Thorvild makes a careful drawing of these while most of the rest of the party ascends the second flight of stairs.

After three more platforms (and up some 60 more feet of stairs) they arrive at a room of about 30 by 40 feet. To the right and across the room are large bronze doors. To the left is a broken altar of grey marble. On the floor are the dusty remains of carpets. The walls are decorated with freezes, but these are full of deep gouges that appear to be relatively recent. The party stays away of the altar, but does try to open the doors. This proves to be no easy feat, but the group is eventually able to rotate the doors along a central vertical axis.

The group first opens the door across the room. Behind this ia a room with fout sarcophagi in the corners. The lids of these are decorated with images of lying figures dressed in robes. Ulfgar and Fronto feel the party should definitely stay away from these, but Tee and Zook are unable to contain their curiosity. When one of them touches one of the sarcophagi 4 spirits appear and attack the party. With magic and divine energy these are all defeated or driven off. Ulfgar and Fronto are now done with the situation and want to get out, but Zook and Tee are mesmerized by a golden thurible with platinum decorations which they discovered in one of the sarcophagi. The rest of the party eventually forces them to put it back.

Meanwhile Derendil is busy opening the other door. Behind this is a small space with another, similar door. Behind that one is a large room with a large white sarcophagus on a black marble dais. The lid of this sarcophagus is decorated with mosaics that depict more flying cities. Along two of the wall are stone blocks full of niches filled with jars. The room is investigated, but the group stays clear of the sarcophagus.

Tee and Jimjar want to conclude their bet and investigate the three rooms for secret passages. They eventually discover that one of the four sarcophagi that the spirits emerged from is on rollers. Before anyone can stop him, Tee rolls the sarcophagus aside and this uncovers a passage down. At the end of this a room is visible which is richly decorated with expensive pigments and semi-precious stones. A gilded sarcophagus rests on a dais along one of the walls. To the horror of Fronto an Ulfgar, Tee immediately jumps down. (Though Fronto is relieved that this time Tee didn't first push him down.)

As soon as Tee hits the ground a terrible ghost-like shade with female features floats out of the sarcophagus. She addresses the party in an unknown language and then starts to drain their life energy. Tee uses a Misty Step to get away and pushes the sarcophagus on rollers back, but the shade simply floats right through the floor and pursues the party. In the fight that follows it proves difficult to harm the shade. Fortunately, the party has access to a great deal of magic and uses it to defeat the shade. Tee assumes he as lost the bet and tosses a gold piece to Jimjar.

During the fight the party once again hears the telepathic voice. "In the sarcophagus! I can help you!" After having beaten the shade, Tee opens the sarcophagus and discovers a mummy and the handle of a sword. The voice proves to belong to this handle. It indicates that it is hard to talk and asks the party to please pick her up. Tee is very sceptical and only touches it with a Mage Hand spell. Fronto is willing to take a chance and after picking up the handle, it introduces itself as Dawnbringer. She (it is a female sword) is a magical weapon dedicates to Helios, titan of the sun. Her goal is to bring light to the darkness and destroy creatures opposed to light. The priest of Apollo is unsure what to do with this, particularly after the sword refers to Apollo as an upstart wannabe sun god.

The party will eventually discover that Dawnbringer has been trapped in the tomb for many centuries. Over time Apollo has mostly absorbed Helios' divine portfolio, but due to her long confinement Dawnbringer is unaware of this. Apollo and Helios are actually allies and often cooperate.

It is the 32nd day since the escape from Velkynvelve. The party is a few days away from Neverlight Grove.

1 July 2017 (Session 28)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Brinkie
  • Robert

After some discussion about the wisdom of doing so, the group plunders the tomb. Zook removes around 100 gems from the wall, while Thorvild tries to scrape and burn the gold off the sarcophagus. Removing the gold proves to be a lot of work for not a lot of gain (leaf gold is incredibly thin), so the gnome eventually gives up. The interior or the sarcophagus is investigated, but apart from a mummy nothing of interest is found.

When the gnomes are done plundering they investigate the room with the white sarcophagus on the black dais. Thorvild expects it to be a trap or decoy. They nonetheless open the sarcophagus. As soon as the lid is moved, a powerful voice booms (in understandable words, though it is unclear in which language) that the intruders in the tomb of Brysis of Kaem are cursed. The voice is obviously magical, but there are no immediate signs of being cursed. Inside the sarcophagus is a very nice painted life-sized statue of a human woman. The party feels uncomfortable and decides to leave the tomb. On the way out Thorvild finishes his drawing of the stone with glyphs. The group then continues their journey to Neverlight Grove.

The journey is mostly uneventful, and thanks to the elk totem once again very rapid. While foraging the party manages to increase their food supply in a mushroom grove. The second night however does not go as desired. During Jimjar's watch the party is suddenly attacked by a large humanoid with a vulture's head and large feathery wings. It emits a piercing screech stunning part of the party. Skorr tries to block it, but it passes him and shakes its feathers, which releases a cloud of spores on the party. After this it fights with claws and beak. The creature is a tough opponent, but the party manages to drive it off.

After some deliberation, the creature is identified as a brock demon. Such creatures are very violent and not known for their intelligence. Thorvild wonders what happend to his Leomund's Tiny Hut spell. He nevertheless casts a new one and the party tries to catch some sleep. Skorr is worried that the demon is still lurking around, but the party's rest is not again interrupted.

The next day Stool recognizes the surroundings; the party is close to Neverlight Grove! He leads the group into a narrow tunnel. After some time this opens into a large cave with plentiful water. All kinds of mushrooms grow all over the place, from tiny to enormous. The air has a thick scent that is both sweet and reeks of rot, and the bioluminescence shows a sort of mist of spores. In the far distance through the fog the outline of a truly gigantic mushroom can just be seen. The party enters the cave, led by Stool. The ground is mushy, but not particularly hard to traverse.

The party passes a row of large zurkhwoods. Though they are a dozen yards apart, Stool is adamant that they form a fence and keep out threats. He doesn't know how to explain how this works.

Shortly afterward an enormous mushroom-person approaches the party. (The size of a horse if a horse could stand on two legs.) They introduce themselves as Sovereign Basidia, one of the leaders of Neverlight Grove. They are very surprised to see Stool and Rumpadump accompany the party and asks how this is possible. The party tells the big outlines of how they escaped the drow and their journey to Neverlight Grove. The greatful sovereign thanks the party and offers them a meal, which is gladly accepted. Basidia leads the group to the Circle of Hunters. On the walk there they continue to exchange information. Basidia is very concerned when they hear about the arrival of Demogorgon, but also about The Lady.

Myconids live in small colonies. The members are divides into a number of circles with specific tasks, like growing certain mushrooms. After a day of work they get together to spend the rest of the day in telepathic communion. The colony is led and protected by a sovereign, but it is not a strict hierarchy, rather a society based on mutual understanding and respect, which is possible due to the members spending a lot of time in telepathic contact.

Years ago, Basidia's colony was forced to move, and by coincidence they arrived at Neverlight Grove. The cave already housed a colony led by sovereign Phylo. Although this is highly unusual, the sovereigns decided that given their circumstances it would be best to merge their colonies and share leadership until one of them passed on. This arrangement has worked well for many years, but recently Phylo has started acting stangely. The sovereign is making all kinds of changes for the sake of efficiency, which has led to the myconids no longer sharing telepathic communion outside of their own circles. Additionally, a "Circle of Masters" has been introduced to lead the other circles. Phylo claims that he was inspired to make these changes by visions of the Great Seeder, who is supposedly a wise and benevolent figure, but who is totally unknown to Basidia. More and more myconids have started acting like Phylo. The party doesn't like this and this the Great Seeder sounds an awful lot like the Lady that the myconids in Gracklstugh talked about.

Upon arrival at the Circle of Hunters the party discusses similar matters with this circle's leader, one Loobamum. (No relation to the kuo-toa.) Thorvild describes the party as a kind of consultants and asks if they might be able the myconid with something. Loobamub indicates that a nast grick lives at the edge of the cave. It would help the "normal" myconids quite a bit if the party could kill it, so Loobamub and Basidia can turn it into a "helper". Basidia is clearly torn, but eventually asks the party to investigate what Phylo is up to in what he calls the "Garden of Welcome". A short while ago a group of "softers" (the myconid term for animals and humans) who looked a lot like Sarith arrived. Phylo greeted them enthousiastically and invited them into the Garden of Welcome. Basidia has not seen them since, and Phylo avoids the topic. Basidia does not dare enter the garden themselves, because they are afraid that Phylo and their followers are under the influence of some kind of disease or strange spores, and their don't want to get affected themselves. The sovereign would help the party with a scroll and potions.

It is the 34rd day after the escape from Velkynvelve. The party is inclined to help the myconids with the grick as well as the garden.

8 July 2017 (Session 29)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie

Sovereign Basidia gives all party members a gourd-like mushroom containing a potion of Greater Healing. Thus equiped the party heads to the edge of Neverlight Grove, on the hun for the problematic grick.

Upon arrival at the cave's edge, the creature proves to be excellent at hiding itself. Thorvild makes a great effort to attract the attention of the undiscovered monster and after a while succeeds in this. He receives a terrible blow from the monster's tail and flies several yards through the air. Skorr positions himself between the gnome and the grick. (Which might make for a good name for a tavern: The Gnome and the Grick.) Unfortunately, the creature has a wide reach and it is fixated on the transmuter. It strikes hard with its tentacles and nearly kills the gnome. A bite afterwards causes the gnome to be bleeding the death. Fortunately Fronto is specialized in healng and the party manages to get Thorvild to safety. Though the monster is a tough opponent, the party manages to take it out fairly quickly.

The party drags the corpse of the grick back to the Circle of Explorers. It is rather burned, but Basidia is still able to turn it into a helper. They start the ritual to accomplish it, which mainly involves implanting a bunch of special spores in the corpse. It will take 24 hours to complete, but the sovereign doesn't need to be present, so they return to the other myconids so as to not arouse suspicion. The party will follow after a little time so they can meet sovereign Phylo.

When they do so, they receive a warm welcome. Phylo is very happy to see Stool and Rumpadump return. The party will be safe in Neverlight Grove and can stay as long as they want. They are in luck, for this is a momentous and joyful time for the myconids. The day of rejoicing is at hand! The party is free to explore the many joys of Neverlight Grove, but the Phylo does politely ask the party not go to the north east, as a surprise is being prepared there. If they want, then the sovereign would be happy to give the party a peek at this surprise tomorrow. Skorr asks if the north east is where the enormous mushroom is, which is the case. Phylo urges Skorr not to tell anyone about the giant mushroom, as it is part of the surprise. The party pretends to be on board with everything. Phylo talks some more about the Great Seeder who is utterly amazing and great and will do all kinds of wonderful things for the myconids.

When after some time Phylo gets losts in praising the Great Seeder, Basidia proposes to give the party a tour of Neverlight Grove. Phylo approves and the party goes along. Basidia shows how all kinds of remarkable mushrooms are grown along the northern slopen, including several magical varieties who thrive there due to the area's natural faerzress. The party indicates having had rather bad experiences with faerzress and would prefer to skip that part of the tour. Thorvild tells about the mushrooms in the tunnels under Gracklstugh. Basidia is very happy with the spores that Thorvild saved. They tell that sovereigns are able to make all kinds of potions from special mushrooms. Unfortunately this involves using their own spores, so they cannot teach this to the gnome.

Before the party continues, the sovereign mentions that the northern slopes are inhabited by the Circle of Builder and the Circle of Growers. The normal road to the northeastern cave (containing the Garden of Welcome) goes through these slopes, but is now guarded by Chuul helpers. These are a kind of enormous land-shrimp with nasty claws.

The tour continues toward the southern slopes. The central flat area between the slopes is used as a common area, and also by the Circle of Sporers to grow the new generation of myconids. Fronto wonders if he could get some young sprouts, but this is not something the myconids would ever allow. The myconids are quite particular about their new growth. They are very aware of their ecological impact and never grow more new myconids than the ecosystem will support.

The southern slopes are relatively inferile. Only one circle is based here: the Explorers. Basidia introduces the party to their leader, called Rasharoo. The sovereign says that he can be trusted. The Garden of Welcome can be reached via these slopes. The sovereign proposes that the party take a look there when the myconids start their communions, which will be in about two hours.

It is still the 34rd day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

15 July 2017 (Session 30)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Tristan

The party discovers a human woman hidden in a zurkhwood. This is Anne, a bard from a far northern land where they do not speak greek. She took part in an expedition into the Underdark. This expedition went sour and she is the only one left alive. After long wanderings through the dark, she stumbled upon Neverlight Grove. She is so desperate and hungy that to her the Apollo-macaroni is as ambrosia. He hopes to return to the surface world and would like to join the party. Skorr doesn't trust her and wonders if she's not a demon in disguise. Basidia thinks this unlikely, though not impossible. They eventually decide to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Basidia returns to the central gathering place and the party wait two hours for the myconids to start their communion. They then climb the southern slopes towards the Garden of Welcome, which is on a higher plateau. When they get to the edge of this plateau they hear a kind of mumbling, but the view is obscured by a thick growth of zurkhwood. Anne offers to scout ahead, but she is not great at climbing. In any case, Skorr would prefer for someone to accompany her; possibly because he doesn't quite trust her. Derendil, who is in an elvenprincely mood, volunteers. He is great at climbing and with an Invisibility spell from Thorvild he should be quite stealthy.

The duo climbs through the thicket and is now able to look at the plateau. The view is horrific. The mumbling is now a cacophony of moaning, sighing, soft cries. Sight is limited due to there being few luminescent fungi here, but the source of the sounds is unmistakable: everywhere heads of various Underdark-peoples stick out of the ground, surrounded by, and overgrown with mushrooms and fungi. A few yards away the half-rotten head of a female drow laboriously speaks: "Please... for the sake of your gods of light... kill me!" Her hand is swollen and deformed, but she manages to slightly move it toward Anne and Derendil. Half grown into the flesh of her hand is a spider medallion. "The Great Seeder... trap... she is here... the Lady of Decay... Zuggtmoy..."

The shocked duo is unsure what to do. Eventually Anne decides to quickly move forward and grab the amulet. When he has it and is about to run back the voices suddenly grow fearful. Before the bard an enormous larva-like creature rises from the ground. It is as large as a horse and has some vaguely myconid features. "Welcome, travellers" it says with both a gargling voice and telepathically into the minds of Anne and Derendil. "Are you here for the dress rehearsal of the wedding? Friends of the bride or groom? No matter! Let the love of the Great Seeder surround you as you become one with her chosen, The Greay Body!" The voices now cry out loudly. Two drow "helpers" and two myconids emerge from the ground, and the large creature moves to attack.

The rest of the party hears the cries and starts to climb up. Sarith screams maniacally. When Fronto tries to calm him the poor drow's head literally explodes. Blood, flesh, brain matter, and spores cover the shocked priest. Something inside of the gnome's mind snaps. He is dumbstruck and looks around in dazed confusion.

Meanwhile a fierce fight has started on the plateau. Derendil has charge the larva-being. Skorr soon joins him and Thorvild flies behind the zurkhwoods and bombards the enemies with spells. The myconid spit paralyzing spores on Anne and Derendil, the helpers attack with swords, and the larva-creature spouts entire clouds of spores. Derendil gets into a similar kind of confusion as Fronto. Skorr is able to resist the spores well and cleaves into the helpers and mushroom-men. The larva-creature seems to rely mostly on its spores and is not very effective in hand-to-hand combat. He does not last long after being targeted by the entire party.

A little down the slope Jimjar and Floomfazoom have had to defend Fronto against the corpse of Sarith, which acted like a helper and attacked the gnome with his sword.

After defeating the larva-being the party quickly retreats. Fronto tries to cure himself with a Lesser Restoration (focused on poison), but this is ineffective. Skorr grabs Dawnbringer and tries to communicate with the sword to find out what is happening, but sword can only communicate after a bond has been formed, which takes quite some time. The group grabs Fronto and Derendil and returns to the Circle of Explorers.

Rasharoo is very shocked by the news from the party. He immediately calls on Basidia and the Circle of Hunters. He has no idea what is ailing Fronto and Derendil, but Dawnbringer does. As soon as she is able to communicate with Skorr she tells him to touch her to the priest. She casts a Lesser Restoration (focused on disease) on him, which makes Fronto feel much better. He casts the same spell on Derendil, with the same result.

Meanwhile Basidia has arrived. After some discussion it is realized that Zuggtmoy is another titan, specifically the titan of rot and decay. This causes the sovereign to panic. They declare Neverlight Grove to be lost and call upon the Circles of Hunters and Explorers to follow her out of the cave to find a new place to live. Skorr finds this a surprisingly wise decision, but Fronto calls it premature and proposes to fight the titan. Thorvild investigates a way to collapse the entire cave, but concludes that the surrounding rock is too stable.

It is late on the 34rd day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

22 July 2017 (Session 31)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Gombert

There is more discussion about whether or not to fight the titan, but except for Fronto nobody thinks it's viable. Thorvild looks for more options to collapse the ceiling, but is unsuccessful. Ulfgar and his dwarven stonecunning also sees no practical way to accomplish this. Fronto eventually relents and the party and Basidia's myconids leave Neverlight Grove. Sovereign Phylo appears to be too ecstatic to care...

Basidia doesn't have a concrete desitnation, only a few places where the myconids could stay for a little while. The party proposes to stick together for safety in numbers. A number of Basidia's locations are roughly in the direction of Blingdenstone, so the sovereign happily agrees.

The speed of travel is lower than the party is used to. The myconids are slower than the "softers" and the Elk totem cannot improve the speed of such a large group. Fortunately, with so many myconids present few things can escape the notice of the group, so the party doesn't need to do much guarding and can focus on foraging for meat for their steeders. This is very necessary, because the supplies from Gracklstugh are nearly depleted and Fronto can only conjure so much Apollo-spam.

The group is just over a day's travel from Neverlight Grove when the night watch discovers a suspicious shape on a ridge. This turns out to be a vrock demon. When it notices that it has been discovered, it flies over the camp and cries a horrendous screech which stunnes nearly everyone. After this is lands on a ridge at the other side of the camp. Fortunately, Ulfgar is one of the few who are not stunned. He casts a Hypnotic Pattern spell that mesmerizes the vrock. When the rest of the group regains their senses, they attack the demon from all sides and quickly dispatch it.

The party wonders if this is the same vrock that attacked them previously, but when you've only ever previously seen one vrock in your life, it's hard to distinguish them. What is clear, though, is that the myconids wouldn't stand a chance against a demon like a vrock. At short range their spores are very effecive, but without helpers the slow mushroom-men are very vulnerable to mobile opponents.

After a day the group's route is blocker by a high cliff. Four unknown myconids are already staring at it. They are scouts from another colony and just happen to be here. Their colony hasn't yet heard of the Great Seeder. Basidia warns them explicitly and extensively, but is unsure whether they truly grasp the severity of the situation. It is considered if Basidia's group might join this colony, but both party's are sceptical. Neverlight Grove was an exceptional situation, with an unusual abundance of fertile soil.

The party doubts that the myconids will be able to survive under the current circumstances. Someone (Skorr?) proposes that Basidia join the sfirvneblin of Blingdenstone. Basidia had not considered this. The sovereign wonders if the gnomes would be open to the idea. The myconids are normally rather private, but with the present dangers in the Underdark, they would be up for it. Jimjar, who is a native of Blingdenstone, can't say whether or not the town would agree. The Deep Gnomes are still rebuilding after a terrible war with the drow of Menzoberranzan. They might want to keep non-gnomes away. Floomfazoom the flumph indicates that he would like to stay with the myconids regardless. He needs though-speak to survive. Without Stool and Rumpadump there will be none of that in the group, but there is plenty among the myconids. Basidia is fine with this. After much consideration, the sovereign decides to take a chance on Blingdenstone. At the very least, there should be plenty of manure there, and the gnomes and myconids could both really use some help.

After this the cliff is climbed without much trouble. At the top a rope ladder is found and the journey is continued.

On the 5th day the group encounters an gigantic cave full of spider webs. There are webs as far as anyone can see and the cave is deeper than can be determined. The group magically asks the steeds for advice. Some webs are be traversed, but others are sticky. The spiders who made these webs must have been very large. The webs in this area are not freshly made, but not particularly old either.

The party is still unsure how to proceed when they spot two small humanoids a ways off in the webs. When Thorvild addresses them in the goblin language they respond. They are called Yuk Yuk and Spiderbait and they "surf" the web using greases feet. They tell the party that the cave goes on for miles, that it is completely filled with webs, and home to giant spiders. For a small compensation they can guide the party through the cave. Skorr doesn't like it. He doesn't trust the goblins. Going around the cave would cause a delay of at least two days though, and the group is already going rather slow. Eventually the group negotiates with the goblins. For 3 gold pieces the goblins will lead the party through the webs.

There are only a few small incidents in the journey through the webs. Thorvild dares to surf a bit and doesn't even fall into the depths. At one point a few aggressive spiders have to be chased off, but the party has little trouble doing so. At that point, they find a cocoon of sorts containing a halfling that seems to (barely) be alive. When the group gets out of the webs, they carefully open the cocoon. The halfling is indeed alive, and after being cured of the spider venom tells the group that he is called Fargas. He was hunting for treasure with a group of adventurers until things went terribly sideways. After passing the orphanage test he is allowed to join the group. He is expressly warned to stay away from Skorr's belongings.

It is the 39th day after the escape from Velkynvelve. The group is slowly ascending...

12 August 2017 (Session 32)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk

Not much out of the ordinary happens in the next couple of days. The halfling Fargas isn't a fan of the Apollo-food. Skorr thinks he is annoying. Fronto makes another couple of attempts to turn Derendil back, but again without success. He is pretty sure that without bardic inspiration, he won't be able to do better than he's already done.

On the 5th day since the spider webs a very unfortunate thing happens. The party, as usual, has wandered away from the main caravan to forage for meat to feed the steeders. Suddenly the corridor they are in starts collapsing. The floor cracks and starts falling down, and large irregular blocks of stone fall from the ceiling. The air fills with dust and debris, and the stonefall causes a deafening noise.

When the dust settles it is clear that the party has become trapped. The corridor ahead and behind is blocked with debris. It appears that there was a corridor underneath the one the party traveled through. The rock separating the two was unstable and has collapsed. The violent tremors this caused must have dislodged other less stable parts of the surrounding rock. It is a small miracle that nobody got seriously hurt. Without the agile steeders carrying the party there would doubtless have been more serious injuries.

The party is in a difficult situation. There appears to be so much debris in the corridor that it is unlikely that the group will be able to clear a passage in a reasonable amount of time. Fortunately, after some time, Skorr discovers a narrow hole in one of the walls. Behind this is a small cave with a deep but narrow crack that leads to a t-junction. The hole easily accomodates the gnomes, and with some effort also the half-orc and the male spiders. Fronto's female steeder can't possibly get through though. The rock is still unstable and when Skorr tries to enlarge the hole a bit using his maul, this causes an ominous rumble and groan. The half-orc considers it settled: the spider has to be considered lost. The gnomes however are not prepared to abandon her. Besides Fronto being attached to his steed, the party is short on female spiders, so abandoning her will jeopardize the breeding program they intend to start. The spider itself is in a blind panic, which doesn't help the situation. Eventually the group makes another attempt at widening the hole. Though it causes a very ominous rumbling, the group manages to make the hole just barely large enough for the spider to pass through. It takes a lot of persuasion to get her to squeeze through the hole, but with a Speak With Animals spell it is eventually accomplished. The party quickly moves away from the rumbling.

The corridor at the junction descends to the right and ascends to the left. A small stream of water flows from the left to the right. Skorr is sure that it wasn't there when he first looked there. Tee uses a cup to measure the flow of the water, which is substantial.

Because the way back to the caravan is in roughly the same direction as the corridor to the right, the group heads in that direction. They make a pretty steep descend and then arrive at a cave with no exists and a large pool of water. When the group investigates the pool Skorr gets attacked by a slimy creature that feels corrosive. The party immediately retreats. Back at the junction they see that the creature left a nasty corroded spot low on the armor. Had it attacked higher, it could have seriously damaged the armor. Fronto uses a Mending spell to fix the damage somewhat.

Having no other option, the group heads into the ascending corridor. After a steep climb, they arrive at what is clearly an artifical room. It is almost entirely square with neatly carved walls. There is quite a bit of water here, so the group quickly moves on. The air, which tends to be somewhat stale in most places in the Underdark, seems to get staler still. There may not be any source of fresh air anymore. Doctor Inferno is forbidden from casting any fire spells.

At the other end of this room is a corridor of similar construction. It gradually widens and opens into a bigger room. In this room a skeleton, a mace, and some small objects float in the air. Before the party is able to form an opinion about this, they are telepathically address. The skeleton and other items are floating in a sort of cube of living transparent jelly. This creature calls itself Glabbagool and is curious about what the party is doing here, where they came from, etc. There is a quick chat in which the party learns that Glabbagool has not been sentient for very long. The complex in which they are now is not very big and is not connected to the outside. Glabbagool doesn't know how he came to contain the skeleton. After being requested to do so by Tee, it spits out the skeleton, the mace, and some electrum coins. Become the mace has not been corroded, Tee suspects it to be magical. The group gathers the stuff and says goodbye to the slimy creature. Skorr is glad that the gnomes did not invite it to join the party.

In the next room the group is accosted by another slimy creature. They are very hard to spot in the water. This time the group fights it, and manages to kill it. Skorr's maul does get badly damaged by the corrosive slime. On Tee's advice he switches to using the mace.

After another corridor the group enters a rectangular room decorated with swirling patterns. They are somewhat wave-like. To the right are four corridors and to the left a part of the room has collapsed, exposing a cave. This cave goes on for a while, and the water seems to flow out of this cave. As the party wants to get away from the water, they decide to try one of the corridors. They pick "number D" (their words). Tee notices that some of the floor here is instable. Hoping to find an exit, Skorr smashes the floor with his maul, causing the floor to break into pieces. Underneath is a hole a few yards deep, which quickly fills with water. The rising water brings with it a sort of thick black cloud of slime. A fight ensues in which this black slime creature proves to be much tougher than the slimes encountered before. The group defeats it with great difficulty. The mace proves to indeed by resistant to corrosion.

After this fight the group continues. Corridor D arrives at a point where corridor C and likely also A and/or B meet. At this point is a large, sturdy door. Behind it only the sound of running water can be heard, so the group decides to opemn it. This is not easy due to all the water, but together the group manages to open it. Behind it is an octagonal room. In the middle is a large basin with a broken statue on a column. It looks a look like a fountain. Little is left of the statue except for a pair of claws. The wall contains nooks. Four of these hold stange abstract statues. In the fifth is a large crack out of which pours quite a lot of water. Fronto uses a Mending spell to reduce the size of the crack, but the damage is too extensive for the spell to close it entirely.

Thorvild investigates one of the statues. When he touches it (using an implement) it liquifies, pours off of its shelf, and attacks the group. The defeats it, and repeats the procedure with the other three statues.

Fronto investigates the basin by poking around in the water with Dawnbringer. (The water is very murky.) He breaks a bottle (a potion?) and retrieves a dagger of drow manufacture. Thorvild retrieves a number of silver pieces. After this the group decides they have seen enough. Because their investigation hasn't turned up anything useful and the water keeps rising, they return to the room with the four corridors.

It is the 44th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

19 August 2017 (Session 33)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie

The party again investigates the room with the fountain. Nothing new is discovered until the basin closely investigated. Skorr tries to make the water more transparent by capturing the sediment with a bag, but this doesn't help much. Random poking with Dawnbringer doesn't help much either. Eventually Fronto dares to put his hand into the water. This doesn't lead to any problems, and after this the group dares to make a hole into the edge of the basin. After the water inside and outside mixes, this greatly improves visibility. With the help of Glabbagool, who can effortlessly pick up item, a large number of coins, a trio of bracelets made of gold and jade, the remains of some vials, and a drain are discovered. Glabbagool can feel that the drain is completely blocked. It's not a very big drain, so it probably wouldn't have made much of a different in any case.

As the room with the fountain doesn't offer a road to salvation, the group returns to the room with the corridors. Skorr investigates if corridors A and B indeed meet at the expected point, and this proves to be so. During the investigation another hole similar to the one in corridor D is discovered, and this too contains a black blob. Skorr flees via corridor C, which the gnomes passed through before. To his horror the floor breaks under his weight. He just barely manages to keep from falling down, but his escape rout is now blocked by another hole containing a black blob. In the fight that ensures Skorr has to ensure heavy blows by the blobs, and their acid gravely damages his armor. A barrage of spells from the gnomes takes down one of the blobs. At that point Glabbagool arrives and interposes himself between the half-orc and the blob. The blob pushes against the cube, but with little effect, allowing the group to get away.

Seeing little alternative the group now investigates the cave where most of the water seems to come from. It is several dozen yards long and opens into a larger space. The ceiling in this room is clearly unstable, and from the many cracks in it large amounts of water pour down. It is immediately obvious that Mending will not be able to repair all these cracks. In any case, it is likely only a matter of time before the entire roof will come down. Thorvild looks for fishes and finds a tiny transparent eel. He uses the Stonespeaker Crystal to talk with it and learns that an underground river flows over the roof. To the tiny eel this is the entire world, so it is unclear how big this river is. The fish does know that there is air somewhere fairly near. Thorvild thanks it with some Apollo-macaroni (of which he has a remarkably large supply), which the fish is excited to eat.

The party has found an exit of sorts, but no way to use it. After taking a breather they return to dispose of the blob being blocked by Glabbagool. The cube drops into the hole and the gnomes unleash a barrage of magic. Skorr, who has removed his armor and borrows Fronto's shield, bashes the creature with the mace. The creature is very tough, but eventually dies.

On request of the party Glabbagool explores the caves the party passed before they entered the complex. These are now completely submerged and have no exits.

By now the water has gotten so high that it reaches the shoulders of the gnomes. The spiders hang on te ceiling and are panicking. The group tries all kinds of things to calm them down, but to no avail. A desperate situation requires drastic solutions, so the group comes up with a daring plan. Thorvild will cast a Leomund's Tiny Hut underneath the unstable ceiling for the party to take refuge in. With his wand he will then shoor a Fireball at the ceiling to get it to collapse. After this the group will tie themselves together and swim for air. Skorr invites Glabbagool to hunker down with the party, which the cube is happy to do. The group tries to get the spiders in the Tiny Hut too, but the creatures cannot be handled. A Speak With Animals spell is used to at least warn them for what is about to happen, hopefully allowing them to get to safety by themselves.

The group assumes their positions. Thorvild casts a Leomund's Tiny Hut, and then uses his wand to shoot a Fireball into the ceiling, which is just a few yards above the group. From the Tiny Hut the party sees a storm of fire all around them, nearly immediately followed by an avalanche of enormous rocks and a flood of water. The ground shakes noticeably and water spills inside from underneath the edges of the Tiny Hut. The spell fortunately holds, and once the ground stops shaking the leaks stop. All around the party are enormous blocks of stone which just moment ago were part of the ceiling. Only water full of airbubbles and dust can be seen in all directions but down.

The group decides to calm their nerves with a long rest. This will give the dust and other sediment in the water time to sink to the bottom. The journey will be hazardous enough, even with good visibility.

When the magic of the Tiny Hut is nearly depleted, the group gets ready to leave. Glabbagool offers to scout ahead. He has no problem functioning underwater, so the situation is not terribly dangerous to them. They are however unsure if they'll be able to return, as they don't float well and have little ability to swim. The party gladly accepts the offer and says goodbyes in case they are unable to find each other again. The cube leave and when they don't return after some time, the party decides to take their chances. They enter the water and swim for their lives. The group first swims a bit upstream, but only find a small bubble of air. Hoping for the best they then swim downstream. Here they find a small hole in the side of the ceiling that opens into air!

When the group catches their breath they see that they are in a dry corridor. They decide to wait at the hole for some time in the hope that their spiders will find their own way here. As they are doing so, Glabbagool eventually emerges from the other end of the corridor. The cube (which is not at all aquadynamically shaped) had a lot of trouble not getting swept away with the current. They have explored the corridor for a bit and informs the group that it leads to other tunnels. It would seem likely that the group will be able to return to the caravan.

The group waits for a long time, and against expectations the very stressed out spider belonging to Thorvild emerges. Tee and Fronto's sadly do not. Fronto is heartbroken, but Skorr persuades him that there is no point in waiting any longer. The half-orc offers Glabbagool to travel together, which the cube gladly accepts. The group sets off and eventually finds a myconid of the Circle of Explorers. The caravan turned around when the party didn't return and has sent scouts in all directions. The scout leads the party back to the caravan and the journey to Blingdenstone is resumed.

Little of interest happens during the following days. After one of the rests it appears that the myconids took out a small caravan of drow traders. They carried quite a bit of food, and led a large pack lizard. Fronto decides to train it as a steed, which works surprisingly well. Apart from this incident the group twice encounters the same kuo-toa caravan. They are going to Blingdenstone to sell fish. The group buys some, but each group then travels on their own. (The kuo-toa prefer this as well.)

Eventually Jimjar recognizes the area. The group is near Blingdenstone. The deep gnomes have several mines in this area as well as fields where mushrooms are grown. After a while the group also encounters a party of svirfneblin heading towards the city with a few carts of ore. Jimjar explains that their group can be trusted and together they go towards Blingdenstone.

The entrance to Blingdenstone starts with impressive stairs with steps that are convenient to gnomes, but very inconvenient to half-orcs. Alongside these stairs runs a contraption that pulls carts up along rails. (The gnomes have to restrain themselves to not jump onto this.) At the top of the stairs is a small uneven platform. (Very inconvenient for battering rams) on which a whole bunch of guards are blocking the way to a large gate of steel and mithral. After talking to Jimjar the group is allowed to continue, but except for Basidia the myconids have to stay outside. The guard don't dare to let such a large group inside. Their superiors will have to rule on the matter.

The guards open the gates and send a small escort along. The defenses of Blingdenstone prove to be extensive. Behind the gate is a maze of open corridors. The walls here are full of sharp spides, making them almost impossible to climb. On top of the walls are battlement from which guards can shoot down. These corridors continue for quite a distance and go up and down. The lower parts have grates from which water or gas can be led into the corridor. On the other side of the maze is another impressive gate. This one is flanked by "towers" full of arrow slits. After this gate comes a high corridor with gems in the ceiling. Jimjar tells that the svirfneblin can activate these to unleash spells. After this corridor there is another gatehouse.

When the party emerges through the final gate, a different world opens up. The cave system here is warmly lit. The walls are decorated with carpets and colorful paintings. The smell of delicious warm food is in the air. Deep gnomes walk and sit everywhere. Though they look at the party with suspicion, they clearly mean them no harm. For the first time in nearly two months, the party is somewhere that feels like a true home...

It is the 52nd day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

26 August 2017 (Session 34)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Gombert

The group is led to Dorbo and Senni Diggermattock. This couple are the informal leaders of the settlement. The party tells about the arrival of the titans in the Underdark, which greatly concerns the couple. They had already noticed an increased demonic influence in the Underdark lately, but this is much worse than they had expected. They are relieved that Jimjar has been rescued from the drow, however. They are not fans of the drow in any case. About a century ago Blingdenstone was attacked by them. Before that time it was a prosperous settlement with over 1000 svirfneblin residents, but after the attack all gnomes that were unable to flee were killed or enslaved. About a decade ago the Diggermattocks returned with every svirfneblin they could find to chase the monsters from the ruins. Some 300 gnomes now live in the town. Large parts of the old cities have not yet been reclaimed. The gnomes have primarily settled the south-west of the ruind.

A few gnomes managed to stay hidden in the ruins after the attack by the drow. At some point they came into contact with wererats. The gnomish wererats call themselves Clan Goldwhisker. They occupy the north-west of the ruins. Dorbo wants to fight them, but Sunni prefers a diplomatic solution. Skorr quickly changes the subject.

The gnomes have recently been plagued by slimes. They seem to come mostly from the north-east. The Diggermattocks are intrigued by what they are told about Glabbagool. The gelatinous cube is still at the gate with the myconids. The Diggermattocks ask the party to discreetly bring him to them so they can question him.

Basidia proposes that the myconids and svirfneblin to enter a cooperation agreement, even though this is against the custom of both of their peoples. The Diggermattocks promise to consider the proposal seriously.

The gnomes know a route to the surface world, but can't miss any gnomes right now to guide the party. No caravans are planned to go for a while. The party is welcome to stay in the town until this changes. A guard will lead them to the Foaming Mug. This is the only inn in town. Fortunately, it is a very comfortable place that specifically caters to visitors of roughly human size. The staff is friendly, there is dwarven ale and good food (partially even from the surface world), soft beds, and two warm springs to bathe in. In the evening it becomes evident that the locals also like to visit the place and have a few drinks. The party enjoys a festive evening and a calm night's rest.

The next day the party visits the market. This is one of the many connected caves that make up the town. The floor is full of petrified mushrooms. The party brings Werz Saltbaron to Kazook Pickshine, who runs a stall with alchemical goods. He pays the party with a 50 gp gem, but urges them to be more discreet. The party then sells the enormous pile of stuff they have been dragging along and uses the proceeds to buy new stuff. Many orders are placed at the local armor smith.

The group also visits the Stoneheart Enclave. After the disaster of a century ago the clergy of Segojan Earthcaller and Callarduran Smoothhands united with some surviving gnomish mages to form this organization. They represent all the town's casters and specialize in earth magic. Among other things, they summon earth elementals, who are employed in all kinds of jobs. Thorvild hopes to buy spells and magical inks from them. The group finds Turnik Tapfinger, a priest of Callarduran, near some impressive menhits. He can arrange the various supplies for the mages in the party, but he would also like their assistance. In a party of the city that is now called Rockblight stands the old temple of his god. He would like the group to place a spellgem there and defend is for a little while. The gem will reconsecrate the temple and summon guardians to protect it. Placing the gem will be dangerous, though. There is a sort of magical cloud called Ogrémoch's Bane in Rockblight. This cloud predates the drow invasion and is somehow linked to Ogrémoch, a mighty and evil earth spirit. Ogrémoch's Bane has power over creatures of earth, like the earth elementals employed by the Stoneheart Enclave. This is of course very inconvenient for the gnomes. If the party is able to reconsecrate the temple, the priest will be able to grant them a powerful and permanent blessing. Skorr asks why the Stoneheart Enclave don't do the job themselves. Turnik explains that the leader of his group has been out of Blingdenstone for a while, and he himself is not as mighty as the blessing perhaps suggests. The party think on it for a while.

Thorvild smuggles Glabbagool to the Diggermattocks. He lets them chat while he does other things.

The group suddenly remembers that they are still carrying the remains of Pelek the svirfneblin. They deliver these to the rather young and inexperienced seeming priest of Segojan. He leads the group to the gnomes' enormous catacombs. When Pelek's remains are interred a ghost appears. This is not the ghost of Pelek, though, but of Burrow Warden Jadger. He is glad to see Pelek's remains be given their final resting place, and he tells the party that he senses that Pelek has found his final rest. He himself was one of the Burrow Wardens, the defenders of the city, during the drow attack that killed all of them. Jadger was unable to move on and helps Blingdenstone's residents to get things back to normal. He explains that there are quite a lot of ghosts haunting the town. This is increasingly problematic for the current inhabitants, and he could sure use the party's help to help them move on.

It is the 53rd day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

9 September 2017 (Session 35)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Robert

Since they have to wait for their armors to be finished anyway, the party somewhat reluctantly decides to try and get one of Jadger's problem ghosts to move on. This one is called Vazuk. He haunts his old home and want everyone to stay away from his stuff. Jadger thinks it may force the ghost to let go of his earthly ties if his stuff is removed. The party is very sceptical, but eventually decides to give it a go. Thorvild first buys a kind of weck jar from Kazook Pickshine to store his spellbook in and protect it from water damage.

The ghost busting operating is comically troublesome. The party makes several attempts to remove items from the home, but the invisible ghost is nearly every time able to retrieve the item. At several times it throws party members through rooms, out of windows, into ceilings, etc. All the while loudly complaining.

At some point Fronto mentions a fireball and this causes Thorvild (whose player may have consumed to much limoncello) to cast a Fireball spell at the front door of the dwelling. As the house is on a main thoroughfare in a residential area this causes a lot of consternation. Thorvild is arrested by a svirfneblin caster who is accompanied by a large earth elemental. The rest of the party thinks this is quite justified, so they return to their efforts to lay the ghost to rest. After some more unsuccessful attempted burglaries Zook enters (magical) Gaseous Form to search for unusual possessions. He discovers a chest full of gems onderneath a floorboard in the kitchen. The party hopes this is the focus of the ghost's obsession, but sees no viable way to get the chest past the ghost and out of the dwelling. They therefore decide to take a break and check up on Thorvild.

The transmuter has been brought before the Diggermattock, where he undergoes a short trial. The Diggermattocks initially plan to banish him, but after a plea by the party, in which they promise to try and solve the situation with the oozes, Thorvild is merely banned from casting. From now on he will need to surrender his spellbook and component pouch at the gate. (This is now the second city in which the gnome is banned from casting. He was already sentenced to this in Naxos.) Entirely against his wishes Fronto is named Thorvild's legal guardian. At least he can now officially make decisions on behalf of the mage... Thorvild's books about Demogorgon get confiscated. Upon suggestion by Thorvild, they will be studied by the Stoneheart Enclave. (Zook had suggested the same earlier, but was so undiplomatic about it that Dorbo ignored everything he said.) Skorr asks about Jadger and the Diggermattocks say that they trust him.

The group returns to the ghost. With the aid of an Invisibility spell and a relay race the chest is eventually removed from the dwelling, and this seems to cause Vazuk to reconsider his earthly existence. The chest is brought to the Diggermattocks. They give half of its contents to the party (three rubies of about 250 gp each) and will use the rest to pay for the damage caused by the Fireball spell. Jadger is pleased with the party's success and answers some questions about the area and his own motivation (helping the svirfneblin to rebuild after the disastrous drow attack).

The party rests for the night, after which they start the 54th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

16 September 2017 (Session 36)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben

After a refreshing night's rest the party decides to investigate the ooze problem. Glabbagool is smuggled into town to assist with this. The investigation is started at the edge of the Traders Grotto. This area is on the edge of the settled part of town and oozes are spotted relatively often there.

The party is havinga conversation with a bunch of guards at a large stone door which blocks an entrance to an uninhabited part of the city, when suddenly two gelatinous cubes appear and of these engulfs Fronto. Glabbagool can't do much against other members of his species (and vice versa) and Thorvild abides by his casting ban. With much effort and thanks to the assistance of the guards (and Jimjar, Fargas, and Derendil) the cubes are eventually defeated. After investigation Glabbagool thinks the cubes squeezed through the debris of a collapsed tunnel, likely collapsing that entrance behind them. The stone door is investigated to be sure, but it proves to close very tightly.

The group decides the situation is very inconvenient. They make all kinds of plans to make the nearly invisible Glabbagool more noticeable, in a non-threatening way, so they can more easily transport him through the city. It ends with them coloring the cube purple and putting a sombrero on top of him (on a plate of rough glass, so it doesn't get corroded). It proves to be too costly to arrange for a big glass warning sign which the cube can float inside itself.

After this the group heads to the Diggermattocks to try and partially lift Thorvild's casting ban. After much pleading prince Derendil is allowed to carry the gnome's magical equipment and (temporarily) hand it to him when he needs to cast to further the town's needs. Fronto is very releaved that for once he isn't given additional gnome-related responsibilities.

Thorvild spends quite a lot of time copying (non-offensive) spells from the Stoneheart Enclave and Fronto uses Detect Magic to conclude that there is no active magical effect on Derendil. Whether this is because the prince has been instantaneously and permanently turned into a quaggoth, or something else is going on, is currently unknown. It seems that Dispel Magic can't help, though.

It is late on the 54th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

23 September 2017 (Session 37)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk

Once again, after a good night's rest the party investigates the ooze problem. After a short stop to trade some more stuff, the party finds another passage to the area where the oozes seem to originate from. A bit to the south of the previously visited entrance the group finds another closed-off tunnel. The party will have to take a detour, but this entrance should enable fairly convenient passage to the ooze-area. After some persuasion the guards let the group pass. The door is closed behind them.

The party has only traveled a short distance when the ground suddenly gives way beneath Tee. The unfortunate gnome falls on a collection of sharpened stakes that seem to be poisoned too. Derendil is working on getting the gnome out then the group is attacked by 4 rat-gnomes who emerge from behind cover. The creatures fight fiercely with short swords, but are taken out fairly quickly. One changes shape into a large rat and flees but Tee pursues with a Misty Step spell and kills the creature with a Kinetic Turnip spell.

Thorvild disabled one of the creatures with a Sleep spell. The party ties it up securely and interrogates it. The creature is very offended that the group entered clan Goldwhisker territory unannounced. Fronto see things differently, and thinks it is very unreasonable that the group got attacked without warning. Much recrimination follows, but Thorvild manages to calm everyone down. It is eventually decided that the group will accompany the wererat and speak to their leader.

A cave some distance away holds some 40 people. Some of them look like ordinary svirfneblin and other look like rat-like creatures. A rotund rat-gnome introduces himself as Chipgrin, leader of clan Goldwhisker. He wishes peace upon the group and proposes they have a calm talk. He explains that he thought the group had been sent by the Diggermattocks to fight his people. He is glad to hear that this isn't so. His clan is in a bad spot, as they have to fight a constantly battle with the oozes. Chipgrin claims that without his clan Blingdenstone would have been overrun by the oozes long ago. He believes he know why there are so many oozes. It is because of a figure he calls the Pudding King. He can lead the group to this figure, but he will only do so after an audience with the Diggermattocks. The party promises to arrange this.

It is the 55th day after the escape from Velkynvelve.

30 September 2017 (Session 38)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Robert

As promised the party arranges a meeting between Chipgrin and the Diggermattocks. After some negotiation both groups take a small number of their followers to the border between their territories. The Goldwhiskers manage to persuade the Diggermattocks to try and live side by side, and together face the threat of the oozes.

Now that there is an agreement, Chipgrin reveals that the Pudding King is a svirfneblin who, many years ago, was part of the Diggermattock expedition to reclaim the town. He settled in the south-east of the ruins and is occasionally spotted while talking to oozes. He refers to himself as the Pudding King and he sometimes calls the oozes he speaks to prince or princess. He seems quite mad, but does appear to hold influence over the oozes. At the very least they seem to leave him unmolested, which is weird enough.

Chipgrin relates where the Pudding King is most often spotted and where his clan has put traps. Armed with this knowledge, the party sets out to explore.

The chosen route takes the group through an old residential area. It is full of debris and some half-rotted gnomish corpses. The party can't agree on a cause of death. Perhaps it was simply the oozes.

The group eventually arrives at an enormous cave. The wall are completely covered in dripping green slime. In the middle is a huge spherical structure held up by four pillars. The surface of the sphere is crawling with dozens of oozes in all kinds of colors. It is an almost hypnotical sight. The party has barely taken in the sight when a loud voice of unknown origin fills the air: "What's this, what's this? Visitors? Now? Not yet! We're not ready! Go away, pests! I will call upon thee and all of Blingdenstone to announce our glad tidings of the Faceless Lord to come at the proper time! Begone!"

It is the 55th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

21 October 2017 (Session 39)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie

The group tries to make an estimate count of the number of oozes, but has to settle on "hundreds". Glabbagool proposes for him to try to communicate with the oozes. The party thinks it unwise, especially when they notice that the Glabbagool feels an strong attraction to the sphere. Concerned about to effect on the gelatinous cube they decide to go back to the svirfneblin and report. On the way back they inform the Goldwhiskers of what they've seen. As the group moves father away from the sphere Glabbagool clearly feels the attraction lessen, but the effect does not fully go away.

he Diggermattocks are greatly alarmed. They thought the situation with the oozes was a vermin problem that had gotten out of hand, but this is an immediate and premeditated threat to the city's survival. They therefore decide to convene a council. This will take place early in the morning, because it is too late to get all necessary participants together before that time. The party asks the Stoneheart Enclave to investigate Juiblex, the titan of slimes and oozes, and then heads to bed.

When the party early next morning arrives at Diggermattock Hall they see that a conderable number of people are gathering there. Chipgrin represents the Goldwhiskers. The most prominent members of the Stoneheart Enclave are present, including their so far unseen leader. (She gives no clear answer to the question of whether she has teleported to Blingdenstone.) The alchemist Kazook Pickshine represents the Miners Guild. Sovereign Basidia has joined in, and even the ghost of Burrow Warden Jadger is present.

After the party has related their experiences, it is clear to all present how serious the situation is. Dorbo Diggermattock argues that the gnomes need to attack before the number of oozes grows any larger. He would prefer to do this from Rockblight, hoping that the Pudding King will be surprised by this route of attack. The Stoneheart Enclave would gladly support this attack with earth elementals, but Ogrémoch's Bane would make it infeasible to do from Rockblight unless the temple of Callarduran could be reconsecrated and serve as a safe haven. Their leader, Yantha Coaxrock, remarks that it would also be very helpful if Entémoch's Boon could be found. Entémoch is another elemental prince, but unlike Ogrémoch, he is quite friendly. Long ago the svirfneblin summoned him and the cave in which they did so still contains strong elemental magics. Yantha believes the cave would allow the Stoneheart Enclave to summon stronger elementals. The cave is somewhere outside of Blingdenstone. The location has always only been known to a small number of svirfneblin and none of them survived the drow invasion. The party already intended to reconsecrate the temple of Callarduran, but they are unsure what to do about Entémoch's Boon.

Kazook indicates that he could make an alchemical substance that could quickly create an opening between Rockblight and the oozes. He thinks he could also produce an oil to protect weapons and armors from the caustic effects of the oozes, but that will require ingredients that he doesn't have in supply. Normally he would import these from Neverlight Grove, but that is currently infeasible. Basidia will be able to arrange for some of these ingredients and will also help prepare the oil. Other ingredients require mushrooms from the northern slopes of Neverlight Grove. They need specific faerzress to survive, which makes them hard to supply. Jimjar suggests that the market in Gracklstugh might have an alternative. If the party could place an order with a Sending spell, then the gnomes will send a shipment of salt from their mines to pay the duergar.

Basidia offers to have the myconids join the fight against the oozes. So far the Diggermattocks had been quite sceptical about a long term mutual settlement of gnomes and myconids, but they now promise that if the mushroommen help to defeat the oozes, they will be allowed to settle permanently in Blingdenstone's territory.

There is much work to be done, so the council is adjourned.

Fronto contacts Stonespeaker Hgraam. The stone giant promises to try and arrange a caravan of alchemical supplies, but is unsure whether he'll be able to pull it off. He asks the priest to contact him again later that day. When the gnome does so Hgraam tells that he was only able to get some of the ingredients. He offers to instead send a shipment of weapons and armor. The duergar produce large quantities of these, so this will be easy to arrange. Skorr in particular likes the idea.

It is the 56th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

28 October 2017 (Session 40)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Gombert
  • Joska
  • Robert

After consulting with the svirfneblin Stonespeaker Hgraam is asked to specify which alchemical components are going to be sent, and to use the rest of the budget to get as many weaponry as possible. The party has no other preparations to make so they head to Rockblight to reconsecrate the temple of Callarduran. The Diggermattocks arrange for some reinforcement: a svirfneblin scout called Zanna.

The gnomes closed the entrance to Rockblight with a double gate of heavy stone doors. They are guarded by a handful of guards and cave badgers. (The proximity to Ogrémoch's Bane makes it unwise to use earth elementals.) The leader of these guards tells the group how to get back. (There is a kind of steam whistle doorbell.) He relates what he knows about the situation on the other side of the gates, but this isn't a lot. He does mention that there are some very lifelike statues. Perhaps there is or used to be a monster there that is able to petrify people, but nobody has ever seen that happen.

The group continues anyway. They have only just passed the gates when they hear sounds of combat in the distance. The source is unclear and before the group can investigate the ghost of a gnome appears. The creature is very frightful, but the group disperses it. Just before it is defeated it seems to want to flee en calls out "They are coming! Everyone hide!" The party is unsure what to make of this. Perhaps this is the ghost of Udhask, whose corpse should be somewhere around here according to Burrow Warden Jadger. The party performs a quick search, but is unable to locate it. They don't want to stay here for a more thorough search, so they send out Zanna to scout and continue on their way. Thorvild does have his familiar continue the search, and by dumb luck it almost immediately finds a gnomish corpse. It is next to a bed and appears to reach underneath it. A Speak with Dead spell teaches the group that this is indeed the corpse of Udhask. He died due to a heart attack during the drow attack. He meant to hide under his bed, where he had also hidden his life savings. (Some gems and a potion.) The group takes it all with them and moves on.

The residential area in which Udhask's corpse is found proves to continue for quite a distance to the east. At the end is a pool of water that is fed by a waterfall. Stairs lead up, but the party decides not to explore these as they lead to the wrong direction. They instead go north. There they eventually arrive at a large cave filled with many beautiful crystals that are impressively illuminated by bioluminescent mushrooms. There is also a lifelike statue of a gnome holding a piece of crystal in fron of their head; almost as though they are blocking something. The party is intrigued and studies the scene for a while, but eventually decides that they don't really know what to think about the situation. They decide to continue to the temple. Thorvild first breaks off a similar piece of crystal and takes this along.

By way of two in the rock carved sets of stairs the group arrives at a space that must be a temple. It is a fairly large, almost round cave. The walls in places give the vague impression of humanoid shapes. To the north is a passage, but this is collapsed. Presumably it would lead to the cave system where the oozes are. In the middle of the space is a large menhir-like rock full of niches. The priest of Callarduran instructed the party to put the spell gem into one of these niches. Before the group does so they cast a Magic Circle around the rock. This proves to be a wise precaution, for as soon as they place the gem a bright light spreads out of it and an earth elemental detaches from the wall. It clearly intends to flatten the party, but it is unable to enter the Magic Circle. Unfortunately, it can still drop stones from the ceiling onto the party and it clearly does not intend to leave the group be. Thorvild casts a Leomund's Tiny Hut to give the party cover against the stone, but it doesn't completely fit inside the Magic Circle, allowing the elemental to attack part of the party through the floor. Nonetheless the group has a considerable advantage over their opponent and they defeat it.

Almost directly after the elemental goes down, another rock-like creature appears. This has a more boulder-like appearance (it is later identified as a Galeb-Duhr) and ignores the party. He takes up position near the menhir as if to defend is, but then stands perfectly still. At that moment a second elemental appears and attacks the party. After the party defeats it another Galeb-Duhr appears, followed by the third elemental. After this one too falls, a third Galeb-Duhr takes up position near the menhir. The trio now nod to the party and the gem stops glowing. The space now feels peaceful and sanctified. The consecration must have been completed.

On the way back the party decides to take a look into the other two corridors leaving the crystal cave. Zanna, being a professional scouts, leads the way.

At the end of the first corridor, which leads up, Zanna encounters a room full of ancient furniture and clothing. It looks as though these were once very valuable, but they are now in bad shape. At the end of this room is a female drow who sits perfectly motionless on a throne. Zanna is unsure what to do with this and returns to confer with the rest of the party. It doesn't make sense for a drow to be here and sit motionless on a throne, so the group suspects that she is an illusion. If so, it likely conceals a trap of some kind, so they decide to leave the room be.

The other corridor, which leads down, leads to a cave containing dozens of life-like statues of drow warriors. When the group looks at them from up close six of them animate and attacl the party. The statues are tough, but the group manages to defeat them. As soon as the last hits the ground, however, six others animate. There are another 24, so this looks to become a battle of endurance. Fortunately, the group has quite a lot of powerful magic available and they use it destroy most statues before they get a chance to animate.

When the last statue falls ,a large cloud of shimmering stone debris comes pouring out of it. This cloud is clearly magical and soon fills the entire cave. (The party stays away from it.) This must be Ogrémoch's Bane. The group doesn't know what to do. They are unable to communicate with it and it does not respond to Dancing Light spells or salvo's from Fronto's confetti cannon. The group therefore retreats towards Blingdenstone. The cloud does not follow them.

It is the 56th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

11 November 2017 (Session 41)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Joska

The group returns to Blingdenstone, carrying with them the petrified gnome with the crystal. The svirfneblin are elated with the re-consecration of the temple, but are concerned about Ogrémoch's Bane being so near the route to the temple. After all, they intend to take earth elementals along to fight the oozes. They have no means of reversing the petrification of the gnome, but they do locate a family member of the victim. He had not been seen since the drow invasion, so it is likely that the petrification happened a very long time ago.

Gurnik Tapfinger, the priest of Callarduran, makes good on his promise and blesses the party. While doing so, his eyes shine with a divine light. This is clearly not a regular blessing. Every recipient can choose between a Blessing of Protection (improved armor class and saves) or Blessing of Weapon Enhancement (one non-magical weapon in your hands functions as though magical). Thorvild, Fronto, Skorr, and Derendil choose Protection. Zanna and Jimjar choose Weapon Enhancement.

Skorr delivers the remains of Udhask to the Burrow Warden, who is very pleased to receive them. Skorr asks the ghost about the petrified beings in rockblight. Perhaps they were drow doing something magical during the invasion? Jadger doesn't know of any such thing, apart from the fact that during the invasion there were no reports of such magics or beings.

The party would like to find Entémoch's Boon. They had hoped to learn something about it in the temple of Callarduran, but they couldn't find anything. They therefore intend to return to Rockblight and explore the remaining areas. After a good night's rest they head out.

The first place the groups heads to is the cave over the waterfall in the east of the cave where they encountered the ghost. When they arrive there they find beautiful crystal formations and a very nice view. There are also stairs to a platform higher up. When Zanna climbs them she is attacked by two gargoyles who posed as normal statues. They are tough opponents who are not much bothered by non-magical weapons. (So the Blessing of Weapon Enhancement already proves most useful.) Nonetheless they cannot stand up to the entire group and are eventually defeated. When this happens a furious earth elemental arises from the ground. It deals some hard punches, but it too is defeated. The party thinks the situation is rather weird. The platforms are examined in detail, but don't seem to be anything more than (excellent) viewpoints. They do find a yellow diamond among the remains of the earth elemental and someone remembers that gargoyles have some sort of connection to Ogrémoch. This raises more questions than are answered, so the group just continues on. They decide to head to the go to the room with the drow woman.

The group decides the woman is most likely an illusion and probably part of a trap. Pursuant to the GNOME-54001 safety protocol Fronto therefore tosses a rock at the woman. The woman who until now sat motionless on her throne now rises and opens her eyes. Her hair starts moving too; it is a mass of snakes. The creature is a medusa, someone who made a pact with a powerful being for a long youth and good health, but who now pays the price with a monstrous form.

The horrendous sight of this being can petrify people and this immediately happens to poor Zanna. Thorvild and Jimjar too are affected, though to a lesser degree. Thorvild eventually overcomes the effect, but Jimjar succumbs to it and is also petrified. The rest of the group averts their eyes and fights the medusa. The creature proves to be a dangerous swordswoman whose hair also bites anyone near. It is a terrible chaos and panic. Blindly cast Rays of Fire set half the room aflame, but the creature eventually bites the dust.

The group immediately searches the cave in the hopes of finding an antidote to the petrification. Except for some expensive spider silk dresses that are still in pretty good shape nothing of note is found. Fronto contacts the high priest of Apollo in Naxos through a Sending spell. He explains that a Greater Restoration spell is the only reliable remedy. Unfortunately this spell is beyond Fronto's ability and the group has already learned that the Stoneguard Enclave does not have access to this spell either.

It is the 57th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

18 November 2017 (Session 42)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Robert

The group returns to the inhabited part of Blingdenstone and asks around about medudas, ways of reversing petrification, and whatever drow might still be doing in Stoneblight.

The alchemist Kazook can't do anything against the petrification. It is caused by a curse rather than an alchemical process. He is however quite interested in the medusa's venom.

Chipgrin knows nothing about medusas. He has never heard of one being involved in the drow invasion. He doesn't think the xenophobic drow would tolerate one of their kind turning into one. He does sort of know the petrified gome with the crystal from before the invasion. His name is Vort and Chipgrin saw him a few times in the months after the invasion. Clan Goldwhisker doesn't have any mages or priests, so they can't help to reverse the petrification.

Burrow Warden Jadger agrees with Chipgrin's assesment of the drow. After some deep thinking, he thinks he mag recognize the medusa. She looks an awful lot like one Neheedra Duskryn, who was involved in the invasion as a regular drow. This would mean that she became a medusa some time afterward. There is some speculation about how the petrified drow warriors fit in the picture, but no hard conclusions can be drawn. The Burrow Warden has no remedy for the petrification.

Gurnik Tapfinger needs some time to dig into writings and to consult his colleagues in the Stoneheart Enclave, but he eventually offers two potential solutions. The first is to find Entémoch's Boon. Earth magic there is much stronger than elsewhere. The Stoneguard Enclave, who are specialized in earth magic, may be able to use the magic in that place to reverse petrification. The second option is, to put it bluntly, to use the party's credits with Callarduran to ask for this particular favor. This would mean the end of the blessing which the god bestowed.

The group considers the proposals. They already want to go to Entémoch's Boon, but they still haven't any leads for that. They therefore decide to sacrifice the blessing. Gurnik thinks it best to do this in the temple, so the group heads back into Stoneblight.

On the way there nothing of note happens. Gurnik is concerned about the proximity of Ogrémoch's Bane to the route to the temple. The attack will require earth elementals to travel this route and the last thing they need is for those to fall under the sway of Ogrémoch's Bane.

At the temple Gurnik places all kinds of religous objects. The party members have various parts to play in the ritual. Some get to wave incense around, another gets to ring a bell, etc. Gurnik calls on Callarduran and requests the god's assistance. Callarduran is pleased and breaks the curse. Jimjar and Zanna are made flesh and bone again. They do pay a price, for the two no longer carry Callarduran's Blessing. Nonetheless all are agreed that it is a good deal.

Before the group leaves the temple they again look for clues to Entémoch's Boon, but don't find any. Thorvild does find the lower part of a candelabra which once belonged to the temple. It is not what he hoped to find, but it does make Gurnik happy.

Back in Blingdenstone the party takes a well deserved rest.

It is the 58th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

25 November 2017 (Session 43)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk

The group decides to search the surroundings of Blingdenstone for Entémoch's Boon. They are assisted by a scout called Joppo, whose services were arranged through the Diggermattocks.

After searching for a few days the group finds an unassuming pile of stone that form a subtle sign to a tunnel leading west. This tunnel doesn't immediately lead to something interesting, but the group returns with a large supply a provisions to explore it more extensively. After traveling for a full day they encounter a side tunnel of which the entrance is decorated with a carved gnomish face on each side. The group takes a look and is almost immediately attack by a group of demonic spiders of worrisome size. Fortunately the creatures are no match for the party. It remains unclear what the spiders were doing here.

The area the side tunnel leads to proves to be a maze of tunnels. The group wanders through them for some time. While doing so they encounter a strange kind of brown mold which spreads freezing cold. Thorvild and Tee carry some samples with them, though Skorr thinks it a dumb idea. The group later encounters a trio of mephits. With the aid of magic the group is able to communicate with them somewhat. They are clearly not terribly nice creatures, but they are not directly inclined to fight and are somewhat comical. After bribing them with a few gold pieces the party is quite certain that they have no idea where Entémoch's Boon is and both groups go their separate ways.

The party decides to return the Blingdenstone and report on what they've found. The svirfneblin are overjoyed. This has to be the route to Entémoch's Boon. The Stoneheart Enclave wants to investigate the area further.

It is the 69th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

9 December 2017 (Session 44)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Joska
  • Robert

Encouraged by the enthousiasm of the Stoneheart Enclave the party returns to search for Entémoch's Boon. This time they are accompanied by a PhD student to aid them in their search. (And with whatever other random nonsense they want done. After all, that is what PhD students are used for.)

After a few days of searching they have a breakthrough. The group finds a large cave in which various stalagmites have been carved in arcane shapes and which has a large summoning circle on its floor. Detect Magic shows residual conjuration magic. The PhDer is convinced that this is indeed Entémoch's Boon. The party had hoped that it would have been a more interesting place and starts searching for hidden things.

When Thorvild investigates a section of wall, it bursts apart. An enormous insectile create (an umber hulk) bursts through the wall and attacks the gnome. The rest of the party moves in to help and a chaotic fight erupts. The creature is heavily armored, has sharp claws and enormous jaws, and has a strange hypnotic gaze. Party members get mezmerised several times, causing them to walk away in confusion, looks around groggily, or even attack an ally. With great effort the creature is finally defeated. The party decides that they have done more than enough exploring and returns to Blingdenstone. Thorvild first chops the creature's antennae off and uses them to decorate his hat.

Back in town the news is received with great excitement. The Stoneheart Enclave immediately moves all their summoning activities to Entémoch's Boon.

The group spends the next couple of days searching for alchemically interesting mushrooms. Zanna knows of a few places with a lot of faerzress. The mushrooms that grow there might be useful for the alchemical concoction that Kazook and Basidia are brewing to protect the party's equipment from the oozes' corrosive attacks.

When finally the caravan arrives from Gracklstugh arrives (accompanied by two stone giants) it has become about to bring the fight to the Pudding King!

It is the 79th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

16 December 2017 (Session 45)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Joska
  • Robert

The day is used to distribute the duergar equipment (mostly crossbows and armor) and prepare the alchemical ooze protection. Skorr asks the stone giants and duergar if they'd be willing to fight the oozes. The giants are very concerned about the activities of the titans in the Underdark and will help their friends from the surface world. The duergar are not interested.

Early in the morning of the next day the troops assemble. The alchemists use a concoction and earth elemental labor to clear the passage between the temple and the area where the oozes are. (Thankfully, Ogrémoch's Bane did not show itself.) The army marches to the cave with the large stone sphere to fight the oozes there. However, the oozes seem aware of what is going on and attack the army in the tunnels between the temple and the cave with the sphere.

The earth elementals and the wererats of clan Goldwhisker form the vanguard while the svirfneblin led by Dorbo Diggermattock fire crossbows from a distance. The myconids under Basidia take up position in the middle to take care of any oozes that make it past the frontlines, before they can attack crossbowmen. Jadger and some of the friendlier ghosts meanwhile attack the oozes from the rocks, which the ghosts can pass through freely. The giants take up position with the gnomes and throw enormous rocks. The oozes have the weight of numbers, but the allies are well prepared and should hold for a while.

The party uses the least busy side-tunnel to slip behind the lines. They have fought only a few oozes when they hear the voice of the Pudding King. Their target is encouraging his troups and is not far the the party. The group attacks and before the gnome can get away he gets caught in a Hold Person spell of Zook. The Pudding King and his bodyguards (a large black pudding and a grey ooze with psychic powers; both much more intelligent than normal oozes) are quite dispatched. When he dies the Puddin King transforms into a pool of slime. He calls out that they will rize from their children. That they will be reborn from the Faceless Lord. That Juiblex will devour the banquet of the Queen of Fungi, and they will all grow.

Having achieved their objective, the party quickly moves back to their troops. As they are leaving, Thorvild spots two undamaged books floating in the remains of the black pudding. This is most unusual, so they take the books with them.

Back at the frontlines it is apparent that the oozes now fight without any coordination. Their numbers still make them a deadly threat though. But with the Pudding King defeated so quickly, the fight still hasn't led to any casualties on the allied side. With the main goal of the attack achieved, they make a fighting retreat to the temple. Here the guardian galeb duhr have awakened and they close the passage to the oozes once the army has passed through.

Back in town the victory is celebrated with great enthousiasm. The books discovered in the black pudding turn out to be spellbooks from the svirfneblin archmage Lesla Carrowil, who dies in the drow attack. The books are bound in troglodyte skin and the pages are made of trillimac. Both the covers and the pages have been treated with a magical varnish that protects against moisture and acid. The books are titled "Underland Magick" and "Magick from Beyond the Mirror". Both are chock full of spells, all the way up to 8th level.

Many oozes try to enter town in the days that follow, but the gnomes are well prepared and take them out before they can cause much trouble. It will likely take a long time before all the oozes have been cleared, but without the coordination by the Pudding King, the oozes are much less of a threat. The gnomes can now afford to spare the manpower for an expedition to the surface world!

The party first makes another run into the ooze caves. The Pudding King didn't carry any valuables and the party hopes to find some in the direction in which he tried to retreat.

The cave with the large sphere is still full of oozes, but they are now all over the place. The sphere, which once housed the royal chambers is explored by Zook in Gaseous Form. Everything inside that isn't made of stone has been dissolved by the oozes.

Via another cave, in which the svirfneblin once kept cattle, the party arrives in a cave full of green slime. The ground is full of pools of the highly corrosive stuff, and great curtains of it hang from the high ceiling nearly to the ground. In the middle of the room is a large stone throne decorated with many carved eyes and mouths. The room has the feel of an alien cathedral.

The party cautiously approaches the throne and investigates it. Skorr quickly discovers that the top of the ottoman (a petrified mushroom) can be lifted. This reveals 55 gp, 20 ep, a gourd containing what is later discoverd to be a Potion of Poison, 2 spell scrolls (Conjure Minor Elementals and Speak with Plants), and a varnished green eye the size of a grapefruit. The party feels uncomfortable about the eye, but eventually decide to take it anyway. They later discover that it is magical and can be used as a Crystal Ball of True Seeing, but works only once.

It is the 82nd day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

30 December 2017 (Session 46)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert
  • Joska
  • Robert

After preparing for a few days, the moment has finally arrived to head back to the surface world. The svirfneblin thank the party for all their help and give various gifts. Thorvild receives (also from Basidia) a collection of rare and alchemically interesting mushrooms. Fronto gets a large bag of glitter for his confetti cannon. Skorr receives a duergar maul with an inlaid bloodstone. (A "bloodmaul".) Tee is gifted a bag of unusual objects. (5 random trinkets.) Ulfgar a zurkhwood cither; Zook a flag with his name embroidered on it; Zanna, Derendil, and Jimjar glasses of cut obsidian to protect their sensitive eyes from the sun. The party also receives a Stone of Earth Elemental Control with which an earth elemental can be summoned once a day.

Basidia and the myconids stay behind to settle in Blingdenstone. Floomfazoom, who needs psychic communication for sustenance, stays with them. Glabbagool is curious about the surface world, but he really doesn't like sunlight, so he reluctantly stays behind. Derendil and Jimjar do join the expedition. Derendil seeks to return to his elven kingdom, and Jimjar will help him to achieve his goal. Fargas the halfling (who has proven to be a good cook) is completely done with the Underdark and also joins the expedition. And of course Gortor the acolyte of Apollo will accompany his master, Fronto. (Who would have prefered to leave him behind, but doesn't have a good excuse to do so.)

Thanks to the svirfneblin guides, the week long journey has few incidents. But when the group has nearly reached the surface, they get ambushed by drow. It is a group from Velkynvelve, which must have pursued the party in their trek through the Underdark. The drow will clearly not rest until they have enacted vengeance upon the party.

The fight is fierce and arduous. Spells fly every which way. Giant spiders shoot webs. Invisible mages throw fire and lightning around. Warriors duel. Magical darkness appears and disappears. At the end, when the party finally gains the upper hand, a shadow demon is summoned by the drow in an attempt to turn the tide. The senior drow priestess calls upon Lolth, but the Spider Queen seems displeased with her. All drow perish.

The loot includes a Tentacle Rod which was wielded by the senior priestess. There are many armors, daggers, swords, etc. of excellent drow craftsmanship, but the group is aware that they will degrade under influence of the sun. A spellbook is recovered containing spells up to 5th level.

It is the 91th day since the escape from Velkynvelve. A few hours after the fight the party finally reaches sunlight!

6 January 2018 (Session 47)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Joska
  • Robert

After spending three months in the Underdark, the sunlight is painful to the eyes of the party. The group therefore camps a night near the cave entrance. This way there eyes can slowly get used to the light.

Before they head back to Blingdenstone, their guides give the party some information about their surroundings. Not far from the cave opening is a road that leads east and west. If the road is followed to the west, the party will eventually reach the city of Sparta. The gnomes however always go east, where at about 3 miles distance is the prosperous city of Corinth. The guards at the gate there are familiar with giant riding lizards and allow the gnomes inside when they arrive to trade. The svirfneblin never go deep into the city, however, (and never come during the day), so the party's mounts and beast of burden could cause a commotion in the rest of the city.

The party (or at least the gnomes in the party) do want to take their beasts home. A Speak with Animals spell teaches the group that the animals are not very happy about going into the sun, but will do so as long as they are fed. The group eventually decides to leave them in the cave, guarded by Zook, while the rest of the group visits the city.

Corinth is a particularly large city, surrounded by rich fields, and with a busy port full of ships from all over the known world. The city has a whole bunch of impressive temples, but the most impressive ones are dedicated to Zeus and Apollo (in his capacity as god of music). Skorr visits the latter one to inform the high priest about the titans and their activities in the Underdark. The group is very convincing and the priest asks them to talk to the ruler of the city: the basileus. To this end he will organise a meeting just outside the gates, shortly after nightfall. The party accepts and uses the intervening period to arrange for transport to their home on Rogos. (And steal an apple pie.) A very enthousistic Thorvild immediately accepts the first offer of a fare of 500 gp. Fortunately the captain did come recommended by the harbor master, whom Tee had tipped a silver piece. This likely means the price isn't too outrageous. Nonetheless, Skorr schools Thorvild in negotiating.

When the party arrives at the meeting they see that the basileus brough along a large delegation of notables. The party again are very persuasive and their exotic mounts, drow objects, yeti's who speak in elven, etc. lend their story even more credence. The basileus is very concerned, but has no idea what to do about the situation. The party unfortunately doesn't know either. The group does ask if there have been any signs of weird behavior, such as they encountered in various places in the Underdark. There have been no signs of this. There is a helot uprising in Sparta though, but this is not particularly uncommon.

In any case, the basileus is grateful for the warning. He makes sure the mounts get loaded onto the ship without any problems. (In cages which the party has made from a bunch of trees using a Fabricate spell. The owner of the copse is paid with a few minutes of magical flight and the curing of a disease. He is very happy with the deal.)

After sailing for 3 days, the group spots Rogos on the horizon. It is the 96th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

13 January 2018 (Session 48)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Joska

After their long wanderings the party finally returns to Rogos. It is a happy reunion, which is celebrated with a big party in one of the inns. (Organized by Thorvild's father.) All notables of the island, including the archon, attend.

Unfortunately the evening is bittersweet, for Skorr announces that he will leave the group. The half-orc wants to go east and warn the people there about the danger posed by the titans. He has already booked passage on the ship that delivered the party to Rogos. They set sail at dawn the next day.

The rest of the group tries to persuade Skorr to stay, but with no success. Although the party continues until the wee hours, the entire group assembles on the pier at dawn to say their goodbyes.

In the days that follow Thorvild and his father research the elven realm of Nelrindenvane, which Derendil is the rightful ruler of. They are unable to find a single reference to such a realm. They track down an elf who knows the area in which the realm is supposedly located, but he has never heard of it. Thorvild is unsure what to make of this.

Meanwhile the gnomes are mostly concerned with setting up a sustainable spider farm. They make and discard all kinds of plans. Various islands in the vicinity are visited and evaluated for their suitability for keeping the spiders. While doing so, they retrieve the Zookanian "fleet" and collapse the entrance to the Underdark.

They eventually decide to keep the spiders on a small rocky islet near Rogos where, on a previous adventure, they took care of a warren of flying kobolds. The spiders will be able to shelter in the cave where the kobolds made their warren, and they can be fed on the surface. The group hopes they can automate the situation by keeping a herd of goats on the island that is large enough to replace their losses to the spiders. How large this herd should be is as of yet unknown.

They find a level-headed farmer's son to supervise the endeavor. The young man calculates that in order for the plan to work, the herd should consist of at least 400 goats. The half-orc is no longer present, but in their mind each of the gnomes hears his words again: "That is an incredibly dumb idea!"

Reluctantly, they now consider selling the spiders to a rich collector. Perhaps they can find someone like that in the city of Naxos.

It is the 103rd day since the escape from Velkynvelve. Autumn has arrived.

3 February 2018 (Session 49)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Joska

The group is visited by a warrior from the Underdark who has heard of their exploits. He calls himself Pyrka and though he is/was a human, he has red scales on parts of his body. He can't remember exactly how he got these. Some time ago he woke up with terrible wounds and memory loss on a battlefield in the Underdark. His armor looks strange and almost organic. Pyrka's best hypothesis is that illithids modified his body to turn him into a slave-warrior and that their control over him was broken when he got hurt in battle. He is not very sure about it, but he does know that he wants to fight for what is good and just.

When Pyrka, after a perilous journey, arrived in Blingdenstone, he spend a while helping the gnomes fight the slimes. The svirfneblin told them about the party and he liked how they fought for just causes. It also seemed like they mind having unusual characters in their party. He therefore hopes that he'll be allowed to join the group. The party has indeed never been too picky about who can join the group and they happily agree. With Skorr having left the group, they could certainly use another warrior.

The group still hasn't solved their spider conundrum. They decide to just head to Naxos to try and find a buyer. They arrange for a ship and take a male and female spider (in cages) along. The rest will for now stay on the kobold islet. They consider perhaps taking a boat from Naxos to Athenai. Perhaps there they will be able to find more information about Nelrindenvane. It should in any case be on the route to Derendil's realm.

After a short journey the group arrives in Naxos, on the island of the same name. They have much trouble finding a buyer for the spiders who will give them a good and safe life. An old teacher of Thorvild is willing to buy them for research purposes, but can't pay much and will dissict them, which the party doesn't like. There are traders in exotic animals for in the arenas of the peoples in the west. The party doesn't like that either. Eventually Thorvild comes up with the idea to sell the venom for (hopefully) a considerable amount of money. His old teacher would be willing to harvest it for free, on the condition that he is allowed to dissict the animals. The party decides to think on it, hoping they may find a well to do druid or something like that.

Fronto meanwhile decides to leave his acolyte behind at the local temple of Apollo. When he is asked if he thinks the derro is suited for being trained to become a priest a rather uncomfortable situation arises. After much pleading the local priest promises to "see if it works out".

The group also employs a sage to research Nelrindenvane. He was utterly unable to find any reference to it at all. The area where it is supposed to be does harbor several elven realms and he can find all kinds of information about those. But nothing about Nelrindenvane, Derendil, or Terrestor.

It is the 106th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

10 February 2018 (Session 50)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Gombert
  • Joska
  • Martijn

When the party walk around town with their usual level of discretion, they draw the attention of a flamboyant elf. This person introduces himself as Novery Bravé, but the party can call him Nob. He would like to join a group of adventurers, as the group he previously adventured with has unfortunately perished in a fight with a hydra. Nob was the only survivor. He did defeat the hydra (he produces a large claw that hangs from a chain around his neck, and puts it back before anyone has a chance to really look at it), but everyone knows it is better to adventure with a group. So...

The group has never been picky about who can join them, so after the usual short interview and the orphanage test, Nob is added to the group. Apart from being a hydraslayer he is also a bard.

When the party explain what they're doing, Nob tells them that he knows the area where Nelrindenvane is supposed to be well. The fight with the hydra was in that area and he spent some time travelling between elven courts. He has never heard the name Nelrindenvane. It is certainly not a current elven realm and he is fairly certain that is isn't a historical realm either.

The party had more or less intended to travel to the area and find out what's what. It now seems that would be pointless. Eventually they decide to go the temple of Apollo and hope the high priest can help them.

Said high priest would of course be glad to help his colleage Fronto. He casts a Greater Restoration spell on Derendil, but this doesn't seem to do anything. While the high priest explains that this is the most powerful magic he has access too, Derendil starts getting increasingly confused. He starts slurring his words, complains of headache, and gets agitated. The group decides to quickly get out of the city before there are any accidents.

They make camp just outside the side in the grove of a local farmer. It quickly becomes obvious that prince Derendil no longer occupies the body of the quaggoth. The creature call itself (after thinking on it for a while) Trorr. It says it used to do chores in Velkynvelve until the drow locked it up for behaving strangely. Trorr appears to be a fairly typical quaggoth. This is not a good thing, for quaggoths are well known as aggressive sadists.

Out of respect for what once was noble Derendil, the group decides to help Trorr get back to the Underdark. He would be less dangerous there than on the surface world and he himself very much prefers it over staying on the surface. While the gnomes stay with Trorr the rest of the party, seeing no other viable option, will sell the spiders to an arena merchant. As the spiders are successfully sold and also a route to the Underdark is found, the situation with the gnomes of course get terribly out of hand. The farmer whose grove had been invaded without permission is treated quite rudely by the gnomes and returns with his neighbors and a pack of dogs. The party decides discretion is the better part of valour and finds another place to stay.

The next day the group treks along the edge of the Kobold Forest into the hills. As soon as the cave leading to the Underdark is located, Trorr enters it with little more respons than some grunts. The party briefly reflects on the memory of Derendil and then heads back to town.

It is the 107th day since the escape from Velkynvelve.

10 March 2018 (Session 51)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Joska

The party would like to know if Derendil still exists in some way. It is quite weird that Trorr as Derendil knew how to speak elven and knew a fair bit about the surface world.

At the suggestion of Thorvild they consult his alma mater, the university of Naxos. One of the professors, one Kleio, is a very capable diviner. She explains that if Derendil still exists in some form, he will likely be on another plane of existence. He may have been an "imprint" of an elven prince on the Faewild. Or if he was a true soul, he will likely now be in Arvandor, the elven afterlife. In any case, she should be able to reach him with a Contact Other Plane spell. Of course she will have to be compensated for casting this. The party grumbles a lot about the hefty price, but she cannot be moved. She had to spend many years in study to be able to do this. Apart from that, the spell is not without danger to the caster. Eventually they agree to pay for the spell in return for a Scroll of Conjure Minor Elemental which the party isn't using anyway. Fronto will also support her with divine spell, increasing the chance of a successful casting.

The spell is cast successfully, but Kleio can't find any entity matching Derendil. Her conclusion is that Derendil cannot be a soul or imprint of such. He must have somehow been a delusion of Trorr. Perhaps the titans made this delusion more "real" than it ought to have been. Zanna wonders why the titans would do such a thing. How would it help them? Kleio has no definitive answer. Perhaps the titans don't consciously cause this sort of thing and it is more a side effect of their presence. Migthy dragons are said to affect their surroundings in a similar way.

Unable to do anything for Derendil and having sold their animals (including Fronto's riding lizard) the party returns to Rogos. Thorvild pays the bill for the inn they've stayed at with a Fly spell.

The next several months pass peacefully.

Zanna learn Greek (the common tongue of this part of the surface world) and starts keeping chickens.

Thorvild and Fronto use the Stone of Controlling Earth Elementals to build the first sewers on the island. (Only on the acropolis; the ground water level is too high in the village beneath it.) They also construct a fountain at the foot of the hill which is fed by a basin near the summit. Around the fountain they place statues depicting Derendil, the archon and his beloved granddaughter, and the patron gods of the island: Apollo and Artemis.

Underneath Fronto's house they dig a modest appartment for Zanna. The building Fronto had built as a stable for his riding lizard is now used as the entrance.

Jimjar returns to his family in Blingdenstone, but stays in contact though Sending spells.

When winter arrives Fronto is visited by a messenger with a letter for the party. The letter bears the seal of the king of Gauntlgrym (the dwarven city that was home to Eldeth Feldrun, one of the other captives in Velkynvelve) and has been handed to the messenger by king Bruenor Battlehammer himself!

"Come at once to Gauntlgrym for an audience with King Bruenor Battlehammer, to discuss matters of grave importance concerning your experiences in the Underdark."

Though they find the message a bit rude, and Fronto thinks it's odd that the messenger is a human rather than a dwarf, the group intends to go to Gauntlgrym. Bruenor Battlehammer has a good reputation and the city is not terribly far. (More or less on the route to Corinth.)

It has now been over half a year since the escape from Velkynvelve.

17 March 2018 (Session 52)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk
  • Joska

After several apple-pie-related incidents (Tee keeps stealing them; Thorvild sets a lure-pie containing a vomitive; Tee is on to it and gives pieces of the pie away at the temple; the "epidemic" is fought by Fronto and the priestess of Artemis; Thorvild takes a pie backing course and actually becomes quite good at it) the party arranges for transportation to Gauntlgrym. The same fisherman who transported the party on previous occasions is prepared to do this once again. The journey does make a big dent in the party finances.

After several days at sea the party arrives at a small harbor on a rocky island. (Gauntlgrym doesn't appear to be a naval power.) The locals direct the party onto a path into the hills. At the end of this they find an impressive gate in the side of a cliff. Dwarven warriors guard the passage.

When the party addresses the guards, one of them pulls out a parchment. He briefly studies it and declares that Thorvild matches the description. The party immediately assumes that Doctor Inferno is already in trouble, but it soon becomes apparent that the parchment has descriptions of the entire group. The guards declare that the adventurers are honored guests and will be taken to lodgings to refresh themselves before their audience with the king.

The guards lead the group through a series of impressive gates and galleries into the city proper. In an enormous, partially artificial cave is an impressive complex of towers, bridges, stairs, and other kinds of constructions. There are tunnels in all directions leading to many more spaces. Gauntlgrym is indeniably an enormous complex, but the party spots only a few inhabitants. Nonetheless, the rooms that have been prepared for the group are very comfortable. Each member of the group gets a private room full of nice furniture including a comfortable bed, bathing facilities and an assortment of refreshments.

When everyone has had the chance to refresh themselves a servant arrives to inform them that the king will receive them. The impressive throne room is not far from that accomodations. Here sits king Bruenor Battlehammer, surrounded by guards and advisors, on the Great Throne of Moradin. He welcomes the group as friends and honored guests and immediately asks all kinds of questions about everything the adventurers went through in the Underdark. As they tell them all about it, the king listens intently. As expected, what they have to tell about the titans causes him great concern. Gauntlgrym is mostly located in the Underdark, so this poses them a grave threat. The king indicates that he must consult with his advisors. In the evening there shall be a great feast in honor of the party and there they will speak again.

The servant who escorts the group back to their rooms offers to give them a short tour of the city. The group loves the idea, even more so when they get wind of the fact that the dwarves use an old network of magically powered mine carts as a transportation system. The tour takes the group to various places in the Vault of Kings (the large space full of towers, bridges, etc.) en the Iron Tabernacle. The latter space is the physical and spiritual center of the city. It is the size of a small city and is packed full of temples, cathedrals, statues, altars, etc. of a multitude of gods. (Including all the common Greek gods.) Here too it is painfully obvious that the city at some point has been vandalized and neglected. Many temples are partially collapsed and in several places obscene graffiti can be seen.

The servant explains that many centuries ago Gauntlgrym was one of the most prosperous cities in the world, but the empire of the Delzoun dwarves that built it was broken by an enormous army of orcs led by powerful mages. After some years that horde fell apart and after this the city fell under the control of all kinds of groups. Illithids, duergar, drow, aboleths, and many other creatures have controlled the city at various points in time, while all memory of the city faded on the surface world. A few decades ago the city was rediscovered by Bruenor. The warrior, who was already famous, gathered an army and after much fierce fighting reclaimed the city for the dwarves.

These days the city doesn't have anything near the population size which it had in the distant past, but the mines and smithies are once again in use. When Fronto asks some more questions about these smithies the servant explains that the Great Forge is an enormous room, comparable to the Vault of Kings and Iron Tabernacle. It is filled to the brim with furnaces, anvils, rails for mine carts, cable systems for moving buckets of water, etc. When Fronto asks how the furnaces are heated, the servant answers that the dwarves have a system of "heat tubes" to do so, but he is not allowed to go into further detail.

In the meantime it has become time to go to the feast. The group quickly changes into the nice outfits they bought in the commercial district of the Vault of Kings during the tour, and heads to the celebration. Here they are seated in a place of honor at the king's high table. There is a large and colorful assembly of guests. Besides many dwarven dignitaries there are also guests from all kinds of other races and from every direction (but mostly from the surface world). The food and drink are excellent and abundant and there is cheerful music. The worries about the titans seem far away.

When after a few hours the party is starting to wind down, the king excuses himself. Not longer after this a servant requests the party to accompany him. The adventurers are led to a private chamber where the king is waiting for them. His expression is now serious again. He has consulted with his advisors and they have arrived at a plan. A group called the Brotherhood has connections to a secret tradepost in the Underdark called Mantol-Derith. One of their agents there, one Ghazrim DuLoc, knows the location of a place called Gravenhollow. This is a legendary place which was built by stone giants in the distant past. It is said to contain all the knowledge of the deep. If there is any place that might hold the answer to how the titans could escape from Tartarus, this must be it. The king hopes the party will agree to gather this knowledge. Of course he will support them in this. This support will include sufficient riding lizards and a large supply of rations.

The party is not exactly excited to go back into the Underdark. Eventually the surface gnomes decide that they really don't have a choide. Sooner or later the titans will become an untenable problem. When Zanna asks the king what's in it for the party, he briefly looks a bit disappointed, but he mentions that Gauntlgrym has a lot of available space and real estate, and that as king he can bestow titles of nobility.

When the adventurers reluctantly accept the mission, the king explains that he has brought representatives of various potential allies to the city. The party has already seen them during the feast. If they could persuade these potential allies to support them, then this would not only make the party's mission more likely to succeed, but it will also hopefully lay the foundation for an alliance that can from a united front against the titans. The king will do whatever he can to present the party in a good light (the feast was one way in which he did so), but it would be best for him not to approach the representatives directly. If they get the impression that he favors one group over another, then this could jeopardize the alliance before it is even formed.

The most important factions are as follows:

31 March 2018 (Session 53)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Joska

The party notifies Damazo the fisherman that he need not wait for them and can return to Rogos. Thorvild gives him a package to bring to his father. He is supposed to open it on his birthday. In it is the Potion of Longevity which the gnome got from the dragon Themberchaud in Gracklstugh. Whoever drinks such a potion will grew several years younger. Thorvild's father is rather old, so this is a very welcome gift for both father and son.

After saying goodbye to the fisherman the group visits the various factions hoping to get gain their favor and cooperation.

At first they approach Davra Jassur of The Botherhood. The lady is not inclined to share the route to Mantol-Derith, but has to admit that the party makes a good point when they remind her that the activities of the titans pose a serious issue for the Brotherhood's trade network. They eventually reach an agreement. The Brotherhood will supply muscle to the expedition and will make sure the party is lead to Mantol-Derith. In exchange the party will have to share everything they learn with the Botherhood, the Brotherhood men will get a share in the loot, and the location of Mantol-Derith will have to be kept secret. Davra will writes this down in a contract. The party resolves not to sign anything until it has been approved by a lawyer.

While the Brotherhood works on the contract the party visits Anaximander of the Philosophers. This mage has installed himself on a high bridge in the Vault of Kings. Seated on a comfortable sofa and surrounded by books he enjoys the view, wine, and chocolates. It quickly becomes apparent that the Philosophers are very loosely organized. The adventurers enjoy the chocolates (which the wizard occasionally replenishes from a "pocket" in his toga) and admire his discretely positioned Shield Guardian golem, but that don't expect much useful aid from this faction. Anaximander is happy to let Thorvild copy the Sending spell from his spellbook so he can consult the Philosophers. For instance about the things they might learn in Gravenhollow. Anaximander is certain that the Philosophers would be very interested to learn about Gravenhollow and the knowledge it contains.

Copying the spell takes many hours, but in the meanwhile Anaximander entertains the party with games of chess. Nobody manages to beat the philosopher, but Fronto plays in such an unorthodox fashion that Anaximander almost gets confused to the point of losing the game. When Thorvild is finally done copying the spell and the group says their goodbyes, the philosopher invites them to return to him for diner. He seems to have enjoyed the interaction. The group happily accepts.

The next faction to be visited is the Sacred Band. The adventurers barely get the chance to tell about their plans before the leader of the Sacred Band offers to help them. This is exactly what their order is all about! They would be honored to fight against the titans! Five human veterans of the order will accompany the group and they will lend a magical maul to Pyrka.

Strengthened by this enthousiasm the party immediately continues on to the Cult of Pan. Their leader is a regular citizen of the city. She is not as excited as the Sacred Band, but nonetheless needs little persuading to support the expedition. The Cult of Pan loves nature and the corrupting effect of the titans worries them greatly. She will add three dwarven scouts with Underdark experience to the expedition and will arrange sufficient riding lizards to carry both the scouts and the veterans of the Sacred Band.

Finally, the group heads to Xanthippos, the League representative. The party is quite disappointed when their story makes less of an impression. Xanthippos claims he takes the situation seriously, but at the same time he feels that the Underdark has always been full of nasty creatures. The addition of the titans doesn't really change the situation materially, as far as he is concerned. The party argues that it is only a matter of time before the titans will come to the surface and cause untold trouble, but Xanthippos thinks that it is too early to worry about that.

7 April 2018 (Session 54)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Joska

When dinner time approaches the party heads to the tower of Anaximander wearing their best clothes. When they knock on the door it addresses them with a magical voice and opens and shuts by itself. Apart from the wizard himself no other beings can be seen in the comfortable interior, though pitchers of wine and dishes full of treats fly through the air.

During the (excellent) meal they of course talk about their missions. The party again stresses how important the mission is and that they really need more help. To the party's surprise the wizard lends them his shield guardian. The golem will follow the instructions of whoever bears its controling amulet. (Currently Zanna, who was the most persistent in pressing the wizard for aid.) The creature is a formidable fighter and an excellent defender for the bearer of the amulet.

After dinner more games of chess are played. Anaximander proves beatable after all, for Pyrka eventually wins a game. Not long after this the group says their goodbyes. It is now quite late.

The next day the group requests an audience with the king. The gnomes in the party is terribly surpised that they can't just barge in whenever they like, and that even with an urgent request they still have to wait until 4 in the afternoon. Fortunately the chamberlain is able to help them. (They really only wanted to be sent to a good contract lawyer and take care of some logistics. Exactly the kind of stuff you should bother a king with...)

Most of the next day is spent on contract negotiations with the Brotherhood. Eventually they arrive at a document that both parties can live with. Important clauses include:

The party reports to the king at noon. He is pleased that the party has managed to get nearly all the factions on board and will support the expedition with an additional 10 ridig lizards. (The last ones available in the city.) He is saddened to hear that the League does not participate. Perhaps Xanthippos will need to see the danger with his own eyes? Unfortunately the party doesn't know how that could b accomplished. But they do resolve to make another attempt at convincing him.

Thorvild and Zanna once again inquire after a reward. Thorvild desires a tower and Zanna would like a spacious dwelling in Blingdenstone as well as enough income to retire. King Bruenor accepts these terms, but as he is not the king of Blingdenstone, he cannot promise that he'll be able to arrange for a dwelling in that town. If he is unable to do so, he will instead arange for something similar in Gauntlgrym.

After the audience the party once again visits Xanthippos. This time that make quite a show of having all other factions on board. Everyone contributes knowledge, manpower, pack animals, and even a golem! How odd that the League doesn't contribute anything at all...

This seems to wound Xanthippos' pride. Sputtering with indignation he arranges for five dwarven warriors and three human "scouts" to reinforce the expedition on behalf of the League.

14 April 2018 (Session 55)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Joska

The party gets ready to leave, but at the last moment discover that they don't really know where to go. One of their Botherhood men informs them that most of the journey will be done via the surface. Going through the Underdark would only be unnecessarily dangerous. Besides, going by ship will be much faster. But it does means that the party needs to arrange a ship that can fit the entire group and their animals and supplies. After much back and forth it becomes clear that the king does't have a suitable vessel, but Xanthippos, the League representative, does. Despite the fact that Doctor Inferno has already upset the crew of the ship, Xanthippos is willing to take the party along when he heads back to his home in Argos. Fronto concludes that Xanthippos isn't that bad after all.

After a few days the ship is ready to leave. The party uses the intervening time to update the king on what's going on and to fabricate cages for the animals. Melanthios, one of the veterans of the Sacred Band who has joined the expedition, is tasked with keeping Thorvild out of trouble, which his does very diplomatically. The duo eats ice cream, goes fishing, visits the dwarven smithies, etc.

The journey to Argos is uneventful. After a few days the group disembarks a little east of Argos. This way they don't draw unwanted attention. Before the group leaves the ship Xanthippos asks them to be restrained in attacking drow. The League has a spy in the Underdark who is magically disguised as one. She is actually an elf called Khelessa. She is likely in some sort of trouble, for the League has lost contact several months ago. Though it could also be that they can't reach her because Sending is blocked, for instance by faerzress. In any case, they would hate for her to get hurt by the party.

After a trek of several hours through difficult hilly terrain, the group arrives at a cave that leads deep into the Underdark. From here it is an uneventful journey of a few days before Mantol-Derith is reached. The group is so large that most monsters keep away from them, and the scouts spot any other threats before they can become a problem.

Through a hidden and magically sealed entrance (comamnd word "belaern") the group arrives at the bottom of a deep gorge that bisects the cave containing Mantol-Derith. Water drips down from the ceiling. The Botherhood explains that the settlement sits on the edge of the Darklake and it is best not to drink the water. In the middle of the gorge is a broken platform made of crystal which was once used to bring caravans up. The magic of the platform is gone and there are four smaller, half-mechanical lifts to replace it. (The mechanism is powered by magic.) Most of the people in the group get into these lift. Because not everyone can fit at the same time, the animals and eight members of the expedition stay below to wait until the lifts return.

When the lifts reach the top of the gorge it is immediately obvious that the situation in Mantol-Derith is far from normal. On the east side of the cleft the market stalls have been overturned and merchandise and the corpses of giant lizards and steeders are scattered on the ground. In the distance sounds of battle can be heard, as well as the pounding of metal on stone. Between the stall some svirfneblin flee from enlarged duergar who clearly mean them harm. The stalls on the west side of the cleft are still standing, but they are empty and abandoned.

The duergar al halted by means of Sleep and Calm Emotions spells. The group discovers that the duergar are attacking the gnomes because of them supposedly stole a gem from a duergar merchant. The alleged thief is none other than Yantha Coaxrock, the leader of the Stoneheart Enclave. A svirfneblin named Peebles, who was hiding underneath an stall, says the attack came out of nowhere. He doesn't really know Yantha (he is a visitor to Mantol-Derith), but he thinks it very unlikely that she would just steal a gem.

The sounds of battle come from the direction of the svirfneblin compound. Fronto and Zanna want to come to the aid of the svirfneblin, but the Botherhood men say that the mission is jeopardized and they have to immediately head to the Brotherhood compound to secure the route to Gravenhollow. Fronto and Zanna believe that gnome lives come first and take most of the expedition forces to the north east. Two Brotherhood men (the rest is with the animals), the three League scouts, Thorvild, and Melanthios go to the Brotherhood compound in the south west.

The path to the deep gnome compound is littered with dead svirfneblin. Zanna is shocked to recognize many faces from Blingdenstone.

At the compound the group sees four duergar using heavy pickaxes to break through the door. When the party demands that they stop a first erupts. The four duergar are reinforced by 8 comrades who had been invisibly, but that can't stand up to the adventurers. The Sacred Band veterans and the League guards keep the grey dwarves at bay (and get in some good hits while doing so) , while Zanna and the scouts of the Cult of Pan pepper them with arows. The last few duergar get pacified by Fronto by means of a Calm Emotions spell. They claim to only seek justice after the scandalous theft by Yantha.

Meanwhile Thorvild and co have arrived at the Brotherhood compound. The tents where business is normally done is completely abandoned except for a delegation of drow. These drow are clearly rather cranky (which is not unusual for drow) and demand that the party gets out, which they do. The group continues to the Brotherhood warehouse, which is in a fortified side-cave. On the way there someone spots a gargoyle keeping tabs on the situation from a ledge. Why the gargoyle is sitting there is unknown. Perhaps it is with the drow.

The Brotherhood has indeed taken shelter in their warehouse. When they learn that members of their organization are among the group, they immediately let them in. Inside are a large number of sheds full of goods. From one of these sheds Ghazrim DuLoc emerges. He is the local leader of the Brotherhood and the one who is supposed to know the route to Gravenhollow. Ghazrim is a jovial man from an eastern land. He brings refreshments for the party and takes an expensive ring from his fingers and hands it to Thorvild. The ring is magical and shows its wearer the safest and most direct route to Gravenhollow. Ghazrim acquired it in a trade deal not long ago. The Brotherhood had intended to investigate Gravenhollow themselves, but the recent developments in the Underdark have gotten in the way.

When Thorvild inquires after the situation in Mantol-Derith, Ghazrim explains that the duergar claim the gnomes have stolen something from them. He is unsure of the details, but because the situation was quickly deteriorating, he had the Brotherhood take refuge. He doesn't know what the drow delegation want, but he was about to talk to them. Thorvild asks him if he might want some backup and Ghazrim gladly accepts the offer. Thorvild also spots a beholder floating between the sheds and Ghazrim explains that it is called Lorthuun, a member of the Brotherhood, and was badly wounded in a battle with a behir a long time ago.

28 April 2018 (Session 56)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Joska

Ghazrim feels he can't keep the drow waiting any longer and assembles a delegation including, among others, Lorthuun the beholder and Thorvild, to spreak with the drow.

The drow, who are just as cranky as they were before, propose to ally with the Brotherhood and take over Mantol-Derith. The gnomes and duergar are preoccupied with each other, so this would be an excellent time for such a move. Ghazrim seems to like the idea, but before he can discuss the offer, a drow suddenly attacks the beholder. Thorvild gets the impression that nobody - whether drow or Brotherhood - saw this coming. He tries to stop an all out fight between the groups, but there are too many anxious people with weapons gathered around...

The drow are no pushovers, but with the extra manpower which Thorvild brought along, fortunes favor the Brotherhood. The gargoyle that was previously spotted does come to the aid of the drow. He attacks Lorthuun and when the drow who started the attack is about to get seriously hurt, he grabs her and flies off. Before he can get far though, he is stopped though a spell, and at this point Thorvild is finally able to stop the fighting.

Fronto and Zanna meanwhile question the svirfneblin in their compound. The deep gnomes have taken shelter in a large cubic hall with wall full of niches that serve both as residences and as storage places. Magically floating platforms of crystal enable access to these niches. The leader of the gnomes, one Gabble Dripskillet, is panicking, as are most of the other gnomes. The attack took them completely by surprise and their warriors have all been killed. More than anything else Gabble would love to abandon Mantol-Derith. He saw Yantha earlier on the day, but he has no idea where she is currently. He can't imagine her actually stealing a gem. Let alone from the duergar. The gnomes are major gem producers themselves!

The party met Yantha briefly in Blingdenstone, so Fronto can contact her with a Sending spell. He asks her where she is and what is going on. She answers that she is fine and is drinking tea incapacitated Blingdenstone. The gnomes are perplexed. Fronto and Zanna conclude that there must be an imposter in Mantol-Derith.

Fronto and Zanna decide to got the the duergar to get to the bottom of the situation. (The svirfneblin locked themselves back into their compound. They had hoped that the party would lead them out of Mantol-Derith, but Fronto and Zanna think that is premature.) The compound of the grey dwarves is surrounded by a heavy iron fence and is guarded by several heavily armed duergar. (And likely a bunch more who are invisible.) Most of the group has to stay outside, but Zanna and Fronto are allowed inside to talk with the leader of the duergar.

The main part of this compound too is carved out of the rock. There are several dozen merchants there as well as a whole bunch of steeders. The merchants look like they aren't spoiling for a fight. They direct the gnomes to a small building at the edge of the space.

When the gnomes head inside they are surprised to see Yantha Coaxrock hanging upside down from a rope going through a pulley in the ceiling. She is wearing a dress that is richely decorated with gems and directly below her is a drooling xorn. The elemental creature is obviously hungry for the gems and has its enormous mouth wide open. The end of the rope is being held by two duergar who are angrily addressing the svirfneblin.

The two duergar are Ghuldur Flagonfist, the leader of the duergar, and Krimgol Muzgardt, the merchant whose gem has allegedly been stolen by Yantha. The dwarves state that they are only after justice. The gnomes (who look with some admiration at both the dress and the contraption) try to unmask Yantha as an imposter, but to their surprise she declares to be enjoying a nice cup of tea. Ze is not at all in trouble, has never been to Mantol-Derith, loves duergar, etc. The gnomes conclude that she is mad as a hatter. Perhaps this is due to the influence of Demogorgon? They promise the duergar to get to the bottom of the situation.

After a Sending spell by Thorvild the entire group gets together at the Brotherhood compound. The gargoyle and the aggressive drow have been sunk into the floor by a Stoneshape spell cast by Thorvild. The drow leader, a mage called Sirak Mazelor, declares that the aggressor, one Kinyel Druu'gir, acted on their own initiative. Of course everyone wants to know why Kinyel did so. Sirak starts to torture Kinyel horribly. Kinyel cries in pain, but doesn't explain herself. The gargoyle (who has not yet been tortured) cries out in agony. He begs for Kinyel's torture to stop. He has no idea why she did what she did, but he will do anything for her, because he loves her. This surprises everyone, because this is extremely atypical for a gargoyle. The creatures are known as sadists and procreate in some unknown way on the elemental plane of earth.

Daphne, the informal leader of the Brotherhood crew in the party, thinks it is high time to get out of Mantol-Derith. The mission should be prioritized. Fronto and Zanna, however, feel that they need to first find out what is going on in the settlement.

12 May 2018 (Session 57)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Gombert

Thorvild and Ulfgar decide that the party doesn't want to leave Mantol-Derith until they have normalized the situation. They start by talking to Ghazrim again. Now that it seems that Kinyel was action on her own initiative, he seriously considers the offer of the drow to take over the outpost. (Including all the stuff of the svirfneblin and duergar.) The party argues that without the deep gnomes and duergar trade will be less lucrative. Besides, sooner or later the duergar will find out what happened, and their vengeance will be terrible. Wouldn't it be better to at least let the gnomes go in return for an exclusive trade agreement with Blingdenstone? Ghazrim counters that Gracklstugh lately seems more focused on internal matter. The Underdark has also grown much more dangerous, so he expects that the duergar's vengeance will take a long time to materialize. And the drow are hardly pushovers. Nonetheless, if the svirfneblin can make the deal attractive enough, he will would be able to let them leave unmolested. The party now has a plan for the svirfneblin and Brotherhood, but still doesn't know what to do with the drow and duergar. They decide to pay the latter another visit.

The duergar make it clear that they will not rest until the stolen gem has been returned. It is of immense value and therefore effectively irreplaceable. And even if it was they would still demand justice be done. Thorvild uses a Detect Magic spell on Yantha, but there seems to be no magic active on her. When the party questions her, she indicates that her mind is blurry, but that she remembers being visited by a drow when she was still appraising the gem. This drow also wanted her to appraise an item, but at some point during that interaction her memory goes blank. She thinks the drow put a spell on her or poisoned her, and then took the gem. The party takes this lead to the svirfneblin.

The deep gnomes once again ask the party to help them out of the outpost. The party tells them that this is not the right moment to do so and proposes the plan for an exclusive trade relationship between the Brotherhood and Blingdenstone. When they ask if the gnomes have any goods they could leave behind to sweeten the deal, Gabble offers one of his personal possessions: a gem on a necklace worth some 5000 gp. If the party can get the deep gnomes to safety, they can do whatever they want with the gem.

The group investigates Yantha's dwelling. They find some scrolls, a closed safe, and a vague imprint of a receipt for the gem. There are several witnesses who saw the duergar Krimgol bring the gem to Yantha, but nobody saw the drow who allegedly visited her afterward.

Thorvild and Ulfgar now head back to the Brotherhood compound. They ask the gargoyle if he knows anything about drow visiting Yantha. The gargoyle doesn't, but he does know where the gem is. He will tell the party its exact location, but only after his beloved is safe. This is a problem, because Sirak, the leader of the drow, wants to torture Kinyel to death. The party tries to persuade her not to, but can't give her a convincing reason. Sirek then asks an exorbinant price for Kinyel's life: 10,000 gp. Now matter how hard the party pleads, she will not budge.

When Peebles states that he thinks it high time to leave Mantol-Derith, Thorvild and Ulfgar are convinced that he stole the gem. It has never become clear what exactly he's doing in Mantol-Derith, where he normally lives, how he makes a living, etc. Peebles is outraged, but he is forced to have himself investigated and to empty his rather conspicuous white fur bag. Despite extensive searching, the gem is not found. The party assumes that Peebles has hidden it somewhere and tells the strongly protesting svirfneblin that he will be held in custody for a while.

The party makes another round of all the factions. The gargoyle tells (and the drow confirm) that Kinyel has only been in Mantol-Derith for a few days and belongs to another house than most of the other drow in the outpost. This is not terribly uncommon though. The group negotiates another agreement between the deep gnomes and the Brotherhood. The gnomes will remain in Mantol-Derith and the Brotherhood will provide security in return for a fee and additional trade concessions. The party otherwise makes little progress, so they eventually decide to resume negotiations for Kinyel's freedom.

Sirak is adamant about her demand of 10,000 gp. With pain in their hearts, Ulfgar and Thorvild offer the varnished eye they found among the possessions of teh Pudding King. Sirak considers it for a moment and agrees.

The party frees Kinyel and the gargoyle and Ulfgar heals the tortured drow. To everyone's surprise she then produces the gem which everyone seems to be after and hands it to Ulfgar. She explains that her house ordered her to kill the beholder and the gem was her payment. (The gargoyle had a different story and said that he gave the gem to her as a token of his love.) Thorvild investigates the gem. It is black, expertly cut, and the size of a dwarf's fist. The stone is clearly worth a fortune. It is not magical.

19 May 2018 (Session 58)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Joska

The party finally got hold of the gem! They immediately take it to the duergar. The grey dwarves are pleased to have their stole property back, but state that Yantha still needs to be punished. After all, she assumed responsibility for the gem. According to duergar law an appropriate punishment would be chopping off her hand. The party (and Yantha) think this is far too extreme and plead for the duergar to desist. The duergar are known for their strict adherence to the law, but fortunately, their law allows for the injured party to accept alternative compensation. Krimgol (the gem's owner) accepts hefty fine instead, and the party arranges for Gabble to give her an emergency loan.

With the situation in Mantol-Derith being somewhat normalized, the group decides it has become time to head to Gravenhollow. Peebles is released, as there is no evidence that he has done anything wrong. The gnome is outraged at his treatment and immediately leaves the outpost. Thorvild follows him for a while to see what he's up to, but discovers nothing of interest. Kinyel and the gargoyle also get out while they still can.

The ring indicates that Gravenhollow is hundreds of miles away. Because it is closer to Gauntlgrym than Mantol-Derith the group decides to travel most of the journey over the surface. This is almost certainly faster and less dangerous. Xanthippos is contacted via a Sending spell, and he once again makes his ship available. The group makes the journey without incidents.

After reporting to king Bruenor Battlehammer the group continues underground to Gravenhollow. The journey takes over two weeks and is interrupted by several demon attacks. (Multple vrocks and shadow demons.) When they are almost at their destination, Zanna discovers a basilisk lying on the ground in a cave with his gaze to the ground. The creature has noticed Zanna and addresses her in Greek. The basilisk is uncommonly intelligent (at least for a basilisk, who are normally unable to speak) and calls itself Veldyskar. It claims to work for the library and complains that it has takes the party quite long enough to get here. He will bring them to the entrance. He wants to take them in the same direction as the ring indicates, so the group decides to go along.

Not long after this the group arrives at an enormous gate of basalt. The enormous construction is ornately decorated and flanked by life-sized statues of stone giants whose heads turns to follow the party. Veldyskar leads the group inside, into the mysterious Gravenhollow.

When the group passes the gate it is as though they enter a different world. Inside it is warmly illuminated; almost like natural daylight. It is also very spacious, with a ceiling that is reminiscent of the largest halls in Gauntlgrym, except this ceiling is a rainbow of luminiscent and translucent crystals. In the middle of the room is an enormous central well (not the kind with water) with stairs going up and down and walkways going to the other side. There are corridors full of doors going in every direction. There are so many that it seems unlikely you could explore them all in a full day.

The group has only looked around for a few moments when an enormous stone figure detaches from the wall. It is a galeb duhr (like the ones the party encountered previously in Blingdenstone) who introduces themself as Hourm. It welcomes the group. Their masters are presently occupied, but rooms are available for the party to stay in and they are welcome to use the resources of Gravenhollow. The rooms it takes the group to seem initially spartan, but when the party members return to them after a while, they are suddenly comfortably decorated. They have even been customized to the occupant's individual tastes and needs. For instance, Fronto's room is full of decorations related to Apollo, Thorvild's room has a gnome-sized hamster wheel and colorful concoctions, and Zanna's room has a chicken coop.

9 June 2018 (Session 59)

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Joska
  • Martin
  • Robert

When the group explores the library, they quickly notice that in Gravenhollow the normal laws of time and space don't entirely apply. It is very easy to get lost in endless mazes of corridors that somehow keep ending at the central well. But if one focuses on a specific destination, then this destination often proves to be just around the corner. Fortunately there are always helpful galeb duhr who show up when you call for aid. They don't mind taking you to a destination, answering questions, or bringing you food and drink. That is, as long as you don't do anything that endangers the library, like starting a fire.

Another way in which the party notices that time and space work differently in Gravenhollow is that they occasionally run into shade-like "echoes" of other visitors to the library. Pyrka run into one of a broad-shouldered guy called Herakles and the group runs into the echo of a wizard called Zarnandar who claims to live in the future. (He calls the situation with the titans "rather unpleasant", but doesn't want to discuss it further.)

The group doesn't just run into shadows; they also meet Pet, a half-drow ranger who grew up as a slave to the drow in Menzoberranzan. He escaped just recently when he accompanied his masters on a journey through the Underdark. He had only been fleeing for a short while when he found the entrance to Gravenhollow. The party finds it rather convenient that he just happened to find the entrance. Gravenhollow is known to be exceptionally hard to find. Pet thinks it odd too. Perhaps the library wanted him to find it? In any case, whenever he explores the library on his own, he invariably ends up running into the party.

When they ask the galeb duhr about these things, they learn that Gravenhollow has three librarians: Ulthar, the Keeper of the Past; Urmas, the Keeper of the Present; and Ustova, the Keeper of the Future. All three are majestic stone giants. While Tee explorers the library on his own (and finds some information about the primordial war between the gods and the titans) the rest visits Urmas. The Keeper of the Present is rather busy, but politely receives the party. When he hears that they have recent information about the titans he becomes very interested. He tells the party that the Stonespeaker Crystal they were given by Stonespeaker Hgraam in Gracklstugh has a special connection to Gravenhollow. Crystals like it can be used in the library to get visions of the present, past, or future. These visions can even answer specific questions. Thorvild, who is attuned to the crystal, gives it a shot and receives a vision of the titan Zuggtmoy, who travels south-east from Neverlight Grove. (As far as the party knows, there is little of importance in that direction, except Gracklstugh.)

While the rest of the party sticks together, and visits the Keeper of the Past (who is happy to chat to them), Thorvild starts his own investigation. When some other party members ask them if they can borrow the crystal, he tells them that he already gave it to someone else. It takes a while for them to figure out that this isn't true. When they confront Thorvild, he irritatedly refuses to explain himself. And the investigation he is conducting seems to mainly concern macaroni. The group thinks it very peculiar and wonders if the somewhat instable gnome has finally gone mad.

More to Come...

More to come...