(This is a log of my players run through the Out of the Abyss campaign (After a brief dabble with Harried at Hillsfar first. Spoilers abound, though it’s likely the team won’t play the module in the way you, the writers or sanity intended).
Having failed to approach undetected the party attempts to work out what the Derro are plotting using Plan B; extreme violence.
Pushing further into the tunnels, the team notice that the purple glow of Faezress crystals is getting stronger and more mushrooms line the caverns, taking advantage of the light.
As their path widens into a natural cavern, they notice several figures up ahead. They are bipedal fungal creatures of varying sizes, all swaying and dancing to music only they can hear.
Anastasia, drawing her sword: “Great! Mushrooms for tea, I’m starving.”
Zook: “No, wait! They’re Myconids. We might be able to talk to them. Look, there’s one on their own.”
Anastasia: “But I’m hungry….”
Zook: “Information first. Predation later.”
Myconids communicate via releasing spores and phermones so in order to question the
Myconids communicate via releasing spores and phermones so in order to question the loner the party had to partake. A back-and-forth conversation with Zook and Targen got them the information they needed; many of the Myconids were being controlled by a corrupted version of the spore-cloud and instead of their normal pastoral life they were working towards a global state of decay. The final bit of information it gave was an image of the creature responsible; a monstrously tall Myconid with a vaguely female and demonic shape.
Aiyu: “Zuggtmoy! She’s so beautiful! Such smooth gills. And what a curvy volva!”
WhiteEagle: “Aiyu! What the hell man!”
Targen: “He said volva.”
WhiteEagle: “Oh. Right.”
Sargen, staring at his hands: “I can see the gaps BETWEEN my fingers.”
Anastasia: “Cool man! Is anyone else a bit bummed about all the fighting. We could just stay here and chill.”
Zook: “What? You wanted to eat those Myconids not even five minutes ago.”
Anastasia: “That was the OLD, square Anastasia.”
Targen: “Why are the walls breathing? Can anyone else see the walls breathing?”
Zook herded the team away from the Myconids, a task that took a lot longer than it should have due to their desire to stop and stare at random objects for minutes at a time and to stop for rations twice.
As the cavern they were in widened, the way ahead showed a vast forest of enormous, luminescant mushrooms. There was no way around and there was an ominous hissing coming from within.
Targen: “I don’t like the sound of what’s in there. We should probably scout it out.”
Zook: “Good idea. We need two volunteers.”
The heroes all took a step back, except for two who weren’t paying enough attention.
Aiyu and Anastasia: “Really?”
WhiteEagle looped a rope around both of them and Sargen played it out as the two keen participants slowly walked inside the death-trap. Within moments silence fell across the wood. Sargen took a firm grip on the rope and as the minutes passed the team waited with levels of concern ranging from “Oblivious” to “Mildly Curious”.
Suddenly, the two heroes burst out of the darkness pursued by a collection of spiders, centipedes and beetles. The team was buried under a horde of legs and chitin and the close-quarters melee made spell-casting difficult. After an ichor-soaked battle, the party eventually overcame the horde with a resounding battle-cry of; “Gah!”
Ahead the path split, each running alongside a large pool. Most of it appeared to be made of water, though the centre was a roiling. mysterious black liquid. A huge watery monster burst out when the party approached and it immediately swam to attack.
Before anyone else could react, Zook had cast a “Slow” spell and the team spent the next few seconds easily side-stepping the creatures comically slow blows and leisurely blasting chunks off of it.
Anastasia: “That almost felt like bullying. That new slowing spell is good.”
Zook: “Yep, have been doing a bit of research. I’ve also memorised ‘Find Familiar’. Watch this.”
After reciting some arcane phrases, Zook summoned a fish to go and scout the centre of the pool. The fish was initially hesitent but couldn’t resist its master.
Zook: “See! Free scouting.”
Within a few seconds the fish floated back to the surface, twitched twice, and then died.
Targen: “That was underwhelming.”
Zook: “Hey! We found out the black water is dangerous!”
WhiteEagle: “I think we maybe could have figured that out ourselves.”
The team watched as the dead fish fizzled, foamed and slowly sank into the pool.
WhiteEagle: “Do you need a new fish now?”
Zook: “No, it returns to another plane of existence, ready to be summoned again. Like I said, it’s a pretty cool spell.”
WhiteEagle, watching a lump of fish-coloured scum congeal on top of the water: “Does the familiar remember any of this?”
Zook: “Naaah. Well, I don’t really know but I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
After more exploring they found an enormous chamber with steps to a high central rock. After a bit of study, they realised the strange sounds they could here were the murmourings of conversations occuring all over the city. Snippets of phrases and words could be made out, but when Zook tried to concentrate on the specifics and an enormous psychic backlash knocked him off of his feet.
WhiteEagle helped Zook to his feet: “You ok?”
Zook: “Urrgh. Think so. My head’s a little fuzzy.”
WhiteEagle: “Well, lets head east because I’ve…. wait!”
Zook had immediately run down the eastern passage at a quick pace. The others caught up and fairly quickly WhiteEagle figured out that the mishap at the listening room had meant Zook was powerless to resist any harmless request. The teams progress into the Derro base was slowed dramatically as Zook was forced to hop, roll and crawl like a caterpillar for prolonged periods until the effect wore off.
The hilarity was cut short by Anastasia reporting a small group of Derro were ahead, working with a series of strange machines. Zook (who had regained his senses) reported the machines were used for tranformation magic, but couldn’t tell much else from a distance. All the Derro were working on the machines and the party had the drop on them.
Sargen: “Lets be careful of the strange magic machines. Three Derro shouldn’t be too much trouble.”
Anastasia, Aiyu and Sargen raced down into the cavern as Targen, Zoon and WhiteEagle prepared ranged attacks. Zook’s initial spell cast was a large bolt of fire which didn’t even come close to hitting the Derro but instead slammed into the side of the largest piece of magical machinery. There was a thunderous explosion and the Derro were consumed in a brightly-coloured magical fireball.
Aiyu: “Again? REALLY?”
Almost as soon as the explosion was over, two of the Derro were partially merged into a hideous amalgamation of flesh, magic and machinery. The creature heaved itself upright and slouched towards the party.
The Party: “RUN AWAY!”
While outrunning the blob monster in a panic they ran into another huge group of giant spiders. The chaotic melee was soon joined by the hybrid Derro so the heroes had no choice but to fight. The blob was hot and acidic and inflicted hideous wounds to both the spiders and the heroes, but after a long protracted battle they were victorious.
The third Derro had actually survived the explosion; after Targen healed him the party grilled him for information on what the subversives were planning. He described how the rebel Derro were known as the Grey Ghosts and were lead by a magic-user called Narak. He uses the listening room to spy on the Duergar and plan their attack; subverting the Stone Giants that live in the city is the key. Narak was relying on an elixir of some kind to bring on “the change”. A huge pit holds all his failed experiments, but Narak himself could usually be found next to a huge metal spike that’s infused with strong magic.
Sargen: “This Narak guy seems to be the one we want.”
Zook: “Need to find out what his plan is as well. See! We just talk to a few people and we can find out what’s going on. Murder hobo is not the only way!”
Targen: “That mean’s we’re letting this Derro go.”
Aiyu, sullenly putting away the collection of knives he’d laid out on the floor : “Awwww…..”
Zook: “I’ll get my familiar to scout ahead and then we can go get him.”
The familiar appeared again, this time in the form of an owl. As soon as it materialised though, it squeaked and collapsed shaking to the floor.
WhiteEagle: “Are you SURE it can’t remember anything?”
Communicating with Myconids was pretty hard to describe / pull off, as most of it was in the form of images. Playing on Fantasy Grounds helped a bit here as I was able to link images of key parts of the module (or extra images from a rushed Google) to specific players as we went.
Zook’s player roll-played the “obeys any suggestion” mental damage well enough that WhiteEagle’s player picked up on it quite quickly. Unfortunately it meant he was punished by being cruelly manipulated for a decent chunk of the session.
The player making notes about this session even titled the note “Murder hobo is not the only way.”
Zook’s luck really WAS that bad with targeted spells. At least he gets fireball eventually so he can’t miss _completely_….