Foreword: This session gave little in terms of monetary reward but set the players up for a very successful delve in Session 33, as you will see.
Timekeeping: Session 26/11/2022 - 27/11/2022 Downtime requests from 28/11/2022. Vic will require resting to recuperate health.
Characters: Vic Sanguin (Half-Orc A3/F2), Chut "The Lackadaisical" Grugly (Human F1), Gilthur Goldburrow (Dwarf F1/T1), Little Vic (H F1) [H], 2 war dogs
- Massacre of Marburgh
- Training to F2
- Left Thropsford with Gilthur Goldburrow and arrived in Underland on the 27/11/22
- Thieving in Thropsford (need to resolve this, and come up with a good system players can use themselves)
- Selling Finin's spell-book for 1000gp (Unearthed Arcana spell book values)
The session opens up in Discord with the players stepping up their game and planning their course of action before the scheduled meetup time. This is directly in accordance with Gary's advice in the PHB section titled "Successful Adventures" on page 107. If you are a player, you should read that section. I have seen a lot of the lessons within learned the hard way by this group.
Vic Sanguin, in true LE terms, is negotiating with the other PCs the treasure shares prior to adventure. He is firm that he will accept no less than two shares due to his greater capability, equipment, resources, war dogs, and henchman. The poor Gilthur and fresh Chut don't put up much argument here, and so the agreement is settled and they are off to Sewer Manhole A, just north of the Giant's Shin.
There is a lot of behind-the-scenes things that don't get translated into the session reports since they are rumours/patron activities that take place in messenger or posted in the Discord. I'll briefly describe the state of the sewers since the campaign's inception and the first delve within:
- The players blow up a Lizard-Proof-Grate for the Lizard King (1.5 years ago)
- The Mongrelmen (Pitmen) are granted legal protection by the Duke of Underland and recognised as Sub-Citizens (patron activity)
- The players open up an ancient wall and let Crab Men into the sewers (8 months ago)
- The sewers are closed off from public access (8 months ago)
- The Adventurer's Union wins a petition for sewer access and the sewers are opened up (about a month ago)
There are other things that... Need to be kept secret still.
So yeah, they decide to go down there. The Adventurer's Union member charges them a 10gp entrance fee each and suggests they visit their new facilities below which are now cleared and being used as part of a "Young Adventurers" Initiative to help educate fledgling freebooters on the "Successful Adventures" section in the PHB p107, as well as how to bend bars/lift gates, prepare flaming oil flasks, and write a will - among many other things essential in the day-to-day life of an adventurer.
They descend the ladder and find themselves in an entry vestibule. On the west wall is the same graffiti as it's always had - "It Knows". There's people bustling about through the north-most passage - the training facilities. The eastern passage is blocked off (part of the Adventurer's Union and Underland Guard agreement was to block and guard from the easternmost section of the sewer, where the Crab Men originated.
Being above whatever training program is to the north, the players head south. They follow a tunnel which leads to the Fetid Tributary running beneath the city. It goes north-west and south-east. The south-east portion is barricaded and guarded.
They follow the path north-west along the tributary, noting how festy the water is, shining their lantern off of eyes, debris, etc. For flowing water it is disgusting.
For those curious, we run dungeon crawls in a systematic fashion - turn by turn. Players declare their action for the turn, time passes, outcome resolved. In these long sewer tunnels it can get tedious because your movement rate while mapping is very slow, but it is only done once. I have a breakdown sheet which has all the times that various activities take, range of light sources, sound radius, etc. They also need to rest every 6th turn.
They go down the first bisecting sewer passage on their right and follow it - eventually coming to a door. It's locked and they pick the lock - and find out they've just done a circle back around to the north section of the Adventurer's Union facilities and disgruntle the guards behind the door.
They hike back to the Fetid Tributary and continue to follow it, ignoring a much narrower passage they'd have to be single file to go down. They pass by a 20' wide tunnel heading to the north-east and continue - eventually coming to another sewer passage with a stream down the middle of it. They follow this for a bit and notice a disturbance on one of the walls - some interrogation of this reveals it to be a one-way door concealed among the brickwork. Outside of it are lots of scratches and reptilian looking scales on the ground. A note is made, and they continue on their way - eventually spotting something promising - an extremely water-logged and rotten wooden door. The thief/assassin have been dutifully listening at doors and checking for traps, and when they agree the door is not suspect, bash it down.There's a tunnel to their left - they go down it when they hear whispering/sounds around a bend ahead. They shut their lantern off immediately. While preparing their weapons and conspiring, knowing that whatever is ahead knows about them as well, the party is suddenly lit up from the rear and a shocked voice calls out to them to halt. A tense moments discussion reveals that this is a rival adventuring party, with two armoured men and seven crossbowmen. During their brief discussion, suddenly, a group of insane wailing men come charging from where the whispers were heard, blood-lust in their eyes. I think one of the dogs at the front got stabbed but otherwise, the party totally annihilated them. They are fanatics and don't check morale, except for the last man standing who wasn't totally into the whole cult thing and started begging for his life.
This causes some conflict between the adventuring parties. The Evil PCs (and neutral Chut) think he should be executed or extracted for information. The other party cannot stand for this and insists that a different course of action be taken or there will be consequences. Vic, being rational, assesses the situation and makes a call - give the cultist over to these goody-two-shoes and tell them to beat it. Cooler heads prevail and with this exchange, the parties continue on their own separate ways. Gilthur checks the bodies and notices nothing of note except an iron holy symbol of a half-open eye. The plot thickens.
With this, they follow the tunnel as it intersects with another to the south-east, and end up in another tunnel. They pick a direction and find a stone door which Chut and Vic force open together and immediately the two are blinded by a jet of some fluid. Some sort of strange slimy lizard thing charges them from a pond in the middle of a room. It gets turned into a dog-treat immediately and the encounter, which promised danger, ended up being insignificant in the face of this party! Lil Vic is sent to the pond to poke around beneath it with a pole-arm, when a green slime drops from the ceiling and engulfs him! His armour is being disintegrated when the party lights the end of their polearms on fire and tries to slice it away. Yes you read that correctly. Anyway, they eventually kill the blob and Vic's henchman, who was dissolved to a pulpy mass. All his items gone.
They stick Lil Vic's arm in the pond to see if anything eats it. No bite. So one of them hops in and begins feeling around the bottom (it's really shallow) and finds some shoddy looking gems/stones.
Nothing else seemed to be in the room so they hike back down the new tunnel they'd found - heading due east they come to a 4 way intersection. Straight ahead is another ladder leading up - looks just like a sewer manhole. To the north and south lie tunnels - 20' and 10' respectively. The northern one opens into a chamber and nothing seems to be charging at them from within so they check it out. It's an empty room which connects to another room on the western wall... And that room has something in it. There's a chest in the middle and an iron footlocker about 10' away from it.
After what happened to Lil Vic they check the ceiling. Gilthur then starts combing for traps on his way to the chest, then to the footlocker. While is feeling around, a voice whispers to him "give foods".
The dwarf runs for his life back to the party. Chut throws some rations into the room and from the chest erupt a few pseudo-pods which lap up the food. They throw more rations at the things requests. They begin to converse with it - it seems pretty friendly and satisfied that they've fed it. Tells them that the iron trunk is trapped and has gold in it. This is helpful and Gilthur goes and checks it out - he notices the trap mechanism - some sort of gas spray on a trigger connected to the opening mechanism. Being a dwarf, and therefore resistant to poisons, takes a gamble and tries to deactivate it. He totally fails it and gets sprayed straight into his face. The dwarf swoons for a moment when he succeeds his saving throw and just resists the toxic substance! Epic! He cracks open the footlocker and there's 250gp inside. He tried to sneak a handful himself but Vic spotted him.
After that the party buddies up to the chest thing. Vic starts to groom it and they push it for information. It's not really sure what they are up to as it is so far removed from humanity. It informs them of "lots of ratses", "rat men" "shinies u like" nearby in the sewer. Agrees to take them there for more food.
This is all the party needs, and so they quickly gather Lil Vic's pulpy remains and feed it to the creature, and guide it to the bodies of the cultists they slew. They learn that it's name is Elshiptyar and it shows them a secret door leading down a tunnel. They go down this way, hoping to capitalise on the creatures supposed strength and danger. At an intersection they are ambushed by lizard-men lurking behind them in the shadows! The party is surprised and one of the dogs is slain. But this changes when the chest creature, scuttling on centipede legs, engages them and, despite itself enduring great harm, decimates some of them and the lizards break morale and flee. Elshiptyar decides that it will go rest somewhere - in the tunnel they are in they went past a set of stairs up. It goes that way and the party decides to follow. It goes up for a little bit and then turns and descends into darkness. This is enough for them to call it quits and leave the unpredictable creature to its own devices. There was, of course, originally some scheming and planning about taking it above as their own tamed beast, given that it can freely travel during the day now with the Curse of Lamalla taking place. And if things went south they'd just be unleashing it into the city and increasing the net Evil of the world so... Good for the Evil party?
They suss out the tunnel that the chest creature said leads to the rats, before deciding to return to where they found Elshiptyar and exploring that area a bit more. There's 3 zombies here now! They engage with the ravenous dead and the other dog dies, but the undead are cut down. They check out a door in the room where the iron trunk was and Gilthur swears he hears a child wailing. Chut insists they must check it out and, after a failed lockpicking attempt by the dwarf, Chut bashes it open very loudly. There's a corridor heading west, and they see a door down that way. It is a moment after this that that door swings open and 3 hulking crab men emerge, with their strange bronze carapace and hooked noses. The party tries to shut the door again and flees the place.
Their return trip involves carefully going past the one way lizard door (Vic made Chut go behind them a ways since his noisy metal armour might alert whatever is beyond it) and gathering up the heads of some of the monsters they killed for the Guard Captain's bounty.
They return 3 lizard man heads, 1 muck lizard-thing head, and some info about the possibly whereabouts of the Lizard Man lair in the sewers to the GC for 100gp.
They are directed to the take the zombie heads to the Church in the Quiet Wing. This nets them 10gp a head, for 30gp total, and the offer of a quest to clear the Underland Crypt which it is revealed is overrun with undead - someone is raising them beneath the city. 1000gp to clear the crypt sounds really good to everyone until the priest informs them that questers will be screened for their intent by their clerics and paladins.
Vic and Gilthur say their goodbyes and the party treks off to Alfie Solomons to appraise the shoddy gems they found. A 60gp fee reveals 85gp worth of gems and the party is left with a tight purses, misgivings against the world, and a hunger to destroy the rat lair and steal the supposed treasure it contains. Spoiler alert: They do just this in the next session.
Treasure & XP:
I awarded XP for negotiating with the Mimic and NPC party. All encounter XP is also scaled by the relative strengths of the party and their adversaries (as per DMG p84-85)
Vic - 880XP (203 from double treasure share, 677 from monster encounters)
Gilthur - 779XP (102 from single treasure share)
Chut - 779XP
Character Performance Ratings: This session I trialed being more critical with the performance ratings - with a grace session so it is not in effect - and it ended up backfiring. After contemplation I realised I was looking at it wrong. The rule is pretty explicit that Excellent is actually the standard for normal play and deviation from the norm is what docks the rating. Ultimately, Chut ended up with the only Superior due to not showing much initiative/leadership.
Downtime Requests: Downtime from 28/11/22.
Vic will be healing up, Chut will be working his dad's armoury and hanging out at the Giant's Shin.Comments: Precise record-keeping has fallen off the wayside slightly in exchange for players taking on the responsibility of managing their own downtime affairs. This means I have a less clear idea of what is going on, but it actually feels like more is going on. It is also easier to manage things and focus on the action if players self-adjudicate.