Out of the Abyss

Welcome to Sloobludop

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When last we met, the heroes faced a hideous foe guarding the path forward as they plodded through the darkness toward the Kuo Toa town of Sloobludop. Drifting over the softly lapping waves of the Darklake an undead beholder positioned itself to prevent the party from advancing through to the far tunnel. Bloated rotting minions gurgled mindlessly as they came walking up from the depths. The group withdrew, cowed by the fearsome ocular blasts of the beholder. Stumbling over both their myriad companions as well as the waterlogged zombies, the group found themselves unable to effectively advance. The water and shifting gravel lake floor left companions in perilous positions as they strived to reach the far tunnel opening. Disintegrating blasts began to destabilize the tunnel entirely, and pressed the group to move forward.

Onward, led by the kuo toa priest, Shushaar, the group continued forth to reach their destination in several days. Shuushar guided the group through the town wall, consisting of netting, drift”wood”, and debris. The kuo toa guards seemed unfriendly and hostile at first, but your guide seemed capable and smoothed your passage inside. The town is strange and alien to you, with the odd fish-men inhabitants constantly wandering about in a manner similar to fish meandering through the nooks and crannies of underwater rock formations. Some weaved through the town asleep, with disturbing unblinking eyes not registering your presence even as they moved around you as they passed in the street. The group investigated the meagre offerings at the shops and stalls, but moved with some urgency to present themselves to the Archpriest of the Sea Mother, Ploopplopeen.

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Ploopplopeen was excited to see surface visitors, and was disturbingly quick to embroil the group in his local troubles with a rival church. Not long ago, Ploopplopeen’s daughter, Bloppblippodd experienced a vision that drove her to found the shrine to the Deep Father, Leemoogoogoon… a diety that was to be her people’s new and rightful god. Ploopplopeen had a plan in which he would offer the heroes to archpriest Bloppblippodd as sacrifices for the Deep Father. It became clear that surface sacrifices were of greater value than the typical under dark vermin that the Kuo Toa typically catch and offer. In exchange for their help, the fellowship was offered rewards in the form of valuables, a guide, and a vessel suited to navigating the Darklake. The group accepted.

Combat broke out and chaos ensued. Ploopplopeen spoke, her stance eased. Enemy guards moved in, and for a moment the group could not tell if they were in on a plan, or part of some sort of double cross. but when Plooplopeen…”. The shrine was ramshackle, erected of debris and impales creatures from the lake. Tentacled and leathery things, oozing dark fluid into a misshapen bowl. At first, the archpriest of the Deep Father stood defensively behind a line of spear wielding guards, but as Not wanting to waste any time, lest the strange ritual taking place at the docks become unexpectedly complete, the surface dwellers moved toward the docks under guard. Almost immediately, the distant drone of the Deep Father faithful could be heard…

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In the din of battle, strange splashing and burbling sounds almost went without notice, save for the keep eared and eyed of the group. Off in the distance, in the lake where the followers of the Deep Father chanted, kuo toa we being viciously sucked into the water. Their disappearance accompanied by screams, splashed of red tinged lake water, and frenzied movement just barely illuminated by the phosphorescent material in the cave and water. Moments later, the next phase of the ritual came to pass, as something terrible emerged far from the shore, amidst roiling, glowing water, and fanatical kuo toa.


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The Temple of Ooze

The heroes arose from the dust and debris of the cave in, checking themselves for grievous injury and broken limbs. Fortunate to find themselves intact, but dismayed to find above them nothing but a tangled crush of massive stones and rockfall. The small tunnel in which they found themselves was ancient… long ago sealed by a similar cave in that left no trace of an exit. However, exposed through the collapsed tunnel wall was a surface of smooth worked stone, etched in alien runes and lettering. Intrigued, and lacking options, the band did their best to clear away the debris until they were able to reveal an entrance point into this strange structure.

Within, the trappings of a long vacant temple of some sort were identified, though to what diety the temple was devoted remained a mystery. Trudging along the humid halls of the building, the group happened upon acidic gray slimes that pulsed with strange mental energy… energy that resonated violently inside the skulls of those that drew too near. Injured from the fall that brought them here, and burned and battered by the hostile oozes, the group stopped to take stock of their situation. The weapons they used against these enemies had begun to decay and pit, and food was rather scarce. The air itself was thick and stifling, and the group feared some form of airborn spore might be making it hard to breathe. Before their rest was through, they encountered another concern – water had rolled into the chamber and was rising at an alarming rate, up to their ankles in less than an hour. The group arose, and committed to no further breaks until they were clear of this place.

More gray oozed blocked their way, hassling them with mighty swipes of their bulbous pseudopods or lashing them with blasts of mental energy. At one point they found what they thought might be an ally in this unlikely place. A floating disembodied skeleton that turned out to be encased within a gelatinous cube. It spoke to them mentally with a desire to leave this place and see the "surface" that the heroes described. They allowed it to tag along, and in return it released to them its treasure that had long been floating in the quavering mass of the cube. Overcoming a pit trap filled with a horrifically caustic black ooze, the group was able to press onward through the ever deepening water, until they came upon a strange central fountain altar. While fishing valuable from the brackish water of its basin, they were assaulted by yet more of the gray slimes – forced into a desperate battle by their mindless pressing assault. Their few precious weapons warped and shriveled from their acidic forms, but they were victorious. Here they found yet another point where the water poured in from cracks in the walls and ceiling.

In a nearby natural cave, yet more of these spouts of water – damage caused by the recent geological event that brought the party here in the first place – threatened to submerge the temple entirely. This cave seemed ready to collapse with the smallest disturbance, and given the pressure of the water spraying inward, such a collapse would fill the place in minutes.

In the end, the group decided their only hope would be to dig themselves out of this submerged place. Frantically excavating stones, and ignoring the rising water, they managed to squeeze through a narrow passage and swim upwards to where they hoped air might be. They came to learn that the temple sat at the bottom of a large body of water in the Darklake region, a mere 30' from the surface. All escaped save for their ally Eldeth, the dwarven scout.

Sad to lose such a valuable companion, the group followed Shushaar the Kuo-toa to the nearest beach before fully resting and continuing forth. Shuushaar advised that he knew this place well, and that the Kuo-Toa city was not far. Meanwhile, Sereth the drow warned the group that most kuo-toa are not like Shuushaar. They are more unpredicatable, and much less "refined". Acting somewhat strangely, he advised that the best destination would bo head for Stool's homeland of Neverlight Grove…

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Journey to Blingdenstone
Journey to Blingdenstone
 
Now clear of the Drow Garrisson of Velkynvelve, the haphazard party of slaves set forth northward under the guidance and navigation of the Deep Gnome gambler, Jimjar. Pushing forward at a steady pace, the band spent their days seeking out clean water and trying to sort the edible insects and fungi from the poisonous or toxic. In matters of travel, the dwarven scout, Eldeth seemed the most capable, filling roles as forager, hunter, lookout, or tracker with equal ease. But alas, there is but one Eldeth Feldrun, and there is an entire parade of escaped slaves with levels of capability closer to that of the bumbling Derro dwarf, Buppido, or the seemingly useless Shuushaar the Kuo Toa. But so long as the path has some food and water to offer, the group seems able to collect enough to sustain them. Prince Derendil made efforts to cover the group’s tracks, but Eldeth advises the group during camp on the second night that the expedition is moving too quickly for even an expert tracker to properly conceal tracks, let alone an unskilled one such as the elven quaggoth noble. 
 
On the 4th day, the group moved into tunnels of strange volcanic rock, and both vegetation and sources of water began to fade as the heat rose. Growling bellies and dry cracked lips became an enemy as dangerous as their former captors as the igneous tunnels delved deeper down over the course of 2 days. As the heat grew intolerable, and steam vents burst from the walls, the band’s morale began to falter. When spirits were at their lowest, disaster struck. With a rumbling vibration in the stone itself, the tunnel cracked and broke apart. The tunnels shifted as the earth itself flecked it’s muscles of rock, and it’s glowing orange blood sprayed into the corridor. What was a solid pathway became are ruinous river of magma, leaving the party to grasp at wavering pillars of stone floating in a river of lava. Forward they pressed as strange lava dwelling insects poured into the corridor. Dodging the bites of these pests, and avoiding the splashing gobs of molten rock, the group did their best to push forth, climbing up to the northern tunnel and continuing.
 
On the 5th and 6th day, the volcanic tunnel gave way to more forgiving travel, within the remnant tubes of great burrowing worms. A tangled web of channels through the stone, weaving and crossing like strands of hemp within rope. The worm tunnels gave way to a massive cavern infused with a strange violet light and a vast fungal forest. Foraging eased, though the band was badly exhausted. Jimjar kept the group moving, unwilling to slow pace, but as they scaled the cavern wall to their exit, they spied danger on their trail, far back in the cavern. From an elevated vantage point, they could see the drow of Velkynvelve in the dim illumination of the ambient cavernlight. They forced another hour of marching, barely able to keep steady on their feet, before making camp.
 
But the drow seemed better provisioned, and unrestrained by fatigue. Early in the night’s watch, a trio of forward scouts, led by a familiar, and particularly unpleasant, guard from the garrison, came upon the camp undetected. From cover, poison dosed bolts sailed into the group’s midst, but did not successfully silence the 2 watchmen. Alarum! cried Eladrin, as battle befell the weary heroes. The battle raged furiously, and the drow attempted to fall back. The leader of the forward scouts cried for one of the others to “fall back and report!”. But the party would have none of that. Finding inner reserves of strength, they stopped the scouts’ retreat, and finished off the leader. They quickly assembled their camp and pressed on for 1 more hour of forced travel before collapsing into another camp. Jinto, grasping a purpled bruise on his side, demanded that they rest… he coughed blood and could travel no further. A number of party members could barely make their feet move at this point.
 
Several days passed and the group regained their strength. Jimjar seemed a capable guide, at times requiring the group backtrack and try alternate paths, but for the most part, you sensed that not too much time was being lost. However, one such delay occurred on the twelfth day, when the corridor narrowed and became unstable. Moving forward cautiously, the party sought to avoid further collapse, but when they attempted to excavate the way forward, the instability of the tunnel got the best of them. Not only did the stone collapse from above, but below them, the floor gave way, and the entire group tumbled down a web of slopes and collapsing cave pockets, eventually landing in an unfamiliar tunnel. The haze of the disturbed stone and dust made it difficult to see, but they appeared to be in a ruinous tunnel, but partially buried in the collapse to the north, they came upon a strange and alien stone fixture, a strutted worked by tools that baffled even Eldeth’s stonecutting. A debate ensured, as Eladrin and Jinto convinced the group to investigate…
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Out of the Frying Pan

In the last episode of Out of the Abyss, our downtrodden heroes continued their escape effort. The evening fired up with a brutal combat with the drow masters of the garrisson and a handful of their quaggoth servants. The slaveband withdrew to the guard tower once it became clear the drow were too powerful for the poorly armed group, but once their captors began applying magic, the party decided that action was necessary.

Out the back door they crept, across the bridge to a platform that peered into darkness with the crashing waterfall in the distance. One by one, they scaled the wall, seeking to get as close to the waterfall as possible before leaping into the web-choked darkness below. Once the drow became alert to their ploy, some of the escapees went so far as to desperately jump from the platform… and pray that they clear enough space to avoid where the rope like webs below were thickest.

Down they fell, with most of them striking a pool of water far below. Some did not reach the pool, and were stranded above, dangling from sticky strands of spidersilk. As the group worked to recover all of the hanging companions, a large grey ooze lashed out at any that remained in the water. Massive pseudopods battered the heroes mercilessly until they were able to all fall back from the pool.

Sitting in the shadow of a massive fungus covered stone outcrop, the group discussed their options. Jimjar the deep gnome suggested the north passage, where he could guide them to the deep gnome city. The drow of the group urged caution, for also to the north can be found the dangers of the drow city stronghold of Menzoberranzan.

Weary and weak, the group set forth northward…

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Escaped!

Good job last night guys! You are officially escaped… but for our band of adventurers, it’s starting to feel like they’ve fallen from the frying pan and into the fire. The Underdark is a confusing and dangerous place. A simple 5k hike takes nearly a full day, as the group is forced to overcome harsh subterranean conditions and unusual geologic obstacles. The creatures of the under dark are the stuff of nightmares. Getting back to the surface is not a simple stroll through the forest.

 
- Normal overland movement speed allows foraging and a good pace. Fast movement means no foraging, but even better distance covered. Slow movement allows for improved foraging, or stealthy movement. Setting your travel speed with these factors in mind may mean the difference between life and death.
 
- While you got away from the drow outpost of Velkynvelve relatively unscathed, you were unable to secure much in the way of equipment and supplies. The benefit of rushing your escape attempt may be that you avoided days of torment at the hands of your captors… the cost was that you didn’t take any time to steal or horde materials that could be found in the garrison.
 
- Though it would be nice to be a small, swift moving group of 6, you find yourselves dragging along a pack of your fellow captives, many of whom seem to be of little use in a travel and survival situation. Perhaps it would be common practice in the Underdark to simply cut them loose, that is, for many of you, an act that would be too cruel. Fortunately, you have a myconid that can grant you the ability to speak with any creature nearby (Is it odd that you guys haven’t bothered speaking with half of your cell mates?)
 
- There is no doubt that your escape was spotted by Mistress Ilvara and her minions. You find yourself wondering if she is the sort that would hold a grudge against you for escaping. Even moreso, you wonder if she is the sort that would be vindictive enough to pursue you…
 
- This is very important – challenges and dangers that you encounter in this adventure will sometimes be above your skill to deal with using brute force. Ilvara and her elite warriors are extremely dangerous, and many more perils lie in wait for you in the darkness. Do your best to learn what you are dealing with before facing challenges head on. Sometimes you will need to think, or talk. Sometimes you will need to run. Sometimes, you will need to hide…
 
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1. Please level up your characters and send me a copy or a screenshot. If there are any changes anybody wants to make to their character, this is your last chance to do so (now that you’ve had a couple sessions to test drive). Dan, you should choose a different Skill Trick. Lie doesn’t do much for you if you don’t have an Int mod.
 
2. If you haven’t done so, get your character up on Obsidian Portal. If you have trouble accessing it, just send your pic and a brief writeup to me, or to anybody else and we will get your character up there.
 
3. I will do my best to avoid any high degree of painful, boring, number crunching when it comes to survival and resources. This will not be a repeat of Traveller, or the infamous camel blood campaign (for those players that played in those games lol). Let’s all try to be optimistic about this campaign though. Characters do not need to be cheerful and positive, but it’s nice if the players are!
 
4. I had fun testing out the Social Conflict system. Was it completely smooth? No, but not too bad for a first shot. The traditionally frustrating aspects of interacting with an NPC didn’t seem to pop up. The circular and directionless conversation. The frustration and mutual hostility. The randomness of relying on a single skill check. Instead, I thought the system was fundamentally fun. Jay and Dan did a great job, and I hope the rest of the players look forward to getting involved, socially.  If anybody at the table was thinking “Man, I hope I get to be in the next social conflict”, then I feel the system was a complete success. Sure, it’s 3-4 pages of rules that need some more polish, but ultimately, I enjoyed the challenge of picking out a social strategy, and then trying to role-play accordingly. I think there is a solid “mini game” there, and once we get more familiar, we should be able to zip through social conflicts pretty quickly. Also guys – Social Conflicts have an Encounter Challenge Rating and are worth XP.
 
Highlights
- All 4 core social skills are valuable in social conflicts, producing a social exchange that is dynamic and has some depth. Social characters benefit from having multiple social skills, but even those without, or those with just 1 or 2 social skills, can be involved without fear of failure because of 1 unlucky skill check.
- It’s a simple system – 1) Each side secretly picks his 3 social actions for the “Act” out of the 4 available – Persuasion, Insight, Deception, Intimidation. 2) Both sides reveal the current action and we role-play a bit, guided by the terms that we set, and the action being used. 3) We then each consult our chart, compare our action to our opponents action, and then there is usually (but not always) a skill roll. 
- There is a limit of 3 “Acts” and in each act there are 3 rounds. The conflict ends immediately if either side’s Disposition is reduced to 0.
- There are rules for “Speaking the Part, but only Social Skill Tricks have strict/specific requirements. For example, “Thus, Therefore, or Ergo” is only required when you use Debate, which is a Persuasion Skill Trick.
 
5. It can’t hurt to give the House Rules doc a quick look before next game – the document is big, but it is dominated by the skill trick section – there really isn’t that much. There were some that seemed caught off guard by some of the changes. I am still open to comments and suggestions. 
 
Here are the highlight rules that you should make yourselves more familiar with:
 
- Don’t forget, you can make any skill check except for INT based knowledge skills, even if you are not proficient.
- You can ask for a take 10 or sometimes even a take 20, depending on time restraints and if there is any serious penalties for failing.
- Movement through friendly squares is difficult. Moving through threatened squares is too, but you can ignore it if you are willing to suffer an attack of opportunity
- Spellcasting in close combat provokes an attack of opportunity. If you get hit, you make a concentration check or lose your spell.
- Be sure you have selected your Skill Trick(s). They are minor bonuses, but you don’t want to forget to use them when opportunity arises.
- Review the Combat options. There new stuff in there, like climbing onto large creatures, and Critical Strikes. There is also old stuff, like Disarm and Shove.
- You don’t need to know Massive Damage rules, or Injury rules, (I will take care of that) but it can’t hurt to look them over. You roll for an injury anytime you roll a 1 on a failed massive damage result, go to 0 hit points from a critical hit, or you roll a 1 on a death save.
- Read all of the RESTING AND HEALING stuff.These rules are going to appear regularly. 
A) Recovering from being at 0 hit points adds a level of exhaustion to your character. No more yo-yo up and down in combat – falling unconscious is bad news, so be smart in combat. Stay upright.
B) Magical healing does not automatically stabilize and get a character back up on his feet from 0 hit points. Reduce magical healing by 1 die for every death save that is still required for stabilization. Anything left over after those 3 successful “check marks” are acquired, then gets applies as healing.
C) Long Rests no longer do a full hit point refresh. 
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