Out of the Abyss


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…
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.
- 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.