Sunday 10 October 2021

Out of the Abyss - Part 2: Escape from Velkynvelve

Out of the Abyss is a Dungeons and Dragons (DnD 5e) game set in the Underdark. Play takes place every Friday night at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club in Chislehurst South East London. The Dungeon Master is Joshua.

Cast of Characters

  • Janek Boone - Human Champion (Tony)
  • Targonis - Wood Elf Ranger (Steve)
  • Aur - Aarakocra Rogue (Suresh)
  • Selya Skag - Vedalken Alchemist Artificer (Daniel)
  • Sunna Mortas - Tiefling Sorceror (Jo)

The Drow Bridge

Taking the middle tunnel the motley bunch of prisoners head towards the sanctity of the Darklake. The sounds of battle recede as they they enter a large chasm.

A stagnant river cuts the cave in two barring their progress save for what looks like a bridgehead marked by a pair of stone pillars on each side. Atop the righthand pillar of each pair squats an effigy of Lolth the spiderqueen Goddess and below her a strange carved hole large enough for an arm to fit in. Flecks and smears of blood can be seen on the ring of strange runes which surround the hole. On the floor on each side lies a drow guard, butchered by the attacking demons no doubt.

After some trial and error the group work out that Sarith is the only one who can activate the strange drow bloodmagic and not a moment too soon. Emerging from the tunnel is the deposed drow leader Jorlan Duskryn, a band of drow warriors and the drow priestess Asha Vandree. Jorlan boasts to the prisoners that he aims to recapture them and in so doing reclaim his honour in the halls of Menzoberranzan.

Drow archers open fire and Janek is wounded as the braver escapees briefly consider a battle at the bridgehead, the rest run for the tunnel settling the issue. Fleeing through the tunnel at pace they can hear the sounds of their pursuers following them.

The Abandoned Camp

After a couple of hours they emerge into a large cavern, from it's roof and walls hang strange vines festooned with purple flowers which emit a bioluiminescent glow. In the middle of the cave is a small encampment of three square tents surrounding a long dead fire. The weaker escapees begin to set a fire and rest whilst Janek and others search the tents. Barrelstalk and Waterorb fungi are plentiful and the escapees refresh themselves and fill their waterskins. Janek urges them onwards, their drow captors will not be far behind.

Nightmarish Visions

After several more hours of travel through numerous caverns and tunnels they are utterly confused about which direction they are headed in. Shuu-Shar assures them that they are headed in the right direction and before long they find a large dry cave in which to sleep. Barricading the entrance with scraps of zurkhwood and one of Skag's warding concoctions they rest.

The Caverns of the Underdark - Out of The Abyss

During the night they are each visited by vivid and strange nightmares. Targonis dreams of his flight from the dark one in the Endless Chasm, Skagg is plunged into the void their only companion a foreboding giant orange eye that pierces into their very soul. Janek remembers fragments of his capture at the hands of the drow and how he utterly failed to protect his patron the wizard Marek Mardoolin butchered in front of him. Likewise Aur is visited by a nightmarish vision of his kidnapped mate Allekra whose eyes have been plucked from her skull. Sunna dreams of her missing contortionist friend from the circus who appears before her climbing the walls of her mind like a bizarre and nightmarish spider.

Awakening they all appear to have suffered these strange dreams brought on by exposure to something in the cave or during their flight through the underdark. Shuu-Shar holds a brief group meditation session to calm their fears before the group move out into the tunnels once more.

Hours later they enter another large tunnel whihc radiates with the magical energy known as faerzress. The cave is spotted with crystal outcroppings which take Skag's fancy and they pocket three specimen. Their journey is halted briefly as they emerge into a large tunnel dominated by what looks like a road. Voices can be heard from the righthand side and the group decides to follow them.

The Traders on the Road to Gracklstugh

The sounds come from a small travelling caravan consisting of a Duergar and some Quaggoth carrying a sedan chair whose occupant is an extremely wealthy merchant called Kaerthara. Aur decides to investigate but as soon as Kaethara spots the Aarakocara she is besotted and insists that she rides with her.

Velkynvelve Prisoners - Out of the Abyss

The two groups travel in safety towards the Dueregar stronghold of Gracklstugh some 20 days journey away but Janek worries about little Stool who needs to be returned to his Myconid people. The captain of the guard Gunthar Bloodhammer agrees to take them the side tunnel which leads to the Darklake.

As they travel they share stories of how they came to be in the Underdark

Aur's Tale

Aur is a dark skinned Aarakocra from the Sky Mountain dwelling Maztica tribe. A once loyal sky warden to the matriarch Asharra, Aur believes that her partner Allekra was kidnapped by the expansionist faction leader Kazra. To what end she cannot fathom but Aur has abandoned her sworn duty to protect the tribe in order to rescue her beloved. Perhaps Aur is walking into Kazra's trap, but she has decided to put love before duty and ventured into the lands below the Sky Mountain before being captured by unseen Underdark forces...

Saturday 2 October 2021

The Perfect Gamer Notebook?

I have recently taken up the mantle as session reporter in the Savage Worlds Hellfrost game which is run every Friday night at my game group Dragons Keep Roleplay Club, in Chislehurst, South East London.

I've been using a less than practical A6 sized filofax style notebook that I bought as part of my Random Wish Roleplay Stuff challenge.  This got me thinking about...

What Should the Perfect Gamer Notebook Look Like?

The criteria are simple.  It needs to be:

  • Sturdy and Secure - Your notebook will get tossed into a bag and rattle around with all of your other Roleplay gear so a sturdy cover is essential.  An elastic ribbon or similar to keep it all closed up would be double handy too.

  • Good for Mapping - Having squared paper is essential when you get tasked with being the map scribe for the night.

  • Lined for Legibility - My penmanship is not great at the best of times so having lined paper is an essential to keep your notes in check

  • Good for Sketches - Sometimes you just need a space to sketch.  Maybe it's a character portrait, maybe an object or a symbol.  Having an unlined plain white background is useful if you want to digitise the image

  • Session Info - A space where you can write that all important session info like date or session number.  Very helpful when you are playing multiple different games.

  • Loose Pages - Having ring bound pages is a great way to keep your campaign notes organised.

  • Compact and Bijoux - Let's face it by the time you have your rulebooks, character sheet, pencils, dice and tray, snacks and a drink on the table there's not much room left.  Having a large A4 sized notebook is probably a step too far, A5 is about the maximum size for the cramped playspace and still be a useable size.

Have you seen a great notebook.  If so pop a comment in the box below.

Roleplay Notebook

Out of The Abyss - Janek Boone's Story - Part 1

Out of the Abyss is a Dungeons and Dragons (DnD 5e) game set in the Underdark.  Play takes place  every Friday night at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club in Chislehurst South East London.  The Dungeon Master is Joshua.

Cast of Characters

  • Janek Boone - Human Champion (Tony)
  • Targonis - Wood Elf Ranger (Nero)
  • Aur - Aarakocra Rogue (Suresh)
  • Selya Skag - Vedalken Alchemist Artificer (Daniel)
  • Sunna Mortas - Tiefling Sorceror (Jo)

Captured by Drow

All that Janek remembers is that he was in the employ of the wizard Marek Mardoolin on an expedition to find rare fungi, plants and herbs for his laboratory.  They were surrounded by Drow who used their poison crossbows to subdue him.  When he woke he was in a slave pen in their underground stronghold.

Over the next couple of days more slaves were added to pen, in fact it was becoming a veritable menagerie of species.  Accompanying Janek and the others were:  

  • Bupido - A relentlessly optimistic Derro (Deep Dwarf)
  • Derendel - A Quaggoth who claimed he was an elven prince under an enchantment
  • Ront - An Orc who had run away from a battle between his clan and some Dwarves
  • Eldreth Faldren - A female Dwarf who was the focus of Ront's anger.
  • Shuu-Shar The Awakened - A Kuotoa mystic who spent most of his time in meditation
  • Stool - A Myconid child who exuded spores which enabled telepathic communication
  • Topsy & Turvy - Twin Deep Gnomes
  • Jim Jar - A Deep Gnome with a penchant for gambling
  • Sarith Kzekarit - A Drow garment merchant slung in gaol for murdering his brother

Night after night the slaves would gather in Stool's spore cloud to silently discuss their escape plans.  The following day they would try them out.  All their attempts ended in failure no matter how they tested the Gaol and the Drow's defences.  They always seemed to be out numbered or outwitted by the vicious commander of the Drow outpost and her guards and Quaggoth labourers.  

The outpost, which they learned was called Velkynvelve, consisted of a series of hollowed out stalactites hanging from the roof of a chasm.  The stalactites and caves which dotted the chasm walls were connected to each other by a series of wooden walkways.  The floor of the chasm could be accessed by a rope elevator which was always attended by two Quaggoth at the top and two at the bottom.  A fast flowing waterfall cascaded down the chasm wall into a murky pool below and three tunnels exited the chasm.  The entire chasm was filled with fine tracery of spiderwebs and their incessant chittering echoed throughout.   

After Ront was cruelly beaten and tossed over the chasm edge to become food for the giant spiders, the slaves were beginning to lose hope.  However, during the night the outpost was attacled by dark shadows.  The deposed Drow commander came to them during the attack and released them.  He told them that the outpost was being attacked by Demons and that he had unfinished business to attend to.  Their only chance of escape was to jump into the pool below.

Amid the sounds of ferocious battle from the chasm floor, they shuffled in their manacles towards the barracks where their equipment was stored.  Crossing the wooden bridge into the first stalactite they surprised three Drow donning their armour and quickly sent them to the afterlife.  Grabbing their weapons they made the short journey to the barracks.  The Drow must have all been engaged in the fight against the demons because their path was unimpeded.  

Aur used his lockpicks to release the slaves manacles and the to unlock Skag's pet ooze Nug from his tiny cage.  They donned their armour and followed the Drow's instructions jumping into the pool below.  As they emerged from the water a giant grey ooze rose out of the pool attacking them.  They valiantly battled the ooze gradually reducing it to a pool of scum floating on the water.    

With no time to spare they dashed for the first exit past a dying demon.  The tiefling engaged in a brief infernal conversation with the demon who intimated that they had picked up "the scent" and followed it to this outpost.  He died shortly after.

Shu-Shar excitedly told them that this tunnel would lead them to his home on the shores of the Dark Lake some eight days journey.  The slaves quickened their pace and it was only then that they realised that Jim Jar was missing...