Out of the Abyss

S7: Neverlight Grove
Are you ready for a wedding?

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The party traveled through the underdark—running into an aimless spectator, a chattering chasme, and a wild patch of strange fungi locked in battle between cold and hot—before hearing a deep, orcish scream. Investigating, Ront was being tortured by two drowish soldiers and Shoor Vandree. The party swiftly intervened, but as they fell each drow a disgusting, crawling brain broke free from their skull and assaulted the party. The ensuing battle cost Ront his life, but the party cleared the room. Touching an obsidian wand hanging in the room, Theo had a startling vision of a demonic presence teaching mind flayers to create undead creatures instead of living.

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The party found treasure, a wand of wraith, a necklace of fireballs, a +2 shortsword and a piwafwi.

The party then continued to Neverlight Grove, where they quickly got embroiled in the ecstasies of “the lady’s gift” and “the wedding to the great body.” Basilida—sane leader of those Myconids who were skeptical of this gift and wedding-hired the party to investigate the circle’s other sovereign, Phylo.

Quickly, they discovered that Zuggtmoy, demon queen of fungi, was literally in Neverlight Grove. Phylo and the other infected Myconids had become her harbingers. They witnessed the grotesqueness of her Welcoming Garden and ultimately a disgusting wedding rehearsal conducted by animated fungus folded into humanoid shape.

The party found a +1 shortsword and +1 studded leather armour.

Fleeing the disturbing scene, the party convinced Basilidato relocate the population closer to Blingedenstone while warning others about the threat. He gave the party a few awards for investigating the strange going ons.

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S6.5: Resolving Gracklstugh
Of Three Events.

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Stage 1 and Stage 2 are complete (see below)

Stage 3

Please have an idea of how you’d like to spend your 350g. Even if you don’t have specific items picked out, a general idea will help that go faster! The session will begin at 6pm tomorrow but (if it’s okay with Christina and Alex) I will aim to be there for 5pm to help people pick goods. Everyone should be level 6 at this stage.

Stage 2

The Hold of the Deepking stands south of Ladueguer’s Furrow and north of Themberchaud’s lair. It is a dark and foreboding edifice lodged between two great columns that rise up into thick clouds of smoke that conceal the cavern ceiling. Giant basalt braziers filled with molten lava bathe the palace facade in a hellish glow, and the thick stone walls bristle with iron turrets and battlements. There appears to be no one guarding the palace, but Hgraam quickly whispers to you that it is an illusion: all the palace guards are invisible, and listening carefully reveals the clanking of heavy armour moving to and fro.

“Over two hundred elite guards, " Errde nearly beams, flashing her insignia as she does so. The sound of the ranks of duergar, some ten deep, standing aside to give you a path to the Hold is intimidating. You enter.

Lava pours down troughs cut into the black basalt walls of this vast hall. The heat is oppressive, and the air reeks of sulfur. Thick black columns support the heavy ceiling, and at the far end of the hall stands an iron throne atop a polished obsidian dais. A crowned duergar encased in armour sits on the throne. Next to him stands a royal consort wearing a gown made of gold coins.

“Tell him what you found,” Errde tells the party, “tell him of these demon worshipers. If he believes you it doesn’t matter what I think. But don’t mention this succubus business, you’re apt to get us killed.”

“They’re right,” Hgraam mutters, “his consort… Shal. She is not the duergar she appears to be. She is planar… yet I do not sense the same magics on my cursed brethren. The demogorgon worshipers who attacked our clan… this creature is not with them. I sense a different evil within her, but just as dark. Tread with caution…”

EVERYTHING BELOW THIS IS NEW AS OF 08/13 Sorry this is so shitty

With quick psychic prodding, Ness hatches a plan that ignores any input from his party members. Could you convince him to do otherwise anyways? With Hgraam’s help, he suggests that himself, Luis Guizman, and Hgraam present the proofs directly to Shal, so she can give them to the king. Handing them to one of the guards is unwise because, of course, any of them could be compromised by these demons. The idea is to hit hard on the fact that letting either the party or the guards approach him with this could put his life in danger, and only Shal could do it. Shal, as a succubus, should be predictably cocky.

Hgraam makes his appeal.

“Steelshadow, this information points to a very really demonic threat facing the duergar, let into our city by some on the derro council. Clan Caingorm’s struggles have been caused by this miscreants. We must present these idols to you, but it unwise to let either us or your guard approach you. We may be tainted already, your exaltedness, and anyone of your guards—even the most loyal, bravest of them—may be conditioned by demogorgon’s made touch. Even I do not trust myself in your presence, and I am your oldest friend. Let us show these articles to Shal—your exalted consort, surely immune to all charms.”

The party is surprised by how easily the Stone Giant lies, though Errde’s face goes sheet-white as she pieces together the plan. Ness shields his mind. Shal whispers in Steelshadow’s ear: the party cannot tell if she is trying to convince him of a different plan of attack, but Hgraam seemed to press that letting the party see him directly, letting a guard see him, or ignoring this information would be suicide. She seems unable to direct another course of action, and acquiesces. Steelshadow motions to one of his psions and the walls of force around him reshape: he is pocketed, and a crevice opens around her wall of force. Hgraam is asked to enter, and he brings his two consorts (after they drop their weapons, of course).

In her presence, Ness wastes no time: he quickly thrusts his psychic blade into her belly. Even shielded, he cannot withstand the onslaught; neither can the rest of the party. The image of a nine-foot tall figure—the image of untamed desire—etches itself into your minds: every plane and curve of his body, every glance of his burning eyes promise pleasure and pain. A subtle wrongness pervades his beauty, from the cruel cast of his features to the six fingers on each hand. He is surrounded by the finest things, awash in hedonistic pleasure.

“This is the kingdom come,” Shal’s voice seethes in your minds.

Reality comes rushing back. Steelshadow shouts. The guard quickly tries to undo the wall of force. Luis, however, joined in and stabs Shal with a hidden dagger iin the back. Hgraam shouts over the din of combat: “see his blade fail to break her skin! This is no duergar! Do not be deceived king. DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY HER PERVERSION.” She realizes she is undone, however. She quickly transitions into her true form and swiftly shifts into the ethereal. King Steelshadow looks faint, and a glint (though not totality) of sanity returns to his eyes. From within the ethereal, however, the succubus successfully charms Luis who is pushed into stabbing Ness. Hgraam decisively knocks Luis out with a strong blow to the head, and the party tends to their wounds. Several guards surround the combatants, blinking into visibility. It seems that the succubus was not able to escape entirely: two Empty-Scabbard Killers, the king’s elite guards, pop into visibility holding the head of the succubus. Elite ethereal trackers.

The party is again arrested, and handed over to Errde who is asked to remove them from the city. Not without thanks, of course: Hgraam tells the party that the king, when alleviated of a strange paranoia that lingers, will pledge to root out demons in the city. Hgraam has sent for a cleric from Blingdenstone to remove the king’s curse. Errde offers the party an armoured guard to bring them five day’s outside of Gracklstugh—near Neverlight grove, where they can find rest and directions to Blingdenstone. As a parting farewell gift, three members of the Empty-Scabbard Killers arrest the party’s drow followers for extended, secret service questioning, giving the party a bit of a lead…

Stage 1 (resolved)

After returning to Errde Blackskull, captain of the Stone Guard, the party was given their reward of 350gp worth of equipment EACH, including common magic potions, ointments, and scrolls. Because the party found so many details implicating the Council of Savants, Erdde has arranged for a counsel with Deepking Steelshadow. First, however, because the party recovered the ritualistic statue that the cultists were using to attack the Stone Giants, Errde recommends the party speaks to the Stonespeakers to get their supported with the audience.
Ness and Theo tell Errde about Gorglak, the Stone Guard who attempted to assassinate your new friend(?) Werz. More importantly, they mention the succubus. Errde is incredulous, as expected:

A mad derro, in the throws of so-called demogorgon worship—so, to be clear, a derro madder than derro already are, mad enough to believe in demon lords trouncing through the material plane, says a succubus has seduced the great Steelshadow? He who leads the most perfect empire of the underdark? Laughable.

A long tunnel opens into Southfurrow District, extending several hundred feet and into the home of the stone giants of Clan Cairngorm. The tribe is named after the ancient oath of fealty their ancestors swore to the bearers of the Cairngorm Crown, the traditional regalia of Deepkingdom monarchs. The giants lead simple, uncomplicated lives, and their dwellings reflect this. The stone giants value their privacy, and duergar are normally not allowed inside Cairngorm Cavern.

When you arrive, Stonespeaker Hgraam is expected you by the entrance. He is short on pleasantries, apparently displeased with the fact that the party did not subdue his cursed and rampaging brother, choosing instead to murder him. Errde prods the party (with an implied penalty for failing) to share with Hgraam the information they discovered in Whorlstone, regarding the ritual used to force the stone giants to grow two heads. He listens, and then tells the party:

Amends for the crime against my brother are not cured, but they are lessened. I will vouch for you in anything you seek to accomplish with Steelshadow. I give you this, as an offering of peace and this, as an offering of reward.

He gives the party two crystals: one massive emerald worth 500gp and one stonespeaker crystal. The polished crystal is the length of a human forearm, and Hgraam explains that it resonates strongly with conjuration and divination magic. It might help them root out the demons plaguing them.

Errde then prods the party to tell Hgraam about the succubus. Unlike Errde, he is more sympathetic.

I will cast a subtle divination when we meet with the king and scan for such an evil. Tread carefully, dreamlanders. Steelshadow is fair but aggressive. If he is under the enchantments of a succubus… then there indeed seems to be demons among us. And this is even more troubling than one succubus. Something evil stirs in the Underdark. The rock itself cries in pain and horror, and madness creeps from the blackest depths Pay heed to the signs surrounding you. A cave with two faces. Rock devoured, and the land overgrown. The pebble believes itself flesh. The earth rejects its wards, and the tunnels shake in fury. By these portents, you shall know of evil’s presence and of evil’s face. This is what the stones tell me.

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S5&6: Gracklstugh II & III
Whorlstone Tunnels

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My original summary never saved, so point form!

  • The party me the ghost of a gnome named Pelek who asked the party to find his hand and return it to his family in Blindenstone. The party did find this hand, in a pit of bodies near the cultist base.
  • The party met a trio of partying mushroom people extolling the virtues of “the Lady’s gift.” Among them was a young stool named Rumpadump, who told the party that many of the myconids at Neverlight Grove have gone mad… dancing and praising a gift but letting their society fall to ruin. There are also currently two rulers in Neverlight Grove, a first in history. The party collected Rumpadump because they’re a moving zoo.
  • The party successfully foraged 3 torchstalks, 3 tongues of madness, 7 bigwigs, 5 pygmyworts, and 1 sheet of ripplebark.
  • The party located the Cultists to which Droki was set to deliver his goods. The cultists, lead by one of the derro savants: Pliini, a mad savant who was speaking to a magical obelisk atop a mesa, apparently attempting to hatch the red dragon egg.
  • The party located the rest of the cultists, lead by a savant named Narrak. Interrogating a guard, the party learned that Narrak belonged to a fringe group within the Council of Savants that aimed to use demonology as a path to power. Since the arrival of the demon lords, he has gathered and bullied several apprentices to participate in rituals aimed to sow chaos in Gracklstugh. Narrak was doing rituals to make Stone Giants heads double to sow discord: the stone giants are a pillar of the deepking’s hold. They were specifically in the throws of Demogorgon worship. They found lots of proof of derro involvement, and also a letter that seemed to imply that the Deepking’s current consort is a succubus loyal to the worshipers…
  • The party found an alchemist who works with the Grey Ghosts in another reach of the caverns. Lothorio knew the following information:

He’s been commissioned to make poisons for a Stone Guard named Gorglak ,who is stationed at one of the outer gates near the Darklake District. Werz plans to kill a particularly troublesome merchant named Werz, and the black lump will be used to make poison. In exchange, Lothorio is giving Droki a holy symbol that will let him sneak into Themberchaud’s chamber. Gorglak is an avid collector of weird weapons and easily bribed. The old leader of the grey ghosts was executed by the Keepers of the Flame for trying to steal the red dragon egg. In the vacuum, three members of the Council of Savants took control of the thieves guild: Uskvil, and the twin sisters Aliinka and Zubriska.

  • The party found an area of Faerzress that let them see another area of the city. They saw the drow taking the opportunity created by a derro riot near the blade bazaar to assault the party’s room at the Ghohlbrorn’s Lair (party’s inn). Jim Jar lead the children to safety, and Eldeth Feldrun stayed and fought valiantly. She was slain in the tussle. Stone Guards swiftly executed to the two drow who instigated the violence. Ilvara Mizzrym was not among them.

developments

  • The party decided to turn the information over to Errde Blackskull, leader of the Stone Guard: the letters, books, scrolls, and coins implicating the Council of Savants. Their proof that Demogorgon was involved was met half-heartedly: suuuure, the derro thought they were worshiping the dark one… *EACH MEMBER OF THE PARTY CAN CLAIM 350GP WORTH OF EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING WEAPONS, ARMOR, AND COMMON MAGICAL ITEMS. *

8 The party decided to turn the red dragon egg over to the Fire Keepers and not Themberchaud. The party is able to *choose any six potions or scrolls from their hoard. All common potions available; scrolls up to level 3; some rare potions available. *


LOOT

In total, the party found:

  • Evidence: strange lump of black metal, stone giant nail clippings, list of stone giants, holy symbol of Laduguer, Gorglak’s letter, battered notebook
  • Scrolls: See invisibility
    *Potions: Healing (4), Greater Healing, Fire Breath, Psychic Resistance, Keoghtom’s ointment
  • Valuables: Large necromancy-infused obsidian
    *Tools: poisoner’s kit, healer’s kit (10), 4 vials of acid, 5 vials of alchemist’s fire, recipes for acid and alchemist’s fire, wineskin filled with Darklake Stout,
    *?: collection of dead vermin, “two pages full of mad scribbles and arcane formulas,” stick of charcoal,
  • Boots of Speed
  • Pelek’s Obsidian Ring
  • Single gold coin from the surface
  • 108gp, 432sp, 23cp
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S4: Gracklstugh I
In which the party became embroiled

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Shopping in Gracklstugh’s Blade Bazaar, the party saw a strange derro with a hat of displacer beast hide and boots of pure go-fast. Asking for more information on this fellow was one fo their first brush-ups with the much-maligned duergar briskness; asking about this fellow is strictly illegal. After shopping, the party booked a floor of the only inn catering to non-Duergar (2gp) and had their first good night sleep in months.

The next morning, the party set out to look for a guide to the surface, taking in the sights (and the smog) of the duergar bastion as they did so: a portly red dragon flew through the cavern to light the foundries’ fires, the strange derro zipped through the market once more, and duergar were behaving uncharacteristically chaotic. Eventually the party were told that, if they wanted info about the surface, they should check out the sole tavern accessible to non-duergar, the Shattered Spire. En route, while crossing a pier, the party watched two duergar materialize on either side of a duergar merchant and stab him with strange, glowing swords. Quickly springing into action, the party saved the dwarf and protected him until the would-be assassins fled, disappearing into the Darklake’s waters. Soon after, the Stone Guard arrived on the scene to take the party to the keep for questioning. The duergar they saved, a merchant named Werz, told them to meet him at the Shattered Spire, later so he could repay his life-debt.

En route to Overlake Hold, as the party passed a stone gate that leads from the darklake district to Cairngorm Caverns, home of the city’s stone giants, a malformed, two-headed stone giant broke through the gates swinging his arms wildly, slaying duergar as he did so. The party’s escorts unshackled them and commanded them to assist, and the party swiftly slew the giant with few casualties. Another stone giant, Stonespeaker Hgraam, informed the party that the crazed one, Rihuud, was “communing with the stones” when he began babbling and grew a second head. He seemed disappointed that the party outright slayed his friend instead of subdued him. The party then learned that Hgraam is one of the city’s political leaders.

The party was questioned in Overlake Hold by Captain Errde Blackskull, who hired the party to investigate the same strange derro they had seen in the market, Droki. She explained that her guards had been tracking his movements, but he somehow knows where the duergar patrols will be, even when they’re invisible. He lives in the West Cleft district, but duergar cannot peacefully enter that derro burrow. He is working with shady persons, and the party is to capture him or kill him and bring back evidence of his doings. Specifically, Blackskull suspects that Droki is working with the a group of disgraced duergar, the Grey Ghosts and the derro Council of Savants. If he is indeed a connection between the two, he could be the damning evidence of the derro’s collusion with the city’s thieves guild.

The party was then accosted by the Firekeepers, and Ness Nen and Luis Guzmán were brought in for an audience with the red dragon Themberchaud. The dragon’s keeper, Gartokkar Xundorn, hired the party to locate a red dragon egg that is supposed to birth Themberchaud’s successor… and Themberchaud hired the party to spy on Gartokkar and associates and report their doings. Ness and Luiz began playing both sides against each other. The red dragon egg was apparently stolen by the Grey Ghosts.

Back at the Shattered Spire, Werz hired the party to bring deactivated spellstones to Blingdenstone for him, instructing the party to seek out an alchemist named Kazook Pickshine. Jim Jar vouched for Kazook’s legitimacy.

The party eventually tracked and traced Droki to a series of narrow caverns under Gracklstugh, stumbling across Buppido‘s horror chamber before eventually capturing Droki as he taunted them. Buppido’s last victim’s ghost, Pelek, begged the party to find his hand and have it buried in Blingdenstone so his spirit may rest. An unconscious Droki in custody and a mission from a ghost, the party looked at the massive sprawling cavern ahead of them. Would they find the red dragon egg? The Grey Ghosts? Some other horrors akin to Buppido’s necromatic workshop?

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S3: Sloobludop and the Darklake
"So, that happened."

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The script was written and the party had their role: human sacrifice. Ploopploopeen, Archpriest of the Sea Mother, conscripted the party to act as a gift to his daughter, Bloppblipppodd, Archpriestess of the Deep Father Leemoogoogoon. At Ploop’s signal, the party would break free from their flimsy shackles, fight the evil kuo-toa interlopers, restore order, and secure a boat to take to Gracklstugh. Then he rose. Ploop slayed his daughter, but the kuo-toa’s bizarre ritual—circling around the altar, chanting, begging for more blood to feed their dread lord—achieved terrible success. A sound rose above the burbling cries of those kuo-toa who had fallen into the lake and been devoured by the ixitxachitl . The dark surface of the water farther out bubbled and foamed. A thick, oily tentacle burst forth, followed by another. Then two monstrous heads broke the surface, both resembling hideous, angry baboons with wickedly curved tusks. Both heads were attached to a single torso, and the monster’s red eyes burned with bloodlust and madness. The creature was over thirty feet tall, and water cascaded down its back and shoulders.

“Demogorgon?” Asked a flabbergasted Ness Nen reality shattering around him. The rest of the party kept a level head (and surprisingly, a level boat) and made their way to the docks, slipped onto the Shuushar the Awakened‘s keelboat, and paddled away. They didn’t stop for hours. Frightened, but needing to push on, the party continued to navigate the horrors of the Darklake and make their way to Gracklstugh. The journey took weeks, and was interrupted by yet another shocking twist in fate: the twins Topsy and Turvy are wererats, unable to monitor their disease so far from the moon, and Bryce had kept this information secret from the party. Uncertain how to deal with this information, the party pressed on passed ruined Merrow villages, strange lost altars, and vicious water trolls, and eventually docked at Gracklstugh, where they meandered through the streets still in a daze. Here too, there seemed to be a strange madness settling… Nonetheless, with the first beds they’ve had 29 days, the party went to sleep.

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S2: To Sloobludop!

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The party traveled through the Underdark, the Drow on their heels, anxious to find refuge in the nearest settlement: Sloobludop. As resources dwindled and Shuushar the Awakened got the party lost, tensions rose but unity ultimately prevailed.

Three quarters through the journey, the party stumbled upon a pack of gnolls hunting some hook horrors , screeching " Slaughter for Yeenoghu!" as they ran the beasts down. The party intervened (mostly because the Gnolls tried to slaughter them as well), but were unable to save the hook horrors. However, one egg in their clutch hatched and imprinted upon Luis Guzmán. He named this young hatchling Chum Bucket. The party then noticed that Buppido was savagely tearing apart a gnoll’s body, tugging at its intestines and draping himself in viscera. Spurred on by this disgusting act, and Jim Jar’s previous indictment of Buppido, Ness Nen slaughtered the derro. The party did not entirely agree with his choice, and the threads stitching together their unity unraveled just a little.

When the party finally arrived at Sloobludop, their welcome was less than warm: in fact, a viscous bunch of kuo-toa attempted to subdue and capture the party. The heroes slaughtered the school, but soon after a second more heavily armed school was upon them. This second school, however, was friendly: lead by Archpriest of the Sea Mother , Ploopploopeen. Disappointed firsat at Shuushar’s presence in the party’s ranks, he nonetheless offered an olive branch. He needs the party for a plan to over-throw his daughter, Bloopblippodd, whose new church to Leemoogoogoon threatens to tear the small settlement in two…

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S1: Prisoners of the Drow
When the party met their motley crew

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Our new rag-tag party found themselves captured by the drow! The drow priestess Ilvara Mizzrym had captured the party individually, and they were thrown into a prison with a host of other miscreants. After doing menial labour for days on end, the party members began to recognize that the drow outpost was growing antsy… the slaver party from Menzoberranzan was supposed to collect the prisoner days ago… and they still weren’t there. To add to worries, Theo began having dreams of disgusting horrors and remarkable terror accompanied by a faint buzzing that grew louder in his ear, day by day.

Not happy to become slaves or worse for the drow, the party plotted a daring escape. The escape was going successfully, until matters turned for the worse at the guard tower and Sarith’s body with thrown into the web, dead. Just as the tumult above sounded like the drow would descend upon them, the low buzzing expanded… first, all could hear it—not just Theo— and then it grew deafeningly loud. Suddenly, demons locked in combat with one another erupted forth from the tunnel to Menzoberranzan! Vrocks and Chasmes locked in horrifying combat, visciously tearing at one another. Their battling collided with the guard tower, and the party used it as an opportunity for escape. They cut themselves from spider webs and fell into a grey ooze infested puddle. The ooze violently lashed out, screaming in an unnatural psychic voice: “flesh for the faceless lord!”

A vrock then fell near the party and swiftly dispatched Ness Nen before flying up to rejoin the battle with Chasmes above. Taking Shuushar’s advice, the party took a tunnel veering away from Menzoberranzan and towards Sloobludop

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