I previously posted some warts-and-all email summaries of the ‘Curse of Strahd’ campaign I ran in 2017, and the ‘Tomb of Annihilation’ campaign from 2018. CoS was the first campaign I sent summaries to players by email after each game (I was a bit lazy prior to that). Here’s another campaign – 2020’s ‘Out of the Abyss’. Each session was approximately 4 hours long. Some of the summaries may be amusing, but don’t forget these are unedited emails, so please forgive their somewhat chaotic nature and poor sentence structure/grammar. If you’re a D&D fan you may enjoy them. And maybe even if you aren’t.
Session 23 – Keeping the Peace…
The party entered the Duergar Enclave seeking a meeting with Ghuldur Flagonfist, the Duergar’s chief negotiator. While they were waiting, Matt’s Cleric bought some plate armour, Rhyse’s Rogue bought a small knife to attach to his non-prehensile tail and the party ordered some barding for Littlefoot, their pack lizard. Stopped by a guard at the door to Flagonfist’s warehouse, Matt’s Cleric, Belinda’s Bard and William’s Barbarian put on a performance and persuaded most of the Duergar merchants to sing, dance and, eventually, drink and conduct drunken steeder races.
Rhyse’s Rogue and Peter’s Rogue sneaked into the warehouse and found Flagonfist and another Duergar interrogating Xantha Coaxrock, the Svirfneblin mage they were asked to rescue. Stabby stabby ensued, with a Xorn being killed along with the Duergar. The party then smuggled Xantha out of the enclave.
Back at the Svirfneblin base, the party were rewarded with a mysterious black gem (worth 5000 GP!) in a special box, which they remained sceptical about… Xantha advised them the whole trouble had started when she had appraised a different black gem for a Duergar merchant, refused to return it and then passed it to her apprentice Flint ThunderBonk who took it to the Drow enclave to trade. She sent a sending message to Flint and asked the party to retrieve him from there. Gabble Dripskillet informed the party that a Zhentarim called Ghazrim Duloc had a special ring that might help them find the stone library they were seeking.
Over to the Drow enclave, the party encountered a Drow mapmaker and (eventually) negotiated to buy a few Underdark maps to the Wormwrithings, Gracklstugh and Menzoberranzan. Flint made an appearance (living up to his name). Flint advised the team he had lost the black gem when a gargoyle swooped down and took it. He hadn’t been able to relocate the gargoyle. The party attempted to gain entry to the Drow enclave to buy stuff but were denied by the guards, who told them it was shut until the Drow’s chief negotiator returned from the Zhentarim Enclave, where they were having a meeting.
Off to the Zhentarim enclave, where the party ran into the Drow negotiation team. They ignored Drow warnings, fought and ultimately killed them (but not before Flint and Littlefoot were poisoned by Cloudkill. Out of the nearby enclave came Ghazrim DuLoc, his beholder and several guards. Duloc wasn’t happy with the party’s “we are peace envoys” explanation, asking them to fix the diplomatic incident they had caused and retiring to the enclave.
William’s Barbarian found a strange black gem on one of the Drow. An evil consciousness invaded his mind – the spirit of Demon Lord Fraz-Urb’luu! He also went a bit crazy. Peter and Rhyse’s rogues noticed the tortle secreting the gem away beneath his carapace…
Matt’s Cleric brought Littlefoot back to life with Revivify. Yay!
Session 24 – The Hand Job
The heroes returned to the Svirfneblin enclave to rest, questioned Xantha Coaxrock about the mysterious black gem that caused all the problems in Mantol Derith (the one currently possessing William’s Barbarian, who wasn’t available this session), then headed off to the Drow enclave to ‘fix’ the problem they created the previous day.
The Drow guards wouldn’t let them in and a bunch of Duergar turned up looking for the people who killed their chief negotiator. Some fancy lies and fancy hiding later and Belinda’s Bard accessed the enclave and bought some potions (unfortunately a new giant lizard was not on the cards: “You want to replace Littlefoot?!”).
Later, the party devised a plan to disguise Belinda’s Bard and Rhyse’s Rogue as Drow negotiators for an audience with Ghazrim Duloc, the Zhentarim negotiator with a magic ring that would lead them to the Stone Library. The meeting started well, an alliance negotiated between the Zhentarim and Drow to take out the Duergar and Svirfneblin. Then it stalled and the party decided to take the ring anyway. Rhyse’s Rogue threw a polymorphed rat of Peter’s Rogue at Ghazrim, the rogue changed and sliced off the Zhentarim’s hand, grabbing the hand and ring and running with it.
Unfortunately, Ghazrim’s partner, Lorthun the Beholder, decided to intervene. A massive battle between the Beholder, Zhentarim thugs and the party and their conjured Earth Elemental took place, with many of the party affected by the Beholder’s various rays as they attempted to escape. It was certainly a time when they wished that William’s barbarian wasn’t sleeping off screen. In the end, Belinda’s Bard liked Lorthun a lot, Matt’s Cleric really wanted that hand job, Pete’s Rogue was knocked unconscious and then recovered with a nat 20 death save, and Rhyses’s Rogue killed Lorthun with a poisoned crossbow bolt in his eye.
The party returned to the Svirfneblin enclave for a well-deserved rest, having gained the ruby ring, which had a compass-like star in the ruby which provided directions to the Stone Library of Grayvenhollow…
Session 25 – The Road to Grayvenhollow
Our intrepid peace keepers managed to acquire their scale mail barding for Littlefoot, then headed out of Mantol Derith, using Ghazrim Duloc’s ring to navigate their way to the Stone Library of Grayvenhollow. On the way out they met Kane’s Aasimar Paladin, who was keen to join the party (especially since Will’s Tortle Barbarian snuck away in the night with the black gem of Fraz-Urb’luu).
Normally, travel in the Underdark was no easy thing. The twisting passages and vast caverns could lead the unwary traveller astray. As the party made its way from Mantol Derith to Grayvenhollow, the ring of Ghazrim Duloc provided some surety: the star-like centre of the ruby moved like a compass, always directing them to the correct entrance and path.
As the party travelled, they crossed massive caverns filled with stalactites and stalagmites. A cracked and crumbling dwarven bridge caused some delays as they struggled to get Littlefoot across without toppling into the gorge below. An endless parade of fire beetles marched past one day, filling the tunnel intersection and forcing a delay of several hours. Lava pits and fire falls illuminated their caverns with rosy plumes of steam and smoke. Water as dark as pitch and just as thick filled lakes eventually crossed via upturned giant fungi rafts. The Faezress pierced the darkness, with stones hovering in the air just out of reach, silhouetted by the eerie purple haze – the party preferred not to linger in those caves.
For 34 days they worked their way through immense underground walkways and writhing tunnels, up and down huge natural stone staircases and around narrow ledges skirting chasms too deep to perceive the bottom. Along the way there were several encounters with creatures of the Underdark, all easily defeated. The party were heroes, masters of their weapons and crafts, and nothing would prevent them from reaching their goal.
On the morning (at least they thought it was morning, who could tell after so much time underground) of the 35th day the party entered a vast cavern. Up ahead was a natural stone bridge crossing a yawning chasm. Beyond, the road switch backed up the rising cliff face, each tier 50 feet or so above the next. Unnatural light dimly illuminated the cavern. In the distance, up above, the party saw two bright lights – the fires of continual flames burning in braziers. This was it.
Up ahead, the pungent smell of sulphur and a grim, whispering voice: “This is not the path you seek. Begone, lest you lose your way…and your lives.”
The party valiantly battled Shadow demons, Vrocks and Barlgura demons, as they made their way up the cliff road. Kane’s Paladin on his celestial warhorse showed how effective he was with massively damaging divine smites, Peter’s Rogue’s sunblade hit home with savage efficiency, Rhyse’s Rogue’s body-launching acrobatics allowed him to slice open flying enemies, Belinda’s Bard’s eldritch blasts added to the carnage and her healing words saved lives.
But the battle wasn’t over yet…
Next week: Into the Stone Library of Grayvenhollow…
For more Laidback DM, click here.
For Laidback DM products, visit Drivethrurpg.