After the party had rested and leveled up to 7th level, they hit the Predator Pools sector, first encountering a pair of sea trolls (scrags) which a well-timed fireball and a lot of punching took care of. They spent about 10 minutes, carefully disguising themselves as a Red Wizard/Dread Warrior patrol with some prisoners (the gnome and halfling).
Their next stop was the lacedon pool. Lacedons are aquatic ghouls which paralyze and drag their victims into the depths. They’re lurkers– these were all floating like corpses in the water until the party arrived. I tried to give a kind of “horror” description by describing one of the corpses as it rose out of the water to strike at an unaware PC! During the fight, the druid shaped a wall of fire to keep the ghouls back, but Robert the “completely trustworthy halfling” was on the other side! He sprinted to rejoin the party, but was caught (failed save) by one of the ghouls and scratched! A second failed save meant he was paralyzed and in peril!
I turn to the rest of the party, having pretty much dropped out of initiative at this point. “Who is going to rush out and save him?”
One of the new players (new to the group, but not to the game or even to my playing groups) raised his hand. “I will!” His half-orc bard/barbarian (?) dashed out and nimbly picked up the halfling, throwing him over his shoulder and sprinting to the rest of the party. They slipped out the door and into the next room– and even the next sector!
Indeed, the next room they ran to was a prison in the Golem Laboratories! We paused for a smoke break and to give me time to decide if we could continue in the adventure, or if I’d need a break. I decided that, if they could bluff through this room, we’d be good to go. If not, I’d need to stop at “roll for initiative” and we’d pick up at the following session.
Well, the party had disguised themselves pretty well, and the wights who challenged them aren’t overly observant, so they were let through with only a minor hissing and snarking.
The session ended as the party entered the Golem Vault, a room of “parts” for the frankenstein-monstrous flesh golem creatures the Red Wizards are constructing in this sector. The disguises are good, but I already warned the party that they probably won’t fool any Red Wizards.
I look forward to seeing what the PCs do next!
Update from Jennifer Wolff, a Player at Mike’s table:
We’ve been trudging through the Forests of Slaughter, trying to set our foes against each other where we can and outright slaying them when we can’t. My druid remained in her tiger form throughout, following the previous week’s encounter with a pack of predatory perytons (which we dispatched).
Wandering from that victory, we stumbled upon a wight with a helmed horror body guard. The wight was quickly dispatched by some very quick spell-work by our mage. The helmed horror, however, continued its assault. Amusingly, our blows could barely connect against its armored form, but the construct itself was surprisingly inept at landing a blow on any of us, switching targets from the mage to the rogue once it realized the rogue was hitting it the hardest, then back to the mage when the rogue proved too slippery. All the while my druid is tagging behind it, scratching and biting at its armored hiney.
The pragmatic dwarf cleric simply walked away from the fight and began exploring, asking everyone to just leave and outrun the damn thing. Not wanting to leave loose ends behind, the rogue finally struck it with a fatal blow, which left us a chance to loot an additional keystone from the wight’s charred remains.
Not wanting to keep slogging through aimlessly any longer, we used the portals to pass through the gatehouse and back into an entry point at the Ooze Grottos, following a hunch I had about the Augmentation Chambers.
Appearing nearby, we first encountered a bizarre column of red ooze, with a Red Wizard embedded inside. My druid approached and somehow took acid damage just by being near it (following a Charisma save?), so we all pretty much went around it with a shrug. Next we entered a white room, with another wizard who had become merged with oozes. In fact, the whole room was an ooze, and as it began to lash at us, our pragmatic (and after encounters in the Far Realm Cysts, rather insane) dwarf cleric was able to somehow understand the composite creature’s babbling. He struck an agreement with it; in exchange for leading others to become consumed and absorbed by the ooze (including the rest of the party when we’re done), the ooze-room allowed us to pass through, and produced the robes of previously consumed Red Wizards to use as a disguise.
Donning the robes to look like a cadre of Red Wizards (and their pet tiger, I guess), we stepped into the Augmentation chamber to see undead fussing over vats of roiling goo, to some hideous purpose. From a curtain along one of the walls, our most perceptive party member spotted a face peeking out briefly, which belonged to a female Red Wizard of apparently some importance.
To be continued next week….
(Full article contains spoilers!) I bought the D&D Stranger Things Starter Set, and I was all kinds of excited to run it. I read through it a few times, thought “hmmm…” about some of the choices, but overall it reads like a fairly straightforward adventure.
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