INTO THE DEEP

The Western Passage to Sloobludop
Days 1 and 2

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Traveling at a fast pace with Mistress Ilvara’s drow party close on their heels, the party of prisoners head west towards the Kuo-Toa town of Sloobludop, where they expect to arrive after a week of travel, according to their navigators Shuushar the Awakened and Sarith Kzekarit. After Sloobludop, they will travel across the Darklake to perhaps Gracklstugh or Blingdenstone, eventually to an exit back to the world above. They make their way through a maze of passages and caverns, deeper into darkness. As prisoners of the drow, most of their time in the Underdark has been limited and sequestered. But this escape has now begun to expose the vast depths and expanse of the Underdark – winding subterranean rivers, yawning chasms, and glowing fungus fields – the heroes realize that this alien world below matches the diversity of the familiar world above, an inverse black universe that they would never have expected to exist.

Day 1

Thanks to the rations stolen from the mess hall in Velkynvelve, the party is able to forgo foraging for food and focus on putting some distance between themselves and the drow hunting party. Prince Derendil recalls to Grall how he ended up in the body of a quaggoth. He claims to be Prince Derendil of the kingdom of Nelrindenvane in the High Forest, with the great elven king donning a magnificent mustache. His crown was usurped by the evil wizard Terrestor, who trapped him in the form of a quaggoth and exiled him from his people. He laments to slowly losing himself to the savagery of his current form.

Sarith Kzekarit mostly keeps to himself, but is determined to get Neverlight Grove, the home of the myconids and where Stool is from. According to Sarith, he was accused of murdering his own kind, but claims his innocence. He doesn’t remember much of the incident except that he thinks the clues to the events still lie in Neverlight Grove.

Eldeth Feldrun tells Anselm that she cannot get out the Underdark fast enough, and even away from some of the other prisoners. She was caught by the drow while scouting for a party outside of her home of Gauntlygrym and just wants to head back as fast as possible. She coyly asks about the dwarf Dukat who she finds intriguing and tells Anselm she would like to get to know him better.

The party then finds a narrow passage with walls covered in yellow mold. Grall recalls that touching the yellow mold will release the toxin and spores, but Cylchoedd decides he wants a small sample for himself. While covering his face, he safely collects some mold into a jar.

After a long day free from the prison of Velkynvelve, the party makes camp. In his sleep, Anselm dreams of dark shadows, endless winding tunnels, oily tentacles, and suppurating wounds bursting open into spores and maggots. He wakes the next day with the feeling something is out there in the dark depths, something far worse than the drow. He doesn’t sense that the dream originates from his Patron.

Day 2

The next day, the party decides to travel at a fast pace once again to further the distance between them and their drow captors. They come upon a passageway completely covered with thick spider webs. As the most direct path, they decide to burn away the webs and enter. To no one’s surprise, they encounter a couple of giant spiders. They quickly dispense of them. The PC’s then come upon an altar room with a life-size statue of Lolth and a group of spider humanoids dressed in tattered clothes paying homage to the statue. Cylchoedd and Grall come up with a plan to utilize the husk of a dead giant spider to outfit a disguise of Lolth herself. Cylchoedd casts a minor illusion spell to change his face, Grall throws his voice to intimidate the crowd, and Anselm uses his puppet abilities to control the other limbs – and to their surprise, it works! Upon entering the room, however, Cylchoedd imagines the spider statue of Lolth as the Spider Queen herself, glowing red eyes and venom-dripping fangs, ready to pounce upon him and laughing along the way. He realizes it’s just a statue, but as a result of his mockery of the goddess earlier in Velkynvelve, he contracts a terrible fear of spiders. Reluctantly, he goes forward with the plan and they are able to convince the creatures to give them their gifts, while also demanding them to attack any drow that may pass through their passageways.

To be continued. Stay tuned for the next session…

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Escape from Velkynvelve

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As the time for sleep approaches (which many of the non-Underdark denizens find out is only discernible from waking life when their internal clocks tell them it’s time for sleep), the prisoners prepare to enact their plan for escape. They gather whatever small items they’ve been able to scavenge and split their group into two separate parties – the lead party designated to clear out threats (which includes the PC’s along with Eldeth Feldrun and Prince Derendil) and the rest of the prisoners bringing up the rear.

The PC’s break free and overcome the drow guards, taking their equipment as they make their way to their personal items in the primary guard tower in one of the large hollowed overhanging stalactites. Under the cover of darkness and the constant flow from the sound of the waterfall, the PC’s attempt to sneak their way out of Velkynvelve.

The prisoners quickly find two obvious options for escape – by making a break for the lift at the other side of the outpost or by jumping over the edge and into the spiderwebs which keep Velkynvelve hidden from the ground level, about 20 feet below. Grall attempts to speak to the giant spiders who hungrily keep watch for victims on their webs. He tries to strike a deal with them, offering the dead drow bodies for safe passage across the webs and to eventually jump into the pool below. The giant spiders offer no promises, but beseech him to come down closer. Grall and the others find their words unconvincing, with Cylchoedd warning that they are untrustworthy, recalling that spiders are close allies to the drow goddess Lolth. The prisoners decide to escape via the lift.

They quickly gather their belongings held in the armory and overcome a few skirmishes before their cover is blown. As they hold off the final group of drow and quaggoth before the lift, Shuushar the Awakened and Anselm send a first group of prisoners down the lift to the ground level below. They realize that taking the lift is too time-consuming now that the rest of the outpost has been alerted to their escape from their cell. As Kosvir and Dukat fight the enemies, Cylchoedd and Grall utilize the metal spikes and silk ropes they gathered from the armory in order to repel down the side of the cliff-face. Anselm follows suit carrying Stool on her back.

As the last of the group prepares to repel, Mistress Ilvara, Pristess Asha, and lead male drow warrior Shoor, run after the prisoners. “Get them!” Mistress Ilvara exclaims wildly, flashing her tentacle wand in their direction. As the drow rush to stop the escapees, suddenly a loud screech echoes through the large cavern, causing everyone to pause to see where it’s coming from. More infernal screaming followed by a disturbing buzzing sound blankets over the commotion of the prisoners’ escape – along the top of the cavern not far from where the outpost is located, a chase and battle ensues with two weird groups of creatures, vulture-like demons clawing at humanoid-fly insectoid aliens. As he repels, Anselm is suddenly reminded of the buzzing that appeared in his dream before his troupe was attacked. As the creatures’ aerial battle takes place, they careen towards the platform where the drow have gathered and crash into them just as Kosvir and Dukat repel down the ledge.

The prisoners gather below, running to exit the cavern before they realize there are three directional passages they can take. The group agrees not to take the north passage which leads directly to Menzoberranzan, which then leaves the west and south passage. More prisoners want to head west, which leads to the Kuo-Toa town of Sloobludop and the Darklake. They decide to head west.

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Prisoners of the Drow

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Caught by the drow! In one way or another, each of the characters have become a prisoner in the Underdark outpost of Velkynvelve. Some have been prisoners for close to two weeks and others for only a couple of days. They find themselves manacled and collared, degraded in a cell with over a dozen strangers. They are told by Mistress Ilvara, the head priestess and commander of the outpost, “Accept your fate, learn to obey, and you may survive. Some of you may even become prized slaves when you are taken to Menzoberranzan.”

Velkynvelve itself is located high above along the top of a cavern, split by a waterfall that empties into a pool. Unsuspecting from the bottom, the outpost is built 100 feet above the rocky floor. It consists of a series of small caves in the cavern walls and four “hanging towers” – hollowed-out stalactites connected by walkways, stairs, and rope bridges. The towers are concealed by the thick webs of giant spiders stretched below them, so that only the lowermost parts of the stalactites are visible from the cavern floor.

On one eventful morning, the prisoners were separated and half of the group was taken down to empty the chamber pots into the pool at the base of the waterfall. In the lift to the bottom of the cavern, the dwarf Dukat and half-elf Cylchoedd attempt to talk to the deep gnome twins, Topsy and Turvy about the situation and the possibility of escaping. Dukat immediately attempts to break the shackles, but to no avail. Topsy, clearly the more social twin, balks at the others, not wanting to draw attention to herself or her brother.

Meanwhile, the next group consisting of Anselm, Grall, and Jimjar begin to empty their chamber pots. Watched over by a drow and a quaggoth, Jimjar calls Anselm over to point out to him the presence of something interesting in the pool – an aggressive gray ooze preying on unsuspecting poolside visitors. They make a bet to see who could convince Dukat to bring a drow to the edge of the pool. Anselm wins the bet and Dukat starts an argument with the drow. A fight ensues!

The uprising is quelled, but not without some casualties in Dukat and Anselm falling unconscious. The lead male drow, Shoor, drags the prisoners back to their cell, and Asha, an outpost priestess, heals the injured despite her disgust. The prisoners are told that due to the actions of the few, the whole group will suffer without a meal for the day. In addition, Mistress Ilvara herself will dole out the punishment.

Although a few of the prisoners are upset over the PC’s actions (namely Ront, who has managed to earn the distrust of Kosvir when he laughs at Kosvir’s attempt to break the cell gate, and Dukat, when Ront hungrily declares that they eat Stool), most are willing to join forces to break free of the cell and escape Velkynvelve. They learn a few important pieces of information from the other prisoners:

  • Buppido tells Kosvir that there are approximately 19 drow stationed in the outpost and that their equipment is likely being held in one of the guard cells.
  • He also tells them that there is some sort of anti-magic effect over the cell.
  • Sarith Kzekarit tells Cylchoedd that it’s only a matter of days before a contingent from Menzoberranzan arrives to take the prisoners to the drow city to be sold as slaves. However, a supply patrol from the city is a few days overdue.
  • Jimjar keeps to his word and gives Anselm an iron bar he found and has kept in a small alcove in the cell.
  • Grall and Dukat find out that Stool has the capability to speak telepathically by using his rapport spores. In fact, anyone within the affected area of his rapport spores are able to communicate telepathically.
  • Cylchoedd enlists the aid of the kuo toa Shuushar the Awakened who proclaims to be a pacifist, but will help in other ways, and the largest creature in the cell, a peculiar quaggoth named Prince Derendil who responds to Cylchoedd’s attempt to converse in Undercommon in High Elven.

Mistress Ilvara arrives and demands for the person responsible for the rebellious act at the pool. Initially Cylchoedd steps forward, but Shoor claims that Cylchoedd stood down and even convinced the others to stand down when the prisoners were overcome. Mistress Ilvara slaps him aside and again demands for the leader, or she will select a random person to pay for their transgression. Anselm pushes Jimjar forward and he is immediately taken up to Ilvara, despite his protests of being innocent. “Let this be a lesson to all of you!” warns Mistress Ilvara, and the drow toss the deep gnome over the edge, screaming his protestations until he falls into the webs of the giant spiders.

In the midst of the action and shock of the punishment, Kosvir is able to stuff cloth from his undergarments into the gate’s lock without anyone noticing. The prisoners are left to brood over the cruelty of their captors, even more determined to make their escape. With the cooperation of everyone in the cell, they hatch a plan to escape that very night…

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