The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of Leveling Up

Everyone loves leveling up, it is probably the single biggest highlight of a D&D game. You get new feats and ability score improvements, more hps, more spells, proficiency bonus increases, new class features, all the good stuff. But what does all this really equate to. You get more hps and do more damage but so does everyone you fight. You do get more abilities and spells which adds variety and additional choices to your characters which is good. But couldn’t we get that without the formulaic levels. Below is an outline of talking points which I will be covering in a future post.

The good
-Reward system that is standardized and easy to use
-Keeps characters balanced
-Requires no work from the DM

The bad
-Characters and monsters become bags of hp
-Damage scales so nothing really changes
-Almost completely disconnected from the world and story

The ugly
-In game rewards lose significant
-Ability scores make huge difference even at higher levels (Abilities scores grant up to +5, proficiency bonus at 20 level is +6)
-Magic items are less meaningful (Only provide a +3 max)
-Very few in-game actions change a character
-Less (no?) reasons to interact with the world other than killing stuff

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Castle Amber

Previously On Castle Amber

Our last session saw our intrepid explorers using magic books to leave the cursed mansion of furniture horrors, and emerge into a pleasant meadow in a wider forest. Near them was a fountain with coins laying inside and a locked chest attached.

Before the party can investigate, Bean’s backpack tears open, revealing a demonic being in the exact shape of the figurine that had been held there.

After dispatching the quarrelsome demon, bean examined the fountain, causing a huge, gelatinous creature to emerge. It slammed Bean a few times, but the party was, in the end, victorious.

After getting directions from a bird, the group saw a bridge and noticed a humanoid creature with hooves and horns approaching it. It seemed to request passage over the bridge, promising that its fatter, juicier brothers would be along soon.

From under the bridge came a rumbling, annoyed voice, “Okay, I’ll wait.”

Session 5 (I think?) – The Night of Fours

(It’s the night of fours because I think all of us started out by rolling 4s)

After cursing the faun for selling out his brothers, Diomedes climbed a tree to see if he can get a better view of what’s under the bridge. He can see the entire bridge, and a path on the other side that goes to the right and out of sight. He also gets a great view … some other foliage (there a was a great detailed description, but I couldn’t keep up). Also, there was a wall that went up to the dome that surrounds the forest.

Diomedes came back down and told the group what he saw. Bean went up to the bridge and said “Hellooooo!”

“Hello.” Replied an annoyed grumbly voiced.

“We heard you were hungry and brought you a snack.”

A large, greenish, leathery-skinned, foul-smelling, dumb-looking, creature emerged from under the bridge. You could tell it was the type that that liked to start arguments on the internet.

“What food do you have?” It asked.

“I have apples!” Bean replied helpfully.

“I want MEAT!” the Troll growled.

“Um, I have some …rations.” And tosses over some jerky from his rations.

The troll gobbled it down and complained about the small portion size and said it should eat our heroes instead.

“You do not want to eat us. We are very dry and stringy.” Diomedes said helpfully.

“Hmmm… Give me bite, and if you dry and stringy, I let you pass. If you nice and juicy like you look, I eat you.”

“You should not eat us. You should eat at restaurant.”

“What is restaurant? Does it taste good? Is it juicy?”

The group tried to convince the troll that the now-dead gelatinous creature by the fountain is “restaurant” and is, indeed, very juicy.

The troll is not convinced and charged Diomedes. Diomedes tried to fire off an arrow, but misses as the Troll thunders toward him. Bean blocked a claw as it nearly took off Diomedes head and then it missed with a vicious bite in front of Diomedes nose.

Diomedes responded with a slash to the Troll’s belly.

Everard shot his crossbow, the bolt lodging in the creature’s arm.

Zaya threw a dart, hitting the face!

Sinitsa’s eyes glowed red and a flame shot from her fingers to the troll!

Bean poked with his rapier but couldn’t get a good angle. Miss!

Beset on all sides, the confused troll missed and missed again.

The brave explorers hit a few more times and the troll turned and sprinted back to the bridge, disappearing underneath.

Diomedes looked under the bridge, and found it clinging to the underside. He shot an arrow and scratched it. Everard took shot and narrowly missed. Zaya solidly embeds a dart in the trolls arm.

The troll dropped down and ran back to the group, so Bean ran at it, anime style, giving it jab in the cheek! The troll responded by scratching Bean with a claw and then biting down hard with its wide, ugly mouth. With the air pushed out of him, Bean bravely passed out. With meal in mouth, the troll turned and once again tried to get away.

Diomedes slashed at it as it retreated, leaving a gash on it’s back. It growled in pain, muffled by the sound of Bean limply held in its mouth.

Everard fired another bolt but missed, while Zaya ran forward stabbing with her javelin and also unleashed a flurry of hand and foot strikes, driving it back.

Sinitsa produced a flame in her hand and tried to throw it at the beast, but majestically misfired, and slipped, knocking her head into a tree and falling unconscious.

Bean breaths in a deep breath and wakes up, in the troll’s mouth!
(nat 20 on death save, heck yeah!)

Diomedes, Zaya and Everard each hit the troll and it runs off again to hide under the bridge where it can eat its delicious meal of Bean-meat while holding on to the underside of the bridge. (crunchy on the outside, squishy in the middle!)

Everard shot a crossbow bolt into the leg! Diomedes shot another arrow, and Zaya threw another dart.

Bean shakes himself awake and braces his legs against the bridge and pushes hard, cause both him and the troll to fall to the ground separately. The troll, without even a pause, runs off to the forest, disappearing to the foliage.

The party regrouped around Sinitsa and carried her to a spot in the underbrush that Diomedes found. While the others rested, Diomedes attached a note to his bird-friends leg, saying “do you need help?”

Diomedes then wandered the area, declaring it to be safe. Everard, however, noticed a giant snake sneaking up on Diomedes and alerted everybody. Diomedes managed to talk to the snake and diplomatically convince it to go back into the forest. Watching it leave, the group also noticed a huge shadow pass above.

Looking up, every sees a huge hawk fly over, seemingly looking for something. Not wanting to get caught by the hawk, the group scooted through the underbrush to get more cover. After a time, Diomede’s bird came back with a response of “Yes. ~Kavitha.”

This got everybody’s attention, as that was the name in Bean’s book!

The group continues to scoot through the underbrush, dragging Sinitsa’s unconscious body with them. After a time, they see it open up to a path perpendicular to them, and off in the distance there’s a horse and a human figure standing next to a tree. Getting closer, they see the figure is wearing a daffodil dress, is blonde, young and happens to be leaning against a deep black unicorn.

Zaya emerged from the forest, saying “Hello! We mean you no harm. Can we talk?”

“Yes, of course!” the lady said, “Are you the one that sent the note with the bird?”

“I know who sent the note. What’s your name?”

“I am Kavitha.” The lady says politely, “And you?”

“My name is Zaya Nasherria. It’s a pleasure to meet you!” Zaya said as she approached. “Are you in Danger?”

“You are not from here. The danger is not immediate, but it is dire.”

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“Of course.” She walked closer, at which point the group also noticed a chest near the tree.

Bean, impatient, burst from the brush and declared, “I got your note!”

The lady looked at Bean, his body covered in wounds and brambles and twigs and gasped. “You’re hurt! Come over here where it’s safe!”

The others carry out Sinitsa and join the gathering at the tree, while Bean shows her the note that had been in his book.

“Oh,” She said with a glance at the disheveled halfling, “This wasn’t meant for you. Who are you?”

“I’m Bean!” Bean said proudly.

“Well, you’ll have to do. Come this way to rest.” She patted the unicorn fondly and said, “This is Midnight, my friend.”

The group follows Kavitha to a set of doors, where she says “You can rest here. How did you get hurt?”

“We fought a troll!”

“Foul creature. How did you even get here?”

Bean looked thoughtful, said “There was a house … and some books … and some chairs that tried to kill us …” then shrugged.

“I see. You look like you need rest. On the other side of these doors you’ll be safe for as long as you need. It’s the entry way to the castle.”

“Are there other people in the castle?” Everard asked.

“Yes, quite a few. Except, I can’t find my friend Janeth. I was visiting her and now don’t know where she is.”

“Is that why you’re out here? To look for your friend?” Zaya asked.

“No, I was trapped here. I don’t know why or how, but I have some ideas. Here, you’ll be safe.” She opened the doors and revealed a set of yellowish stone steps leading off to … nothingness. A deep, black, void surrounded the steps.

“Um, what’s that?” Everard asked skeptically.

“That’s the problem. We’re trapped here by nothingness. I believe it’s a curse that transported the whole castle.”

“Will the void get closer?”

“No. It doesn’t change, it just stops anybody from getting in, or out.”

The party went out the impressive entryway, over the side of the steps and set up camp on the small grassy area not yet taken by the void. After a Looong rest, everybody emerges feeling better … except, Sinitsa, who hasn’t awoken.

Kavitha rose and dusted off her dress. She examined the group and said “Well, that was a while. You all look much better.”

“Did anything happen out here while we were gone?” Zaya asked.

“Oh, nothing to be concerned about. So, you came far with that note.”

“Yes, we were searching for you to make sure you were okay. Can we help you find your friend, Janeth?”

“Yes, that would be wonderful. If you could break this damn curse, it would be even better. That’s what I was seeking help with. Well, it can’t be helped. Yes, please go find Janeth. She should be in the West Wing.”

“Or, there is one of the … occupants here who might know more. Her name is Madame Camilla d’Amberville and she should be in the East Wing.”

Diomedes perked up and said, “Oh, d’Amberville! Like Isadore.”

“Oh, you know of the others here?” She said “I have seen Isadora, but not Isabella. Not for some time. If you go find Janeth, her chambers are in the West Wing, third door on the right.”

“Are you a d’Amberville?” Zaya asked.

“Ah, no. I’m just a guest, a visitor. I was visiting Janeth and now no one can leave, as you can see.” She looks around, and continues. “The d’Ambervilles are great mages, so this must have been an even greater magic. Where they come from, magic is outlawed, so they are very cautious. This means you should be, as well.”

“Do they practice black magic?” Zaya asked.

“There are many of them, so I wouldn’t be surprised. Janeth will know more. It is the second door on the left”

(Okay, did I get that wrong in my notes? First I typed 3rd on the right, and then 2nd on the left, so either I got it wrong in my haste, or she’s confused … ?)

(I think the 2nd door on the left was PART OF the instructions to find Madam Camilla Amber)

“Where even is the castle?” Bean asked.

“You are in it. This forest is part of the castle. It’s their creation. The d’Ambervilles, they like to experiment.”

“Oh …” Bean said, “How do we get to the East or West wings?”

“Just follow the path through the forest. The East Wing is to the right, the West Wing is to the left.”

Diomedes looked astonished. “They made this whole forest? They must be like gods, then.”

“Yes, they are very powerful and resourceful. There is more I need to tell you. If you go to the East Wing, there is some kind of … evil that lurks in the throne room. If you want to go there, I can protect one of you from it. Just stay away from the throne. And also, be kind to the animals of the forest.”

She looks down at Sinitsa, “Your friend can stay with us. She’ll be safe.”

We look skeptical and then Diomedes hears a voice in his head that says “She will be safe, you can trust us.”

The unicorn, Midnight, gives Diomedes a significant look. Zaya examines Sinitsa and thinks she has a head injury and might be unconscious for a while.

Diomedes leaves a note and the party decides to go to the West Wing with no trouble, since they would only be checking on Janeth. (hahaha! “No trouble”) They head down the path toward the West Wing and after a few minutes Everard notices a rustling in the trees. He stopped and looked into the forest and recognized a tree, kind of. It’s like the ones in the arboretum, except much larger. Tentacles flew out to grab our heroes!

After some difficulty, including Diomedes almost getting eaten by the tree, everybody ran down the road dodging tentacles. Unfortunately, further down the road Everard saw another tree start to move.

Currently, our heroes are still in front of tree one with tentacle-vines lashing out at them, trying to decide how they can fight a tree with all their stabby weapons that don’t do much damage. Rapiers, crossbow bolts, arrows, darts and javelin don’t do much to tree bark. If only someone could set fire to these evil trees… 😉

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The Lone Tower

With water supplies running low Myrtha made her way to the old well and summoned water to its surface. The party drank their full and refilled their supplies. Noticing the leather straps and metal rings attached to the scorpion corpses Valraven removed and pocketed them. After a short discussion about the edibility of giant scorpions Oliver lopped the pincers off the creatures and Myrtha packed them up for lunch.

As the group left the ruins which sheltered them for the night Valravan and Oliver caught a faint scent of smoke on the breeze. After carefully examinations of the horizon to the south they noticed a small wisp of smoke in the distance but decided to continue northward instead of investigating.

Progress in the loose gravelly soil under the oppressive heat of the sun was slowly and the group stopped for a short lunch break and cooked the scorpion pincers. They were quite satisfying and on fully bellies the group continued on the road north. Hills gradually grew around the road and the terrain became rocky with a few more scattered bushes and small trees. After a few hours the sound of metal and shuffling feet broke the peaceful silence of the Restless Plains. Shivers quietly moved ahead of the rest of the group to investigate. As she approached Shivers noticed rocks had been arranged on the side of the road spelling out a word which she could not understand. She continued forward staying low behind the rocks on the side of the trail until she saw two skeletal creatures in rusted chain mail armor slowly walking down a path on the side of the hill ahead of her towards the road. They carried old spears and shields, their empty eye sockets staring blankly forward and they walked. She quickly retreated to the group and told them what she had seen.

Myrtha sensed the undead forces as the approached on the road ahead, they seemed strange though almost like they were trailing a cord behind them. Shivers took cover behind a rock and fired an arrow at one of the creatures as Oliver and Myrtha rushed forward. As Oliver neared the creatures he was able make out that the rocks arranged on the side of the road spells out “DANGER”. Valraven fired his crossbow but the shot fell short. The skeletons pace quickened as they rushed down the road towards the group. Myrtha greeted the quickest skeleton his a crushing blow from her mace. The skeletons bones crumbled and faded away in front of her. The second skeleton followed the first as Oliver struck it down his his sword.

Curious about the way the skeletons faded after being destroyed the party followed road to the trail Shivers has seen the skeletons coming from. After following the path for a few hours a small ruined tower was spotted on the hillside. Two sets of tracks could be made out on the trail, on top of many other older tracks. As the trail approached the tower it turned away from the dark opening and lead around the right side of the tower to a grassy flat area were it abruptly ended. As Oliver investigated the end of the trail a bony hand emerged from the earth and gripped his leg as two skeletons pulled themselves from the ground. Oliver’s cry for help alerted the party investigating the lower level of the tower and rushed to help. Oliver was struck by a spear and fell to the ground dying but Myrtha quickly stabilized him and together they were able to defeat the skeletons. As they fell the ground closed covering them again.

With Oliver unconscious the party made camp in the tower to rest for the night. They explored the upper levels and found two old dried thatched mattresses. Shivers took first guard and as the night progressed she heard the barking howls across the hills but they didn’t seem to be getting closer. After a few hours she noticed that the old thatched mattresses were no longer unoccupied. Two forms wrapped in cloaks slept on them. Spears and shields rested against the wall next to the forms. Shivers stealthy moved down the stairs and woke Valraven. They investigated the forms which appeared to be spectral. As Valraven observed he heard a gasp and blood dripped from the body to the floor, the other specters head jerked as blood flowed from its neck. Then both figures rose, moving down the stairs and out of the tower.

During Myrtha’s watch she moved out of the tower to the graves and the skeletons rose from the earth again. She retreated back into the tower and they did now follow. At dawn the party decided Oliver and Valraven would search for the skeletons on the trail and Myrtha and Shivers would wait at the graves to bless the bones with holy water when the were killed.

Oliver and Valraven followed the trail and spotted the skeletons on their slow march after an hour or so. They rushed forward and attacked. Valraven managed to destroy one of the skeletons but not before Oliver fell from a dagger to the shoulder and a spear to the gut. Meanwhile at the grave site Myrtha noticed one of the graves was now covered. She quickly dug through the loose dirt and found bones which she sprinkled with holy water. Valraven struck the other skeletons with his daggers but it survived the attacks and stabbed him with its spear and he fell into darkness.

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More Spell Casting Experiments

After considering my houserule on limited cantrips and thinking about the Wild Magic chart I would like to try a few more changes.

First as cantrips are limited I would like casters be be able to push that limit. To cast when they feel like they can’t cast any more, this could extend beyond cantrips to other spells as well. What happens when you try to push your limits, to cast when you have no energy or strength left…

Second idea is to be able to cast cantrips with higher level spell slots. This might not make sense for all cantrips, for example damage cantrips already scale with your level, but what about non attack cantrips. Can you cast them at a higher level for a bigger affect? Why not try?

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The Restless Plains

As nightfall approached the party discussed making some sort of accommodations for the night. Seeing no obvious establishments Oliver made his way to one of the few structure around The Oasis, a simple building made of packed dirt and stone. A young girl with disheveled hair and dirt on her hands and face played out front. She asked if Oliver was new and if he would go see the dwarves. She showed him a small green stone which she said was from the dwarves that her mother had given her. Her mother came to the door and Oliver asked if they could sleep under their roof. She seemed friendly at first but after taking a closer look at the group she abruptly said sorry, picked up her daughter and closed the door.

Instead the group setup a small camp near The Oasis. Valraven and Myrtha prepared some simple but rather tasty food and the four travelers settled down for the night. A caravan had made camp nearby and their voices could be heard drifting by on the warm breeze. A teenage boy approached the camp interrupting Shivers as she chatted away. He offered to sell some healing paste for ten gold pieces. Oliver negotiated the price down to eight and purchased the salve. The boy also asked if they planned to travel to New Ordan, and said his father was interested in Helinite crystals if they acquired any. He showed them a small crystal which glowed every so slightly of white magic when Oliver looked at it using his incantations.

After several hours Valraven sat awake keeping watch over the camp as the others slept. The melodic sound of chirping insects was broken by sudden footsteps behind him as a woman rushed out of the darkness with a wooden club. Valraven could only manage to dodge slightly as the swinging club glanced off the side of his skull, immediately the warm flow of blood ran down the side of his face. He staggered to his feet drawing two daggers defensively as the woman cursed under her breath. The man who Myrtha had been gambling with early appeared from behind a nearby tree and and attempted to grab Valraven by the head. Valraven’s voice woke Oliver from his light sleep, he grabbed his sword and sprang to his feet. Valraven and Oliver managed to injury both the humans and with the rest of the party awake they retreated back into the darkness.

After treating Valraven’s laceration the party managed to find a bit more sleep before the blazing sun woke them. They left the Oasis traveling South along the road towards the hills in the distance. After a full day of travel and with nightfall approaching the party found a shell of a building with a dried up well and decided to spend the night there. A few hours after nightfall Myrtha was keeping watch when she heard a scuttling sound from the plains, coming into her view two dog sized scorpions scurried across the open ground into the building opening. She managed to crack one with her mace but it grabbed her leg with its pincer. The party woke from her cry for help scrambled to their feet. As they attacked the giant scorpions an arrow streaked out of the darkness into the building. Peering out into the darkness Shivers could see a hunched humanoid with a bow taking aim again. The scorpions fell quickly to the parties combined attacks but not before one managed to jab Oliver in the leg with its stinging tail. Oliver brought the last one down with an two-handed overhead strike from his sword. As he did a slight glow engulfed his sword and his eyes seems to glow a demonic red. The humanoid retreated back into the darkness after exchanging fire with the party.

As the group tended their wounds and recovered from the fight Myrtha took a moment to reach out to Lel for guidance and sensed a subtle fiendish presence among them…

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In Search of Erika

After a restful night at the Helping Hand Kosef was the first to wake. After preparing his equipment for the day he removed a small piece of paper from his belt and held it over the candle at the side burns letter he found with the name of Daria Wynn.

At breakfast the party discussed what to do next and decided Grisha would speak with animals to try and help in the search for Erika Brandwell.

After leaving the Helping Hand the party made their way to the Temple of Elil. Kosef entered and explained he would like to see his friend Grisha, a priestess dressed all in black led him below the chamber Talia has seen the bodies in to a lower chamber, a room with 3 small benches overlooking a floor covered in small white pebbles. The walls were covered in strange murals of wavelike patterns. After saying a few words Kosef left a gold coin and returned to the surface.

While Kosef was in the Temple of Elil, Grisha stepped off the street into an abandoned building and meditation for a few minutes began listening to the birds around him. Soon he held out some hard bread from his rations and spoke to a bird nearby. He asked if it had seen a human woman leaving the city to the northwest and offered it bread, the bird flew off to the northwest and was not seen again.

After Kosef emerged the Temple of Elil the group headed west across the city to the Weaving River. There they followed the a train along the river northwest. As they did Grisha turned into a Wolf and began searching for the scent of Erika while Adda and Kosef searched for tracks on the trail. Eventually Grisha was able to detect Erika’s sent along with very a very faint scent of blood on the trail. Grisha again spoke with animals and several birds responded to his questions of finding buildings, however there were many old buildings along the trail and the one the bird lead them to didn’t contain anything more than the remains of a campfire from many months ago. However Adda noticed several tracks on the trail, eventually determining that most of the tracks were their own from several days ago but she found an older bare-food track as well. Eventually Adda noticed the bare-food track turned off the trail into a small abandoned town. Turning off the trail the party made there way onto a cobblestone road which lead into a the central plaza of a long abandoned town. Grisha spoke with some Reavets near by and they led him to one of the more together buildings near the square. Kosef and Adda had found the building as well, the entrance was blocked by a bush which had grown out of the cobblestone. The bushed had some limbs broken and inside the building were the signs of recently used small camp with a single makeshift bed made of leaves. However it looked like it had not been used in a few days. The Reavet told Grisha that the human had left the same way she had come and motioned back towards the train.

The small dragon in Talia’s cloak had awoken from a nap and became more curious about what everyone was doing. It began flying to and fro smelling the air and the trail. In the building it smelled the camp area and decided it didn’t want to continue looking for the trail. Talia sensed fear from the small beast but she convinced it to continue to help search for the scent.

After returning to the main trail and turning right the party found the scent and tracks were more fresh and easier to follow. Eventually they lead to the gravel shore of the lake, there it appeared a small rowboat had been dragged up onto the shore. However the boat was no longer there and could be seen on the shore of the island. Adda and Kosef decided to scout the lake shore and continued around the lake. As they moved around the lake staying out of view from the island they noticed several creatures flying above the island. They seemed to be similar but one was larger than the other two. They seemed to randomly patrol above the ruined keep on the island and around the lake shore.

After about an hour they found themselves on the edge of a small swamp. They had taken a few steps to many and were already up to their knees in mud and water. Sudden movement caught their attention as a large creature was moving under the water towards them. Kosef quickly grabbed Adda and tried to pull her away from the water but the effort just caused his feet to push farther into the muck. A huge crocodile burst from the water biting Kosef around the waste and pulling him deeper into the water. Adda raged after the beast and slashed it with her great ax as Kosef jabbed it with his two swords. As the beast trashed from the pain its thick tail, covered in spine like scales gashed across Adda. She ignored the pain and continued her attack as Kosef managed to pry himself free of the crocodiles maw with his blade. Badly hurt and without a tasty meal in its mouth the huge reptile turned and fled back into the water. Adda and Kosef quickly moved out of the swamp and made their way back to camp. Adda channeled healing energy to cure her wounds and the wounds of Kosef. Back at camp Grisha produced more good berries to feed and heal the rest of Adda’s injuries.

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The Underlord

As the party moved towards the chasm which Murf had fallen in Grisha heard the sound of movement from the ceiling. In the shadows at the edge of the torch light a strange insect like creature appeared to be moving above the party. Kosef, Rakham and Talia began climbing down the steep chasm wall. As they did the creature ejected a stream of filament from its trunk which splatted against Talia’s shoulder and chest and pulled her up from the ravine and across the floor directly underneath the creature. The small draconian creature hiding in Talia’s cloak hood flew upward following the strand and began stinging the creature.  Adda rushed to Talia grabbing a hold of her while Kosef attempted to cut the strand which was attached to her but both his weapons became stuck to it. Adda tried to pull Talia’s cloak off and free her from this web like strand but it tore Talia’s skin as she did. Talia lit a torch and began to burn the strand while the rest of the party attacked with crossbow bolts, daggers and Lief burned it with rays of fire. A sting from the small dragon seemed to freeze the creature and after a few more injuries it fell from the ceiling bouncing once and falling into the ravine. Using fire Kosef was able to free his weapons from what was left of the strand.

By examining the fallen body in the ravine Grisha noticed that as he cut the creatures trunk like appendage its blood seemed to dissolve the web like substance. He took the blood and used to to dissolve the web from Talia. He also took three vials of the blood.

The party then left Lief guarding the body of Elfhildr and followed the trail of blood, sound of water and the dragon through a passageway that lead to the river, passing two other branches of the cavern along the way. Talia recognized the area from her vision as they party turned left and walked downstream along the river. Soon the river broadened and the current slowed and three dockers were visible, two on same bank as the party. A single wooden rowboat was tied to the first dock. A passageway lead away from the river and dock on the opposite bank. The trail continued down the river and turned to the left and stairs led away from the river near the first dock. Grisha examined the boat and it appeared to be made out of normal wood.

The party then made their way up the stairs and saw the passage opened into a huge cavern with many faint blue light lights scattered around it. The sounds of gruff voices and movement could be heard echoing throughout the cavern and a foul smell permeated the space. Kosef also noticed a bright torch light far across the open cave. As the group debated what to do Grisha heard a sound from behind them and saw there were now two boats tied up to the dock. As he moved back to the group two creatures followed. They looked similar to the creature Talia had seen in her vision carrying Murf. The creatures were carrying fishing poles and fish which they set aside as they drew there weapons. One of them was wearing the hat that Grisha has lost in the river. She carried a war pick. After some gesturing by Grisha that they didn’t want to fight the female creature with a war pick raised motioned for the group to move forward. The party continued with these two creatures following behind them. As they entered the enormous cavern they saw scattered simple stone buildings among rocks and rough ground. There seemed to be several levels the were above the ground floor on the left side and back of the cavern. At the edge of the torch light more of the same creatures gathered and surrounded the party but let them continue forward. Among the sounds of their deep voices Kosef heard the sound of a whimper which sounded human from near one of the closer buildings. Kosef again noticed the torch light which he had seen earlier but it was much closer this time. In the light he could make out a human male dressed in a cloak walking along the upper level with two of creatures from this town. When the man noticed Kosef looking at him he turned away quickly and continued walking

After a few minutes the party approached a set of wide rough steps that lead between an embankment to a higher level. About halfway up the steeps stood a muscular creature standing full head higher then the rest with chain armor and a great sword across his back. He spoke rough common and halted the group asking why they should be allowed to pass. After explaining that they were looking for a smaller companion he said they must speak with The Underlord but he did not agree to let them pass without a “Kotul”.

The crowd grunted in approval and formed a ring as one of the creatures stepped forward holding a great ax. After a brief debate Kosef stepped into the center of the circle and the crowd went silent. More creatures had gathered now and watched in excitement. Kosef crouched waiting for the muscular creature to make the first move. It came forward half cautiously but then raised its ax for a mighty swing, as it did Kosef darted to the side slashing both of his blades deep into the creatures leg.  As it stumbled to keep its balance its ax swung harmlessly past Kosef. The two opponents turned and faced each other again, one grimacing and favoring one leg as the crowd let out what sounded like a deep groan.  Kosef rushed forward again slashing at the creature’s other leg driving his blade to the bone, the creature realizing it could not stop the blow brought its ax in a wide swing slashing deep into Kosef’s back as he tried to spin away. The crowd gasped and roared as Kosef turned to face the creature again, his grimacing in pain. The creature stared back, both legs weakened and bleeding badly.  With a burst of speed Kosef leapt backward away from the creature, taking both swords in one head he brought a dagger from his belt and flung it toward the creature sinking it into his chest. The creature clutched the dagger and pulled it from his body not realizing he was already dead…

The rest of the creatures groaned, while a few grunted. Kosef picked his dagger up from the ground and handed the creatures great ax to Adda. Grisha rushed forward and packed Kosef’s wound with healing paste as Kosef coughed up a little blood. Then Grisha boldly approached the creature who wore his hat and tried to take it. As he did she drew her war pick but he managed to retreat quickly.

The party was then lead up the stairs and across another area scattered with larger buildings and up a ramp into a chamber partially built into the back of the cavern. There another of these creatures with protruding teeth in his lower and upper jaws sat on a large chair made of broken wooden parts. It easily stood over 6′ tall and its broad muscled body was covered in a thick layer of fat. The Underlord as he called himself asked what price they would pay for Murf in broken common. Another of the creatures, dressed in a cloak watched the party and seemed to advise The Underlord. The party placed a vial of blood, several giant lizard scales and some gold and silver on the table and the Underlord agreed on the price and told them to leave and not return unless they brought slaves.

The party lifted the unconscious Murf and hurried out of the cavern followed by the first two creatures who they had encountered. They seemed to be upset and arguing with the larger creature with the great sword. Grisha managed to speak with female creature and offer silver for his cap which she took and then left. As they reached the river they heard splashing of oars in the water and saw the faint light of a torch moving away from them down the river.

The party backtracked and retrieved the bodies and found Lief and Elfhildr waiting for them at the first river. Kosef returned the mushroom Grisha had taken to Lief and negotiated for Lief to try and arrange a meeting with Deline Darr. Together they managed to make their way across the rivers and back out of The Underfarms. There they brought the bodies to the temple and made their way to The Helping Hand to rest for the night. Lief said he would try and contact Kosef at The Helping Hand in a few days.

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The Fall of Murf

Talia knocked loudly on the portcullis and the mining went silent. Five creatures approached and negotiated with Kosev in broken undercommen. They agreed to let them pass through the mine one at a time. The party moved through the mining area and the solid stone door closed behind them. The passageway climbed gently for a few minutes and the sound of rushing water grew louder until the group came to water rushing over smooth stone almost 20′ across. Grisha turned into a bear and with Talia and Murf on his back walked across the river. Talia untied the rope which had been attached to her and attached it to Grishas bear form. Adda, holding the rope followed across the river slipping and falling once but managing to hold onto the rope to make her way across the river. Adda tossed the rope back across to Kosef and he followed across the river carefully. Then Rakham also crossed the river using the rope.

Continuing forward Kosev heard the sounds of clicking and scraping but the sounds moved away as he approached. He found the carcass of an insect like creature with a segmented body about 10′ long with six legs. It torso a bit upright with armored plates around its chest and head. Two huge spiked mandibles protruded from its insect like mouth.  It was bloated and partially eaten. Adda investigated the body and found it had been killed by weapons and had some burns as well. Its mandibles had blood and torn cloth on them. Rakham harvested some parts from the six legged creature with huge mandibles.

The group continued and the cavern opened up into a large chamber. On the right the floor dropped away into darkness, on the left there was a small opening about 20′ up the wall.  Near the center of the chamber two bodies lay broken on the rocks. As the party moved into the room a voice or warning cried out from the opening in the wall. A hunched figured appeared on the far side of the chamber speaking Kosev’s name. As the party approached with the light a sturdy hunched humanoid dressed in long dirty robes stood in the corridor. Its face was a mouth filled with with sharp slender teeth and in place of eyes a single dark void.

Talia fired her crossbow, striking it through its robes. The creature shrieked, “You hurts me, I hurts youuu” and it emitted a green beam of energy wrapped in tendrils from the dark void in its face. It struck Talia pulling her life from her. She managed to pull away feeling severely weakened.

Adda raged and Grisha changed into a bear and both rushed forward. As they attacked a second creature climbed up from the darkness on the right side of the chamber. Murf cast bonfire but the creature seemed to channel his magic and the fire appeared under Kosef. Kosef backed away from the edge of the chasm with Talia but the creature conjured a whirling cloud of daggers upon them. Talia dropped to the ground unconscious after being struck by several of the blades.

Grisha and Adda fought the first creature injuring it badly but then its dark eye opened again unleashing green tendrils of energy which drained Grisha from his bear form. He responded by turning into a wolf and leaping onto the creature biting its face and knocking it to the ground. Again it’s green energy pulled at Grisha’s life force and he reverted back to his natural human form.

With a crash a human dressed in robes fell to the ground from the opening up on the wall. He fixed his spectacles and rushed to Talia’s body trying to stop her bleeding.

Meanwhile Rakham fired his crossbow but failed to hit the creature several times. Murf rushed forward and tried to stab with his dagger but missed. The creature grabbed Murf with its large clawed hands and pushed him off the ledge. He let out a scream as he fell crashing onto something below and then another scream and he fell again. With another winching crash the party head Murf weakly cry out, “I am ok guys” and then a few seconds later, “There is something down here, help!” and then silence.

Suddenly a muscled woman appeared out of the darkness of the corridor to the right,  wielding a long sword she ran to Kosef’s side and attacked the second creature with her sword. The creature struck her twice with its powerful clawed hands as Kosef slashed at it with his blades. The creature again attacked the unknown woman but she managed to grab its claw pulling it off balance as she brought her long sword down on its back slicing a deep gash. Kosev followed up by slashing both of his blades across its neck and it fell to the ground.

With the first creature on the ground Adda ran and slide down to Talia, wrapping her in a healing hug. Talia regained consciousness. The first creature let out a terrible cry as its companion fell to the ground. It rushed forward and struck with its claw knocking the long sword wielding woman to the ground unconscious.

As she fell the spectacle wearing man waved his hands and cried out and three rays of flames erupted from his hands burning the creature. Grisha now back in his human form called fire into his hand and launched it striking the creature again and it fell to the ground dead.

The wizard cried out “Hildr” and rushed to the fallen woman’s side, administering pressure to her wounds and stopping her bleeding. He then introduced himself as Lief Ric and said he was a member of The Arcane Society and was here gathering mushrooms for study when his group was attacked by the two wicked creatures. Isek Redstone and Siff Dran were both killed but he managed to levitate himself up into the opening in the wall to escape but became trapped there.

The party investigated the dwarf and human bodies. They had been partially eaten and had obviously been dead for a few days. Next to one of the body was two large sacks filled with parts of mushrooms. Grisha concentrated for ten minutes and sensed a faint yellow glow of conjuration magic coming from one of the mushrooms. He took it and put it in his back under the protest of Lief who said The Arcade Society would not be happy about it.

As the group recovered from the battle Adda went out of the room for a few minutes and rested in the passageway leading in. Kosef joined her for a bit before returning to discussed what to do next. They heard a sound as an armadillo like creature with long feathery antennae entered the room. It seemed to be attracted to metal as it approached the party members with metal weapons. It’s antennae turned several metal items to dust and then it seemed to eat the dust.  Talia fed it several crossbow bolts but it would not stop and eventually Adda knocked it off the ledge.

As the party continued to discuss what to do next Talia stepped away from the others and sat down. She breathed deeply reaching into her own mind focusing. She again saw the forest she had seen while she was unconscious, she approached a huge tree that seemed to be shaped into a three raised seats, in the middle, the highest seat sat the Ward King. He offered her a book and she accepted it. She opened her eyes and looking down at the book in her hand, it had a bark like cover and root like bindings. She opened the book and saw the three hills district of Tordan, it was more lively, more populated and less dilapidated.  People walked the streets and the markets bustled. As quickly as it came the view faded and she saw herself in the Temple of Nian training. A voice in her head said ‘Help Alail”. Then she saw Murf being carried over the shoulder of an ugly muscle bound humanoid with stone colored skin, a dome like head with protruding jaws. The creature walked along a river down stream. Again the view was gone and she saw The Ward King again, he slowly waved his hand and nodded. She looked down as she felt something moving in her hands. A tiny colorful dragon with butterfly like wings looked up at her curiously.

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Search from the Dead

Continued deeper into the tunnels, passing through several caverns. Saw a dead familiar squid like creature with five eyes and long tentacles which was being eaten by beetles. Killed one of the beetles and they fled. Investigated corpse and saw it was slashed to and pierced by an arrow, not killed by the beetles. Continuing they came to a river with a rope tied across it. Grisha fell while crossing the rope and almost drowned. The party was able to pull him out of the water but he lost his hat.

The party rested on the other side of the river and were attacked by a stalactite, several others moved so the party moved into the cover of the passage way.

As the party continued they came to a junction in the passageway which split in four directions.  Kosef lead the party straight following his vision to a solid stone door which seemed to be barred from the other side. With a handle but no visible lock or later Adda and Rakham tried to force the door open but were unsuccessful. The party backtracked and went to the left at the junction. As they moved through the irregular passageway Kosef noticed a small opening  on the right near the ceiling. This vision now showed this as the path he should take. However it was a small opening so they hoisted Murf up to it. As he crawled forward the sounds of metal hitting stone grew louder until the rock opened up above a huge natural cavern bigger than his vision could see.

Murf could make out six humanoid creatures smaller than a dwarf but bigger than a halfling They were stocky with huge eyes, dressed only in shorts and small tops as they mined ore from various parts of the cave and loading it into carts. Several other taller elf like creatures with huge eyes, long straight hair and sagging skin watched over the carts which were attached to six-legged beasts which pulled the carts away when they were filled.  However the way forward was blocked by metal bars so Murf climbed back to the party and told them what he had seen. The group continued forward through the tunnel and shortly came to stairs the lead down and to the left. Again Kosef’s sight showed him that this was now the shortest path. At the bottom of the stairs the corridor continued forward but was blocked by a portcullis. A smaller tunnel lead off  this one and climbed to a small opening about 20 feet above the cavern farther left. From there another door was visible which lead out of the cavern and in the direction which Kosef could see the group needed to go.

The party discussed what to do next and decided to return to the portcullis and try and talk to the strange creatures of this hidden world.

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D&D 5e rules: Stealth, Hiding and Attacking

Stealth and combat are one of the areas of 5e where there are actually a lot of grey areas in the rules. This is probably intentional to allow for different situations and give the dm to make judgement calls.


  • You can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly.
  • If a creature becomes aware of your position you are no longer hidden.
  • An invisible create can always try to hide.

Finding a hidden creature:

  • In lightly obscured areas have disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on sight
  • A creature suffers from the blinded condition when using vision to see in a heavily obscured area


  • Attacking a target which can’t see or hear you gives you an advantage on your attack role. However you do not always get an advantage on attacks when hiding. You must meet the previous requirements.
  • Attacking while hidden reveals your position regardless of if you hit or miss
  • If you are hidden at the start of an encounter you surprise creatures unaware of you and they cannot move or take a action on their first turn.

Next, using these guidelines I will explore some possible scenarios for melee and ranged Attacks.

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