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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Some sessions are filled with intrigue, role-playing, puzzles, and exploration. Others are just one big battle royale. Our thirtieth session was the latter, as our heroes charge forth into the waiting arms of the water cultists.

My players’ progress within the water temple has been haphazard at best. They narrowly avoided being slaughtered by the dragon turtle, and at one point looked to be separating to different corners via the underground river.

But they regrouped and headed North and East, which lead them straight to the boss. They defeated Gar quite handily (being at nearly full strength).

But now most of the temple lay before them – and its denizens were aware of intruders lurking about.

To simulate a living, breathing dungeon ecosystem I had several water cultists tentatively making their way toward Gar’s inner temple. The PCs, meanwhile, decided to go out the main doors and explore the rest of the water cult area – a sound decision. They met the opposing force, and Miri used her newfound trident Drown to make them back off.

What they didn’t know, was that they soon stumbled on the temple door trap that lay on the bridge, dealing some solid damage, destroying Talus’ zombie Tim 2.0, and alerting just about everyone in the vicinity. The fight was on!

What followed was one big battle that lasted the entire 2.5 hour session. The hallway between C24 and C22 became a choked bloodbath as our heroes rushed in to fight cultists, reavers, and a fathomer.


Talus’ player nicely reminded me that he had to roll a Concentration save from the thunderous blast of the magic trap. He failed it, and Kethra lost her super-powered ape form. The party was much less excited about the upcoming battle.

But Talus had yet another trick – the pipe of smoke mephits. He summoned them into the Market Hall room. Between their claw attacks and Cinder breath they wrecked havoc on the cultists.

d&dOnly about halfway through the fight did I realize their blinding Cinder Breath required a Recharge roll (which I now realized completely unbalanced that Stone Golem fight…ah well).

To complicate matters further, Talus launched a Fog Cloud in the room, which helped kept the reinforcements manageable. I had rooms C23 and C13 jump into the fight, giving me well over a dozen foes and digitally juggling (alt-tabbing?) many different character sheets.

Returning NPC Shoalar attempted to Misty Step behind them and throw a Tidal Wave their way, with plans to escape the way they came. The PCs quickly cut him down before charging down the hallway to fight with the mephits.

Most of my forces were CR 1 or lower, so the challenge came in sheer numbers. Miri wielded Drown the entire time, taking delight in role-playing its rather evil-feeling tendencies (and discovering it gives her Cold Immun…wait Resistance, crap I did that wrong).

With both mephit turns and the fog cloud creating another layer of skill checks the fight dragged on a little long. I think it just barely skirted above the boring line with role-playing various kills and setting up elaborate flanking attacks (stupid mephits!).

The PCs killed anyone that might have reached the gong, so Bronzefume was alerted to the thunder explosion rather than the battle South in the Market Hall. Talus ran like hell to join the rest of the army just as she arrived in about Round 4 or 5.

The easiest way to adjust the difficulty of big fights is to stagger opponents. I last did it with the huge fight with the wicker giant turned Fire Elemental.

Here I made sure not to introduce Bronzefume too early – even knowing she would be hindered by limited mobility (she’s not limited to water, but she can’t squeeze through a 10 ft hallway).

d&dHer Steam Breath attack has a 60-ft range however, and I decided to get my Harsh DM on by firing it down the hallway. I did lessen the spread quite a bit thanks to the choke-point, but it ended up hitting Talus and Miri. Talus made the save while Miri didn’t, but she is Fire Resistant. They both took half damage (about 24), but wounded from battling they went down anyway.

It was a dramatic moment as they started rolling death saves. I let Talus use the mephits to help stabilize while Kethra and Kalinaar mopped up the last remaining Lizardfolk. Then they dragged their unconscious friends into a nearby room (lizardfolk den at C13) to finally catch their breath.

The Temple of the Crushing Wave has been punctuated by one battle after another as my players are essentially fighting it in reverse. It remains a dangerous, alerted dungeon and the party is suddenly vastly drained of resources. In other words – fun times are ahead!

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!