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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

When exploring a large dungeon, I prefer not to leave it as a series of static rooms filled with monsters and traps. Depending on how much prep time I have, I try to include unique scenarios, dialogue, and role-playing situations whenever I can to break up the blood bath. Particularly after the super long combat encounter that lasted all last session.

This week our heroes squeezed in a Short Rest before having to think on their feet and employ some stealth and deception to make it through a series of trolls, ogres, and an opportunity-seizing sea hag named Thuluna. They discovered magical experiments involving mobile Water Weird battle tanks, and a whole host of baddies to take down as they made their way out of Crushing Wave territory.

When we last left off our heroes were in bad shape. Talus and Miri were unconscious from the battle (specifically Bronzefume’s deadly steam breath attack) and the party needed at least a Short Rest. I allowed it.

Just as they were deciding on their next course of action, I forced it upon them. An ogre knocked on the door, asking for Thornscale – the lizardfolk leader and resident of the den they had bunked down in.

As I anticipated, Kethra cast Disguise Self and went along with the ruse. The rest of the party tried to stealthily follow, using Minor Illusion to distract an Aquatic Troll sentry. What played out was a fun little scenario as the party stealthed into the fountain room (from C13 to C11), while Kethra was let inside to be questioned by Thuluna Maah, the cult’s scheming Sea Hag.

d&dJuggling different scenarios for different party members is tricky. I make sure the action is never entirely focused on a single player for too long. I bounced back between Kethra’s exchange with Thuluna, and Kalinaar’s own deception with the dim-witted ogre guard when their stealth checks failed them.

The PCs played it all very well, avoiding a fight while learning that Thuluna wants to organize the non-humans under her control and advance on Gar while he’s weak. Of course what she doesn’t know is that the PCs already killed Gar and his guards and taken the trident Drown.

With some more successful stealth checks the party made it past a sleeping troll. Kethra employed some Charisma checks to get rid of yet another troll guard. It was all pretty impressive, and I liked that the party chose a different method then “well, I guess we have to fight ’em all.”

I had no idea which direction they would go next, or if they would try to backtrack. They ended up heading Southwest, toward Morboeth’s workshop and the Water Weird tanks. This is a nifty section, and Talus particularly was very interested in what these tanks full of Water Weirds and empty glass backpack harnesses all meant.

The PCs started popping off tanks. As a DM all I can do is smile when something seems like such an obvious trap – yet too curious to pass up.

Sure enough one of them exploding into a Water Weird, leading to a quick battle. While they inspected the odd situation, the nearby Workshop heard the commotion and attacked.


The party was only at about half-strength after their Short Rest. Reavers aren’t strong but there were half a dozen, and I got off some nasty hits.

Morboeth the one-eyed shiver was a bit less impressive, though I did force several PCs to use their Inspiration from last session. I managed to roll a 1 on two consecutive d20 rolls for Mirror Image. Meanwhile my PCs were critting like crazy! Such go the dice rolls.

These rooms are a bit of a domino effect, as the fighting within the workshop alerted the nearby guard post full of bugbears. The PCs have fought these dudes since level 1, so they charged in.

I did more damage with these bugbears than I did with anything else in the dungeon (save Bronzefume’s steam). Holy crap, multiple times I hit for max damage! The PCs felt the sting, especially as Talus spent his time examining and successfully creating his own Water Weird tank during the fight.

d&dThe bugbears went down and finally the PCs could breathe easy. They were hurting badly at this point. But Morboeth’s treasure chest had some decent loot, and I let the party create two Water Weird tanks.

Technically the campaign book doesn’t let them make their own at this point (I believe they can find one later on). Hopefully by giving them all these additional toys (such as the smoke mephit pipe) I’m not unbalancing the game even further.

In the end I think having awesome, unique magical items to play with is crazy fun, and should prove another way to make otherwise regular combat encounters unique and exciting.

At this point the party found the gate in the SouthWest which lead back to the Howling Hatred area. That dungeon was still empty (they’d damn near killed everything on their way in) and they simply walked back to the exit, and back to the surface for the first time in days.

Upon returning to Red Larch I launched the “Dire Tidings” event from the campaign book. This teases the first use of the Devastation Orbs. In my game I had the air cult launch one in Womford, destroying much of the small town.

The PCs met a small camp of refugees trying to get help in Red Larch. Miri offered to sell her Platinum Goblet that she’d looted from the Air Temple moat to help give them food and shelter. The party then finally got to Long Rest in proper beds, and attune to their new magical toys.

They are extremely close to level 8, and now know of multiple places they can go to dive back into the dungeon delving. Of course, I may throw them a few other events around the Dessarin Valley as well…

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