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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

We’ve finally reached the point in our lengthy campaign where I decided to add material from outside sources. “Princes of the Apoclaypse” certainly has plenty of content to keep us going for another six months – but I just couldn’t help myself.

Plus, I received the Tomb of Beasts and Book of Lairs from Kobold Press’ Kickstarter and just had to try at least one of their spiffy dungeons. With the extra side treks I can also tie them into what’s going on in the Dessarin Valley, the elemental cults, and my PC’s themselves.

In the case of the “House of Reeds and Whispers,” I knew Talus wouldn’t be able to pass up a mysterious, magical investigation growing from the Black Maw Bog.

It was a simple few changes to put the “House of Reeds” dungeon in the Black Maw Bog, with reeds reaching all the way to Westbridge. Following the events in Westbridge with the Council of Despair, the party decided to follow up with the weird reeds and head North to the swamp.

The “House of Reeds and Whispers” is an 8th level dungeon from the Book of Lairs. It features a few new creatures from the Tomb of Beasts, including the eel hounds (“Land Eels!”) that took up a good chunk of our session. After reading the book it was the first one I wanted to integrate, and the easiest since it fell right into our current level range.

The party was fully rested from their encounter in Westbridge and had just reached level 8, which took up a decent part of our session as we went over new abilities and hit points. The Book of Lairs also came with a .pdf of the battle maps, making it super easy for me to integrate into Roll20. The map also looked absolutely fantastic, with squirming reed tiles, a bloody trail, and a sinister house.


I played up the horror nature of the entire encounter, and I think it went pretty well. My players were convinced the house itself was a sentient creature, complete with an eye stalk that shot out of the chimney – earning me the always satisfying DM compliment – “Hey this is pretty cool.”

They decided to investigate a small shed next to the house, which was totally built like an alarm trap. The shed contained a nest of baby eel hounds, which immediately set the nearby adults upon our party, surrounding them.

The eel hounds were practically built for this encounter. They’re able to swim through the reeds unhindered (half movement for the PCs), dribble Grease-like spittle on the ground, and surround their prey to gain advantage on attacks. Also, I had freakin’ eight of them.

A well-rested party is a force to behold, but my party wanted to hold back as much as possible, knowing this was the first fight and the house itself still awaited. The eel hounds aren’t particularly strong (though advantage helps a lot) but they have an insane amount of hp for CR 2 creatures.

d&dPumping HP is probably the single most boring thing you can do to make a creature stronger. It makes the fight last that much longer even when the tactics have stopped changing.

There was a neat moment where Talus teleported back into the shed and began stomping baby eel hounds while Kalinaar stood in the doorway. Miri and Kethra darted around best they could to gain flanking attacks.

Everyone got in some solid hits but the eel hounds can only do so much, and I feel like they just lasted a bit too long. We had to take our mid-session break in the middle of the fight!

My players were disappointed to find nothing else of value within the shed or around the house – but the real treats lie inside.

They finally mustered up the courage (via Mage Hand) to go inside the reed-covered house. Here I launched my favorite part of the dungeon: a neat little dream sequence. Each PC makes a CON saving throw. Failure puts them in a mysterious sea-side city full of red-skinned humanoids.

I instructed the three out of four that failed the save to use good ol’ fashioned role-playing to get out. They could describe how their character would escape, and roll the appropriate skill check.

I loved the way this played out, and I think my players did too. I was also relieved that multiple PCs failed the save – I was initially afraid no one would fail and I’d miss this unique story-telling opportunity.

Talus acted like a private eye, using Investigation to find a dame, a murder, and an exit. Miri mediated to her goddess, then climbed onto the rooftops to leap toward the nearest exit via Acrobatics. Kethra slunk away to an alley, observing the ones around her, and used Perception to discover their mannerisms, blend in, and escape by hiding in plain sight.

d&dThey all made their skill checks and escaped the dream world, and it was a lot of fun – particularly the sudden off-the-cuff What Do You Do scenario. I definitely need to integrate more little bits that aren’t combat-oriented.

Inside the house the party found the disgustingly drained remains of Nahl Fry, the eccentric collector of trinkets who’s house this belonged to. They looted the house and found some nice treasures, including a Pearl of Power for Talus – as if that bastard needed anymore toys!

Sadly because of the lengthy eel hound battle (and reaching level 8 at the beginning) we had to end our session right as the party descended into the cellar. The bloody trail of reeds descends down here into a large chamber full of reeds. What will they find down here? Tune in next week!

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