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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Those of you that have been following our campaign for awhile know we’ve had our share of technical difficulties. Unfortunately we had a nasty one crop up in our session last night – complete power failure from a thunderstorm. This resulted in the loss of the first 2/3 (almost 2 hours) of our session.


As you’ll see in the video I attempted to salvage our session by recording a few minutes this morning and describing what happened before syncing up with the final 30 minutes. I’m devastated that we lost some great footage, and apparently I need to switch to recording via .flv instead of .mp4. So it goes.

Last week our heroes had sealed the water node and returned to rest in the Fane of the Eye. They set out this week to delve back into The Black Geode, battle the prophet of elemental earth and seal the earth node.

Since some time had passed since the PCs left the Black Geode the first time, I had a few reinforcements come to guard the entrance in F13. The party barged right in thinking the way was clear, and had to tangle with a handful of ogres and Black Earth cultists.

From there the way through the Black Geode was still mostly clear. I had the xorn murder the stonemelder in G2, then wander off – the PCs just found the half-eaten body. Crossing the bridge at G9 was easy since they knew the password from Rhundorth…at least I think he told them.

They got halfway into the dungeon before any combat occurred. They spotted the cultists meditating in G12 and rushed up to take them out rather than sneak by (or go North to G13).

Once again the cultists went down swiftly, though my burrowshark got some solid hits in. At that point Talus decided to use Seeming to cast an illusion over the party, making them appear as earth cultists. I was pleasantly surprised. Usually my crew is very much the shock ‘n awe, barge in and start swinging kind of dungeon-crawlers.

d&dI rewarded this tactic by having the mounted burrowshark wave to them as they passed through the bulette pens in G13, and Kalinaar was able to Intimidate the lowly remaining Nothic that had fled from their previous battle at the forge.

I had planned on using that Nothic to summon a giant purple worm to harry the party before the final earth battle. Instead, I ended up saving that for later.

I pulled a lame DM ability of “your magic is suddenly disabled” when they entered the final earth node room. The Seeming spell had worked well so far but I hadn’t at all prepared for a disguised approach to the last boss of the earth cult. In hindsight I should’ve played with them a bit more and seen how things would have unraveled.

Instead I pulled back Marlos’ hood and the battle was on! For a few seconds at least.


On the first turn of the first round Miri used Fist of Unbroken Air to slam into Marlos, and Talus used a divination die to force him to fail the save. This did a chunk of damage but more importantly catapulted him backwards – THROUGH THE EARTH PORTAL.

Bye Marlos!

Now I could have used his Legendary Resistance here to shut that down completely. I didn’t for a couple reasons. First, I felt bad about already shutting down Talus’ illusion spell in the final room. Second, I thought this was an incredibly cool, climactic moment – even if it meant a way too easy end to the fight.

Sometimes as a DM you have to be able to let go and go with the flow, particularly if the flow leads to better storytelling. We might not remember a lengthy protracted battle with the medusa-prophet, but I’ll always remember Miri slamming him into the portal in the first round.

With Marlos gone and the portal closed the entire dungeon begins to self-destruct, Super Metroid style! This is kind of tricky to portray in D&D when a single combat round lasts mere seconds, but I think I did a decent job. The Earthquake spell effects create fissures in the ground, collapsing columns and forcing some tense saves.

Unfortunately I rolled only 10 feet deep on the fissures, letting Talus simply drop down and run like hell. The hidden gargoyles in the room swooped down to attack in a fit of crazed rage while the party teetered between trying to fight them off or escaping. Then the purple worm showed up.


What better excuse to use one of the Wrath of the Elements counterattacks from the campaign book? I realized I had just lost the node but the cataclysmic effects could easily drive the worm out of the ground in this very spot. I had it explode from the middle of the fissures and received that “oh shit!” response from my players that every DM craves.

At that point the PCs weren’t mean to really fight the gargantuan creature, and they quickly made their choice. They hightailed it out of there as the gargoyles circled around it, getting brutally killed. “This is like the end of Jurassic World!” said one of my players. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

From there I montage’d their escape from the dungeon, which literally was collapsing around them. Kalinaar used his Ascendant spear to find the way back before his Wind Walk bead finally went off, transforming them into neatly escaping mists just in the nick of time.


The PCs had explored almost all of the Black Geode, except one of the key parts to get the next stage in a side quest (Halls of the Hunting Axe), which at this point I’m going to skip entirely as it seems pointless and anticlimactic to get them out of these final dungeons.

Two nodes are down and two left. The PCs received a record amount of XP in this session and should be able to reach level 11 before the adventure concludes. Next up – returning to the Howling Caves for the air node! But can they convince Miri to give up her precious Windvane?

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