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Mannix, level 4 Human Inquisitive Rogue
Khaless, level 4 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue
Gillian, level 4 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 4 Tortle Battle Master Fighter/Rogue
Therin, level 4 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon
After making it through the thorn maze the party had emerged into a massive pond filled with grung, and dominated by a central shrine. The grung were engaging in bloody ritual combat with prisoners – two of which were Azaka and their very own Gillian!
With her player out last week, Gillian had become lost in the maze. I messaged Rachelle last week to see if I could pull of an interesting twist – during the last session Gillian had been captured by the grung, and was about to be the next contestant in their gladiatorial arena! It served a fun purpose to put her right in the middle of the action.
Before Gillian and Azaka were marched into the shrine, Mannix got a chance to question the woman who had previously fought and killed a goblin in the shrine. Her name was Oloma Authdamar, first mate of the Star Goddess. Her skyship had been attacked by pterafolk and crash landed in Chult.
The PCs had actually seen the wreckage from Mbala, which perked her right up. She explained she had been captured by the pterafolk, but when they stopped to rest, they were in turn killed by grung, and she was marched off to the grung shrine.
Prisoners were forced to fight each other while grung bathed in the blood. She was the last survivor of her group that had been taken. She mentioned two other recent prisoner arrivals.
As if on cue, Azaka and Gillian were forcibly marched into the shrine, Gillian stripped of her equipment and Azaka manacled by a silver chain.
The party knew time was against them at this point and made plans to attack the shrine. Mannix freed Oloma and handed her his machete. She was suffering from exhaustion but still able to fight. Therin-frog hilariously gathered up some nearby giant frog allies, convincing them that now is the time to rise up and cast off the chain of their grung oppressors! More or less.
At Khaless’ instructions the tabaxi took up positions in the rear with their bows, while she and George crept up to the entrance of the shrine.
The shrine was filled with grung, the regular greens as well as the more powerful orange warriors. Inside a golds king grung lavishly sat on top of a mountain of treasure, clapping his hands excitedly, while a red grung wielded a magical staff and croaked out some ceremonies.
Daggers were thrown at the feet of Azaka and Gillian. Gillian tried to reason with Azaka but wasn’t quite able to get through to her, as the weretiger had a frighteningly feral look in her eyes. She made a plan to tackle her into the shallow water that served as the tiny arena.
When she did Khaless emerged and shined her blinding Silverlight Dagger into the bulk of the grung, and the rest of the PCS and NPCs charged forward to engage in a massive, bloody battle.
I didn’t count the number of grung involved (and I was deleting tokens as they fell) but I believe there were around a dozen green grung and at least half a dozen oranges.
The grung inside the shrine were initially happy with allowing Azaka and Gillian to fight, but Azaka was equally interested in tearing apart the grung nearby – and they could do little to stop her. After opening up with a crit against Gillian, she turned and started wrecking apart the grung.
Therin-frog leapt inside to assist in the fight while Gillian unleashed a Shatter spell, killing many of the very low HP green grung.
The others had their hands full taking on the much stronger orange grung that were bottlenecked at the shrine entrance.
I tried not to overuse the Grung Elite Warriors’ Mesmerizing Chrr. An AOE stun is very powerful, and it’s never fun to lose your turn when there’s that many combatants on the field.
Otherwise grung are not the most interesting enemies. They do very low damage (unless you fail the DC 12 CON save for their poison, which the PCs rarely did) and have low AC. The orange ones have ridiculously high HP for their level, however, turning them into annoying little meat shields that stuck around for a long time.
The fight definitely dragged and at some point I fudged the grung HP a bit to let them die a bit sooner. Even with Azaka and Oloma the PCs took some heavy damage. Therin went through both frog and bear forms, then tanked really well in his AC 16, poison resistant druid form! Both Gillian and George were very low on HP but despite the huge fight, no one went down.
Instead the PCs were able to negotiate a surrender, after most of the grung inside the shrine lie dead. After both Mannix and Gillian failed to communicate with Azaka, Khaless finally got through to her with a natural 20 Persuasion check. She pointed her to the gold king grung, and Azaka tore into him with another crit!
At that the red spellcaster grung (who was mostly hilariously ineffective due to a rather lame spell list), offered to surrender to spare the life of their king. A veritable horde of grung was descending upon them as the entire village was swarming up the shrine, but the red grung offered to let them leave without further blood shed, if they spared the life of their king.
The PCs agreed (George a bit more reluctantly). Khaless calmly walked up to Azaka, who was currently straddling the failing king grung, and manged to talk her down. The powerful weretiger backed off, reverted to her human form, said she was glad she finally found everyone, then promptly passed out.
They helped themselves to the loot, which I increased quite a bit given the challenges they’ve faced here: a magical druid staff from the red grung, the king’s magical crown, a giant frog figurine, and mountains of coins and art objects.
From there they left the shrine, eerily and calmly surrounded by dozens of staring grung. Therin used the staff to quickly create a path right through the maze and back outside where Inete and Vorn awaited. They leave the grung village far richer, and with two more traveling companions. Oloma desperately wants to check for any survivors at the crash site, and the PCs have agreed to travel there next.
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