Live streamed and uploaded every week on YouTube. Join us live on Fridays at 7:30 pm Pacific/10:30 pm Eastern!

Original character art by Jimmy McClure.
Music by Kevin MacLeod.
Chat with us in the Official Discord Server.
Support the channel via Patreon!

Previously on Rime of the Frostmaiden

Valravn, level 10 Eladrin Bard of Eloquence
Fray, level 10 Halfling Barbarian of the Beast
Celeste, level 10 Half-orc Sun Soul Monk (played by Chris this week)
Edmond, Level 10 Human Alchemist Artificer
Thimbleweed, level 10 Gnome Swarmkeeper Ranger

D&D is a dice-based game. Usually things balance out, but sometimes the dice go the players’ way.

Other times it’s a tragedy of errors as your PCs struggle to make a successful roll, and your overtuned boss fight at the end of a fully aggro’d dungeon nearly results in a TPK.

As petty revenge for the AOE psychic attack last session, Fray had grabbed Valravn and jumped down into the fourth and final level of the Lost Spire of Netheril: a room full of more mutated Dzaan clones.

Thus, our epic battle from last week continues, with more monsters rolling initiative and a temporarily split party!

The mutant Dzaans on level four claw and scatch at Fray and Valravn, while a tentacled Dzaan climbs up the tunnel, only to swiftly meet a bitter end from Thimbleweed and Edmond (the latter dropping its corpse down the tunnel with a well-timed Thorn Whip).

Edmond, Thimbleweed, and Celeste hurry down to the bottom level to assist the rest of the party. Valravn casts Slow and attempts to flee down a nearby corridor. That ends up being a disastrous mistake.

Remember kids: never flee deeper into the dungeon.

The tight corridor features another mutated Dzaan bashing on a closed door. This one is mostly a melty pile of flesh and it shuffles after Valravn, who promptly flees back into the dining room of chaos.

Melty Dzaan attacks and restrains Fray, and begins dragging her back down the hallway toward an open door. Fray doesn’t resist but continues attacking her captor.

The open door contains the final room of the dungeon, along with the boss monster, a pile of Dzaan mutants disgustingly fused together into a fleshy mound. It’s a combination Corpse Mound (ToB) and Gibbering Mouther, with added Legendary Actions, and it’s now added to the initiative order, and begins spawning more melty Dzaans.

Rime of the frostmaiden session 58 lost spire

The party is far less concerned than they should be, continuing to attack the minions in the dining room. Unfortunately their rolls are horrendous, with what has to be a record amount of critical fails, while the DM is rarely missing with an attack.

Only Valravn heads after Fray, even teleporting past a Dzaan Spawn to reach her and give her a Greater Healing Potion.

It’s not the first time the squishy bard has put himself in mortal danger to save someone else, and I respect the hell out of it.

Unfortunately this custom-crafted boss monster has a nasty ability that I borrowed from the Gibbering Mouther. Every turn a nearby PC must succeed on a WIS save or suffer a form of the Confusion spell.

I put the DC at 17, disastrously high, though with the PC’s rolls I’m not sure lowering it would have mattered much.

The result is a horrifying stun-lock on anyone that was near the boss. Fray can do nothing as she is pummeled and downed by the monstrosity. Valravn is likewise shut down, though oddly the minions rarely find purchase.

Edmond runs in and is almost immediately downed and consumed by the flesh mound. Unbelievably, Thimbleweed the ranger chooses to run close to melee the melty minions and likewise get stun-locked, only saved by Celeste’s mobility to run in and out of fights (and drag him with her).

At this point I’m thinking the best the PCs can do is lose one or two of their party to the boss and beat a full-on retreat.

Then Fray shocks everyone by rolling a nat 20 on her death save, the clutchiest of clutch rolls. She auto-revives, rages, grows fangs, and begins attacking the flesh mound with infectious fury, causing it to attack and down one of its minions.

At this point the DM begins to re-balance the fight. The boss effectively loses its legendary actions, and doesn’t deal ongoing acid damage to those inside of it. Fray’s attack is practically the first damage it takes.

It’s still an uphill battle, especially when Edmond rolls a nat 1 on his death save, incurring two fails. Uh-oh!

Rime of the frostmaiden session 58 lost spire boss

Time for a miracle.

The DM is okay with PC deaths — we had one earlier in the campaign at Sunblight, but shutting people down every round until they die is a nasty way to go.

Thankfully I can do (slightly) better than a Deus Ex Machina.

Remember leg-less Dzaan from the cage on level 2? He was mentally traumatized from everything that happened down here (including the mutants chopping off and eating his legs). Edmond had freed him and strapped him to a summoned polar bear, but the bear was too big to fit through the tunnels between levels.

Not anymore! With a triumphant roar the polar bear squeezes down two levels to deposit the non-mutant Dzaan on the corridor floor.

Dzaan casts a spell on the doorway, causing the boss to back away from it in terror (Phantasmal Force), then opens a nearby door, revealing a bedroom and the confused and anxious Krintaas, Dzaan’s loyal undead bodyguard.

Krintaas had seen a lot of weird shit go down. His magical programming is preventing him from harming Dzaan — but now there are lots of Dzaan and most of them are nearly feral and ferocious.

Dzaan quickly convinces Krintaas to attack the flesh mound and save them, and the dutiful undead rushes into battle.

Fray uses the distraction to feed Edmond a potion and yeet him out of the fleshy mound. The flesh mound kills Krintaas on its turn with a devastating critical hit. But Valravn casts Greater Invisibilty on Fray to hide her from its onslaught.

Most importantly, the psychic spell that Dzaan cast seemed to disable the boss’s terrible stunlock feature, giving the party a chance to mount a comeback.

Invisible Fray remains in the room, hacking and biting at the flesh mound (the delicious irony of the cannibal eating her way out of a flesh mound is not lost on us).

The rest of the party assaults the ooze-like creature with ranged attacks behind the safety of the phantom force doorway.

Finally, the boss monster goes down, and the combat that lasted 1.5 sessions is over.

The one surviving Dzaan tells the tale of what had happened. I wasn’t planning on using him as a social NPC (there is a journal the PCs were supposed to find on level 3) but circumstances changed.

I gently remind them that Dzaan is a not a good person after the events they discovered earlier in the campaign during the Mountain Climb quest, and his attitude about finding the ancient city of Ythryn that this tower split off from is dangerously obsessive.

But he did save their lives down here. Edmond had even chopped off the legs of another less-mutated Dzaan and was going to mend them into a prosthetic for Dzaan. Quite touching, in a very Edmond-way.

Dzaan offers to tell them of hidden treasure if they promise to get him out of here. The PCs’ swagger returns, and they offer to trade the information for his life (basically what he’s saying anyway).

He reveals a magically invisible chest in the bedroom that he hadn’t been able to get to before things went sideways with the magical cloning machine. Edmond casts faerie fire and they reveal a chest full of goodies, including a magic ring, magic wand, and a Scroll of Reincarnate.

The party settle down for a Long Rest in the much more empty dungeon. They had aggro’d nearly the entire dungeon, made lots of questionable decisions, and felt the sting of the most one-sided dice in the history of our D&D adventures (I neglected to mention all the nat 20s on my end).

But the DM also felt terrible for the stun-locking boss that prevented the PCs from doing much of anything once they were in a tight spot.

Thankfully, I can adjust on the fly. Dzaan got to be both villain and hero. Where his story goes from here is entirely up to the players.

I highly recommend watching this week’s Frostside Chat for a thoughtful breakdown of these chaotic, tense events.

Next week: onward to Revel’s End!

MVPC – Valravn

Live post-session discussion:

Live streamed and uploaded every week on YouTube. Join us live on Fridays at 7:30 pm Pacific/10:30 pm Eastern!

Support my channel via Patreon!