Greetings! Last Friday I had my 3rd session of the Sunless Citadel. I was much happier with my performance as a DM, to see how session 2 went check out my article here https://theroomfillswithwater.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/the-sunless-citadel-session-2/ , there are several other articles detailing my adventures under the category Adventure Log.
The session began with the party ready to recuperate, after having just fended off a swarm of Twig Blights and escaping from a gang of Belak’s followers. Rather then rest in the area where they were nearly sacrificed, the party decided to take the wagon they had been brought in, and travel to the entrance of the Sunless Citadel, there they would rest.
Of course, that meant they had several hours of travel, through tight roads, winding their way through the forest (cue evil laughter).
About an hour into their trip, the party began to hear the howling of wolves. After another 30 minutes, 2 large wolves came bounding out of the night, attacking Noble, who was trailing behind the wagon. In the mean time, 3 other wolves went dashing for the horses pulling the carriages.
Some highlights of the combat include Starfall attempting to use Talk with Animals to Intimidate the wolves away, a nice attempt, which almost worked. Aman, who was on foot trying to guard the horses, was knocked down by the wagon, as the horses bolted. Finally, poor Noble was knocked out and dragged off into the woods. Luckily for the hapless Cleric his party members caught up to the wolves, killing them before he could be eaten.
This combat was a great way to start the session. I highly recommend having some sort of encounter at the start of every session, it gets the party focused, and is a nice way to get excitement levels up. This was a nice encounter, as it fleshed out the world with a random encounter. The wolves weren’t part of the Sunless Citadel script, just denizens of the forest the party traveled through.
The party, luckily, ran into no other random encounters and managed to to get a full rest in, while guarded by Meepoo and other Kobolds, who met the party at the entrance.
I want to note, in the past I have largely avoided using random encounters; however, an excellent D&D podcast, called theRPGAcademy, had a great discussion about random encounter on The RPG Academy Network GM Panel #1: Part 2. In the panel some GMs argued random encounters serve as a great way to flesh out the world, and make it feel populated. If you are looking for more DM tips and D&D content go and check out the podcast on itunes!
After waking up, the party ventured into the Sunless Citadel, and investigated the chamber containing the skeletons that had nearly killed them.
Within the chamber were several open and empty sarcophagus which had inscriptions reading, “Death is only the Beginning.” They also found a obsidian altar, with a Potion of Greater Healing, a Potion of Hill Giant’s Strength, and a whistle named “Night Caller.”
After an natural 20 Knowledge Acana check, it was revealed that the whistle could be blown over a freshly dead corpse in the dark or at night, and the corpse would rise as a zombie to serve the party. The whistle could only be used once a week, and it could only allow the caller to control 2 zombies at a time.
Some of the party was excited, others were nervous about the whistle.
Advancing deeper into the dungeon, the party ignored a path which went away from the goblin’s territory, and instead entered goblin turf. The door was trapped with a bell, which alerted two goblin guards, who stood behind 25′ of caltropped hallway, and a 3 foot tall crenelated wall.
A ranged combat ensued, with one goblin quickly being killed, and the other fleeing to get help. One highlight was Milbee using an illusion to make it appear he was charging towards the wall, which confused both the goblin archers, and the party, whom he did not inform the shape was just an illusion!
After some hesitation, Noble peeked into the next room, which was set up as an archery range. Down the long chamber was yet another 3′ high wall, with 7 or so goblin bowmen behind it. Noble was shot 3 times for his trouble.
Using a mirror, the party scoped out the situation better; however, Aman, who held the mirror was shot 3 times with some really lucky goblin bow fire.
After a great deal of discussion, the party concluded they would lay a Fog Cloud in the chamber, and attempt to enter a door which was within the archery range, but not next to the goblin archers.
Using some well thought out spells the goblin archers were confused and unable to pinpoint the party. However, the door they wanted to enter was locked!
Aldo rapidly picked the lock, after another volley of arrows was sent the party’s way, damaging a few members. Hurriedly, the party rushed into the chamber, slamming the door behind them.
The room was a dungeon, with no other exits. However, the party did find and free 4 captive kobolds and a gnome Cleric of Freya, named Erky Timbers. The gnome, who had been held for a year in the dungeon, was weak, but able to provide some basic healing the party. The party was also able to glean some information from the gnome, such as Belak the Outcast tended to the Twlight Grove, underneath the Sunless Citadel, which is where the Gulthias Tree rested, growing its magical fruit.
At this point, the party yet again faced what to do about the squad of goblins at the other end of the door. It had become clear that even more goblins had joined the band, putting their numbers to nearly a dozen.
Yet again, my party surprised me with some creative uses of spells and illusions; however, some excellent saves versus Sleep on my part meant that despite two sleep spells being cast, only 2 goblins fell asleep.
Growing frustrated after a bit more party discussion, Aldo quickly talked the kobolds into fleeing out the room, hoping they would draw the fire of the goblins, and then the party would follow. Unfortunately, he didn’t think the plan fully through, as all they did was serve as a visual cue that people would be coming out of the room.
Aman, in a bout of insane courage, charged right at the archer line, getting shot several times; however, his second wind ability, and shield, allowed him to get in contact with the wall, swinging at an archer, missing twice. With only 1 hitpoint left there was not much hope for Aman.
(not a Mul, but oh well its a dwarf with a shield, close enough!)
The remaining party members looked at Aman, said sorry, and dashed across the room into the safety of the adjacent hall.
Starfall, intelligently cast Fog Cloud, allowing herself and Erky Timbers to lumber into safety.
Aldo, clearly feeling guilty, dashed back into the archery range using the fog as cover. Getting adjacent with the stone walls he used a mighty Thunder Wave spell, blasting all 11 goblins to smithereens, and thanks to Aman’s Relentless Endurance, did not knock out his party member.
The party, relived no one died or was caught, returned to kobold territory to rest, killing some giant rats along the way.
The following day, the party once again ventured forth into the dungeon. After investigating some empty rooms they happened upon a trophy room, which was smashed and battered, thanks to the angry white dragon wyrmling it contained, the party had found Calcryx.
Meepoo, excited to see his dragon, rushed into the room to return the creature to its home. However, the dragon, having more freedom in the trophy room, did not want to return, and Meepoo had to dodge a blast of icy breath. A combat ensued, with the party using subdual damage to try to capture the dragon.
The final blow, dealt by Milbee; however, was declared as not subdual, slaying the young dragon instantly. Enraged Meepoo whipped out a make shift dagger, thrusting it several times into the wizard, knocking him out. Chaos and a great deal of arguing ensued, as the party attempted to figure out what to do with this turn of events. Tying up both Meepoo and Milbee a lengthy discussion began.
By the end, the party had concluded they would continue deeper into the Sunless Citadel, something needed to be done about Belak. If they happened upon aggressive kobolds, they would slay them; however, for the time being they would attempt to avoid the tribe. Milbee was freed, and the difficult decision was made to slay Meepoo. Noble, declaring Tyr’s embrace take you, snapped the minuscule kobold’s neck.
Quite a bit of grumbling and glaring was directed towards Milbee’s player, and the session ended.
As I said at the beginning I was very happy how the session went. My party got a lot accomplished and had some challenging but fun encounters. I particularly enjoyed the unique challenge the wolves gave, forcing the party to manage not only normal combat, but the frightened wagon horses. The twist ending, with Calcryx being slain, was quite a surprise for everyone, and helped reinforced how much your players can do to create memorable stories and moments.