Greetings, my group recently played our 5th session of The Sunless Citadel. This particular session, while having some cool moments, was very unfocused, which caused the players to not get as much done. My group and I had not hung out for a while, and so we kept derailing into conversations with each other, eventually deciding to give up on play and just hang out a bit.
Also of note Milbee was unable to make this session, which according to Aldo’s player, deprived the party of Milbee’s unique form of focused chaos.
After a long rest, the party scaled down the vine covered walls of the gaping pit, descending even deeper into the Sunless Citadel. The vines they clung to were pale and glowed weirdly iridescent, lighting up the area in an shimmering glow.
The circular pit emptied into a compost filled room, with hundreds of glowing fungi within. Two robed figures stood in the corner of the room, mechanically shoveling and spreading compost from a large pile. The entire floor was covered in a squishy, earthy, and gooey layer, but the robed figures seemed unaware of the party. After a few seconds evaluating the situation the party attacked the robed figures, which slowly turned around farming implements raised.
The robed gardeners revealed themselves to be ghastly skeletons, and combat ensued.
When combat started several Twig Blights popped out of the layer of compost and ran to assist the skeletal gardeners; however, three twig blights and two skeletons were no match for the party, which handily smashed the creatures apart. I did scratch Noble with a twig blight dealing 3 points of damage, but other then that the party largely conquered with no trouble.
The noise of the combat drew the attention of the neighboring room’s occupant, Durthu the Hunter, a bugbear, and his two hulking giant rat hounds Rip and Fang.
The party quickly formed an excellent plan, in which Starfall used a spell to rapidly retreat down an opposite passageway, purposefully drawing the attention of Durthu and his hounds, while the rest of the party laid in wait hoping to ambush the hunter.
This was partially successful, with the bugbear cautiously entering the room, sending his giant rats rushing after Starfall. The party then sprung their trap and dealt some respectable damage to the bugbear.
Not intimidate a large combat ensued, with the giant rats Rip and Fang turning around to team up against Aldo, nearly knocking him out, while Durthu attempted to smash up the party with a wickedly barbed javelin. Some great threats passed between Durthu and Aman, with Aman claiming he would take the bugbear’s skull and drink out of it, brutal!
Despite the bugbear’s large reservoir of hitpoints the party quickly slew Rip and Fang, and knocked out Durthu for questioning.
Starfall while in wolf form, in a sadistic turn of events, bit off the bugbear’s ear attempting to intimidate him. Aman, piggy backing off of Starfall’s threats reminded the bugbear, and the party, that he would drinking ale from the bugbear’s skull.
On a side note, what is it about taking an enemy prisoner that turns nearly every D&D character into a twisted torturer!
Aldo and Noble using words and reason drew some information out of the bugbear, nothing really new; however, they did get him to agree to lead them through a backdoor, bypassing several guards on the way to the Twilight Grove.
Starfall, not satisfied with the deal, took the bugbear’s antler helmet, a trophy he had taken during one of his hunting trips. Incised the bugbear demanded his helmet back, and an argument ensued between the party. Eventually the party convinced Starfall to give the helmet back, while I only half jokingly contemplated giving all my creatures fake teeth filled with cyanide to avoid similar issues in the future.
Durthu then led the party through the dungeon, as he agreed, after which the party released him, after another brief argument, of course.
Here the party to my surprised pulled their act together and utilized an excellent combination of stealth and spells. Aldo, sneaking ahead, viewed many rooms similar to the first mushroom garden they found; however, in these bugbears dressed in floppy straw hats, equipped with rakes and hoes, tended to the crop. Several rooms branched off these gardens, with both skeleton and goblin workers doing odd jobs.
Aldo then used the Sleep spell to put two bugbear gardeners asleep, allowing the party to bypass not only these gardeners, but also the side rooms of enemies, moving directly along the path to Belak, and the end of their quest. Along the way Starfall took samples of the unusual plant growth to study later.
After a short hallway, the party came upon a room completely empty of the glowing plants they had grown accustomed to. All that could be seen were to glowing red circles, almost like eyes watching them.
Cautiously entering the room, the party saw the red light came from gaping holes in place of the eyes of a skull statue, which Aldo rightly guessed once housed precious stones. Several creepy statues stood around the room, and Starfall investigated one which had the inscription “Fear is the mind killer, Death is only the beginning.”
With that the flickering shadows created by the party’s torches reached out and attacked. One roughly human shaped shadow reached out of the statue clawing Starfall, two others sprung up attacking other party members.
After the initial assault, and Starfall coming dangerously close to being turned into a shadow herself, the party struck back utilizing several radiant damaging spells, which quickly destroyed the dangerous creatures.
With both Noble and Starfall drained of a lot of their strength the party decided to take a long rest, and it is here we decided to stop.
I am curious, do other players (or even my players) find that captives often become points of contention between characters? If so does anyone have suggestions on how to solve this beyond making taking prisoners impossible? It is something that frequently pops up in my games and I always struggle with how to keep the questioning moving, character interactions reasonable, and then get the game back on track. If you have some thoughts on this, or anything else I have mentioned please post in the comments, I would love to hear from some of my readers :).
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this recount of my fifth session of The Sunless Citadel, it is my guess that next session will be the final one of this adventure, and lead into the next phase of this campaign :).