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June 4th, 2012

Return to Undermountain

Yesterday afternoon,kb98and I played D&D one-on-one for the first time since 2009, and for the first time ever using 4e. There were three PCs, all first level, and I ran the new Halls of Undermountain adventure book. We’d had a lot of fun with Undermountain in the past, playing over 20 sessions in the dungeon in1994-95 when I’d moved it to beneath the city of Unthalass in the Old Empires.

We really enjoyed the game, although I had to be careful not to kill everyone off too early in the campaign. Getting the right balance between a challenging encounter and a TPK is tricky for three 1st level PCs. After three encounters, the witch is already out of healing surges.

Cast of Characters

Skylark “Sky” Wennell, female human bard
Fargrim Craghammer, male shield dwarf fighter (slayer)
Valna Nythallin, female wood elf wizard (witch)

Here’s what happened:

The PCs have come to the Yawning Portal in Waterdeep’s Castle Ward with the intention of exploring Undermountain in search of great riches and adventure. They spend some time talking to other patrons in the taproom, including Corporal Knag (off-duty City Watchman), Umpold Steinrut (drunken dwarf who has lost his brother), Old Stannoc (halfling bookmaker) and Maklin Mucklar (gnome potion seller).

After chatting to these fellows for a while, the party are approached by a half elf named Llarwell who asks them to come and meet his employer, a Waterdhavian noblewoman. In a private room, the PCs talk to Lady Lestra of House Urmbrusk who pays the PCs 20 gp each to keep an eye out for her missing nephew, Rutheford, while they are in Undermountain.

Back in the bar, Durnan lowers a group of adventurers into the dungeon. There are sounds of battle almost as soon as they reach the floor, and the PCs are given the chance of being sent down free of charge to go to their aid. The party agree and Durnan gets ready to lower them down. They brush aside Old Stannoc’s offers to bet on their own survival but give their names to Brother Sepulcher, priest of Jergal, who writes them in his ledger.

Arriving at the bottom of the rope, the PCs can see two dead adventurers and one who is dying with his sword jammed into a secret door opening to the north. Sky casts majestic word to heal the man, named Morphey. He tells the party that kobolds and goblins appeared through the secret door to attack the party and dragged off his three surviving companions. After getting Morphey winched back up into the inn, the PCs head through north, following a trail of blood.

Fargrim makes a lot of noise bashing down a locked door which brings a patrol of three kobolds and a goblin down on the party. Fargrim is stuck to the floor by a gluepot flung at him by the kobold slinger. The dwarf and Valna are both bloodied in the battle, but the goblin cutthroat and the two kobold tunnellers are killed. The kobold slinger makes a run for it and the PCs are forced to let him go as Fargrim is still stuck.

After entering what appears to be a shrine to a fire god to the east, the party continue to follow the bloody trail north into a corridor lined with chipped and defaced statues of warriors. This hall is trapped and four of the statues fire magical energy bolts at the party from the crossbows they are holding, bloodying all three PCs.  The party duck back behind the door and take a short rest to heal their wounds.

Having heard cries of pain from the west, the PCs know they must head that way and that means crossing the trapped corridor. They run across to the door opposite, trying to dodge the bolts. Reaching the safety of the abandoned forge beyond, they run back across to the southern corridor.

Here, the cries of agony can be heard more clearly. Valna sends Darkwing, her shadow raven, into the room to the west. The familiar reports back that three goblins and the kobold slinger are watching while a female half orc is being bitten by two snakes that have grown out of the bone throne she is sitting on. The PCs charge in. Valna kills one goblin cutter and the slinger with spirit rend and witch bolt while Fargrim takes down the goblin hex hurler. Sky kills the last goblin and then the PCs deal with the animated snakes from a distance. They pull the poisoned half orc, Yoradar, from the throne and heal her. Searching the throne, they find some gems and a mysterious crystal rod. Valna uses her mage hand to retrieve the glowing globe.

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