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A Whole Lot Of Poo

September 28th, 2008

Last Friday evening, our gaming group completed their first adventure in my Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

It all began innocently enough, with the adventurers gathering for a meal at “Gutworthy’s,” a pub specializing in greasy, filling food. Their revels were interrupted by a screaming woman in the nearby market square: “My baby! It’s taken my baby!”

The “it” in question was a giant rat, which had grabbed her infant son in its teeth and scrambled down a nearby sewer opening. There was, of course, little choice for the heroes but to follow.

Wandering the maze of twisty passages without a map, they soon entered a long, straight tunnel in which the ceiling and walls seemed to be crumbling. Taking little heed of the surroundings, they were ambushed by several large centipedes!

Meanwhile, while scouting up ahead, Cynfael the rogue found himself unexpectedly attacked by a dreaded gelatinous cube, a large, transparent scavenger that had crept quietly up behind him. The creature engulfed and attempted to digest him! (DM’s note: I have a well-documented fondness for the gelatinous cube.)

Cynfael managed to extricate himself from the jelly-like mass, and eventually the party overcame the menaces. Tuk’-Ja the eladrin wizard found himself a magic orb within the body of the slain cube.

Traveling further, they reached an intersection. There the phrase “GO BACK STOMPERS” was written out in some manner of unwholesome “paint.” A crazed voice cackled from somewhere within the walls: “Who dares invade my kingdom? My subjects will gnaw your bones!”

Several dire rats tumbled out of the pipes and challenged the heroes. Seconds later, with a clanking sound, a strange device rose up from the floor at the end of the passage and a mechanical arm began tossing exploding firepots at random combatants.

The trap nearly proved to be too much for the group, taking down their healer, Hariah the half-elf paladin, with a lucky hit. (DM’s note: I used a trap straight out of the Dungeon Master’s Guide that was allegedly appropriate for characters of their level, but found its high accuracy and damage rate both to be a bit much.) For reasons known only to them, they chose to battle on within its arc of fire rather than getting behind the machine. They did, however, rescue Hariah and finally shut down the device.

After a short rest they pressed on, only to find the lead members of the party sliding helplessly down a slick slope into a large chamber with a stinking pile of muck at its center. To no one’s true surprise, a bulk emerged from beneath the offal surface. A slavering, tentacled otyugh attempted to pull Hariah into its maw, while more centipedes, attracted by the battle, scuttled into the room.

The other characters voluntarily slid down the slope to join the fray. Protected by the difficult terrain of the muck pile, the otyugh nearly overcame the group. (DM’s note: The otyugh is a 7th-level monster which I scaled down to 5th for the purpose of this encounter. Its high Armor Class and Fortitude values, coupled with the combat minus for fighting within its stench aura, made it very difficult to hit. The party was severely lacking in powers which could attack its relatively low Reflex defense.)

Poor Hariah had quite a time before finally breaking free of the otyugh’s grip. In the end, the foul beast went down.

Shortly thereafter, the party had another run-in with tentacled sewer dwellers, smallish beasts which dropped from the ceiling and attempted to wrap their tendrils around their victims’ necks. (DM’s note: These were actually “chokers” from the Monster Manual, “re-skinned” to resemble the darkmantles of 3rd edition D&D. Their favorite trick was to grab a victim and use it as a shield against other attacks.)

The sewer tunnel dead-ended in the foundation of a building which had fallen into disuse. The large, underground vault was festooned with broken furniture, and dominated by a “throne” made of discarded crates and various animal and human teeth.

This was the “palace” of Loomis, the self-styled “Rat King.” This human lunatic had been sending his rat minions to the surface to kidnap male children in hopes of identifying one to serve as his “heir.” In fact, three babies were present, and Loomis intended to test their worthiness by dropping them into a water-filled cistern. His assumption was that a Rat Prince would be a good swimmer. (DM’s note: Loomis was an unused villain from my friend Dave Lartigue’s defunct 3rd edition D&D game. I was so taken by the concept–and the Lego minifigure that Dave L. had designed for him–that I asked to borrow both for my own game.)

Sergeant Kesek the dragonborn warlord ordered Loomis to surrender the children, but the Rat King set his pets against them. (DM’s note: This was another chance to use one of my favorite D&D miniatures, the “rat swarm.”)

The battle didn’t go well for Loomis: most of his minions were cut down before he could effectively rally them. He began suspiciously backing toward the far end of the room and its oh-so-convenient trap door, pausing only to fire a few rounds from his “ratapult.” (DM’s note: Loomis’ ranged attack involved plucking one of the smallish rats constantly crawling on his person and firing it with a sling.)

As Kesek gathered the would-be rat princes and the heroes closed in, Loomis threw a blackout bomb at the ground and fled through the aforementioned trap door, vowing vengeance.

The party searched the Rat King’s “nest” and discovered a nifty lightning-powered longsword which was claimed by the paladin. Returning the children to their parents, the heroes enjoyed a small, but gratefully-given reward, as well as the opportunity to clean off all that poo.

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