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Unfathomable! Session 9

   Ye Dogs of Destiny contend with a psychic predator, horrible mutations, and academic rivalry.

The Campaign: Operation Unfathomable! and Odious Uplands!, both by Jason Sholtis

The Ruleset: 5e

Ye Dogs of Destiny:

  • Brother Ded, a monk/political shit-stirrer.
  • Mort, a fugitive from Imperial justice.
  • Greta, a baby-eating hag-turned-Citizen Lich. 
  • Ulther, a ranger and artifact smuggler. 
  • Zinee, a wooly neanderthal druid/cosmetologist. 
  • Toljin, a magical boy raised by pirates. 
  • Doloth, an unwilling-Citizen Lich.
And they are joined by:
  • Professor Zabon Gormontine, Scientist from the Far-Flung Future
  • His two robot pals/guards

The Story So Far

The PC Party, ye Dogs of Destiny, have entered the Underworld in pursuit of the fabulous Nul Rod. They have reluctantly teamed up with Professor Gormontine, who insists that returning the Nul Rod to its proper place is vital to the future of the entire Universe.

This Session

While exploring an Ancient Beetle ruin, the party attempted to rescue a Beetle Scientist trapped on one of the exhibits. Upon release, the Beetle was revealed to be an illusion cast by a hideous fungal-animal hybrid with a long, pointed proboscis—the Psychephage!

Brother Ded was right in the monster's face, and immediately socked it with a couple solid monk-blows. Ulfer rushed forward and cast Hunter's Mark on it (this would prove very fortuitous) before striking it. Then a wave of vertigo and nausea rolled over the PCs and the Ancient Beetle structure they were standing in was replaced by an undulating shaggy landscape, dotted with alien, tumor-like plants under a lava lamp sky!

Undaunted, the party continued to hammer on the poor beastie when another wave of nausea passed and suddenly everyone was in different positions from before, several of the party were missing, and now there were five psychephages! It didn't take the party long to figure out that the missing party members were under illusions as the additional psychephages, but they had a rougher time figuring out which psychephage was The Psychephage. 

They weren't helped by the fact that three of the illusory psychephages were Professor Gormontine and his robots. Gormontine, being a coward, was more interested in sneaking away to safety than in solving the mystery. And his robots were chiefly interested in protecting him, but didn't know where he was.

They Psychephage was able to ambush Greta, who had the biggest, tastiest intellect of the party (don't tell Gormontine), grappled her, and sunk its proboscis right into her undead skull. This let everyone know where their target was, and most of the party crowded around to beat on the Psychephage. The poor monster, after centuries of starvation in an abandoned habitat, happily supped on Greta as it took a moderate amount of damage, and then cast Hallucinatory Landscape again, hiding itself from the Party. They party mistook one of the robots for the Psychephage, and attacked it. The robot retaliated by firing a quick-hardening anti-personnel foam, but missing its assailants.

Fortunately, Ulfer still had Hunter's Mark running, and was able to detect the real Psychephage as it tried to make for the exit. Belly full, it had every intention of slipping away, and picking someone off one at a time, every time the Party took a long rest. 

Zinee, distraught over the felling of Greta, used her druidic wildshape for the first time, turning into a bear. Her wildshape was influenced by the psychedlic environment, however, and instead of a kodiak, she turned into a rainbow-ombre polar bear with leopard spots. She and several other party members surrounded the Psychephage again.

One of the robots sprayed the whole melee down with anti-personnel foam, catching Zinnee and the Psychephage. In a desperate attempt to save itself, the Psychephage cast Greta's appearance over itself, but it could only produce a nonsensical babble when it tried to speak with her voice. Everyone wailed on the Psychphage until Polar Bear Zinee stretched out from her trapped position in the foam and brought a massive bear-paw down on the monster's head. The illusions disappeared and Psychephage was dead.


After gathering themselves, the party continued on, eventually finding a chamber that made their skins prickle and their danger senses blare—they had entered an area of concentrated Chaos radiation. Doloth reminded everyone to take their blue anti-Chaos pills, but, oddly, no one, not even Doloth actually did. They explored a massive cavern filled with discarded and hardened carapaces. The carapaces ranged in from flea-sized to elephantine, and a bewildering variety of shapes: insectoid, avian, humanoid, cephalopod, trilaterally-symmetrical, etc, etc, etc. They also spotted a ledge about sixty feet up the cavern wall, with rough hand-holds leading up to it. 

Just as Brother Ded made it up to the ledge, the ambient Chaos radiation in the chamber started to cause mutations. Doloth began puking non-stop. Toljin's torso elongated right out of his armor, waving stumpy little caterpillar limbs in the air. Ulfer's face became that of a hideous infant with piranha teeth, drooling something viscous and black. Everyone else quickly took their anti-Chaos supplements.

Exploring the ledge, Brother Ded and Mort found a massive chimney that led a thousand feet up to the surface. Noting that this chimney appeared to have been chewed through the rock, they got circumspect in a hurry, and climbed down to join the others.

The party concluded, with Professor Gormontine's help, that these husks must have belonged to Sephilax, a recently begotten Chaos godling that, rumor is, spent weeks trying to find a physical manifestation that suited it before setting off to the surface world to eat, kill, and conquer.


After a bit more exploring and backtracking, ye Dogs of Destiny once again set off through some tunnels they hoped would connect them The Devil's Highway, where they hope to find the Temple of Nul. They find themselves walking single-file along a tunnel towards an intersection up ahead. A flash of purple light explodes in front to them and a deep voice calls out "Gormontine! I've come to put an end to your mad scheme! Surrender yourself!"

The PCs, no dummies, immediately call out "Are you from Omni-Cosmic University?" "What's your academic rank?" and "What's your beef with Gormontine?"

Gormontine shrieks that this hated rival, Dr. Ephraim Thontorius, is mad and set upon the destruction of the Universe by thwarting Gormontine's plan to return the Nul Rod to Kind Syantides. "Kill him! KILL HIM!" His robots move swiftly to obey.

Dr. Thontorious, an uplifted bear with a tweed jacket and a gamma pistol, announced that he is tenured and has attained the rank of full Professor (unlike Gormontine), but he is prepared to sacrifice all that and more to stop Gormontine, who is actually trying to lead the Universe to ruin.

"You're both figures of reason and science! Can't you talk this out?"

"Have you ever been to a faculty meeting? Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."

"Did you just quote Henry Kissinger in a D&D game?"

Meanwhile, Greta's intellect has been drained away but her personality is intact and avaricious as ever. While everything else was going on, she used Mage Hand to steal Thontorius' briefcase right from under his nose.

The party is pretty suspicious of Gormontine at this point, who keeps speaking disparagingly of them as "petty organics" and "dripping flesh sacks." Most of the party starts fighting the robots, while Brother Ded tries to wrestle Gormontine's ray gun away from him. He has some trouble with this, as Gormontine's arms suddenly have way too many joints, and the scientist creepily spider-crawls up the wall of the tunnel, heading towards Thontorius. Ded makes a last snatch for the pistol and gets it! He quickly susses out how to use it ("It's just like a hand crossbow!") and fires it at Gormontine. Unfortunately, it shoots a 30' cone, and strikes nearly the entire party. 

The GM may have loosed an unseemly cackle at this turn of events.

Zinee, in a panic, sets off Entanglement in an area that covers all of the PCs and Gormontine and his robots. One of the robots, nevertheless, knocks Thontorius out with a stun beam. Gormontine escapes entanglement and begins running along the tunnel's ceiling towards his unconscious enemy.

And then we had to wrap up for the evening! We begin next session at the top of Round 3 in the initiative. 

Next Session

I expect the Party to make pretty quick work of Gormontine, at this point. The questions is whether either he or Thontorius survive to fill the party in on their shared story.

I need to decide what's in Thontorius' briefcase, and whether or not to hit them with another worm soldier patrol before this battle ends. Then it's back to exploring to Underworld! It'll be our tenth session, and my goal is to get them to place where it makes pacing sense for them to advance to Level Three.


I consider my strengths as a GM to lie more along the lines of narrative enthusiasm than strategic scenario construction. But the Psychephage fight really needed some careful consideration to make work. You can read about my planning and see the Psychephage's stats, here. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. The Psychephage lasted long enough to show off all its special abilities, and left a real mark on the Party. Everyone seemed to have fun. I guess I need to do more of that sort of thing!

Greta was left with an Intelligence of 3. She can regain 1d6 INT after every long rest. The mutations will wear off much sooner, as long as everyone keeps taking their pills.

Professor Zabon Gormontine absolutely did not have multi-jointed arms or the ability to spider-crawl at the beginning of the session, but it was exactly what he needed in the moment to underline that he was not what he presented himself as. And nothing's creepier than something not-entirely-human spider-walking backwards up a wall. 


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