Skip to main content

Unfathomable! Session 6

The Dogs of Destiny run away and fight and run away again.

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

The Ruleset: 5e

The Party:

  • 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. (absent)
  • Toljin, a magical boy raised by pirates. (absent)
  • Doloth, an unwilling-Citizen Lich.

The Story So Far

The PC Party, ye Dogs of Destiny, have entered the Underworld in pursuit of the fabulous Nul Rod. Last session ended with their being spotted by a squad of Worm Soldiers on a Duly Authorized Revenge Sweep of Hell's Back Road.

This Session

The party turned and fled from the intimidating sight of twelve Worm Soldiers and 4 Eyes of Shaggath-Ka. The soldiers gave chase.

I came up with some environmental complications for the chase through Hell's Back Road. First, I rolled a d20, with roughly equal odds of a complication happening to an individual PC, the worm squad losing one member, or nothing happening that round. If a PC got a complication, 1d10:
  1. Loose rubble. DEX 12 Save or twisted ankle. 1d6 bludge dmg & slowed 5' until healed.
  2. Spore pod explodes. CON 12 Save or be confused. Next turn, run full speed in (1d4) direction: 1. Forward; 2. Left; 3. Right; 4. Backwards
  3. Buoyant gas leak. DEX 12 Save to direct unexpected leap. Failure: land prone, lose half movement to get up. Success: Travel 50% further next turn.
  4. Chasm: Athletics or Acrobatics 12 check to jump it or fall. 1d6 bludge dmg, must spend half movement to climb out next turn.
  5. Mind Bat stun. INT 12 Save or stunned and prone.
  6. Very uneven ground. Acrobatics 12 check or slowed 10' next round.
  7. Pollen gust. CON 12 Save or blinded, speed halved until pollen is washed out.
  8. Pill Bug stampede! DEX 12 Save or bowled over. (1d8) bludge dmg and prone.
  9. Razor sharp crystalline formation. DEX 12 Save or (1d4) slashing dmg, leave easily traceable blood trail until healed.
  10. Run into a hover swarm of flying prawns.  Lose 5' of movement next turn.
First round, Doloth was nearly downed by a Mind-Bat stun, and the PCs decided to stop and fight.

Ootherion, Ape Myrmidon grabbed the last three worm soldiers to run past him in a bear hug and called out to the PCs, "GOOD LUCK, MY FRIENDS! I WILL REMEMBER YOUR STORY!" And disappeared with his wriggling, frothing armload to the west.

The PCs went super-nova on the remaining worms and took them out pretty quickly, but at the expense of all their depletable abilities.

Greta drank some more vitreous humor from an Eye of Shaggath Ka and learned that this area is an outskirt of his domain, that he is in a territory dispute with his brother worm godling, Kwanju, and that he is currently suffering from terrible injuries. And Shaggath Ka learns that there are new surface-dwelling assassins in his domain! Time to send out more kill-squads!

Continuing west, the PCs encountered two segmented giants, ancient constructs, making repairs to Hell's Back Road and smelled mastodon jerky stew—a sign that deserters from an earlier expedition might be nearby. Before investigating further, the party long rested in another fungal grove, and found the Dagger of Blind Hunger.


The Dagger of Blind Hunger
rare, requires attunement
A gnarled dagger with a beetle chitin handle. Everyday that it is fed any amount of blood, it grants its wielder Blindsight within 30' for the remainder until their next long rest.  This effect ends if they do not have possession of the dagger.


Their long rest watches passed quietly. The only event was two massive magma beings strolling to the west, chatting in Undercommon:

“I, for one, wish the Worm Brothers would just go ahead and devour one another and get it over with. I find all the jockeying for position and status distasteful in the extreme. Did you see that last graven image? Appalling.”

“Of course I concur, and would only add that once they have fulfilled their fratricide, it would give me great pleasure to watch the victor consumed by Mother’s chaos fires.”

(sizzling, sulfurous laughter) “Indeed, yes, it will be glorious. Say, brother, have you noticed the proliferation of tiny, insignificant life forms around these parts? Gives me the creeps.”

“Nauseating. Just the thought of one of them crawling around on those tiny legs fills me with a nameless dread.”

The Clomping Hoof of Nerdom Clomps Again

I set up the Murian Imperial calendar on Fantasy Calendar so that I could keep track of external events. And, of course, I did the whole counter-productive worldbuilding thing of thinking way too much about naming months. I don't plan on sharing the calendar with the players (because what could be more exhausting than learning your GM's made up dates?), but it makes me happy to have the in-world dates of things.  I now know that long rest ended at the relatively early hour of Fifth Bell on Psaltir 14. 

The Next Morning

(First Bell, Psaltir 15) The PCs woke up covered in smelly, sticky fungal saps. They approached the segmented giants, still at work shifting massive blocks of stone with inhuman steadiness and patience. When approached, the giants shined their spotlight-eyes on the PCs andwarned them in Ancient Beetleguise to stay clear of the work area. Almost in the shadow of one of the giants, the PCs spotted  a clothesline of barbarian underwear, and found the deserters hiding in an ancient shelter. These were guards and mercenaries that had come down with the second Underworld expedition, sent by Governor Krofax after Prince Eyrian's expedition failed. They had survived this long by hiding as closely as they could to the segmented giants, whose presence scared off most predators.

The mutated mutineers were addled, paranoid, and had trouble making up their mind about whether to attack or join the PCs. The PCs were making some headway in persuading the deserters to let them be guided to the exit when they were interrupted by one of the segmented giants. “Must commandeer magic blade for work purposes. Surrender one magic blade immediately. See Quartermaster in Zsansz for tax credit.”

Mort is immensely proud of his magic sword, Boomer the Blade of Destruction, and did not want to hand it over to be used as a construction tool. Mort ran, followed by the rest of the party and, belatedly, the mutineers. A segmented giant pursued for a while, throwing boulders, but eventually gave up, squishing a few mutineers out of spite. 

The party took the mutineers back to the ladder up and sent them on their way. Except for one, Thang, who had some pretty extensive mutations and was prone to addled violence. He freaked out at the realization that he would never be able to fit into human society again and attacked Brother Ded. Ded broke his neck, and then noticed that Thang was regenerating hydra-style—anything he lost grew back twice. Ded amused himself chopping off heads until Thang was a 16-headed microcephalic idiot. This horrified Doloth, who had words with Ded, setting up some juicy intra-party drama for down the road. The party let Thang, now possessed of the mental capacities of a baby, wander off into the blue0green gloom of the Underworld.

Unknown to the Party

District Investigator Reginar Eiffel
The mutated deserters were headed up the 1000' ladder to the surface. About 600' up, they ran into the rival party, the Apis Irregulars, climbing down. After some tense negotiations, the Apis Irregulars climbed back up and interrogated the deserters about the Underworld in general and the Dogs of Destiny in particular. District Investigator Reginar Eiffel, who has commandeered the Apis Irregulars in his pursuit of "the criminal fugitive Mortimer," had the deserters arrested and sent back to Fort Enterprise to be tried for mutiny, abandonment of post, and unlawful morphological deviation. The expected penalty is, of course, death.

Next Session

Several folks will be away for Spring Break, but I hope we can still achieve gamer-quorum.  The PCs are faced with two possible tunnels to go down, and I need to add some foreshadowing details to both, so that they can make a semi-informed decision about which path to take.


Popular posts from this blog

Knaves, fancypants

I've prepared a new layout document of Ben Milton's Knaves . Knaves is a great, light rules set that has an extremely elegant core mechanic while retaining total compatibility with OSR material. It's pretty much the rpg of my dreams. This document contains the complete rules, plus a bunch of useful hacks from the community, plus a few of my invention, plus some useful resources from Ben Milton's previous effort, Maze Rats . EDIT: I've updated the layout to fix errata and make a few tweaks. Further, I've made 3 variations: KNAVES TABLET LAYOUT The Tablet Layout is meant for scrolling on screens, and contains hyperlinks. KNAVES SPREAD LAYOUT The Spread Layout is set up to print on Letter-sized paper. KNAVES A4 LAYOUT The A4 Layout is set up to print on A4 paper, and is probably the most elegant of the three versions. This is presented with generous permission from Ben Milton, and should in no way be an excuse for not purchasing a copy of Knav

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post , I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough. In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game. As follows: Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM. Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll. 2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10 If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage. 3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10 Because each character only has 3 ability scores (S

Reviewing Rules for Play-by-Post Optimization

I’ve played a lot of PbP games: all your favorite flavors of OD&D, AD&D, and their retroclones, Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Superheroes, Traveller, Dungeon World, etc. ad nauseam. In almost every instance, I forgot what ruleset we were using at some point. Which is a good thing. Once chargen is over, you spend a lot more time describing your characters actions and poring over the GM’s descriptions than you spend interacting with rules. When you do roll, it’s usually a combat to-hit roll, which you’ve probably programmed into the online dice-roller as a macro. Pretty much any game will work for PbP. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t points of possible optimization. Point 1: Resolution. Anything that can keep the action moving is a boon to PbP. A game that requires a back-and-forth exchange of information to resolve an action is going to progress very slowly. A good rule of thumb is that it’ll take 2 or 3 days to get a response from any given player. At that pace, an exch