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Unfathomable! Sessions 14 & 15 (plus a magic item)

 Ye Dogs of Destiny leap from the Nullite frying pan into the Chaos godling fire!

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.

The Story So Far

Ye Dogs of Destiny have traveled into the Underworld in pursuit of the legendary Nul Rod. This has brought them to the Temple of Nul, which they are in the process of clearing, murderhobo-style.

Session 14

Psaltir 17 (5th day in the Underworld), 4th-5th Bell

The first hour of the session was spent catching Bother Ded's player up on the events of the the past month's sessions, and then acting out our little play, The Harrowing of Brother Ded. Another big chunk of time was spent figuring out how much loot the players could haul out of the Temple treasury without running afoul of 5e's extremely generous encumbrance rule.

When we finally got around to playing, we found ourselves in the following position: Most of the party was in the Temple treasury, but Ulfer, in disguise as Bishop Emptiness, had gone out to talk to the acolytes who had returned to the Temple with some decaptitantes to start cleaning up the Party's previous butchery. Ulfer hadn't done a great job of passing himself off as the Bishop, however, and one of the acolytes approached out of concern that the Bishop was being coerced in some way. The acolyte got close enough for me to allow an Investigation check, and the jig was up.

Combat, combat, combat. The Party made quick work of the Nullites, but not before a couple acolytes were able to send a signal out recalling the larger force of decapitantes currently searching the Boulevard of Sorrows for the Party.

When the combat was over, Ulfer peeked through the backdoor that the forces would return through and saw a storage room than included another two-headed giant ape mummy. Fortunately, this one was not active. The party blocked the back door with all the cash they couldn't carry (2/3 of a ton), and went back downstairs to search for Ulfer's Uncle Henrik. Zinee, still in bear form, was able to follow his scent easily. The party found a medical room with four unconscious bodies strapped down on beds: "Smash" Hannigan, Auruna of House Apis, Krodok the wooly neanderthal, and, off in the corner, Uncle Henrik!

There was also the Temple's senior doctor and head decapitator, Chief Surgeon Dr. Nul's Steady Hand. This guy should have been a tough cookie, but most of his abilities related to controlling minions. With the Temple currently being empty of acolytes and decapitantes, he didn't last long.

The party revived the three Apis Irregulars. They were pretty beaten up, and briefly related a tough time getting knocked about by various Underworld threats. Uncle Henrik appeared to be brain dead, but was still wearing a magical ring that Ulfer recognized. Slipping it on, he heard his uncle talking to him!


The Ring of Soul Storage

A necromantic artifact typically created for the Lich elite of Mur, who may wish to keep an extra soul on hand for emergency consumption.

If you die while wearing the ring, your soul enters it, unless it already houses a soul. As long as your soul is in the ring, you can telepathically communicate with any creature wearing it. A wearer can't prevent this telepathic communication

This ring is currently inhabited by Ulfer's Uncle Henrik.

Confer with Uncle Henrik: Henrik lived a rich and varied life, and is eager to share his accumulated wisdom with his nephew. 

When you make an ability check that uses a skill, you can roll a d6 immediately after seeing the number on the d20 and add the number on the d6 to the check. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

The party was pretty well depleted, at this point. Several members were down to a few hit points, and only a spell slot or two left among them. Eager to get out of the Temple before the forces returned, they loaded up the Apis Irregulars with more loot from the treasury and headed to the front doors. And there they saw:

    Thrantrix the Ineffable

"A godling freshly born of Primal Chaos, Thrantrix still experiments with the universe around her, seeking to understand her own power and her place in the Underworld. Like most of her kind, her colossal ego cries out for approbation and the worshipful acknowledgement of her innate superiority by lesser beings."

Thrantrix looks like a giant ball of knotted snakes, hovering about twenty feet off the ground. Aurora borealis plays around her. The surviving members of the wedding party compulsively danced beneath her, wailing in despair and ecstasy. The Chaos godling piped:

“I am all that I comprehend! Whatever enters my perception is a part of my realm!”

So ended the session.


Session 15

The party started the session pretty nervous about what to do about the mad god on the Temple's front stoop. Then they heard a sound from above them in the Temple that sounded an awful lot like a giant two-headed mummy ape trying to batter down some doors held shut by a pile of coins.

Some wanted to flee and hope they could sneak past Thrantrix. Others were hopeful that there was another way out somewhere in the Temple. Mort and Doloth decided to make a run for it and disappeared out the front doors to be dealt with later. The rest went through a side door and found Bishop Emptiness's office. This included a bunch more treasure that they were not in a position to collect, and some magically coded papers where the letters swam across the page, avoiding the viewer's point of focus. They went a little further and found a supply room, and discussed the possibility of hiding in there. 

Meanwhile, the main section of the Temple was filling up with acolytes, decapitantes, and one very large mummy.  

The party asked if Auruna's grandfather lich, who had previously made ominous noises about being able to reach them with his magic, would help save them. "Could he make us invisible?" Auruna assured them that her grandfather would consider expending magic to save anyone who couldn't already save themselves to be a frivolous waste of resources. "But he seems pretty eager to get you back, right?" No, he was only eager to have her do his bidding. Which he could make her do when dead as easily as alive.

The party decided that Brother Ded (as a fleet-footed monk who could disengage and still run 120' by burning ki) would open a side door near where the Nullites were and act as a distraction while the others fled out the front. Once they started, though, everyone forget the plan and started pursuing individual actions that were often at cross purposes. I think every GM has seen this dynamic in play, before. Often right before a TPK. I paused to remind them that they had a plan. Several people had to ask what the plan was, even though it had been agreed on just minutes before. I take all of this as a sign that I'd done a good job of ratcheting up the tension.

The plan worked, and the party made it out the Temple's front doors with a reasonable number of decapitantes after them. Krodok was the last out, and had to try to dash past some decapitantes, and was felled by opportunity attacks. Fortunately, Smash was close enough to drag his big buddy the rest of the way out the doors.

Once the Nul acolytes saw Thantrix out front, the gave up their pursuit and put all their efforts into barricading the doors. 

Ye Dogs of Destiny had escaped!

Now they had to deal with Thrantrix.

Your lives are inert matter meant only to extend my will!

The Party all tried to run along the edges of the cavern and out of Thrantrix's vicinity. Smash and Auruna dropped their treasure in order to haul an unconscious Krodok. Zinee turned into a horse and, with Toljin on her back, galloped as quickly as she could. Brother Ded tried to invite Thrantrix into the Temple to find new worshipers.

Thrantrix did not want the Nullites as worshippers, however.

“Apostates! Heretics! Followers of a False God! They offend me!"

She blasted three decapitantes that had been trapped outside when the acolytes sealed the Temple doors.

She then turned her attention to the escaping player characters.

“Stop! Approach me! Worship me! Even the movement of your blood shall be an expression of my will!”

This was followed by hypnotic waves and Wisdom Saves with a pretty high DC. Fortunately, everyone had taken an emergency anti-Chaos pill as soon as they saw Thantrix and felt the prickle of her ambient Chaos radiation. This gave them a bonus on these saves, and every single one of them made the roll by the margin of that bonus.

Thrantrix followed, but slowly, and the fleeing party members quickly outpaced her. She hurled lightning bolts and imprecations at them, but to no avail. Then ZAP! She was gone, along with her aurora borealis lighting—and all the ambient lighting in the Underworld. The entire place went dark.

Between a twilight cleric, a gloomstalker ranger, and the dagger of blind hunger, the party wasn't much slowed down by the darkness. They didn't have to use any light sources, which would surely have drawn unwanted attention upon them. They made their way back to Dr. Thontorius's saucer, which was under attack by labrador-sized beetles that were shooting exploding bursts of magma at the ship. Even though the party was at the end of their rope, they picked off the giant firebomb beetles quickly, giving the session a nice up-beat to end on. 

They made it back into the saucer, where Thontorius had crispy protein squares and honey-sweetened coffee waiting for them. And everyone leveled up!


This might be the last level up of the campaign? Things have to wrap up by the end of June. I dunno, maybe if they find the Nul Rod and confront Shaggath-Ka  they could level up one more time before returning to the surface.

It'll be interesting to see where they decide to go, next session. They've revealed a fair amount of the edges of the map, and may be able to make some educated/metagamey guesses as to where to concentrate their efforts.


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