Wherein a hero’s mind is finally flayed.

Thanks Gary.

If this is your first time checking out our little D&D Adventure Blog, you might want to check out this post that explains the setup and format of the game.  You can check out all “Big Fish” content on this nifty landing page. And if you’re enjoying our little GameTale Adventure Blog, please tell your friends on whatever platform you interact with them.

Also! Pardon the long delay between updates on this one, the D&D game has been on a bit of summer hiatus and we intended on writing some filler content but hot damn have we been busy.

Keith (me, Jim Clocks) is writing again this week, and just like last time it’s going to be a little fast and loose. I’ll be in black, Jon (our DM) is in blue.

This session featured: Jim Clocks the Half-Elf Rogue, L’Eau D’ur the Genasi Warlock and Brubax the Goliath Barbarian.

This is a Bonus Adventure where Jono takes old classic modules and updates them for 5e. Jono spent seriously something like 30 hours converting “The Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” for us and we seriously only saw about a third of it before escaping with our lives.

And by “our lives” I mean some of our lives. People died.

First Things First: The Dead Cleric

So if you’ve been keeping up to date you are probably wondering how we dealt with the fact that we had a very dead Triton on our hands.

Normally this would be a situation where the party could hole up somewhere and have the Cleric raise the dead party member. But the Triton is the Cleric. So that’s a problem.

Despite the fact that the player of the Cleric isn’t here, I feel like a PC death is still something that kind of needs a resolution. The active players need to decide what they’re doing with the body, etc.

Yeah we had discussed at the very start of the game character deaths and how I had hoped it would come into play more than it typically does in our games.  Once the party has access to Raise Dead adding death to a list of available consequences only really opens storytelling doors.  This Couatl was essentially a filler encounter with a non-hostile, and now he’s almost become part of the team.  Thanks, death!

The episodic format particularly lends itself well to letting players get their characters raised from the dead offstage between games.

The party decides to lug Tidus’ body back to the Couatl to see if that magic-ass divine snake can help us out.

What we see is the Couatl spiraling around what appears to be a projection of Tidus. 20 feet tall and looped in a scene of epic combat. Ducking and weaving in a never ending heroic battle. A sense of (small) relief comes over the party to see that the immortal spirit of our Cleric is not some place horrible. The Couatl explains that what we are seeing is a glimpse into the Elysian Fields.

Jim Clocks, seeing an opportunity to weave his wordplay with a divine being beseeches the Couatl:

When we met, you looked upon us and saw us to be good.
There is no better among us than Tidus.
He was a good Triton, pure of heart.
And he deserves better than the fate that has befallen him.
Killed by some unknown poisonous explosive, wielded by an aberration of the far realm.
Who knows what good deeds will never be done if his story ends here in this place?
He will certainly never fulfill his promise to rid the world of Mardak Frostwhisper, a fiend pact warlock he once called friend before Mardak succumbed to darkness.
When you met him he asked you for a token, this was not just for his personal gain, but I know that he desired that token as memento of meeting you, one of the most pure and good creatures of our world. A creature that he no doubt aspired to emulate.
So now, we offer YOU a token. A token of Tidus. The enchanted Trident called Violet Marlin. A token we offer freely, but with the hope that you will find it in your heart to resurrect our companion.
I don’t even know if this is something within your power. It may even be impossible.
But I live by a set of words mighty Couatl… and I say, nothing is impossible!

(applause break)

Maybe Jim should have been named John.  This will have consequences.

Tidus’ weapon flashes from Jim’s hand and materializes within the cleric’s grasp as he continues his endless combat in the Elysian Fields. Somehow, he seems more complete.

The Couatl is (obviously) moved. He (it?) explains that the power of resurrection does not flow properly in this place. The connection between the land of the living and spirit realms is all but completely destroyed. He could resurrect our friend, but not while trapped within this vessel.

There’s a little bit of a reveal about Tidus’ final destiny. Jono had us write up where we saw our characters at Level 20. Suffice it to say, Eric (the PC) has a very lofty ambition for Tidus. Couatl confirms this possibility by informing us that Tidus’ fate is touched by the divine. And that his fate is not yet written.

If we find a way out and help the Couatl escape as well, he will then bring back our friend. To help us out he Blesses us. So that is cool.

Was that no-rez mumbo jumbo from the text? Or was that just you explaining away the fact that a PC wasn’t at the table for this particular session?

The latter.  Also added the super blessing to help smooth over the difficulty of what was guaranteed to be an extremely challenging combat session missing crucial party members.  If I had just dropped the power of the enemies, making their saves easier or whatever, you wouldn’t have noticed. Add a D4 to most rolls keeps the intensity and keeps the agency on the players too, right?

What Happens Behind the Bleachers

I’ve kind of stopped thinking about the layout of this stupid spaceship at this point, but we have a vague sense that the exit is near the bottom, and in a particular direction. This comes from the fact that we saw footprints coming too and from the construct towards the bottom of the mountain way back when we got stuck in this shit-show.

So we head back down to the basement. Where there was a theater (?) to explore some more. We follow the sound of dripping water, thinking maybe there is some kind of running water that would lead us out of the wreckage.

There was not.

What there was instead was a big pool full of inky black water filled with floating bits of detritus. A slow drip from the ceiling provided maybe just the hint of fresh water (presumably a leak connecting to some water source from the Jurassic Park area above us). On one side there are doors connecting to a sort of office, and more connecting to locker rooms. Across from the main entrance are rows of bleachers.

Another quick kudos to Jon for describing lockers as “vertically standing metal coffers”.

We found the swimming pool!

Nobody goes near the edge of the water because frankly nothing good has ever happened near the edge of anything when Gary Gygax is in charge.

Lobster-Holder

Despite our caution, we get the surprise of our lives when an Eye of the Deep springs out of the swimming pool and starts blasting stun rays out of its eye-stalks.

I’ve got so many questions. I just want you to tell me as much as you can about Lobster Beholders.

A Warlock, a Barbarian and a Rogue walk into an Olympic swimming pool area and fight a ridiculous Beholder with lobster claws. We don’t have a lot of healing abilities, but hot damn do we do a lot of damage.

The Warlock and the Rogue kite the thing for a pile of damage and the Barbarian just goes full berserk (as he does) and leaps into the murky black depths of the pool to rip that thing’s claws off.

Remember the time Brubax suplexed a Roper? Brubax has some great moments.

After a tussle with the Eye of the Deep, Brubax has slipped beneath the surface and out of sight of the party.The Eye of the Deep clearly does not expect this Goliath Barbarian to be wearing a Ring of Swimming but we are very much an aquatic party. What do we hear?

Manic bubbling laughter.

Brubax rips off one of its claws and stabs it in the central eye with said claw. It’s great.

Return of the Laser-Flayer

Guess who shows up right as we’re putting the finishing touches on mutilating the Eye of the Deep?

Our old friend Captain Mind Flayer of the USS Brain Eater.

Is this guy supposed to be this recurring jackass? Or did you just add this for dramatic tension? He sort of ended up being the main villain of this whole thing.

He was the boss of the module, and his business was hit and run tactics on the bottom floor.  There were a couple of other creatures around the basement and the mind flayer wanted to either ambush you while you were with one of the other creatures or to lead you to them himself.  He came in after the 2nd round. you guys just did so much damage he couldn’t get to ambush you in time for it to really work.

Fair enough, I think we took down the Eye of the Deep in 3 rounds. Sneak attacks and raging Barbarians man.

He screws up his mental attacks on us again and upon seeing Brubax dripping in black water and Beholder-gore decides to high-tail it. We decide this guy doesn’t get to live. He killed Tidus and now we’re going to kill him.

But apparently not before he kills another one of us.

The Mind Flayer hit the Warlock with one of the sleep grenades that make you sleep for one full hour and then tries to steal the body.

Was he just hungry? It seems like physically carrying a dead weight sleeping body away from a Barbarian and a Rogue was pretty foolish. Also, I think you were being a little fast and loose with how fast he could zip around carrying a body. Not sure what an Illithid’s physical stats are like, but counting his gear he may have been encumbered. Anyways, we caught up with that fool so it all worked out.

He was starving to death.  When he got L’eau Dur down both of you were on the other side of the sleep cloud and he had hoped you would get scared off.  Brubax was under the water when the mind flayer got in the pool area too, right? It looked like it was just the two of you.

Just kidding. I mean, we did catch up with him but it didn’t really work out.

In what Jon said was a first for him the Mind Flayer got his tongue-tentacles into L’Eau Dur’s ears and nostrils. Which means that L’Eau Dur took some absurd number of D10 damage twice in a row. The Illithid had two delicious rounds of brain tartar before the strikers could dogpile him and rip him to shreds.

He had one round to eat unconscious L’eau Dur, that started with L’eau Dur down and nobody else in the hallway and a cloud of sleep gas between him and you.  Usually people die immediately: L’eau Dur somehow survived the 10d10 damage, and woke up. The next round the mind flayer has the both of you coming through the fog, both of you moving like double what he can, L’eau Dur struggling to escape, and he’s got 1 sleep grenade left.  All of his other shit is down.

So he elects to have a last meal.  Mind Flayers flay minds.

You said it was the first time in all your years DM’ing that you’ve actually had a Mind Flayer flay a character’s mind. It didn’t seem particularly hard to get off.

I hope you enjoyed your last meal!

Actually he did not.

We find a bunch of jewelry and things in the Eye of the Deep’s murky lair and proceed to try to find a way out. We know that resurrection doesn’t work in this place so it looks like it’s just the two of us.

The Dumb Way Out

Brubax and Jim find a massive room filled with worker bots moving crates around in seemingly random patterns. There are also a bunch of monsters kind of being restrained up on these floating platforms but they don’t (for now) seem to pose a threat. We see some Goblin like dudes (not so much of a big deal) and also a Bulette (kind of a big deal).

After thoroughly investigating the area we happen to notice a worker bot kind of randomly sets a crate down on a particular platform and a door opens up to the outside world. The bot then just kind of drops the box out the door and goes about his day.

We head back up to Couatl, tell him to follow us and just walk out the damned front door.

Is that how it’s supposed to end? I know there is famously “no postcript” and that the loading area is the last room. But did we actually find the loading area? Or did you just decide that the next room we found would be the loading area to wrap things up?

Dude you guys were in the pool, and then you looked at the map and were like “ok let’s go there” and you’re pointing to a spot on the other side of the map from you.  Why not explore the area around the pool? Why not head to Jurassic Park? Nope: pointing at the exit.

Well, we made an educated guess about where the exit would be. We were pretty much at the stage (what with carting around cadavers) that just getting the hell out of there trumped other exploratory interests.

The broken robots are just accidentally releasing monsters from storage every now and again, and that’s why the nearby villages and whatnot are being attacked.  There was more exposition if you had brought the highest power access cards to the computer in the middle of the first floor.

Oh:  the reason the floors don’t make sense is that this “ship” was a smaller chunk of a larger ship that actually split itself into pieces to try and have some people survive when the aliens got loose.  So it’s like a semi-random grab bag of floor themes on purpose.

I love that the robots are just casually throwing that Bullete out the door like so much land-shark garbage.

Couatl brings back Tidus and tells us that he can’t bring back L’Eau Dur because the Warlock was not touched by the divine in the same way that the Cleric is.

That’s not such a big problem though because with the Cleric back we can just raise up L’Eau Dur the old fashioned way.

We did it!

I don’t know what I’m more bummed to have missed; the karate robot or the deadly bunnyoid. Probably the bunnyoid:

Anyways! Tune back in to 9to5.cc in two weeks for our first “actual” Big Fish session in what seems like months (because it was months). Our next adventure will be “The Time the Lizardman Met His Nemesis At The Holy Monastery”

See you then!

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

Jon is a Master of Dungeons of the highest caliber. He podcasts with me over on 9to5 Entertainment System and occasionally blogs here in Jon’s Junk.

All Images from “Expedition to Barrier Peaks” copyright of Wizards of the Coast
Mind Flayer by Inkthinker
Eye of the Deep by Seraph777 (PS: How cool and fortuitous is it that one of my favorite artists on DeviantArt literally JUST posted an image of an Eye of the Deep Beholder?)

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