Expedition to Undermountain

Black and Wight
The Tomb of Dartek Thann

Chapter 9 (2/26): Tomb Troubles

Beyond Hukurus’ lair the group battled some skeletons and found a dying man, a mortally wounded adventurer/noble who had come down with his brother to gather riches long lost to their family line- riches that were buried within a tomb that lay just ahead. The man’s dying wish was that the group bring back the riches to his family and restore them to the glory they once had… what terrible luck for this group to be the one he entrusted his dying wish to, the group looted his corpse including his family signet and things of value. They then struck on the idea of feeding the corpse to Hukurus in case they should need a copy of this noble to exploit, er, aid in future dealings with waterdeep- can’t hurt to have someone well known saying and doing exactly what you want them to!

Deciding to finish exploring before heading into the tomb, the group explored the last room- a room full of fungi emanating deadly spores and a giant mud bit beyond the fungi. Within they battled a carrion crawler and spent a lot of time poking some mud. They also found the corpse of the sibling the dying adventurer had mentioned and took his signet.

The time had come to enter the tomb, it was locked up but that’s nothing our clever and crafty rogue Tenri couldn’t open in a jiffy. Deciding it best to not send the entire party, Tenri and Deville stealthily scouted out ahead- but this tomb turned out to be magically guarded by a semi-lich like being, a wight that was the descendant of the fallen nobles. The wight demanded to know why they had trespassed in his tomb and that they leave immediately. Tenri sought to talk their way out of a fight, beguiling the wight into believing that they had entered the tomb for the wight’s descendants to restore glory to their house. The wight parted with many a treasure with and gave the explicit command that all be given to his descendants or they would suffer the consequences- but something was amiss, Tenri spotted more treasure within the sarcophagus of the wight, the old bastard was holding out on them! Not wanting to pick a fight quite yet, Deville and Tenri returned to the group with the treasures given in tow. The group had to make a decision- to either take what they were given for themselves and risk the scorn or possible curse of this wight, give the treasure to the needy family (psh, yeah right!), or bust the wight’s face in and take it all. Option “destroy the wight and take everything” appeared to be the most appealing option, but first all agreed that it would be best to rest up before taking on a powerful undead.

On the way back to the doppelganger merchants camp something seemed amiss, none of the merchant group’s alarms were working correctly and the sounds of battle were heard ahead. Everyone rushed forth to find the Merchants attacked by a swarm of floating eye creatures, some kind of beholder spawn. Most of the merchants were already defeated or driven insane by the mind altering affects of the eyes. Battle was quickly joined with the sole remaining merchant as our adventurers helped fight back the swarm of devious eye-monsters. After killing the eye creatures, the merchants were grateful and agreed to give the party portal tokens to allow access back to Waterdeep and allow an audience with their guild to learn more about Undermountain and hopefully recruit the party to their cause. One of the merchants agreed to travel with the adventurers to show them to the area of skullport where the merchant guild is located and to aid the group in their adventures. The group decided they will visit skullport- but first they have a certain treasure hoarding wight to deal with after resting up.

Rested and up a party member, the group made their way back to the tomb of the wight. The group reached the tomb door, readied their spells and attacks, then broke back into the tomb to put an end to the evil wight. The wight put up a good fight, even managed to temporarily drain Deville’s life force and charm Dog, but in the end succumbed to the fangs, claws, fists, and roguish grace of the party.

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Spawn Shop
The Defeat of Hukurus

After resting up in the merchant camp, the party ventured forth, minus Ataraxian, who was still working on crafting items for Halaster’s Heirs. As they walked through the now empty corridors, Brutram made a revelation to his party. He was not actually the man known as Brutram, but in actuality a doppleganger that had consumed Brutram and stolen his memories. Somehow, the process had gone awry, and Brutram had forgotten his past life as a doppleganger. He had fully assumed his new identity. As it turned out, the merchant party were also Dopplegangers, members of an organization known as The Unseen. Brutram knew these shape-changers in the past, and had in fact once belonged to their collective. Coming down into Undermountain, perhaps coupled with encountering his kin, had unlocked some of Brutram’s monstrous memories through his dreams, although not all of his former abilities had returned to him. When the merchants informed him of his true nature, he immediately believed them. How Brutram will process this new information is the question, but it seems that by confiding in his companions, he has made his primary allegiance known.

The party sneakily approached the drow habitat, hoping to catch them unawares, but were unable to fool their keen elven senses, especially when Tenri Taverick stepped on a stone which skittered across the floor. The drow flooded the area with globes of darkness, limned Tenri in faerie fire, and dosed him with sleep-poison from their hand crossbow darts. Tenri dropped like a stone and the battle was conjoined. Deville evened the score a bit when he dosed three of the four drow with a sleep-poison of his own, delivered via a smoke pellet. With three of the drow incapacitated, the party made short work of the remaining dark elf, even with the help of the swarm of spiders they kept as pets. The party took the remianing three drow captive, and marched them back to the merchant camp. The doppleganger/merchants were able to interrogate the party in Undercommon but found out little information from them. Deville gleefully executed them once their usefulness had come to an end.

The party explored further to the south and found only natural caverns that seemed to lead away from their intended destination. They instead focused their efforts on the western portion of the dungeon, and immediately came into the lair of Hukurus, the Deepspawn, a monster that had been responsible for the vast majority of the trouble the PC’s had encountered recently in this level of Undermountain. He was an intellegent creature, but a vicious one, who could consume his victims and then give birth to clones of them to do his bidding. The grimlocks, dwarves, and drow had all been spawn of Hukurus. The party dispatched his grimlock guards easily, and did a great deal of damage to the deepspawn before he called for a parlay. The party (with a great deal of reluctance on the part of Tenri and Dog) interrogated Hukurus, and were able to find out that in the rooms to the north dwelled undead. They also found out that others of his kind lived deeper in Undermountain. Lastly they learned that his lair had a healing enchantment, that would occasionally deliver healing effects to its inhabitants. The party also relieved Hukurus of his magical possessions, boots of elvenkind, a wand of cure light wounds, and an unidentified potion. They told him to have his dwarf thralls tear down the walls they had been building, and to bother them no more.

The party returned to the doppleganger camp to heal up and check up on their companion Ataraxian.

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Portal to the Storeroom Level
The Helmwatch

After a night’s rest at the Yawning Portal, the adventurers again descended into the depths of Undermountain, using the winch and bucket system at the Inn, for perhaps the final time for a while. This is because after retrieving their comrade, Ataraxian from Halaster’s Heirs, and after Deville promised to bring Yolanda some Agony (a drug to which she had become addicted) from Skullport, the party took a portal to the second level of the maze, which they discovered to be a one-way trip.

The room to which they teleported turned out to be the Hall of the Black Helm, a chamber used long ago by a human king as a throne room. Unfortunately the room had long ago been looted and pillaged, but markings on the walls led the adventurers to a safe room, which had become the home of a group of three merchants. They had decided to set up a temporary shop because of The Calling. Initially, the party was highly suspicious of the shop owners, even more so when they discovered that they were in possession of a magical key that would unlock a portal that could lead them back up to Waterdeep, but it would cost them 4000 gp, a price they were unwilling to pay. Eventually however, the party did decide they could at least trust the merchants enough to use their camp as a temporary rest spot, considering there was no easy return to the surface.

The party began to explore through the storeroom level and encountered a number of hazards, puzzles, and mysteries. The shop-keepers, who were well informed about the goings-on in their environs, did help them to some extent, but only after the party decided they were trustworthy enough to even ask for their help. This came too late, at least in the case of Deville’s mangled hand. In one chamber they encountered a series of magically floating pillars, which the party was sure held a secret if they could only decipher the symbols on the pillars. It turned out however, the pillars were not part of any hidden mystery, but were instead merely a trap. For as Deville placed his hand under one of the floating pillars to drip some of his blood on the base beneath it, it came down, crushing his hand. It turned out these pillars were meant as a way for an ancient cult, long gone from this area, to sacrifice their victims to the gods.

In another room, the adventurers encountered a room with a magical slowing fog affect. It also held an illusionary ceiling concealing a carrion crawler, whose paralyzing antennae incapacitated Deville and Gertrude before Dog’s summoned hounds defeated it. Tenri as usual, wary of monsters with anything resembling tentacles shied away from melee.

The party also encountered a room with a glowing light guarded by five Helmed Horrors. By this time, however they had been warned by the marchant crew not to disturb the light. As long as they did not the Horrors would remain inactive, so they heeded the sage advice. They did find some potions here and a portal, (perhaps the one to which the merchants held the key?) but it would not let them pass.

As the adventurers pushed south, they found a group of strange dwarves, who did not speak Dwarven or Common, only Undercommon. Even more strangely, their armor was not typical fine dwarven make, it almost looked incomplete. And even more strangely than that, all three of the dwarves looked (and to Dog’s sensitive nose, smelled) exactly alike. They were not hostile, but seemed intent to only work the caverns, building up stone walls to block passage to the east.

The adventurers also encountered a similar group of drow, who all looked the same, except for their strangely scarred faces. The party barely avoided hostilities here, as the drow seemed on the verge of attacking. Only by withdrawing did the party avoid bloodshed. Not so in the room marked by two statues producing a magical darkness effect, which was helpful for its residents, a group of four grimlocks. But once the party managed to topple and break the statues, the darkness was dispelled, and the group made short work of the grimlock horde. The party then returned to the safe haven of the merchant shop.

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The Dungeon Level
Exploring the Environs of the Entry Well

Having been given a place to rest inside Undermountain’s Dungeon Level, the party began making more extensive forays, looking for clues to The Calling. They encountered a number of dangerous encounters during these incursions.

The first significant battle they fought occurred upon a rope bridge overlooking a wide but shallow natural chasm that carved its way through the man-made dungeons. While on the rope bridge, Tenri Taverick was attacked and grappled by flying darkmantles, monsters that resembled flying tentacled octopi. Because of this attack, as well as the earlier assault by Squammulsh, and a random encounter by a roper, Tenri began to develop a phobia of creatures with tentacles: an unfortunate condition given the frequency they tended to encounter tentacled aberrations.

The second major encounter fought by the party came in a narrow corridor coated by a few feet of oily water. In this hall, the party twice encountered a type of undead known as “dreads” under the control of a flameskull-lich. The second encounter was particularly pitched but the party managed to defeat the dreads and forced the flameskull to retreat.

Eventually, the man-made dungeons gave way to a more dwarven make of cavern. In these tunnels, the party found a crypt of a long-dead Dwarf-King and his generals. It was here that the flameskull-lich – Brainburn – was making his lair. The party narrowly defeated Brainburn, located his phylactery and destroyed it, thus annihilating the flameskull once and for all.

The party located a pair of portals in this area of the Dungeon Level. One was closed, and they would later learn from Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun, the famed Arch-Mage of Waterdeep, that this portal only opened on the night of a New Moon. When that happened the portal’s glow would turn from blue to green, and could be used to travel to a faraway Forest Kingdom, a haunted forest known as Myth Drannor.

The second portal, which could be used by walking through an archway backward, seemingly led to the second level of Undermountain. The party has not yet attempted to use the portal however.

The party fought another round of creatures including more ropers, some juvenile grells (and thus more tentacled horrors for Tenri), and a Summoning Ooze and its spider bodyguards.

Finally, the party came upon The Falling Stair. This location was actually an entryway to the Citadel of the Bloody Hand – a preserve of living spells that escaped the influence of Halaster during recent troubles. The spells are commanded by the former apprentice of Halaster known as Jhesiyra Kestellharp, who has been transformed into a living spell herself – an arcanaweave.

Jhesiyra had no interest letting the party cross into her territory, into the Citadel itself, but she was impressed by their tenacity and cleverness in deciphering the puzzle of the Falling Stair. Having circumnavigated the deadly magical trap that covered the stair, she sent a pair of living fireballs their way, which the party summarily defeated. At this point, she decided to quit teasing them and offered them a treasure, one which particularly enticed Dog, because the circumstances of its offering eerily matched the vision he had received during the Calling. Dog, because of his nature, was extremely suspicious, but he did eventually follow through on the specifics of his vision by reaching his hand into the spell-weave that was Jhesiyra. When he withdrew his hand in it was a magic ring.

The ring, which had to be identified by Khelben, was in fact one of the legendary Horned Rings, given to each of Halaster’s apprentices. Fashioned by Halaster, these iron rings had pairs of tiny curved horns curling out and back toward the wearer. Only eight horned rings were known to exist, and nearly all were accounted for among Halaster’s ex-apprentices. Jhesiyra Kestellharp had one in her possession, but it vanished centuries ago along with her.

During this time, Brutram, the Druid of their party, had begun experiencing strange and disturbing dreams. During these dreams, Brutram would see himself, through someone elses eyes, bloodied and dismembered. He would look down and see hands that were not his own. Upon waking he would awake in a cold sweat, but he would also feel more empowered, as though he was physically stronger. Then sometime later, during his waking hours, he began to notice ripples and tremors that would flow through his skin around his hands. These strange occurrences have begun to worry Brutram that there is something wrong with him. Khelben has promised to try and find an expert druid, who might be able to find out what could be possibly wrong with Brutram, but it would take some time, for such a person to arrive.

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Halaster's Heirs
An Academy of Mages

One of the many patrons the party met in the Yawning Portal Inn was a bard named Ellithral the Golden. Ellithral was well known for his honeyed voice and repertoire of tales. Unknown to Durnan, Ellithral had been acting as the proxy of Errya Eltorchul. Errya asked her good friend Ellithral to quietly direct those of the Called who were relatively wealthy to a discreet rendezvous in the Hall of Many Pillars where they could purchase “one-of-a-kind, recently procured, up-to-date” maps of Undermountain. The party agreed to rendezvous with Errya down below and purchased one of her maps, which proved to be the genuine article.

Upon one of their return trips to the Inn to rest, the party was met by a new member, a sorcerer named Ataraxian. While the party already had a sorcerer among their ranks (the hermit, Dog) Ataraxian was much more the typical magic-user for whom Ellithral had been told to be on the lookout. For in fact, Errya belonged to an academy of mages that made their headquarters in Undermountain. Ellithral once again put the party in contact with Errya Eltorchul, only this time she looked upon them as potential allies, not simply customers. She led them north past a warded hallway, and through the territory previously held by the Sluggard Goblins. There they found the gathering of magic users known as Halaster’s Heirs.

Halaster’s Heirs, they discovered was led by two former apprentices of Halaster, the Mad MageTrobriand the Metal Mage, and Murial the Misshapen. Errya was only a mid-level apprentice of the academy herself, but she had been tasked with recruitment. At the moment forty wizards belonged to the college and studied the paths of the arcane. Membership granted certain benefits, including access to the college’s apothecary, library, and mentor-ship by a master wizard. To join the Heirs, Ataraxian had to complete an Induction Challenge, which he was allowed to undertake with the help of his companions. The Challenge consisted of three parts – The Trial of Knowledge, the Trial of Might, and the Trial of Wisdom.

In the Trial of Knowledge the party was asked to educate themselves on the City of Waterdeep above, by locating and accumulating a codex of some of the more trivial sites and businesses above. For example, the party had to location of sites as diverse and varied as the best place in Waterdeep to buy salt-pork, to the best location to buy antiques, to where the sewer system granted access to the dungeons below the city.

In the Trial of Might, the party was whisked to an arena where they had to defeat a menagerie of Muiral’s pets including a host of giant spiders and scorpions. They made quick work of the oversized vermin and were then magically teleported the location of the Trial of Wisdom.

During the Trial of Wisdom, the party emerged in a room with a single goblin, a lumbering Iron Golem, and a great sleeping dragon – each guarding a chest in an alcove behind them. Tenri tried exploring the room using stealth, and found that moving toward the dragon caused it to stir, moving toward the golem caused its eyes to come to life, but approaching the goblin in a non-hostile manner allowed him to speak with the creature and negotiate. The goblin agreed to give the party what was inside the chest he had been guarding, and when he turned to retrieve the item, the environment around them shimmered, and blinked out of existence, to be replaced by Trobriand and Muiral. The illusion was simply a test to determine if they were too over-confident to belong to their order, as many more arrogant mages would be swift to attack the greater creatures in hopes of more costly treasure.

Ataraxian was granted an invitation to join Halaster’s Heirs (as was Dog although he quickly declined). Ataraxian accepted, and was told the dues were simply to create a magic item of at least 100 gp value, once a month. He agreed to those terms, and was given access to the college, Muiral took him under his wing as a mentor, and was given a ward stone that would allow them to bypass the wards of the college (including an ability overcome the spell that made it a null-magic zone for its non-members).

The party was also granted a room which they could use at any time to rest and heal from their wounds. They were also given a liaison, a clockwork golem named Crunch, who could help them with minor tasks including research in the library.

Finally, Deville, the party’s acolyte to Loviatar – the Maiden of Pain – discovered that the Heirs’ had a spy among their midst. Yolanda Shamat, a priestess who also had some knowledge of arcane magic, had managed to infiltrate the Heirs as a student, but in fact she was under orders by the nearby Temple of Loviatar to spy on the wizards and more importantly uncover as much information about The Called as possible. Deville submitted to her authority as a higher ranked cleric, and made a pilgrimage to the Temple, which was only a short trip through the dungeon tunnels. There he was tested with his knowledge of the tenets of the Lady of Pain, a test which he only barely passed, since his studies at the monastery of Loviatar in the world above had been brief. But they didn’t kill him, and in fact High Whipmaster Hlethvagi Anteos demanded he join their ranks. He was ordered to add to the pain and poverty of those around him for 20 hours per tenday. But in exchange he was granted a blessing that would allow him to invoke a state of unholy suffering. In addition, he was ordered to learn more about the faith of Loviatar, and to do anything asked of him by Yolanda. Deville submitted eagerly to these requirements.

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The Hall of Shattered Mirrors
Our Party Makes a Friend

Our party ventured forth into this long hall littered with shards of glass. Five-foot-deep alcoves were set into the walls on either side at five-foot intervals. Large, empty wooden frames hung in each niche, with bits of shattered mirror clinging to their inside edges like broken teeth in gaping mouths. The frames bore ornate carvings of ghoulish faces and demonic forms. As they passed down the hall, the party members noted that the frame hanging in each alcove appeared to be unique. One was carved with daisy flowers, another with roses, and still another with the feathers of some bird. Two unbroken mirrors hung just ahead on their right and left. Mirrors like these two were clearly the source of the glass covering the floor. A clear mirror framed with wooden carvings of dolphins and fish hung in a niche on the north side of the wall, and a cloudy mirror with ghoulish faces hangs over a flat section of wall where it seems a niche would normally be.

The first mirror, that with the ghoulish faces, nearly entrapped certain members of the party in an illusion in which they were being attacked by ghosts leaping forth from the mirror. This was nothing but an illusion however, and the spell was broken once they realized what was happening.

The second mirror however, was in actuality a Mimic, named Squammulsh. The mimic had been lurking here hoping to find food, and he was not above attacking and eating unwary adventurers who mistook him for a mirror. This nearly became the fate of Tenri, who was immediately grasped by Squammulsh‘s psuedopods. Squammulsh then negotiated for Tenri’s release. In exchange the party agreed to give him rations and acohol, especially alcohol, which Squammulsh enjoys with a certain zeal. From this encounter onward, Squammulsh agreed to help the party by spying on those that passed, by lending aid if it was not too dangerous, as long as the party would occasionally bring him food and beverage when they came that way.

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The Sluggard Goblins
Sluggard Ambush

The party was lowered into the Entry Well, an area well known to the patrons of the Yawning Portal Inn and those who dare the depths. In recent months, this hall and the surrounding corridors and chambers had been claimed by the Sluggard goblin tribe. The Sluggards, whose name had degenerated from the original Slug-herd mantle it once claimed, occupied the corridors and chambers north of the Entry Well. The Sluggards were known for their control of a metalmaster, a monster that resembled a giant slug and has the ability to attract metal. The Sluggards regularly patrolled the immediate environs of the Entry Well and were not above preying on wounded, treasure-carrying adventurers—or even healthy, unwary adventurers who appeared to have something the Sluggards want.

The party easily took care of the goblin sentries in the immediate area of the Entry Well, but upon their return to Well, had a little more trouble with the metalmaster and its whip-masters. They tried to escape up the Well, but the metalmaster used its attraction powers to yank the bucket back and dislodge some of the party back below. After a tough fight, the party won out however, and the days of the Sluggard’s control of the territory came to an end.

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The Journey Below
Descent into Undermountain

An earthquake has rattled the Sword Coast North. Amid the chaos many arcane magic users or those with ties to the arcane received visions or dreams that were clearly scenes and images form the famed Undermountain below Waterdeep. These visions have brought our adventurers together. 3 of them met upon the road into the city, the fourth was in the common tavern area of The Yawing Portal Inn, which served as the easiest entry point into the mountain below.

Upon paying their gold piece the party descended into Undermountain where their real adventures began. The following is an account of our brave party, as they journey forth for gold and glory in the depths below the City of Splendors.

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