Expedition 50 -- Strangeness in Deep Places

Don't get too excited about the Erden (Air-den)

September 7th, 2017
Final log submitted on January 5th, 2018

[[posted wayyyyy too late to grant +0.1 bonus HP]]


Sam levels to 2!
Jean-Lee levels to 2!
Oscar Meyers levels to 2!

Map Updates

  • MPoI – Underground Entrance in 4.11
  • MPoI – Backdoor entrance to Hobgoblin Hippogriff Stable
  • MPoI – Tear in Reality Underground, 4.11
  • PoI – Dwarven Restricted Mine, 4.12 Underground
  • MPoI – New way underground in 4.12


  • 392 xp/person, including sheet update

GP (not including items bought)

  • Samantha Cartwright: 200 gp, donated to LMF
  • Valerian Primrose: 200 gp, donated to LMF
  • Jean-Lee Challenges-Debicourt de la Terre des Romances aux Rivalieux-Quandamouzieres sur Vantera aux Alpes Maritimes: 200 gp, donated to LMF
  • Silverleaf Moonshadow: 233 gp, did not donate to LMF
  • Oscar Meyers: 233 gp, did not donate to LMF
  • <bugle>: 233 gp, did not donate to LMF
  • LMF: -47 gp 5 sp


  • Hand Crossbow Erden Arms Deal Gems, 600 gp
  • Beautiful Impaled Cave Weasel Fur, 510 gp

I’m sorry for how bloomin’ late this log be. I just found out that it never made it to the official books, despite me handing it to Tobias the Scholar months ago. Seems he’s having a protracted spat with some Madison Lervonar fellow, who’s supposedly in charge of the real ones.


We saucy six set off from the Wall in fine fettle, a trio of old hands and a trio of greenhorns (I myself qualifying as a greenhorn and Valerian Primrose not, so it just goes to show). We’re travelling to a new environment for me: the Grey Hills.

The Grey Hills are an old stomping ground of the guild. Many a the famous fighter Quincy’s early expeditions happ’n’d here in 2016. We’d been avoiding the area recently though—couldn’t get a clear answer on why. Group-think be more group than think betime. Overall, I liked the above ground environment. I hope I get to see a lot more of it. Less poison.

Half way through 4.12, as we reach the area of high hills, we see a group of miners with backpacks slightly downslope. We decide to avoid them. <bugle> informs me that they can get bigger and drop outta sight. Nasty types.

We pass through the rest of 4.12 just fine.

We skirt the flat dead zone in 4.11. It made my skin crawl from miles away. Brrrr.

We hear an unpleasant screeching noise ahead of us as we are in 4.11. We think it an aberration, and stealth around it, verra well for our numbers and loudpants Jean-Lee (29 23 7 17 12 23 – stealth is 17+2+2+2 = 23). We go close enough to take a look, since we feel like pushing our luck. We see a blob of flesh floating along with a bunch of tentacles hanging on the ground, moving at standard speed. We decide to avoid it. Something about Bugle’s virginity being very important to him? Hard to understand these urban types sometimes. A good thing too, because Mr. Loudpants did not seem ready at all.

[“Do I have spell slots? How does this work?” – Heather, forgetting how to play JL]

We get to the Gorge in 4.11. SM turns into a spider and carries Bugle down into the gorge, letting Bugle place pitons as she goes. The gorge is 80 feet deep and 20 feet across.

The other 4 people (Valerian, Oscar, JL, and myself) spot a hobgoblin on a hippogriff scouting. After a few seconds of them standing around with me behind cover, I realize they need prompting to join me being not-out-in-tha-open. After a few minutes, 7 hobs on the ground + one on a hippogriff approach, trying to surprise us. Valerian and I drop the hippogriff with an arrow + crossbow bolt, and it falls into the gorge, landing near Bugle + SM.

Then we roll well on initiative and land a volley of attacks. They take some damage but none drop. In the gorge, Bugle continues to hammer in pitons and SM continues to hold him. Then 2 hobgoblins move up to cover and shoot at me, missing because I was in partial cover. The leader with the rank insignia that people were trying to hit is hidden now. Then Valerian kills a hobgoblin from hiding, and re-hides. Then the other squad (3 left now) shoot at Oscar. One hits for 7 damage.

Top of round, I miss them because of partial cover. These hobs are no slouches. JL sacred flames one for 7 damage. Oscar viciously mocks one for 1 damage (plus it has disadvantage once). Bugle and SM continue to hammer in pitons. They have 2 more rounds of hammering until they reach the ground. Hobgoblin squad A starts to withdraw. Valerian kills one. Squad B starts to withdraw.

Next round, I kills a retreating injured hobgoblin. More attacks ensue. We kill another. One surrenders, and two hobgoblins get away. We parley with the surrendered hobgoblin. “Why are you here, what do you want? This is our territory.” Oscar replies, “We defeated you, so by the rites of honourable combat this is OUR territory now. If you persist in coming here we will continue fighting you, and as you can see that will go badly for you.” Jean-Lee bodyslams him. The hobgoblin looks confused. Jean-Lee tries again. “We thought you were ambushing us.” Hobgoblin: “Yes, I understand you were ambushing us.” JL: “No, we thought YOU were going to attack US.” Hobgoblin: “You were planning to attack us? Why? This is our territory.” Jean-Lee: “You know what, officer? This is a clearly bad idea. We’re going to pay you a bunch of money to pretend that this never happened.” Hobgoblin: “I don’t have any money!” JL: “You can go.” Oscar: “Flee and never return!” The hobgoblin runs. [This was later translated for me by Jean-Lee, who thought it was hilarious after he had a few drinks innim]

Afterwards, I walk over to JL. “So. How’d that go.” JL: “So, did I ever tell you about the time I slept with the entire swim team.” Sam: “No.” JL: “They all had different STIs. This went worse.” Sam: “Great.”

Bugle tugs on the rope and chirps <rope’s>. They pull Bugle up, so he can glide back down on his own. Good soldier, batty type. P.S. DON’T MENTION BATS AROUND BUGLE. Everyone climbs down the rope, except Valerian. Valerian looked super cool sliding down with the rope casually in one hand. Good way to break your neck, except they didn’t.

We wander through the gorge. We go east (towards the hobgoblin fortress, awkwardly), due to the advice in the book that we found on expedition 42. We shortly find an entrance to the underground [mPOI], but we also find a set of stairs leading up the north face of the gorge into the solid rock (heading to the vicinity of the hobgoblin fortress).

Sneaking up the stairs, Val + SM + I find that the stairs end in a solid wooden door. We return to the ground, and SM and Bugle poke their head over the edge of the gorge. They see a bunch of hobgoblin guards and see a bunch of mounted hippogriffs flying off to the west. This is some sort of hobgoblin aviary for hippogriffs, perhaps? [The backdoor + more info on the fortress counts as an mPOI].

We make our way underground. The initial set of caverns is dominated by rough, sharp rocks (not supernaturally sharp, but obsidian / rugged enough that if you have to desperately grasp at something to not fall to your death your hand might take a point or two of damage). For now, it means we have disadvantage on our climb checks. If you have thick gloves (heavy armor type), you still have disadvantage, but you aren’t at a risk of cutting your hands. We’re descending at approximately a 45 degree angle. Descending here is Dex-based athletics. If you’re below DC15 you take 1d4 damage, if below DC10 1d6 damage. We spent an hour climbing down. [Pretty low damage numbers, TBH]

Valerian: “I’m fine. If my hands get cut that’s just another part of my arms I don’t need.”

As we climb down, there’s a surprising amount of plant and fungus stuff on the walls of this cave, and it gets thicker as we go down (over the course of an hour). Reminding me of other gross wet plant places I’ve been. As we descend, we see more and more examples of glowing moss + mushrooms. Valerian picks some samples.

Con saves with advantage. Anyone who got less than a 15 on the save (and wasn’t using gloves) is mildly allergic, anyone who got less than a 10 is moderately allergic. Anyone who got less than a 5 is severely alleric. [Bugle, Sam, <spiders>, Oscars, Val are not allergic, SM is mildly allergic, Jean-Lee is moderately allergic]. By the time we reach the bottom, everything is glowing (dim light). Valerian is super into it. <val>. Jean-Lee is using the light to make his face look super cool, got a 16 for working it. Jean-Lee discovers that his good side in mushroom light is different than his good side in sunlight.

This book was describing the efforts of the dwarves in the area to keep the aberrations under control, and somewhere very near us (to the SW), is a spot where reality is a lot weaker than normal and there are more aberrations. We decide to go looking for it.

Our stealth is 8. Jean-Lee, Valerian are striking power poses in the mushroom light, and everyone is distracted except me (22 for Sam, 13 for Valerian, 10 for SM, 7 for Bugle, 7 for JL, 4 for Oscar). The Guild’s co-ordination is………………

JL snorts some good good cocaine (his ritual spell component) to turn on his magic vision, giving his sunglasses sweet red highlights around the edges. A loud, combat unsteady druggie. Just what we needed. We don’t find anything magical in 10 minutes. He does it again. In the next 10 minutes, we find an area where we see mostly untyped, vaguely necrotic magic (it’s leaning towards necromancy, so necromancy curious). Underground hexes count as 2 hexes further away than normal, but are half hex gold.

Despite our massive lack of stealth, we spot a massive writhing mass of shadow with a serpentine head before it sees us [size Large]. We decide to try to kill it. In the surprise round 19 damage from Bugle, 19 damage from myself, vicious mockery from Oscar, JL casts Bless, SM Conjures a wolf pack, then turns into a bear, and Valerian did 23 damage.

Then we start the main order. Bugle does another 22 damage. Then the pack of wolves get 8 advantaged attacks: AC8, so 7 hits and a crit: 65 wolf damage, but then the wolves all make Con saves (DC15), seven failed (failed ones take d4 poison damage for each of the next 6 turns). 16 damage from Valerian.

It dies. As it dies, the shadows slide off it and it’s just a weird looking snake. CR4. Probably an aberration. Past the gross shadow snake we find a tear in reality (mPOI) similar to the one that the nothic was rooted in. Odd that it isn’t bigger, since it’s been here for centuries and we closed the other one so easily. Maybe the other one re-opened later? Should check.

As we’re getting ready to sleep looking for a place to sleep, we see a pig-sized furry mammal thing that seems to have impaled itself on a series of sharp spikes (probably a normal animal, but a species we haven’t seen before because it lives underground). This animal has truly fabulous fur. (It’s dead). We’re deciding how to retrieve it. Our plan is somewhat convoluted. JL throws Bugle to the other side (24 Athletics, glide of the 60’ across spike field [the pig is in the middle]). We run a rope from Bugle back to JL. Bugle starts towing JL crowd-surfing across the spike field to middle (6+6+2+5 damage, sequentially so JL had time to take a potion). JL takes a bunch of damage and retrieve it. We mark the spike field as a difficult thing to bypass. Once we have the animal, we realize it’s not a pig. It’s a pig-sized stoat/ferret/ermine with fantabulously valuable fur. SM looks incredibly stupid as we just barely balance it on SM as a bear, somehow, then we go find a place to sleep.

We find a very secure place to rest. 8 – no nighttime encounter. That morning, with my help, guidance, and inspiration, SM gets a 27 on skinning it. The skin is worth 510 gp.

We go south into underground 4.12 [New hex!] We find a door with a sign in ancient dwarven on it warning that it’s a restricted zone. Valerian opens it with a 10 Open Lock, because it’s was magically warded to be unpickable but the wards failed. It takes them a really long time. Valerian pretends it was really difficult. SM rolls a 21 on Insight, is super-sure that they’re lying but doesn’t call them out on it. Inside is a dwarven mine. We mark it as a [POI], close the door, and move on.

We proceed down the tunnels. We hear a noise up ahead, Valerian and Bugle go to investigate. They see a group of small (dwarf-sized) furry lizardy humanoids with tails and manes. They’re pulling a wagon. There are 11 of them. We decide to parley.

A group of them is starting to sneak towards us.

Oscar catches comprehend languages and then greets them. “Hello friends!”

They respond in a variant of dwarven “Friends?”

Oscar: “We are newcomers to this land. We do not mean you any harm. We wish to meet its denizens.”

Their spokesperson: “Friends, sure.”

Oscar: “Do you accept gifts?”

They confer for a while. “We’ll take a hand, yeah.”

“What do you mean? This hand?” He holds up his hand.

They laugh. “Friends if you ain’t bright-arms.” They point to Valerian and SM and Bugle. “Why are they hiding?”

Oscar: “They’re shy. How did you spot them?”

Them: “Is there a point to this?”

JL: “We just wanted to get to know you. What are the bright-arms?”

Them: “Bright-arms real mean they scare us good. REAL bright.”

JL: “What are you called?”

Them: “They call us the Erden.”

JL: “What’s in the wagon?”

Erden: “Shiny!”

JL: “Can we see?”

Erden: “Don’t trust you.”

JL: “That’s fair. What if we share some drinks?” JL sips some vodka, then passes it to them. The Erden try it, looks perplexed, then chugs it. One in the back takes out a flask, sips it, then passes it to JL. JL chugs it. It’s some pretty great liquor.

They ask to see our shiny. JL shows off his sweet sweet axe, Oscar shows off their coinage. The Erden from the wagon show us some gems.

We ask them if they know the Qua. They don’t know what we’re talking about, Oscar starts casting minor illusion, they go “No Bright!” Bright → means magic. They don’t like the magic users. The Bright arms specifically are sketched for us. They seem to have very very bright arms? But also be magic?

We ask them if there are things they’d trade for. They seem to be really interested in crossbows. “That’s a lot of shiny.” We trade them 3 handcrossbows for 600 gp in gems.

We travel with them for a bit, conclude that they are mostly nomadic and are moving to meet another group of Erden. While the Erden are nomadic, the Bright-eyes aren’t, and we get hints of where their city + several fortified sites are. We decide not to go all the way there with them, and start saying our good-byes when a cave-in happens (some damage, nothing special). I sprain my ankle in the cave-in and have to be carried home on bear-back.

The party starts heading home via the entrance in 4.12 that the Erden told them about. They emerge, after 3 hours of climbing a thing that should have only taken 1 hour to climb “b/c Sam is slooooow.” Sorry for the bother, I guess.

We get home without incident b/c I am carried by SM on bearback.


James_Elcombe ShonaDeahl

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