Expedition 54: Death Underground

September 23, 2017

[Posted on time – characters get 0.1 HP]

Oscar (bard, 2)
Beau (ranger, [hunter], 4)
Bugle (fighter [arcane archer], 4)
Syathir (fighter [eldritch knight], 3) Log writer

Syathir and Bugle: 330 XP (includes sheet update)
Beau and Oscar: 273 XP (includes sheet update)

Oscar: 47 GP
Beau: 38 GP
Bugle: 72 GP
Syathir: 54 GP
LMF: -71 GP


  • Chunk of boat gunnel coated with alchemical varnish (20 GP)
  • POI – Mansion with ghosts, vampire spawn
  • MPOI – Bat Colony


We went underground in hex 4.12 and explored until we reached an island in an underground lake, with a mansion full of ghosts and at least two vampire spawn. They killed Beau and Oscar. Bugle and I escaped.


We travelled to the entrance underground in 4.12. It took about three hours to get there, through heavy rain. As we moved through the hills, the ground beneath us collapsed into a mudslide from a combination of the heavy rainfall and the hill having been burrowed out. We heard chittering and a large-sized insect dug its way out of the ground. It vaguely resembled a beetle, but with the sharp front legs of a praying mantis. Oscar cast Vicious Mockery, the rest of us fired arrows, and we killed it. [did 35 damage and then a final arrow killed it, AC < / = 15]

We reached the entrance and climbed down through the narrow passage. The walls are covered thickly with a moss to which I am severely allergic. Bugle, Beau, and Oscar were not. My allergy made it very difficult to do things properly [disadvantage to climb checks because had to try to avoid touching it, failed a con save and had to take off her gloves to get past one part, so ended up with -2 to attack rolls until next short rest].

We spotted an aberration waiting to ambush us. It was a large-sized and very disturbing jellyfish-eque creature made of rock. It was hovering in the air and its tendrils stuck out at weird, nonsensical angles. It was immune to Bugle’s poison darts, Beau’s ranger training [colossus slayer didn’t happen], and Oscar’s Sleep spell. We attacked it with physical weapons, Firebolts, and Vicious Mockeries, which all seemed effective. After several attacks, it went limp but continued to float. Then it shook itself and started moving again. It attacks with its tentacles. It appeared to target Oscar preferentially from the rest of us. We attacked it and knocked it limp again, only for it to revive itself.

Then we noticed that while it had some moss on it, it did not have any of the glowing moss, and it had been hiding in a shadowed part of the tunnel even though it would have camouflaged better in one of the lit-up areas. When Bugle moved forward to place it within the radius of dim light from his continually flaming bow, it moved back. Beau grappled it and dragged it into the circle of bright light. This time when we “killed” it, it fell motionless to the ground. We speculate that it was just a boulder that had gotten changed and animated by aberrant energy, as its rock body appeared to have formed naturally.

We started exploring to the south. Four cave bears passed by us, but we hid from them.

Eventually the narrow tunnel that we had been walking down opened up into a gigantic cavern, mostly taken up by a lake about a mile across and two miles long. We could see an island with man-made structures. The shore and cavern walls were covered in glowing moss and the same dotted the cavern’s ceiling like stars and coated the structures on the island. The lake itself was an inky expanse of total darkness.

We began to walk around the edge of the lake. A swarm of approximately 20 gibbering, chittering creatures — vaguely humanoid, with large bat-like ears, not armed or armoured — came towards us. Oscar and Beau tried to talk to them. They said that as they came within range of the creatures, they could make out extremely unsettling snatches of what they were saying, even though they did not recognize the language, and even though they couldn’t retain or really understand any of it. Oscar was deeply shaken [failed wis save: no reactions until next turn and roll a d8 to find out what you do on your next turn!]. The creatures lunged forward to attack. Bugle shot a magical arrow towards them that created a beam of ethereal missiles. It destroyed the lot of them.

We continued our loop around the lake and found a stone jetty, completely grown over with moss and mushrooms but in otherwise perfect condition. There were two boats – one in quite good condition due to a likely magical varnish and the other in much worse shape. The varnish was some sort of alchemical seal, strong enough to last centuries. We have collected a sample of it for study. The boat and jetty were of dwarven construction and looked expensive and well-designed. We used the lesser boat to patch the single hole in the first and rowed to the island, over several trips as the boat holds only two people.

We snuck towards the centre of the island and came upon the previously cultivated gardens of the manor house. Its trellises were covered by the ubiquitous moss and mushrooms of the underdark but had clearly held decorative plants at one point. The house was large and beautifully designed. It appeared to be a summer home of some sort. Moss grew on it in patches, as some areas were still warded against it. I cast detect magic. There were several abjuration effects and a statue of a fish in the garden with evocation in it.

We heard movement behind the door as we broke it down. Oscar conjured a minor illusion of a mirror, which we angled to reflect the inside of the house. We saw a ghostly figure, dressed in well-made servants’ clothing, standing to the side of the door and watching. Upon seeing the mirror, it phased back through the wall. The hallway inside was richly decorated.

Beau stepped inside and then Bugle followed. Each of them triggered three scorching rays from the the fish statue’s defenses. Two ghosts phased through the walls into the hallway and attacked. We attacked with spells, if we had them, and physical weapons for those who didn’t. They faded back through the walls. Oscar and I entered the house as well. We stopped to heal Oscar, who had been badly burnt by the scorching rays, then continued into the house.

There was an extensive coat closet, an ostentatiously empty room, a dining room, and then a kitchen. We saw a stairway leading up and one leading down.

We caught sight of a ghost phasing through the wall as we entered the kitchen. Beau called to it in dwarven. It returned and asked us what we were doing there. Its dialect was archaic but not corrupted or evolved. Beau explained that we were exploring. It asked us to leave. Oscar told it that its home was beautiful and offered to help repair it. It repeated its request that we leave. Beau asked if it would be willing to talk to us in the garden, if we left the house, and it said yes. Bugle and I didn’t want to leave the house, since the scorching rays would make it costly to re-enter. Beau asked if we could go back to the front hallway and talk there. It paused and tilted its head. At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was thinking or listening. In retrospect, listening. It said we would have to wait. We waited for two or three minutes while Oscar played dwarven music for it. Then we went to the hall, where they had prepared an ambush. We were, depending on the individual, too trusting or too confident.

There were four ghosts waiting, to be joined later by six others. Two extremely gaunt, pale dwarven figures leapt out from hiding. Bugle saw them and immediately signalled for us to run. He had recognized them from his prior service. They are vampire-spawn. Their attacks sap your vitality [subtract damage from max HP until short rest].

They attacked Bugle and Oscar. Oscar fell and was revived by Beau. Beau charged for the door and almost made it. The ghosts saw that we had healed Oscar and attacked him again. He died almost instantly. Bugle ran for the door and maneuvered around the vampire-spawn guarding it. More ghosts attacked. I dodged past the vampire-spawn at the door. The ghosts felled Beau.

Bugle and I were outside in the garden. A ghost had followed us outside but was watching us instead of attacking. Bugle could have run then, but he stayed. He made a lasso and managed to get it around Beau, who was unconscious but breathing, and drag her outside. Three ghosts attacked him then. He dropped but the gem he’d received from the mushrooms revived him. I fed Beau a healing potion, yelled to the ghosts that we were leaving, and ran for it. Bugle was surrounded by four ghosts. Beau ran up to them to distract them. They all swung at her and missed. Then they attacked Bugle and Beau and dropped them both.

Four of the ghosts chased after me. They are extremely fast [50 ft?]. Twice they caught up and attacked me – I Shielded against some, and lucked out on others, and was only hit once. The ghosts stopped abruptly at the edge of the property. The vampire-spawn had not left the house itself. I found a place to hide and waited to see if Beau or Bugle would make it out.

After an hour of waiting, I saw Bugle stir. He crawled to where Beau lay. He removed one of her eyes, retrieved her axe, and snuck away. There was no way to do anything similar for Oscar. I met him at the edge of the property.

We spent the night on the island. In the morning, we rowed back to shore. Bugle requested that we keep exploring. We found our way around the tunnels relatively well. Eventually, we came to a large cave with a gigantic colony of bats. They appeared normal except for their sizes, which ranged up to huge-sized. This constitutes a Minor Point of Interest.

We reached an area where the mushrooms began to push out the moss, and grow larger, and glow more brightly. I had difficulty breathing so we turned back. We climbed back to the surface via a new tunnel which we had noticed on the way down. There was one place with a sheer wall leading to an overhand 25 ft up. I boosted Bugle up, then climbed a rope that he tossed down. We came up about a mile north and a touch west of the other entrance in 4.12 and returned to Sila.

My condolences to Oscar and Beau’s families. They will be missed, and avenged.


James_Elcombe ShonaDeahl

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