Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 12, 2019
Rage of Demons: Session 12

After a break of several months, during which the same group played a different campaign with another DM, we went back to the Rage of Demons - Out of the Abyss campaign with me as a DM. Previous events can be found here. Among other things the break had given me the opportunity to solve a problem: In this second half of the adventure, the group is leading an expedition force with 24 NPCs; how do you handle that in combat? I decided that the NPCs weren't supposed to be too effective or outshine the players, and that managing them shouldn't take much time. If we would roll for every attack of every NPC, combat would take forever.

Finally my solution was to treat the expedition force NPCs as 5 groups. I printed 3D tokens representing each group, and created a mini character sheet for each group. Each group has as many hit points as the sum of its members, and is treated like a single entity, except that it might take more damage from area effect spells. Instead of attack rolls, there is a simple table of how much damage the army entity automatically deals to enemies of a certain range of armor classes. Likewise monsters just deal their average damage to an army group if they attack it. Using these new rules, we played through a "random" encounter with a group of demons, and that went quite well.

After this warm-up fight, the group reached Gravenhollow, a magical library run by Stone Giants in the Underdark. Between the magical properties of the library to give information on the past, present, and future, and the Stonespeaker Crystal the group had received from a Stone Giant in Gracklstugh, the group was able to find out what had happened: Under the influence of the Demon Queen of Spiders Lolth, the archmage of Menzoberranzan Gromph Baenre cast a spell to summon demons at a location infused with faerzress, a mysterious magical energy of the Underdark. This enhanced the spell's power to a degree where it summoned all the demon lords from the Abyss into the Underdark at different locations. Lolth's goal is to take over the Abyss while the other demon lords rampage in the Prime Material Plane.

In Gravenhollow the group also met Vizeran DeVir, an exiled drow archmage and rival of Gromph Baenre. He told them that he had a plan to reverse the demon invasion, but wouldn't want to talk about it in the library, so he invited them to Araj, his tower. On the way there we played through another fight, against driders in a narrow tunnel. Surprising how terrain as simple as a straight but narrow tunnel can have a huge impact on tactical combat, the fight was fun. Arriving at Araj, the group then learned Vizeran's plan: He wanted to cast a ritual that assembled all the demon lords at one location in Menzoberranzan. As the worst enemy of a demon lord is another demon lord, he is counting on them eliminating each other, with the group just having to kill the weakened survivor.

However to cast the ritual, Vizeran needs a shopping list full of magical ingredients, which the group has to collect from various locations in the Underdark. That list basically spells out the rest of the adventure, with ingredients like fresh purple worm eggs giving the players a good idea what challenges might lie ahead. So we finished the session at this point, with the group advancing to level 10.


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