Beneath the City of the Ives: Session 1

Subtitle: In which a rat was hugged, a bird was butchered, and a policeman seriously reconsidered their life choices.

D.S. Forge: Human Fighter: A force of justice who has definitely earned their badge and is proving it down in the undercity.
Ratty: Ratman rogue with an awfully heavy crossbow. Very uncomfortable about this whole thing.
Lulu: Human necromancer, and the most damn fancy necromancer you ever did meet too.
Verdigris: Coppery Dragonborn Sorcerer: just wants to pay off their bar tab and damages and get the hell out of this madness.
Quinn: Weird star-elf Warlock: Very fancy, on obscure mission from space (probably) and just in general, a bit off.

Brief Context:
The City of the Ives is the greatest city in this, or any age. Free from crime (mostly), a utopia of perfection (in the good bits) and a bastion of democracy (for the well-dressed and often-bathed).
Beneath the city however, is a different matter.
The Sewer System of the city is overly vast and maddeningly complex. It stretches literal miles, and winds in mysterious and occasionally unknowable ways. In the years since the city council gave up on trying to manage them at all, who knows what kind of creatures could have moved in, and what kinds of treasures they might be hording...
There are at least 3 wizards, and presumably at least 1 dragon. More details are so far un-substantiated.
For this game in particular, a mysterious sealing of one of the larger valves of the sewers has resulted in a build up of waste beneath the central district of the city. This needed to be remedied, and these were the ones they could scrounge together to actually go down and attempt the job...

We got off to a slowish start (compared to my expectations, goes to show I guess), beginning in a chamber just off the edge of the main sewer, scrawled with adventurer graffiti, with two exits; one marked "Main Valve" the other scrawled with "Fuck these Eel Mother-Fuckers".

Interestingly, they chose the later. On the plus side, they quickly discovered one of the control rooms, with a flint spear stuck part-way through a glass window.

On the other hand, they quickly discovered the inception of the grafitti when a few open doors later, they get rushed by Eel-hounds. Imagine a dog, but replace the central trunk and head with a squirming, screaming Lamprey Eel. Yikes.

Verdigris tries to pull the door closed before the beasts reach them, but is only partially successful, deciding to blast them with his dragonborn lightning breath, scorching a couple. A few ranged attacks and a magical exploding ice-knife later, and they repel the beasts, sealing off their avenue of attack with illusory party-hat styled spikes.

With a second, more coordinated approach, the party take another stab at the Eel-Hounds, though one of them takes a chop at D.S. Forge and won't let go. They hear an almighty bird shriek, unearthly and loud through another door, and scrabbling and scratching.

Finishing off the Eel hounds just in time, a huge Raven-Black bird monstrosity like a tiger crossed with a bat and twice as big, partially bursts through the door, spearing Verdigris for all but one of his hit points on its beak.

Through a combination of the Bird Beast being stuck in a tight corridor, Quinn's unearthly fey presence, and D.S. Forge grappling the creature, they keep it stuck enough to variously chop, stab, and shoot it to the brink of death.

Lulu the Necromancer continues to fail to contribute as everything passes the saving throw against her Toll the Dead cantrip.

Finally, Ratty gets a cheeky crit, spearing the creature in the eye with his bolt, and Verdigris and Forge finish it off.

As Forge bandages up Verdigris' wound, Quinn slices open a few of the Eel-Hounds and finds a ring on a partially digested hand, Lulu harvests a bunch of the Bird Beast's feathers, and they open up the two ways forward they have cleared.

They discover the Eel-Hounds slimey lair, and a large cupboard, padlocked shut. With time and effort, Quinn repeatedly freezes the lock until it is brittle enough for Verdigris to shatter with his warhammer.

In the other direction, they open up a large hall festooned with long tables and benches, a few crates of salvage, and the Bird-Beast's nest, from which they recover an Egg.

They enter a room beyond the hall, and enter a room piled high with rotten garbage, and decrepit cooking equipment. As they investigate, a trio of insectoid beasts with (literal) human faces pull themselves free from the muck.

One of them continues to ruin Verdigris' day by slathering him in acidic spital, while another lunges at D.S. Forge, stabbing at him with its limbs and rasping in his ear;
"Why would they do this to us?"
Quite understandably, Forge is somewhat disturbed by this.

The party quickly dispatch them however, with a combination of a sleep spell, a few cantrips, and a couple of well-placed crossbow bolts. During the fight, and confirmed by some post-violence dissection, they discover that there are actual people somehow sealed within and bonded to an insectoid exo-skeleton. It reeks with transmutation and Necromancy when Lulu casts Detect Magic on the Corpses.

Quinn also searches the muck, discovering the key for the lock they already destroyed, and rolls a 1 on his save versus disease. More on that to come, presumably.

To the north, they discover a set of skeletons, too small to be adult humans, and which none of the party (even Lulu with her extensive knowledge of bones) can recognise. Beyond this chamber they come out into the main sewer intersection again, by the smaller, middle valve. While the party arrange furniture to allow them access on top of it, Lulu scouts with her familiar, discovering a group of Troglodytes on one side of it, and what appears to be a skeleton-man camping on the other. The familiar also scouted out briefly the other side-sewer on the far side of the valve.

Their most pressing concern at this point was how to deal with the Troglodytes. Options were considered such as redirecting the poo-water flow into them to wash them away, or alternatively, diplomacy.

These were dismissed, as they decided that next time, they would instead enter the next section;

Lessons Learned:
- Woah, DnD takes loads longer than I thought it would. I guess I didn't expect them to be able to clear the whole Great Valve Complex in one go, but I expected them to find more than 1 control lever. But that's how it goes, its cool. I may consider thinking about how I can improve the general procedure for exploration if it continues to be an issue. We played for about three hours, and had about three combats that didn't take toooooo long in the scheme of things I think, so I suspect it was the exploration stuff that took the majority of the time, but that remains to be seen and continue to be tested.
- The rumour system I made was crap. No other word for it, I've realised it was terrible. I'm still unsure about how to remedy it yet, but in my considerations, I think there are a few things I need the new rumours to talk about:
> Things players want to find (i.e. fountains of youth, oracles, magic items, etc.)
> Things players want to overcome (i.e. dungeons, dragons, etc.)
> Things players want to discover (i.e. things they find mysterious)
Point is, it needs to become about things players want, and I think it also needs to answer 1 or maybe 2 of the 'W' questions, where, when, why, who, etc. so that players aren't totally in the dark about how to actually find the thing. We'll see.
- My improvised monster stats and notes work, which is nice. Everything in the evening's play was contained on 1 revision card, so that's great considering I've got a whole bunch of them for other locations too...
- Oh, and minimal maps weren't my ally. In a bid to reduce my workload, I made the maps super simple. Should probably put a little more effort into them, as I feet like it meant I had to explain myself more than once on a few things because there was no evidence of them on the map. We'll see how it helps next time.

I aim to post one of these each week for the sessions of this game. We'll see how that goes too.

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