The Great Dungeon #2 – Storefronts, Slug Love, and Metamatter

HobgoblinsCheck out the first installment on how this game came to be.

Then, read how the first adventure went.

Dramatis Personae

  • Meathead (Pronounced Me-Thea-Ad) – Vulgar Dwarf Fighter
  • Jake – Tiefling Pickpocket Rogue
  • Donovan – Bellicose Human War Priest
  • Blake – Jaded Human Wizard

Recap

The party ended their last adventure seeing a way out, but without an obvious way to open the door by the waterfall. After a simple perception roll, they hear guttural voices and armor clanking down the narrow pathway towards the door that leads them out of waterfall. When the grated door opens, Meathead charges. Two hobgoblins are surprised by the attack, but stay disciplined. One rushes away back to where he came from, while the other hobgoblin survives longer than is statistically probable against four characters.

The door leading deeper into the dungeon was shut by the retreating hobgoblin, but the party soon notices a lever used to operate the door they just entered. A pathway leads up above the waterfall and to another locked door.  Blake searches the body and finds a key and the party opens the door. The team discovers a small office filled with paperwork and what appears to be small set of barracks with beds and personal chests. Blake takes some of the records. During the investigation, the PCs are interrupted by the sound of armored hobgoblins clamoring towards them from father into the dungeon.

The party overturned a table in the hallway at a point where Jake and Blake could occupy the side rooms and see the oncoming attacks. Meathead defended the strongpoint while the other characters played support roles. It was a very tough fight. On the one hand, because they let a Hobgoblin escape the encounter was larger than anticipated and with no element of surprise. On the other hand, the PCs improvised a defensive position. Blake’s color spray cost the Hobgoblins critical attacks and Meathead absorbed many attacks before going down. Ultimately, Meathead and Jake were knocked out cold, and it was nearly a TPK, before the remaining characters rallied and finished off the hobgoblins.

The players combed through the rest of the dungeon and find no other room other than a small flight of stairs lead up to wooden storm door. Jake snuck up to the door and peeked his head in the room to discover geodes lining the wall of what appears to be a storefront. They team warily exists the basement and entered the store front. The store had geodes, labeled in hobgoblin tongue that vaguely resembles orcish,  and two doors leading out. The door on the right was locked while the door on the left led out of the store. The key the PCs found earlier unlocked the door on the right, which is filled with coins in small purses. Blake investigated the ledgers found behind the desk. Donovan checked on one of the kobold eggs he took from the lair. The walls of the shop are adorned with regal hobgoblins in classic european conquering noble poses and images of dragons (which are not native to the PCs homeworld) in flight. Donovan and Jake then entered the ‘treasure room’ only to discover they can’t return to the store anymore.  Blake and Meathead tried to use a rope and get them back, but nothing worked.

Meathead opened the door out of the shop, and realized that the store is part of a small town, with soldiers walking the street. In the distance, he sees a vast hobgoblin army marching in good order as if coming here for real supply. Meathead decides he doesn’t want to explore the town any further. Jake then recalls that when they were sent into the dungeon they were advised not to ‘take the last door on the right.’ Rather than separate, Meathead and Jake decide to follow their fellow dungeoneers into the mist.

Eventually the team reunites in a long misty hallway. Down the hall, they PCs see a door opening through the mist. Another group of adventures spills out the door. They all are anthropomorphic bipeds (turle, rat, wolf and rabbit). They are unsurprised to see the party and explain “all dungeons lead to the same place.” They chat amiably with the other adventurers until the mist coalesces into a set of hinged doors like a wild west saloon. Inside the raucous noise of a tavern can be heard.

They are all greeted by friend Nyiad, “Welcome to The Great Tavern.” It explained to the party that The Great Tavern is owned by a quartet of elemental beings: an Ifrit, Dijin, Dao, and Nyiad. They take turns bouncing and tending bar. Weapons must be checked, and violence or non-consensual spells or abilities result in ‘severe penalties, including, but not limited to, Wishes being granted to the victims of any crimes.’

A bit of exposition and friendly chats with bat patrons revealed that The Last Tavern connects all dungeons in the multiverse. The only  way out of the Tavern is the set of double doors that leads adventurers back to their home planes. The three tiered tavern has almost anything for sale, and will buy anything, though prices are highly inflated because of the vast sum of gold walking through the door at any given moment.

They also discover that the geodes are strange substance called ‘metamatter.’ Metamatter takes different forms on different planes, but its key property is it allows dungeoneers to bind items to them so they work regardless of what plane they should travel to. Meathead uses his metamatter to bind the displacer beast’s tail (which he acquired from the opening scene where their wagon was shelled by enemy fire) to him and gains mirror image as a spell once a day. Blake uses the geode with the hobgoblin ledger, instantly learning the language and absorbing information on their culture. Donvan bonds himself to the kobold egg, creating a prebirth link with the critter.

Rather than leaving immediately, Meathead insists on drinking to excess. He befriends a large slug like creature housed in a resplendent blue shell. The slug, Klackdor VII, propositions Meathead. Meathead accepts his 10 gp, and mates with the slug person, not remembering much about the incident. Jake uses the confusion to steal a pendent from the slug’s pack. He uses his metamatter and gains the ability to become amorphous like an ooze once a day for a minute.

After witnessing their first dwarf/slug mating, the party hauls Meathead out of the double doors. They reappear home, debrief Lieutenant Mattahey, and are scolded about the dangers of the The Great Tavern.

What Worked

Tyrannical Miners: The party was fairly surprised when their ‘dungeon’ turned out to be a weird metamatter mining operation.  They correctly surmised that the kobolds were forced to harvest geodes in exchange for subsistence level food and clothing from the hobgoblins. The kobolds weren’t good or bad, and the PCs had basically gone on a reverse dungeon run. They found the creature’s lair, then the treasure, and finally they made their way to the guards.

Metamatter: Although no PCs have died, the key element that PCs have is access to metamatter improvements. Characters can latch onto objects or plot hooks they liked from an adventure, use part of their metamatter allotment, and incorporate it into their characters. New PCs will not have had the ability to customize themselves as much, but should be close to on par, just more vanilla.

Balanced Adventuring: The party fought their way through a dungeon, explored the ‘dungeon’ ecology, and socialized its way through a great multiversal pub. It ended up balanced to me!

What Failed

Inspiration as World Building: I had not pushed it, but using inspiration to help world build did not happen. Next adventure, I’m making world building a compulsory part of the inspiration roll to get the party in the swing of things.

What’s the Deal with that Bold Text? – The items in bold are dangling plot threads for next time. I consider those a lot in between sessions, but I am not necessarily know where they will lead. If you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know on twitter @Veredium with the hashtag:#TheGreatDungeon.

Comments

  1. Dixon Trimline says:

    This game recap was pretty bloody wonderful. Not too long (the biggest sin in recaps), and quite vivid to hold my attention. The game itself seemed all sorts of fun, with the yardstick being, “Would I have wanted to play in this game?”

    I love (x1000) the idea of incorporating the metamatter. When determining the effects of the metamatter use, was it a roundtable discussion with the player(s), or did you determine it on your own as DM?

  2. @Dixon: Each player basically picked something they liked from the adventure. I then proposed an effect of the metamatter use. People were happy with the cause/effect relationship so we left it at that. If someone was bummed out about the game impact, I was happy to engage in a discussion.

  3. Can’t wait for the next installment!