Episode 15: Where The River Goes
The Nein go on a classic dungeon crawl! In exchange for getting Horace safe passage out of the city, The Gentleman tasked the adventurers to investigate a spooky, possibly haunted lair and bring back any information they can gather.
Jester and Yasha guide the two rowboats down the underground river. Amidst some horseplay, Nott accidentally disturbs two creatures disguised amongst the stalactites and is engulfed and smothered. The group quickly rescues Nott and knock out the creatures that attacked them. They continue carefully down the tunnels until they come upon a collapsed structure near the river banks. Using the information The Gentleman gave them, the Nein figure this must be the place they are looking for. They pull the boats aside and begin to explore the collapsed structure.
They find a shaft with a spiral staircase and make their way down. Nott finds several traps lining the staircase and the shaft at the end of the stairs. She does her best to disarm the traps with a few painful mistakes. The shaft opens up to a larger chamber where the adventurers discover a set of 8 symbols all seemingly connected to the 8 schools of magic. Taking some time to explore the laboratory further, the companions are able unlock a secret room. After fighting off several wispy balls of energy and destroying the urns the wisps came from, they find more symbols that match. Using a rod, and Jester’s magic they unlock a portal in the ceiling.
A huge, gelatinous cube falls from the ceiling into the center of the room and begins attacking the Nein. Caleb manages to hold it in place with a well-timed vine spell, giving Yasha enough time to cut the cube to pieces. Once the fight is over, the Nein realize they must cast their magic together to unlock the puzzle. Jester, Nott, and Caleb cast their spells simultaneously and unlock a secret chamber. They find a damaged, unusable teleportation circle in the center of the room, an ornate greatsword hanging on the wall, and a journal with the scribblings of a madman named Siff speaking of betrayer gods, a tortured race and utter destruction.
As the Nein are examining the book, the room grows cold and a wind begins blowing. A shadowy, ghoulish figure appears in the room. It hovers menacingly over the heroes before proclaiming “No secrets are yours.”
Episode 16: A Favor in Kind
The ghastly figure hovering over the Mighty Nein holds out his spectral hand. He makes an offer to the group, A secret for a secret. After a brief, awkward silence, Jester speaks up and tells the ghost about how the pastries in Nicodramus use cinnamon but the ones in Wildemount don’t. The secret doesn’t seem to please their spectral friend and he begins to attack the companions. He unleashes several psychic attacks that turn Beau and Yasha against the rest of the group, and a crippling ghoulish moan that leave most of the group stunned and unable to attack. Siff, the ghostly figure and former owner of the abandoned research facility, seems to gain the upperhand in the battle when he calls forth more glowing wisps to attack the adventurers. Managing to shake off the stun from Siff’s screams and the electric shock from the wisps, Mollymauk stabs Siff in the heart and sends the ghoul’s energy scattering.
The group think they are in the clear and begin looting the laboratory for anything of value. Their rummaging seems to trigger Siff’s form back into existence and he begins to attack the group again. Molly, Yasha and Jester find a hidden room behind a bookcase that contains an urn full of ashes. Destroying the urn also destroys Siff’s energy again, this time for good.
The companions loot the lab for several fancy vases/urns, a powerful greatsword that can dispel magic, and a couple of partially destroyed spellbooks and journals. They return to their boats and begin the journey back to The Gentleman. Fjord has another dream from his patron that night. His patron shows him his glowing weapon and tells him to ‘consume’. A bit confused, Fjord holds the sword up to his mouth and begins to put the curved blade in his mouth. A sudden, excruciating hunger takes over Fjord and he swallows the entire sword, feeling pain and blood pooling in his mouth. He suddenly awakens and summons his blade, shocked to see that it was not his new curved blade he bonded to, but in fact his Falchion imbued with a new sense of power that mirrors his curved blade.
Finally returning to The Gentleman, he is thankful that they are alive and have returned. They share the artsy vases and some of the fancier rings and clothing they recovered from the laboratory. He seems dissatisfied and discovers that the group has hidden some of their spoils from him. Caleb offers up Siff’s journal to appease The Gentleman and he seems pleased with this offering.
The Nein return to their rooms in the Leaky Tap and tie up some loose ends around town. There is a visit to Pumat Sol, buying of some kind of fungal powder that takes Molly and Beau on a magic mushroom trip into the Ethereal Plane. Beau visits The Cobalt Soul, her place of training, and attempts to get any information about the dodecahedron they stole from the Crick and the Crown’s Guard after the attack on the city. Caleb investigates the orb in the safety of their room and discovers A Fragment of Possibility, a power that the orb can bestow on a user that grants them a bit of luck once a day. The companions all return for the evening and they watch the city prepare for The Harvest’s Close Festival.
These were a couple of bumpy episodes for me. I enjoyed episode 16 much more than episode 15 though. The action and story really picked back up in the latter episode. 15 really felt a bit out of place for me. I got a bit muddled in why they had to go on this trip right away for The Gentleman, whom they’d only just met. It seemed a bit like a distraction from the bigger story the Nein had gotten themselves involved in, tied loosely together with the pretense of smuggling Horace from the city. Eh. It did actually lead to some decent action and may play into the ‘Necromancy on the rise’ story arc we seemed to be heading towards in the first couple episodes.
I have tried rewatching episode 15…three times and still lose my interest by the end. Classic dungeon crawl, puzzle games are not as fun to watch as they are to play, for me at least. The surprise-scare ending felt a bit forced, but I was more hopeful that the next episode would be a bit more exciting and move the story along.
What episode 15 lacks in action, 16 certainly makes up for. The battles really highlighted The Nein’s strengths and weaknesses. The ghoul, Siff, was so easily able to stun half of the party multiple times while dealing hearty psychic damage. Non-magical weapons were practically useless, leaving the less magically inclined party members scrambling to be useful in the fight. Yasha and Molly proved quite useful with their weapons dealing magical damage, while Nott focused her non-magical crossbow on destroying the urns and clearing the battlefield.
The role-playing is getting stronger every episode. Caleb, Molly, and Fjord have all had pretty major moments in the last few episodes that have really rounded out their characters and left a lot of excitement in discovering more about themselves. Ashley is still finding her feet as Yasha, but that will probably take some time, seeing as she is the least experienced player out of the group. Taliesin had a moment of pretty severe meta-gaming when Nott discovered two treasure chests but only showed the contents of one to the rest of the group. He tried to save his bluff by claiming ‘he heard two traps go off’ but made no perception checks or anything to validate this idea. After a bit of ribbing from the players, they all let it slide and continued with the story.
I’m not entirely sure where the next episode will go, seeing as Matt only teased the Harvest’s Close Festival as the main attraction for next week. I know he has a penchant for using festivals and large celebrations as scenes of plot-thickening destruction, so I am hoping to see an action packed episode that gives us some more clues as to what is to come for the Nein in their adventures.