AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming Thread: The Sunless Citadel, Session 1

Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread!  Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into.  Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.

Discussion topic:  Since this is probably the last Tabletop Thread of the year, what was the best game you discovered in 2019?  Could be a brand new release, an older game you played for the first time, or even just an expansion to an existing game.

This weekend I took over the reins to run the game for the first time.  I chose a simple low-level adventure to run, The Sunless Citadel out of the Tales From the Yawning Portal book.  It’s a pretty straight-forward dungeon crawl set in the standard D&D-fantasy world of Faerun.


My players are:

  • Seraphina Lathander, an Aasimar Cleric (The Wasp)
  • Oona Maku, a Half-Elf Ranger (Wafflicious)
  • Gash the Furious, a Half-Orc Barbarian (Otto)
  • Slowclap, a Kenku Monk (Josephus Brown)
  • Finfizzy Tanglethump, a Gnome Warlock (The Hayes Code)

I’ll let Fin tell you about what happened on the first leg of the adventure.1  My own thoughts on how the game went will be in the comments.

[spoiler title=”The Sunless Citadel”]

It is a difficult thing for a normal-sized person to travel in this world of giants – especially a normal-sized person whose pursuits tend more towards intellectual enlightenment than grunting and bashing things over the head. Fortunately for the continued contiguousness of my delicate hide, I was able to insinuate myself into a company of larger and more appealing targets – Oona, a hooded archer with a hatred of all things gelatinous; Gash, a large slab of angry meat; a kenku whose name is some unpronounceable slapping noise; and Seraphina, an aasimar.  An aasimar cleric, no less!  I’ll just have to hope she keeps her eyes on the kenku, who’s got to be jealous of those wings of her, and doesn’t poke her holy nose too far into my business.

At any rate, with such a veritable buffet of juicy attackables arrayed about me, surely no-one will notice the unobtrusive little gnome in the heat of battle. Or that’s the plan, anyway.

We picked up a lead on a potential interesting artifact in the town of Oakhurst—apparently goblins visit the town yearly, selling mysterious apples that cure disease and heal wounds. Sounds like a bunch of applesauce to me, but it was at least worth investigating. twig-blightOn the way into town, we ran into a bunch of ill-mannered thickets of deadwood, lurching out of the woods and swinging their twigs at us menacingly. Why, I ask, can nobody maintain their roads in a proper manner?  It’s always goblin ambush this, evil trees that.

I blew one of the creatures away with quick hex and point-blank blast of eldritch energy. Inspired by my flawless technique, the rest of the group quickly made firewood of the rest of them, with Gash chopping the last one as it fled.

Reaching Oakhurst, we stopped in at the Ol’ Boar tavern, where the ol’ bore at the bar slaked our thirst for both unimpressive low-quality ale and information.  He’d never used the apples himself, but it seems planting their seeds caused weird, dead-looking bushes to grow, bushes which eventually vanished.  Also, someone’s been killing the livestock. (If you ask me, it sounds like these yokels are growing monsters in their own backyards.) He also told us one Kerowyn Hucrele, local general store proprietor, was apparently mixed up with the goblins somehow.

Kerowyn was able to attest to the apples’ effectiveness. Well, that’s something, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  Oh, and her children went and got themselves tangled up with the goblins, along with some friend of theirs and a wandering knight. Talgen, Sharwyn, Karakas, and Sir Braford. Those are the names, and that’s important because we’ve been tasked with finding them, and if it turns out these dolts got themselves eaten we need to bring back their signet rings. (Although it certainly won’t be me fishing around in goblin feces.  I wonder if I can convince Oona that it’s an ooze, and they need to “attack” it?)

We followed the Old North Road to the ravine in which the goblins laired. I want to make this next part perfectly clear, for posterity: I did not FALL off the rope while climbing down. The rope was DEFECTIVE. Who knows how long it had been hanging their, getting slick with moss and lichens?  giantratsIt certainly wasn’t my fault, and neither were the giant rats.  If they came sniffing after me, they would have come sniffing after the others, who have a lot more meat and/or poultry on their bones.

I attempted to make them listen to reason (communicating with small creatures being one of the many gifts of a gnomish heritage) but the dolts tried to nibble us anyway, and we had to put them down. Flea-infested idiots!

We followed steps carved into the wall further into the ravine. It grew darker and darker as we descended, until we reached the bottom and discovered the ruins of a large castle, sunken into the earth. An impressive spot for a lair, I’ll give them points for that. But I’ll take those points away again for slipshod rope maintenance. My delicate shoulder muscles are still sore!

We clambered over the collapsed battlements and Seraphina knocked on the door to the tower, only for a trapdoor to open under her feet. She nimbly darted out of the way before falling in. Below was an oubliette with a number of goblin corpses in it. Interesting. I deduced that either they were dumb enough to fall prey to their own defenses (not unlikely, with goblins), or there was more than one group at play here. (I would prove to be right about this, as usual.)

In the tower room, we found more goblin corpses, killed in battle, and an inscription in Draconic on the wall. Through the south door we found another room containing a locked door, the keyhole placed inside the mouth of a decorative dragon relief. Interesting. Fancy locked doors tend to lead to fancy things.

Trying the other door, we came across a room containing an empty cage and a weeping kobold curled up in a bedroll. MeepoThe kobold, Meepo, explained that goblins had kidnapped the dragon they’d kept in the cage. Meepo proved to be quite helpful.  He not only translated the draconic runes as ‘Ashardalon’ (the name of a local dragon cult—they’re lucky they have me along to know these things), he promised to escort us to his leader if we agreed to recover the dragon.  Well, an escort’s always useful in kobold territory, unless you feel like falling into pits and tripping over wires every five feet, so we agreed.

The kobold leader, Yusdrayl, offered us a reward for recovering the dragon. This gets better and better, especially noticing that tempting looking key hanging from his chair. Apparently it’s a white dragon, the most bestial of the breeds, and a young one at that. We’ll have to be careful with the thing, but if we play our cards right, we might be able to wangle two rewards from this trip.

Meepo led us through a back passage to the area controlled by goblins. Footsteps in the dust indicated that our human quarry likely passed this way as well.  Oona spotted an inscription in Draconic on a dry fountain, and Meepo helpfully read it – “let there be fire” – triggering the fountain to spew out something thick and red.  Gash, being an impulsive dimwit, guzzled it down and discovered, in an impressive display of gustatory pyrotechnics, that it was a potion of firebreathing.

The fountain room also contained a door with more Draconic – “Rebuke Undead, Open the Way.” This was meant literally, as it turns out—Seraphina rebuked the door, and it opened. I supposed they must had sealed some unlucky clod inside it.  The room beyond contained a few sarcophagi and an altar, on which rested a flask, a candle, and a whistle. Someone, I didn’t see who, picked the flask and the next thing I knew, we were neck-deep in skeletons.

skellieThe battle got a little rough – the kenku was knocked unconscious for a moment, but the cleric got him back on his feet and he demolished several bonebags.  I was nearly attacked myself when one of them took exception to my blasting it, but fortunately Oona got in the way of the attack.

With the skeletons finished off, I picked up the whistle. Finely made, of crystal, with a Dwarvish inscription I was fortunately able to read – “Night Caller.”  I’d heard of this!  Supposedly it’s useful in animating the dead.  I’ll just hold on to this little beauty – no reason everyone needs to know about it.

The candle, meanwhile, seems to burn indefinitely, without heat, which is a nice little trick, but give me the ability to make corpses dance any day. Oh, the possibilities…

As some of my bumbling bodyguard had gotten themselves injured in the fighting, we decided to retreat to the kobold-controlled area and rest up. I write this curled up in a…some sort of feculent nest-thing. Ugh.  At least it’s warm, and normal-sized, but I think something is moving in the bedclothes…[/spoiler]