4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 409

  • Humal (level 7 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 7 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 7 elf rogue/ranger)
  • Abby (charmed/dead? doppelganger)
  • Cenric (level 7 human fighter)

Abby explained that just beyond the entrance was a chamber filled with a fungus that would scream if it detected light or felt vibrations in the ground. The only way around was to climb across the ceiling, something that the doppelgangers could do with ease, and—as with many other things—Abby didn't know that most humanoid races couldn't do.

Humal conjured a wall of illusionary blades that he urged across the darkened room, destroying the fungus before it had a chance to scream. When they crossed the room they saw that the fungus looked to have been composed from humanoid parts, specifically faces.

The passage leading out was narrow and tall, and shortly after they'd entered several crab-like creatures emerged from a shelf near the ceiling. They scuttled along the walls and ceiling, spraying a highly flammable fluid that ignited when it came into contact with Corzale's torch. The ensuing explosion scorched everyone but Humal and his cockatrice skeleton, lighting Sumia and Corzale on fire.

Unable to climb the mostly smooth walls, after they extinguished the flames Sumia and Corzale relied on ranged attacks. Fortunately Humal's cockatrice skeleton was tall enough to peck at them with its beak, and Abby was able to easily ascend the walls. When the first creature was slain, its body reverted into a pale, waxy substance that dripped to the floor, revealing them to at least be related in some way to doppelgangers.

The party managed to kill the rest, but not before Abby had been what they assumed was grievously wounded: it fell to the floor and transformed into a sphere. Sumia and Humal tried poking and speaking to it, but it remained inert. Even Corzale's threats to smash it received no response. Humal and Corzale decided that, despite how helpful it had been that it was probably best to destroy it, but Sumia convinced them to just roll it in a corner and continue on.

The passage soon opened into a much wider chamber that contained a cistern, which glowed brightly due to a fungus growing along the bottom that Corzale knew was not only harmless, but edible. When she went to eat some, she spied a small trove of gold and platinum coins strewn about. Sumia and Humal were tempted to grab some, but eventually decided that the risk was not worth the reward (plus they could always come back later).

The next chamber was wide, high, and the only features were numerous holes in the walls. The party carefully crept about, waiting for more doppelgangers to ambush them. To be fair the ambush did come, just not when and where they expected: while examining the chamber they came across a makeshift prison that was chained shut. Sumia was able to easily pick the lock, and huddled in the darkness they found a half-dozen disheveled and frightened people, and a similar number of rotting corpses.

It took them a bit to more or less earn the prisoners' trust, what with the doppelgangers physically and mentally torturing them for who knew how long, but as they started to escort them out the corpses rose and emerged from the shadows. While the party kept them at bay, the "people" retreated from the prison and locked the door behind them before reverting to their true forms. One of them stated that it would alert the Master, but it barely made it a few steps before an arrow struck its head and an owlbear knocked another to the floor and tore it apart.

Sumia's owlbear.

Cenric rushed into view, skewering another doppelganger before the survivors fled. He lacked both the tools and expertise to pick the lock, and didn't notice a key amidst the doppelganger remains, so Humal told him to go after the others. After destroying the zombies, Sumia was able to once again pick the lock by the time Cenric returned: he told them that the doppelgangers ran past a large, glowing symbol that covered the floor in a tunnel before he could catch them. He didn't know what it was, but suspecting nothing good, and suggested Humal take a look at it.

Design Notes
The original adventure had the dungeon filled with drow and a spirit naga. I kept the naga (though the party didn't encounter it because they wisely avoided taking any coins from the cistern), but felt it would make more sense for the BBEG to continue employing a variety of vat-grown doppelgangers.

Melissa finally got her owlbear back. Since it levels with her, it not only has more Wounds and Vitality than before, it also gets +1 to hit and deals +1d4 damage with all of its attacks. She wanted to move back into rogue, and after some back and forth decided to allow the Sneak Attack talent to work even with ranged attacks (I know there's a feat you could take in 3E and 4E to get ranged SA when an enemy is flanked by two allies, but I guess in 5E it just works that way normally).

In retrospect I'm not sure if Humal's illusion should have worked since the fungus wasn't exactly intelligent, and the Phantasmal Killer talent has you make an attack against the target's Will Defense. We did end up increasing Phantasmal Killer damage from d6 to d10, since using it requires mashing together a series of talents that can get kind of spendy Mana-wise, which was often more expensive than Humal sustaining his cockatrice skeleton.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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