Dungeons & Delvers: Age of Worms, Episode 713

  • Humal (level 14 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 14 dwarf war cleric/druid)
  • Sumia (level 14 elf rogue/ranger/wizard)

Session Highlights
After they finish speaking to the wormpriest, the party decides to try their luck in the room filled with black sludge: Sumia can see that there's a door on the other side, and while they're pretty sure the sludge is bad, it doesn't seem nearly as dangerous as the worm-lake.

Corzale zaps it with a lance of faith, figuring that if it's a monster or hazard that they might as well get the drop on it. She's surprised to hear it scream as it folds in on itself and quickly slithers into the other room, which is filled with thousands of perfectly preserved corpses.

The sludge extends tendrils into several nearby corpses: they deflate as it slowly grows in size. Corzale attempts to enter the room to smash it, but she's immediately ravaged by an overwhelming necrotic force. There's a spherical contraption attached to the ceiling; both Sumia and Humal can immediately tell that it's generating the effect.

Luckily Sumia purchased arrows with thunderheads, and after a few shots knocks the device loose. It crashes to the floor, spilling out bones and black slime, and the effect ends. Corzale continues to burn it from a safe distance, and it continues to scream and flee. It tries to climb up a wall, but they soon corner and reduce it to greasy ashes (some of which Humal pockets because you never know).

The room appears to be solely used to store corpses: the necrotic energy generated by the device killed anything in the room, including bacteria, preventing the corpses from decaying. Now that it was gone the corpses would begin to rot, so Humal also stuffed a few in his bag, rationalizing his actions to Corzale that it would prevent them from animating as undead for them to kill, later.

An intersection leads both to the worm-lake and another room to the south. Not wanting to deal with the worm-lake until they absolutely have to (and they knew that at some point of course they would), the party opts for the room. Inside was probably once a library, but the walls were now covered in symbols, diagrams, words written in ancient abyssal script, and formulas.

Books, sheets of paper, and scrolls are all piled in the center, forming a kind of nest that a worm naga is sleeping in. Mistaking Humal for Kyuss he introduces himself as Srugget, and asks if the wooden barrier is gone. Humal tells him no, and says that he will soon free everyone, he just needs some time, and then demands everything valuable in the room. There's a collection of books with extensive information about necromancy and undead, as well as a vial of worm serum.

The worm serum enhances the toughness of whoever is injected with it, by infusing their body with special worms. Humal takes it, though he isn't sure if anyone will use it. Maybe if he can definitively determine that it will do that and nothing else. He then tells Srugget to remain here until he returns.

Resigned to their fate, the party heads to a broken passage overlooking the worm-lake. The party can see two more passages beyond it. They assume something is going to attack them when they try to cross, so they head back to the surface to rest, first. During the night Humal and Corzale have vivid dreams.

Corzale is riding atop a gold dragon and wielding a golden maul (the one that she has, now), leading an army of elves and dwarves against Kyuss and his army. The spire is there, but it's completely intact. Multiple necrotars are floating about it, channeling energy to the top, which bears a massive obsidian obelisk. The dragon is forced to land, and Corzale manages to slay seven of Kyuss's knights before she falls and wakes.

Humal has pretty much the same dream, except he is Kyuss. When Corzale is slain he enters the obelisk to begin his millenia long ascension, confident that his army will clean up the rest. When he wakes he is clutching a bone crown, identical to the one he was wearing in the dream. He hesitantly shows it to Corzale, and she warns him not to try it on, believing that it could influence and corrupt him.

During her watch Sumia is lured away from their camp by the elven leader she met way back in Dovin. She follows him into the jungle, evading Kyuss zombies as they go, and soon emerge on the shores of a distant island. He explains that he had to bring her here, so that she could later find her way back using the Rootways, which allow swift transportation between two forests. He then returns her to the spire.

He offers once again to teach her how to communicate with nature spirits, but she declines.

Designer Notes
Originally the room with the crystal-Kyuss-statue was supposed to have a fountain filled with worms, that magically compelled anyone looking at it to drink from it (which, given when and why it was used, wouldn't be necessary at all). This would trigger one of the backstory spoon-feeding visions, and then you'd have to fight some worm priests.

I thought the statue would be neater and kind of foreshadow Kyuss on the cover of the first adventure (The Whispering Cairn), so I changed it, and since they actually spoke to the wormpriest last session there was no need for a plot-feeding vision. I think this was more rewarding because it was something Humal's player thought of it all on his own: there was nothing going on to suggest that he should or had to in order to learn anything.

The two chambers didn't originally have anything in them except rotted corpses and fresh-looking corpses (the room-sized gentle repose spell for some reason just went away on one of them). You just walked through both on your way to another area. The lack of stuff to fight was a change of pace, at any rate. After looking around online, I learned that I'm pretty sure a corpse eventually decays into a black, slimy substance.

So I put that in as a monster to give them something different to fight than more worm-themed stuff.

Something that was really odd, was that the adventure text mentions that Srugget wants to get out, and that he's willing to offer up all the books in exchange. It even states that he'll honor his promise, but will then betray the party anyway. So...really he won't honor his promise: he'll just pretend to and then betray the party.

Anyway that doesn't matter: there's a reason everything mistakes Humal for Kyuss, so they just talked to him, got some information and stuff, and that was that.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

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