Session Date: June 24, 2017
In-Game Dates: 23 Kythorn, 1367 DR
Having rescued a few dozen captives from their insidious drow captors, the Hand of Light fortifies themselves in a stalactite in the compound to take a long rest. After resting, Dextor casts teleportation circle to send the captives, including two of Dona’s sisters and Grull back to Waterdeep. The heroes give Grull and Dona’s sisters instructions to head to New Olamn for protection and housing until the heroes can return from wherever the drow teleportation circle leads. Lyr provides them with a note for his mentor Cora and the High Harper that should get them lodging and protection.
Dexter spends a few hours studying the teleportation circle enshrined on the floor of the drow prison. He determines that in order to operate it, he’ll likely need something similar to a sigil sequence that is used for other teleportation magic. However, for all of his learning, the wizard is unable to ascertain what that sigil sequence is.
In a moment of inspiration, Lyr proclaims that they can use a scroll of speak with dead to talk with the slain drow mage to find out how to use the teleportation circle. [I think the group generally fears his moments of inspiration…]
The bard proceeds to disguise himself as a drow [he’s proficient in disguise kit] and practices his best drow accent. [Lyr speaks Elvish, but I rule that drow speak the language with a particular accent that he’d need to imitate.]
[The players spend some time deciding on exactly which questions to ask. And Lyr was carefully writing them down. It’s almost like they expected me to be cagey with the drow’s answers… The great thing about them players taking 20 minutes to determine the questions, is I also had 20 minutes to determine the answers. J When they were ready, I told the players that once the scene began, no one would be able to help Lyr since he was alone with the drow.]
Once Lyr is ready, he casts speak with dead on the drow mage, with all of the other characters out of the room. He’s hoping that the mage will believe him to be an ally and thus respond truthfully. Once the drow mage’s soul is brought briefly back into its corpse, Lyr asks his questions:
Who attacked this compound and slew all the drow? Our enemies. [The players were hoping this question and Lyr’s disguise would help reinforce that Lyr is an ally. The heroes, obviously, were the ones that killed all the drow.]
Where does the teleportation circle in this room lead? My home. [The players really wanted to know if they would end up in the middle of a drow city square, or in a room somewhere. Cagey response number one…]
Is your home in Menzoberranzan? Yes. [Not a planned question, and the players still don’t know exactly where the teleportation circle leads.]
How is the teleportation circle activated? By speaking the proper pass phrase. [Good thing they have one question left… See, that’s only two cagey responses so far.]
What is the pass phrase to activate the teleportation circle? The Night Below envelops the Light Above. [Lyr was furiously writing this down. He has experience with my unwillingness to repeat things out-of-character that were said once in-character by an NPC.]
With no further ado, the heroes gather up in the teleportation circle and speak the pass phrase. Instantly they are teleported into a large room. Large statues shaped like driders stand in the four corners of the room, and a door leads out.
They inspect the statues briefly to confirm they are carved statues and not petrified driders. Then Lyr checks the door for traps. When he discovers none, he tries to open the door.
Upon touching the doorknob, one of the drider statues to the side of the door unleashes a wave of magic that slows one of the heroes [I think it was Dexter?] and then begins to attack Lyr.
As a battle with the drider statue breaks out, the door opens to reveal a chamber full of torture implements and several drow. The drow immediately begin firing poison-tipped bolts from hand crossbows at the heroes.
Lyr, still appearing to be a drow, talks the drow down with a story about bringing prisoners to sell, and the battle stops for the moment. A drow captain blows on a whistle and commands the drider statue to stop attacking. Lyr tries to convince the drow to let them in, and the drow demand that everyone put their weapons down and go with them to see the Matron Mother who will sort everything out. [This was an absolute long shot for this deception to work considering the circumstances, but it was a good idea to try.]
Not about to surrender their arms, the heroes renew the fight. The battle slowly transitions into the torture chamber as the heroes try to get out of the room with the drider statue – a gust of wind spell from Dexter helps with this. The drow captain calls to more drow in a joining room.
Once the heroes bring down the captain, Lyr grabs the whistle and orders the drider statue to stop attacking. Then the bard casts insect plague on the drow in the other room, absolutely destroying them.
Then Karn and Dona begin to rescue the prisoners chained up in the torture chamber. A few were already dead, but they heal up two that were still living.
The heroes find a bank of jail cells connected to the adjoining room. In it they find one insane human who bangs his head repeatedly against the cell bars and tries to bite Dona’s fingers off. There is a dwarven female who rocks slowly back and forth, her mind completely destroyed. These both appear to be the results of several years of non-stop torture by the drow. Karn tries to heal both of them, but it does no good.
They also find one cell with four drow in it, and another with one drow in it. This drow, Ladinor, says he is from House Oussiryn and was locked up for attempting a coupe. He claims he’ll help the heroes if they free him. The heroes agree, but Dona spends some time intimidating and threatening his life if he betrays them or “moves farther than five feet from her.”
Ladinor tells them that Dona’s brothers were taken to the chapel not long ago where they will be sacrificed to Lolth as part of a ceremony. Dona’s sister was taken by Orono Oussiryn, the First Wizard of the house, as a plaything.
With their new guide leading them, the heroes move out of the compound’s dungeons. They lure some drow in a courtyard into a room where the heroes slaughter them. Then they move through the courtyard, disguised in drow cloaks, to an art gallery. Ladinor tells them that in the next room is the chapel.
The heroes can hear chanting and singing from the next room, and then they hear a terrified scream as someone is sacrificed. Immediately, they jump into action and break through the doors.
The chapel is a long room full of pews with an altar at the far end. About two dozen drow occupy the pews, and at the altar three drow priestesses have just slain a human captive. Dona sees her three brothers standing alive, but obviously drugged, nearby.
[This battle ended up lasting a full two hours at the table. Kind of to be expected as it was somewhat climatic and they were fighting the Matron Mother and tons of drow. When I reveal the scene, it was already 10 pm, and we usually stop around 9 pm. I asked the players if this was a good place to stop for the session, and two of them were immediately like “No! Please, let’s do this battle.” So we did. I’ll give a quick summary, but it can’t possibly include all of the cool stuff that happened. And it will be only roughly chronological.]
Karn and Dona begin to hack away at the drow in the back of the chapel. Lyr casts insect plague from his staff, and over half the drow in the chapel are promptly eaten alive by a swarm of millipedes that crawl out of the walls. Dexter casts wall of fire on the altar, cutting off the three drow priestesses from the rest of the chapel. Drow take two of Dona’s brothers through a door out of the chapel.
Karn and Dona charge through the insect plague -- which Lyr leaves up [for some reason] – to engage the drow at the front of the chapel. Karn attacks a drow leader, while Dona heads through the door after the drow that took her brothers.
Meanwhile, Dexter and Lyr are cleaning up some drow still in the rear of the chapel. Around this time, Ladinor, their drow guide, casts darkness on Dexter and makes good his escape. [Dona’s threats apparently weren’t as convincing as she thought they were.] Lyr moves through his own insect plague spell to the front of the chapel, and Dexter goes out into a courtyard that he believes will lead him to where the two drow took Dona’s brothers.
Dona enters an antechamber where she finds the priestesses and the two drow. One of the priestesses grabs a brother and puts a knife to his throat, telling Dona to lay down her weapon or she’ll kill him. Dona makes a lunge for the knife, but the priestess slits her brother’s throat first. As Dona watches her brother’s lifeblood flow out of him, the Matron Mother casts banishment on her, and Dona finds herself floating in a gray void.
A priestess then casts hold person on Lyr who she can see through the open door to the chapel. Several drow begin to attack Lyr. [Amazingly, the drow, despite having advantage, roll really horribly for several rounds. Lyr had a heck of a time with his saves…] Just as Lyr shakes off the paralysis, the Matron Mother moves back into the chapel and begins to flay him with her snake-headed scourge. [It was 6d6 damage a pop. If Lyr had still been paralyzed and that had been a 12d6 critical hit… wow…]
With Dona banished and in trouble, things are looking very bleak for the heroes. However, Dexter finally makes his way through the courtyard and begins to lay into the priestesses with his spells. He also sends his bat familiar to feed a healing potion to Dona’s dying brother.
Then Karn moves to the Matron Mother and smites her three times, calling out to Torm with righteous fury. The drow high priestess proves to be no match for Torm’s might channeled through his faithful paladin, and she falls before Karn’s onslaught. [He hit her three times and used smites on each one. A couple were level three smites, I believe. The total damage came out to around 70 hit points…]
As Dona pops back into the antechamber from her banishment, the heroes are just mopping up the remaining drow in the chapel. Then the heroes gather to collect their breath, having successfully rescued Dona’s three brothers.
However, they have a nagging feeling that the clamor from that battle must surely have alerted drow nearby. And then they hear a horn blow twice, followed by a commotion outside.
No, it didn’t alert drow nearby. It alerted the entire drow compound.
The Hand of Light
Below are the famed members of the Hand of Light adventuring party.