AAR: Going Underground in Illmire

28 Feb, 2021, updated 28 Feb, 2021 evils of illmire 5e fvtt

So, last time, in the Evils of Illmire… well, it went a bit to shit. See for yourself.

Rancidius, priest of the Cult of the Illuminal Star, and the bandits defer to him. He knocks Vert, the paladin, to the ground, and then pulls a mindphage from his ear.

Useless thing, so much for control. You were supposed to have betrayed the party much earlier! Not that I suppose you needed to, you’ve been much less competent than I expected!

The monologing continued in this vein for some time. Once “Father Rand” got this out of his system, he dispatched the group to the cult HQ for sacrifice to the Fearmother. However, en route, the cult see mantismen causing problems ahead, and resolve to tip the party into the Gecko Pit and call it quits.

But they’re keeping the loot, of course.

So, the party is in a pit, surrounded by giant geckos, and find a closed door, with a recessed handle. The ranger thinks it’s a trap. The cleric thinks it’s a trap. The sorceror thinks it’s a trap. The paladin thinks it’s a trap. So the ranger puts his hand in the recess and turns the handle.

And it cuts his hand off. ✊ 👀

Then the sorcerer remembers he has the Mage Hand cantrip and opens the door. The geckos are ennervated by the screaming and blood, so the party barrel through the door and slam the door behind them. They fight the skeletons there, scaring them enough that one runs off and triggers the next trap, flooding the room with water… and snakes. 🐍

Turns out snakes are a bit more trouble than skellies or geckos, and the party has a hard fight keeping everyone alive and unpoisoned before finishing them off.

Virtual tabletop showing a dungeon covered in blood and dead snakes
The water did not wash the blood away

The ranger uses a short rest to come to terms with not being able to use his bow, and honest his sword. The party then (carefully) investigates some vases that appear to be filled with a poison vapour.

They then find a huge armoured skeleton on a throne, and are surprised to discover it actually hits pretty hard and its armour is making hitting back even harder. However, a good Turn Undead and now poor skelly is trapped in the corner by the cleric, while the ranger investigates the locked treasure chest in the corner and the keys on the belt of the turned skeleton.

They have a minute to escape, but each room they go in just has more monsters in it.

Oh no!

Lessons

This writeup covers another two two-hour sessions. To recount, there’s four players, and we’re using Foundry for VTT, with DnDBeyond and Beyond20 for bringing most1 characters into the game. We’re using Discord for audio and shitposting.

Well, I didn’t think the hand trap would actually be used! Especially when everyone agreed it was a trap! This shows the non-5e heritage of this game, it’s a very permanent effect.

The players were very surprised, so I didn’t do a good-enough job of warning them of this, despite the changes on intro to the game2. Nobody is too upset, but I should keep in mind that “permanent changes can happen to your character”. This again is another “Do Session Zero Right” lesson.

Next, snakes are actually pretty powerful - 3d6 poison damage on a failed save. And there were a lot of them in the trap!

Someone asked me in one of the rooms, “so what is the actual purpose of this room, then?” and I realised that these Dyson Logos maps are very pretty, and the hooks for gaming are present, but this is not addressed at all. So, maybe spend 30s actually thinking about what the rooms are for, occasionally.

Foundry tweaks

Okay, did you like the blood in the screenshot? We all do - it’s the Blood & Guts module. It allows tokens to splatter when they’re hit and to leave a bloody trail when they’re below a certain percentage of hitpoints. Genuinely it’s useful for reminding the party to heal!

Next thing I want though, is a mod to group NPCs by type in Initiative during combat. I’m hoping it speeds up games a little bit when there are many combatants as I don’t have to switch between a bunch of different attack types. The other solution, of course, is to use fewer, stronger, enemies.

Also in Foundry, playlists are working for everyone except me. If I use Firefox instead of Chrome, they work fine. I treated myself to (some of) Michael Ghelfi’s music on Bandcamp to have a few more tracks playing.

Finally, this is now a weekly game that’s run for over two months without a break. Genuinely very pleased with that!


  1. One player is using native Foundry for comparison. If you’re not automating much, I wouldn’t necessarily bother for 5e characters (especially non-SRD ones). ↩︎

  2. There’s an incident table that players can use for “something that happens on the way to Illmire. It includes “you change alignment” which happened to the cleric. ↩︎

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