AAR: Webs of Illmire

8 Aug, 2021, updated 15 Aug, 2021 evils of illmire 5e fvtt

Last time in Illmire, the Ranger Leithidir turned out to be cursed by the Deathly Spade. If only Yorivar, Illmire’s druid, was still around! Leithidir would also still like to replace his hand, he’s only been able to find a wooden one.

After a lot of arguing, the party choose a route that involves going through as much forest as possible, to utilise the Ranger’s favoured terrain. This goes well until the edge of the lake, where a Giant Crocodile 🐊 attacks them while fording a river. This ambush is super effective!

In extremis, the party use one of the fear potions they found below the church of Illmire to poison the crocodile while it is actively trying to eat Vert, the Paladin. It departs rapidly without swallowing him. But it was pretty close…

The party depart rapidly, back on land.

They reach the reported location of the spiders, and the forest is certainly grey, but seeing much more than that among the trees is hard due to the rain. After some comedy pratfalls failing to climb the tree, someone finally ascends and is able to spot rocky outcrops with rather webbed-looking cave entrances a short (wet) hike away.

They bravely enter one of the caves, and after a few nerves, they slaughter some innocent giant fire beetles. Buoyed by this success, they follow the sound of a voice, and discover the Spider Queen 🕷️ 👑. After some careful discussing of tactics, Leithidir engages her in melee anyway. She proves not to be a difficult fight, and ends up retreating rapidly, calling for support from her brood.

The players chase her, smelling proverbial blood in the water.

This turns out to be a mistake! They chase the Spider Queen into a cave where a Roper lurks. Unlike B/X D&D, a 5e Roper is more than enough fight for the whole party! They discover its AC of 20 and multiple tentacles that entangle the party and drag to a 4d8 biting maw. Running away turns out to be harder than they expect, but with some drama, they bravely run away.

Top-down gridded map of a cave with massive spider and tentacle-thing
This is bad.

They camp out in the forest for a rest. Giant spiders and ettercaps attack but provide little threat, and the party rest up.

They tackle an unexplored cavern, where the ettercaps perform much more guerilla tactics, climbing the walls and hiding in nooks and crannies. And also attacking from the back, causing the Sorceror some damage for once.

The party nevertheless continue, into a swarm of stirges. These bloodsuckers really start messing up the melee characters through strength of numbers. But they find Yorivar, who casts Thunderwave on them and runs away…

Foundry notes

I ended up disabling Blood’n’guts due to having weird client behaviours now and again. Everyone misses it, but the problems haven’t reoccured. This was one of the blockers for Foundry 0.8, so that was handy. The other was Furnace which was nice-to-have but honestly I can’t list now what features I’ve lost.

The advantage of 0.8 is now ambient playlists work for everyone!

I’ve started using the Perfect Vision module. This was originally a joke on the living embodiment of the “but I have darkvision” meme that are the players, but actually it’s worked really well. Install it, say you’re using 5e rules, ensure the actor tokens have their vision set correctly, and that’s it. In “dark” scenes it’ll just start working.

Top-down gridded map of the party fighting some stirges, the lighting dims and becomes monochrome at the edge of vision
Note that outside the light cone, tokens are visible but monochrome

The next new module is “Hey, Wait!” which allows effectively marking a trigger on the map, and if any player moves through it, automatically pauses the game. I really like this for being able to introduce stuff at the right time as players start wandering round the level. At some point I want to try different modules that also offer this ability as it’s a bit finicky, but allows me to either set the scene on a room or start combat or require a stealth roll.

The final one is SmallTime, which is a UI change to add a time-of-day indication in the bottom left corner of the screen. It doesn’t track days or anything else, but is a nice reminder for me and the players that time is passing in the world. Typically I forget!

Lessons

The caves particularly have involved some very long encounters taking the whole of some of our 2h sessions. I wouldn’t want to do this IRL, and I don’t think I’d want to play 5e without tool-assistance now. Or conversely, run a different game with shorter (harder?) encounters.

Which to be fair, is probably not a bad idea anyway. I’ve definitely learned more into larger sets of “safer” enemies. The one difference is the Roper, which is CR 5 and vastly out of the ability of four level 3 characters. This is one of the few areas where Illmire has not been translated well from B/X. The cave is supposed to have 2d4 ropers, I think it should actually be a Piercer which is CR 1/2 and fits much better. However I didn’t spot that monster until too late.

This map ended up being both huge and a bit cramped. I’ve actually (again, this is a theme) got the scale wrong, the squares in the original are 20ft.

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