Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, Heroic Fucking Beholders, A Faerunian version of the Loc-Nar
When we last left our heroes, they were in Gauntlgrym to receive news of the Underdark by none other than Bruenor Battlehammer. Things have not been as well as you expect. The Madness has been spreading, and it has already affected much of the surface world. He tells you that in the underdark location of Gravenhallow, there is an answer for the Demon Lords who are now running amuck below everyone in Faerun. To get to there without much drama, you are told to seek one Ghazrim Duloc at Mantol-Derith. To help assist you, as well as their own ends, the Zhentarium opened a path directly to the underdark village.
You hear a group of people draw their weapons when they hear footsteps approach from the secret entrance, but sheathe them when they heard the call from one of the Zhent guides who accompanied them. The guide takes you directly to an ambiable man in a sultan-like outfit similar to those from Amn. “Oh, you must be the people Darva told me about, welcome welcome, make yourself comfortable. I am Ghazrim and I think you have word for me.”
After some introductions he shows off his ring. “This will be what you seek, friends. This ring will take you through the shortest path to Gravenhollow. I’d be more than willing to give it to you for the greater good, but there are more immediate concerns. Nothing that would concern you, though; and it shouldn’t take too long.” He offers food and drink for the party. “Don’t worry, it’s not poisoned. Nobody gave me a reason to kill you, we Zhents do have some standards. Unlike a certain demon that has oppressed this city.”
“The demon’s name is Fraz-Urb’luu, and he has encased himself into a black jewel. Anyone who touches it is driven mad, and it has already driven the village into chaos. I’ve already given orders for all of my men to destroy that gem on sight, and one of us has an eyestalk ready for the occasion. Isn’t that right, Lorthuun?”
You hear a deep heavy sigh, and a single eyeball peeps in a window. The single central eye of a beholder who has seen better days. “Yes, I do have my disintegration ray ready for the occasion. At least I still have that with me.” You can see that three of his stalks were sliced off by someone.
“Poor guy lost a fight with a behir, but he still has some stalks left. The Druegar and Deep Gnomes are at each other’s throats over the thing, and I’m just about ready to talk to the Drow to form an alliance against a common foe. That thrice-damned gem.”
“In case you don’t know,” the beholder says, “They’re here.”
Lorthuun turns around and floats up to reveal a bunch of drow which are, thankfully for you, are dressed more typical for drow. Ghazrim stood up, gathers up some Zhents, and opens the door to greet the delegation.
“Puntual as usual, Sirak, I’m sure Lolth will–”
You hear an audible thunk, and a cry of anguish from the beholder. It is followed by absolute chaos in angry voices and drawn weapons. Before you can even react, Ghazrim stumbles back in with a quiver in his chest.
“The gem’s with her,” Ghazrim managed to say with the collapsed lung. “I know it!”
Ghazrim points to one of the drow, a female with a crossbow and wild staring eyes, eyeballing the beholder with sheer hatred from every pore of her being. She’s still in firing range, behind a quartet of Drow.
That’s what I started with when I set up the big battle. At this moment, I’d like to introduce to you the Dungeon Master’s Guild. It’s my new best friend from Wizard of the Coast, who this week released not just the 5th Edition SRD and OGL, but also opened up the whole Forgotten Realms IP for public modification. It didn’t take me minutes for me to see this as a valuable supplement to the Monster Manual, which was sorely needed for these campaigns now that I need different stat blocks for certain bad guys. Such as Dwarves for tomorrow, Drow here, and upcoming even more demons.
Also, the DM’s Guild is an excellent place for me to start publishing a series of documents where I show my hacks of my own Campaign World, hacks that will ultimately become the official Æthercoil document. I’ll start with the Inventions book, and then have some additional anthro races, and move on to some unique monsters—such as dinosaurs, which will replace dinosaurs in the original campaign world for Æthercoil. But that’s further up ahead. Back to Out of the Abyss:
For those who’ve been following along this module, you’ll know that, in Mantol-Derith, Fraz-Urb’luu put some of his life force in a black gem so that he’ll have a safe connection to the Material Plane. This resulted in what some can call the Loc-Nar, or at least a working resemblance. Ivan and Leonard would be proud. By the time the party got to it, it’s in the possession of a drow who has, of course, gone nuts, and thought that killing off that beholder will get her back into the good graces of the Demon Queen of Spiders…or something like that.
At the end of this battle, a Zhent thug scores a hit on the crazed drow, the impact spins her around, and prompts her to flee, but not before losing that black gem.
You hear a groverly voice, “Wait for me, My Love!” As a statue perched above the Zhent headquarters comes to life, spread his wings, and soars after her.
But everyone was looking right at that evil black glowing gem.
With an unearthly scream, the beholder fired one red beam toward the jewel. It strikes true and shatters into a black mist.
The shatter produces a shockwave that knocks down everyone to the ground. There was a mental otherworldly, “Oh ThAnK GoD I’M FrEe!!” as you feel an immense evil presence fly over everyone and then disappear.
When you manage to find your bearings, you can see a blackened scar on the ground where that gem was. And a dead beholder.
I doubt that the party has ever seen a Fucking Beholder do a heroic sacrifice before. Only on my table, I guess.
The party gets the gem that will take them directly to the Library of Gravenhollow. I’ve looked at that chapter and, to my surprise, it doesn’t really need that much preparation. I can easily follow along with the document, create a little flowchart to help me out, and just ad lib. Maybe I should make a couple random encounters to fill up time. But then again, they’re going to stay in Mantol-Derith to get some more treasure. Maybe just a little bit of preparation.