Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Rappan Athuk: Campaign update (5th edition)


Greetings all, I'm probably months behind on an update as to the games I have been running with session updates and such. For the past year I've been running my group through Rappan Athuk (FGG, 5E version). We're ten sessions in at this point and my player characters just reached 6th level. I'll provide a brief synopsis on what has happened to date and what plans I have for the campaign going forward. I'll provide a full review of Rappan Athuk at some point, but I'm certainly a big fan of this megadungeon. I do have some frustrations with the published work of Frog God Games, but overall, there are some really great encounters, dungeon levels and ideas presented within this book.

I had my group enter via the river, on their way to Zelkor's Ferry, the local village / home base outside of the entrance to the megadungeon itself. On the way there, they ran across a group of fleeing adventures, likely on their way back from Rappan Athuk, that was being slaughtered by a group of Kobolds. My intention was to show immediately that this was a deadly campaign and that even the wilderness in this place could kill you. Following this encounter, the group was introduced to locale of Zelkor's Ferry and some of it's inhabitants. One area FGG could have improved the adventure itself, would have been to flesh out the NPC's there and add some faction involvement here, but they went the way of Keep on the Borderlands a bit and left that work to the DM. 

I took the liberty of adding a bulletin board notice for bounties and other such offerings that the group could immediately take one. The first few sessions, the group took on the work of clearing out a local castle that was overrun with goblins. Once cleared, with no claim to the castle, the characters took ownership and set about dumping their hard earned loot into the restoration of the castle. This one area where 5E struggles a bit, what to do with all of that gold? So far, this is working great and gives them incentive to go explore more.

About four sessions in, the group finally decided to check out the nearby entrance to Rappan Athuk, the Mouth of Doom. This is a satellite dungeon and not the main entrance to the megadungeon itself, I should note there are several means of gaining access through the wilderness throughout the region. They were hired to find and/or recover a lost adventurer by a concerned family member, even at level 3-4 at this time, there some close calls. The standard encounters and random encounters aren't so overwhelming, but combined with some of the lethal traps, the players had to learn quick to proceed with caution.

The most memorable encounter to date was with Dungie, the Dung Monster, located on the 1st level of Rappan Athuk. The players definitely underestimate how deadly and how tough this encounter would be. The creature stumbled upon them based on a random encounter roll after they had followed in a few acolytes of Orcus into the main entrance of the dungeon. They managed to flee and escape the encounter, barely, after the group's paladin tossed a body of one of the acolytes in the Dung Monsters path, buying them time to flee. The group has not returned to the main entrance of Rappan Athuk since then.

Recently the group took up a bounty notice to clear out a group of bandits holed up in another satellite dungeon near Zelkor's Ferry. Clearing the bandits went pretty smoothly, but the group discovered that the ruins went deeper into caverns and tunnels beneath the ruined keep. It was there, that the first death of the campaign occurred. The group stumbled upon a Stone Roper, one of the custom monsters from this adventure. Ropers in general are bad news, but this one is able to turn victims to stone once in their grasp, and so it was that the party's monk got a bit too close and was tuned into a gem encrusted statue of his former self. Again, the group was able to drive the creature off and escape, along with their statue companion. They managed to get him back to Zelkor's Ferry in hopes that the local alchemist could help them and that is where we left off last.

I have given the group the ability to take on downtime activities between session which I use to give them perks and provide adventure seeds for future sessions, my hope is to get them back into the main dungeon levels itself as this is the real meat and potatoes of the campaign, dealing with followers of Orcus and perhaps even the big guy himself at some point. For now though, the group is focused on getting their new castle restored and becoming a political power in the region, I have some plans for that as well, there may be others with a claim to the castle and they won't take the players planting their flag too kindly.

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Rappan Athuk: Campaign update (5th edition)