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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons - DDEX 3-16 Assault on Maerimydra Review

Today we're going to take a look at a big adventure from the Adventurer's League: Assault on Maerimydra. You can buy it right here.

The story runs concurrently with the events of Out of the Abyss and deals with Graz'zt, a demon lord I'm using a lot in my home campaign.

I did not know this existed until a reader pointed it out to me. This thing is official and explains what Graz'zt was doing during Out of the Abyss. Let's check it out.

Overview


First of all, this adventure is huge. It's 83 pages long, though there's about 30 pages of monster stats. Costing just $5, this is a ton of adventure for your money.

The premise is that Graz'zt has a force of monsters who have overtaken a former drow city called Maerimydra. The heroes are part of an army who attack the city and try to take it back.

Graz'zt is currently enacting a ritual, designed to protect him fro being summoned by Vizeran De'Vir. That's something that happens at the end of the Out of the Abyss adventure.

He also has created an 'abyssal heart.' He is going to try to spread madness throughout the material plane and control the land similar to how he controls layers of the abyss.

Running this as-is probably won't work. It was designed to be run en masse - a whole bunch of tables at a convention at once. Some chapters have 6 scenarios, 2 of which your group can choose to go through.

This is very easily modified for your home game. You can just use them all or the ones you like.

This adventure has a lot of awesome ideas in it, and I learned some new things about Graz'zt. I pulled out some of my favorites so you can get a look.

Hledh Hellspawn: She is a half-fire giant granddaughter of Graz'zt. She rules Maerimydra, the former drow city.

Matliedun: Son of Graz'zt, a cambion. Stuff we learn:
  • Uhh here's a quote: "If captured, Matliedun is the son of Graz'zt and one of his many concubines."
  • He's in charge of tower security in the undying temple.
  • His bedroom contains stuffed people. Two drow females and a quaggoth.
  • He wears demon armor and fights with a clawed gauntlet
Squallocks the Vrock: She is an advisor to Graz'zt. She wears a robe of stars.

Elisande: Mysterious young girl with a black-furred blind goat. She has no concept of right and wrong. I won't spoil it. Throughout the adventure she does cutesy 'crazy' things. I found her kind of annoying and plot-invincible, but I love the goat.

Graz'zt is described as hedonistic, shocking, and just short of god-like.

Graz'zt went to Maerimydra's Undying Temple and regrew a magic heart made of necrotic energy, beating with the raw chaos of the Abyss.

Welcome to the Sporedome


I love the opening flavor text. The group is among the army set to attack Maerimydra:"Excitement wars with panic and those not seated pace back and forth. Secretive drow mix with tall mushroom men while stout dwarves talk with humans wearing helmets capped with red feathers. A little girl in a dirty dress sits alone atop a tall mushroom, her arm around a black goat with milky white eyes."

From here, the group goes on a few missions to capture bases near the city. The heroes might fight alongside myconid allies who use pacification spores to stun enemies.The adventurers also team up with a mind flayer to take on an aboleth.

Bloodfire Dust: Poison that literally boils your blood. How awesome is that?

Umber Hulks: We learn that umber hulks lay eggs! I had no idea.

Grapdol Symbiote: This is a mind flayer item the group can use. Swallow a tadpole. It burrows into your spine for 5 rounds and then you sprout gills, gain telepathy and gain 30 feet of darkvision. It dies after two hours.

Here's quite a scene: A mummy lord knight riding a nightmare who has a squire that is a ghost. I have never heard of anything like that! Very creative.

Fiendborne Forge Giants: These monsters are half fire giant/half demon. That's great. They are immune to poison. Blindsight 60 ft. Can cast Darkness 1/day. They might have leathery, useless wings, horns, extra eyes, etc.

After a bunch of missions and combats, the army is surprised by an assault from the rear. This assault is centered around a truly insane daughter of Graz'zt - The Mother.

The Mother: She is the spawn of Graz'zt and an unknown, unspeakable creature. She"..represents all of the worst aspects of Graz'zt's connections with hunger and fecundity." So many cool details:
  • She's vaguely feminine in form, has three horns.
  • Several tentacles grow out of her abdomen.
  • She has a snakelike tongue that can drag creatures into her mouth.
  • Creatures are birthed from her, pulling their way free of her mass.
  • To use a legendary action, she must consume a derro.
  • The ground around her is littered with corpses that writhe with her parasitic young. If you get too close, a corpse explodes and a swarm comes after you.
  • Her stats are great. As a legendary action she can spawn a succubus, a barlgura or a vrock.
  • She has 7 attacks! 6 tentacles and 1 tongue.
  • The mother literally spews eggs onto the battlefield. We get a chart that says what's in them. There's an ooze, explosive gas, a carnivorous swarm and more. 
The Undying Temple

According to these notes on the 3rd edition City of the Spider Queen adventure, the Undying Temple was linked to the plane of negative energy. In 5e, it's linked to the ethereal plane. I don't think the planes of positive and negative energy are part of the official 5e cosmology.

If the group survives The Mother, they need to bust in to The Undying Temple, find Graz'zt and stop him.

Warped Magic: There's an area of warped magic. If you cast a spell there, you need to make a DC 15 wisdom save or the spell is absorbed and has no effect. The caster also takes d6 necrotic damage per absorbed spell level. Undead are healed by this.

They didn't phone in the flavor text, that's for sure. Check out what can be found in Bexron's Room in the Undying temple: "Large lurid paintings hang on the walls of this bedroom. One depicts a mother cooking and consuming her children, another shows a rider who clearly loves his favorite steed a lot, and the final shows a naked man kneeling in a pentagram of blood as he reads from an evil-looking tome."

Abyssal Energy Orb: A throbbing black orb covered in searing fire.
  • It's a piece of the Abyss consuming the souls of hundreds of slaves. 
  • Drow faces soundlessly scream in the dancing flames. 
  • Touch the orb and wow you are taking 55 damage and you're poisoned. Saving throw DC: 25.
  • You can enter the orb to go into the Ethereal plane.
The Nursery: OK. This adventure is awesome. This nursery has cribs containing 12 of Graz'zt's half-demon babies.
  • Their nursemaid is Joifericus the succubus. "She spends hours every day feeding them and teaching the finer points of evil."
  • The infants are half-drow, fire giant, orc or quaggoth.
  • They have stats. The kids have an AC of 10 and 10 hp. I imagine that might have been a little uncomfortable to run at the convention.
Facing Graz'zt: The final area is really awesome. There's so much in it. There are symbols of each demon lord. It's complicated, but there are ways to use creatures bound by these symbols to de-power Graz'zt piece by piece. Graz'zt sits on a throne made from hundreds of drow corpses.

The group doesn't fight just Graz'zt, but other monsters as well! It is a really insane encounter. They put a lot of thought into stripping Graz'zt's powers to make this fight manageable. You can use that list to help make Graz'zt beatable, if that's what you want to do.

Overall

Seriously, if you ever plan on running a siege in your campaign, you should get this. This is also fantastic to use just for magic items and monster ideas.

The one negative about this is that typos litter the document. I really don't care much about that, but it is very noticeable. I figured I'd warn you. Also, there are maps, but they are hand-drawn o blue graph paper.

I loved this thing and I am working it into my own campaign in a month or two, once we start the blood war.

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