How the Party Struggled To Light and Raise a Beacon during an Intense Battle

This story is about the most intense encounter I had during my first time playing a one-shot DnD campaign.


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For the longest time, I've been wanting to play Dungeons and Dragons with my two brothers, who once in a while would play in a couple of either long-term or one-time campaigns on Saturdays. The reason why I didn't get to play very often was that my older brothers usually had like six to eight of their friends playing with them, either in the same room or via Discord. And because of the number of people playing, there was no room for me to play. After waiting a long time, my older brother finally got me set up to do a one-shot homebrew campaign that he would be DMing with my younger brother, two of my younger brothers' friends, and a friend of my older brother, the latter of whom played with us via Discord, joining as players. Now, the exact details of this session are a bit fuzzy for me, so I'll get the details out as best as I can.

So, when the day came, we all had our characters fleshed out and ready to go. We had a tabaxi rogue played my older brother's friend, a druid played by one of my younger brother's friends, a bard played by the other of my younger brother's friends, a cleric of the Twilight Domain played by my younger brother, and my character: a triton cleric of the Life Domain. All of us, of whom, were 7th level. As a special bonus for me being part of the campaign, my older brother allowed each of us to start the campaign with either two common magic items or one uncommon magic item. I forgot what magic items the others went for, but I went for a +1 mace. And after each of us introduced our characters, the session began.

The campaign we were playing was set in a DnD universe that my older brother has created, with the scenario of the campaign being that our party was sent to go to this dwarven temple that was located in the mountains, with our goal being to light a beacon was located inside the temple and raise it in order to alert a neighboring city to a fleet of orc and goblin ships that were planning to raid the city. As our party finally reaches the temple, we come across a door with numbers on it with a puzzle we must solve. Luckily, we managed to figure out what the puzzle was and the door opened, allowing entrance into the place.

As our party began to venture into the place, we started to get into all kinds of trouble when the tabaxi rogue almost getting a lava bath from trying to picklock a chest to almost becoming sickened by a huge cloud of miasma after opening up a doorway. Along the way, we managed to get a magic shield that we got from offering some of our possessions to the statue of a dwarf god as a means of showing respect, one of the items we offered included a spare mace that I had since I already had my +1 mace. Afterward, we went deeper into the dungeon where we came across this room where we were able to find what looked to be a forge where we found a couple of armor molds: something that would be important later.

As we continued deeper into the temple and dodging an environmental hazard that would've cost our character greatly had I have not acted quick and used my character's racial feature to cast Gust of Wind, we came across a room that was filling up with miasma from a crevasse going through the middle of the room. To explain the whole situation, miasma in my older brother's DnD world causes nasty effects on those inflicted by its toxicity, which can range from twisting your mind to killing you and potentially turning you into an undead, and once you get exposed, you get poisoned when failing a Constitution saving throw, with the symptoms get worse the more times you fail Constitution saving throws. Only the drow, undead and few other beings are immune to this toxic gas.

As we enter the room, our characters hear the sounds of gargling as if someone was speaking in gibberish. Wanting to examine the place to see what the heck was going on, I have my character pick up a stone and cast the Light cantrip before throwing it into the pit. The moment that happened, ghouls began to crawl up from the pit and begin to growl furiously at the party. Combat starts. On the first round, I have my character use Channel Divinity to perform Turn Undead, causing some of the ghouls to run away for a time. After this, the fight went by pretty smoothly with our tabaxi rogue, Twilight cleric and druid taking out some of the ghouls and me handling some others, with our Bard pretty much staying away from the fight most of the time. And in time, the ghouls were all taken care of. Not a bad first encounter, but it definitely didn't prepare us for what was about to come next.

Afterward, our party went to check out this room that turned out to be an armory, where we can found several armor sets, a key (this will come up later), and a number of axes hung on the wall with one missing with no indications of dust or cobwebs in its place; an indicator that someone else was in the temple other than our party and some ghouls. We continued to move deeper into the temple until we entered this room that was guarded by a dwarf in full-body armor with a large face-shaped door behind him. Our characters asked if he could let us through, to which he refused to let him, even after so many attempts to persuade him. However, it wasn't until the twilight cleric pulled out the key and showed it to the dwarf where it all turns for the worst as, at that moment, the dwarf shot a wire out of one his gauntlets that wrapped around the twilight cleric's arm and forces to drop the key.

And here is where combat starts up again in the form of a nasty boss fight. Because, despite the fact that it was only five against one, this dwarf proved to be a tough foe. To start off, in my older brother's DnD world, dwarves have magic resistance, meaning they have advantage to all saving throws against spells. This meant that the majority of spells that we tried to hit him were ineffective. Not only that, but he also has a lot of AC, and he was also equipped with a flamethrower as well as something that allowed him to fire around five to six daggers at his target, resulting in A LOT of damage. During this fight, our bard manages to cast Heat Metal on the dwarf's helmet, only for the dwarf to down him with his dagger-firing 'gun'. This, of course, forced me to use one of my healing spells to patch him up. At this point, my whole party was panicking over whether they would be able to get through this fight.

Luckily, we managed to get the dwarf's hit points low enough for our bard to cast Sleep on him, with the spell managing to connect. Now, with us in the room with a dwarf who's fast asleep, we try to figure out what to do because we tried to find a way to get through the face-shaped door as the door didn't have a keyhole or handle to open it. So, our party decides to interrogate the dwarf, tying him up and also removing his flamethrowers, just in case he decides to use them to escape. We then continuously asking him about how to get through the door, to which he refused to answer only to look at the door instead. Upon inspecting the door, we found out that the only way to open up the door was to wear some form of armor made of mithral. Luckily, we found out that there were mithral slabs in the chest where the lava room was with the key in our possession being to the chest. So, we were lucky enough to get the mithral slabs out of the chest, go to the forge where we were able to create a mithral helm, to which my cleric places on. Once we made it back to the room with the dwarf still bound up, I had my cleric walk up to the face-shaped door and the moment my cleric reached the door, a blinding light shined from the door and I was able to pass through it, with the doorway now cleared (much to the anger of the dwarf). And THIS was where the REAL challenge begins.

As we walk through the doorway, we made it into a hallway full of miasma. This caused a great deal of us to continuously make Constitution saving throws, with many of us getting poisoned by the miasma. For the mechanics of how badly we were poisoned by the miasma, we used counters and the more we had, the worse the symptoms. I think I was the one who was affected by it the least because I made some good rolls. But then, after making our way through the hallway, we managed to get into a large room where a stairway led down towards a wide-open floor where a giant crevasse that was full of miasma covered most of the floor and on the opposite side of the room was a raised dais on which a massive cauldron sat, of which was connected by ropes that went up to a hatch in the ceiling: this was the beacon that our characters were sent to light.

However, in order to activate the beacon, we needed to put enough wood into the beacon to light it, and the supply of wood was located in the corner to the right of where we entered, and we had to carry it to the cauldron and we needed to fill it with enough wood for the flame to be big enough to see. Not only that, but we had to hoist the cauldron up by having two people pull a heavy chain behind the cauldron and both needed to make high Strength checks to move it, as well as turn a wheel located between the dais and the crevasse to open the hatch so that the cauldron can be hoisted outside the temple, and then close the hatch to keep the cauldron outside. So pretty much, the first phase was to get as much wood into the cauldron as possible and then have two people hoist the cauldron up while someone cranks the wheel to open the hatch.

And if you thought that was difficult? Well, you have just jinxed yourself. Not only did we have to hoist the cauldron, but we also had to fend off a number of ghouls, and deal with the monster that gave us the real challenge of the campaign: a Gibbering Mouther. For those who don't know, Gibbering Mouthers are these giant amoeba-like monster with mouths and teeth, kind like the Shoggoths from the works of H.P. Lovecraft. The biggest problem with these creatures is two things: 1.) The ground within 10 feet of them becomes this dough-like substance that acts like difficult terrain and if you're in this terrain, you must succeed a Strength saving throw at the start of your turn in order to move. Think of it as if you had your feet stuck in really thick mud. And 2.) They make this continuous insanity-inducing noise that causes anyone within 20 feet of them to make a Wisdom saving throw with failing one forcing the player to roll a d8 to determine their actions. Basically, this thing can hinder both your movement and your actions if you're not careful.

So from there, combat begins once again. And with none of us having not taken any long rests, our party is debilitated and I'm low on spell slots from my previous fights, so I had to carefully plan my healing spells. It was a very intense encounter, our tabaxi rogue and our druid continuously going back and forth to place firewood into the cauldron, my cleric and the twilight cleric opening up the catch every now and then while fending off the monsters with my character constantly being in the presence of the shambler, and our bard…well, let's just say our bard got into a situation similar to what happened in the movie The Gamers II: Dorkness Rising. For those who haven't seen the film, one of the players in the film plays a bard that was the Red Shirt of his party. And that was pretty much our bard for this fight except, in this case, our bard was falling unconscious rather than being outright killed. Like I said earlier, I kept my remaining spell slots saved up for when someone needed to be healed, so I kept using my healing spells for the times he fell unconscious as well as spending Channel Divinity to use Preserve Life in the hairier moments until I was all out of Channel Divinity and spell slots.

And as we continue to try and control the armada of creatures while also getting the cauldron ready, my older brother made it where on a certain round of the encounter, a special event would happen out of the three possible outcomes: more ghouls appearing from the crevasse, a surge of miasma emerging from the crevasse where any character standing near the edges must make a Constitution saving throw to resist the miasma, and the Gibbering Mouther reconstituting itself to heal its wounds. So yeah, this was definitely a tough encounter that was on par from something out of Dark Souls. But eventually, we managed to get the wheel stirred so that the hatch was fully opened and after a long struggle, we managed to get the cauldron through the hatch before my character went over to the hatch wheel and steering it to close it. With the whole task completed, our party began running towards the entrance to the room where we fled, with the twilight cleric staying behind to keep the monsters at bay while the rest of us managed to escape. It was an intense campaign, but hey, we definitely finished it on a high note.


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