Any game can be enhanced by transforming your bard into a cat so they can hide in your hair, and use Bardic Inspiration on you. Let’s just set that standard right now, pocket sized bards need to be a new D&D commodity.
Cat sized bards aside, episode 10 kicks off with action as the cage match from Episode 9 continues. Girasol (Level 7 College of Swords Bard) and Orisha (Bard 2, Cleric 5) must fight others in order to continue infiltrating. The combat, however, proves to be just the opening act, as before we know it—the characters are betting with their very lives.
Video first, spoilers and a guide to the Underdark after!
The Out-Of-Game recap:
Episode 10 continues by featuring more creatures, and characters spawning from the Underdark. Girasol impersonates a Drow while Mindflayers casually gamble away peoples lives in the background. In the arena, a ravenous Duergar fights for glory, and even the Yawning Portal leads down into the Underdark. Let’s use this as an opportunity to explore some fascinating details about the Underdark.
Faerun is a realm that consists of civilizations that are built upon the ruins of long forgotten civilizations. The namesake Forgotten Realms even comes from Ed Greenwood saying that our own (like L.A. and Chicago) have long forgotten the other realms that exist. This is why adventuring and dungeon delving are legitimate professions within Faerun, and it’s also why the Underdark has a long history.
They were, after all, the ones forgotten.
There are three layers to the Underdark; Upperdark, Middledark, and Lowerdark (they were very creative with names). Most campaigns often deal with just the Upperdark, as it is spans down about three miles beneath the surface of Toril. Here, you’ll find the fabled Drow capital of Menzoberranzan (which is the reason most games go under anyway) and also other locations like the gnome fortress of Blingdenstone. If you are looking to take your players down to a crazy place—take them to Ooltul. It’s the only known city for Beholders.
Once you cross down into the Middle Dark, adventurers find themselves walking into the halls of the past. Additionally, adventurers may find themselves lead into massive cities that have fallen from other planes, and are now occupied by new inhabitants. The Boneyard is a great example of this; once a necropolis located in the City of Brass in the Elemental Plane of Fire, it fell to Toril centuries ago. Ched Nasad was an old Drow metropolis and a center hub for their commerce—until it was destroyed and ruined in a fight with dwarves. Proving that everything is built on top of something, many Drow relocated to Menzoberranzan until the Drow were able to recapture the city; which was already beginning to merge with the Plane of Shadow.
Lastly there is the Lowerdark. As we would expect, here is where the deep dark terrors of the void find refuge from the light above. A full ten miles and more beneath the surface, Mindflayers gather in a city called Ch’Chitl where their elder brain offers them guidance. Oryndoll, the City of Loretakers thrives twenty-six miles beneath the Shining Planes where more Mindflayers store thousands of secrets. In this city, they created and birthed new races such as the Duergar that the Sirens fought in the arena today!
What makes the Underdark a fantastic location for campaigns is the infinite mystery that can unfold within. I’ve even seen GM’s have modern day cities from today’s world crushed in the Underdark…hinting at a post apocalyptic Faerun.
The Story Thus Far:
The battle has begun. Girasol and Orisha enter the arena, while Xaris and Whip bet that Orisha will be victorious in the fight. Like any bard would do, Xaris and Whip then busy themselves with cheating by casting spells of protection and good-luck on her after placing their bets. Luckily Girasol has every intention of cheating herself, by letting Ghost hide in her hair as a cat.
Nobody in the Sirens plays fair. No wonder the Emerald Cabal have a just cause!
As one might imagine, with Girasol, Orisha, and a Duergar battling to stay on their feet inside the electrified arena, the cheaters win. Even if the Zhentarim knew what was happening, they didn’t seem to mind, since they paid a five hundred gold piece victory pouch to Orisha!
Due to her exceptional performance, Orisha finds herself in a position to stay with the quartermaster. Here, she can gain more information. Most importantly, Orisha asks about Vlahnya but turns up empty-handed. Though not one to admit defeat, Orisha digs for more information about the Zhentarim, and hits the jackpot. Ghost, and Orisha spend the rest of the evening cuddling and getting all kinds of secrets from the Quartermaster about the Zhentarim, where they work, how they do things, where to join, and more…
With the party split, the rest head in the back for high stakes gambling. In doing so, the party aims to gather information from Nylore the Mindflayer, and Victoro Cantelanter (Lady Castlelanter’s husband). Assuming the game would be some intense, vicious cruel game… But everyone is surprised when the game is Malarky!
Though instead of betting money, the group bets years of their life via a soul-transfer spell. They gamble their rounds with their very lives on the line, making for a seriously intense match of Malarky. Girasol earns for herself twenty-seven years - costing Xaris sixty-nine years of her life, and a spell slot, since some of the years were taken from her. Before Xaris could double down, Nylore the Mindflayer pulls her aside and tells her to leave for her safety, since both of them are members of the Zhentarim. Nylore becomes suspicious of Xaris working with the Sirens; So he gives her one chance to leave, and explain herself later.
Have the Sirens been betrayed? Will the Emerald Cabal finally get the upper hand they deserve?
The entire Sirens Playlist: Youtube
Featured Images: Level Up Dice!
Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast
Rick Heinz is the author of The Seventh Age novel series, Dread Adventures, and a storyteller with a focus on D&D for Kids, Geek & Sundry’s GM Tips, Eclipse Phase and an overdose of LARPs. You can follow the game or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or reach out for writing at RickHeinzWrites@gmail.com