My players killed my D&D campaign on Wednesday night.
I’ve been running Out of the Abyss since September, when it was released. (Spoilers for Out of the Abyss ahead.) In that time, the players escaped from a drow prison, accidentally summoned Demogorgon, battled a succubus, climbed into (and then punched out of) a two-headed mad giant, got really tiny and chased a gnome, went on a shroom trip with a bunch of myconids, found a baby black dragon, and fled to the surface.
That was all before winter break.
Then things got weird.
Upon their return, they ventured back into the Underdark, led an army, fought an army of jellies, found Gracklstugh in flames, stole some ships, had some ship battles, trapped a giant dwarf in a stone cube while impaling him with physical light, drove half the party into permanent madness, met a friendly basilisk, saw visions within a massive and ancient library, met the ghost of Elminster, made friends with a drow wizard, and finally, were told exactly what’s been going on this whole time.
Oh, yeah. And one of the players found the Deck of Many Things.
The Deck of Many Things is bad news. There are some pretty amazing things in there, while at the same time, many, many bad things. As an example, one of the players, Artorious the Dwarf Cleric, chose to draw from it, and drew:
Donjon. You disappear and become entombed in a state of suspended animation in an extradimensional sphere. Everything you were wearing and carrying stays behind in the space you occupied when you disappeared. You remain imprisoned until you are found and removed from the sphere. You can’t be located by any divination magic, but a wish spell can reveal the location of your prison. You draw no more cards.
So, yeah. Bad news. At the same time, some players were pretty successful. One player has a castle to his name, somewhere in the world. He just needs to find it and clear it of any monsters, and it’s his!
So, our Gnome Ranger reaches into the deck and pulls:
Euryale. The card’s medusa-like visage curses you. You take a −2 penalty on saving throws while cursed in this way. Only a god or the magic of The Fates card can end this curse.
Now, the group had spent this evening learning all about the Demon Lords’ plans, how they had been summoned by a ritual in Mezzoberanzan by a Drow Archmage, how they were now spread throughout the Underdark and would soon overtake the surface world.
So, our Gnome Ranger decides to pull again.
Balance. Your mind suffers a wrenching alteration, causing your alignment to change. Lawful becomes chaotic, good becomes evil, and vice versa. If you are true neutral or unaligned, this card has no effect on you.
Eh, not bad. She’s now Neutral Evil instead of Neutral Good. She knows that each pull draws her closer and closer to instant death, but she decides to pull. One. More. Time.
The Fates. Reality’s fabric unravels and spins anew, allowing you to avoid or erase one event as if it never happened. You can use the card’s magic as soon as you draw the card or at any other time before you die.
And there it was. Immediately, she thought she could just remove the curse of the Euryale card, but then thought, “Could we perhaps pull Artorious from his extradimensional plane?” I nodded sagely. “Or we could…” she thought, long and hard. I held my tongue, realizing what she could do with this card.
“We could stop the ritual which summoned the Demon Lords from ever happening…”
Yes, yes you could. Her eyes grew wide. Everyone at the table’s eyes grew wide. They realized the implications. She turned to me. “If you do this,” I told her, “Out of the Abyss is over. The campaign can continue, but not with this specific storyline. The game will no longer be running by the book. I’m fine with that, but everything you’ve all worked for will be nullified.”
She sighed, trying to decide what to do. Finally, she nodded. “The demon lords were never summoned by the Drow Archmage.”
A white light overwhelmed the party.
So, what now? I’ll be doing some future posts to talk about the possible implications of undoing the summoning of Demon Lords, and what fate this could hold for the players.
Keep your eyes open, keep rolling 20’s, and don’t draw from the Deck of Many Things.