by Mike Shea on 11 April 2016
This article is one of several articles on Out of the Abyss. You can read all of these articles at the following links:
Like previous articles, gigantic elemental-bound spoilers will be tearing free from the rocky walls so watch out!
Depnding on how the PCs arrive at Blingdenstone, they are likely to face the careful paranoia of the deep gnomes. The deep gnomes of the city have had a hard life here in the city and they have a lot of persistent problems going on right now. Even they are not far enough away or buried deep enough to avoid the problems of the arrival of the demon princes. Here in Blindenstone, that has manifested through the Pudding King and his connection to Juiblex, the Faceless One.
Because of this, the deep gnomes aren't likely to be all that welcoming to our adventurers. They shouldn't be complete jerks, but it will take some diplomacy to get in their moderately good graces, much less get in the door.
One way the adventurers can show their worth is through an encounter that puts Blindenstone in danger. When the adventurers arrive, the deep gnomes summon a set of elementals as guards. The caster of these elementals could lose control of them as the elementals succumb to a demonic influence. The elementals, for example, could be touched by Juiblex. As the svirfneblin lose control of them, eyes appear all over the elementals' rock-hard skin and acid begins to drip from their fists inflicting an extra 4 (1d8) acid damage per hit.
When our heroes help the sverfneblin defeat the elementals, the deep gnomes begin to not only trust but also witness the power of the adventurers. This is more than enough of a motivation for the svirfneblin to let the adventurers into the city and ask the PCs' help with the problems facing Blingdenstone.
Depending on how we've been running the adventure, we could insert a single big and powerful quest for our underdark adventurers to accomplish: find the gateway to Gauntlgrym.
Gauntlgrym is really far away from the Dark Lake and all of the areas around it, which includes all of the areas in the first half of the whole Out of the Abyss adventure. One way our heroes might cut some time off of that journey is to find an ancient gate to Gauntlgrym hidden and buried by the svirfneblin. Only the two leaders of Blingdenstone know where this gate is and how to get there. They're willing to give this information to our heroes for a price.
There are three main quests our adventurers can undertake in Blingdenstone to learn the location of this gate to Gauntlgrym. These include solving the wererat problem, defeating the pudding king and his army of slimy things, and stopping Ogremoch's Bane. It isn't necessary that the adventurers undertake all three quests. It's nice for the players to have a bit of a choice in the matter. For example, they might send Glabbagool (who went by the name Skelly Jelly in our own game) as a spy into the Pudding King's empire. Glabbagool can give the PCs valuable information when the adventurers return from solving another quest.
Each of these three quests has different ways they can be solved and its nice to leave these options open. Sure, fighting an army of slimes might be too hard on the surface but not if the adventurers are smart enough to dig out a huge pit, fill it with the slimes, and then blast them to death with fireballs.
Maybe the adventurers convince the wererats to join back with the citizens of Blingdenstone or maybe they clear the wererats out to the last wisker. One solution doesn't have to be better than another.
The PCs might not even have to complete all three quests before the deep gnomes give up the info they have on the gate to Gauntlgrym. Maybe if the deep gnomes and the wererats have banded together and already taken care of the Pudding King, they decide they can handle the Orgremoch's Bane situation on their own. The city is a dynamic place and not everything needs the attention of the characters all the time.
As written, Blingdenstone is a big city with a lot of things going on. It's up to you on how much you want to expose to the characters. Maybe it's just a handful of NPCs including Dorbo and Senni Diggermattock and maybe Nomi Pathshutter. You can move any quests or interactions to these three NPCs so you're not overwhelming your players with even more NPCs for them to remember. It all depends on how long the characters are going to stay in Blingdenstone or how soon you want to move them on. The same is true for the side adventures and the ghosts. You can add what you want or just simplify the whole thing down to the three big quests.
The Foaming Mug is a nice relaxing place for our characters who have had it rough for many months of travel through the underdark. It's also a nice center for rumors in the area. It can make a nice local headquarters for our heroes as they solve Blingdenstone's problems.
The Blingdenstone chapter is a nice sandbox within the larger sandbox of the whole Out of the Abyss adventure. We'll likely get the most fun out of it running it that way. Put the characters in the center of it, lay out some interesting hooks, introduce some interesting NPCs, put them in some hard situations, and let them surprise you with the choices they make.
Once they leave Blingdenstone, the deep gnomes can give the characters a map and key to a hidden magical portal to Gauntlgrym but they might have a surprise or two in store for them before they can reach it! We'll go over those ideas next time.
In the mean time, keep your torches lit, your food dry, and your eyes peeled for wayward mind flayers as you head ever deeper into Out of the Abyss!