Out of the Abyss guide – Chapter 11 – Gravenhollow

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This chapter and the next, Tower of vengeance, are designed to pave the way for the rest of the adventure. So far the PC’s have been exploring the underdark for information about the demonic invasion or the means to stop it. Gravenhollow reveals through visions, the nature of the demon lords’ presence in the underdark. The tower of vengeance proposes a course of action that will hopefully put an end to Lolth’s scheme to conquer the layers of the abyss.

Most likely the PC’s got the ring from Ghazrim and started the trip to Gravenhollow. The library is by coincidence relatively close to Gauntlgrym. Making the trip back means close to another 40 days of traveling. This is way I suggested in chapter 10 to forget about Faerzress messing up teleportation, alternatively, if no party member has access to this type of magic, a Helm of Teleportation can be added to Ghazrim’s storage room loot. The place is 120 miles from Gauntlgrym, so even if they teleport back. They still have 20 days of traveling at normal pace (6 miles a day).

Suggestion .- When the party is 3 days from Gravenhollow, two things happen. Ghazrim’s ring reacts by shinning with a subtle gray light. On its surface giant runes appear, if deciphered they say “Knowledge is the way”.  If the party helped Cairngorm clan back in Gracklstugh, stonespeaker Hgraam gifted them a stonespeaker crystal which is attuned to the library (unknown by the PCs). The crystal is very valuable specially for its ability to grant advantage in all Investigation checks. This crystal reacts in a similar way when the PCs approach Gravenhollow. It irradiates grey light and a script in giant is revealed in its surface. There was no way to read it before, only closeness to the library makes it appear. It says: “Long ago we talked about the dreamlands, I had been waiting for you ever since.” Hgraam met the PCs in Gravenhollow when he was young centuries ago. This still doesn’t happen for them, but Hgraam remembered them and gifted the crystal to them because he knew they would eventually wind up in Gravenhollow.

Arriving the library, the PCs meet one of the best NPCs in the module, Veldyskar (page151), an awakened basilisk, linguist, librarian and security officer. He is expecting them, obviously because the librarians have seen the party’s echoes in the library many times, and they know they are somehow related to the underdark demon problem. The way the library works, and the stone giant historians who live there is explained in the book and it’s pretty straight forward. While staying in the library, everybody is given quarters and enough time to explore the place.

When the PCs explore the place they will see echoes. Reverberations of past or future visitors of the library, the interaction with them is very short lived and ephemeral. It’s important to note that when the PCs interact with an echo. It means that the “echo person”, when he visited the library (in the past or future) had the conversation with the PC, which was an echo for him. It means that everything is tied up and already “decided” in a way. But no one has any control whatsoever over who you can encounter as an echo. If you or your players are Forgotten Realms savvy, this part of the adventure can provide some geeky smiles because some big F.R. personalities can be seen in the library. The important ones are:

  • 20 year old Alustriel Silverhand who won’t say when she is from.
  •  Senile Bruenor Battlehammer is walking with a cane and cannot remember why he came or what he’s looking for. He could suddenly smile with recognition of the PC’s, before evaporating.
  • Elminster from the future is looking for a spell in a book, he reveals Gromph Baenre’s involvement but nothing else. He can suddenly find the spell “Oh here it is” before evaporating.
  • Graz’zt from the past is researching the underdark and knows of Lolth’s future plan to bring the demon lords. (He can help them as per a suggestion later explained)
  • Hgraam from centuries past asks the PCs about the surface world which he calls the Dream World.
  • Xetzirbor a mindflayer from the past (he doesn’t say that) is trying to find a way to save a dying elder brain. He doesn’t know about Orcus reviving the brain.

All these encounters and some others are described in the book (page 153). If you don’t play he adventure in the Realms then it’s advised that you add important NPC’s or personalities from the setting to this list. Next are some interesting suggestions for other encounters.

  • The PC’s encounter an echo of a party member, obviously older and going through a mountain of books. He or she is tired of dealing with the echoes interrupting the research. No matter what the PC’s do, the echo never looks up from the book and only talks to ask for silence.
  • A party member could encounter an ancestor from his family bloodline.  The conversation topic is very dependent on the PC’s background and family history.
  • They encounter a historian from a 100 years into the future, he came to Gravenhollow to research the deeds of “party member” and is delighted to have found the person in question. The PCs will obviously ask him about the future. Whenever you need to end the conversation to avoid saying anything important have the historian look away and say “My dear ! look who I’ve found, come and meet them” As he shifts his attention to his wife, he vanishes.

Graz’zt.- The demon prince was in the library researching the underdark for his own ends, however, he was already aware of Lolth’s plan to bring the demon lords. If the PCs mention that they are actually looking for ways to stop the demonic incursion, Graz’zt’s attention is picked. He wants to help them, because if they succeed, he would be the only demon lord left in the underdark. Something that serves his own goals. He doesn’t know that Gromph Baenre started the ritual or what spellbook he used exactly, but he is knowledgable in magic and correctly guesses that a demon prince’s body part is a necessary focus for a ritual. He tells the PCs that he is willing to help, because he hates the other demon lords, he chips a part of his horn and leaves it in a book case, behind a book. If the PCs remove the book they can find his horn, which can be used by Vizeran in the dark heart ritual. (This last suggestion is not my idea, the facebook OoTA community came up with that).

When the PCs consult the library they will be able to have visions about the demon lords. It’s important to let the players know of the library’s nature. Asking it a question like “what are demogorgon’s weaknesses?” gives up no answer. Because the library deals with factual situations, not so much with data. In other words, the visions can only be about things that happened in the past, things that are currently happening, and things that might happen in the future. A weakness is not something that happened or could happen. “Show me what Demogorgon is doing” has more probabilities of resulting in meaningful information. Regardless of the exact query, the PCs experiment the vision but will be unable to prove whether it portrays the present, past or future. Some of them can be inferred but some are left hanging, for example, Orcus’ vision reanimating the dying brain; there’s in no way to know that this is the past. Such is the nature of the library. I recommend to let the PCs experience all visions plus some extra ones of your own authoring, depending on the player’s questions.

At the end they should know about Gromph Baenre’s involvement and Lolth’s plot. What can they do? This is where Vizeran DeVir appears, ready to offer a way out. He tells the PC’s to meet him at his tower, north of Blingdenstone, to talk business.

This chapter can be a pretty fast one for a hack-n-slash party, just make sure that the necessary information is given out. Then again if you have a roleplay heavy group this is an awesome opportunity to interact with very interesting characters. This is a place where any member of the party will get his chance to shine through roleplay.

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