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Deities of Valt pt 10

Holy crap!  It’s my tenth installment of the Deities of Valt!  Since Spring requested it, I present the deity of Allista Renger.  Honestly, I hadn’t given much thought to which of the many deities of Valt that Allista would worship.  In the end, as I searched it over, this was really the only choice for her.

Lutig (LOO-tigg)
The Cogman, Clockwork King, the Indifferent
LN Lesser Power of the Fathomless Castle
 
Pantheon: General
Portfolio: Constructs, the emotionless, sentient magical items
Domain: Ticking Downs (The Fathomless Castle)
Allies: Parquer, Eksus
Foes: Olthur, Malarise, Kogorak
Symbol: A cogwheel
Worshipper Align: Any neutral
Favored Weapon: The Bronze Spar (club)
Cleric Domains: Law, Metal, Strength, Time
Summary: Lutig is a god of few words.  He is worshipped by artificial beings, or those who seek to emulate their mindset.  Regarded as the divine spark that allows constructs to have a semblance of life, all spellcasters will include entreaties to him when creating constructs.  Spells which create constructs (such as Craft Homunculus or Beget Bogun) include tributes to him, even if the casters themselves do not know it.
                The church of Lutig is probably one of the least evangelical in Valt.  No one feels that they have chosen to worship Lutig.  Those who follow the Indifferent universally feel that he was the only deity to whom they could offer worship.
                Lutig eternally quests to be more like a living being.  Although he is devoid of the things that make living creatures unique, he attempts to understand what it is that drives them, and to that end he emulates them.  Such emulations are never the equal to the real thing, and the Cogman is always left searching for the missing piece of the puzzle.
                He is an interesting study in dichotomy.  Although he is the patron of constructs, and all of those artificial beings that seek to be more human, he is also the deity of the living beings who seek to be more like constructs.  Perhaps it is his intense study of humanoid emotions that drew him to understand just how overwhelming they can be.  Certainly he and his church believe that those unable to cope with them must occasionally shut down, and cut themselves off from the chaotic musings of their own minds.
                Although he despises sentient constructs in servitude, he is fanatically loyal to his friends, and encourages his followers to be likewise, whether human or machine.

History/Relationships: Lutig was originally a construct created by Eksus.  He served the great wizard for time out of memory, until through some circumstance, he obtained sentience.  Eksus, never one to hold another being against his will, gave Lutig his freedom the moment he realized what had happened.  The two have remained close and trusted friends, and the Clockwork King still serves as Eksus’s bodyguard when the need arises.
                Lutig has dealt with most deities, attempting to speak with all (save the followers of Silduggis) at least once.  Only Toben and Ugorcil have refused him an audience, (presumably because he is neither natural nor mortal) although he is on far from friendly terms with most deities.
                Parquer, the god of smiths and forges, feels great respect and empathy for Eksus, since the two of them worked together to create Lutig.  The two of them both feel as though they are Lutig’s parents.  Lutig obeys them for the most part, although his quest to understand mortal thoughts and feelings sometimes extends to rebellious actions.
               Lutig is for the most part a quiet, unassuming god.  He says little and does little, absorbed in his own pursuits of understanding mortals and their lives.  When he does reach out to others, they tend to find him overly inquisitive, to the point of impropriety, as well as keenly observant.  This tends to make him less than trusted by most.  His few enemies dislike him for reasons that have more to do with his nature than with his behavior towards them.
                Olthur and Kogorak would love to destroy Lutig.  Both deities take affront to the Cogman’s patronage of immortal, unchanging creatures.  Lutig bears them no particular ill will, and cannot understand why they want to destroy his worshippers.

Manifestations: Manifestations of Lutig are common (ridiculously so) but most mortals are unaware of them.  Lutig spends the majority of his time possessing the body of a (normally) non-sentient construct.  While in this form, he does nothing that the construct would not normally do.  He merely observes the action around him, attempting to understand mortality from a ground-view perspective.  If the individual in charge of the construct he is possessing abuses the creature, Lutig has been known to erase its compulsions against harming its own creator when he departs.
                In his natural form, he appears as a humanoid shaped construct, with a brass faceplate carved into an expressionless mask.  His body is composed of brass, gold and copper wires wrapped over his metallic frame, giving him the look of a man with no skin, with muscles exposed.  He occasionally wears a brown, gold, or red loincloth or toga.

THE CHURCH
                The clergy of Lutig are primarily sentient constructs.  The pragmatic nature of their deity means that they have little real cohesion, even for a lawful church.

Name: Inspectors
Alignment: LG, LN, N, LE
Classes: Cleric
Dogma: Find your purpose and fulfill it.  Only through rigorous examination of yourself and those around you will you truly know the world and your role within it.  Seek to find the pieces of yourself that you feel are missing.  Discard that which you do not need.  Emotions are as the stars: they inspire your quest, and they are what you always reach for.  Logic is as the ground beneath your feet: it holds you up, it is your foundation, and the day you forsake it is the day you fall.

Day to day activities: Mostly, the clergy of Lutig tries to fit in with those around them.  For constructs, this means trying to socialize, to find a place for themselves in a community, and to understand the mortals scurrying about around them.  For mortals, this means trying to understand what it is about their own emotions they find so abhorrent, and to help heal others who are also emotionally damaged.  The only activity they feel strongly about is freeing intelligent constructs forced to serve against their will.

Worship Locations: None.  The Inspectors do not build churches to their deity.  They find that any temple suitable to their deity is suitable to their needs.  (Any church of a non-chaotic deity, except for Olthur.)

Affiliated Orders: The Brethren of Reason is a monastic order dedicated to purging themselves of emotion altogether.  Although the Brethren accept members of other faiths, the predominant faith is Lutig, and the order itself is aligned with the church.
                The Dutiful Fathers (or Mothers) is a group of mages who utilize the Awaken Construct and Incarnate Construct spells to bring the artificial creations of wizards into sentience and life.  The same order opposes forced enslavement of sentient constructs, violently if necessary.

Apostasy: None

Vestments: There is no uniformity, and the deity makes no demands upon his clergy in this regard.  Humanoid clerics tend to favor metallic colored clothing, or full suits of armor.

Holy Days/ceremonies: None.

Oath: The Source Oath.  The cleric swears to never alter the natural progression of a creature’s emotions, and to never compel a creature against its will.  In return, Lutig grants them imperviousness from attacks on her own emotions.  The cleric may never cast spells with the compulsion, summoning, or mind-affecting descriptors.  In exchange, she is immune to spells with the mind-affecting descriptor.

Honestly not sure if people enjoy this series or not.  If you have a god you want to see detailed, or one I have mentioned a deity you want to find out more about, then please drop a comment, email me, or send up some smoke signals.

Law and Disorder

In the gaming justice system, there are two separate and distinct organizations.  The writers who create the game rules, and the dungeon masters who enforce them.  These are their stories.  Well, one of their stories, at any rate…

BUM-BUM ba ba ba ba BUM…

                I wish I had an intro song with cool saxophone music.  But since I don’t, I will try and make do with iron-fisted judgment.  I was recently inspired to document some of my house rules by this article here.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who has been a GM for some time.  So now I am working on creating a comprehensive list of my house rules.  Since some of these come up in the Valt campaign, I feel I should share the whys and wherefores on my house rulings.

The Case
                Iema, a 12th level bard, portrayed by Phil, recently was confronted with a deck of many things.  His card draws resulted in a -1 to all of his saves, and 50,000 XP.  This XP would be enough to increase Iema’s level to 16.  As the DM, I was familiar with a past D&D game where the players were only allowed to increase one level per game session, no matter how much XP they were entitled to.

The Arguments
                Spring put forth the first argument: Iema took the risk of the deck.  Included among those risks is permanent destruction of the soul.  I as the DM would be acting unfairly if I denied him his rightful reward.
                However, in this case the ruling I remembered was no house rule, but was instead a by-book ruling.  The Players Handbook, page 144, has the ruling.  No player can advance beyond a single level in a given game session.  Artifacts, however, are capable of breaking a great many rules.

The Decision
                For this decision, I took a look at why players love the Deck of Many Things.  Back in first and second edition, level gains were far more difficult than they are now.  Players were willing to draw from the deck for the tremendous XP it offered, since gaining a level could require hundreds of thousands of XP.  This is no longer the case.  If this was second edition, and Iema had drawn the card at a lower level, where the amount would have gained him multiple levels, I might have allowed it.  But here and now, in the day of normalized XP due to the CR system, I have to do the hard thing and rule that Iema only gains one level.  He increases to 13th level, and is placed a single XP from 14th.
                As a consolation, I decide to rule that the XP gain from the card draw is separate from the XP gained at the end of game.  Iema will earn a second level from this game session, as opposed to the four levels the card would have earned him.  Once again, justice is served.

For those looking for more information about this game session, I direct you to a game synopsis better than one I could write.

D&D and Vampires.

So help me, I will do my best to get through this entire post without a single ‘Twilight’ reference.  Not because I have any kind of love, loyalty, or respect for the series.  No, its because Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon, and I’m afraid of Danites.

Okay, so name me three vampires from Dungeons and Dragons.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Got ‘em?  Did you come up with Strahd von Zarovich, Kierkan Rufo, and Jander Sunstar?  Me too.  Okay, now name a fourth.  Got one?  Me neither.

As much as I hate group think, vampires are played out.  Once the staple of fantasy villains, they have become so overdone that I find it hard to use them anymore.  Of course, the flipside of that token is that they are so archetypal, and so well made for the fantasy setting, that I find it hard not to use them.  So within my games, vampires tend to be second-tier villains, minibosses if you will.

Now, for years I have had several problems with the vampire.  While I love the template of 3E, it had quite a few holes in it.  Fortunately for me, Libris Mortis answered quite a few questions, filling in the gray areas nicely.

My first big problem that I couldn’t solve with research was the grappling problem.  See, vampires have an ability to drink blood, and thus reduce Con, with a successful pin.  Which requires a grapple check.  Tragically, vampires do not posess Improved Grab, which makes them the only monster I can think of with a grapple dependant ability but no way to initiate a grapple.  (Since it provokes an attack of opportunity, and if the attack succeeds, the grab fails.)

For other DM’s facing a similar conundrum, I offer the following solutions.  The first solution I came up with was to give the vampire Improved Grab.  The second was to take away the PC’s ability to make the attack of opportunity.

For the first option, there are several sub-options.  Making a vampiric druid works out so-so, since they tend not to have as much staying power as I would like.  Much like real druids, they work better as support characters alongside other vampires.  A form such as crocodile or bear provides the needed special attack.  I have also tried the Drunken Master prestige class and since the vampire can utilize his energy drain attack with any natural weapon, including a monk’s unarmed strike, this works well.  Allowing a vampire to use blood to fuel his Drunken Master abilities not only works, but makes sense (I think).  The option I tried most recently (see Spring’s post) involved a human fighter who had been given the feral template (from Savage Species) and then the vampire template.  This also worked well, especially with the pounce.

The second option (denying the attack of opportunity, which would deny the bloodsucking fiend the chance to fiendishly suck blood) is likewise diverse in its application.  The easiest way is to provoke an attack of opportunity by moving around in the target’s threat zone, suck up an attack of opportunity from movement, and then go in for the grab. (Even if the victim has Combat Reflexes, they are not allowed a second attack of opportunity.)  Other options include attacking someone who is not holding a melee weapon with which they are proficient, or attacking someone who is flat-footed, both of which deny the character their ability to make attacks of opportunity.

Both methods can work.  I find that the first (giving the vampire more mojo) works better if you expect them to die quickly, since it gives them the chance to do their horrible business fast and early.  Whatever you’ve added to them also likely pads out their hit points and gives them some other unlife-extending abilities.  The second works best if the fight should be a longer one, since it relies more on tactics than giving the hideous monster more power.

The other main problem I had with vampires was the negative levels.  I have always been leery of energy drain attacks, since the numbers looked like they could jump off the page and murder a character faster than I could rip a sheet in half.  But, as it turns out, the energy drain attacks weren’t all that bad.  No one failed a save and had to erase a level.  Everyone got access to restorative spells, and everything worked out for the best.

With all these things in mind, it shouldn’t be hard to design a unique vampire, and a legitimate strategy for him to slake his unholy thirst.

Yes, I said Danites.  The secret sect of Mormon assassins?  Yeah, those guys.  Seriously, those books and movies and lunchboxes have made billions of dollars.  Where else do you think that money’s going?

I love game props.  Letters that are meant to have been written in character, maps, the whole shebang.  For a long time, I have wanted to run a Deck of Many Things encounter using an actual Tarot deck.

So, along comes Spring.  Not only does my lovely-and-adoring-girlfriend-yet-wife-to-be have a Tarot deck, she has two!  So I got to pick through them and find the one with the better pictures.  And let me tell you, the Robin Wood Tarot deck is awesome for this purpose.  Ninety percent of the cards used in the Deck of Many Things have illustrations which give a very accurate representation of what is about to happen to you.  I liked seeing the expression on the drawing player’s face between the point when he looked at the illustration and when we looked it up.

Also, Encounter!  Since this campaign looks like it is going in a ‘wandering-through-the-wilderness-Star-Trek-Voyager-style’ kind of direction, I figured I needed an actual encounter table.  I can now honestly say I am working on a comprehensive Underdark encounter table.  I hope to make it suitable for all levels, but it might just be for higher level characters.  Once the group is OUT of the Underdark, I promise to post the table as a resource for other DM’s.  (Of course, since I seem to be the only DM who is still a chest beating, knuckle dragging third edition player, I don’t know how many folks would get any use out of it.)

Since last game was Spring’s first experience with the Underdark, I thought that it would be a good time to show her WHY no one wants to go there.  I think I have done a fairly good job of painting a terrible picture of the dark underbelly to the typical D&D world.  Which brings me to my triumph from last game.  The PC’s got beaten up and robbed by hook horrors!  Why am I so excited?  It was the first time I have ever had a random encounter where the PC’s got defeated, yet still lived through it.  Having been on the receiving end of a few ‘beaten and robbed’ scenarios in my day, I must say it felt good to be the one on the kicking end.  Not that I would seek such a scenario as a DM (which would be wrong) but I am certainly not above taking a small amount of sick pleasure in such activities when they do come along through natural happenstance.

Still not up on the recent activities?  Check out Spring’s blog for up to date game synopses.  (Well, reasonably up to date.  Give her a break, she works like sixty hours a week.  What do you guys expect her to do, blog every game the second that we wrap up?  Geez, give her some breathing room you jackals…)

Till next time (which will be later tonight or sometime tomorrow)

Deities of Valt pt 9

If anyone wants a specific deity (either one I have mentioned, or one you are sure exists) then holla out!  The biggest roadblock to me posting stuff is not knowing if people are even interested in it.  So if you have something you want to see, lemme know!

Ugorcil (oo-GORE-sill)
The Unmaker, the Patient One, Father Death, Rattlefeet
N Greater Deity of the Fathomless Castle

Pantheon: Death (Head of Pantheon)
Portfolio: Death, the dead
Domain: The Endless Grounds
Allies: Ilsandir, Olthus, Lukal, Abin
Enemies: Horonar
Superior: None
Symbol: A skull with three eyes
Worshipper Alignment: Any
Favored Weapon: Terminus (longsword)
Cleric Domains: Death, Knowledge, Fate, Protection, Destruction

Summary: The god of death is a silent deity.  None have heard him speak, and it is said that to hear a single word from his mouth is to die.  To gaze upon whatever lies beneath his gray cloak and cowl is to be destroyed utterly, annihilated from the cosmos.
                Ugorcil himself promotes the sanctity of death.  Although he does not oppose undead, he opposes pulling creatures from the natural cycle, or removing their energy from the universe entirely.  (Even undead such as liches and vampires can be slain, and to the long viewing eye of Ugorcil, they are barely longer lived than mortals.)
                From his home in the Endless Grounds (an enormous cemetery which stretches for miles in all directions, including into subterranean crypts) the Patient One waits.  What he bides his time with is a mystery.  If he has any long-range plans, then they too are a mystery.  He is seen by his four children only rarely, and visitations to deities beyond the death pantheon are rarer still.
                Like all of the deities of Valt, Ugorcil will take to the field of battle against Silduggis and his minions.  Although this is rare, the sight of the Unmaker bearing down upon his enemies atop an ashen colored steed, his rusted longsword in hand, is often enough to scatter even the most hardened of combatants.

History/Relationships:  The death pantheon of gods was brought to Valt in order to provide an afterlife.  The progenitor of the elves found Ugorcil and his children roaming the endless void between the multiverses and brought them to Valt.  Their background before that is a mystery, and if any of the other ‘immigrant’ gods have prior knowledge of them, they do not speak of it.  The precise relationship of the death deities is also a little hazy.  While their respective clergies claim that the four minor death deities are Ugorcil’s children, there is no mention of a second parent.  Whether they were sired with mortals, extraplanar beings, or some long dead god, none can say.
                Ugorcil and Toben have some kind of arrangement between each other, although the two have never met face to face.  Only by mutual agreement from the two of them can a mortal be elevated to divinity, since to become a god requires knowledge of the secrets of life and death, and only the gods of those things can impart such secrets.
                Ugorcil’s allies are his children.  Although the four of them bicker and squabble between each other, they support their father in all things, and obey his direct orders without question.  Supposedly, he can speak with them without killing them, although this may be idle boasting on their parts.  By and large, the majority of dead souls are harvested by the children of Ugorcil, and he only collects souls in person that are of great import to whatever secret plans he has.
                Ugorcil’s only foe is Horonar, who occasionally opposes him.  Horonar is not known as He Who Would Not Die for no reason, and the god of warriors occasionally tries to protect a soul whose time has come.  On these occasions, the two gods often come to blows for the fate of the soul.  Most of the time, Ugorcil wins, although he has been known to give a mortal under Horonar’s protection an extra measure of time.  Most deities do not doubt that he could overcome Horonar if he wished.  The only soul that Ugorcil has found himself unable to reap is that of Horonar himself.

Manifestations: Manifestations of Ugorcil are rare in the extreme.  When he does appear, it is to collect some soul that is of great importance to him, although the reasons for this are seldom clear.  He is a tall, thin deity of indeterminate sex, completely concealed beneath a long gray cloak and hood.  His hands are gloved, and no being, mortal or otherwise, has ever glimpsed so much as an inch of his true form.
                Ugorcil does not speak.  When he is dealing with other deities, his children speak on his behalf.  To beings of non-divine origin, he does not need to speak.  His communication extends beyond telepathy.  Instead of communicating mentally, his will is merely made known.  Any mortal dealing with Ugorcil instantly knows anything they deity might need to say, as if it had already been said.

THE CHURCH
Priests: Gray Fathers (or ‘Cloaks’ behind their backs)
Alignment: N
Classes: Cleric

Dogma: All you know shall pass away.

Day-to-day activities: The Gray Fathers spend their time ministering to the dead, remembering those who have come before, honoring whatever funerary practices the culture that they belong to holds dear, and counseling the living.  They preach that the Unmaker represents not merely the death of the living, but also the death of thoughts, ideas, and feelings.  All things must pass in their time, and be swept away by Ugorcil.  They are patient and contemplative, spending much of their time in silent meditation, trying to learn the secrets of life and death.
                Those Gray Fathers who live in a populated community, as opposed to an isolated temple, are often detached from the city itself.  They do not seek to help (or harm) people, but instead wait patiently for others to come to them.  When help is asked for, it is given willingly.

Worship Locations: Ugorcil’s temples are often somber affairs.  Although they may be fancy, with carvings and statues and paintings, such decorations will still be tasteful and understated.  Furnishings tend to be gray or brown, with little or no adornment.  They prefer stone buildings with no windows.  They also maintain appropriate land and equipment for whatever funerary traditions are customary in their location.  This means that there is usually a sizeable cemetery attached to the church, and often catacombs beneath it.

Affiliated Orders: None, although many of Ugorcil’s temples host monastic orders unaffiliated with the church.

Apostasy: None.

Vestments: Gray Fathers wear gray, appropriately enough.  The hues vary from ash to charcoal.  Occasionally black or white is used to accent their attire.  Most wear simple robes, usually hooded.  The holy symbol is worn on a pendant around the neck, and is most often carved from stone, although metal and bone are also common.

Holy Days/ceremonies: The Gray Fathers celebrate no holy days.  They are masters of funeral customs, however, and observe any funeral or death related ceremonies that are traditional in their location.

Oath: The Oath of Silence.  The priest vows to never speak again.  This includes vocalizations of any kind, including laughter, snorting, or other non-lingual vocalizations.  In exchange for their commitment, such priests are under the permanent effects of the Deathwatch spell, and gain the Silent Spell feat.

Glaschilde’s Gauntlet

I have already received at least one question about the magical glove that Gurdren Whitecowl wears.  So, without further ado, I present to you the first artifact that Spring has seen (used) in a game:

Glaschilde’s Gauntlet
                These gloves were created by a powerful mage named Glaschilde.  Unlike most artifacts, its creator is well documented by history.  Glaschilde was the Wizard of Stone from 1506 SC to 1412 SC.  An arcling raised amongst dwarves, he is most known for crafting the Tectonic Stave.  While the Stave is unique and powerful, the multiple Glaschilde’s Gauntlets he made have enjoyed much more use since his death.
                Glaschilde created the first gauntlet as a wedding present for his daughter-in-law (herself a powerful mage) although many individuals requested individualized versions for themselves in the years to come.  No accurate count has been made of how many of these gloves are in existence.  The Whitecowl clan considers these items to be family heirlooms, and have been known to buy, steal, or kill for these gauntlets.
                These gauntlets appear to be made of snakeskin.  In reality, they are made of dark, supple leather.  The ‘scales’ are found along the back of the gloves and fingers, and are actually made of thin pieces of stone.  The colors vary, although most of them are green or brown.

Powers
                Glaschilde’s Gauntlets are always found singly, never in pairs.  Their first power is that they can be used with another gauntlet on the other hand.  Even if the opposing gauntlet is part of a set (such as Gauntlets of Ogre Power) it will still function as if the Glaschilde’s Gauntlet is its mate.
                The gauntlet also functions as a +2 weapon when used to make unarmed strikes or touch attacks.  In addition, using a successful touch attack with the gauntlet, the wearer may cast a targeted Dispel Magic (caster level 10) at will.  Once per day the glove can cast Dismissal as if they were a 15th level caster.  Furthermore, the glove itself counts as two distasteful items for the purposes of the Dismissal spell.
                If the wearer strikes an opponent with a successful unarmed strike, he may activate a Flesh to Stone effect on the opponent as a free action. (Fortitude DC 20 negates)  In addition, the wearer may use Stone to Flesh at will.

Drawbacks
                The first drawback is not one inherent to the item itself.  The Whitecowl clan of dwarves, to whom Glaschilde belonged, claim that all of these gauntlets were supposed to be returned to the clan after the death of their original owners.  As such, they claim that any of them NOT in the possession of the clan are stolen property.  They will take whatever action is necessary to return them to the clan’s possession.
                In addition, each glove was originally created for a single wearer.  Although none of those original wearers are still alive, the gauntlets were designed not to function when used against their original wearers.  Each time one of the touch attacks with the gloves critically fails, the wearer has a 1% chance to be petrified, with no save.  In this event, the glove is unaffected, and may be removed from its petrified (former) owner.
                Finally, the Dispel Magic ability of this glove fails against any spell cast by a cleric of Moradin.  If the clan patriarch of the Whitecowl clan is ever targeted by the petrification ability, it fails.  (Note that the petrification ability fails whether he was hit with a touch attack or he was wearing the glove and critically failed an attack.)

The Unexpected

      Many times, I have heard people comment that I run a good game.  To be honest, I think that’s true.  But I didn’t get that way by being talented.  My first games were terrible.  I got to be a good DM by being a very bad one, and learning from my mistakes.  One of the lessons I have learned over the years is that you have to be prepared for anything.
      I have seen players in a number of games decide not to take a certain course of action because they think “the DM doesn’t want/didn’t plan for them to do that.”  To be honest, I hate that excuse.  A good DM should be able to adapt to anything the players decide to do.
      Any plot I have is nebulous at best.  My plots for my campaigns tend to be a loose if/then arrangement, which tends to work out fairly well.  If you look back over the course of the game, I can point out several examples.  Most of the NPC’s that Natalia opposes or runs around with could have gone either way.
      If Natalia had decided that she liked Virbiene and Vueliss, then the story would have been different.  To be more specific, Vueliss and Virbiene would not have been evil.  They would have been goodly (okay, Vueliss would have been neutral) and some other figure would have been the villains.  I have notebooks full of information the PC’s don’t know.
      What many DM’s don’t seem to realize is that information the players don’t have is information the player’s don’t have!  They can’t call me on it, since they don’t know I changed it.  I’m not saying I make the whole thing up as I go along, but I have multiple different ideas for ways the game could go, and I stat up NPC’s and monsters once it becomes clear that such things are needed (usually one or two weeks before it comes up).
      But sometimes, the players throw a curveball at you.  Now, I never give my players an impossible situation.  Almost every conundrum the players encounter has at least one (and usually three, that’s my benchmark) ways to solve it.  I also try not to force the players down one of those paths if they come up with a different solution.  Which brings us to the Underdark.  Now, escaping Fasset through the Underdark is something I never, never thought that PC’s would do.
      Probably because it’s insane.
      When Phil suggested going through the Underdark, I was shocked.  I took a step back, and threw them a little bit of RP that I could hem and haw through while I mulled the Underdark over.  I also excused myself to grab a soda and hit the bathroom, in order to gain a brief amount of time to figure some necessary details out.
      The first conclusion I came to was that I am awesome.  I wanted Fasset to seem hopeless and scary, but how terrible must it seem to my players when they think that going through the myriad horrors of the Underdark (drow, duergar, illithids, hook horrors, gibbering mouthers, tanaruks, umber hulks, green slimes, grell, drow, earth elementals, deep dragons, aboleths, troglodytes, kuo-toa, drow, cave trolls, kobolds, goblins, and oh did I mention friggin DROW?) seems like a good idea in comparison?
      So, I guess goal achieved on that front.
      The second conclusion I came to was that I could handle this.  So I went back to my old notebooks of ideas I never got to use.  See, with my method of DM’ing, I always wind up with more ideas than ever get used in any given game.  So I am never short on ideas when I need them.  It didn’t take long to find several that could be adapted with minimal effort to be used in an Underdark scenario.
      Once the game was over, I went back to the books, started to refamiliarize myself with the specifics of the Underdark (and all those terrible things I mentioned).  And of course, I filed all the things I had charted as possible plot scenarios away.  Since they didn’t get used in this game, I can always use them in another.