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I am trying to figure out the mechanics of crossing Room 7 of White Plume Mountain.

It seems like you need to climb and/or jump from chain to chain, but I'm unclear as to what it is. Is it the DC15 STR check to move from chain to chain, or is that to hold on once moved? If it's just to hold on, is there any check to move from chain to chain? If someone falls, do they take falling damage AND the fire damage? Do they have to get back to the start and then begin again?

The image also appears to look different from the map they provide, too.

Is each chain/platform rising so that the far end is higher up than the starting point? So that someone, if immune or willing to risk it, can't swim across the mud?

In all, I'm very confused as to how someone is supposed to cross the room or if it really is more improvisational and asking for checks based on the ideas generated by the party.

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The floor is 50ft below you. You can cross the mud (taking damage), or jump across the platforms (making Dex checks). Falling causes fall damage.

Starting with some RaW information

The ceiling is 50 feet above the level of the platforms. The cave floor is 50 feet below. The stone platform opposite the entrance is approximately 90 feet away.

The image shows the platforms rising across 90ft, so we can assume that the floor and ceiling are slanting, and each individual platform stands at the middle of both.

enter image description here

Falling into the mud, by RaW, equates to a 50ft fall, and 5d6 bludgeoning damage. As far as I know, 5e doesn't distinguish between falling on solid or liquid surfaces, but at that height, I'd say it's not too different from falling onto regular dirt.

At the end of a fall, a creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it fell, to a maximum of 20d6.

A character can go through the mud (taking damage each turn) and climb the wall on the other side (with an Athletics check), and will eventually need to find a way to get back up onto the platforms.

Any creature that falls into the boiling mud takes 44 (8d10) fire damage at the start of each of its turns for as long as it remains in the mud.

Climbing the chains or the walls requires a successful DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check.

Otherwise, characters need to describe how to move across the platforms. If they jump from platform to platform, it calls for an Acrobatics check.

The disks swing freely and will tilt when weight is placed upon them.

A character can also try to climb the chains and swing across them. At the very least, it would require a DC 15 Athletics check. A character can also fly across the room, or use some spider-climb ability to move through the ceiling.

It falls a bit under DM fiat what to ask players to do, and it depends on their creativity. My party jumped across the platforms with a rope attached to the Aarakocra, just in case things went south. We waited a few minutes each attempt to ensure the geysers didn't blast us. Our DM had use make Acrobatics checks to maintain balance, and used the jumping rules to measure how many platforms we could jump at a time (the Barbarian had an easier time than the Sorcerer).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! I didn't even think to look at it as a slanting floor/ceiling - that really clears a lot of that up. It's still frightening to get that bludgeoning damage from the fall AND 8d10 from the mud. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 6 at 15:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Because falling is instant, it doesn't end the adventurer's turn. They (or the party) can still find some way of getting out of that mud before taking the damage at the start of their next turn. \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 6 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ While your diagram seems to match with the text, I'm not sure how the floor could possibly be slanted and covered with boiling mud - the mud would all slide to the bottom. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Apr 6 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. I imagine it kinda like semi-solid lava. It explodes with geysers, but otherwise remains heavy and doesn't flow too much. \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 6 at 17:40
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I've run this adventure several times, and the group has never done it by actually jumping across the disks. Jumping across the disks is obviously absurdly dangerous, and high-level adventurers generally have at least one alternative movement mode among the group.

The way this room has always worked (in my games) is that the group finds a way to cross the chasm, but the method they've found doesn't work for the whole party at once. Maybe someone uses a fly spell on a strong character that can carry one other character with them, or someone polymorphs or wild shapes into a giant eagle, or summons a flying monster, or casts dimension door, or has the Athlete feat, or they just cast spider climb.

Then some of the group cross the chasm, and they're like "okay, now the half of us that have crossed the chasm will wait in this cave, and the eagle will fly back to the start and pick up the rest of you --" and that's when Ctenmiir attacks. It's a wonderfully dramatic scene, but it's also kind of a bad experience for whatever group members get left out of the first few rounds of the combat, so it's not my favorite part of White Plume Mountain.

I don't run the crossing as a combat, so there aren't explicitly any rounds to keep track of; I just periodically tell them that a geyser is exploding.


You've asked about mechanics for jumping from chain to chain. The 5e version of the adventure mysteriously omits the rules for this, but it might interest you to know that the 3.5e version has a table with DCs. In that edition, it is DC14 to jump cleanly from one disk to another; a result of 10-11 or 12-13 gives the adventurer a chance to save themselves by making additional checks, and a result of 9 or fewer means they have fallen into the boiling mud. This edition also discusses what to do if the adventurers tie themselves to ropes while crossing (a good idea, but not one that any of my group has tried).

The DC15 STR check is for "climbing the chain" or climbing the walls; it's not clear why anyone would want to climb a chain, so that part of the rule seems sort of pointless. If someone on a disk is hit by a geyser, there's a Strength saving throw to not be knocked off of a disk.

You've asked about whether the disks are on an incline, with each disk higher than the previous one. I don't think they are. The only indication that the disks might be on an incline is the image in the 5e version of the adventure; the 5e text and the 3.5e text make no mention of this, the image that accompanies the 3.5e version shows the disks as not being on an incline, and I don't think it's realistic to have the boiling mud in the floor of the cavern be anything but horizontal.

You've asked about falling damage. The 5e version omits the rules for this; the 3.5e version says that the falling damage is only "1d6 lethal damage and 2d3 nonlethal damage, just like falling into water". 5e has no rules for falling into water, so as the DM it's up to you how to rule that.

You've asked what happens if someone falls. If someone falls, it would be up to the rest of the group to fish them out before they die, perhaps by dropping a rope for them to grab on to. I suppose that, if they were immune to fire, they could instead swim to one of the ends of the cavern and try to climb the rock.

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