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After escaping from Velkynvelve, the party decided to travel to Sloobludop via the Darklake. I know you're supposed to

keep track of the Drow Pursuit level while on land, as instructed in Chapter 2 but for the whole land journey, there were no encounters. In fact, the party managed to decreased it to 3 because they befriended Dwarf Scouts who covered up their tracks for them.

Now that they've reached the Darklake, I don't find anything in the chapter that says the Drow continue their pursuit on water, except that

the Pursuit Level decreases by 1 when the Party enters Sloobludop, but the party could have entered the Kuo-toa city by foot if they choose to forgo the Darklake.

At the risk of asking a really obvious question, are the Drow Pursuit instructions in Chapter 2 still applicable in Chapter 3?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not an obvious question - I can't find the answer either. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Aug 11 '16 at 5:20
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MINOR/MEDIUM SPOILERS AHEAD!

First of all, the rules and reasons for the Drow Pursuit are very thin. Are they really supposed to chase some escaped slaves through the Underdark, when the demons are rampaging and their own city lies in ruins? On the other hand, the Drow Pursuit is a big theme for the "first half" of the campaign and a good tool for the DM to keep their players going towards the surface.

I started my campaign very by the book and have been keeping track of the pursuit level ever since (my group has been in Gracklstugh, Sloobludop and now they're on their way to Neverlight Grove and Blingdenstone). After leaving Sloobludop, I faced the same issue about the drow - why are the still after the PCs and if so, how do they keep track of them?

I offer my solutions for this dilemma:

  • The drow have powerful priests and wizards in their use, so all sorts mystic messages and divining magic make it possible for the drow the keep other drow loyal to their house or cause updated across the Underdark.
  • When the drow lose track of the PCs, for example on the Darklake, just assume the drow start to cast spells and ask their DM, eh, I mean Lollth for guidance and information. It takes a while, but when a High Priestess uses some spells and resources, she will find the PCs eventually.
  • For why the drow are chasing the PCs after Velkynvelve, I had to come up with some new ideas, because after Velkynvelve I was wondering why the drow want to chase this group. There is no CORRECT answer for this one and I suggest you come up with something yourself that ties the pursuit to the characters. Is one of the characters or NPCs a drow noble on the run? Are the drow just mad and fixated on these particular escaped slaves? A big part of my group's escape was a betrayal amongst the drow (the same one the book offered) so I used a combination of madness, Lollth's plans and drow house politics. The High Priestess was betrayed by her own, demons attacked, Menzoberranzan is a bit messed up and now some PCs are ruining Lollth's plan. So now Lollth herself is guiding the High Priestess to find the escaped PCs as she/it noticed what they are doing (trying to stop the demon invasion, which was kind of Lollth's doing).

So there's a lenghty answer that hopefully gives some ideas from a fellow DM. Perhaps all this can be summarized as "Use the Drow Pursuit to chase players around the Underdark for the first half and juice up their backstory a bit, as the book doesn't offer a straightforward or a sensible reason".

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    \$\begingroup\$ The book does give a sensible reason, page 24 under "Drow Pursuit" says that Ilvara grows more and more obsessed in catching the escapees. I wasn't looking for a why the drow are chasing them, I got that part locked down, but do they chase through the Darklake, given how vague the book seems to be. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Aug 11 '16 at 8:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the book just basically says "they're mad and obsessed". But about the Darklake part, I'd maybe give the players a moment of relief from the drow and not send drow boats after them and assume they use divine magic to find out where they are going, and then just hit the players with a drow squad right in their face when they land. The book itself doesn't say anything about drow on boats. \$\endgroup\$ – Sami Anselmi Aug 11 '16 at 8:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly! There is no Darklake Chase Complications (not that you can't make one up) \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Aug 11 '16 at 8:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah. The book leaves a lot for the DM to figure out for herself. A good sourcebook for a sandboxish D&D-campaign anyways! \$\endgroup\$ – Sami Anselmi Aug 11 '16 at 8:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps the drow are using the Underdark Wide Web for communication. \$\endgroup\$ – Olorin Aug 12 '16 at 18:49
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The very first page of Chapter 3 (p.38) states

"...water travel makes it difficult for their drow pursuers to track them"

and then later (on p.44), we read

"Travel along the waterways of the Darklarke is and excellent way to throw off their drow pursuers (see chapter 2 for details)"

...so I think that's all the evidence we need that the drow DO, in fact, continue to track them and that you are supposed to use the rules from chapter 2.

So the question then becomes, how does being on the Darklake affect the base pursuit rules from Chapter 2 p.24? I would say that they don't change at all. You

"decrease the pursuit level by 1 for each time the characters cross or traverse some feature that obscures their trail, such as a subterranean river."

...so that's going to be every day they are on the Darklake, and that's why its an excellent way to throw off pursuers. All other things being equal, you are reducing your pursuit level by at least 1 each day.

None of the random terrain encounters from chapter 3 provide the kind of pursuit modification you find in their chapter 2 counterparts, but that's because they all involve crossing water in one way or another so you just apply the 1 point reduction as stated above.

Of course the other factors that raise or lower pursuit level are still in play, such as

"increase the pursuit level by 1 each time the party has a random encounter with one or more creatures, unless the encounter is bypassed or avoided completely."

Traveling at a fast or slow pace is going to be relative on the Darklake. We know that drow lack a swimming speed so they are stuck paddling just like the PCs.

I would lower the pursuit level by one for any days that the party is doing forced march rowing (more than 8 hours) and I would raise it by one each day that the party just drifts along with the current such as in a makeshift raft.

I would not allow any party members to make the "covering tracks" checks, since there aren't going to be any tracks in the water.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What were the results of your 2nd to the last paragraph on your game? Have you actually tried this? \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Aug 17 '16 at 0:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't tried it in game yet. My group, 6 days out of Velkynvelve, hits the Darklake in two (RL) weeks when we meet for our next session. I was actually searching for session recaps on google when I came across your question. It gave me an opportunity to think it all through though and I do think its a solid plan. I expect the party will effectively lose the drow by the time they reach Sloobludop. If its not too late, I'll provide an update here in the comments once we run through it. \$\endgroup\$ – Lumenbeing Aug 17 '16 at 1:35

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