In our last session, the party continued their exploration of Származás Keep, particularly some areas below the keep. They had encountered no additional resistance, but had found the potential handiwork and possible escape route of some humanoids that were still unaccounted for. They also discovered an area under one of the towers that looked to have not been visited in quite some time. Reaching the second level down, they discovered a lab of some sorts with various equipment and tables about the chamber as well as six statues of fully armored “humans” ringing the edges of the circular room. They party formed an outward facing circle around the trap door leading to the next level, assuming that the “statues” would animate. Wink lifted the door and that is where we pick up after the break.
This recap is from Muse. Forest and Claudia were missing. Bridgett joined us again and played Raspin and RJ played Wink. As usual, my GM comments are in [brackets and italics]. There are potential spoilers for The Vault of Larin Karr as well as the Crucible of Freya below the break.
As Wink opens the trap door, the six statues begin to [slowly] move and approach the group.
Cailana and Raspin immediately attack with Cailana striking a lucky blow as her sword thrusts up between the helmet and armor of the figure, killing it instantly.
A difficult battle ensues as the armor the figures wear is tough to penetrate and requires careful aimed thrusts to drive swords into the eye holes of their helmets. Although she discovers this tricky shot to take out the statues, Serena is badly injured in the fight as another reaches out and tears a rib from her body.
[If you hadn’t guessed it, the statues were undead in full chain armor with full helms. The armor combined with the unnatural toughness of the undead did, in fact, make it very difficult for regular old attacks to penetrate without damage exploding. The players caught on to this pretty quickly and so we discussed various options that they could use…including a called shot to the narrow eye slits of the helmets.
Wink’s ‘Rend the Veil’ spell (aka blast with AP4) was also pretty effective against the creatures. He took out at least a couple of them…along with parts of the chamber’s wall and the earth beyond. The spell unleashes “dark, other-worldly energies that eat away at reality itself.” The spell disintegrates anything killed by it or if an inanimate object, the damage exceeds the object’s Toughness. Pretty handy if you don’t want to leave bodies behind, but also a bit risky to use if you want to recover something from said bodies.
Serena was incapacitated by one of the zombies. We are using a Heroes Never Die setting rule and modified the for incapacitation so death is not an option. Permanent injury is still a possibility and that’s what happened: Guts > Battered > a floating rib ripped out by the talons poking out from the chain gauntlets…talons covered in a putrid blood.
That bit hadn’t been mentioned yet had it.]
The party continues it’s efforts, desperately trying to defeat all 6 creatures in order to get to their fallen comrade.
Finally the last of the creatures is taken down. As Cailana and Raspin set about to decapitate the bodies, Faelan heals himself, and then Serena, before they both heal Wink.
The party searches the room but finds nothing of interest or worth. Faelen removes one of the helmets and discovers a rotting skull of humanoid proportions, festering with maggots.
[There was a book that didn’t look quite as old as the rest of the items in the room. More on that later…]
Wink steps to the trap door and opens it, dropping a torch down the opening. The torch bounces off a skeletal corpse resting atop a dais before rolling away.
Being ever curious, Wink ties the rope to himself and lowers himself down the opening. What he can see in the dim light is a frigid chamber, covered in dust and what appears to be shards of dark glass.
[The temperature in the chamber was unnaturally cold…just above freezing.]
There are six sarcophagi spaced around the walls of the chamber covered in symbols. The skeletal corpse lies draped atop a dark stone dais [covered in symbols and script]. One hand clutches a staff and the other is out to it’s side, near that hand is a broken flask.
Climbing back out of the chamber, Wink outlines his plan to Raspin.
Raspin will lower Wink down far enough for Wink to grab the staff and then quickly pull him back up.
Serena and Cailana advise caution and instead suggest that Wink go back down and take a closer look at the symbols. He agrees and goes down into the chamber again.
This time, although not able to read them, the symbols appear to be ancient and either infernal or demonic.
[Wink couldn’t quite place the language based on his various studies, but he was convinced that it was a language of Hell. One symbol in particular was repeated more often than any other. Unfortunately, Wink did not recognize it either. It might best be described as a stylized demonic type deer skull with look to be insect mandibles…shiver.]
Cailana and Serena really do not want the staff to be retrieved and advocate for destroying it. Wink however wants to retrieve it and then decide what to do with it. The plan now is that Wink will douse the area in lamp oil, grab the staff, set the oil aflame and have the party pull him to safety.
Raspin lowers Wink, but in a fit of pique, decides to swing Wink around like a pendulum as Wink douses the area in oil before grabbing the staff.
[This did give Wink the opportunity to get a better look at the sarcophagi around the edge of the chamber. Each had a front that looked like a person screaming in terror and struggling to force their way out.]
Immediately, the temperature plummets. The loose shards that were just littering the ground, now start to swirl viciously through the air, slicing at both Wink and the rope to which he is attached.
Wink panics and starts shouting for Raspin to pull him up! The party quickly does so, though not before Wink and the rope, are struck by the shards.
[Think shards of obsidian glass…Wink was wounded and the rope started to fray.]
As the party pulls Wink through the opening, Cailana leaps aside and slams the trapdoor shut. As she does so, she can hear and anguished voice yelling…Nooooo!
The trapdoor slams open on it’s on [as a wind gushed through, bringing dust and shards with it]. The party slams it shut once more as Raspin jumps atop it to hold it shut. The party races and piles bodies and whatever bits of furniture they can find atop the trap door,as the noise and cacophony below continues.
[Whatever was below continued trying to force open the trap door as the below takes place.]
Raspin takes the staff from Wink to inspect it. It is approximately six feet in length and made of twisted burnt wood. At the top is a crystal orb that appears to be filled with a twisting swirling smoke.
A discussion, almost an argument, ensues what to do with the staff.
Wink has decided that he wants to attune to the staff to discover what it is, and then leave and let someone else come back and deal with whatever is in the chamber below. The others want to destroy the staff, but realize they may not be powerful enough to do so. Faelan and Serena look at the book that was found in the [lab] chamber to see if it perhaps offers any clues, but alas, it is merely an introductory treatise on the undead and about how to contain the undead.
[Think of a sort of freshman primer on undead. The book was an imprint of the University of Bard’s Gate.
We are using a variation of the Hellfrost rules for artifacts. In a nutshell, you spend a Benny to “attune” the magic item and you then mostly know what it is and what it does. You are affected by any curse or negative aspects of the item as well.]
Not sure which direction to take, the party decides to let Wink attune himself to the staff in the hopes that knowledge is power and that if they know what it is, they can be better prepared.
The party does however take certain precautions and they securely tie and bind Wink before allowing him to attune to the staff.
Wink’s eyes close and when they reopen, the noise below has stopped. The party immediately begins questioning Wink about the staff.
Wink reveals that it is a staff of shadows and tries to downplay what the staff can do, focusing on its ability to call forth his own shadow to act as an ally. It is only through Raspin’s repeated questions and refusal to believe that that is all the staff does, that Wink reveals that the staff does have a vampiric touch attack, but that of course, Wink would never use such a spell!
[Wink essentially described that vampriric touch attack as he can touch someone with the staff to draw away some of their life force to heal himself. He also described a third power of the staff, but only as calling forth scary faces and claws. This kind of got lost in the discussion of everything else.]
Serena and Cailana are not happy and want the staff destroyed, but are at a loss about how best to accomplish that, or again, if they are even powerful enough to do so. The secondary concern is whether to stay or to go back to town. If we stay, the hobgoblins and orc that got away could be bringing reinforcements that we might not be prepared for, especially as there is not a very defensible spot for us to fortify ourselves into. On the other hand, by leaving, we may lose what inroads we have made.
Erring on the side of caution, we agree that the best course of action is to head back to town and inform the captain of what is going on.
We head straight for the Captain’s quarters and to say he is aghast at the party’s doings is an understatement. He is not impressed and orders a written reporting of what happened and he actually offers the party 200 gold to leave the village and never return! Cailana and Serena try and explain, even letting him know that the party has taken out 16 hobgoblins AND and ogre!
[The guard that escorted them to the Captain’s office indicated that they could go right in. So, of course, the Captain chastised them for not even knocking before entering…total classic setup by a jerk guard.😉
Captain Bernhard just wanted them to provide a written report in the morning…a report that they would all sign and that would provide a written record of their activities. Serena and Cailana pushed back and stressed that it was important that he know stuff now. Eventually, all agreed that there was no immediate threat to Presov that night and so the report would suffice.
He seemed less than impressed at the body count and more concerned about what the party might have stirred up…now listing off goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, and maybe ogres as creatures might be “agitated” by the group’s activities at this point.
When the party turned down the 200gp offer, the Captain offered Raspin some 285gp…his entire life savings…to force the others to leave. That was declined as well. Clearly, the Captain wants the party gone. Is it only because of his dislike of adventures and the trouble they stir up…or might there be more to it…hmmm.]
He orders the party to leave and demands that the written report be on his desk by dawn.
[Bernhard has been a lot of fun to play and the players are taking his less than friendly attitude in stride in their own ways and I think having fun with it too.]
Making their way back to the Lonesome Drake Inn for food and drink, Bruno welcomes them warmly and soon they are enjoying food and ale. The party notices that the dwarves have not yet returned and hope that that does not mean that they have discovered the vault before us!
[For those that might not remember, the party had meet a rival band of adventurers…all dwarves…calling themselves the Dwarves of the Shattered Axe or something like that. They tried to recruit Raspin…unsuccessfully…and then claiming that they’d find the Vault of Larin Karr before the PCs would!]
Suddenly, a scream rends the air and the party rushes outside, trying to locate the source, asking those they see if they knew where it was coming from [as others came running out from the buildings around the village square].
A second scream is heard and this time the party can tell it is from the temple.
Cailana takes off running, her speed quickly covering the distance [ahead of anyone else]. She throws open the doors and sees the priestess lying on the ground with a large human shadow hovering above her, with what appears to be it’s fingers sunk into her skull.
The shadow, upon hearing Cailana enter, looks up and laughs maniacally before disappearing.
Cailana immediately rushes to the priestess, but it is too late. Sandra is dead. Her skin looks shrunken and discolored [around where the “fingers” had been in her skull], looking like the life has been sucked out of her.
The others arrive on the scene and as they do, Wink feels a soft caress against his cheek (he does not disclose this to the party, it’s only here for reference).
The party searches the chamber for clues as Raspin angrily questions Wink about the attack [nearly accusing him of being responsible for the attack].
Knowing that the Captain will soon be here, Faelan, Raspin, and Wink return to the inn.
As Cailana covers the body and Serena says a prayer, the Captain bursts through the door of the temple.
[And that, of course, is where we ended the session.
Phew…a lot has happened in the last couple of sessions and a lot of new plot threads are now dangling out there. Who were the hobgoblins and where have the survivors gone? Who was the orc and what was his relationship with the hobgoblins? Where is Professor Arnek? Was he actually at the keep or were the Bard’s Gate clues from someone else? Who were the slain dwarves found beneath the keep? What’s up with the “spirit” in the abandoned torture room beneath the keep? What about the vault? What might it contain? What about the levels with the lab, the skeleton, and staff below the tower? What is that all about? What’s the symbol that was more prominent on the dais upon which the skeleton lay? What is the language of the script upon the dais? Why was Wink so cagey about his new staff? What was the shadowy figure that killed the priestess, Sandra Papnő? I’m sure I missed some as well…not to mention any of the prior stuff. 😉
Oh…and how is Captain Bernhard going to respond to Sandra’s death? Things could get ugly…
Beer Log: Beers shared this session using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.
- Beachwood Brewing A Friend of Bine: A very tasty, floral, and hoppy IPA. Good stuff and a hit!
- The Bruery Goses Are Red: Let’s see…I like a good gose, I like coriander quite a bit, and I like a nice tartness. Delicious! I’m going to call this one a crit!
- Grimm Blackberry Orange Pop!: At first, this one seemed a little weird. Then it was good. Nice fruity flavor with that hing of tart and kind of, well, a bit like a soda. A hit.
- Almanac Vanilla Cherry Dogpatch: Almanac…check. Sour…check. A hit…check.]