View Full Version : Campaign Log: Bleak Island

2013-07-02, 12:37 AM
I've been wanting to do one of these for awhile now, but unfortunately, due to real life getting in the way (scheduling and the gaming group having moved out in two different directions, resulting in an hour drive one way to meet in the middle), haven't had the opportunity.

But, I've got the whole week off from work, so I decided to put together something for just my girlfriend. Since she's the only player, and the game isn't really meant to be soloed like that, I've provided her with two NPC helpers. They're subservient to her and generally do what she tells them to (i.e. she's in charge of the group). I've tried to give them enough personality for them to feel like real players in the narrative, so hopefully that won't detract too much from it. At least this gives her an opportunity to work on her role playing. She gets easily embarrassed and tends to drop out of character in normal games.

Anyway, some background info about the setting before we delve into the campaign log itself:

The Aberant setting is an E6 world. Its defining characteristic is that the regular pantheon is replaced with worship of the One True God for most of the civilized world, with worship of nature spirits considered to be little more than pagan rituals. Divine casters (at least the clerics and paladins) are revered, and arcane casters are mistrusted but tolerated at best, and sometimes attacked in rural settings where the villages are more superstitious. Evil casters tend to worship demon spirits, and make pacts with them in return for their power.

The government is a theocracy, with the Church ruling from the Capital. The Church controls almost everything, including the military and trade licensing. While worship of the One True God is widespread, not everyone is happy with it, or with the amount of authority the Church wields, so scattered resistances crop up from time to time. These are usually small and unorganized, and are quickly crushed.

Human names are usually conventional modern names, while other races, such as the elves and dwarves, maintain a more traditional flavor. This was mostly put in place because the setting is predominantly human, and I didn’t want to generate tons of random fantasy names.

The Party:
Ursula (human fighter) <-- the only actual player
Chet (human rogue)
Selandris (elf sorcerer)

I built the NPCs for her. Everyone starts at level 1, with a budget of about 200 gold for buying equipment.

2013-07-02, 12:39 AM
Session 1: A Storm at Sea

The party sits in a huddle, chained together in the hold of a ship known as The Light of Dawn. They are prisoners, awaiting arrival at the Capital, where they will be interrogated by the Church on charges of heresy, banditry, and rebellion. Selandris, the elven sorcerer, has been charged with heresy for his use of magic not granted by God. Chet is a member of a rebellion centered near New Hope, a major city across the Shining Sea. His group was attacking and robbing a caravan outside the city when Ursula, a traveling warrior, happened to walk by. Unfortunately, it was at that exact moment that a powerful paladin and his companions broke up the robbery, and she was arrested along with the rebels.

A terrible storm tosses the ship around, and worse, the sounds of battle can be heard overhead. The fighting has stretched on for several long minutes, and the party can do nothing but wait anxiously. Finally, a man descends into the hold. He is a sailor, and he approaches the party hesitantly. He tells them that the captain has arranged for them to be released to fight the sea demons that are attacking the ship.

“And why would we want to that?” asks Chet.

“We’ll end up at the bottom of the sea at this rate. We need more fighters,” the sailor tells him. He hands over the key, then scurries back up the ladder to the deck.

The party has a brief discussion of their options, which are limited, and decides that their only real course of action is to help defend the ship. They arm themselves and climb up to the deck.

Sea demons are squat creatures covered in fine scales ranging from hues of sea green and blue to pale white. A series of gills line their necks, and thick webbing connects their fingers. Wide fins run down their backs and arms. Sea demon stat blocks are identical to goblins, except that their armor is all natural, they have a swim speed of 30, and instead of weapons, they have claw attacks and a powerful water jet (+3 to attack rolls, 1d4 damage) they shoot out of their mouths. They can only use this ability once before they must submerge themselves in water again to take in more water.

The ship’s being tossed about by the storm means that all actions require a balance check to perform (DC: 9). Failure means a -2 penalty any actions that round, failure by 5 or more means the character falls prone. Additionally, because of the intense storm, all combatants have concealment, granting them a 20% chance to avoid all attacks that would have hit them.

The party engages three sea demons, and Ursula immediately grabs hold of some loose rigging with one hand to help her keep her balance. This makes using her favored weapon, a great axe, impossible, so she switches it for the longsword she keeps for when she wants to fight with a sword and shield. Using the rigging to help her keep her balance grants her a +2 circumstance bonus to balance checks.

After a few rounds of tumbling about the ship, Selandris decides to cast sleep on the sea demons. Two of them fail their will saves, and Ursula and Chet flank the third, quickly killing it. They then coup de grâce the remaining two. More sea demons climb over the rail, but at that moment, The Light of Dawn runs aground against a sand bar. The impact tosses everyone off their feet, and Selandris trips over a coil of rope and tumbles overboard.

A loud crack sounds as the ship’s side is ripped out and it begins to sink into the water. It breaks practically in half, and Ursula goes over the side. Selandris clings to a piece of wood, and offers it to the fighter, who is already sinking in her armor. Together, they swim towards a small life boat still intact.

Chet dives over the side to escape the sea demons, and the three of them climb onto the life boat. It carries them away, but a lone sea demon chases after it, attacking them repeatedly with its aqua jet attacks. Chet tries to shoot it with his bow, but misses. Selandris takes up his heavy crossbow and puts a bolt in its eye, killing it.

The storm tosses them about, and the boat capsizes. They drift through the water for hours, and eventually wash up on a strange shore. The storm is still raging, so they decide to seek shelter under the boughs of a nearby forest. They’ve barely entered the tree line when a voice calls out to them. A druid named Thomas stands under the shelter of the trees, and he invites them back to the cave he’s sheltering in from the storm.

They explain to him about the ship and the sea demons, and Ursula complains about her wrongful arrest. Thomas is sympathetic, as the druids have long been persecuted by the Church as well. He offers to escort them to the island’s only village, Little Hangleton, once the storm has blown over. The party dries out overnight by the small campfire, and in the morning, they follow Thomas through the forest.

They exit the forest, and are immediately greeted by two sights. The first is the village at the end of a trail leading down below the bluffs. The second is a large church on the bluff itself. When questioned about the Church’s presence on the island, Thomas tells them that men of the Faith came half a century ago to convert the natives, but that it ended poorly for them and they abandoned the building when they left.

He breaks off his narrative when he realizes that the church doors are open. He panics and the party tries to calm him down. Eventually they get out of him that the church has been magically sealed closed by the druids, and that its interior is infested with undead. The doors should never be open, for any reason.

He asks the party to help him look into it, and explains that he can temporarily repower the seals if they can reach the center of the church, where the living spell focus, a great tree, grows up from the basement of the church through its roof. Chet wants nothing to do with undead, but Ursula grabs him by the scruff of his neck when he attempts to run.

“But... undead are immune to sneak attack,” he whines.

The party enters the church foyer and immediately find three dead zombies
and a powdery pile of bones. Ursula and Selandris investigate the corpses while Chet nervously watches two open doors, one on either side of the foyer.

They come to the conclusion that the zombies were slain by someone wielding a great sword, and immediately, the man who captured them comes to mind. His name is Tobias Aut, and he is a powerful paladin of the Faith. He wields just such a weapon as was used.

Before they can investigate any further, a trio of skeletons shambles out of the side rooms and attack the party. Ursula and Thomas batter one down, though their slashing weapons are ineffective against the skeleton. Thomas uses a produce flame spell, but misses his touch attack and gets struck in return. Selandris kills another with two disrupt undead spells. Chet finds himself in trouble as a skeleton crits him, dropping him from 7 to 1 hp. He turns tail and runs out the front door of the church.

The three remaining party members kill the last skeleton, though not before one of them injures Ursula. Chet sheepishly rejoins the party, and Thomas heals both their wounds. The party isn’t sure they’re capable of handling the undead in the church, but Thomas assures them they have only to open the double doors on the north wall and enter the atrium and allow him time to reactivate the seals.

They enter the atrium, which is filled with rows of rotted pews. The stained glass windows have been grown over with mossy vegetation, tinting the light. Where an altar or podium might have stood is instead an immense tree, easily ten feet in diameter. It bursts up through the floor and passes through the ceiling, where its spreading branches can be seen through holes in the roof.
Thomas approaches it and puts both hands on the tree’s trunk. He asks the party to keep him safe while he reactivates the seals. He works for several long moments, and scraping sounds can be heard coming from the side rooms to the left and right of the tree. While he’s concentrating, a pair of zombies appears, one from either door.

Ursula tells Selandris to focus his magic on the left one, and she charges the right. She connects with her great axe, a solid hit that takes half its health in one strike. Similarly, Selandris rolls max damage on his disrupt undead and deals 7 damage to his target. Chet critically fumbles his attack roll with his bow, and accidentally shoots Thomas instead (3 damage of friendly fire!). The zombie near him also attacks Thomas, forcing the druid to interrupt his ritual and defend himself.

The zombie Ursula attacked rolls a critical hit and deals her 9 points of damage, dropping her to -1 and knocking her out of the fight. Selandris hits it with a disrupt undead, this time dealing 6, almost enough to kill the zombie. Chet rushes across the room, scoops up Ursula’s axe and, despite not having any proficieny with the weapon (and a 0 strength mod), takes a swing at the zombie. He hits anyway, rolls max damage, and destroys it.

Thomas finishes off the second zombie, and stabilizes Ursula. He finishes his ritual, and they carry her out of the church. On their way out, Chet notices a pile of supplies in one of the side chambers and takes them.

They carry Ursula down to the village and get her into a bed. She wakes up after some quick healing. Selandris has stayed with her, while Thomas and Chet have left to talk to the mayor of Little Hangleton, a portly older man named Brandon Woldrust. As the two are chatting, Selandris sees the door to the town hall across the street fly open, and a tall woman with shaggy black hair storms out.

She shouts back into the building, “You’ll regret this decision!” She then runs off down the road leading out of the village.

Ursula and Selandris discuss what they witnessed, and who the woman was. A little while later, the door to the room opens, and Chet and the mayor enter. Mayor Woldrust wants to check on Ursula and meet the rest of the strangers who’ve come to his village. They ask him who the woman was, and he sourly tells them that her name is Patricia Faust, and she’s one of the lycanthropes who live in the forest. They’re holding a man named Peter Ribehost, who is also a werewolf. They didn’t realize it, but he was exposed, and now they’re worried about why he was hiding his lycanthropy and living in town. They think he was spying on them for the werewolf tribe. Patricia came to town to demand his release, but Mayor Woldrust refused to allow it.

Ursula remarks that the island seems to have a lot of problems between the undead and the werewolves, in addition to the presence of Tobias Aut and his companions on the island. The natives of Little Hangleton and the druids living in the forest all worship nature spirits, something the Church considers to be nonsensical heresy. The mayor grumpily agrees with her. He says he has a council meeting to attend, and leaves the party to recuperate.

2013-07-03, 03:31 PM
Session 2: Bad Times

After a day of bed rest, Ursula is back on her feet, and the party divides up the spoils of Chet’s thievery. There’s nothing special in there, just a backpack, rope, three candles, a lantern and a flask of oil, five days worth of rations, a masterwork dagger, a silver holy symbol of the Faith, a small belt pouch with 100 gold in it, and a flask of holy water.

Chet claims the dagger, and Selandris takes the flask of holy water. They divide up the rest, and no one seems to want the holy symbol, so it sits in the bottom of the backpack. After, Ursula climbs out of bed and meets her host, an elf herbalist named Amurstia. Her and Selandris have been having long talks in their native language, something Ursula doesn’t speak. Chet does, but he assures her that it’s nothing interesting, just some catching up on events on the main land over the last century.

Ursula asks Amurstia if the druids have arrived to reseal the church. They haven’t, and they’ve had no word from them yet. She thanks the elf, and the party leaves to explore the town. They wander around, stopping to talk to the town’s most noticeable citizen, a dwarf blacksmith named Tauk Ironstriker. Tauk is busy though, and gives her a gruff and curt dismissal. His assistant, a man named Bruce, apologizes. Bruce is Thomas’s cousin, and looks extremely similar to the druid.

Eventually, they end up on the outskirts of town, at a small cottage owned by the village’s other herbalist, a woman named Anita Tak. She notices them from her garden and invites them in for tea. They learn from her about some local politics, such as the fact that the island is heavily forested, and that the druids control the forests south of the river, but the lycanthropes claim everything north side.

Ursula asks how to find the druids, and Anita laughs and says the best way is to wander the forest until she runs into one. They move around a lot, and it’s mostly persistence with a little luck thrown in. She brews Ursula a tea to help reduce the pain of her remaining injuries and allow her to mend quicker.

The party stops to talk to one more group, a trio of men standing guard at the cemetery. They are watching to make sure that Little Hangleton has ample warning if the dead rise from their graves. One of the trio is a casual flirt, but Ursula brushes off his advances.

That night, the alarm goes up as the men run through the village yelling, “The Dead are rising!” Everyone turns out, and dozens of torches flare up. The mayor and the councilmen organize the villagers into mob squads, with the instructions to destroy the undead with overwhelming force. No one is to take them on single handedly.

The party joins in the fight. Chet is reluctant to fight after their experience in the church, and Ursula decides to use a sword and shield since she still hasn’t fully recovered from the last battle. Their first fight is a pair of skeletons they find shuffling forward off of a side street.

At this point, no one in the party was able to roll anything higher than a five for the duration of the fight, and it ended up being a TPK by two skeletons. Normally, the dice fall where they will, but this was completely ridiculous. We weren't happy with this result, took a solid half an hour break, then came back and restarted. Dice rolls were much more normalized the second time, and they quickly ended combat.

A zombie is their next victim, though the dice gods are again against the party. Ursula rolls 1 damage four times in a row, and Selandris’s disrupt undeads never manages higher than 3 damage. Finally, they run into a ghoul, who manages to bite Chet and infect him with ghoul fever before being slain. Chet fails his fort save miserably, and loses a point of dex and con.

The villagers drag the bodies of the fallen into the town square, and a great funeral pyre is built for them. Ursula asks the mayor if they are burning the undead bodies or the village defenders, and he tells her that custom dictates a burial for the deceased, but they don’t want to fight their neighbors tomorrow, so they’re all being burnt. An infirmary is set up in the town hall for the wounded, and Chet is sent there along with the villagers.

The next day, the party wakes to the sound of Mayor Woldrust talking to Amurstia. As the person most familiar with the forest, she has the best shot of finding the druids. They should have made an appearance, and he fears that the lycanthropes have finally made their move. Amurstia isn’t comfortable wandering deep into the forest alone, and asks the party is they’ll accompany her. Since they wanted to see the druids anyway, it works out well for everyone.

The party collects Chet, who agrees that seeing the druids might be just the thing he needs for the diseased bite on his arm. Following Amurstia’s lead, they set off into the forest. She takes them through various spots in the forest, but has no luck finding the druids. As night falls, she becomes uneasy. She tells the party that there’s another spot to check, but it’ll be well after dark before they reach it, unless they take a shortcut.

There is a part of the woods known as Spiderhome. Only the foolish and unwary venture through it, but Little Hangleton needs the druids, so she suggests they make an attempt. If they’re lucky, they won’t meet any of the residents of Spiderhome.

The party cuts through Spiderhome, making frequent spot and listen checks, but they see no trace of its denizens. Selandris is so busy staring at the webbed boughs above him that he trips over the body of a man, desiccated and dead. Amurstia informs the party in a troubled tone that he’s a werewolf named Neil, and Ursula quickly points out that werewolves aren’t supposed to be south of the river.

Chet strips the man down, discovering a pack full of golden trinkets, a bottle of elven wine, and a finely crafted masterwork longsword, also of elven make. After looting the body, they try to push forward, only to discover that they’ve reached a deadend of webbed trees. Chet gets caught briefly in the web, and while he’s freeing himself, two monstrous small spiders, both the size of labradors, descend silently on silken webs and ambush the party.

They land on Selandris and Amurstia. They make their surprise attacks, both misses, and are tossed off. Selandris starts to cast a sleep spell on them, but changes his mind and stabs the closest one with his sword instead. Ursula comes up behind to flank it and finishes it off. Chet misses his attack, but the remaining spider doesn’t. He fails his fortitude save and takes several point of strength damage.

The party kills both spiders, but not before the scuffle attracts an even larger one, which also bites Chet. His streak of miserable fort saves continues, and by the time the second spider dies, he’s down to 2 strength, not to mention 1 hp from the bite damage. The group hurries through the rest of Spiderhome, Chet half carried by Ursula.

They find the druids in a sheltered glade. All of them bear wounds, several are dead, and some are so wounded that they can’t walk on their own. Amurstia takes the party to a portly, middle aged druid named Sylvia, who is the mayor’s sister. She explains that they were attacked by a large band of gnolls, and points out the dead monsters piled high on the far side of the glade.

Amurstia tries to impress the urgency of the mayor’s request on Sylvia, who is the archdruid of the circle. Unfortunately, as Sylvia explains it, it will be at least a few days before they have everyone still living on their feet, and they also have the funeral rites for their dead to perform. She notices the poor shape that Chet and Ursula are in (Ursula’s player has made frequent complaints about lack of magical healing), and tells them to rest the night with the druids, and she’ll see if she can do something for them in the morning.

Before she turns in for the night, Ursula takes a look at the gnoll corpses. Two druids are stripping them down, each scowling in disgust as they remove the metal weapons and armor. All of the gnolls are using fine elven crafted equipment, though not as nice as the longsword the party took from the dead werewolf.

The druids tell her to help herself to any of it, as they have no use or desire to keep it. She takes a set of chainmail, but declines anything further. Selandris checks it over, and an intelligence check reveals that every piece of elven-made equipment they’ve found comes from either House Arkestia or House Sakroa. Both elven houses are hundreds of miles away, and he has no idea how the gnolls came to have the gear.

The next day, Sylvia magically cures Chet’s ghoul fever. She tells him that he’s lucky to have come to her, she’s one of the few druids powerful enough to do it. She gives the party a message explaining what happened to the druids to return to the mayor with. She also gives the group 4 vials of what appears to be clear water, and explains that if they find themselves injured, to drink the contents. She remarks that while the druids could use it, it won’t really get the whole circle healed up any faster, and she has a feeling they’ll need it more.

The druids have invested enough magical healing into their wounded that they’re ready to move camp to a more defensible location. Sylvia bids the party farewell, and they head back towards town.

Amidus Drexel
2013-07-03, 10:34 PM
This is pretty interesting. I'll be waiting patiently(ish) for the rest of it. :smallcool:


2013-07-05, 10:30 AM
I forgot to manage in the last post that after the battle with the spiders, the party reaches level 2. Oops. They finishes this session a few hundred xp shy of hitting 3.

Session 3: The Stone Breakers

The first order of business after reaching Little Hangleton is to pass along Sylvia’s message to her brother. As the party approaches the town hall to do so, however, they hear a familiar voice from within the building. Tobias has finally found his way to the village, and is demanding to be given unilateral control of the local militia to fight back the undead.

The party hesitates at the door, and Chet flat out refuses to go in. The rest of the party bucks up and enters the council room with Amurstia while Chet leaves the building. Inside, they see the village council seated on one side of a table, with Tobias standing on the other. Off to the side are two people: Cheyenne Maer, a cleric, and Rudy Black, a ranger. Both work with Tobias, and both share his high minded dislike of the common folk.

Rudy notices the party first, and alerts Tobias. He turns around and points an accusatory finger at Ursula and Selandris, and tells the council that they’re criminals. Mayor Woldrust leaps to their defense and informs Tobias that the party has been nothing but helpful since they arrived several days earlier.

Tobias begins ranting about the party’s supposed crimes, and when he names Selandris as a heretic, another member of the council, a dwarf named Irot Ironstriker, explodes on him. He angrily informs Tobias that the Church’s condemnation of people as heretics is what caused all their problems fifty years ago.

Several generations back, the Church sent a ship to the island to convert the natives over. With them came a number of what those of the Faith considered to be second class citizens, including Irot and his kin, as well as the family of elves living on the island. Also with them was a wizard named Richard Faust that they thought they had control of. It turned out that they didn’t, and they had him executed.

Faust didn’t stay dead though, but returned as a powerful undead menace and began animating the deceased in the nearby graveyards. The Church packed up their clergy, hoisted anchor, and abandoned those they didn’t care about to their fate, including the dwarves and elves they’d forced into coming with them as slave labor.

Tobias retorts that if the Church really caused so many problems, then it’s his responsibility to solve them, and stomps out of the council room. His companions follow him, and the mayor sighs heavily. The party reports to him what they learned about the druids, and Ursula throws in that they found a werewolf’s corpse on the south side of the river. She shows them the piece of elven-made armor she took from the gnolls, and hands over the message Sylvia wrote for him to read.

He recites its contents aloud, and the council doesn’t take well to the news that the druids will be several days before they come to aid the beleaguered village. Irot asks what the gnolls looked like, and uses the party’s description to identify them as the Stone Breaker clan. He urges the council to attack the clan den while the gnolls are still weak from their assault on the druids.

The mayor argues that Irot’s motivations lie elsewhere, that he’s wanted to wipe out the Stone Breakers for years due to them being located so close to the mines where he works and their attempts to raid the wagon loads of ore being shipped to town. The council never agreed to the attack because the gnoll clan was too strong for one thing, and because their den is within the werewolves’ claimed territory.

Irot wins his argument, and he recruits the party to come with him. He takes them to the blacksmith’s forge to meet his brothers: Naol, Kolt, and and Tauk (whom they’ve already met). Ursula informs Bruce of his Thomas’s death, as he is the only relative she knows of the druid. The rowdy dwarven brothers pack up their gear and set off north in a wagon, Irot exclaiming wildly that he lost his favorite helmet to the gnolls a while back, and he’s looking forward to getting it back. As they roll out of town, Selandris notices Rudy watching them intently and informs his companions.

He informs the others, but there isn’t much to be done about it. Ursula grumbles that he’s probably running back to Tobias to tell the paladin what they’re up to. She says they should expect some interference from Tobias’s group before it’s all said and done. Chet grins at her and says, “How many paladins does it take to change a torch out? Three. One to change it, one to praise the One True God, and one to lecture everyone on the moral importance of torch changing.”

They come to a stop about an hour away from the town, and Irot explains his strategy. The gnoll’s holding is two parts. One is above ground, and is composed of tents made of animal skins and the like, and the other is underground in the shallow caves in the mountains. The gnolls living in the caves are the bigger, more aggressive ones, and that’s why they get the better living arrangements.

What he wants to do is split the group, sending the dwarves into the caves (with their darkvision to help them see), and have the party guard the entrance to prevent the gnolls above ground from flanking them. The party agrees to his strategy, and they approach the den.

When they get there, they find that not only are there the expected gnolls, but also half a dozen wolves loitering around as well. Irot shrugs, says it makes no difference, and the entire dwarven tribe begins a rumbling charge towards the caves. One gnoll is slain outright as they pass by, and the party follows in their wake.

They make their stand at the cave entrance after the dwarves go in, and immediately are attacked by two gnolls and a wolf. Chet leads off combat with an arrow, which misses terribly, then the wolf gets a bite on him and Ursula gets flanked and battered by both gnolls. Selandris drops a sleep spell on them, which only one gnoll manages to resist. Chet moves in for a flank and adds his sneak attack dice to the attack, felling the gnoll, and they coup de grâce the remaining two enemies.

Every three rounds, new enemies join the fight, but the party is up to the challenge. Ursula and Chet both find a spare round to drink a healing potion before another wolf attacks them. They make quick work of it, but it’s quickly followed by two more gnolls. The party flanks one gnoll and cuts it apart, while Ursula absorbs a critical hit from the other one. Selandris draws his own longsword to help, but not before another pair of wolves rush in.

A second sleep spell fails miserably, not affecting a single target, but next round, the third one works brilliantly, putting all three enemies under. Another round of coup de grace cleans the gnolls up nicely, and gives Ursula time to drink another healing potion. The last round comes in after that, two wolves and a gnoll. They flank one, allowing Chet to kill it in one go with a critical with added sneak attack dice, and Ursula kills the second wolf. The gnoll turns tail and flees for its life.

Before the party can pursue, they notice a familiar face exiting the caves and running for the woods. It’s none other than Anita Tak, the herbalist who lives in the cottage at the edge of town. She shifts into a wolf as they watch, and Ursula tells her companions to keep guard over the cave while she runs off after the werewolf.

She gets only a couple hundred feet into the trees before she hears the sound of a scuffle. She finds the werewolf, still in wolf form, fighting with Rudy. His attacks aren’t enough to beat her damage reduction, and his weapons aren’t silvered, so he’s not faring well. Ursula jumps into combat and flanks her, and Rudy yells at her not to be stupid. With two of them against one, he orders her to help him grab the werewolf as he goes for a choke hold on her neck.

They manage to grapple her into submission and retrieve a rope from Rudy’s pack. She almost gets away, but between the two of them, they keep hold of her and tie her up. Still in wolf form, they manage to muzzle, collar, and hobble her. They drag her back to the gnoll den, where Chet and Selandris are waiting for them.

Chet raises immediate objections to Rudy’s presence, and he returns the sentiments, only in regards to Chet’s continued existence. Before the argument can spiral out of control, Tauk pokes his head out of the cave, compliments them on the impressive pile of corpses, and tells them to follow him in. He strikes up a torch from his pack and leads them into the caves.

Almost a dozen gnoll corpses litter the interior of the cave, which is a shallow open room with several smaller adjoining chambers. Most of these have animal hides draped over the entrances, and Tauk leads them to one where the hide has been ripped down and piled on the floor.

Inside the room is a huge, hulking specimen of a gnoll. Irot informs them happily that his name is Nartak, the gnoll chieftain. He remarks that they’ve made a capture of their own, and upon hearing that it’s Anita, shakes his head and tells them that it’s her twin sister, Amelia. She was bitten years ago, and her affliction is well known throughout the town.

Naol and Kolt are on either side of Nartak, each with an axe blade to the gnoll’s throat. Nartak’s own weapon, a magically enchanted great axe, lies on the floor across the room. Every single gnoll is well armed and equipped with elf crafted items, and the dwarves want to know where they got it from.

Nartak speaks snarling and halted common, and he laughs in their faces. He puffs his chest and tells them to do their worst. Irot shakes his head, places his own blade at the gnoll’s throat, and tells his brothers to start stripping down the corpses. He wants all the gear packed up and returned to the village to be repaired and distributed among the defenders.

After the other three dwarves have left the room, Nartak seizes his chance. He headbutts Irot and knocks him down, then scoops up his weapon. The party closes in on him and has him dead in two rounds, with Nartak missing his one attack. Irot tries to stop them, but it’s too late by then. The gnoll is down to -5 hp, and no one has any ranks in the heal skill. Irot drops his own axe onto Nartak’s skull, then shrugs, picks up a metal helmet off a nearby shelf, and says, “At least I got my helmet back.”

Ursula claims the +1 great axe as her own, and Chet takes a masterwork short bow out of an armory they found. He also takes the quiver of 20 +1 arrows. Selandris takes a masterwork longbow from the same armory, though he seems doubtful that he’ll use it.

Everything is loaded into the cart, including Amelia Tak. There’s no room left for the dwarves or the party, so they have to walk back. Once they arrive, Amelia is placed in a jail cell next to Peter, the werewolf spy caught several days earlier. The mayor gets the full story of the raid from Irot, and the dwarf brothers invite the party back to the forge to celebrate their victory (and the return of Irot’s helmet). As they’re leaving the town hall, Rudy and Tobias are marching in. The sound of them confronting the mayor can be heard outside the building, but the party wisely decides to keep out of it.

While they’re there, recounting their battle to each other, Irot pulls out two items from a cupboard. He tells Selandris that both belonged to Richard Faust, and were left behind when the clerics fled the island. He has no use for them, but perhaps the sorcerer might. He turns over a Wand of Magic Missile (3rd) and Bracers of Armor +1, both welcome upgrades.

2013-07-05, 11:52 PM
Subscribed! You've got a pretty intriguing plot going on. Keep it up!

2013-07-05, 11:55 PM
Thanks! The next session's written up. We were going to play it tonight, but ended up going to visit friends for a 5th of July post-holiday gathering. So that should get run tomorrow and log'll probably come Sunday.

2013-07-07, 01:50 PM
Session 4: Graveyard Shift

The town is starting to look pretty haggard. People are puffy eyed and sleep deprived, and no one’s been able to get much of anything done due to the constant and nightly undead attacks. A full troop of twenty villagers rotated by shifts is constantly guarding the cemetery, and the most that can be said is that after the initial battle, they’ve managed to avoid any new casualties. The carpenters have been hard at work fortifying the area around the graveyard, building choke points to force the undead through one at a time so as to be more easily handled.

Tobias and his crew haven’t been idle, and their investigation has turned up something interesting. They show up early in the morning to recruit the party. Though reluctant to work with them, Tobias trusts them over any of the villagers. He explains that Cheyenne has uncovered a focal point in a mausoleum in the cemetery, one that she believes is linked to the church. That’s how the evil of the church is spreading into the local graveyard, despite being over a mile away.

The focus is guarded by some powerful magic she’s never seen, but she thinks if they can disrupt the power source in the church, then the focus might become vulnerable. Tobias’s party is going to enter the church, attempt to disrupt the magic, and he wants the other group to destroy the focus in that window. They’re under no illusions that they can stop it completely, but Cheyenne’s been saving a scroll of dispel magic for just such an occasion.

Tobias tells the party to meet him at the town hall when they’re ready, and they’ll split up from there. He walks out without waiting for an answer. Cheyenne and Rudy follow him, though the ranger throws an apologetic glance over his shoulder. As soon as they’re through the door, Chet immediately says, “No way. Why should we help them?” Selandris points out that it’s less about helping Tobias than it is about saving Little Hangleton from further undead attacks. Chet grumbles, but reluctantly agrees to help.

Though they’re still wounded from the battle with the gnolls, they gather their equipment and troop over to the town hall. Tobias stands waiting for them when they arrive, and he leads them towards the graveyard. He points out the mausoleum through a choke point that the village carpenters have built, and tells them that the focus is in a hidden chamber underneath it. There’s a secret passage inside the mausoleum itself, which shouldn’t be beyond their ability to find.

Nobody is sorry to see the backside of the arrogant paladin, and Chet stares daggers at him as he goes. The party has a job to do, however, so they enter the graveyard. There are no undead roaming near them, but there are plenty of zombie corpses and skeleton strewn about. No one expects to get through unchallenged, and they keep a careful watch.

Two of the zombies rise up off the ground to block the party’s way, but are quickly cut down. Less easily handled is the ghoul that leaps out from behind a headstone. Selandris puts his new wand to good use and blasts the ghoul apart.

They reach the mausoleum, which is barred from the outside. Ursula goes to lift the bar, but Chet stops her. He’s heard something moving inside, and it’s not hard to guess what it is. Chet readies his bow and Selandris his wand, then Ursula throws the bar back and opens the door. She steps aside, and a few seconds later, a shuffling sound approaches them. The ghoul appears in the doorway, and is blasted apart before it can even make an attack.

The interior of the mausoleum is empty, but as Tobias said, a panel in the back wall opens to reveal a staircase leading down. It is pitch black underground, and Ursula lights her lantern before they descend the stairs. As soon as they reach the bottom, a ghast ambushes them. It sinks its teeth into Ursula (8 damage), and while she makes her save against the ghoul fever, she fails against the paralysis and is unable to act for 3 rounds.

Chet and Selandris make short work of the ghast though, ganging up on it and taking it out in 2 rounds. After its demise, they enter the chamber fully and find a mirror on a pedestal. The mirror is surrounded by a globe of magical energy, utterly impenetrable (a resilient sphere, epic magic for an E6 world!).

After some time, Tobias crosses the mirror’s surface as if he was walking by an open door, and a second later, Rudy follows him. Two zombies shuffle past, and a moment later, Tobias comes back into view. He looks at the mirror, does a double take, and says something, but no sound comes out. He disappears, and Cheyenne takes his place. She pulls out a scroll and begins reading its contents. A moment later, the orb surrounding the mirror disappears. Before the party can smash it, her eyes roll back and she collapses. Rudy also topples into view as he crashes to the floor. Tobias kneels next to them, then looks into the mirror. He speaks to the party, and even though they can’t hear him, his command is plain enough: destroy the focus.

The mirror is no match for Ursula’s new enchanted great axe. It shatters into pieces, and the party clears out of the graveyard in a hurry. They discuss what they saw in the mirror, and debate whether they should enter the church. Chet is against sticking his neck out, but Ursula and Selandris refuse to abandon the other group.

The party hikes up the bluff overlooking Little Hangleton to the church, which sits wide open. They enters and find nothing but zombie corpses left in the wake of Tobias’s group. They enter the atrium and pass through towards the back section of the church. As they’re exploring, a pair of ghouls come crawling in through an open door that leads to the cemetery outside.

The party spots them from far enough away that Chet and Selandris have a round to blast one apart while Ursula meets the other head on. It fails to break through her armor and she destroys it in a single blow. Afterwards, they find an old rotting staircase that leads up into the church’s bell tower, and also down into a cellar.

They descend downwards, and find a large, square room with two exits, one to the west, and one to the south. Also filling the room are a dozen mangled bodies, but unlike the ones above ground, these are pulsing inside cocoons of evil, writhing energy. Before the party’s eyes, several zombies and another ghoul rise off the floor and attack.

The ghoul wins the initiative and gets a bite on Ursula, but she makes her saving throws against ghoul fever and paralysis. It’s a short fight after that, with the party cutting them down in 2 rounds. Even as the undead fall, their bodies start to mend. The party hurries out of the room through the south exit before more undead get back up.

The next room is about the same size as the first, but it feels much smaller due to the trunk of the tree coming up out of the floor and going through the ceiling into the atrium overhead. Unlike on the main floor, the trunk looks gray and sickly, though it could perhaps be a trick of the lantern’s light. Nothing climbs back to its feet in this room, and they pass through a door to the west.

The new room has four zombies in it, but the battle is over in less time than it would take to tell. An open passage leads down to another level below the cellar, and they take it. The stairs curve on themselves, and they come out into a large room that has dozens of thick roots poking down through the ceiling and looping into the walls or hanging in open air.

In the center of the room, tangled in a nest of roots so thick as to be barely visible, is a stone sarcophagus. It has been sealed shut by the roots wrapped around it. On the floor all over are dead ghouls and zombies, as well as a few ghasts. Unfortunately for the group, a live one ambushes them as soon as they enter the room. Even worse, the whole chamber is under a desecration effect, granting the undead a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls and saving throws.

Once again, Ursula takes the brunt of the attack, as she is the first to walk through the door. And once again, she fails her saving through against the paralytic component of the ghast’s bite and is out of the action for 4 rounds. The ghast is joined by a pair of ghouls, one of which attacks Ursula, and the other goes for Chet.

Being forced into melee doesn’t do wonders for Chet, as his rapier isn’t masterwork, nor does it have enchanted ammunition, like his bow. Still, between him and Selandris, they manage to destroy the ghoul attacking him. Ursula isn’t so lucky.

Her armor stops some of the attacks from hurting her, but with two undead chewing on her immobile body, damage is inevitable. By the time her companions finish the second ghoul, the ghast has lowered her into negative hit points. Chet attacks it, and it turns from Ursula to him. He fails both saves and contracts a new case of ghoul fever, as well as falling paralyzed himself.

Selandris uses his move action to buy himself an extra round and unloads into the ghast with his magic missile wand as he runs. It catches up to him, but misses the attack, and he finishes it off after several rounds. He returns to Ursula and Chet, and they use the last of their healing potions to bring her up to 2 hp.

On the far side of the room, they find Tobias backed into an alcove, with Rudy and Cheyenne unconscious on the ground behind him. Nearby is a stone altar with a mirror sitting on it inside another resilient sphere. Tobias warns them to stay away from it, that it’s trapped somehow.

Tobias is in bad shape, out of healing magic and on his last leg. The undead have been regenerating so fast down there that it’s been all he can do to keep them on the ground. He’s had no time to haul his friends out, and nothing he’s been able to think of will wake them. Even as he speaks, a zombie rises back up and attacks.

It goes down almost as quickly as it rose, but there are already more undead starting to move again. Ursula shoulders Rudy’s unconscious body, and Tobias grabs Cheyenne. They rely on Chet and Selandris to protect them as they make their way to the door. As they’re walking, Chet notices an amulet lying on the ground around one of the corpse’s neck, so he pockets it.

Ursula slips on a small pearl, and Chet dips down to grab that too. His lack of attention costs him as a ghoul leaps out at the group. Selandris unloads on it, but not before it sinks its teeth into the elf. He’s immune to its paralytic, and makes his fortitude save, but the damage drops him into negative hp.

The group’s heal checks are abysmal, but a lucky roll lets Selandris stabilize himself after 2 rounds of bleeding out. Chet picks up the sorcerer and they flee up the stairs, carrying their injured fireman style. Ursula is forced to drop Rudy to slay several zombies in the cellar, but once they clear that and make it to the main floor, nothing else rises to attack them.

Cheyenne and Rudy wake up within half a minute of exiting the church, and she uses her magic to heal Selandris back up to positive hp (albeit only 3). The entire group staggers back into town, and they take to their beds to rest and recover. Cheyenne’s plan appears to have worked, and no undead trouble the town that night.

The next day, Tobias’s group shows up. He is completely healed, and uses what little points of Lay On Hands he has left on Selandris. Cheyenne distributes three Cure Light Wounds among the party, all the way muttering to herself and shooting disdainful glances at them. She can do nothing for Chet’s ghoul fever, however.

The party is only half healed, and could do with a solid week’s bed rest, but there’s more work to be done, so they’ll have to continue on in rough shape. Chet remarks that at least he got some trinkets out of the ordeal, brandishing the magical amulet and pearl he pocketed when they were escaping.


Unfortunately, this is it for my week off. The game still has probably 3-4 sessions to wrap up, but it'll be slower going from here. I'm hoping to get in one a week (probably on the weekend) until it's done, so I guess the next update will happen when it happens.

A teaser for the next session: The druids finally reach Little Hangleton, what few of them that are left. The werewolves have been aggressively hunting them, and elven made armaments are the only new things they've acquired.