Castles & Crusades Diary: The Barrowmaze Campaign. Scattered throughout the dungeon, the players work to reunite.

19/08/2020

When we left off 10 characters had entered an ancient burial chamber of the great Norse ruler King Osric. After exploring the chamber and climbing onto the viking galley that sat in the middle of the chamber filled with thousands of silver and gold, the dwarven berserker of Odin and the rune master in the group spoke with a figure shrouded in yellow robes (covering his face) wearing a crown who declared himself to be King Osric. The dwarf said they were all in this together and were here for his loot. He chuckled and then one-by-one they all got teleported individually to various parts of the dungeon.

Now, normally trying to conduct an adventure with 5 players running a total of 10 characters split up throughout a dungeon would be a nightmare. But I think it worked out. One player couldn’t make the session, which meant I only had to deal with 8 characters, and those 8 characters ended up being in roughly 3 locations, sometimes within corridor from another player.

There was one character – a seeker – who was teleported into a 40×40 ft room with two doors, and when he stepped on a pressure plate a massive cage fell from the ceiling covering all four walls, trapping him inside. The sound of this huge iron cage impacting the stone made an explosive sound which other characters (and monsters) heard in the surrounding corridors. Within a few passageways of each other the paladin, arcane thief, and wizard were to be found. Being stuck in rooms of their own with their own challenges (one appeared in a burial chamber surrounded by yellow mold, another found himself surrounded by carnivorous flies the size of a rugby ball, and another found a group of mongrelfolk working to overcome their necromancer oppressors), they overcame their challenges and found themselves at the room of the caged seeker. As they worked to bend the bars of the cage to free their friend, a group of necromancers of Nergal slayed the mongrelfolk and animated them as zombies to attack the PC’s. The necromancers knew about the paladin with the Saints Mace destroying their undead over the past year, so they focused on him with their death gazes, rays of enfeeblement, and shocking grasps, but they were taken down. The seeker was freed, and they made their way back to the viking chamber.

Elsewhere the barbarian and berserker found each other, as well as a stairway that took them into a sacred barrow mound of a warrior-priest of the lord of the higher realm – Hyperion (I have Norse and Celtic gods, but I also have higher entities that represent the cosmic alignments of law, chaos, neutrality, and moral alignments of good and evil, Hyperion represents pure law). They dug themselves out of the barrow mound and left to retrieve Dhekeon the fallen skeletal paladin seeking redemption from his sins. He prays underneath a willow tree near the edge of the Barrowmoor, and usually travels with the group on his road to redemption. Retrieving Dhekeon, they headed back to the Barrowmaze entrance closest to the viking burial chamber.

Finally, a warrior-priest and a monk found each other and then ran into the Vargjägare (Wolf Hunters), a group of Vikings led by a skald name Thorgrímr, and made up of other skalds, bards, rune marks, clerics, a gladiator, and a prophet of the dead. Hearing about how the other adventurers got here, Thorgrímr, who is also looking for the burial chamber of King Osric, had them lead the way back to the burial chamber, and then together they then made their way through a heavily trap filled hallway (everything had apparently re-set since the group had previously passed through).

The adventure ended with the burial chamber being re-opened and Thorgrímr praising the All-Father (Odin), while the other two groups of adventures were entering the viking burial area roughly one and two corridors behind.

Next Tuesday everyone will be entering the burial chamber to claim their reward. But who will get it? The adventurers? The Wolf Hunters? Are there any more challenges? Why is the figure that calls himself King Osric covering his face with the large, yellow hooded robe? The player that role-plays the dwarven berserker was annoyed that the Wolf Hunters might take “his” treasure and speculated about killing them all over it. But he seems to forget that his group is completely out of spells, whereas the Wolf Hunters appear to still have nearly all their resources. Will there be battle or compromise? Tune in next week to see what happens!

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