Castles & Crusades: Barrowmaze Campaign, Session 41

Summary:
The Army of the Light, physically scarred (e.g. flesh rotting disease and acquiring mongrelfolk body parts) from exploring the Pit of Chaos they sealed, deal with people shunning them and fearing contagion. After a month resting up they take on a three headed draconic creature attacking the folk of the Duchy of Aerik with one Harlequin nearly getting torn in two!

Game Diary:
We continue where we left off last session. The Pit of Chaos was sealed and the group took account of what happened to them as a result. Gimli, the dwarven berserker had become afflicted by a flesh rotting disease. Cobalt, the paladin failed to cure him, and Kyra, the elven cleric worked out that only heal or regeneration would probably work (and good luck with that in the out-of-the way Borderlands where very few make it to high enough levels to learn those spells!). Gimli lost 1 hit point permanently from the pain, and his charisma checks are at -3 due to the disfigurement. He will be afflicted for many weeks and the scars will remain. Gorgat, a barbarian, discovered his left arm turned into a crab claw from the green mists of chaos centered in the sealed pit. He is still able to hold his shield with it, but now has the ability to attack with it! But Charisma checks based on appearance are at -1. Balthazar, a human wizard, was really corrupted by the chaos, acquiring the upper torso of a gorilla and the head of a lizard. He can now do a bite and two fist attacks, but until he gains another level all spells that require vocal or somatic components require a spellcaster check to see if he can get them up successfully as he adjusts to his oversized arms, hands, and his new lizard mouth and vocal apparatus. He also receives a -3 on visual Charisma checks.

All this came to realization as they entered the town of Helix. There the local barkeep, wizard, and other locals steered clear of the deformed and sick people, treating them cautiously. Arriving in Ironguard Motte the following day to the building Viscount Kell Ironguard had given them for their previous heroic deeds, they learned from the Captain that the deformed and diseased characters should stay in their building and not walk about in town, for the people are superstitious and could cause trouble. Kyra, the elven cleric had gained a level from the previous adventure and acquired a restoration spell which did allow here cure a feeblemind that had occurred to Amelia, a half-elf bard in the party who many months ago had her intelligence reduced from 17 to 2 due. The cleric was able to cure her, and as a bard to Apollo with her Greek poetic ability restored, her music and poetry radiated out of the windows of the head quarters of the Army of the Light.

The group took a month off to recover their sanity from fighting undead in the Pit of Chaos (every undead encounter in the Barrowmaze creates a tick mark against your Wisdom score, and if it reaches that number you may go insane. Only a week of rest and peace per undead encounter can restore sanity).

With the group now entering late December in game time, they heard of a three headed and three tailed dragon-like creature terrorizing the remaining traders that dare to brave the wintry Borderland roads. But nothing holds these adventurers back for long, and a smaller group headed out to find and stop it.

Gorynych (from the AD&D 2nd edition Monstrous Compendium Annual 1, 1994)

The day they headed out was 0°C day, three-quarters cloudy, with 8 inches of snow on the ground. Using mounts they saved travel time by walking in grooves on the road created by passing carts and wagons. Alert barbarians and druids detected its shadow on some pines during a brief moment when the sun peaked out and they launched their ranged weapons and Remi, the harlequin (i.e. rogue/illusionist) summoned illusionary hounds to distract the beast as easy prey. The creature dived down toward them, its flapping wings causing the snow to rise into the air causing snow blindness. As it passed through them it picked up the harlequin in two of its three tails and claw and bit other characters and illusionary hounds. As it soared back up into the air the beast began attempting to tear the harlequin in two as it spread its tails apart. The damage became too much and Remi was at -5 hit points hovering at death’s door.

The group redoubled its efforts, with an NPC Mesopotamian druid of the sky god Anu firing a strong arrow, but then immediately outshined by one of the players elven cleric firing an arrow from her bow and scoring a critical hit, killing it! The beast fell 50 feet to the ground. But that also meant that Remi was going to fall to the ground. I had the player roll 5d6 damage, if the character hit the ground the damage would take Remi to -21, which is unequivocally dead. But the elven cleric has a mighty, medium-sized owl mystical companion that can pick some people up and deliver touch spells. She sent the owl in. To catch this falling person I had her make a Dexterity saving throw to discover which of the two tails holding the harlequin was going to release Remi and catch her. It failed – Remi should have fallen and died! But there was still one remaining Deck of Dirty Trick card from the last game session that allowed one Raise Dead. The players begged to be able to use it! I rolled a d6 probability die (a specialty die I picked up) to see if the card from last session could be used. I rolled “certain”, and so I allowed it, but chose to make it more dramatic. Instead of raising the dead character after it hit the ground, the players saw the manipulation of the gods at work as the owl managed to swerve at just the right moment to catch Remi before hitting the ground. Remi still needed to get healing up to a stable 0 hit points and then healed again to get above, but Remi was alive!

These treasure-hungry adventurers then decided to find the beast’s lair (which was easy to find, they just followed the blood trail of its previous victims that dripped from the sky into the snow). I allow my players to roll randomly on the appropriate treasure tables, and these lucky rollers managed over 10,000 gold pieces in coin, gems, and extraordinary items.

Since the players are now gaming in late December in my world, that means I need to dig out my holiday themed adventure for next Tuesday. Last year they outwitted and killed a Krampus that had been kidnapping the children of Helix. Will another Krampus return to cause trouble, or will there be a different Christmassy threat? They find out next Tuesday!