Castles & Crusades Diary: Barrowmaze, Session 65

Summary:
The Army of the Light battle zombie babies, zombie mothers and their male slaves!

PC’s:
Llewelyn, Elf Cleric/Wizard of Sehanine
Rolando, Hobbit Rogue/Pacer of Brandobaris
Astrid, Human Skald of Hel
Ria, Human Pacer of Loki
Remi, Gnome Harlequin (Rogue/Illusionist) of Hermes
Tiberius, Human Paladin of St. Ingrid
Roulf, Half-Orc Drachentoten (i.e. Dragonslayer) of Crom
Edward, Human Bard of St. Cecilia
Aturash, Half-Orc Berserker of Odin
Orwin, Half-Elf (human lineage) Fighter/Drachentoten of St. Agathos
Kyra, Elven Cleric of Sehanine

NPC:
Inaros, Human Cleric of Osiris

Game Diary:
After only a day of rest from their previous excursion into the Barrowmaze, they headed back again, they had nearly all of Dhekeon’s body parts (Dhekeon is the fallen skeletal paladin who has joined them to seek redemption), all that was missing was his head and torso. Inaros, the highest ranking lawful good member of this particular group that was going on the adventure (The Army of the Light now numbers over 30!), had one of Dhekeon’s arms lodged within the arm loop of his shield, and so the army could point in the direction of where his remaining parts could be found.

Upon entering the Barrowmoor, the Army of the Light saw three adventuring groups at work, two were excavating barrow mounds, but one was entering the Barrowmaze itself through the one known and common entrance. The group though they should use this entrance point for quickest access to where Dhekeon’s parts lie. It was mid-June in the Duchy of Aerik and adventuring parties and tomb-raiders were quite busy seeking glory and treasure!

Upon entering this old entrance they headed south to explore areas they had last been in between 1 and 2 years ago. Things had changed. Adventuring parties had left some graffiti on the walls, traps had been sprung with dead tomb-raiders within, and the undead in the area were not the older undead from the original people buried here, now the undead were the recently deceased tomb-raiders that had met their end here.

Zombie baby art by Chris Woodall.

In one part of these halls the group was reminded they had encountered some zombie babies that ended up falling to their death in a pit trap, although they had never discovered at the time where these undead infants had come from. Now, over a year later their heads had been carefully placed on a platform in remembrance right next to the pit. What did this mean? They found out immediately as two angry, screaming zombie mothers emerged from opposite ends of the hall, trapping the group in between!

One character took a mother and noticed that she was pregnant with an undead child in her (its hand prints pressed at her stomach from the inside). She had a purplish skin hue, looked ready to breathe some noxious spray onto the hero, but attacks from melee and range took her down. A key check made the group aware that if one of these undead were to successfully breath their spray of undeath on a member of the group, that it could kill them with its toxicity. They were very careful in keeping their distance from the other undead mother and managed to kill them without losing anyone. After exploring the room they had set up as lairs and birthing chambers, the group then discovered a room of twenty fresh zombie men (i.e. recently deceased adventurers), that the undead women had been using to produce their zombie babies. Clerics managed to turn half of them while cutting down the rest with there weapons.

At this point they managed to find a clear path to where Dhekeon’s final parts could be found. They were now entering an area where a necromancer named Kelmok had tried to ambush them over a year ago. Now, it seemed, a new necromancer had take up residence here – Grimstaff. He was a necromancer from more civilized lands that had heard of the Barrowmaze within the Borderlands and had come here to claim greater power. Somehow he had gotten a hold of Dhekeon’s remaining parts and was now lying in wait for the Army of the Light to come to him. If this was his attempt to gain favor with the necromancers in the Barrowmaze, then if he could defeat part of the Army of the Light with this ambush, then he should undoubtedly be able to elevate himself through the ranks quite quickly!

After reading his taunting message, they entered the long north to south corridor and systematically battled ghoulish undead waiting for them. The whole time they fought the ghouls they could hear the voice of Grimstaff taunting them from further down the hall. Successfully destroying the ghouls the group made it to the double doors of the chamber where Grimstaff awaited. On the top of a obelisk in the center of this massive chamber they could see Dhekeon’s torso tied (his head seemed to have been removed). From behind four other pillars in the room and from under various piles of refuse and bone, the group could hear the sounds of arcane and divine necromancers preparing to cast spells at them. We were about to roll initiative to begin combat, but the session was over and this combat would have to wait until next week!

art from Barrowmaze Complete.

Castles & Crusades Diary: Dragonclaw Barony, session 25

Summary:
The adventurers arrive in the abandoned village of Somber Grove (once run by a family of magic-users), find long-forgotten scrolls, and battle a harpy-like creature with giant frog minions. The threat was high since 4 of the 5 characters were charmed by the harpy!

PC’s:
Ser Sanwyche Gryffyn, Human Paladin of St. Agathos
Gwar, Half-Orc Barbarian of Crom
Jabari Rajul-min Alshrq, Human Monk/Cleric (class and a half) of Horus
Magnus, Gnome Druid of Belenus
Eliam, Half-Elf (Elven lineage) Cleric/Wizard of Lugh
Homonoea, Human Dragonslayer/Giant Killer (class-and-a-half) of Athena
Endur “the Thick”, Human Fighter of Gobniu
Rok, Half-Orc Fighter of Crom
Anne, Elven Cleric/Rogue of Laeroth

NPC:
Thorthic Norain, Dwarven Barbarian/Cleric of Thor

Game Diary:
The party arrived an hour away from the abandoned village of Somber Grove (previously known several generations back as Wrenwald, named after the Wrenwald noble family of magic-users that ruled the town). The day was quite overcast. It had rained for several day prior, the ground was still wet, and in the warm weather of mid-June there was an ever present fog that drifted across the ground (giving any small creature 3/4 cover and medium creatures 1/2 cover).

Upon entering the town they saw that the buildings had taken a lot of weather damage over the last half century or so. Thatched roofs had caved in with some young trees poking through, doors hung on hinges, shutters on windows had mostly fallen to the ground, and vegetation had long since spread untamed. Due to the frequent rain and the fact that the town had been built near a swamp that had expanded over time, there were frequent patches of swampy water to be found.

The first building the group entered was the old inn and tavern. The sign had long since fallen off the chains that held it above the door and the name weathered away. Half the group entered the building (Eliam, Gwar, Anne, Homonoea) while the other half remained outside (Sanwyche, Jabari, Magnus, Rok, Thorthic) to guard the horses and mules. Those that entered made their way upstairs to the rooms and although most had open doors and empty rooms, two were that were closed. Eliam noted some old, faded variations of arcane marks on the doors. One represented housing for a wizard, another for an illusionist. Anne successfully unlocked the doors and they made their way into rooms sealed and untouched by the years (whereas the rest of the inn/tavern had cracks in the walls, fallen plaster, etc., where the weather had long since found its way in). Detect magic told Eliam that there was magic in a locked drawer in a nightstand. Anne unlocked it (and was able to avoid the contact poison on the lock which had lost its strength over time). Inside the drawers were four long forgotten arcane spells from levels 1-4 (there were four wizard scrolls in the wizard room and four illusionist scrolls in the illusionist room). This process of exploring the inn/tavern, unlocking the locks, and taking note of the scrolls took around 10 minutes. Unnoticed by the group once they had entered the wizard/illusionist rooms was that sounds from the outside were silenced (perhaps to once help those staying in these rooms to study in peace?). That was when the other half of the group waiting outside were disturbed.

Harpy art from Pathfinder 2E

While waiting outside, the group (Sanwyche, Jabari, Magnus, Rok, Thorthic) heard a beautiful melody drifting down the road going east. Everyone but Sanwyche failed their Charisma save (luckily paladin’s have Charisma as prime, and St. Agathos provides a further bonus vs. fear/charms for his worshipers). The group entered a trance and headed toward the song. Sanwyche followed and discovered that the singing was coming from a large abandoned warehouse. He looked inside and found a bird-woman flying 15 feet in the air (he had never seen a harpy before, especially one of this kind, so the creature remained mysterious to him) with two giant frogs attending her song. He closed the two large, 15 foot high barn doors just as his entranced companions arrived. He wrapped an extra flail through the door handles. The entranced companions were too mentally inhibited to deal with the intricacies of his flail knot, but there were two massive windows open on either side of the doors and his companions headed to the windows to climb in.

The harpy was able to see from her height that four of the five people were enchanted and while singing pointed at the paladin for her giant frogs to attack. They lept through the windows and Sanwyche had a fight ahead of him! Quickly he was swallowed by a frog and from the bite and swallowing was being squeezed to death from inside. He couldn’t use his two handed sword, but he did have daggers, so pulled them out and began to stab at it from the inside. Eventually he tore a hole open and climbed out of the frog only to have the other lunge toward him to bite! With his two-handed sword back in action the last frog was killed.

By now his companions were entering the warehouse through the windows and the harpy picked up the adorable Magnus, she enjoyed having the gnome druid in her arms, err, claws! Sanwyche fired an arrow from his longbow and hit her. She then decided to tear the gnome apart with her claws and bite, this ended her song, but she knew that the effects would linger for a few more seconds. Her attacks didn’t kill Magnus…initially. But it didn’t take long for her claws and bite to take him to negative hit points and unconsciousness. Jabari, made a monk leap to attack, but rolled a one and fell face-first into the dirt floor (he must have still been recovering from the enchanting song). Rok lept up and with several blows cut through her waist and she fell to the ground – as well as Magnus. He was now a single hit point away from bleeding out. But fortunately the frogs and harpy were now dead. First aid was administered to Magnus and Thorthic provided healing to him and Sanwyche. They searched her nest (which was high up on a third floor shelf) and managed to find some statuary, decorative bracers, and a well made, but simple cap.

By this time the inn/tavern explorers had exited the building, saw their abandoned animals and went to find their friends. Deciding to house their animals in the large and now safe warehouse, they began exploring the rest of Somber Grove. The eastern edge had small plots of land for growing herbs (useful components for magic-users). They noticed that the vegetation was long overgrown, but still somewhat healthy. But as they looked at the farming plots heading north, they saw that the plant matter became progressively more lifeless. There was one solid stone structure in town – a guard tower very close to them. They entered and went to the top to survey the area. They had entered Somber Grove from the south west and had now explored the entire south street and a portion of the east street. Looking north west they could see abandoned stables for possibly exotic animals. Directly north were some old greenhouses and magic-user housing (hostel-style), and to the north east a road led to an old walled estate about an hour away. It was clear that this was the Zombraire estate that they wanted to eventually visit. Eliam’s twilight vision (which I decided was working on this very cloudy day) and tied with an exceptional observation check he made, I described that he could see within the walls of the estate a garden being plowed by a skeletal ox led by what was possibly a zombie-like farmhand and his zombie family. This was disturbing indeed! But our session had run out of time and the exploration they want to make in the rest of town before heading to the estate will have to wait for the next adventure in two weeks.