Castles & Crusades Diary: Barrowmaze, Session 66

1. The Army of the Light have an epic battle with the necromancer priest Grimstaff, steel skeletons, ghouls, necromancer wizards.
2. Orwin, the fighter/dragonslayer, dies in the struggle!
3. Dhekeon, the fallen skeletal paladin whose body parts were scattered throughout the dungeon, is reformed.

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 [deceased]

Inaros, Human Cleric of Osiris
Dhekeon “the Disgraced,” fallen skeletal paladin of St. Justus seeking redemption [reformed]

Game Diary:
We left off on a cliffhanger. The Army of the Light had made it to the entrance of a large chamber, opened the doors and saw Dhekeon’s skeletal torso tied to the top of the central obelisk. Hidden behind the obelisk, four pillars, and numerous piles of bones, they could hear the rustling of potential hidden enemies lying in wait, and from east, west, and south doors they could hear spellcasting being performed – it was time for initiative!

The chamber where Grimstaff and his minions battled the Army of the Light (art from Barrowmaze Complete)

Llewelyn was up first and he wasn’t messing around – he cast fireball at the east doorway. The explosion of flame left a ghoul hiding in the pile of bones in front of it charred to death, and Llewelyn saw three necromancer wizards dead at the doorway (with their mage robes on fire) where they had been preparing to cast spells on the adventurers. The players didn’t realize it, but they had nearly destroyed 1/3 of the villains with one spell!

Map fragment from Barrowmaze Complete.

Necromancer wizards from the west doorway peaked out far enough to blast three PC’s at the north doorway with their magic missiles (when line of site is difficult due to pillars and piles of bones, better to use magic spells that never miss!).

Players moved into the room, with some hugging the eastern walls since the necromancers had been dealt with there. The necromancers from the west door were preparing more dastardly magic to whittle down the heroes, but Remi hurled a color spray through the doorway and three wizards fell unconscious, one went blind, leaving only one standing. Roulf and a friend made their way through the door and ensured their dark magic would effect them no more. There had been a ghoul hiding in the bone pile directly in front of the west door, but it also didn’t stand a chance against the 10 characters that were now in the chamber.

Although the east and west doorways of necromancers and ghouls had been destroyed quite quickly, there was a greater threat located in the south doorway – the cleric Grimstaff and his entourage of steel skeletons! While the group was destroying the necromancers to the east and west, he summoned claws from the grave, which caused skeletal hands to emerge from the ground in nearly all the southern squares in front of the south door where he lurked. Some tried to pass through it, but when they failed their Dexterity saves, the claws viciously attacked them and slowed their movement. The group backed off and spent their time ensuring the other necromancers and ghouls were gone. This gave Grimstaff more time to attempt his dark clerical magic. He managed to send forth his gaze to Astrid, and when she failed her save his dark gnosis projected into her mind the grand and terrifying power of Nergal. She was left unable to function and in a daze. The heroes set up a defense of their own, filling the entire northern portion of the chamber with an obscuring mist ensuring they had a place they could retreat to avoid being targeted if needed.

Eventually some members of the group thought they had a solution to get past the claws from the grave. Ria had slippers of spider climbing and Roulf had boots of striding and springing, and they made use of them. Ria climbed the south west wall and headed towards the south door. Grimstaff cracked open the door to share his dark gnosis with her, but she resisted. Roulf then lept into the air to the doorway, swung it open, surprising Grimstaff, and saw two skeletons of steel and a charmed mongrelman with three arms holding a sack and a couple of lit torches. With the south door now open several magic missiles flew through the doorway from Eliam and hit Grimstaff. Roulf laid a mighty blow on him as well. Grimstaff backed away behind his two steel skeletons and healed himself.

While the south entrance was now clogged with people and claws from the grave still inhibiting movement for several characters, they made their way to the east doorway (room 47 on the map). There they noticed that one necromancer did seem to have escaped into a small crypt with a collapsed wall in the back leading to natural tunnels created by underground monsters (crypt 3 on the map).

Back with Grimstaff and his undead, Llewelyn fired an acid arrow that hit a steel skeleton, but it was only partially effective as this undead seemed to have the power to resist magic (a magic missile Llewelyn cast hit it with no effect). Melee combat was going to be the requirement with these monsters! Ria had now made her way into the south hallway via the walls and ceiling with her spider climbing, and she used her bardiche from the ceiling 10 foot above (polearms can be very useful for such things!). Roulf got a mighty blow on Grimstaff, reducing him to 0 hit points allowing him to only move at half speed and unable to fight or cast spells. Ria then sent her bardiche right through his skull from above. The charmed mongrelman fell to his knees and cried over his master, but only momentarily, for the charm effect used on him began to fade. The steel skeletons hung on longer, and with two mighty steel fist attacks each round, Roulf was getting heavily beat down. Eventually Aturash and Orwin made their way in as the claws from the grave had faded after Grimstaff’s death (as well as the dark gnosis on Astrid). The steel skeletons began pummeling them as well.

Roulf prepared another brutal blow – but he rolled a 1! The critical fumble die was rolled – hit an ally. There were two options, Orwin behind him and Ria on the ceiling. Orwin was closest, unknown to most of us, he was down to 1 hit point at that point, and when he was struck, he was struck dead. As it happened, there was a Deck of Dirty Tricks card that would’ve allowed an adjacent person to get hit, and I was willing to have it hit Ria instead, but the players elected to have Orwin take the blow. A sacrifice had been made. Orwin may have died, but Roulf, Aturash, and Ria were able to finish off the steel skeletons.

During the battle in the south doorway, Inaros had taken Dhekeon’s body from a sack at the base of the central obelisk. The legs and pelvis assembled themselves and Dhekeon positioned himself at the bottom of the obelisk, his left and right arms then climbed up the obelisk and untied the torso causing it to slide down the obelisk and attach to the pelvis and legs. Finally, the two arms slid down and attached to the shoulder joints. Dhekeon was now complete except for his head – but where was it? He touched Remi – who was next to him – on the shoulder and pointed toward the east doorway indicating his head was in that direction (Dhekeon couldn’t see or talk, obviously, but he could still sense where his head was located and could indicate this by pointing).

As half the group looted Grimstaff and his crew, the other half used Dhekeon as a guide into narrow 4 foot wide tunnels fighting a piercer and a large orb spider (which had killed the necromancer that had passed through). It was in the sack of the this dead necromancer that they found Dhekeon’s skull – he was now complete!

The group acquired several thousand gold pieces of treasure from Grimstaff, and there had even been a magic circlet on Grimstaff’s head, but Ria’s bardiche blow through his skull had destroyed it. Still, there was a good haul of treasure overall. In this adventure one companion fell, and another arose reassembled. The group had a total of 7 undead encounters during this adventure and would require 7 weeks to get the wisdom drain that Barrowmaze undead encounters cause. The next adventure looks to be 7 weeks in the groups future as they relax and recover their sanity. What will they do next?