Wizard-Thief: Session 3

In the last session of this campaign, Alandra the bard has been swept up in a search party for a kidnapped priestess, drawn by the young woman’s sudden disappearance and the town’s obvious love for what must have been a kind soul. After hours searching through the darkness, they reach the edge of a clearing in which stands Stonereach, a once-abandoned but now rebuilt tollhouse on the edge of a river.

Party Stats

Alandra, Magician 1 (0/250 xp); HP 5/5; SP 1/2; Dexterity/Performer; Atk +0 (Daggers); MV 50′; Purse: 2 gp 5 sp 2 cp; Inventory (9): bedroll, rations (7), dagger (2), flint, torch (3), waterskin, 10′ pole, 20′ rope; Spells: Hide, Link, Song

Nell, Cleric 1; HP 11/8+3 (chain + shield); FP 1/1; Constitution/Farmer; Atk +0 (Mace); MV 30′Inventory (6): bedroll, rations (1), mace, flint, torch (2), waterskin

Tia, Archer; HP 8/7+1 (leather); Bowyer; Atk +0 (Bow or Dagger); MV 40′Inventory (7): bedroll, rations (1), bow (20), dagger, flint, torch (1), waterskin

Ben, Archer; HP 8/7+1 (leather); Hunter; Atk +0 (Bow or Dagger); MV 40′Inventory (7): bedroll, rations (1), bow (20), dagger, flint, torch (1), waterskin

Lanaior, Footman; HP 10/8+2 (chain); Carpenter; Atk +0 (Axe, +1 damage); MV 30′Inventory (6): bedroll, rations (1), axe, flint, torch (2), waterskin

Quest NPCs: Georgia, missing priestess; kidnappers; undead in woods

Reminder: You can find links to all my play reports on my campaign logs page, and this campaign has a companion page with information about the party.

Scene 6 — Approaching the Tower

Setup: The party approaches the tower to gain entry
Chaos: 7 vs 4, no chaos

Keeping a close eye on the tower’s shuttered windows, the party decides to approach to see if they can gain entrance.

Skill check: Ben’s tracking +0 — 7 vs 7, pass
Do the tracks lead to the tower? +4: yes + event
Event: NPC Action (undead in woods) — Trust Intrigues

Ben points out the trail–fresher now–that leads across the narrow clearing and toward the base of the tower. Creeping, the party moves that way, preparing to bolt if they see any movement on the parapets or in the windows.

Their secrecy is for naught. As they move, the ground around them begins to shudder and skeletal hands thrust up from shallow graves. An ambush–the master of the tower must have known they would be followed!

Dore -- Rising from Graves

Is there any sign that the tower is aware of the activity? +0: x-no + event
Event: Move away from thread (rescue Georgia) — Jealousy/Heal

[I wasn’t sure where this quest was going, but this section practically writes itself. Extraordinarily no behavior from the tower, but a “Jealousy/Heal” event moves me away from the rescue? It must mean that the tower’s master is out here with us. I can’t believe Alandra failed her motive check back in the tavern.]

Suddenly, Nell begins to bark with laughter, and she turns her back on the rising dead to face the party. “I didn’t expect you to track my slaves so far, much less find my new temple–but I can’t say that I’m terribly disappointed that you did. It just means more meat for the grist-mill! Kill them!” The cleric suddenly tears her Triune holy symbol from her neck and dashes it in the mud as [d3] a pair of skeletons assemble themselves beside her.

Does Nell stay to fight us? +5: yes
Is there any cover? +0: yes + event
Event: NPC Action – Harm/Illness

The tumbledown remains of a broken wall provide the traitor and her accursed slaves with enough cover that the party’s bows would be useless, so Ben and Tia draw their long daggers and grit their teeth for battle.

However, as the party moves forward, Nell points at Lanaior and says with a smile, “Not so fast, carpenter. Recognize this?” She points at the skeleton beside her. It wears a small medallion, barely noticeable in the darkness, but glittering in the moonlight that now falls in the clearing.

The sight seems to make Lanaior freeze. He mutters something, shakes his head. “It can’t be true!”

She laughs. “Kill them, Helena!”

The skeletons surge forward, but Lanaior falls to his knees, chest heaving. “You said you’d save her!” he cries out. Ben and Tia, moving to meet the skeletons, try to rally the large man, but he’s inconsolable. Alandra knows the animated corpse must have been his wife–it’s written all over his face, dripping in the necromancer’s sick laughter. She suddenly hates the woman more than she would have thought possible.

Initiative: goes to the enemy

Wizard-Thief - Session 3 - Battle 1
Initial battlefield setup.

The party joins the battle just beyond the broken walls, and Tia’s first blow [11 vs 9] knocks the head from one of the skeletons. Sprinting past the melee, Alandra uses her speed to vault the low wall and land behind Nell. Striking quickly with her twin daggers, Alandra sinks her blades deeply into the necromancer’s side [9 vs 9, 1+1 dmg due to ambidextrous duel-wielding].

Does Nell raise the shattered skeleton? +6: no

Enraged, Nell strikes back with her mace, just missing clipping Alandra’s skull. Her rage turns to fear, however, as Tia soon flanks her and begins stabbing rapidly at her back.

Does Nell raise now? +6: yes
How many? d3: 3

Shouting, Nell forces her magic deep into the earth. Two more skeletons burst free in a loose ring surrounding the melee and the shattered skeleton reassembles itself. Alandra is able to spring forward and take the head from one before it’s fully emerged from the earth, but the momentum dies and the easy victory suddenly becomes a rout. The skeletons swarm over the party, battering them from all sides and eventually separating Alandra from the others.

Wizard-Thief - Session 3 - Battle 2
In the tumult of the melee.

Nell focuses her anger on Tia, and the girl takes several vicious hits from the dead.

Does she flee? +0: x-yes

Throwing her blade in the face of the enemy, she sprints toward the tree line, nearly taking a fatal blow from one of the skeletons as she ran. Outnumbered now, Ben and Alandra fight valiantly and try to regroup to put a unified front against the dead, but they’re unable to meet up as Ben, too, begins taking hits.

Does Ben run? -2: no, but…

“Run, Alandra! The battle’s lost!” he cries out, doing everything he can now just to stay out of range of Nell’s painful mace. “Damn it, Lanaior–help us!”

(I had dropped Lanaior’s token of the table and forgot he was part of the battle after being hexed with that harm/illness event. Oops. Still, made for a good comeback!)

The shout seems to wake Lanaior from his stupor, and he soon charges in behind them, heavy woodcutter’s axe swinging wildly. He takes several nasty gashes on his forearms, but his whirlwind of still is enough to allow the three to regroup, and the skeletons are soon shattered.

Does Nell flee? +2: yes
To the tower? +2: yes

Demanding that her remaining skeletons cover her retreat, Nell breaks from the battle and sprints for the dark base of Stonereach. She is inside before the last of the skeletons fall, but soon all is quiet again, and the party stands, bloodied but alive, in a field of the dead.

Scene resolution

Alandra gains 25 exp for defeating 5 level 1 enemies.

Alandra, Magician 1 (25/250 xp); HP 3/5; SP 1/2; Dexterity/Performer; Atk +0 (Daggers, +1 dmg); MV 50′; Purse: 2 gp 5 sp 2 cp; Inventory (9): bedroll, rations (7), dagger (2), flint, torch (3), waterskin, 10′ pole, 20′ rope; Spells: Hide, Link, Song

Tia, Archer; HP 3/7+1 (leather); Bowyer; Atk +0 (Bow or Dagger); MV 40′Inventory (7): bedroll, rations (1), bow (20), dagger, flint, torch (1), waterskin

Ben, Archer; HP 4/7+1 (leather); Hunter; Atk +0 (Bow or Dagger); MV 40′Inventory (7): bedroll, rations (1), bow (20), dagger, flint, torch (1), waterskin

Lanaior, Footman; HP 8/8+2 (chain); Carpenter; Atk +0 (Axe, +1 damage); MV 30′Inventory (6): bedroll, rations (1), axe, flint, torch (2), waterskin

Quest NPCs: Georgia, missing priestess; Nell, necromancer; undead in woods

Threads: recover Georgia; defeat Nell; find Tia

Scene 7 — Entering Stonereach

Setup: The party pursues Nell into the tower
Chaos: 3 vs 4, interrupt
Interrupt event: PC Positive – Separate/Adversities

This interrupt has been noted and will apply later. I interpret this to mean that something has helped move her a little further from the House of the Silver Star that is pursuing her.

Scene 8 — Entering Stonereach, Part II

Setup: The party searches for an entrance to the tower
Chaos: 7 vs 4, no chaos

Panting as they put down the last of the skeletons, the party members try to catch their breath as they move toward the tower to search for a way to enter.

Does Tia return? +0: no
Is morning coming? +0: no + event
Event: Convince/Barrier

Upon approaching the tower, it becomes clear that the front door will be barred to them. A heavy iron grate lies locked against the door, and the party has no ability to get past it.

How tall is the tower? d4: 2 stories
Are the stones difficult to climb? +0: x-no
Is anyone visible on the roof? -2: yes
Nell? +4: x-yes

Fortunately, the squat toll house is not particularly high, and the rough stonework from the recent repairs has left numerous handholds that would make for easy work for a skilled climber–which Alandra is.

Unfortunately, just as she begins her climb, they hear a door bang open and see the necromancer move to the edge of the parapet, where she immediately begins berating the party.

Ben pulls his bow and begins firing arrows to drive the woman back.

Attack: 9 vs 10 (for cover), miss!

His attack slaps hard against the stone, but it’s close enough that Nell falls back, cursing, and allows Alandra to climb uninterrupted.

Skill check – Alandra’s climb +0: 7 vs 7, success (barely!)

Dore -- Army at Tower

She scampers up the vertical side of the tower, losing her grip in a few places but maintaining enough contact that she never falls. She vaults the low wall just as Nell returns.

Alandra automatically loses initiative.
Nell’s attack: 
3+1 vs 9, miss!

Despite Alandra’s poor balance after the climb, she is able to duck the necromancer’s first swing. Unfortunately, she won’t have time to drop a rope to pull the others up behind her while Nell is making life difficult, so she draws her daggers to drive the woman off. Unfortunately, her own attacks whistle past the necromancer or bounce of her thick chain armor [atk 8 vs 9], and she begins to worry that the evil necromancer must have a trick up her sleeve.

Does anything unusual happen? -4: no

But for now, it simply seems like the woman’s rage has gotten the better of her. They trade swipes, and though Nell’s swing is easily dodged (6 vs 9), Alandra’s own daggers strike home through the armor’s thick underlayer (9 vs 9, 2 dmg).

Nell now has 2/8+3 hp. Does she flee? +4: yes
Any other surprises? +0: yes – abandon/wishes (bummer, see below)

Cursing, Nell dashes back through the tower’s door, shouting for someone deep within the tower. Alandra waits a moment, but when nothing happens she hastily lowers a rope down to the others.

Skill check: Alandra’s DEX to tie the rope – 7 vs 7, success

She is able to get a sturdy knot around a stone and drops the rope for the others to climb (+2 to their climb checks, and they can make them with no penalty).

Does the surprise appear? +0: yes
Is it a(n) abomination, ghost, or ghoul? Ghoul
Ghoul: Lv 3 (3d3 hp); MV 40′; Atk +1 (claws); a corruption caused by cannibalism

Suddenly, she hears a sound from the door into the keep. Turning, Alandra sees a shape emerging onto the rooftop–a woman’s shape, but twisted and thin. It wears the dark robes of a priestess, but they seem to smolder and smoke where they drape across the thing’s taut flesh. Its face is pale white in the moonlight, save where it glistens dark and moist around the mouth. Its eyes are pools of blackness.

Does it speak? -4: yes [hostile – surrender – knowledge]

Its voice is feminine–or was once–and sounds like stones ground ground upon an iron plate. “It is…unfortunate…that you followed me here,” the ghoul says. “What you’ve learned cannot be forgotten. Nor can it be taken from this place.”

“You’re…Georgia?” Alandra asks, knowing the answer already.

The ghoul laughs, but it is mirthless. “Georgia was a shell, cast off now as all weakness shall be cast off. I have awakened…into this!” With that, she lunges forward, swiping at Alandra with her hands.

Ghoul attack: 6+1 vs 9, miss

Alandra dives to the side just in time, as she realizes that the once-priestess’s fingers have been sharpened into vicious claws. Her own daggers strike back [11 vs 9, 2 damage], but the attack doesn’t phase the wicked priestess.

Skill Check: Lanaior climb – 7+2 vs 7, success

Lanaior reaches the top of the wall just as Alandra’s daggers hit, and the ghoul is distracted enough that he is able to draw his axe before she is upon him.

Random event check: -4: yes
Event: NPC Action – Carry/Legal Matters (I’ll take this to mean religious matters, and that she carried her clerical powers into her cursed state)

Lanaior gasps when he sees the ghoul, when he sees her face. “Sister Georgia!” he cries, and he is running toward her before he can stop himself. “What did she do to you?”

The ghoul laughs and reaches out one impossibly strong hand to stop the massive carpenter in his tracks. “Brother Lanaior,” she says. “It’s good of you to come. Have you come to eat of the forbidden supper, as well? Sister Nell had to force it upon me, but the flesh of the living…it is a savory feast.”

And she begins to chant, but the familiar words of the Triune prayer of healing are twisted and wrong coming from the cannibal’s mouth. [She casts HEAL but reversed, dealing him d6+1 damage without a roll to hit: 3 damage. He has 5 hp left.] Lanaior shouts in pain as dark light flows through her arms and courses into his body.

“Let him go!” Alandra cries, bringing her daggers in an arc toward the beast’s arm and nearly severing it (9 vs 9, 2 dmg).

Ghoul has taken 4 damage. Is it dead? -4: no
How many hp? 3d3: 6

The ghoul doesn’t shrug this hit off as easily as it did the first. Shrieking, she drops the carpenter to the floor…

Does she flee? +4: yes

…and disappears into the halls of the tower. Alandra helps Lanaior to his feet as Ben climbs the rope behind them. Once they’ve caught their breath, they stare at the dark portal standing open. None want to descend into the darkness of Stonereach, but they each know they cannot leave and allow this new evil to disappear into the forest again.

Conclusion

Man, what an event. I can’t believe Mythic gave me abandon/wishes just as we reached the castle of a necromancer, which meant that she had been fed the flesh of man and transformed into a ghoul. I’m consistently amazed at what a cohesive story the random events can generate with a little thought.

Threads

Defeat the necromancer and her minions; escape the clutches of the House of the Silver Star

NPCs

Tarek, sorcerer of the House of the Silver Star; Nell, necromancer (2 hp); Georgia, ghoul (2 hp)

Ongoing Effects

PC positive (Alandra) — Separate/Adversities

Party

Alandra, Magician 1 (25/250 xp); HP 3/5; SP 1/2; Dexterity/Performer; Atk +0 (Daggers, +1 dmg); MV 50′; Purse: 2 gp 5 sp 2 cp; Inventory (9): bedroll, rations (7), dagger (2), flint, torch (3), waterskin, 10′ pole, 20′ rope; Spells: Hide, Link, Song

Tia, Archer; HP 3/7+1 (leather); Bowyer; Atk +0 (Bow or Dagger); MV 40′Inventory (7): bedroll, rations (1), bow (20), dagger, flint, torch (1), waterskin

Ben, Archer; HP 4/7+1 (leather); Hunter; Atk +0 (Bow or Dagger); MV 40′Inventory (7): bedroll, rations (1), bow (19), dagger, flint, torch (1), waterskin

Lanaior, Footman; HP 5/8+2 (chain); Carpenter; Atk +0 (Axe, +1 damage); MV 30′Inventory (6): bedroll, rations (1), axe, flint, torch (2), waterskin

Reminder: You can find links to all my play reports on my campaign logs page, and this campaign has a companion page with information about the party.

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