Thursday, 14 June 2018

Ravenloft IX

The Drow and the Unicorn (13th June 2018)


For this session, our Elf Rogue player was absent, so we assumed he would just rest up at the inn when we arrived in town.


The Tortured Soul Inn (Day 13 - continued)

When we looked around to confirm the presence of the handmaiden of Baba Yaga we noticed that she was no longer with us. Neither was the carriage she was held in, nor the horse that drew it. All we could see for miles around was rolling fields and countryside. Confused, we made our excuses and said our goodbyes to the village gossip and headed into the village to find the Tortured Soul Inn.

After ordering a few ales and a room for the night we mingled with the small crowd in the common room. A variety of rumours concerning certain members of the community abounded and we discovered that the name of the inn was a bit of a misnomer after hearing an extremely boring story about a fish that was pulled out of the river and being manhandled. The idea of a paid job to track down and return a unicorn from the dark forest nearby was a rather welcome request, although the counter rumour that there were ancient reptiles in the woods did make us wary. We also heard that the local priest held evening poetry sessions for the village children and that it was likely the place was infested with vampires. We decided to investigate these rumours in order.

On the way to the dark woods we decided to take a look at the supposed vampire lair (locked up) and the priest’s home in the mill. Upon entering the mill we were struck with an overwhelming sense of dread. Hanging from the rafters was the body of father Carlinious and gloating from the upper storey walkway was Lord Frak, the anti-paladin. After listening to his monologue Grumbold offered to face him down mano-a-mano but the dopey paladin fell upon his own sword and plunged to the floor. I gave the body a cursory kick, expecting it to be an illusion but the body felt quite solid. “Fool!” I thought before the body collapsed in upon itself and disappeared completely.

Unicorns and Drow (Day 13 – late afternoon)

After we had hidden the priest’s body, to prevent a cry of murder against us, we resolved to return later to give him a decent burial. We headed out to the distant forest and spent a fruitless couple of hours searching for the Unicorn (a couple of members of the party mentioned that perhaps relying on a half-orc virgin as a lure was a bit much to expect?) but eventually spotted our quarry. Millie went off on her own to track down the beast whilst the rest of us kept our distance. We thought Millie was on her way back crashing through the trees and undergrowth but the long legged lizards with Drow riders soon put paid to our reverie. A couple of Fireballs and other Magical Missiles later and the scout party was down – wizardly leader and all.

Millie must have heard the commotion as she appeared in our small glade to land the final blow against the Drow enemy. After we had tended our wounds, Millie went looking for the unicorn again. She managed to find it relatively quickly but when she led it over to us we realised it was just a horse with a cleverly stuck on horn. I think also, the bridles, straps and other carnival paraphernalia gave it away that this was not a real creature from myth. Still, 10 gold pieces is not to be sniffed at, as it would pay our bar bill and lodgings for the night.

We returned to the village, claimed our reward for the delivery of the horse and then settled into a refreshing bath to ease away the stresses and strains of the last couple of weeks. We had a fine repast and then made ready to investigate the supposed vampire lair.


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Ravenloft VIII


The Revenge of the Sidhe (6th June 2018)
 
Doubling Annabella (Day 9 - continued)

On second thoughts, maybe the big beast-like hand contained within the glass case in the chest was not Kaga Ra’s hand after all. Anyway, we divvied up the treasures as we deemed fairest, discussed what we were going to do next, and headed back to the surface only to find Annabella plunging her sword into Gur, Millie’s bear familiar.

I pushed Annabella away from Gur with a Gust of Wind so that she could do no more damage and allowed the rest of the party to deal with her whilst she was incapacitated. Brother Bertrand noticed another body on the ground which had been badly mauled. He put two and two together and realised that Annabella was not who she said she was. Grumbold, with a bit of divine intervention made sure it was not her before hacking her apart alongside a maddened Millie. It turned out that a couple of doppelgangers had turned up; Annabella had been “copied” before she ran away, and then they had tried to kill Gur. We had arrived back just in time to save the pair of them. Annabella emerged from the woods once the action was over. Unfortunately, this means I no longer have any trust for Annabella; she ran out on us even though she has ways of defending herself.

Journey to the village of Yarn (Days 10-13)

After we had pieced the story together about Annabella and the doppelgangers we headed out at double-time for the village of Yarn; we wanted to get there and a few other locations and then back to Pureforge before the month was out to save the baby that was due to be born then and most likely sacrificed to whatever lurked beneath the common hall there.

The journey was hard and fast, with each night’s sleep haunted by nightmare visions. Many of us were affected and left exhausted by our nightly experiences. During the early hours on a couple of the nights the banshees from the dungeon returned. They even made it into my protective little hut. I conversed with the Book of Knowledge (the book I picked up on the “beach” several days ago) on how to stop these incursions and how to halt the reappearance of the banshees even though we had destroyed them several times now. The answer was to dispose of anything that might belong to them. We had picked up a couple of non-magical trinkets (a necklace and ring) back in the dungeon from the banshee’s room. We took these away and buried them in a desolate spot in a wood, out of harm’s way.

As an aside, I had learned a new spell whilst travelling. I put it to good use by removing the curse that affected Brother Bertrand and his use of that suspicious looking dagger he had picked up. I dropped that item in the long grass too. He hasn’t asked after it, so presumably he is OK with one of his friends ridding him of the item?

Around tea time we arrived at a small copse just shy of the village of Yarn. Just before cresting the final hill we spotted a covered waggon accompanied by a couple of what looked like dead bodies. Millie spotted the draft horse and proceeded to calm it down before re-attaching it to the waggon. The rest of us investigated the waggon and the bodies. One of them was still alive, a dwarf drover, who warned us about the woman in the cage at the back of the waggon. We took a look and saw that there was indeed a woman in there that began to mock us and imitate our voices and mannerisms as soon as she saw us. She then suddenly lunged at Grumbold to ensnare him in her wily clutches. Luckily Malfeseus was on the ball and stuck her with an arrow from his newly found magical bow. That quietened her down. We spoke to the dwarf drover as he breathed his last and warned us of the witch he was tasked to transport to Pureforge for questioning – apparently she held the answers to the witch incursions. He was hoping that the pureness of that town would cleanse Ravenloft of her presence. We didn’t have the heart to tell him about our experiences there.

We buried the two drovers and carried on towards Yarn where we met the charming Mrs. Ashford who was tending her not so healthy garden in a most dreary and unkempt corner of the equally dingy village. Grumbold advanced to speak to her but even though I was only a few feet away, I could no longer hear their conversation. Eventually the party decided to join Grumbold and found we crossed a threshold into a beautiful village scene, with plentiful crops and countryside charm; so different to the dilapidated run-down appearance we were greeted with upon arrival.

Mrs Ashford told us about the coming carnival and fair upon the morrow, and mentioned that the witch we had in the waggon would be most welcome to join the festivities on the end of a ducking stool or in the stocks.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Ravenloft VII


The Marilith (23rd May 2018)



The Party
Bernard – Human Cleric
Grumbold – Dwarf Paladin
Malfeseus – Elf Rogue
Meegosh – Gnome Wizard
Millie – Half-Orc Barbarian

Cogs and Spikes (Day 9 - continued)

Of all the sneaky things to set before us – the water was an illusion. How I did not realise that it was making no noise as it flowed and my staff came out dry when placed within it I do not know. Brother Bertrand broke the spell for us by falling down the empty well and confirming that there was nothing in the pit below the illusion except a nasty fall.

After we had hauled Brother Bertrand from the pit we decided to squeeze (well, the bigger people did, I just walked through normally) through the bars at the entrance to the room with the great grinding cogs. It wasn’t until we were halfway across the room that the trap sprung – an air elemental took shape and proceeded to pound us with blasts of wind. Whilst the others bothered themselves with trying to fight it off, I explored the two other sets of bars in the hope of finding some way of defeating the summoned critter. Beyond one set were some stairs that led upwards towards a door whilst the other led into a room with a large pentangle on the floor and a couple of dressers at the sides of the room. It was whilst rummaging through the dressers that the first air elemental must have been defeated in the main cog room as another sprang into life from the pentangle on the floor whilst I was right before it! I was flung against the far wall and barely made it out with my life. My companions had used the interlude to make good their escape.

At the top of the stairs we passed through a wooden door into a huge cavern of unworked stone. This was mentioned in one of the dire monologues I received when I happened to glance into the magical Book of Knowledge earlier today; the complex was originally made by elves but not completed, and there was one hall in particular that was mentioned as being of uncut stone.

The Marilith

Well, we were about to find out why the room remained uncut. As we proceeded through the cavern, past huge stalactites and stalagmites and massive outcroppings of rock we began to hear sibilance and a whispering voice accompanied by the rather peculiar whiff of sulphur.

Finally, the being that owned said stench and voice hove into view. She (?), well it looked like a she, but who can tell with demonic beings, was huge with six arms and the lower body of an enormous snake. Knowing that it must be some abyssal creature I was aware that much of my magical arsenal would be useless against her, so I had to sculpt my Magic Missile spell into a more potent form. Whilst the two fighters went toe-to-toe with the monster, our cleric and rogue took pot-shots from afar whilst I poured on what magical damage I could muster.

The fight did not go well for us though as Brother Bertrand, in a brave but rash move, cursed her and fell to her six swords and crushing tail. This magical hindrance, however, gave us all time to redouble our efforts in order to take her down. Unfortunately she was much swifter than most of us and was able to do the same to Malfeseus.

Millie continued to hack away with all her strength whilst Grumbold used whatever gods-given aid he could muster. Eventually, my magical outpourings must have caused the demon much harm as she finally fell to Grumbold’s coup de grace (now where does that saying come from? It is not from any language I am aware of – maybe it has slipped through from another dimension where strange foods are eaten at tables where people play games with dice, and magic does not exist?).

In the aftermath of the battle, Grumbold was able to summon up some energy from a magical stone. I didn’t really see what he was doing but both Brother Bertrand and Malfeseus were restored to life, yahoo, yahey!

After we had rested for a short period, we made our way deeper into the caverns and came across four pillars with runes upon them that stood before an altar with a chest upon it surrounded by a swirling maelstrom of magic. However, a piece of parchment we had gained earlier had some clues that matched the carved depictions upon the pillars. After a few attempts at getting things lined up, for the pillars were made up of segments that could turn, I got the correct combination and the magical maelstrom disappeared.

Contained within the casket were many wondrous items that would need to be divvied up amongst the party, as well as a gruesome hand; we surmised it was part one of the three parts of Kaga-Ra’s dispersed body parts.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Ravenloft VI


Raising the Dead (16th May 2018)

The Party
Bernard – Human Cleric
Grumbold – Dwarf Paladin
Malfeseus – Elf Rogue
Meegosh – Gnome Wizard
Millie – Half-Orc Barbarian

The Last Bowl (Day 9 - continued)

After clearing out three rooms of mummies, the rest of the party decided that they needed a rest to recover from the wounds they had taken and to re-sharpen their weapons. I, however, was still full of vim and vigour and ready to continue exploring. Whilst waiting for the rest period to finish, Grumbold and I explored the rest of the cavern and took a look at the arch and room beyond in more detail (but without crossing the threshold).

The bowls that the gaseous forms retreated to after the mummies were defeated were full of what appeared to be blood. The room beyond the arch held a great sarcophagus with two candelabra. Grumbold and I could not work out any more about the room from that distance, so returned to the rest of the party.

The fourth side room offered pretty much the same as the previous three except that the entrance glyph had already been set off. After a short battle, the final mummy expired and its spirit flew to the remainder of the four bowls. However, the effect this time was different. Once the fourth and final bowl was filled with blood they all began to bubble up and overflow, with the blood making straight for the sarcophagus in the room. Smoke escaped from the interior of the sarcophagus and the sound of an enraged being emitted from within. Within the space of a few short breaths, a fifth mummy burst from its tomb. The shout of “I am Kaga Ra” did not fool any of us and we put it down quickly under a hail of fire and sword strokes.

A quick search of the sarcophagus revealed a little treasure in the form of gold coins, a ring and a magical dagger. I warned people not to touch it, but the cleric was drawn to its false beauty. The candelabra, I revealed to my comrades, was a mechanism for opening a false bottom in the tomb of the false Kaga-Ra. Steps led down to another level of this dungeon.

Going Down

At the bottom of the steps was a huge room. Unlike the caverns above, these seemed to be carved neatly from the rock. In the middle of the floor of the room was a mouldering pile of bones. Several beings had met their fate here. There were several doors leading off of the main room but most of these were small cells that contained either dead bodies or had been totally ransacked. The few doors that did not close off a cell needed to be explored, and Millie set off to do just that.

After the door in the north-east corner was kicked off its hinges, a black mist rose from the coffins laid within and amalgamated into over a dozen spectral shapes. I didn’t hang around and shaped a couple of Fireballs that proceeded to destroy most of the denizens of the chamber. Unfortunately, the few that escaped could travel through solid stone and attacked me – well, why wouldn’t they try to be rid of their most potent enemy? I was sorely tested but still managed to save an ailing Brother Bertrand who had succumbed to their touch. Unfortunately, all the commotion attracted the attention of a couple more ghostly beings that wailed so loudly that several of my friends quailed in terror. A terrible battle ensued but we were finally victorious as they retreated back through the wall from which they came.

We all decided to take a short rest again and try to trace where these beings had come from. A short jaunt round behind the steps we had come down revealed their bed chamber and we finally put them to rest. A quick search of their rotten belongings revealed a page of writing with clues as to what had happened when the wailing banshees were living beings, but we could not decipher all of it.

Millie, as restless as ever, decided she wanted to go kick some more doors down. She passed through the double-doors in the main chamber like a hot knife through butter (my, that girl is strong!) and led us around a few short corridors to another bed chamber. The bed had an incorporeal incumbent who reluctantly rose and began to talk to us, revealing that her name was Mama-Ro – a name mentioned on the paper we found in the banshee room. I must admit, I found what she had to say rather boring and set off in search of the cup of tea she had promised us. Unfortunately, she must have had a thing about putting the kettle on in a certain way as she flew into a rage as I entered her kitchen.

I think I was the target of her attacks as she made a bee-line towards me (I wonder why they call it a bee-line? Bees never fly in a straight line). Luckily my trusty magic saved the day as a Gust of Wind kept her away from me and dissipated her to the four corners.

Well, after a quick search of the boudoir and kitchen revealed nothing of interest we headed back to the main chamber in search of the third and final door. Again, Millie did the honours and we all filed along a narrow winding corridor, accompanied by a grinding sound, which led to a room with a large, dark pool of water that had flowing inlets and outlets from north to south. To the left, just before the pool was a set of iron bars that stretched from floor to ceiling that separated us from a chamber full of cogs and spikes. Through the bars we could discern two more entrances (in the south and east) also with floor to ceiling bars. The grinding noises we had heard earlier seemed to emanate from this room.