Adventure 3 – Into the Necropolis
Dragon Bone Compass in hand, Rune-laid map in the other, our adventurers finally had their ticket through the Labyrinth under Necropolis. From Gorogan’s Maw, they trekked west to Horizon in hopes of finding a crew brave enough to take them to Necropolis. Augustine was confident he would find a courageous captain to aid them, but after searching the docks for hours they could find no such individual. Many of those they asked laughed in their faces; others ignored them completely and went back about their business. Traveling to the likes of Necropolis was a foolish man’s death wish and at first no one would have any part in it. It seemed that none of them had any backgrounds in the area that would help them until Deneveve overheard the name Greensheaf, a wood elf captain that used to be known around the Elven Courts. They found the captain’s first mate on the docks who told them Greensheaf could be found at a nearby tavern. The party trekked up the street, none the wiser that a cloaked figure now followed them.
They found the Magic Barnacle tavern easily enough. It was a cozy gnome pub and the owner greeted them enthusiastically offering wine. Alleric was easy to take the cup and sat down for a midday meal, having become rather fond of food due to his new belt (magic item quirk). Deneveve and Augustine were more concerned with finding the boat so asked for the Captain. The wood elf was sitting near one of the bay windows in some ragged leathers. Augustine, not one for subtlety, approached the captain and blurted out, “We are on a holy mission and must get to Necropolis as soon as possible. We have need of your boat.”
“First of all, it’s a ship not a boat. And why on earth would I risk my neck and the neck of my crew, ship, and livelihood for you? Piss off.” Perhaps Augustine’s time around the Crusader had tainted the wonderful charm paladins are known for as he failed to sway the captain with a charisma check. Feeling the conversation had ended, the captain went back to enjoying his wine. Before the party could take another approach the cloaked figure that had been following the party stomped up to the captain and slapped him hard across the face.
The movement was so fierce is left a red hand print on Captain Greensheaf’s face and caused the hood to fall back from the stranger’s face, revealing a female half-elf ranger.
“Coward!” The ranger stood above the Captain, fury radiating from her. “This filth failed to stand for justice in the Court of Stars when my beloved Tig was left to be cursed by the Queen’s wrath,” she gestured toward large white tiger who now housed her beloved’s soul (one unique thing). “You failed to show courage once before when someone needed you most and here I find you doing it again!” Behind her, Tig bared his fangs and growled at Greensheaf.
The captain noticed the heads turning to look at the commotion. He tried to stand but a growl from the tiger made him sit back down again. “Please, I run a ship of certain repute. Lower your voice.” Not to waste an opportunity, the party resorted to intimidation checks, stating their silence could be bought for a trip to Necropolis. The captain knew that his reputation would be ruined in Horizon if this secret got out. “Listen, the few living souls who set foot on Necropolis have a nasty habit of never returning. I can take you to the shore, but I won’t land on that cursed rock. We set sail at dawn.” It would be a long time until they could visit a store again so the party took steps to stock up on anything they might need before settling down for what would no doubt be their final restful night of sleep in the dangerous days ahead.
The next morning the party was surprised to see the half-elf ranger at the docks talking to Captain Greensheaf. The ranger introduced herself as Xilia and that she would be accompanying them on their journey to Necropolis. Xilia saw an opportunity to use the Lich King’s crown that the party spoke of to sell to the High Druid or someone of equal power that could possibly break the curse on her beloved Tig. If the crown could not be secured she would simply find another artifact from Necropolis that would suffice. She offered her services as a ranger and knowledge of the Midland Seas to secure a position with the party, but kept the reasons for joining the band of adventurers to herself.
The Concord’s Grace set sail at sunrise into the peaceful waters of the Midland Sea. Deneveve was thankful that the Emperor’s Ancient Blessing kept the monsters of the Iron Sea at bay and the waters generally calm. Xilia knew better. There were beings powerful enough to slip past the Emperor’s protection and prime among them was the Lich King. During Xilia’s past travels on the seas she had heard accounts that the Lich King had resurrected a shadow of an ancient creature that lurked in the watery depths around Necropolis… the Death-Kraken.
Fearing the crew would not take them to their destination if she gave advance warning Xilia waited until the ship neared Necropolis before altering Captain Greensheaf of the threat. Cursing under his breath, the captain quickly barked out orders for the crew to man the Arbalests and brace for combat. Recruiting the help of Augustine, Deneveve began collecting reagents to cast ritual magic. The crew was quick to hand over a few good luck charms – an assortment of gold coins, trinkets, even a few special items that raised some eyebrows. Augustine once again lent Deneveve the blessed stone he carried from the Cathedral. Items gathered, Deneveve began casting ritual magic to help ward the ship from evil. A symbol of the Priestess flared to life on the center of the ship’s deck which let everyone know the wards were in place. Meanwhile, Alleric performed a knowledge check using arcane studies and shared what he knew about Krakens with the party. Familiar with the workings of a ship, Xilia climbed the bow and kept watch.
From her vantage point the ranger was the first to see it – Like a massive shadow sliding under the surface of the waves. She called out for the crew to take arms and felt the ship shudder. Gigantic tentacles made of shadow crept up the sides of the ship, whipping toward the crew and the adventurers.
Deneveve could feel something crunching and biting against the wards at the bottom of the ship so she quickly blessed her allies’ weapons. Dodging a tentacle, Augustine bravely leapt into the midst of battle, shielding the crew as best as he could. Alleric unleashed his arcane fury, alternating between breaths of acid and bolts of lightning. Xilia took a lashing from the tentacle near her, commanding Tig to take vengeance for her. Just when they thought they had a handle on the situation kelp zombies emerged from the icy depths and began climbing aboard the ship.
Distracted with the new zombie threat, Alleric did not notice one of the Kraken tentacles wrap around his legs until it was too late. With a yank Alleric was sent over the port side railing. Casting their differences aside Deneveve dove after him, catching the sorcerer with a strength check before he was flung into the waters below. Some of the other crew members were not so fortunate. Just as Deneveve pulled Alleric back on board the ship lurched violently knocking several people off their feet. The massive head of the Death-Kraken had emerged from the waters on the starboard side of the ship.
Still surrounded by shadow tentacles and kelp zombies, Xilia and Augustine could only watch as one of the crew trying to operate an arbalest was devoured whole by the Death-Kraken’s gaping maw. Feeling the protective wards she had cast falling, Deneveve tried to cast invocation of beauty to gain the Priestess’s favor in protecting the ship but failed as a shadow tentacle wrapped around her. Alleric tried to take out a group of kelp zombies with chain lightning, but his spell fizzled. Seeing the dire situation the party gathered together to beat back the kelp zombies and unleash a concentrated attack on the Death-Kraken’s head. After receiving a beating, the Shadowy Kraken released the ship and slid back down into the depths. It would enact its vengeance another day.
Captain Greensheaf was none too happy that he had almost lost his ship. With his ship more sparely manned than before he wanted nothing more to do with these damned adventurers. The Concord’s Grace came as close as Greensheaf would allow to Necropolis and the party was brought ashore. The island before them was a gray bleak landscape and the beach was lined with rows of graves as far as the eye can see. While the Emperor’s blessing protected the Midland Sea from storms, it granted no such protection on Necropolis. Mist clung to the ground and the clouds ominously gathered overhead.
Not wishing to stay here any longer than necessary Augustine started up the shore, leading his companions onward. Deeper inland they found statues of skeletons standing over a collection of unearthed graves. Augustine urged the party onward, but the glint of a shiny ring in one of the graves caught Alleric’s eye. Reaching down to examine the ring further, he saw the statue above him slowly draw his sword. He retracted his hand quickly and after some thought reasoned that out of respect for the dead he may be able to exchange something of his own. He gently laid a suitable sum of gold pieces in the grave and the skeleton allowed him to retrieve the Ring of Protection from the grave. Deneveve found the body of an imperial legionnaire and proceeded to perform the funeral rites to send his soul home. When she finished, the statue above opened its hands to reveal a set of Archer’s Gauntlets. Xilia was happy to put them on, marveling at the comfortable fit. The skeletal guardians admired the respect that the party gave them and let them pass unharmed through the graveyard. It gave the party hope that not all of the undead found on Necropolis served the Lich King willingly.
The graves stretched out endlessly before them. A deathly silence filled the air. After consulting the dragon bone compass and map, Xilia was able to guide her companions forward until they reached a series of obelisks. Curious, Alleric approached one to study it. A low hum and a crack of thunder was all the warning he had before a bolt of lightning raced out from the obelisk shocking him to the bone. Deneveve quickly rushed forward to ease his pain. Augustine noted that several runes on the obelisk pulsated right before the lightning struck. Xilia stepped forward and offered to bait the obelisk so they could study the runes again. Dodging back and forth she and Tig nimbly drew their fire thus giving Alleric enough time to translate the ancient runes into a timing system. With this knowledge in hand the party deftly maneuvered past the obelisks.
Ahead the party spotted an area where the earth dipped low into a hollow. At the lowest point of the hollow lay broken tombstones and the bones of a hundred fallen heroes. In their midst was two large stone doors leading into a crypt. The dragon bone compass pointed straight ahead. The party had finally reached the entrance to the maze.
Determined to find the crown, Augustine marched forward toward the doors. As he approached the bones that littered the earth rattled to life and flew up into the air. Spinning faster and faster, the bones whirled around the party before connecting together to form a colossal skeletal horror. The Guardian of the maze had awoken.
The Guardian reached down and pick up a nearby tombstone, wielding it as a gigantic maul. His other hand pulled a burning blade from its chest. Silently, the towering Guardian approached the Paladin. Augustine raised his shield but not fast enough. He felt the tombstone slam against him, driving him a few inches into the dirt. Xilia sent Tig forward and readied her bow. Two rapid shots shattered several of the guardian’s bones. Recovering from her horror, Deneveve prayed to the Priestess and wrapped her allies in divine armor. Knowing better than to get close, Alleric unleashed powerful arcane energy at the creature from a distance. The Guardian ignored the Paladin and charged Xilia, bringing his hammer then blade down onto the ranger, pummeling and burning her. Barely standing, Xilia dodged out of the way and plugged two arrows into the Guardian’s skull.
The Guardian released a silent roar and shattered into a swirling whirlwind of bones. The whirlwind swept over the entire party, ripping at their skin. The bones reformed again near Alleric. The tombstone maul flew to the Guardian’s hands and he swung at the sorcerer. Augustine deftly moved to intercept, absorbing some of the blow with Bastion. The sword came swinging in again, slicing Augustine and leaving him badly wounded. Deneveve’s healing coursed through the Paladin knitting his wounds. Rejuvenated, Augustine attacked with a powerful smite of holy energy that cleaved the skeleton’s spine in two. The Guardian shattered, sending hundreds of bones clattering to the ground around the adventurers.
With the Guardian defeated the adventurers opened the stone doors, revealing a dark chasm. The labyrinth awaited…
“Fantastic game. The battle with the Kraken took a while but was worth it! (I loved the artistic use of playdoh.) The giant skeleton dude was amazing as well. Quite a fun afternoon of gaming!”
Had an opportunity to fail forward this adventure because the PCs absolutely tanked the majority of their rolls. This was especially true during the Kraken battle which resulted in a longer encounter than expected. As a result we broke free from the organized play outline and opted not to engage the Monks of Death (skeletal statues) in combat. Instead that encounter was changed to an opportunity to gain magic items for the party.
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