Part 6 Recap – The Lich King’s Vault (final)

Adventure 6 – The Lich King’s Vault

LichTileThis is the haunting conclusion of the Crown of the Lich King adventure.

The air in the storage room was thick and rank with the smell of decomposing mushrooms.  Crates upon crates of them lined the chamber walls.  It was not the most aromatic hiding spot, but it gave the party shelter long enough to patch their wounds and ready themselves.  After the near fatal beat down from the Tomb Guards patrolling the halls none of them were eager to be discovered again.  When they had collected themselves Ark-Kelli peeked through the doorway – The coast was clear.  Silently as he could, he crept out into the hallway, gesturing to his companions to follow.

The band of adventurers had elected to have Xylia and Ark take point.  The rogue was effective at sneaking ahead a bit and Xylia’s sharp senses helped alert them to danger.  More than once, the duo’s quick thinking saved the party from another patrol or trap.  In a large hallway where they would be flanked by two oncoming patrols, they silently ducked into a side room to wait it out.  Inside, they were shocked to find a modest sized treasury filled with coin, artifacts, chests, and dark suits of armor.  Augustine could tell instantly that the suits of armor belonged to fallen paladins.  The Lich King took a certain pleasure in breaking champions of light and enslaving them to his will.  Augustine picked up one of their shields emblazoned with the symbol of the Great Gold Wyrm and was relieved to see that no corruption had touched the metal.

Mimic2While the party stood around admiring the paladin’s new shield, Ark’s eyes glistened greedily at all the treasure that surrounded him.  He noticed one of the open treasure chests overflowing with gold pieces.  The object that caught his eye however was a large brooch consisting of three intertwined claws.  One red, one blue, and one black.  As he reached his hand forward to pick up the brooch, he was alarmed when the treasure chest suddenly clamped down around his arm, unseen teeth digging in to his skin.  In his greed he never noticed it was a Mimic!  Ark’s scream triggered another trap and the suits of armor around the room suddenly sprang to life, drawing swords and advancing on the intruders.  The air around them hissed and an eerie voice spoke out, “You have touched the forbidden treasure! Now you will never again see the light of day!”  Xylia and Deneveve were able to pry Ark’s arm out of the mimic’s mouth and quickly dispatch it.  Augustine, aided by Alleric and Xin-Shan smashed the armor to pieces, hoping that it may give its wearers some measure of peace.

The quick skirmish in the treasury was a sharp reminder of the incredible danger they were in.  “We should be more careful.  There are far worst dangers in here than snapping treasure chests.  Let’s move.”  Xin-Shan cracked her knuckles and moved back out into the hall, “Ark, take point again.  Let us know what’s ahead.  Don’t. Touch. Anything.”  Cautiously, the adventurers moved throughout the halls, avoiding any dangers they could come across.

They reached a section of the palace that opened up into a courtyard.  Ark carefully peaked around the corner into the open space.  The party saw Ark turn back to them, his face paling as the blood drained from it.  “Back up! It’s huge!  We can’t defeat-“  Any other warning he might have given them was choked out as a chain wrapped around him and yanked him around the corner into the courtyard.  Terrified but determined to try and aid their companion, all of the remaining party members charged around the corner to face whatever had grabbed Ark.  A hulking monstrosity stitched together from various bits and pieces of animal and humanoid alike stood across the courtyard from them, guarding a door behind him.  In one giant meaty fist, the undead abomination held the chain that had tore through Ark.  Their rogue companion was hung dangling from the other side of the chain, his lifeless body contorted in odd angles. The creature roughly peeled the halfling’s body off the chain and threw him to the ground, then started winding up the chain again to catch his next victim.

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Undead Abomination.
Nailed it!

Alleric was quick to react, running forward and ducking behind one of the large tombstones dotting the courtyard before he began gathering power.  He had just ducked behind the stone when he was showered with dust from the chain ricocheting off the front of the tombstone.  As the creature reeled his chain back in, the rest of the party charged in.  Deneveve, Xylia, and Xin-Shan ducked behind the cover of tombstones or pillars.  Augustine however, trusting in the protection of the Great Gold Wyrm, charged straight to the undead abomination.  The creature saw a tempting target in front of him and slammed his overly large fists down upon Augustine, laughing with satisfaction as the Paladin’s legs buckled under the force.

His arcane energies gathered and seeing the paladin in trouble, Alleric stood up from his covered and sent a charged lightning attack towards the abomination.  Something in his magical incantation went awry though which caused the lightning bolt to zig zag through the air before coming straight back at the sorcerer, knocking him prone (critical fail).  The hunter’s white tiger Tig roared and leaped into the fray, tearing at the abomination’s skin.  As the tiger pulled some of the stitching loose a piece of flesh fell away and several large beetles spilled out onto the floor.  The beetles quickly swarmed around Xylia.  Disgusted but determined, Deneveve and Xin-Shan flanked the Abomination and pummeled it with mace and fist.  Deneveve’s prayers of healing filled Augustine’s ears as he felt his strength restored. Angered that these pests would not simply be stomped under his feet the undead abomination went into a frenzy.  As he repeatedly hammered into Augustine and Tig, the abomination’s wounds started to stich themselves back together.  His frenzy was healing him, driving him to fight on.  The last blow to Tig crushed the tiger into the floor.  With a whimpering yelp, the white tiger fell over dead.

IMG_2922Knowing that the tiger was the hunter’s beloved trapped in an animal body, Alleric turned towards Xylia expecting to see the hunter grieving.  Instead he was horrified to see the ranger dead on the floor, barely visible under a swarm of beetles.  Enraged, Alleric launched several chaos bolts at the beetles, destroying them.  Despite the creature’s healing and heavy handed blows, the remaining adventurers pushed on.  With a desperate plea to the Great Gold Wyrm, Augustine plunged his sword into the creatures gut, watching as it collapsed on to the floor, separating into its many respective pieces.

Somberly, Deneve gathered Ark and Xylia’s bodies together, side by side, with Tig’s body resting on Xylia’s.  The remaining party members had not known them long, but they had come to respect them as companions.  Saying the rites of passing, she gently closed their eyes before asking Alleric to burn their bodies.  They did not have the time to bury their companions and bodies did not say dead for long in Necropolis.  It would be heartbreaking to see their companions come back as the Lich King’s thralls – Burning was the only way she knew how to prevent this.  All four of them watched as the bodies burnt away.  Xin-Shan quietly said, “The crown had better be worth this.  They were good people.  Their deaths will be avenged.”

When their dead had been put to rest Alleric moved over to the remains of the abomination.  It was clear that the creature had been held together by dark necrotic magic and he was curious if he could learn anything from it.  His studies with magic led him to discern that if the creator of the abomination was nearby it would have been much stronger, much more magically imbued.  “It appears this creature was weakened.  I do not believe the Lich King is here.  If he was this creature would have destroyed the lot of us.  Small blessing – He must be somewhere other than Necropolis.”

“Then we need to hurry up before he returns,” Augustine confidently strode past the creature’s corpse into the halls of the vault beyond.  “Let us not tarry any longer.  The crown awaits.”

The Lich King probably never expected for anyone to get beyond the creature.  Beyond the courtyard door they discovered a collection of vacant but recently used guest rooms without any guards in sight.  In one wardrobe, Xin-Shan was able to find a pair of gloves equipped with long retractable blades.  She slipped them on and knew they would come in handy.  Deneveve was able to locate a long lest treasure of the Elf Queen’s – A simple circlet of twigs ensconced with several gems representing elvenkind.  Humbly, she placed the diadem on her head.  Augustine found another set of armor, this one a deep black like the abyss itself.  He immediately recognized the symbol as being of house Voth.  “He’s here.  The Baron is here.  We cannot afford to lose this opportunity; we need to recover his phylactery immediately.”  Deneveve pocketed a piece of the armor, thinking it may be handy later.

LichRoyaltyTileWith a renewed sense of urgency, the party was able to navigate their way through the palace before finding themselves on the second floor of a great hall, overlooking a large banquet of sorts below them.  Two long tables traveled up the hall with another near the far end of the room.  The tables were covered with various samples of decaying food and wine glasses filled with red liquid.  Numerous liches, vampires, and other undead horrors stood mingling around the room.  This must be the party that Adros, the bartender in the undead tavern, had told them about.  The second level that the adventurers were on was a balcony that wrapped around the hall and at the other side was another door.  They knew they had to get across without being seen.  Discreetly, Alleric waited for a lull in the festivities then launched a chaos bolt at the leg of one of the tables.  Food and drink spilled over the floor.  The party seized the opportunity and quickly bolted across the upper floor to the door beyond.  Xin-Shan noticed that the head table of 5 figures, led by a robed figure wearing dark black armor stood up and exited the door below the one they were entering.

The hallway before them was blank with no traps.  Deneveve felt a chill pass through her and she quickly reached out her divine senses.  She felt a profound unholy enchantment around her.  She paused to consult with Alleric.  The sorcerer and the cleric discerned that the vault they were about to enter was warded with magic.  It was constructed to keep the undead out.  At first this seemed an oddity, but then they realized that it meant only the Lich King and his inner circle could enter here.  Putting all the information they had together, Xin-Shan slowly said, “The Lich King doesn’t trust his own subjects.  And those that I saw leave the table earlier must be part of his inner circle.”

Carefully, they moved into the vault’s lobby.  The adventurers stood at the top of two curved stairways wrapping around a circular marble room.  On the floor below them, a barred door blocked a large room glittering with golden treasures.  Augustine hushed his companion as he heard footsteps below.  They just barely had time to duck back behind cover before seeing five figures moving in to the room below.  The robed figure in dark armor was flanked by the two liches and vampires on each side.

“Baron, I must object.  The Lich King will flay our hides for this.”  A vampire glanced nervously around the room; passing over the adventurer’s hiding places.

The robed figure waived his hand at the vampire.  “Silence.  I do not trust the King to hold my phylactery any longer.  It is mine after all.”  His voice was like chains being dragged over a grate.  Effortlessly, the Baron walked directly through the bars in front of him, disappearing into the vaults beyond.  The two liches and vampires stayed behind.  Deneve leaned in to Augustine, and requested that she could get the Cathedral’s stone again.  She had an idea, but she would need a distraction and quick.   Seizing their chance, Xin-Shan leapt over the banister and barreled down on one of the liches below.

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There was no longer any point in hiding so Alleric stood up and gathered whatever arcane energies into himself as he could.  Running down the stairs, Augustine swung wide against one of the vampires.  The vampire skipped to the side, leaped over the railing and charged toward the Dark Elf Sorcerer.  The Liches below flung necrotic bolts at Xin-Shan, shrieking at her the entire time.  When she struck the nearest one, the lich baroness erupted, hundreds of souls streaming out and wrapping around her.  They raked against Xin-Shan’s skin before she quickly backed away.  She would need another target.

Taking her chance, Deneveve ran down the other side of the stairs toward the barred door.  Clutching the armor of the Baron she found before and the stone Augustine had lent her, she opened herself to the will of the gods.  She prayed for protection and was grateful to see a shimmering gold-white barrier stream out from her hands to encase the doorway.  With a little bit of help from the gods, she hoped that the Baron wouldn’t be getting through until they were good and ready for him.  The Baron could walk through physical barriers, but a holy one would be another matter.

The vampire above was still after the Dark Elf, and finally struck home.  Batting the sorcerer’s staff aside, he sank his teeth into his neck, draining Alleric of his very life.  Horrified and furious, Augustine ran back up the stairs and brought his blade down into the Vampire’s back.  The creature spun shrieking but was quickly burned away by a bolt from Alleric.  Augustine helped his ally up from the floor then turned to see the battle before them.  Xin-Shan was sparring with a lich and vampire, nimbly evading their strikes and returning her own.  The second lich was pelting Deneve with dark magics, cackling as she did so.

Xin-Shan landed a well-placed strike to the lich she was engaged with, watching with satisfaction as her skin melted away and her bones turned to dust.  A small ugly spark of a soul hovered where the lich was for a second then sped off through the walls toward its phylactery.  Unleashing a powerful torrent of acid, Alleric used his green dragon’s breath on the remaining lich and vampire.  Slowly, they burned away, finally collapsing to the floor or melting away.

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They barely had a moment to catch their breath before a blade pierced Deneve’s barrier, slowly pushing through.  A voice echoed into Deneve’s mind, one she immediately recognized as the graceful melody of the Elf Queen, “Be strong young one, my power is yours.”  Deneveve felt a sudden surge of energy course through her and into the barrier.  The sword continued to push through the barrier, followed by the baron’s naked decaying hand, then his torso, then the entire baron stepped through.  The barrier had stripped the Baron of his armor save the elaborate garments he wore beneath, but his wrath remained.

Augustine charged forward and with a determined swing he smote the Baron.  Xin-Shan sprung forward, pummeling against the Baron’s form in a flurry of blows.  A crackle of energy signified Alleric was pulling together his remaining reserves of power for another hard strike.  The Baron ignored all of this and turned toward the cleric who dared to lock him in the vaults.  How dare she, a simple elf!  He war Baron Voth!  He sunk his black blade into the cleric’s side and smiled as darkness seeped into her body.  The baron whispered a dark incantation and a purple beam linked his soul to hers.  All at once, Deneveve experienced a flurry of memories-

A young man thirsting for power.  Opening the tome of power before him.  The joy of his first kill.  Leading armies into combat within the wild wood.  Kneeling before the Lich King. 

Gasping, Deneveve came back to reality and felt a dark presence stirring in her soul draining her of her life force.  With her soul linked to the Baron her healing powers would surely heal him too if she tried healing the gaping hole in her side.  She only hoped Augustine would have bastion ready if another attack came her way.

The Baron continued to fight on, bolstered by the healing he siphoned off from the cleric.  After parrying a blow from Augustine, he mercilessly attacked Xin-Shan.  Another dark incantation and he ensnared Xin-Shan’s soul to his.  In a flash, the monk witnessed a torrent of his memories.

The baron retreating his forces from an ancient temple defended by tenacious druids and rangers.  Kneeling in shame in front of the Lich King. 

A shower of sparks as Alleric’s spell blasted the Baron brought Xin-Shan back to her senses.    Deneve brought her mace down on the Baron’s skull, causing him to turn around and scream in the elf cleric’s face.  Gracefully, Deneve whipped her mace around and under the Baron’s guard, shattering his rib cage.  With an unearthly howl, the Baron’s body was consumed in a blue flame before disintegrating to dust and falling to the floor.  The wretched spark of a soul flew back into the treasury toward the Crown, his soul’s phylactery.

One last memory echoed in Xin-Shan and Deneve’s head, just a sound of the voice of the Lich King  “You have failed me Voth, and for that you will be punished.” 

CrownBloodied and bruised, the adventurers silently acknowledged their victory.  After a quick recovery the adventurers entered into the treasury and found the crown amongst the myriad of priceless treasures.  Sitting on a pedestal, its ring of simple dark metal writhed as the Baron’s soul fought to break free of it.  “It will take a long while for the Baron to gain his body back.  We need to take this to Santa Cora immediately.”  Augustine handed the crown to Deneve who placed it in a simple pouch around her waist.  Alleric reasoned that stealing the crown and purifying it of its power was a good enough lesson for the Lich King to learn from the Orc Lord.  Xin-Shan was satisfied that the terror the Lich King released in the High Druid’s domain was defeated for good.  Neither of them made a move to take the Crown from the paladin and cleric.  A long adventure had drawn them closer together.  Yet it was not over yet.

The journey home was blissfully uneventful.  The party navigated out of the palace the same way they had entered,    Those undead they did find quickly yielded when they displayed they had retrieved the Lich King’s crown.  The ever trusting paladin Augustine managed to strike some deals with the bartender at the Bloody Hart tavern to smuggle them off the island.  Granted they delivered a shipment to Santa Cora for him, of course.  A few days later the party found themselves at the steps of the magnificent Cathedral in Santa Cora.  It had been a long time since Augustine stood at these steps after being exiled for traveling with the Crusader.  Received quietly as heroes in the Cathedral, the Priestess herself welcomed the heroes to the inner sanctum.  She thanked them for their courageous work, commending them for the bravery they exhibited.  Their deeds would forever be remembered, and their names recorded in the Cathedral’s hall of heroes.  Augustine’s exile was dropped and the Priestess welcomed her son home.

Priestess

Player feedback:

“A most excellent and satisfying ending to a neat campaign (or at least the first installment of one), including the near death of PCs and some truly daunting baddies.” – Player 4, Xin-Shan

“Agreed. Even included an epic “final battle” scene where I thought we were all going to die. And we nearly all did. :-)” – Player 1, Alleric

GM Notes:

Over the course of these six adventures I was delighted to see an engaging an epic tale unfold that embraced the players character.  The adventure packet was created to be flexible to player’s whims and GM’s tweaking which I was thoroughly appreciative of.  The adventure also offered plenty of entrance and exit opportunities for migrating players (Xylia and Ark couldn’t make it to the last session, hence death).  I’m very grateful to the team at Pelgrane Press for assembling a wonderfully exciting story and adventure.  I’d also like to thank the amazing players whom I was lucky enough to have at my table.  While I won’t be running the next adventure (Sarah’s running the next one), I look forward to GM’ing more Tales of 13th Age in the future.

We’ll be back next week with the start of the next Tales of 13th Age: Wyrd of the Wild Wood!
(Sarah)    (Ben)

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Part 5 Recap – The City of the Dead

Adventure 5 – The City of the Dead

As our adventurers exit the legionnaire chamber they find themselves in a peculiar spot.  Having expected to venture further in the labyrinth, they instead find themselves free of the maze and in a shabby run down hovel. The small shack is unoccupied and by the layers of dust scattered across the sparse furnishings it is clear it has been so for some time.  Movement outside the barred up window makes the party press themselves against the shadows.  Looking out the window, Xylia’s jaw drops agape as she sees a sprawling city like no other.

UndeadWhat once may have been a magnificent city with a massive palace at its heart was now a city of decay filled with undead monsters.  Skeletal guards march down the street.  Flesh golems not unlike the ones they had encountered in the labyrinth lumber past with heavy loads carried on their backs.  A carriage full of ghosts rattles past, pulled by skeletal horses.  Floating skulls hovering over empty clothes casually linger in front of store fronts, inspecting their wares.  The streets were lined with strange fires and braziers that cast an eerie light on the ever flowing swirls of fog and permanently overcast skies above.  Beyond the various shops and dwellings stood a towering skull palace, home of the Lich King and the crown they all sought.

Distracted by the unusual city, a guttural snarl was Xylia’s only warning before a ghoul’s decaying face filled her view.  Snapped back to her senses Xylia reeled away from the window and flattened herself against the shadows.  Thinking there cover had been blown her hands instinctively drew her bow.  Seeing the hunter alert the rest of the party silently drew their weapons.  Time passed.  Nothing happened.  Another moment ticked by before Xylia allowed herself a quick glance again out the window.  The ghoul was no longer near the window, having been led further down the street on a leash held by a vampire obliviously enjoying a leisurely stroll.  Xylia let out a sigh of relief, not aware she had been holding her breath.  Augustine appeared silently next to her.  After watching the streets for a moment he turned back to the party and whispered, “There’s no way that we can simply walk down these streets. The entire city would be out to kill us.”

Deneveve recited the code taught to her by the Priestess, finding courage in the mantra.  None of them had a background with the Lich King or knowledge of the city’s grid system so they would have to take a different approach.  “Then we find a disguise. Fan out, see if this hovel has anything we can use.”  Xin-Shan and Ark climbed up the ladder to the second floor landing.  It was not long before Ark found several large cloaks in a closet upstairs.  Alleric had a good thought to retrieve the armor of the skeletal legionnaires back in the chamber room and carried them to his allies.  They divided up the armor and the cloaks to make sure everyone was properly disguised.  Augustine helped those that weren’t familiar to wearing heavier plate.

Cautiously, they each stepped out on the streets.  Xylia noticed the multitude of winged gargoyles perched on the roofs of every building that diligently watched the citizens go about their business.  The ranger nudged each of her companions and pointed out the watchers.  She had a bad feeling about this.  Carefully trying not to stand out, they made their way down one of the larger streets toward the massive bone palace.

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Master of the material arts, but not the undead shuffle Xin-Shan was stopped by a group of legionnaires that noticed her unusual gait. “You there! Where are you going?  What business do you have in the city of the dead?  Taken off guard, Xin-Shan mumbled a string of incoherent words.  One of the legionnaires leaned in closer, not buying it.   Ark moved in to quickly diffuse the situation, offering an excuse that Xin-Shan was newly risen undead and was being taken to the barracks for interrogation.  The legionnaire nodded, indicating that the nearest guardhouse was two streets to the east.  When he had walked far enough away, the party quickly moved to the west.

Xylia’s keen eyes noticed that they had picked up a tail.  One of the gargoyles was attempting to discreetly follow them along the rooftops.  Seeing an open shop door, Xylia quickly ushered her companions inside.  A small vampire greeted them into the shop, stating that they were having a sale on runes in the back.  While Xylia and Alleric spoke with the owner about his wares, Ark ducked behind the shelves and towards the back.  Out of sight, Ark did what rogues did best and silently pocketed six runes.  They would come in handy later.

TavernIconAugustine noted that the pursuing gargoyle had fled, apparently losing interest in them.  Checking again that the coast was clear, they once again got back onto the streets and marched to the palace gates.  The gates themselves were guarded by several vampires checking the papers of everyone hoping to get in.  Atop the gates spread out in intervals were numerous gargoyles perched and watching for intruders.  “We need a way in,” Ark said, “and those guards don’t seem to be all that welcoming.”  Spotting a tavern nearby Ark motioned over to it.  “I could use a drink and perhaps we could find answers there.”

The Bloody Hart was without a doubt the seediest pub they would ever encounter.  Stepping through the grime covered doors they saw the most bizarre collection of patrons.  An wolf-headed skeleton manned the bar.  A card game was being played at one of the central tables between a half wasp-demon undead human and flesh golem in a maids outfit.  Off to the side an elven lich was displaying excellent aim in a game of darts.  In the back, a necromancer was reclining while his undead servants fed grapes into his mouth.  It was quickly obvious that no mindless undead were welcome here, these were all intelligent undead.  Seeing a kindred spirit in the caster, Alleric went to speak to the necromancer in back.  “Excuse me sir, I couldn’t help but noticed you’re one of the few living people here.  What brings you to the Necropolis?”

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A blissful smile on his face, the Necromancer waited to finish his grapes before addressing the sorcerer.  “I am Kordell Thayco, a faithful follower of his Highness, and I am here to deliver my regular tribute – Thirty gallons of the freshest blood available.  Alas, I must confess that I lost a barrel on my travels here.  Hopefully his Highness will be… forgiving.”  The Necromancer looked the party over and smiled. “Of course, there’s always new ways to find new blood… Anyone interested in becoming a donor?  For a small reward, of course”

Xin-Shan’s face paled at the thought of being drained by this man.  “Uh, no thank you sir.  We have business with that, um… werewolf…er…skeleton…I mean, the bartender.”  She quickly hustled over to the skeleton with the wolf of a head behind the bar.  “Listen, we need to get into the Palace.  Know a way in?  Something that doesn’t require blood donations, preferably.”  The werewolf-headed skeleton growled at the wood elf and returned to making drinks.

Ark knew his monk friend wasn’t the smoothest operator when it came to these things and confidently bellied up to the bar.  Sliding a few coins across the bar top, the Halfling smiled. “Surely you know of someone -”  He looked around the room at his fellow patrons, “Or should I say something that is headed into the palace walls.  We could help each other, you and I.  What say you, ….?”

Troll

Troll Bile was made up on the spot. Perhaps we’ve been playing too much Red Dragon Inn…

The bartender growled again and took the coin.  “Andros is the name.  Just so happens that I’m scheduled to deliver a shipment of Troll Bile to the palace for an upcoming ceremony.  Some celebration among the royal liches.”  He looked over the adventurers in front of him.  “I could use a few hands to deliver the shipment.  Let me watch my bar instead of dealing with them nasty guards.”

“What on earth do they want Troll Bile for?” asked Augustine.

“To drink of course,” the werewolf answered incredulously.  “There ain’t nothing as aromatic as a nice frothy mug of troll bile.  Jeez, its like you’ve never had a drink before in your whole death.  The wagon’s around back, you’ll need this royal writ of invitation in order to enter the gates.  Don’t spill any of the shipment.

Behind the tavern the party found a wagon waiting for them.  The wagon was laden with numerous large barrels full of the disgusting brown liquid.  Their stomach’s curled at the smell of Troll Bile radiating from their cart.  “How could they drink this stuff?” Xylia remarked as she and Tig climbed aboard.  The rest clamored about and soon enough they were off to the servant’s entrance near the back of the palace.

The servant’s gate was not far.  When the party reached it the guard took a quick look at their writ of invitation and waved them on through. One of the servants mumbled something about the chef needing the shipment immediately and to take it on down below to the kitchens.  The hallways were filled with smells of decaying meat and rot, all emanating from the kitchens deep below.  At the first fork in the hallways, Augustine nodded his head in the direction of the fork.  Taking his sign, they all dropped their shipments of bile and gathered their weapons.

Unlike the deteriorating city outdoors, the halls of the Necropolis were impressively well kept.  It was obvious that the Lich King still liked his comforts.  The walls were gilded in gold and various different busts and paintings lined the walls.  Ark’s hands were twitching in hopes of bagging these priceless artifacts but a sharp look from Deneveve stopped him.  There were bigger, better things to steal deeper in.

As they turned a corner, the party walked into line of sight of two hulking skeletal figures down the hall.  The party froze.  With the weapons drawn and poorly disguised the group was no longer fooling anyone.  An unearthly scream filled the hall.  The Tomb Guards charged.  The first came barreling into Augustine with full force, sinking a black blade into the Paladin’s shoulder before slamming him to the ground.  The second charged up to Deneveve but the elf cleric nimbly sidestepped out of his path.

In the tight corridors of the hallway, Augustine and Deneveve had to face the guards toe to toe.  They were relentlessly assaulted by sword and fist as the guards pummeled them over and over.  Xin-Shan and Ark tried to flank around on Augustine’s right and bring down one of the guards, but the skeletal horror continued to stand.  Xylia and Alleric bombarded the two guards hoping to kill them before reinforcements would come.

The adventurers rejoiced when the first guard collapsed but their moment of triumph was short lived.  Further down the hall they saw four more of the skeletal guards running to engage the party.  They had let the battle go on too long and reinforcements had arrived.  The battle that followed was the most brutal that the adventurers had faced yet.  Augustine, Ark, Deneveve, and Xin-Shan all nearly perished.  If not for Augustine’s protection, Deneveve’s healing prowess and a collection of healing potions they had gathered early on none of them would have survived.  Suffering grievous wounds, the party rallied together and pushed back.  Slowly the Tomb Guards fell one by one. Xylia’s final shot sent an arrow deep in the spine of the final Tomb Guard, severing his skull.

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Here comes trouble…

Heavily wounded and beaten, the adventurers found a small side chamber filled with goods.  They snuck in and locked the door behind them.  They would have to be careful to successfully gain access to the vaults that held the Lich King’s crown.  Another encounter with the guards would surely kill them…

Player feedback:

“Another awesome game session. Especially as I was able to stay “at range” for most of the game. I only used one recovery all day. :-D” – Player 1, Alleric
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 4 Recap – The Necropolis Maze

Adventure 4 – The Necropolis Maze

LichMaze

Augustine looked over his companions with pride.  They had just overcome a terrible undead monstrosity, yet the colossal guardian was not the last challenge they would face.  The party took a moment’s rest to recover.  Deneveve knelt next to Augustine and gently spoke a few healing prayers that mended his wounds and eased the throbbing in his head from when the tombstone hammer crashed down on him.  Xylia was tending to Tig’s wounds, her former beloved trapped within a white tiger’s body.  The Dark Elf Sorcerer, Alleric, stood watchful at the threshold of the dungeon while the party recovered.  When all party members looked physically fit Augustine stood up, readying his sword and shield and gestured for his allies to follow.  United in their conviction, the four adventurers descended down into the labyrinth of the dead.

The stairs winded deep into the earth, ending at the mouth of three tunnels lined with stonework.  Throughout the walls numerous coffins rested in small alcoves.  Deneveve consulted the dragon bone compass in Alleric’s hand, noting that they should head toward the left-most tunnel.  As they cautiously moved forward, Xylia saw a path of undead legionnaires march across the right-most tunnel.  It seemed as if the dragon bone Compass was leading them down the safest path.

The adventurers were soon to discover that ‘safest’ was a very relative term in an undead labyrinth.  The first chamber they came across was filled with dark green water with several pedestals sticking above the surface. On one such pedestal, a Halfling Rogue hung off the edge, inching his way toward the next.  On another pedestal, a Wood Elf Monk dodged nimbly through a hail of poisonous darts shooting out from each wall. A moment of shock passed through the party as they never expected to find fellow living adventurers within the labyrinth.  That moment quickly passed as Augustine directed Alleric and Xylia to start looking for ways to disarm the walls.  The Halfling rogue noticed the newcomers and yelled over to them “The wires around the doorways loosened the triggers in the corners of the room.  Knock them lose!”  The sorcerer and ranger were quick to focus their fire on the small triggers, hoping to blast them free.  After suffering several poisonous darts themselves, they were able to disable the darts from firing.  The Monk standing on the center pedestal ceased her dodging and gestured for the newcomers to follow her to the other side.  The monk and rogue made leaping across the pedestals look far easier than it actually was.  Augustine and Deneve, both clad in heavy armor, were not so sure footed on the slippery pedestals and ended up taking a quick dip in the poisonous waters below.

Once across, the hafling introduced himself as Mr. Ark Keli and his companion as Xin-Shan, a longtime companion of his.  Their shared background of fighting against the Three had brought them together to this dangerous place.  Deneveve was quick to introduce her companions, yet did not wish to reveal their purpose here to total strangers.  Before she could give some private words of caution to Augustine he abruptly stated, “We’re on a holy mission to retrieve the crown of the Lich King!”

A devilish grin spread across the rogue’s face.  “Fancy that, so are we!”  The rogue went on to say that they had been in the labyrinth for several days now and would not object to teaming up together to make their way through.  Xylia, Alleric, Augustine and Deneveve exchanged a look and decided not to inform the rogue and monk that for all their time in the maze they were still merely minutes from the entrance.  It seemed all the trouble they went through to get the compass was a good investment.

Deneveve tried pointing out to Augustine that there was only one crown and their mission required bringing it back to the Cathedral, but Augustine clamped his hand on Deneveve’s shoulder to silence her.  “Worry not, they look trustworthy!”  Alleric and Xylia remained quiet, still not having yet revealed that they too were after the crown for their own purposes.  Such matters could wait until after it was in their possession, if they survived this quest.  United by a common cause, the party of six readied themselves and followed the compass onward.

The Labyrinth was a collection of terrible dangers that the Lich King had spent years creating.  While the dragon bone compass spared them the worst that the labyrinth had to offer, they found their fair share of death traps.  The first was a long hallway of mirrors and illusions.  From that hallway, Augustine saw the Crusader laying down his sword.  Deneveve saw the family she failed to protect now safe from harm.  Ark saw his freedom from the Diabolist granted to him.  Xylia saw Tig reformed into his natural state, holding her in his arms.  Each mirror showed them what they longed for, but to give in to the mirrors would lead them astray.  Alleric stayed true to the compass, guiding his companions farther down the true path and out of the hallways of temptation.

Eager to move past the mirrors, the party rounded a corner and nearly fell into a deep pit that lay before them.  Through the light from the lanterns the party carried the party could see the bottom of the pit moving.  It was crawling with snakes.  Why did it have to be snakes?  The compass pointed forward.  There was no way around.  As the party stood at the edge of the pit trying to puzzle out a solution the dark elf Alleric nudged Augustine then pointed down to their short halfing rogue companion.  Augustine placed a rope in the halfing’s hands and before the rogue could utter an objection threw him over the pit with his mighty strength.  The rogue hit the ground on the other side of the pit and tied off the rope so the others could follow before tending to his pride.

Once past the pit, Augustine was alarmed to find a sloped room filled with cloud’s of noxious glass.  Alleric and Xylia branched out a bit and found a secret room full of alchemical experiments.  Amid the vials and cauldrons, Xylia found a jar of deceased black jelly and two healing potions.  Alleric took the jar and poured it onto the floor of the sloped room, watching it slide down the surface.  Xin-Shan took a big gulp of air into her lungs and quickly surfed down the surface through the gas.  Hesitantly, the others followed suit, sliding down through the cloud and to safety.  Ark and Xylia failed to hold their breath the entire way and gulped down the acidic fumes, but were spared the brunt of the poison by sliding to safety.

WeaponAt the bottom of the pit the party found themselves in a large cavern that echoed with the sounds of a dripping liquid.  Alleric conjured up a variety of dancing lights and saw numerous large stalactites hanging from the ceiling dripping a red smoky liquid.  The liquid splashed onto the floor below, burning small holes in the cavern floor.  Xin-Shan recognized the red liquid as the cursed blood of the white dragons, long enslaved by the Lich King as Dracoliches. Whatever it touched would burn with an intense icy bite.  Deneveve channeled the power of the god’s through Augustine’s blessed foundation stone from the cathedral.  She used the power to sanctify Augustine’s shield and with it the Paladin led the party under the line of stalactites and to safety.

The cavern walls gave way to mortared stone again and from there down a hallway to a small guardroom.  Within the room, two oddly misshapen humanoid forms sat hunched over a small table, playing cards.  One looked up toward the party and called out “Oiy!  You there!  Play a game or solve the riddle, that’s the deal.”  They gestured toward the two opposing doors behind them.  Ark happily sat down and asked to be dealt in. “Right.  Here’s the deal, you win and we’ll tell you which door leads you to safety.  We win, we get to punch each of you in the face as much as we want.”  The rogue watched in horror as the Flesh Golem single-handedly shuffled the cards above, over, and around his head before dealing out a hand.

Ark gulped and shuffled backward, “On second thought, how about that riddle?”

The uglier of the two golems cleared his throat, “Behind one of these doors is the entrance to the catacombs and from there to the Lich King’s palace.  Behind the other door is CERTAIN DEATH!  Both doors are identical, save for your fate upon passing through them.  We know which door is which and we will answer only one question from you.  You can only ask the question of one of us, and the group only gets one chance so pick your question wisely.  One of us has been ordered to only lie in response to your question; the other will give you an honest and truthful answer.  Once you pass through the door you may not return, and your companions will have no indication of what happens to you once you pass through.  Think well on your question… You get one chance… Or we can play games and get to the face punching.

Xylia and Ark put their heads together, reasoning the break down in logic.  With renewed confidence, Ark put the question to the first golem: “What door would the other golem tell us is the door leading to safety?”  The golem cracked his knuckles and curtly stated that his companion would tell them that the door to the right would lead them to safety.  Augustine trusted his companions and opened the door to an inky blackness. Reaching his arm forward, it sank into the sheet of darkness like a liquid.  He could feel nothing on the other side, not even the wind.

His arm wasn’t any farther than the elbow when Deneveve yelled out “Wait!”  The Paladin obediently withdrew his arm and looked at his ally confused.  The cleric pulled the dragon bone compass out and saw that the needle did not point to either door, but rather in between them.  Looking back to make sure the flesh golems would not object, she moved to the center wall.  “Ark, come help me.  What do you see?”  Together, the cleric and rogue scouted the wall for any hidden door.  Ark found a small trigger at the base of the floor and pulled it back.  The walls groaned as they slid open, revealing a small catwalk above a gigantic pit.  One by one the adventurers followed the catwalk and down into the deep dark pit.

One of the golems muttered to the other “Uhh, Auralius, did you know that door was there?  The Lich King told me the door on the right was trapped.”

Auralius replied “Nope, ol’ Lichy always said the door on the right led to safety.”  The two flesh golems stared at each other, then Lucius punched Auralius in the face.  The party took it as an opportunity to move on.

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Xylia remarked at how far deep they had traveled in the labyrinth, wondering aloud if they were ever going to get back to the surface.  The mortared stone gave way to walls lined with the bones of the fallen.  Xin-Shan was able to make out dragon ribs, werewolf canines, and orc femurs along the walls.  When she approached one of the skulls along the walls, she jumped as a ghostly replica drifted out of it and floated about the hall.  It didn’t seem concerned at all with any of the adventurers and drifted through the tunnels.  It was joined by numerous other skulls floating out and down the hallway.  They all seemed to drift in the same direction.  Deneveve, trusting only in the compass, noted the compass leading in the same direction as the skulls and led her companions forward.

ScreamingSkullThe skulls all seemed to be migrating to a single large room.  The floor was dropped down several feet and was filled with broken sharp bones.  Alleric felt the bones, and told his allies that they were razor sharp.  The Ranger pulled a rope from her pack and tied one of her sturdier arrows to it.  Xylia fired a shot to the opposite side of the room, smiling with satisfaction as it set into the wall.  The rogue and monk were the first to volunteer and shimmied across the impromptu rope bridge.  Ark nearly fell into the bone pit, slicing his leg open.  Despite this, the rest of the party managed to make it across.

The landing opened to an upward slope.  They felt a small breeze of air and realized they must be close.  Encouraged by the promise of escape, they all marched onward.  Their journey outward was thankfully free of additional traps. The tunnel ended in a room housing four large tombs.  A gust of wind dimmed the torches along the wall casting the room into shadow.  A rumble from the tombs was all the warning the adventurers had before the shadows around the room twisted into the form of armored soldiers.

The symbol on their shields triggered something in Ark’s mind from his time studying in various libraries.  He remembered the 7th Legion, a renowned battalion under the Wizard King when he ruled the land.  He had just enough time to relate this to his allies before a legionnaire glided through the shadows behind him, driving his blade into the Halfling’s back.  Xin-Shan scored a blow into one of the legionnaires but was startled when her fist drifted through a misty shadowy form.  Alleric and Xylia dodged back and launched missile and spell out at the undead soldiers.  All at once, the legionnaires disappeared into shadow before reappearing behind a new victim to strike.  Augustine and Deneveve held firm, trying to protect their allies from the legionnaires that faded in and out around the chamber.

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In the end, it was Xylia’s shot that brought down the final legionnaire, his armor falling to the floor as his shadowy form dissipated.  While the heroes took the time to patch themselves up, Ark noticed a blade among the legionnaire’s armor and quickly pocketed it.  He thought the dagger would come in handy.  He also thought he might want to keep his discovery just to himself….

GM Note: 

Loved this adventure as it gave us ample opportunity to employ a montage.  Going around the table, I was pleased to let players describe hazards to me and even happier when the next player declared how they solved it.  We went around the table both ways once each.  The result was quite the… unique labyrinth. 

 
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 3 Bluebook – Alleric

Into the mind of Alleric, dark elf sorcerer: 

BlueBooksThe Magic Barnacle was a fine enough establishment, and I headed for the bar while my companions questioned patrons about a ship to take us to Necropolis. My goal was to try a pint of their finest brew and chat up a few locals. It’s possible that I might get us a ship before those goody-goody types could, and I might as well at least try. Going into my second pint I managed to convince a few locals to play a game of “Coppers” where you bounce a copper piece off of the bar and try to land it in a cup. Great fun. I vaguely recall my companions shouting at some captain or other, discussing loudly things like honor and bravery, but frankly I found the discussion boring and I quickly returned to my game. Sometime after the fourth pint I realized that my group had left the tavern, and I think I recall some vague mention of getting supplies and finding an inn for the night. I decided at this point that I could continue my drinking and stay in the tavern, thus saving the cost of a room. Pretty clever, I know, and it worked out pretty well. I won enough playing Coppers to buy a bottle of “Jack Daniels Mystical Healing Draught” for the road.
* * *
Sunlight is painfully bright, I notice. I dislike it a lot on a normal day, but today was especially rough after my evening at the Barnacle. I think I’ll just pull my cloak a little tighter and let my companions handle whatever has to be done today.
* * *
This ship is a piece of crap and the crew isn’t much better. The captain gives the illusion of being a respectable chap, but it’s clear that his crew doesn’t run in the same social circles. Half of the crew look like a bunch of thugs and pirates, and the other half are orcs and other lowlife scum. I decide that it’s to my advantage to stay in the bow near the steering wheel to perhaps gain some understanding of how this ship works. It would not surprise me if we have to take over the ship and someone has to know how to steer the thing. I should note for future reference that ships tend to make one ill and excessive pint consumption does the same thing, but the combination seems to counteract one another. Interesting.
* * *
The best thing about the seas near Necropolis is that the darned sun is obscured by a heavy bank of clouds pretty much the whole time. The water is sort of an ugly grey, which ordinarily would trouble me but I was kind of expecting something like this. If we can survive the lurker in the deeps, then we get to face the city of the dead.
* * *
Necropolis is more creepy than I had expected. Skeletons digging and filling graves, yet watching us. I saw that ring in the one crypt and just knew that I ought to possess it. The fools I travel with are afraid of the skeletons, but the risk of angering them is worth the value of the ring. And, since it’s my destiny I must get it.
* * *
The battle with the skeleton giant was pretty nasty, but probably not as nasty as the gates of Necropolis which are staring at us. If it seemed like the graveyard skeletons were watching us, the gates seem to be even more sinister and watchful. Our quest lies therein, however, so therein we shall go….
(Sarah)    (Ben)

The Journey Continues…

Red lines represent travel by land, blue lines by boat.

TravelMap2

Click on image to view full sized map with destination markers.

Traveling down from the cold peaks of Gorogan’s Maw the party headed west to the closest city in hopes of finding a port with a ship that would take them to Necropolis. Once they reached flat-lands travel became easier and before long a vast city of flying buildings and floating ramps lie before them. They had reached Horizon, city of wonders. Home to an unparalleled amount of libraries full of arcane lore, Horizon was home to the Archmage. It was a much safer city compared to the likes of Shadow Port, so long as you avoided crazed arcanists that liked meddling with things that they ought not meddle with. Securing a captain and ship that would take them to Necropolis took the better half of a day so the party set sail the next morning. Their travels on the Midland Seas were not as uneventful as their first however. As they neared the shores to Necropolis a Death-Kraken emerged from the dark waters and attacked both party and crew. After narrowly avoiding being shipwrecked the party was taken to the shores of Necropolis. Endless rows of gravestones lay before them, so far as the eye could see in the fog that had settled around them. Necropolis had once been home to the former Wizard King, but the Wizard King’s palace and formerly loyal subjects had been tainted by the Lich King’s power when the Lich King claimed the island as his own. It was a place that few living things dared to enter and fewer yet left still alive.

The Crown of the Lich King parts 4, 5 and 6 all take place on Necropolis. As such this will be the final update to the Dragon Empire map for this organized play adventure.

 
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 3 Recap – Into the Necropolis

Adventure 3 – Into the Necropolis

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.

Boat

♫ I’m on a boat! ♫
♫ I’m on a boat! ♫
♫ Everybody look at me cause I’m sailin’ on a boat! ♫

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.

Kraken

Release the Death-Kraken!

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.

Boat2

Why yes, that is Play-doh tentacles.

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.

Boat6

Admit it, you’ll be adding Play-doh fights to your future games. 😉

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.

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Disclaimer: Sarah takes no responsibility for the construction of the Kraken head. That one is on Ben.

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.

MagicRingNot 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.

Guardian1

Guardian of the Necropolis Labyrinth. Created out of the bones of a hundred dead warriors! Dwarfed only by our Escalation Dice.

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.

Guardian3

Rest in Pieces

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…

Player feedback:

“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!” 

GM Note:

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.  
(Sarah)    (Ben)

The Journey So Far….

Each week we will be updating the 13th Age world map to show the party’s travels and provide a more in-depth look at the Dragon Empire.  While a few minor places like inns will be invented to suit our adventure, we will try to stay true to the locations as described in the 13th Age book. Red lines represent travel by land, blue lines by boat.

Journey1

Click on image to view full sized map with destination markers.

Adventure 1 – Alleric joined Augustine and Deneveve north of the Fangs at Oldstone Inn.  Together they set out to find  Jont Urner, the only known adventurer who escaped the Lich King’s labyrinth.  His last known location was Roachdale, deep in the Fangs.  The Fangs are a dangerous place lurking with monsters that fled the Midland Sea to live among the twisting rivers and overgrown marshes .  The party spent the better part of the day traveling carefully not to attract unwanted attention before reaching Roachdale where they were attcked by Vrock, a vulture demon from the Abyss.  After defeating their foe they found that the body of Jont Urner itself had hints of a map through the Lich King’s labyrinth, but only a compass from dragon bones could decipher the runes tattooed on his body.

Adventure 2 – In search of dragon bones needed for a compass the party headed to the White Dragon Inn in Shadow Port to seek out the dragon hunter Shez’A’Kah.   The journey to Shadow Port took them west through the Fangs then south through Bitterwood.  Living up to its name, Shadow Port is a pirate haven, smuggler’s nest and rumored to be visited frequently by the Prince of Shadows.    After besting Shez’A’Kah in a game of chess they were told to travel far south to the cold peaks of Gorogan’s Maw to find the dragons they sought.  Traveling to Gorogan’s Maw by land would take too much time so the party found a boat that would take them south through the Midland Sea.  The Midland Sea had been at peace since the Emperor took power and presented no challenges during their travels.  Few boats these days had disappeared on the seas without a traces and they were fortunate that theirs was not one of them.  Taking port at the western end of the Demon Coast the party continued their journey south on foot to the summit of Gorogan’s Maw.  Gorogan’s Maw was the location where great fiend Gorogan once clawed through the Abyss before the Great Gold Wyrm could seal the gap.  The high peaks were not an actual mountain, but rather his petrified demonic head frozen forever by forces unknown.  The area was known to crawl with demon spawns and treasure.  Where treasure lay, dragons gather.

 
(Sarah)    (Ben)