Thursday, 4 December 2008

4ed Campaign -- Session 12 -- 30th November 2008

In which the adventurers unleash hell on vile evil-doers, a small winged homonculous causes no small amount of panic, and only one direction remains: down...
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 3
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 3
Corrash - Dragonborn Warlock (Fey-Pact) 3
Romto - Halfling Cleric (of Pelor) 3
Mord - Dwarven Fighter 3

Squeezing themselves into the slim corridor leading into what they are already calling the "kiln room", Elumai drops a blast of freezing havoc on as many of the automaton-like zombies as she can, just as the whole room comes to life. The bodies hooked on the walls start to twitch and spasm as if being shocked into animation, finally ripping themselves free of the wall and dropping like bags of flesh and bone to the floor. As the dwarves move into position, the blood trickling across the floor suddenly changes direction, surging across the room and grasping at Mord's feet. The vile chill he feels in his legs tells him that he will need to stay on the move to avoid a sticky fate.

One of the more powerful undead surges towards Romtoe and reaches out, grasping the halfling in a deadly embrace and bringing its thick, tombstone-like teeth down to his neck. Blood sprays, and within just a few seconds of the fight, Romtoe is practically out for the count. Behind it, the other zombies shuffle purposefully towards the group, crowding around the entrance and hemming them in, just as a small winged gremlin-like creature squeezes out from a crack near the back of the room, and flaps manically for the other exit. Fearing that it will bring reinforcements, Elumai and Corrash focus their fire on the creature, and they bring it down just before it can get the doors to the next room open. This brings a collective sigh of relief from the rest of the party as they continue to dispatch the remaining undead, ultimately clearing the room without any permanent casualties.

Through the crack from which emerged the homonculous is a squat, square room, probably part of the basement of the keep but whose roof has long-since collapsed. A brief search turns up an excellent find - a Bag of Holding - and within, 2 Potions of Healing, giving the adventurers a much-needed boost.

Deciding to take a risk, the party holes up in the trap room to catch their breath. Eilian finally awakes, demanding explanations for the horrific events upstairs. He tells them of a dreadful vision, in the few seconds when he was struck into unconsciousness by Keegan's blade, of the demon Orcus pulling him inexorably to his side... worse than any of the night-terrors he has suffered with for so long. Despite grudgingly admitting that he has had a dreamless sleep for the first time in as long as he can remember, he demands of the group to be released, refusing point-blank to venture any further into this hell-hole. The party gives him a weapon and food, and sends him on his way, with no choice but to let him go if that's what he wants.

Onward, and the doors to the east lead them to a ruined, underground cathedral. Red walls, bolstered by brick and bone, arch high overhead, and although their viewpoint is obscured from the entrance, the party can see a distant, ram-like altar from which a constant outpouring of blood runs in two dark streams to a black, square well in the center of the room. Thin rivulets of blood from the kiln room behind them snake around their feet and also drip into the pit. Chains, hooked to the grating which surrounds the well, depend into the depths, promising more horrors to come.

A man dressed all in black kneels with his back to them at the altar, whispering entreaties to the Prince of Undead which echo around the room in a harsh whisper. Two shoddily-dressed humans wielding great-axes stand idly by, leaning against glowing crystal pillars, watching the cultist go about his business as if it's the least interesting thing they've ever seen.

Securing at least one flank by wedging a door shut, the adventurers arrange themselves near the door for the inevitable combat to follow, and although they're not the stealthiest bunch of heroes at the best of times, Elumai, at least, manages to get off a magic missile before battle is engaged. The humans -- soon revealed to be wild-eyed berserkers, their faces painted with spittle-flecked madness -- engage the dwarves, while the Underpriest strides towards them all, unleashing powerful curses from his mace, and promising retribution for their blasphemous intrusion into this dark and unholy place.

Soon the party is beset from all sides. To the south, a trio of pale-faced humans with crimson stares clambers over floor, wall, and ceiling to get to Romtoe and Elumai, their expressions alight with blood-lust. To the north, the sealed door successfully holds back more of the creatures -- at least for now -- while Romtoe unleashes the power of Pelor to smite the vampires who have already got through. Suddenly another shape clambers up from the pit and darts out of sight - a dwarfish humanoid, encased in clouds of shadow, cackling with blood-lust.

Shadow-stepping through the melee, it gets itself into position to do serious harm to the more vulnerable members of the group, but manages only a few lacklustre attacks before the combined assault of the party - fearful of the creature's abilities - brings it down. As the shadows clear, it's revealed as nothing more than a short and rather pathetic goblinoid, however the blackness behind its eyes suddenly explodes outwards, blinding several members of the group. From here, the melee gets dangerous, with the battle-fury of the berserkers under the priest's leadership threatening to overwhelm them all. However, well placed area attacks from the rear, and tenacious defending in spite of their blindness from the front lines, brings eventual victory, although the party have had to reach deep into their resources to make it happen.

The cathedral vibrates ominously with the underpriest's death, surely alerting whatever lurks below that something has occured. Now, only the pit of blood remains to be explored...


Wedge said...

Always likely to be a combat-heavy session, this was a hard day for the guys as they drilled their way through two difficult encounters on their way to the climax of the adventure. Again, the fights seemed varied and exciting, with lots of different enemies and attacks... I have to give the designers credit here, for the back end of the adventure (notwithstanding the colour I've chosen to add over the top) is pretty solid.

What I do not approve of is providing a massive, extravagant battle-mat of the cathedral encounter, and designing it in such a way as 90% of the room will remain unused. :) It's part of a bigger problem I'm having with bottle-necked encounters, but there are ways around that (perhaps another blog post).

All-in-all, very good, exciting session, at least for those who enjoy a good scrap. I've already warned everyone that they're about to hit the climactic encounter (and several Dailies down as well), and I think it's safe to say expectations are high. :)

Benmoule said...

I vote for runnign away, whilst singing the running away song....

I think you painted us in a good light there! Well certainly me! Berends' main contribution seemed to involve being hit a lot, whilst missing wildly lots!

Wedge said...

Team game, mate. Team game. The party's successes are everyone's successes! :P

Benmoule said...

I suppose if they were hitting me, they weren't hitting anyone else.
I've got to get a better AC :))