Fangs of Vulgoth: Session #7

The adventure continues! Last time, our heroes befriended the were-bear / vampire hunter Rosette Vanator, met the young ranger Gavril, encountered a forest angel, found the lost Yakov Vanator, and entered the catacombs of Castle Dalca…

Play time: 5 hours

Heroes:

  • Drew the Eldritch Knight – Level 5
  • Ward the Gloom Stalker – Level 5
  • Rainen the Beast Master – Level 5
  • Hugo the Knowledge Cleric/Time Wizard – Level 1/4
  • Tiodhloc (Asmund) the Divine Soul Sorcerer – Level 5

Zombie Time

Ward poked into the next chamber of the catacombs and found it defended by eight undead warriors. The team charged into the room, leapt onto the sarcophagi, and plunged into battle. They were assaulted by four zombie knights and their four zombie squires. The fast-undead did some heavy damage with their long swords and crossbows, and when they died, their corpses exploded to poison anyone nearby.

Ward unleashed his flaming arrows to great effect, and Drew speared away in mighty fashion. Hugo tanked in the middle of the room, drawing fire and protecting his friends. Tiodhloc and Rainen ran support, healing the team as needed. And Yakov Vanator had some really bad luck, throwing his wooden stakes all over the room and pounding on the armored zombies to little effect.

With the zombie warriors defeated, the team found the iron crown of Iron King Dorinel Dalca and a mighty dragon-slaying greatsword, the Dread Cleaver!

Yakov identified the zombie knights as the things that bit him, so the team took a short rest while Tiodhloc studied the zombie slime and created a medicinal treatment for the bite. It was intensely painful, but seemed effective!

Ghastly Faith

In the next room, Ward reported that there were two priests and a nun standing around an altar by a statue of the angel Virune. Tiodhloc was greatly concerned by this display of piety/blasphemy and charged in to investigate. He quickly discovered that the priests were decaying corpses, and flooded the room with daylight. The priests were only briefly confused, and then shambled forward to seize the faithful sorcerer and suck the life out of his blood.

The team ran into the room and quickly dispatched the ghastly priests and nun before they could do much damage. Hugo detected magic in the altar and the statue, while Tiodhloc discovered the horrific flesh and eyes of Shernavoth pressed up through the cracks in the floor. But the monster retreated before anyone could do anything.

This was all too much for poor Tiodhloc, and in a blast of radiant light he reverted to his other form of Asmund.

Hugo swept off the altar and found it was actually the sarcophagus of the Dark Queen Lerazia Dalca. Inside he found her corpse dressed in black, with two scrolls, a silver crown, a silver ring, and a silver rapier. Hugo took the scrolls, Yakov took the sword, and Ward and Drew took the jewels.

Meanwhile, Rainen and Asmund prayed on whether they should break open the statue of Virune to remove the item inside it. The angel signaled that the statue was unimportant, so they proceeded to carefully break the cracked plaster figure apart. Inside, they found a corpse bound in iron wires and bands. The magic item was in its chest. Asmund used telekinesis to rip the object out, and snatched a hard black lump from the air, the Heretic’s Heart.

Bed of Nails

Ward peeked into the next room and found it deserted. There was another altar and another statue, but only a few graves and no creatures. Hugo, Asmund, and Rainen were all struck by a powerful holy presence radiating from the altar.

The altar was topped with a bed of nails, and marked with runes reading Purity, Cleanse, and Sacrifice. Asmund felt compelled to use this holy site, and he reverted back to Tiodhloc to climb up and lie on the bed of nails. As his blood gushed out onto the altar and he plummeted to 1 HP, his spirit fled to a null space where he encountered a being of fire. The angel asked him if he would carry the purifying flame in his hand. He said yes, and took the flame.

Tiodhloc awoke in terrible pain. His hand was burning so intensely that it glowed like a beacon. Also, he was still on the bed of nails. The team lifted him off and healed his wounds, careful to avoid his glowing hand. They tried putting some pebbles in his hand, but nothing happened.

Meanwhile, Hugo found some healing potions at the feet of the statue.

Treasure Trap

The last chamber of the catacomb was smaller. The walls were earth and rough stone, supported by heavy timbers. But one timber had broken and the ceiling was collapsing. The only thing holding it up was a silver staff.

The group went around the room and inspected each sarcophagus, noting the names and contents of each one. They also found a lot of magic items:

  • The “Bitter End” longsword, which freezes everything it touches
  • A unicorn helmet, which communicates with plants and animals
  • A feathered cloak, which summons ravenwolves
  • A holy shield of strange metal
  • An amulet that can mimic voices
  • A grimoire of cosmic madness
  • Spiked gloves, which punch real good
  • And also a non-magical prosthetic leg with a secret compartment containing a ruby ring

The Getaway

Last but not least, they really wanted that silver staff. But how to yank it out and escape the inevitable collapse of the entire tomb? Several dangerous plans were suggested. Then Drew (the eldritch knight) suggested that he bond with the staff. Then they could simply leave the tomb and he could summon the staff to his hand when they were safely away.

And that’s exactly what they did.

On the walk back to the surface, Hugo noticed that the corpse of Dark Queen Lerazia was no longer in her tomb. Where could she be???

Back outside, the team crossed to the west end of the bridge, far from the ruins of Castle Dalca. There they took some time to divvy up their new magical loot. During this process, Tiodhloc considered taking the grimoire, but when he held it in his holy hand, the magic book was incinerated into tiny incandescent moths. He then tried holding Hugo’s holy chain-whip, which remained undamaged in his grip. Then Drew reached out and summoned the silver staff to his hand.

And that’s where we ended!

DM Notes

This was a great session. It ran long because I (and everyone else) wanted to wrap up this dungeon. The zombie fight was exciting but not too long. High stakes and interesting. I felt really good about the monster design in that room. My only note to self might be to remove one or two zombies to speed things up.

In the next room, I cut down the number of ghast priests and nuns to save time. But because the team lured the baddies to the door and then bum-rushed them, they didn’t get to do a lot of their cool stuff.

The discoveries in Lerazia’s tomb were great. There was some tension about desecrating a holy site, and confusion about what to do with the Heretic’s Heart (it’s immune to cleric and paladin magic).

In the next room, I removed all of the baddies because it felt like fighting would just be time-consuming, and the altar was way more interesting. So we went straight to the altar business, and Tiodhloc got his holy hand. But what does it do? And what is it doing to him???

In the last room, the team did a great job examining everything in detail and grabbing all the loot. Again I removed the fight from this location because I knew I could do that same fight elsewhere and I wanted the session to wrap up nicely. I was impressed with how quickly Drew produced a perfect solution to the silver staff puzzle that I had never considered. Genius!

Everyone seemed really happy with the session, even though it went long, it had a big payoff with all the loot, plus some new mysteries. What is Tiodhloc’s hand? Where is the Dark Queen Lerazia? I don’t think the night needed a climactic boss battle. But fear not, players, there are tons of battles waiting all around you now!

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