The characters for this session:
Fennec, L3 wizard, combat and curative schools
Crompton, L3 rogue, roguery and Runebearer background
Cauleigh, L4 warrior, literate townsman background
Jotunn (as NPC), L6 warrior, hunter background with tracking talent
Elisha, intrepid girl reporter
Daisy, senior wizard
The dwarves Crompton Cauleigh and Jotunn, assisted by Elisha and Daisy, have spent the last ten minutes penetrating the Mausoleum of Heroes, in the grounds of Sarnas Abbey. The catacomb level below proves to hold defaced burial niches, and one of them conceals an entry to twisting, cramped and wet natural tunnels. The three dwarves approach the cavern where Fennec lies, paralysed by ghoul poison, and being slowly eaten from the bottom up.
Fennec’s player decides “from the bottom up” means from his bottom.
The senior wizard’s strategy
Party order in the tunnels: Cauleigh with torch, Crompton with Cateyes, Elisha Jotunn and Daisy. Cauleigh experiments with muting his light, coming up with a middling option of forming a sort of tube around it with the end of his cloak.
It’s wet and nasty afoot. The tunnel ahead curves left, and there’s a branch sharp right. Crompton sees a skeletal figure shambling through the shallow water in that tunnel!
At Crompton’s warning, Cauleigh falls back so that the right branch of the tunnels is in front of him, not behind. They shuffle around and Crompton is ready with his Runebearer anti-magic axe as the skeleton rushes him! He deals with it easily, though not before its clutching fingers rip his trouser leg.
With a whup of displaced air, Daisy disappears from her clutching-Jotunn position. Her voice in his head tells him she’s back upstairs – let her know when it’s safe!
“So she did have a buff,” Cauleigh remarks.
More skeletal undead arrive, Crompton looks distinctly tattered and takes some scratches, but deals with the remaining four. Then Crompton’s axe is handed to Cauleigh, they restore the order of march, and swing left.
Peering past a stout rock pillar Cauleigh plays his light into a foul-smelling cavern at the rear and left of which the sprite hovers over a rock ledge. The floor of the cavern is not only wet, it is carpeted in dead bodies. Some of which are faintly moving.
A sunken-eyed bearded dwarf corpse wears Fennec’s clothing – much torn about – and at its groin, a ghoul-like creature feasts greedily.
Cauleigh leaps into action, his cork-heeled town shoes betray him, and he splashes down full-length into corpse-fouled water.
Crompton nimbly uses Cauleigh’s back as a springboard and leaps at the ghoul, stabbing with his zapped daggers. Jotunn unlocks Elisha’s fingers from his arm, and he too bounds forward, Cauleigh sploshes back up, and between the three of them the ghoul is dealt with. Only once its head is destroyed does it cease moving.
Feeling that his Cateyes won’t last forever, Crompton begins dragging Fennec clear, as Cauleigh and Jotunn clamber, squelchily or crunchily (depending on the exact corpse underfoot) to the sprite-marked ledge.
There’s a pile of gear, some of which is recognisably Fennec’s. They bundle all into rags, and turn to retire. Ahead of them Crompton is trying not to vomit as he holds Fennec more or less together and ends up with the wizard’s legs under one arm and the rest under the other.
Jotunn calls for help to Daisy: Daisy’s voice comes back to them out of the sprite:
“Best get him up here!”
Laboriously threading back and up the spiral stair they rejoin Daisy in the Mausoleum of Heroes. Daisy’s waiting. She dismisses her sprite, and throws up a simple, but reasonably bright, Will-o-Wisp.
“I don’t wanna worry y’all, but th‘ door’s locked… that ain’t no problem getting’ out, but…”
“Somebody knows we’re in here,” Cauleigh concludes, “I think if you could get us out and away, we’ll…”
“Ohhhh! Mah lord! He’s really in a bad way…” Daisy interrupts, taking in what Crompton is carrying. “Lady, lady, lady, lady… lays him down, lays him down…”
The dwarves hold a defensive perimeter – Cauleigh unearths an axe from the bundle of random loot – Elisha chatters quietly to herself, updating her case notes – while Daisy assembles Fennec in the right order, whips a Too-Bad-Toxin into him, and works up a Wound Weld, a powerful spell of the Wizard War period.
It takes some concentration, and before it’s done, Fennec is enjoying the warm nostalgic taste of Mother Hobb’s honey-glazed donut. His own foodstuffs ruined: this is from Cauleigh’s supply. Crompton helps out by eating the other donut.
With that, and having restored Fennec’s modesty as best his ruined clothing will allow, Daisy is ready to Detect Magic over the loot. The axe and a ring are magical while nice-looking jewelry is not.
“Ah guess ya’ll owe me them nine bullets now,” she declares.
“It’s a deal.”
Fennec re-kits with all of his gear, and they are ready to go. Daisy says she will “discuss some things” at the guild, they tell her they’ll head away to the lockup.
The relief of Dalton’s lockup
It’s a relatively short run to the lockup, but the city is fog-bound and undead are abroad! As they edge away from the cemetery, Elisha gasps and points: a pallid figure is glimpsed trying to hide around the Cathedral.
“Careful, we might be getting lured here,” Fennec warns and they choose discretion.
Elisha’s sense of direction helps them reach the upper harbour easily. The occasional muffled cry for help can be heard through the fog.
“We could try, and get scattered, or load up and help properly – choice, boys?” Cauleigh prompts.
It’s an easy choice, they push on to the lockup. As they near it, a desperate small and lithe figure slams right into Crompton. Jotunn hoists the lad around – it’s Sol – and reassures him. Crompton recovers from the groin-level collision and they hustle to help.
Once at the lockup, enough light is splashed around that they can see Susie, clinging desperately as high as she can climb, to one of the lockups; a ghoul is right below her trying to reach her heel; the door to the building the family live in lies open. Cauleigh leaps to the rescue and whicks the ghoul’s head off. Crompton and Jotunn protect Elisha and Sol and watch the street.
“They’re in the house!” Susie shrieks as she’s lifted down.
Fennec points to the door: “Rescue first!”
Cauleigh outdistances Crompton [and earns a boon] to where Dalton is forted up against two ghouls. Cauleigh is well ahead of the others: he’s scratched and tattered but easily hacks one down, and resists the poison [using his boon]. Jotunn and Crompton arrive and the remaining ghoul is dealt with.
Cauleigh accepts a Jotunn donut. Then, careless of the foul scraps of clothing he’s left with, joins the others in gearing up.
Reports of the emergency
It’s a tired group of Restorers that collects in the Porters Arms, some three hours before first light. They’ve spent the middle watches of the night in rescuing townsfolk, hurrying from flashpoint to flashpoint across the south. As for Elisha, she’s off filing her story.
The Porters Arms is a haven, crowded with menfolk of all walks of life, with a town watchman taking details under the captain of watch’s supervision.
“Accounts say these guys’re comin‘ up fr’m sewers all over,” the captain summarises.
Fennec confuses matters by referring the captain to a sergeant, but he agrees sheriff von Diemar will definitely be kept in the picture and will want to interview them. As for the garrison (it is Sgt. Musger Fennec is thinking of) that’s above his pay grade.
Crompton is angered by this hierarchical attitude and the captain warns him, Restorer or no, he may find himself cooling off in the pokey; Cauleigh smooths things over.
Leaving word, and bullets
Crack of dawn, and four fully-equipped dwarves venture forth to the common room. The fog shows signs of clearing a little. They chew trail ration and wash it down with good porter, and lay plans.
“I think we should use a Hidey Hole for the last leg,” Fennec suggests, then, “come to think of it should we let Elisha or Daisy know where we’re going?”
It’s a swirling mist that surrounds them as they up one of the main roads, to the Park and Palace area. The group decision is, to get to the palace gate and both deliver Daisy’s bullets and tell her they are raiding the mausoleum again. People keep well clear of them!
Their passage is challenged, at the old wall that part-encloses the Park and inner circle, by a mixed group of garrison soldiers, two Elves, and a town watchman.
“Ho! We are the Restorers!” Cauleigh identifies.
“It is them,” observes Shawndel, then blesses them for braving the situation. He/she explains that the whole park area is a danger, owing to Janorra being troubled.
The watchman volunteers to lead them around. His watch-lantern bobbles high, he knows the way, and they reach the palace gate without incident.
“Halt! You may not enter!”
Once recognised – and he looks very different to the well-robed wizard he has appeared as so far – Fennec sees about his mission. A courier – the very same one – is whistled up. Underwhelmed by their generosity, he accepts the 10 gold commission and lugubriously departs to deliver bullets and message.
The second descent
From the palace it’s a walk north down the processional to where the Abbey wall looms over them out of the mist. They turn clockwise and follow the wall, cut across behind the chapel and clergy-house, then Fennec throws up Hidey Hole: they cluster in and ease past less-known buildings.
The noise of normal housekeeping chips into the noise Cauleigh Jotunn and Crompton are making in their heavy gear. It underlines how quiet the area has been to this point.
The gate to the Mausoleum of Heroes stands open, the way they left it. Cauleigh thoughtfully pockets the hefty padlock. In they go!
Party order: Crompton, Cauleigh, Fennec, Jotunn.
Quite some time later the party has explored a number of defaced interment passageways that lie below the upper tombs. They strike no trouble until they work past halls of heroes, through halls of city fathers, to another stair. Like the spiral stair they came down, this rises through a similar vault, disappearing into solid stone. Then a ghoul launches itself off the stair at Crompton, and other ghouls race out of the darkness to flank Cauleigh!
Crompton is knocked down and paralysed before the others can deal with their opponents. Those are more easily dealt with than numbers would suggest – a couple are very weak. Cauleigh, too, feels the effect of ghoul toxin, but remains able to move.
As they wonder what to do next, it occurs to Fennec that if Mother Hobb is baking Fly Me and Fire-resist pastries, maybe she’s learned antitoxin potion-making. Prudently they decide not to find out where the second stairwell leads up to, and laboriously carry Crompton and all his gear back out the way they came in.
Jane’s Bakery has no queue
Perhaps miraculously, no-one ambushes them as Crompton is carried away due west through the misty streets to where the smell of delicious pastries signals Jane’s Bakery. But unlike every previous occasion, there’s no queue and they carry Crompton straight in.
Crompton’s limited field of vision fills with Betty’s face as she examines his eyes, then tests to see if they will stay closed, then amuses herself trying to cross them.
Mother Hobb shoos her niece away, assesses the patient, and bustles away. The shop is closed and customers encouraged to finish up. Soon, a meaty broth smell permeates the shop. Jane, the genuine original and mother to Betty, bustles out at one point to see things are under control, then away again.
Jotunn stands guard at the door, waving shoppers away. At length, Mother Hobb’s antidote is ready and Cauleigh tastes the stuff. It’s not all that pleasant – like juice from undercooked meat – but it does the trick. She carefully trickles it down Crompton’s throat and he is soon mobile.
They purchase all the broth brewed, a stoneware container with enough for 20 doses, promising 1,000 gold.
“I know you’re good for it,” Mother Hobb farewells them with.
The third descent
“Where shall we start our search boys, same place?” Cauleigh asks breezily.
“Let’s get ambushed the last place we got ambushed” Crompton retorts sarcastically but this seems as good an option as any.
The Restorers soon arrive at the scene of their last retreat. Somewhat surprisingly it is exactly as they left it.
They pick their way past the strewn, dismembered, skull-shattered bodies and around to a section of catacomb where an external corner has crumbled to reveal a fairly broad natural fissure.
Party order: Cauleigh, Crompton, Fennec (with the torch cube) and Jotunn
It leads down to the outer corner of a spacious L-shaped chamber, encrusted with weird designs. Fennec looks at them – then manages to wrench his gaze away [and the GM curses]! Fennec is holding the torch-cube and picks out two west-leading descents. As the lead pair head there, and catch movement from below, he picks out another exit, off bottom left.
And the enemy hit the party with Dis-Spell, and attack!
The Bishop’s Secret
Cauleigh heads straight west, to deal with Severin and an acolyte; Jotunn blocks the next descent west, preventing two acolytes from joining; but the fragile rearguard is exposed to two acolytes, an invisible assassin, and Pausanias himself!
The acolytes are quite weak, but fanatical. Severin is a real handful – in fact they are evenly matched – and Cauleigh has some trouble with him. He uses his sword Regdar’s Frostbrand effect to kill him. In the meantime:
- Crompton defends Fennec against two acolytes then manages to spot a faint blood-trail racing towards Fennec – he fends off Takrina’s attempt with a mighty swipe of his ancestor-axe, then eats a meringue and takes to the air to gain some advantage. Fennec throws an OTIS over her.
- Takrina, now brightly outlined, takes the fight with Crompton away to the top of the L, allowing Pausanias to race at Cauleigh! Her Spider Venom dagger weakens Crompton. But, he still holds his anti-magic axe!
- Fennec refrains from calling tactics, but keeps the light up, and uses spells wisely: Glue You on anyone he can, and Little Feets to counter the venom effect, and when Crompton uses his axe to strip Takrina’s invisibility, finishes her off with an over-powered TTYF.
Cauleigh and Pausanias are very evenly matched, and only because he still has one more use of Frostbrand and one Blasting Power fire-breath. Then the Glue-You from Fennec evens things up. Pausanias smashes at Cauleigh’s armour with steely skin and massive strength and speed! It’s quite clear, now, who stabbed the soldiers through the heart with a finger…
In the nick of time, Jotunn tangles Pausanias with his bladed chain and Crompton knocks the magical buffs off him with his anti-magic axe. Cauleigh finishes off the fat cleric and the fight goes out of the four surviving acolytes!
Props: I guess it’s safe to credit the centre-piece of the season now! Although slightly less deadly than written (more ghouls, the STR-draining ghosts hand-waved off by assuming Crompton’s flight swept them clear), it’s pretty much straight off the module:
The Bishop’s Secret, by Mark L Chance, Spes Magna Games and available from drivethrurpg.com