Tuesday, May 30, 2017

5e at the Citadel: The Gang Almost Causes A Zombie Apocalypse

After The One With the Gauth, the party divvied up treasure (four ways since Gilroy and Charmagnus still had to work dumb mundane world jobs).  Of note, Valen got the cloak that let him turn into a bat and Julius got the boots of stealth.  The party very firmly decided not to go back to Hagatha, Haras, and Hindra, and thus forged on the opposite way.  They traveled for about a day, realized they were pretty much not in swamps any more, and as night fell, they set up camp.

Now, the idea they came up with was pretty clever: hang the curtain to the secret room with the Chimera heads between two trees and everyone can sleep in the curtain while someone stands guard.  Valen turned into a bat with his cloak and hung up in a tree, Keeri Lo decided to go nearby to a stream, and Julius settled into his elven trance.  Now, the stream was a little ways off, and Keeri Lo took solace in getting wet and just being alone for a bit, but since this is a D&D game, something clearly happened.

Ah the joys of seemingly random encounters.  Forget biotopes...but really, I have biotope random encounter charts for this game I haven't used yet.

If this were a normal sort of game, I'd have probably had him roll randomly for some killer leeches or water spirits or something.  However, I had planned for something to be at that stream, and that something was a man clad in moldering leather armor with shackles on his ankles and wrists that attached him to a huge chunk of iron.  He was dragging it doggedly up the stream.  Keeri Lo was interested and approached.

The man introduced himself as Valdraaz, and in conversation, mentioned that he had to get to the Green Hill to blow the horn there to summon his army.  Why?  Keeri Lo asked that same question, and got some answer about making the nobles of some place that Keeri Lo had never heard of called Shriev pay for what they'd done to him.  Now, call our adventurers many things, but they're not typically the sort who dig on entangling themselves in feuds.  Keeri Lo took his leave and went back to the party and woke them up.

Everyone (aka Keeri Lo, Julius, Valen, and Fechedette) headed back to the man in the stream, easily finding him, because he hadn't gotten that far on account of the giant chunk of metal he was dragging.  With a new round of Perception checks, they figured out that he was actually dead--some sort of bog preserved undead which totally explained the moldy armor.  Julius also (with a nice little History check) remembered that Shriev was one of the city states that now formed the hinterland of Salas (aka the place they were all headed to).

Putting two and two together, they figured that Valdraaz blowing the horn was probably bad, reminded him that Shriev was gone, Valdraaz got angry, and then when Valen tried to stop the chunk of metal from moving, Valdraaz snapped.  His first blow sent Valen flying back (and did a good 14 points of damage), and the fight was on.

Valdraaz hit like a truck, and even worse, was strong enough to chuck the metal piece he was attached to at people and drag himself with it.  Finally, after Valen went down, Keeri Lo healed Valen back up, and Fechedette used her mud queen powers to throw mud in Valdraaz's face to blind him, they struck the final blow, and Valdraaz melted into the earth, leaving the metal chunk and the chains behind.  They took the (slightly magical) treasure back to camp, stowed it and them in the curtain, and went to sleep with Bat!Valen on watch.

We all know where this is going...

Valen woke first the next morning, which was worrysome, because he was supposed to be on watch.  Nothing seemed to be wrong, so he started waking people up in their curtain/tent.  That was when he and Julius realized that something was hiding behind the curtain.  Julius flicked back the curtain to reveal a Lamia, Valen pulled the curtain back to hide the Lamia again, and then the Lamia stalked around the curtain to address the party.  

She introduced herself as Mira, and ordered them to return what they'd taken, dressing them down for meddling.  The party was confused and very put out by the angry Lamia.  Julius tried to trick her into going into the curtain (almost certainly so they could just trap her inside and wait for her to die and deal with the issue that way), she refrained, and Fechedette snuck into the curtain to consort with the Barrys.  

This kind of Lamia, btw.  Not the snakey kind.

The Barrys said that Valdraaz was a revolutionary who some nobles had thrown into a bog 800 years ago.  Fechedette said he seemed a little more alive than that, and she ran out of the curtain as the party was gearing up to fight the Lamia to keep their treasure.  Cooler (hotter, in the case of Keeri Lo, who was trying to put the moves on the Lamia) heads prevailed, and they decided not to fight, and the team begrudgingly decided to help the Lamia defeat Valdraaz.

Why?  Well, Mira told them she was the current member of a bloodline that had to stop the undead Valdraaz from traveling from his resting place in the bogs to Gree Hill and make sure he didn't blow the horn there.  Why?  If he blew the horn, the remains of his sizeable army would rise from their graves and destroy the world.  Keeri Lo cast some divination to find the closest set of moldering leather armor, found lots and lots buried in the area, decided Mira was for realsies, and off they went.

Since Valdraaz was unshackled, Mira didn't know how fast he was travelling, so they decided to make it to Gree Hill and just deal with him when they arrived.  Keeri Lo turned into a red, wooden horse, Julius and Fechedette rode him, and Valen rode in the curtain with the Barrys.  Julius noticed some Celestial writing on a mace that Mira carried, Valen popped his head out and translated it, and discovered it to be a blessed mace.  Mira explained that it had been passed down generation to generation in her family and was the only way to make Valdraaz not sink into the earth and escape when he was defeated. 

Not a bad skill set for a fancy baseball bat.

Without much hassle (and about a half day's ride), they got to Gree Hill.  Note, that it was a very green hill, but it was called Gree Hill like someone forgot the 'e' when they wrote the word "Green" in the campaign notes half an hour before leaving to DM, decided that Gree was a fine name for a hill, and left the name in place because the only person who would remember the name of the hill 15 minutes after they showed up was the someone who made the mistake anyways.  On the top of the hill were several cairn stones and a giant horn made of metal on top of some rocks and held in place with bands of iron.  The party tried to just make off with the horn and discovered that it was magic-ed in place by powerful DM fiat magic, and settled in to wait for Valdraaz to show up.

It was mid afternoon, people decided to nap, and while the Lamia napped, Fechedette snuck over, made stealth checks, passed, and trimmed a little bit of fur off of the Lamia.  She then used her mud queen powers to make a tiny replica of the Lamia with the hair inside then used some cantrips to bake the mud into a statue and hid the statue in her bag.  When asked why by her curious DM, the player simply stated that "you never know when it's useful to have something like that." Everyone nodded sagely, and we moved on with the game.  

When your players start harvesting the hair of your NPCs while they sleep...

As darkness fell, the party and Mira readied themselves.  Then they waited.  As the moon rose, Valen was the first to notice that there were four figures that had manifested outside the light that the moon shed on the top of the hill.  It was Valdraaz and four of his risen warriors, and they attacked almost immediately, the three zombies trying to tie up the party and Valdraaz going straight for Mira.

Now, I want to go on record and say that my dice decided they hated Mira, and within two rounds, she'd almost dropped, because Valdraaz was a Wight and they do scary damage and their drain effect is similarly scary when you're failing saves.  Valen started using his swashbuckling skills to deal with the zombies, but 5e zombies don't die unless they fail a save, and they kept staying up.  Keeri Lo wildshaped into a giant octopus, and then realized his move speed was balls and started inching towards Valdraaz.  It took a couple rounds, but eventually he attacked, grappled, and held the Wight still.

Julius cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter and Valdraaz failed the save.  The  we literally sat there in a holding pattern until Fechedette and her Witch Bolt finally killed Valdraaz, because everyone's dice finally rebelled and nobody could hit anything, but the enemies were mostly dealt with and restrained.  Valen took down the final few zombies as the party started healing up and wrestled the heavy iron shackles from the curtain onto Valdraaz.

We ended there, and will pick up next session with the aftermath of the gang helping a Lamia potentially save the world.  Not your typical encounter with a Wight and 3 zombies, that's for sure.   

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