Tempest, Blue Dragonborn Cleric Trickery-Domain (played by Jojo, 14yo)
Folax Huntreouss, Human Gunslinger (played by Evan, 12yo)
Warning: This adventure contains a lot of references and spoilers to the ‘Princes of the Apocalypse’ campaign. If you have yet to play through the campaign, be warned that you’re likely to come across the same stuff we did.
After a Short Rest, the adventurers follow the left exit and come to a large cathedral-like cavern. “There are three flat boulders serving as stone slab tables close to you, bearing corpses in various stages of decomposition. The cavern continues further into the dark. There is a hooded figure here at one of the stone tables, holding a bone needle in one hand. There are baskets of human parts next to the stone slab tables.”
Evan decides to fire at the hooded figure’s hand, and rolls an excellent shot. “The figure’s hand explodes into gore! The figure looks at its missing hand, and then at you guys. It’s another zombie!” S'il-vous-plaît flies forward and attacks. Tempest sets the zombie’s hood on fire with Sacred Flame, while Folax blasts its head right off with a single shot, its head trailing smoke as it bounces away.
Tempest investigates the basket of human parts. I tell her, “There’s just more gore and parts in these. You lift out a severed hand, and it suddenly comes to life and starts clawing you! In fact, you see four other hands crawling out of the baskets!” I tell the kids that this is a Crawling Claw; an undead severed hand of a murderer, and read out some fun facts about Crawling Claws from the Monster Manual. “Dark wizards use these as assistants. And it is actually possible to turn the severed hand of a living person into a Crawling Claw, although that person will go into a coma until the hand is destroyed!”
This fight was entertaining. One of the claws managed to leap onto Folax and the gunslinger spent several frantic rounds trying to get the scrambling thing off. Evan got desperate enough to demand that S'il-vous-plaît try to stab it off! Eventually though, he manages to throw it on the ground and stomp on it, and the rest of the disgusting little creatures are eventually destroyed.
“I almost died because of a stupid undead hand!” grumbles Evan. The gunslinger downs a Cure Light Wounds potion to calm his nerves.
“You’ve been pretty trigger-happy with your rifle,” I tell Evan. “Remember to keep track of your ammo. You’ve got, what, 5 shots left?”
The adventurers proceed further down the large cavern. I tell them that they see a stairway cut into the side of the cavern which leads up to a peep-hole and a depressed lever. “So, who wants to look in first?” I ask cheerfully.
Peep-holes in D&D are the best at freaking out players. After a lot of ‘You look! No, you look! I went first last time!’ Folax looks through and sees the caved-in room with the smashed chests. The kids correctly guess that this is where the ‘Lord of Lance Rock’ must have observed and triggered the cave-in trap.
Going further down the cavern, I tell the kids, “You come to a stone workbench where a man dressed in black is cleaning his cutting tools. Guarding him are four skeletons! The man looks like this.”
“I don’t like him already!” declares Jojo.
The man sees the adventurers and demands, “Bow before the Lord of Lance Rock!! Me!! Behold my dark terrors!” The skeletons clack as they regard the adventurers.
Tempest pulls out her holy symbol. “Turn undead!” I roll d20s for the skeletons’ saving throws: 3, 3, 4 and 1. “To the astonishment of the Lord of Lance Rock, all his skeletons turn and flee! The man is like, ‘What the - guys? Guys!’. He looks a little panicked, but he regains his composure and says, “Well done! You have proven your worth to the Lord of Lance Rock! As your reward, you may now leave in peace!”
Tempest turns to Folax and says, “Shoot him.”
The man clasps his hands together in fright. “Ah! Please don’t kill me!”
Jojo sniggers, “Heh, works every time.”
Tempest asks, “So why are you terrorising Red Larch?”
“Red Larch!? That little insignificant settlement has not even felt the brunt of my undead power! It’s no different from all the other settlements I’ve been chased away from! I bide my time now in my secret hideout, but soon they will all know and fear the might of my undead army!”
“If this is your hideout, why did you put a big sign in front telling everyone that you’re here!?”
He pauses from his rant. “Perhaps that was not such a good idea.” A thought crosses his mind. “Are you two from the Black Earth Cult?”
Tempest says, “Why yes! We’ve been sent to get, um. ‘Another one’?”
The man has no idea what Tempest is requesting. “I know you in the Black Earth Cult have a presence in Red Larch. Perhaps we can reach some sort of agreement between the Black Earth Cult and the Lord of Lance Rock?”
Jojo sighs. “I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. I think you deserve to die right now!”
With that, I get the kids to roll for Initiative. I roll a 11 for the man, but Evan rolls a 12! “The Lord of Lance Rock raises his hands to cast a spell, but Folax does the quick draw; he lifts and fires his rifle one-handed in one fluid motion!” The shot grazes the man’s shoulder, but he completes his spell, and the air shimmers around him like a force field as Mage Armour manifests. S'il-vous-plaît leaps forward to skewer the man, but the sword glances off the unseen armour.
Tempest casts Command which fails to take hold (Jojo really wanted to try ‘DANCE!’ as a command), while Folax does a Rapid Reload (according to Evan, one-handed-style like in Terminator 2) and fires another shot that hits the man right in the chest, showering Mage Armour sparks everywhere, lifting him off his feet and onto his bottom.
Rapid Reload like a Bad-ass!
The Lord of Lance Rock snarls, “CROWN!” and points at Folax. I tell the kids that this is a ‘Crown of Madness’ spell that can cause Folax to go mad and attack someone next to him. Evan rolls his saving throw, and just makes it! “You see iron points of a crown flicker around Folax’s head before vanishing completely!” Tempest flings her ever-reliable Guiding Bolt spell that finally takes the Lord of Lance Rock down to his last hitpoint. “I yield!” he screams in fear as S'il-vous-plaît rests his blade on the man’s throat.
The fight over, the kids ask the man what does he know of the Black Earth Cult. “I thought you were the Black Earth Cult,” whimpers the man. “But if you want to know, I must show you something!” He gets up (S'il-vous-plaît still hovering at his throat) and leads the adventurers to the back of the cavern.
“The back of the cavern looks like a messy study with a messier bed on one side. In the middle, there’s a stand made from humans arms holding a crystal ball! Hovering faintly above the crystal ball is this symbol:”
“It’s the Eye!” intones the Lord of Lance Rock. “Can’t you see it? It sees your every move!”
“It does? Wait, is this like ‘Lord of the Rings’?”
“What? No, I’m the ‘Lord of Lance Rock’! And the Elemental Evil Eye has been here for thousands of years! It waits to consume the world!!” The eye shimmers above the four other symbols, one of which is recognisably the butt-triangle symbol that they have seen before. I tell Jojo that Tempest suddenly recalls where she’s previously seen this symbol - it was on the stone armour which crumbled away into sand when she tried removing it from that dead person they found in those burial mounds.
“I take the crystal ball,” says Evan. As the gunslinger reaches out to take it, the Lord of Lance Rock screams, ‘NO!’ and hurls himself at Folax. “You see his hand glowing with long, red fingernails (GM Note: Vampiric Touch) as he reaches out to claw you!” S'il-vous-plaît gets first attack though (with advantage) and efficiently dismembers the man’s hand. Collapsing on the ground dying, the Lord of Lance Rock utters under his last breath, “The undead... will rule!”
“I loot his body!”
“The man’s body suddenly burns in a black flame, and then vanishes with a plaintive wail!”
The adventurers contend themselves by exploring the grisly study. They loot a cache of gold and gems, chase away the four skeletons hiding under the bed, and find a blue wand on the study table. A few experimental blasts (one which destroys the bed) reveals that this is a Wand of Magic Missiles. We agree that the Lord of Lance Rock has probably hoping to grab this when he brought them in here.
I say, “So, are you guys going to try looking for Savra?”
“Kaylessa’s niece? You know, the person you’re supposed to be looking for? The reason why you came to Lance Rock in the first place!?”
“Oh, her! Yeah!”
A careful inspection of the bodies shows that none of them fit the description of the innkeeper’s niece. “S'il-vous-plaît suggests that you should bury the rest of the dead bodies, just in case someone else comes along to raise them as undead, so you guys pile them in a cave and collapse it. The journey back to Red Larch takes most of the next day and is uneventful.”
Back in Red Larch, the adventurers go to the Swinging Sword and find Kaylessa, “Hey, Kaylessa, we went to Lance Rock, and we didn’t find your niece. There was some crazy evil dude there raising undead though, but we took care of him.”
Kaylessa looks embarrassed, “Oh! That’s great that you cleared out Lance Rock! Um, about my niece…” Just then, a young teenage girl approaches, “Hey, Aunt Kaylessa! I’m heading off now!” Kaylessa sheepishly introduces her ‘lost’ niece to the surprised adventurers.
“Before you guys can tell Kaylessa off, another man approaches. You recognise this man! He’s the hippogriff rider you guys met in session 1!”
The man smiles at everyone. He does not seem to recall Folax or Tempest. He says to Kaylessa, “So you see, there’s nothing to worry about! Savra is safe with us in Feathergale Spire! But, please, feel free to come visit any time!”
Savra adds, “Oh yes! We’ve cleared a path to Feathergale Spire so that wagons or supply caravans can get to it. It’s easier to cart furniture to the Spire now; have you ever tried transporting a four-poster bed with a hippogriff!?” With that, the young girl and the man bid Kaylessa and the adventurers good-bye. They go outside to mount their hippogriffs which were waiting for them in outside the stables. In a powerful beat of wings, the two are off into the sky, flying towards Feathergale Spire.
I tell the kids, “You notice that Kaylessa still looks worried, even though her niece has been found.” Tempest asks Kaylessa about it, and the innkeeper sighs, “Oh, it’s just… I’ve heard strange things about the flying club in Feathergale Spire. About people going there and then deciding to stay. I heard this odd story of a young man from a farm who joined the club against his family’s wishes, and when his older brother went to bring him back, he too joined! Maybe it’s a young person thing. Perhaps they find it more exciting to be part of the flying club, or something.”
Jojo ponders, “Hmm.. Sounds like some sort of brain-washing.”
I tell the kids that there’s some sort of excited commotion outside. The adventurers exit the inn, and see a brand new covered wagon outside. Thelorn’s workers are pushing the wagon along, while Thelorn himself is taking the opportunity to show-off his workers’ handiwork. “The horse should be coming from the farm later,” he tells Folax.
“Oh, yes!” says Evan rubbing his hands gleefully. A large group of onlookers have gathered to admire the wagon. Some kids turn up, and the adventurers recognise the little girl Pell and her older siblings. The kids Oooo! at the sight and Pells asks pleadingly, “Can we go inside and look, pleeeeeease?”
“No,” says Evan firmly.
“Yes!” says Jojo happily.
“YAAYY!!” The kids swarm around the blustering gunslinger and climb into the wagon.
Kaylessa comes out to admire the wagon as well. “Did you know that Market Day had to be stopped halfway through the day? It was all blue skies, and suddenly storm clouds rolled in, and there was a terrible hailstorm! Everyone had to pack away their things and run for cover!”
I tell the kids, “Suddenly, there’s a tremor on the ground! “EARTHQUAKE!” someone shouts, and there are screams all around. Roof tiles fall from above, and people are running panicked everywhere! You see the wagon sag one way, and then sink into the ground as a massive sink hole opens up in the middle of the street!”
Jojo is laughing at her brother’s aghast face. “Folax faints!” he declares.
The wagon disappears from sight as the sinkhole opens up. A woman comes up screaming, “Where are the children!?” Someone shouts that they were in the wagon.
Jojo stops laughing. “Oh NO! I let them into the wagon!”
I close the campaign book. “And that’s to be continued next week!”
Heh, nothing like a good cliff-hanger to end a session!