A humongous frozen lasagna and multitudinous loaves of garlic bread filled our bellies this past Friday night, the last before Halloween. The turnout was huge with pratically every current card-carrying member of the group showing up to play – a total of seven players plus dm. Typically our game nights of late have been numbering four to six, because herding cats is HARD, so it was great fun to have everyone together. It also meant I needed to do a recap of events so far…
The characters all grew up in, or found their way to the town of Greenest, the further outpost of western (fantasy) civilizations into a vast tract of D Erte known simply as the Beast Lands, for obvious reasons. (beasts and monsters) Greenest was on the far eastern edge of the beastlands, founded during the crusading period of the past score of years. Further east is a vast desert known as the Desert of Despair to northerners and the Desolate Desert to southerners. Across the desert is a myseterious and virtually unknown civilization known as “the Lorient.” Only recently contacted after thousands of years of forced separation due to geological as well as monstrous reasons, the two civilizations are opening up to one another and the characters as leading the charge into the Lorient.
The heroes of this tale also each have a unique reason to despise and want to destroy a nefarious cult known as the Cult of the Dragon. After raiding Greenest, the cult loaded up its wagon of booty and set off across the desert. The characters tracked the cult to the city of Leucrotta, a merchant hub from whence the cult plas to travel further into the Lorient with their ever-growing hoard. In order to follow the cult, the characters must sign on to the caravan about to make a forty day journey to the regional capital Catoblepia. The cult is signed onto “The Iron Bull” caravan and the party has befriended a traveling circus who is signed on to the caravan, in hopes of hiring on as guards. Whew, there is more, like a whole side trek to save Alligator Boy, but that is the gist.
Now then, at this point the players were like, are we going to play or just listen to you all night, whilst others were like KILL KILL KILL! Ok ok, so you are walking back to the circus tent with the minsrel Rodrigo and the alligator man Skryllix, when a dark cloud forms over the nearby tent in the shape of a beholder with lightning flashing from the roiling smoky eyestalks. A severe storm erupted, the minstrel shouts “oh no not him!” then is struck by lightning. Skryllix roars and snaps his jaws and says “your hired go report to the Lady Octavia immediately!” He points to a nearby side entrance to the sprawling tent compound that is the circus.
They are standing at an iron gate, and a winding path leads through an old burial ground, on the other side of which beckons the safety of the tent flaps of the Floating Palace of Phantasmagoria. The floating beholder head has turned into a massive black storm cloud. Lightning strikes the ground every turn, targetting one character randomly. Eight skeletons pull themselves out of the ground at the far end of the cemetery wielding long bows. Divided into two squads each turn they target a character with four arrows. Pretty devastating. Along either side of the path a total of eight zombies rise from the earth while the opening notes of Michael Jackson’s Thriller play (in my mind.) Also, anywhere on the cemetery that is not the path has ghostly shadowy arms reaching up trying to grab ankles and immobilizing if successful.
It was a tough encounter which I call “Short cut through the cemetery.” And it only got tougher. The players all immediately whined and complained that I was trying to kill them and I was like yes, and…? Then they were like its too hard, an I retorted that it was not too hard, they were just pathetic. Find out at the end who was right.
The undead won initiative so I lined them up into battle formation in preparation of the characters actions. Then they were off and Dave who plays the chicken cast a feather bolt which damaged a zombie. Then the gnome rogue got into the action by hiding and stabbing like she does, but rolled a natural one on her dexterity check to avoid the grasping claws, so she was immobilized and prone, held down by ghostly arms reaching up out of the soil that has been soaked so many times with the blood of the victors and vanquished alike, but that is a different story all together.
The monk dashed into punch and kick zombies. He was the only one to actually kill a zombie that might, after curb-stomping one that had been riddled with wounds. The pirate dashed in after literally hurling the dwarf as far as she could into the thick of things – 24 feet. The dwarf turned three or four of the zombies, taking them out of the fight as they cowered in the corners of the fenced area. The elf ranger fired a few arrows then spent the rest of the time running for safety.
On round two a skeleton warhorse appeared, charging around the corner of one of the larger mausoleums and as it ran a shadow climbed up onto it and the pair waded into battle. The warhorse had shiny iron hooves which caused great destruction, while the shadow attempted to strangle its foes, doing necrotic damage. All the zombies attacked with strangling type moves tonight as well. It was sort of the theme (again, in my mind.)
On round three, another pair of zombies clawed up out of the ground and the characters realized this was not a time to stand and fight, but to run for it, and after three or more rounds, they made it though the loving flaps of the waiting circus tent. But not before the chicken and the cleric were knocked out and nearly killed. The chicken in particular was cooked and sizzling to perfection, like a giant chicken leg ready to be devoured. Some one grabbed him as they ran through the tent flaps, but was it to save him, or to have him for dinner?
In the end, the encounter was neither too hard, nor were the players too pathetic to survive victoriously. Which actually makes me even more right wink wink