This adventure was Friday February 20, 2015. All players were present except T.R. and G.R.
Four zombies have been slain just outside the garden field east of Riddley’s Crown. Ariana and Pfriem Darkstrong decide to return to the enclave. The rest of the group sets its sights to the east. The low mist has lifted some and visibility is better. Last night, Jenny mentioned farmsteads about a kilometer away. The group wants to investigate.
Along the way, the characters encounter a wandering group of zombies: two were Human; one a female in a shawl, the other male with three arrows sticking out of him. There is a Gnome zombie in a bright-red vest and jaunty cap (a disappointing racial cliché, in Wee Jack’s opinion), a zombie Dwarf with a long grey beard, and a zombie Orc in horribly-rotted Hide armor. The characters face a challenge in defeating these enemies, until Jacob Light-Bringer summons his strength and Turns the zombies. Fleeing from the Cleric of Pelor, the zombies are easy prey for Jacob’s allies, who chase down and defeat the undead one by one.
From the ghastly corpses the group recovers a mundane, etched copper ring from the female Human; nothing off the male Human; a pouch of gold on a leather string around the zombie Gnome’s neck (another disappointing racial cliché for Wee Jack to deal with), four gems on the Dwarf zombie, and a backpack on the Orc containing an empty potion vial and ten feet of hemp rope.
Soon after, the group reaches a farmstead. A packed dirt road runs east-west though it, two houses and fenced land on the north side of the road, two of the same on the south side. The dwellings are all within 20 meters of each other. Ranger Xorn looks at the fenced land and determines that each is nearly 100 meters on the side; four acres fenced in. Survival checks identify the fenced area as cropland, not tilled or grown in many years. Open outbuildings occupy the corners of some fields.
The group investigates (House 3) first. Its footprint is 20 ft by 20 ft, but the structure is half burned-down, windowless and doorless. Nature is overtaking this dwelling; nothing of value is found.
Next, (House 1). It is intact, with no windows or doors, a rectangular dwelling 10 ft by 30 ft. Some characters Spot a symbol over the door. The other house has a symbol as well, but a different one. An INT check tells characters that these are archaic letters of the Common language.
Xorn draws his weapons and goes inside the house. It is unoccupied. The contents of the dwelling have been tossed and scattered and searched many times. Wee Jack climbs to the roof and keeps watch over the surrounding lands, monitoring the movements of packs of zombies as they shamble in and out of the mist.
As Xorn begins a Search of the house (finding a whetstone and a pint of lamp oil overlooked by previous raiders), Jere Collado waits at the doorway. Gnome Rogue Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann and Human Cleric Jacob Light-Bringer decide to walk over to the next structure (House 2). This house is completely intact; a closed front door, and closed shutters locked from inside, prevent seeing inside. There is a unique symbol over this door. The adjoining fields are sub-fenced; this was once a pig farm.
The Rogue and Cleric Listen at the door but hear nothing. Jacob Light-Bringer tries the door and finds it unlocked. He swings it open into darkness. When the Cleric casts Light to see inside, he is charged by an animated Skeleton wearing poor-condition studded leather and armed with a light wooden shield and a spear. It rushes the Cleric, stabs him and drops Jacob Light-Bringer to unconscious. The Cleric gasps out a shriek of pain as he falls.
On the roof of (House 1), Wee Jack cannot see or hear what is going on. Inside that same dwelling, half-Orc Ranger Xorn is focused on his Search, having just found several silver pieces. Covering the doorway, Jere Collado hears Jacob’s scream and runs in that direction.
Gnome Noomfoodle reacts by grabbing Jacob’s body and pulling him away from the entrance. The Skeleton steps out and successfully lances the Rogue, sending the Gnome into a coma. Fortunately, Pann stabilizes and doesn’t bleed. Jere Collado, hollering for Xorn and Wee Jack, sprints at the Skeleton and engages in combat. The Human Cleric is badly wounded but Xorn and Wee Jack arrive as backup, and break down the Skeleton.
Healing is done to recover the fallen. The spear and shield are taken from the pile of bones. Cautiously checking (House 2), the group finds it unoccupied. The interior is in fair condition; Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann’s experience with Profession : Carpentry suggests only a few fixes would be needed to make this dwelling entirely livable. The group finds a waterskin, common lamp, bedroll, sack, hammer, three candles and a piece of chalk; likely possessions of the Skeleton when it was a living adventurer.
Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann’s Search turns up something else – a small sheet of linen, inked with the words NOTICE OF CLAIM and several lines of legal jargon. The same symbol appears in the document as on the cabin’s exterior. He folds up this find and tucks it into a pocket.
The group closes the door behind them and goes to (House 4). Its shutters and door are closed and locked. Another unique symbol is carved over door. On the door itself is written a message, from a previous investigator : SOMETHING INSIDE. Characters Listen and hear something shuffling behind the door. Wee Jack knocks out a knot on the wooden exterior wall and peeks inside. He see at least two zombie Dwarfs wandering in the pitch-blank 20 ft by 20 ft space.
Trying the front door, the characters find it unlocked but barred from the inside. Wee Jack correctly guesses that some time ago, Dwarf adventurers took refuge in here but one of the group was infected, and zombified his associates.
Unwilling to risk further injury today, the group hurries back to the safety of Riddley’s Crown. Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann visits DREDBURN (NPC), the Dwarf healer and trader. The Gnome sells him the Skeleton’s shield and spear, and the ornate copper ring, for a few coins. Wee Jack and Jacob Light-Bringer visit Sister Janus. She heals their wounds, and rambles on about tea and how much she’d like to obtain licorice root. The Barbarian and the Cleric stick around a while then leave when her nonsense gets to be too much.
When Jere Collado comes by to visit, he finds Sister Janus much more focused and with no trace of eccentricity. The conversation between the two of them alone is purposeful and intelligent. He gets a sense Janus regards him differently than the others of the group.
It has started to rain and the afternoon has turned unpleasant. The group decides to stay in the enclave and rest. Xorn and Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann go and talk to Lumberg about the Jobs Board. The Gnome Rogue learns that there is considerable money to be made in rebuilding the bridges in the bog – Administrator Lumberg visibly experiences religious ecstasy over the prospect of arranging A Government Contract (most holy and hallowed) and Its Most Holy Overages and Cost-Overruns (to which Lumberg makes a religious somatic gesture of rubbing imaginary currency between his fingers and thumbs).
Everyone pays for the next night’s accommodation; Wee Jack will be content to sleep in the former Stables, and Xorn has half a mind to return to the farmsteads and sleep there for free. In the end he does not, and the group gathers in the main hall for drinks and the fire’s warmth to close the day.
(end of Part 3)