Crown of the Dead [D&D v.3.5] – Part 8

This adventure was Friday March 27, 2015. All players were present except G.R., T.R., and B.P.

At first glance, Gnome Barbarian Wee Jack and half-Orc Ranger Xorn would seem to be in a spot of trouble. Injured and tired from their two-man solo encounters near unexplored farmsteads to the east, they were on their way back to Riddley’s Crown when four zombies appeared over the low hills to challenge them.

Luck smiles on Wee Jack and Xorn: Paladin Raygar Brightblade, Cleric Jere Collado, and alleged master-of-several-trades Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann were headed east through the foothills bordering the bog, and ran nearly headlong into their allies just as the zombie menace staggered into threat range.

Five-against-four are better odds than two-against-four; the adventurers turn against the undead. Jere Collado comes close to accomplishing a Sense Motive check; Ranger Xorn does not. Both see nothing unusual about one of the two Human zombies. Wee Jack and his half-Orc companion engage the human undead; Raygar and his associates attack the zombie gnome and halfling.

Xorn and his Barbarian ally both fail Sense Motive checks. The Wight pretending to be a zombie catches Wee Jack off guard when it slams the Gnome for damage and a negative level. Paladin Brightblade fends off the zombie gnome and its Small-sized masterwork morningstar. Pann and Collado struggle to coordinate a successful strategy against the eerie-quick undead halfling.

In dire straits, Wee Jack drops back to drink a healing potion. Xorn defeats the human zombie but does not fare so well against the wight; the half-Orc suffers two negative-level drains and will die if hit again. Thirty feet away, Noomfoodle bests his opponent. Collado is now free to move against the wight.

The Cleric chooses to make a Turning attempt instead of an attack, but the Turn is not strong enough to have any effect. The wight rushes Collado, missing the Cleric with a swipe of its claw. The fight ends soon after – Wee Jack charges and lands a devastating axe chop on the wight, and Heironeous grants Paladin Raygar victory over the remaining zombie.

Though most of the adventurers are relatively fresh, there is no question that Wee Jack and Xorn must return to Riddley’s Crown for medical attention. The undead are quickly searched for treasure. The gnome zombie had a Potion of Reduce Person (more ironic a find there has not been). The dead halfling was carrying a book, possibly a spellbook, but sealed by a Simple lock. Decent weapons and some gold are recovered.

Back in the enclave, the Barbarian and Ranger hurry to Sister Janus. The absentminded Cleric is pleased to dole out two Restoration spells, clearing the negative-energy afflictions. She says they can owe her for services rendered. As an aside, Wee Jack asks Janus if she might teach him to read some time. She would be most interested in the challenge.

The group stops in at the blacksmith’s shop. Lanna Riis immediately confronts them. Grinning Xorn barely tries to Bluff his way out of guilt for the prank of stowing rotted Hide armor by the Wizard’s forge at the behest of Dwarf trader Dredbern. Riis gives Xorn a venomous glare but saves the bulk of her curses and threats to be shouted out her shop door in Dredbern’s general direction. Her ire does not preclude business dealings – she buys up most of the adventurers’ weapon and armor plunder at just over half-value.

Gnome Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann quietly ducks out and sells off the groups’ gem collection to trader Dredbern. The Rogue then takes a minute to Open Locks on the tome they recovered, and discovers it is a false-book. A few legitimate pages of terrible poetry cover a secret compartment that hides 400 gold pieces. This and the gems’ value will divide nicely between the party.

Making an INT check, Pann realizes he never asked after the linen document found in a farmhouse. Imposing on Administrator Lumberg to exert some energy and take a look at it, the Rogue learns that the document is the legal title (a ‘Notice of Claim’) to the house and adjoining four-acre parcel whose door symbol it matches. Lumberg immediately offers 300 gold for the deed. Pann declines. He suspects the property might be worth a lot more some day.

It is too late in the day to venture out again; the group retires to the Main Hall and Jenny’s down-home cooking. New arrivals have come to Riddley’s Crown. Xorn and friends suffer the overbearing chatterbox Ranger CARSON READEY (NPC), and exchange indifferent glances with three Clerics of St. Cuthbert, members of a clique known as the “Emissaries of Retribution”.

Morning comes. Flush with gold, the adventurers buy gourmet breakfasts from Jenny and then hike to the farmsteads. They have in mind to raid the locked cabin that holds at least three zombies.

The only door is barred from the inside; Wee Jack chops open a shuttered window then climbs to the roof. His allies attract the four zombie Dwarfs to the gaping hole in the wall, then the Gnome Barbarian slips down the chimney into the 20-by-20-foot cabin and throws the bar from the door. Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann leaps in through the window to attack.

Xorn kicks aside the loose door and charges in. Raygar follows. Wee Jack and Pann, surrounded by Dwarf zombies, slash themselves some space. Jere Collado channels his inner strength and Turns the zombies, forcing the undead dwarfs to flee and cower in the corners of the room. The Cleric stands at the door and watches his fellows slowly beat down the zombies.

This plan works for a while, until an unexpected stench overwhelms Collado. He is Sickened by the odor then bitten by a Ghast, which snuck up unnoticed behind him. The Cleric falls to the ground, temporarily paralyzed. Collado’s friends in the cabin leave the zombie dwarfs to cower. They crowd the ghast at the doorway, undeterred by the creature’s hideous stench and blessed by its seeming inability to land a hit against them.

After the ghast is killed there is time enough to deal with the dwarfs before the effect of Collado’s Turn wears off. The zombies possessed masterwork weapons, including a Sap which at one point had dealt Xorn some Subdual damage. There is also firewood, personal effects, and a cache of gold and gems. By the look of the place, these dwarfs had taken refuge in here for several days quite some time ago. One of them must have been infected, and turned the others to zombies when he finally became one.

Searching the surprisingly good-condition interior of the cabin turns up a valuable gem and some gold coins. Eagle-eye’d Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann discovers the Notice of Claim for this structure and its adjacent farmland.

The ghast carried a satchel with gold, gems, a Potion of Cure Light Wounds, and a Divine scroll with Cat’s Grace and Obscuring Mist. And most unexpectedly, a one-pound bag of licorice-root. Wee Jack may have a gift for Sister Janus.

 

(end of Part 8)

 

Raygar Brightblade is now Level 2.

 

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About d20horizons

D&D player.
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