A new campaign

A new campaign — and I get to play again!  We’re using C&C, with some stuff pulled from the Warhammer FRP game for backgrounds, and the setting is the Warhammer ‘Old World.’  My brother Tom is DMing, and he hopes we’ll make it to levels appropriate to try some old 1e modules, but against all expectations the players opted to start at level one.

So the first session had four players, and we made up a relatively well-balanced party: Eckhard the wizard, Allios(?) the elf barbarian/rogue, yyy the fighter, and Siegfried the half-orc cleric/assassin (which I am playing, big surprise).  I don’t have my notes from the game handy, as I’m at a training ‘retreat,’ so I forget some of the names of the other characters.

     We all found ourselves in the service of a local lord in Middenland, who is on campaign against another lord, in some private feud over control of some villages or other. Our mission, assigned by a disinterested knight, was to check out a nearby village for signs of enemy troops or scouts.

     En-route we met with a surly woodsman who told us to avoid the village, but who gave no specific reason for his attitude.  We also found signs that something dead had been dragged across the road and through a brook.  Our efforts to follow the trail (without a ranger) turned up confusing signs, and we eventually turned back for the road, to keep ‘on-task,’ but retracing our steps we found a holy symbol of the nature goddess… not something a cleric would lose.  We assume something bad happened to the cleric.

     At the village we found the people scared and distrustful.  We spent quite a while roleplaying our interactions with the townsfolk.  As a cleric, I was able to gain a bit of trust from the bartender, and over the course of our conversations we got some intimations that ‘the one in the tower’ was casting some sort of shadow of fear over the town.  A half-orc who was obviously acting as informant for the bad guy fled the tavern and rode off to the west, presumably to bring a message that some troublemakers were in town.  We had no way to catch him, as we had no horses, and decided to ask for more information outside of town, where paranoia might be less intense. When we questioned a pair of peasants outside the village, we also learned that the ‘one in the tower’ was taking the village’s dead for some purpose.  My character, being a cleric of Morr and intensely suspicious of necromancy, jumped to the (apparently correct) conclusion that the man in the tower is a necromancer of some kind.  A crow in a nearby tree seemed to be spying as well, and we tried to shoot it down but missed.  So I suggested we head back to the army encampment, as it seemed to unsafe to try staying the night in the village.

     Back in camp our commander poo-pooed the idea that a necromancer could be operating in Middenland, and sent us back to find out more, with instructions not to create a scene or kill anyone unless necessary.  We arrived back at the outskirts of the village at dusk, and saw a troop of skeletons marching straight at the hut belonging to the peasants we’d questioned earlier, led by a horseman.

     The party quickly decided that we had to save the peasants, and set of at a jog to intercept them.  The fighter decided to split off from the party to try a flanking movement, so the wizard, barbarian, and cleric set off straight ahead while the fighter circled around.  Is that a good tactics when you’re badly outnumbered? I didn’t think so but my character was more interested in smiting the undead than planning.  Also, being the slowest in the group because of my extensive inventory of gear, I knew I’d arrive at the fight after the two fighter-types.  Since the wizard also wisely stayed back, we ended up having the barbarian charge into the skeletons, alone, and he was soon dragged down and unconscious on the ground.  The wizard dropped the horseman with a magic missile, but my efforts to turn the undead kept failing (the good news is C&C gives you unlimited chances to try turning; the bad news is that it is an attribute check, so success is very chancing, like all d20 rolls.  Older editions relied on 2d6, which has a nice bell curve!)

     In the end, we barely squeaked through the first clash.  My cleric and the wizard each were down to one HP, and both of the other characters were unconscious.  But I’d finally turned all the skeletons (apart from a few killed by the fighter and the wizard in melee), and having healed the barbarian, we regrouped in the peasant’s small fenced yard (pig sty?), waiting for the turning to wear off the skeletons and their inevitable return.

     In the end we survived, and took the horseman as a prisoner, for he was not actually dead.  He had a holy symbol of Khaine, god of murder (and rival to Morr).  At this point we ended the session, as we’d started very late. It took 2 hours to BS and then roll up characters — I’ll post something about the interesting chargen house rules Tom used later.

In the next session, we had some more character generation as Richard, Ken, and the new guy Dan made characters.  They ended up making a gnome assassin/illusionist (Gustán, “with an AH!!”), a human fighter (Stan Hywett), and half-elf ranger respectively.

The new PCs were sent as reinforcements, and good thing they were — the wizard and fighter players were both absent this time, so we are assming they needed more time to recover from their wounds.

The party went off to investigate the tower, after interrogating the prisoner from last session.  He didn’t give us a lot of information, but confirmed that the tower had many undead and few living defenders.  He was in fact a cleric of Khaine — the Warhammer god of murder — and so I executed him.  My cleric’s god, Morr, is the god of death (and dreams, and illusion) and Khaine is sort of his jerkwad little brother who wants to establish his own underworld, and populate with his worshippers’ victims (their souls go to Khaine’s hell, their bodies get used to make the undead!).  Morr is particularly opposed to the creation of the undead, and the rightful ruler of the underworld, so Morr and Khaine are enemies, and my cleric really has to root out and exterminate Khaine’s followers.

Anyway we decided to test if the unholy symbol of Khaine really made the undead obey or ignore you (we jumped to that conclusion based on the last session and some of what the prisoner said).  The ranger agreed to be the guinea pig. When we found the tower — a dilapidated building surrounded by a dry moat and a wall — he rode up to the gates, over the open drawbridge, and almost into the courtyard, before a human guard realized he was not the dude we’d just killed.  He managed to escape, riding balls-out back to the wood line.  The forest had grown back towards the tower and we used this cover to scout out the tower.  The defenders sent a small party of ghouls after us, and we defeated them without loss, but at the cost of most of our spells and the front-line fighters’ HP.  We then decided to fall back a bit more, and it occurred to us to look for secret exit from the tower, reasoning that fortifications often had escape tunnels.  A few hours of looking turned up a passage, which we took.  It seemed long-forgotten and unused so we even made camp and rested a bit, get back some spells and heal up.  Then we took the passage toward the tower.  along the way we found a giant mole, which the gnome could talk to, and a room full of partial zombies, which we dispatched.  Pressing on we found a way into the tower!

We did our best to sneak in, and began fighting out way up the tower, figuring the ‘boss’ must be there.  Among the supplies on the ground floor were many coffins, some empty and some containing sand.  We puzzled over that and then we barricaded the ground level door. We cleared level after level of skeletons, zombies, and an evil cleric.  Unfortunately, some turned zombies made it up the stairs, giving warning to the denizens above.  Soon we were pounding on the door at the top of the stairs while more defenders were trying to break into the tower!  But we broke through first.  At the top floor we found a ghast, dressed in fine silk robes and carrying a spell book, which Stan managed to cut down in the first round of the fight!  I was ready to conclude that the ghast was in fact the necromancer, but the barbarian was not so sure and began probing the room with his bardiche, looking for invisible foes.  We then heard some chanting, and everyone but the barbarian fell asleep!  He charged the now visible necromancer, but was dropped by a magic missile.

The end?

At this point it was very late and we called it a TPK, but in the following days we discussed how frustrating it was to spend almost half the last two sessions in chargen and then to be wiped out.  The DM may be evil, but he’s lawful evil, and found an ‘out’ for the party, giving us a fighting chance.  He sent us this alternative denouement:

Thunk, Thunk, Thunk …Falling.  “What was that sound?  Why can’t I move?   Where am I,”  thought Stan Hywett.
 The last thing he could remember clearly was running through the ghast at the top of the tower. 
 Sand, there was some sort of sand in his eyes… no all over him.  “My god I a buried,” he realized, buried alive. But the pounding, what was that?
A muffled voice said “Necromancers, megalomaniacs and fools!  Why fill the casket with sand?”
 A second voice answered “Shut up and quit dropping your end.  The Master said don’t wake them.”
 “But sand, it weighs a ton,” replied the first voice
 “It’s magic sand.  It will keep them asleep till we need them”
 “That’s another thing, why keep them alive at all?  Why not slit their throats and be done with them?”
 “Cause”
 “Cause why?”
 “He says that they might be better fresher.  Maybe the transplants will take that way.” 
 “What’s the point?  They killed all the zombies.  The killed Kalag, they even killed then hunch back.  Poor bastard.  You know, we should have never killed the Old Master, He could truly reanimate the dead.”
 “Lift your end, no more dragging, no more complaining.”
 “Thanks be to Khaine that this is the last one… I am hitting the road tonight, if you were smart you would too”
There was still hope then, the warrior thought, working his wrists and loosening the ropes. Were the others alive?
      So we’ll pick up captured, but not dead, which seems fair, especially since some signs really did point to the fact that the ‘necromancer’ was stitching together corpses to repair zombies that were falling apart, and the sand-filled coffins make some sense … after all sand is a ‘material component’ for sleep spells.
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Published in: on July 27, 2012 at 5:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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