- Iola (wood elf monk 3)
- Perseus (human paladin 3)
- Yllian (high elf wizard 3)
- Corvus (human ranger 3)
- Randy (wood elf druid 3)
Given that Corvus was having no trouble following the trail left by the wights, they decided to cut across as the terrain would be easier on the wagon and it would save time. This worked out well enough until they got about halfway across, at which point they noticed that there were numerous bones scattered throughout the grass (which they were easily able to identify as horse bones thanks to the live specimen on hand).
Pegasus started acting nervously, not because of the bones (which would have been understandable), but because of the griffon doing a poor job of hiding in the grass a couple hundred feet away. It was, unfortunately, just a distraction, and as they tried to turn the wagon around another burst from cover and dived at them. Well, specifically Pegasus, because griffons love them some horse.
Perseus interposed himself between the two, but only managed to graze the griffon as it bolted past. Iola leapt into action, hitting it square in the beak with a kick that sent it spinning to the ground. It recovered quickly, raking Iola with one of its claws as it circled around her towards Pegasus. The other griffon sprung into action, but was anticlimactically chased off by one of Yllian's color sprays. Thankfully I had a third griffin in reserve, which was able to temporarily take him out of the fight with a few good claw attacks.
The griffons were chased off after a few rounds, as I figured that even with the promise of delicious horse on the line they were not willing to die for it. Randy got to take his cat form for a spin, which is pretty brutal with a 2-3 attack routine, but despite going up against a pair of Large creatures Kamon was unable to try out his favored enemy features. Oh well, I still gave them full experience points for surviving the encounter and driving them off.
They found the burial place of the wights a few hours later, a chambered cairn dug into the side of a low hill. Perseus took point, his shield illuminated with Yllian's magic. After a short flight of worn stairs they found themselves in a large, circular chamber. The center was dominated with a stone pillar carved with the likeness of a chimera, and three passages branched away.
Behind the totem was a dessicated corpse of a woman, either human or elf they could not tell, clutching a pair of stone boots. Yllian deduced that she was probably slain by one of the wights. When he went to move her arm to better examine the boots, a stone amulet clattered to the ground as she crumbled into dust: it was engraved with a jagged spiral that he vaguely recalled was indicative of some elemental entity.
The boots were carved entirely of stone. There were spaces that might have once been inlaid with precious metals or maybe gems, and dwarven runes mentioned something about The Lord That Shatters The Earth. Yllian had neglected to prepare any detect magic spells, so if they were magical (they were), it would have to wait until the next day to determine what they could do (something really cool).
Iola discovered the hard way that each of the passages were trapped, though she made her Dexterity save and was able to walk away with only minor burns. At the end of each passage was a burial alcove where it was assumed that the wights were originally laid to rest, and they managed to find a cache of art objects, which included a drinking horn and chimera-skin carpet.
With the place thoroughly looted they made their way to Goathill Quarry to meet up with the caravan. The four-hour walk was uneventful, though they did not make it back until well after nightfall. Given that much of the town's "staff" were indentured criminals the place did not see many tourists; there was only one inn, and a small one at that. Even worse was that it was mostly filled up thanks to the caravan, so most of the characters ended up having to crash in their wagon (at least they had that chimera-skin carpet to keep them warm).
This ended up being just as well, as their respite was abruptly interrupted by a devastating, quarry-collapsing earthquake. Normally this would be bad enough, except for the aforementioned criminals accounting for the majority of the town's population.
Behind the Scenes
The characters finally feel durable and competent enough that I can safely throw difficult challenges at them without it being a total-party wipe. Just a level ago a single griffon would have mopped the floor with them, what with their triple multiattack combo and 11-point per claw average.
Despite being able to fly for a short period of time all of twice per day, the monk still seems incredibly boring. I desperately want to see a monk that gives you something neat that you can reliably do at 1st-level, with a variety of thematic options to choose from as you level up. The traditions are nice, except that you can only do tradition-specific things once per day.
For example, I think that Path of Four Storms should give you a bonus on jump checks, and/or a speed boost, while Path of Stone's Endurance could give you a bonus on Constitution saves, and maybe bonus damage or damage resistance if you do not move on your turn. Not sure what to do with Phoenix...maybe let you spend Hit Dice when dropped below 0 hit points (even as a once per day thing), possibly also fire resistance?
Basically do what 4th Edition did, but tone down the initial amount of options.