After brawling with a pair of oozes, the heroes returned from their scouting mission and reported the ruins to be currently clear of any threats that their Passive Perceptions could detect. With that technicality out of the way, the caravan pulled up stakes and made its way into the ruins of Castle Inverness. Once inside the civilians began to unload the wagons and setup shelters, when suddenly a ghostly tower appear over the central ring of ruined stones, which rapidly solidified into an actual tower with strangely (more so?) lacked any visible entrance. Splintershield and the other priests sprung into action, beginning a ritual that would consecrate the ruined foundation, and ideally stop anymore ghost buildings from popping up.
Unfortunately there was the more pressing matter of an undead horde, which would have been pounding on their gate if they had one.
The encounter started out simple enough: a trio of zombies and a bunch of decrepit skeletons shambled towards the castle. They had the advantage of higher ground and a choke point. That, and I rolled a 0 for the zombies' initiative. The scout went first, rushing the closest zombie and killing it with a crit (zombie weakness). Burning an action point, he then killed another zombie with a crit. I'm just glad that he nothing else was nearby for him to swat with his off-hand weapon.
Randy was here this time, playing a White Well fey-pact hexblade with lots of radiant attacks, which allowed him to slip into melee and bloody the last zombie with a single hit. Liz's thief managed to reduce it to a single hit point with a well-thrown dagger, but the tiefling mage couldn't polish it off before it got the chance to miss Randy with a grab attack. Luckily, the eight decrepit skeletons were able to surround the scout and Randy to get several hits in. Last but not least, the sentinel wrapped up the round by crushing a skeleton (every kill counts).
On round two, the players took down a few skeletons, but somehow were unable to breach all 13 points of the zombie's AC (even hitting it's whopping 11 Reflex proved to be a Herculean task). Things got even worse when undead clambered out of the ground before anyone else could go. Yeah, they weren't able to act, but surrounded almost everyone so that the ones that could act got combat advantage. Most of the heroes spent their turns taking out a skeleton, but the tiefling turned everything around when she used fountain of flame, an area burst 1 that deals damage and creates a zone that deals automatic damage to any enemy that enters the zone, or starts its turn there.
This not only took out most of the skeletons and immolated the last zombie, but incinerated more undead when they tried to pop up on the next round. With just ten or so skeletons left, they were on the home stretch, so I had some more zombies pop up with the next wave to make the encounter actually challenging, as well as give some of the new guys a XP boost. With everyone but the tiefling packing a full rollout of encounter and daily powers, it was just a matter of time before they won. Really, the worst I did was 20 damage to Randy's character with a max-damage grapple-punch.
One round later, they found themselves victorious. Most of the players lacked any treasure from rolling poorly at other tables on previous weeks, so I threw them a bone in the form of a +1 luck blade. Since NO one but Liz used a blade of any sort, it went to her, and she passed her amulet off to someone else to keep things fair. Despite the heavily stacked odds and XP budget, this was a pretty easy encounter. Next week, its time to check out the ghost tower, which sounds like something about of a Dr. McNinja comic.
Edit: Oh my fucking god, I forgot to wrap up the chapter with the role-playing encounter at the end...well, I'll just have to do that next week. >_>