Posted by : David Guyll November 12, 2015
- Belicose (1st-level human wizard)
- Emery (1st-level kobold cleric)
- Rigel (1st-level human warlord)
SummaryAfter hearing rumors of the walking dead and mysteriously abducted peasants, the party was en route to Winterhaven. On the fifth day they encountered a wagon, overturned and dragged off of the trail. Emery investigated it, finding only a few splashes of blood and a trunk containing expensive clothing, and a few pieces of jewelry.
They continued on their way until night fell, moving off of the road to find a suitable place to rest. Belicose took the first shift, but after barely half an hour had passed a skinless zombie shambling into their camp. He woke Emery and Rigel, but after they chopped and battered it to re-death, a half dozen more lurched into view,.
Despite being outnumbered two-to-one the party prevailed, though Emery suffered grievous wounds during the ordeal. Not wanting to rest amidst the carnage, they moved their camp some distance away, and the rest of the night passed uneventfully.
The next day they returned to their initial campsite, only to discover that the bodies were either carried off, or dragged themselves away of their own volition. Rigel would be able to follow the trail they had left, but they were running low on food and so continued on to Winterhaven.
Their arrival at Winterhaven's gate was met with a guarded, sullen response: many of the villagers were missing or dead, they'd had to burn corpses of friends and family to prevent them from rising again, and a good deal of the survivors had fled east to Fallcrest, possibly beyond. Emery traded the necklace she'd found in the wagon for a nigh-indefinite stay at the inn, and the next day they met with Lord Padraig.
He told them the dark history of the ruined keep to the north, how an order of paladins cleansed a foul temple, and then constructed a castle atop the ruins to guard against evil should it reappear. It had been abandoned for centuries, and though most of the disappearances had occurred south they'd initially suspected it to be the source of the restless dead. They sent a small group of soldiers anyway, but they did not return.
With men, supplies, and hope running low, he was not willing to send any more to certain death. Of course despite all this, the party eagerly volunteered to investigate both the undead and disappearances, opting to tackle the latter issue first.
After resupplying they ventured south to see if they could find any clues in one of the deserted homes. There were plenty of tracks around the house, and only minor signs of conflict inside. As with the wagon the home was not ransacked: furnishings, clothing, and other belongings seemed to be in order: it was clear whoever was here was only interested in bodies. Checking outside, Rigel discovered signs that the attackers had dragged their victims south.
It was a simple task for Rigel to follow their path, and after several hours discovered a clearing. A waterfall cascaded down a short cliff and into a large, murky pool, which fed into a wide but shallow stream. Despite the abundance of water, the vegetation surrounding it was dead and rotten. On the other side of the stream was a circle of jagged standing stones, stained with strange signs and surrounding a bloodied altar. Finally, behind the waterfall they also spied a cave entrance.
It was a safe bet that they'd found the right place.
Design NotesVery little combat this time around, though between this and all the other playtests I'm noticing a trend: the party seems capable of handling monsters of their level in equal numbers. Beyond that, and it's very likely someone is going to lose a lot of Wounds, or even get dropped. Emery almost did, but thanks to her Healing Domain (spend Favor to reduce Wound damage by 1d4) and Hymn of Healing (everyone within 30 feet takes 1 less Wound damage) talents, coupled with Rigel's Inspiring Word talent, she was able to weather the fight.
Though I've already extensively modded Keep on the Shadowfell so that it actually makes some sense, given my deviations from much of the Dungeons & Dragons lore I've had to modify it yet again. In the original adventure, there was a band of kobolds being lead by a goblin hired by Kalarel (the big bad) to do...something. I honestly forget what. During my first round of changes, I expanded the kobold cave beyond one room, added a trap or two, and had them serving a wyrmling green dragon.
Since I've changed kobolds to be more inline with the Germanic spirit, I'm replacing them with orcs. From what I could gather, orcs are evil spirits or demons, maybe kinda-sorta like goblins. There was mention of Orcus, so I'm going with spirits or demons that escaped from Orcus's realm, or perhaps were permitted to leave in order to slaughter and sacrifice the living.
This means they're irrevocably evil. They're not misunderstood, there's no language or cultural barrier, there's not going to be any bullshit with killing orc babies (or, gasp, killing orc women), or any other Tumblrina nonsense: they're murderous entities, pure and simple. Kill them, or they're gonna kill you (and then kill others).
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