Expedition to Castle Ravenloft: Dusk of the Dead

  • Klaus (level 1 human fighter)
  • Kyr (level 1 fallen star)
  • Mim (level 1 witch w/ familiar)
  • Rook (level 1 halfling thief)

Unsure where to go or what else to expect Mim chopped up one of the zombies, and from its organs divined that both the living and dead inhabited the village.

Hoping to find survivors, the group decided to backtrack and knock on each door as they passed, in hopes that anyone still alive would realize that they weren't zombies, but the only response they got—when they got one at all—was the ominous sound of things shuffling about within.

Assuming that the noise from the previous fight would attract more of the undead, Rook had kept watch while the others went about their task, but the mist somehow obscured an entire horde of zombies until they were almost on top of her.

Instead of fleeing, Rook rolled into their midst and plunged her rapier into one of them. The zombie didn't seem to notice, what with it not needing organs and all, and the zombies swarmed her. Klaus charged into the throng, wrenched Rook free and threw her to safety. If the zombies had been capable of emotions, they would have likely been delighted in the fact that their main course had been super-sized.

As Klaus struggled against his attackers Mim—astride Joffrey—plowed through them. The good news was that she trampled some of the zombies in the process. The bad news was that several managed to hitch a ride as she rode by. She tried ineffectually kicking one off, and the other two managed to get a bite in before she thought better of it and drew her wand. Furious, she planted it in the mouth of one of them and, with a bit of mental effort and a word of power, blew it's head off.

Rook decided to take a cue from Mim: she gathered up the horses, mounted her own, and lead them all through. Miraculously they succeeded in only crushing zombies; with their numbers substantially dwindled Klaus and Kyr were able to finish off the rest, while Rook helped Mim take out the pair that were trying to get their hands on a witch-wich.

Sensing a relationship between noise and zombie attraction, they picked a street and started moving, and after some time a man suddenly appeared from between a pair of houses. He motioned them off the streets, and after several minutes of hushed conversation they learned that anyone bitten by a zombie would rise as one—which was bad news for pretty much everyone in the party—and that the zombies had first risen from the church's graveyard yesterday evening.

Since they were now racing against the clock they implored the man to show them where the church was, with the promise that they could put a stop to whatever caused the dead to rise. He agreed, but since most of the zombies seemed to have congregated on the streets his path took them through the alleys whenever possible. This worked well for them until they were nearly at their destination: the streets were choked with them.

Not wanting to attract any more unwanted attention, Kyr flew onto the roof of a nearby house and threw a wooden board some ways away. It clattered loudly, and the zombies began shuffling towards the noise. When he turned to float back down, he heard something scratching on the roof with him. He remained still, and as the sound moved closer eventually noticed the vague shape of something humanoid crawling about.

He wasn't sure what it was, but it looked like it was prowling towards his friends, which meant it was probably bad. He closed the distance with a few quick steps, and with his fists wreathed in flame punched clear through it...and realized too late that he had mortally wounded a disheveled, but otherwise normal looking villager. The man tried to speak, but given a lack of lungs only managed to move his mouth noiselessly before falling to the ground below.

Panicked, Kyr climbed down to see if he could somehow help, but by the time he got to the ground the body was gone. Keeping his hand lit, he made his way back to his companions and explained what had happened. Not wanting to take the time to further investigate, and assuming it was probably some kind of monster anyway, they snuck across the street to the church.

The church's front door was barred from the inside, but Klaus easily forced his way through. They could hear that at least a few zombies were attracted by his efforts, but were able to duck inside and seal the door back up with time to spare.

Inside the church they saw a man kneeling before an alter, seemingly absorbed in prayer. He was dressed in black and silver robes, and had a thick, unkempt beard and sunken eyes. Behind him a wooden raven, wings spread, was affixed to the front of a bronze sunburst. People were seated on the pews, heads rested as if in prayer. Finally, there was a massive hole in the aisle leading up to the alter.

Mim warily looked about, carefully taking in the scenery: though the man was praying, something was echoing his prayer from within the pit; the people on the pews looked like they were sitting in prayer, but she was pretty sure they were dead; finally, more people—or at least things that were once people—moved about in the rooms on both sides of them.

As Mim quietly informed her companions the man stood and approached them. He opened his mouth to speak, but Mim pointed at him and with a quick motion his mouth snapped shut. He froze, obviously trying to open it and more than a little fearful, but when it was clear that he couldn't instead starting backing away.

Kyr, confident that there was nothing more to worry about, strode towards the pit to see what was in it, but the doors flanking him flung open and a pair of robed zombies wielding silver maces burst forth. Klaus tried to stop them, but another robed zombie exited a third room and leaped onto his back, and before Kyr could turn to face his attackers they crashed into him, sending the three of them into the pit.

Once Kyr collected himself he could see the source of the strange chanting: it looked like a corpulent mass of bodies had been randomly assembled into a more or less humanoid shape. Not a human-like creature assembled from parts of various remains, but something that looked to have been constructed using everything from numerous corpses: it had multiple arms, legs, even faces.

The only thing that looked remotely human was the face of a boy, perhaps in his late teens, nestled in the top-most part of the jumble. It bore a mournful expression, and while the rest of the mouths continued praying it only muttered "Father" over and over again. As it lumbered towards him, Kyr discharged a gust of wind that carried him back out.

The zombies were damaged from the fall, but still clung to Kyr. Luckily by the time he returned Klaus and Rook had already taken care of the zombie on Klaus's back, and together they made short work of the rest. This just left the priest, who was slowly backing towards one of the windows. Still unable to speak—and presumably evoke whatever fell magics were contained within the book—it was a simple matter for Kyr to subdue and restrain him.

Mim, looking quite the worse for wear, had ducked into a room to bandage her wounds. She had just started when a trapdoor she had not noticed burst open: apparently she had just so happened to choose the one room that lead to the basement, and the creature from below was trying to force it's way through.

She tried speaking to it, but its only response was to continue praying and grasp at her with its many arms. Unlike Joffrey she was able to evade most of them, but one of them managed to pluck her wand from her grasp as she escaped, leaving Joffrey to his fate.

Mim frantically scrambled past Klaus to what she hoped was an actually safe room, while he stood his ground and barred it's path. As he savagely hacked away at the monstrosity, Rook lobbed knives at what she believed to be it's main head. Mim had inadvertently torn off a piece of it's rotted flesh during her escape; she affixed it to a poppet, which enabled her to safely and easily hinder it's actions.

Once the creature was thoroughly decimated, the remains of the robed zombies stopped wriggling: apparently it, whatever it was, was the source of the zombie plague.

Behind the Scenes
What I loved most about this session was that Adam stated that he was "relieved" when they finally managed to stop the priest, destroy his son, and end the plague zombie plague. I liked that. It wasn't assumed that they would win, but they did, and I think the best victories are the ones that you earn through smart thinking, buckets of hit-point loss, and even some luck.

There were a looot of misses this session. Like, so much that during the end of session everyone had 9 or more XP. I started out putting the characters in a situation, then forcing the characters to make a hard choice, but as the misses kept rolling in just started dealing damage (or dealing damage plus something extra). This meant that a lot of characters started racking up plague.

The plague mechanic is similar to one that I used in Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes and If These Stones Could Scream: you have a counter of points, and when they equal a stat (in this case Constitution) you die and turn into a zombie. When you make camp, you make a CON roll to see if you lose or gain plague until you either run out or succumb to it.

Poor Joffrey. Kind of. Really the downer for me is that we bought and painted him specifically for this campaign, and I didn't think he'd die. Well, so soon at any rate. Oh well, maybe Mim can change another noble jackass into a, well, you know.

We talked with Adam about changing the living star's radiance mechanic to make it a roll-and-hold (like my wizard), but after tonight it seems to be perfectly fine as-is: Adam never spent more than 3 points at a time, and that was for something he really wanted to succeed at.

The one thing we are going to change is that, instead of being able to use your hands as weapons all the damned time, you will have the option of being able to spend radiance and roll+Radiance spent (which will also be abbreviated as RAD, per Chris S's request :-P). This means we'll be bumping up the plasma volley to an advanced move.

As I said last week, I am compiling conversion notes as I plan and play, which will be released as a free pdf once it's done, maybe a bit beforehand. Here is a sample of the InDesign doc:

Gonna add a Walking Dead compendium class for whoever gets bit and survives the ordeal.

Finally, The Spider is on sale over at Drivethrurpg for an undetermined length of time (after which we'll roll the dice to see what goes on sale next, for how much, and how long).

Image Dump
I really hate these zombies. Wish I would have snagged these, or even paid extra for these.
Next time I'll just break out my D&D pre-paints.
I didn't have anything immediately handy, so used our unpainted Skarn from Descent: Journey in the Dark. Really gotta get him done, as the newest set is on it's way...


  1. Oh! I think I still have this in hardcopy, so, I'm very excited about your conversion!

    1. I do to. It's one of the few 3rd Edition books I kept (another being Sharn: City of Towers). Anything in the conversion you REALLY want to see make it in?


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