Seven gamers met with DM Don at the Reaper Game Store on 8-20 to see if we could — finally — figure out what was in the tower at the center of the keep:
Shawn — Playing Maculate, a warlock of uncertain elven-appearing origin (he’s actually a renegade Drow.)
Robert — Playing Anima, a dragonborn fighter
James — Playing Aevay, a dragonborn rogue (of the Arcane Trickster variety)
Matt — Playing Deegan, a human monk
Jon — Playing Thorin, a dwarf cleric
Derek — Playing Ginsu, a human rogue
And your trusty reporter, Andy, with two characters:
Thandiina, a human fighter
Varanus, a lizard man cleric
The group had after a great deal of effort and trouble managed to arrive at and clear one room at the bottom of the tower that formed the center of the undead-infested keep. Time to rest up and lick our wounds from the previous spate of encounters…..
Or, rather, not. Each character separately begin having visions of blood and destruction, auditory hallucinations of screaming and pain, and a general malaise. Although the group attempted to rest, it proved impossible. Therefore, banged up and battered, the group determined to press on — perhaps if they could clear out the upper levels of the tower it would lead to a place where rest could be had.
[In conversation later we learned that this was an unexpected decision; we could have attempted to retreat back to the basement where we came in and attempt to rest there.]
With the stealthiest characters (Aevay and Deegan) leading the way the group began cautiously ascending the spiral staircase (having found nothing particularly useful on the ground floor). Unfortunately, due to most of the characters being unable to see in utter darkness, the party had lights as they ascended. As the group arrived at the second floor Aevay failed an opportunity to dodge a bolt from a ballista that pinned her to the wall, taking her out. Deegan was able to dodge the bolt that came for him.
It turned out there were four ballistae in the chamber being operated by skeletons; as a consequence there were still two that hadn’t been fired yet. Having seen the tactical situation the group wanted to disable the remaining ballistae before they could fire; Anima attempting to use a Mage Hand to cut the cables on one of the ballistae while Varanus attempted to use a Sacred Flame to stop the skeleton preparing to fire the other. Meanwhile the skeletons that had already fired advanced to engage Thandiina, Deegan, and Ginsu. Thorin was meanwhile attempting to restore Aevay to the fight.
Unfortunately, the attempts to disable the unfired ballistae failed utterly, and both fired immediately, inflicting some damage on several characters, though nothing like what had happened to Aevay previously. In the meantime, Ginsu made an acrobatic maneuver past the skeletons and ballistae and began attacking the enemy from the rear. The skeletons were succumbing gradually to the party despite its wounds.
Although it looked as though this fight would end up in the group’s favor, it was not to be, because the skeletons got additional undead reinforcements flying up the stairwell, attacking the rear guard (Maculate and Aevay primarily) and inflicting large amounts of necrotic damage before escaping either back down the stairwell or into the wall. The rear guard was having a lot of difficulty hitting these creatures, so having managed to start the ballistae aflame the party determined they should retreat.
Down the stairs with Thandiina and Varanus holding the rear fled our bold heroes, but Maculate was hit so many times with necrotic damage that couldn’t be healed that he was slain outright. However, the surviving members of the party made sure to keep his body with them. Varanus hypothesized that perhaps the creatures were bound to the stairwell, so the group ran out of the keep entirely.
As it turned out, Varanus was completely wrong, but the group’s actions had a serendipitously good result. Although the etherial undead beings were pursuing the party outside the tower entirely, from the other direction there appeared……the dwarf golem. It was somewhat battered, and appeared to have been in a fight with a large number of skeletons, but it was still effective. The spirits came after the golem, whereupon the party members who were still effective hit them in the flanks. (In the interim Anima was barely persuaded from looting Maculate’s body.) With the help of the golem (who was seriously battered) the three spirits were finally dispatched, whereupon the golem, channeled the power of Morden via Thorin into Maculate, and he was raised.
By now the battered group was able to flee back to the dwarf village where they hope to get a badly needed rest.