Monday, July 9, 2018

Lamentations of the Serpent Kings 1: Them ghouls?

And then it was time to run a new campaign, this being a LotFP adventure using Skerple's excellent "Tomb of the Serpent Kings" as a basis for the campaign's start.

Setting: The world is dominated by the ever present and indomitable Great Cities, and those not living in them soak up the spaces around them, living out an attempted feudalism in a world that is leaving them behind. The campaign centers around a noble family trying to create their own niche by sailing around the Great City of Vornheim and settling in some unexplored lands to the south. The party are adventurers looking for money and will take work in helping to break the land to the will of the 'civilized' races.

Ash, Specialist.  Aron's Brother.
Aron, Specialist. Ash's Brother.
Sir Shoosalaw, a gun-toting Kenku. Apparently some kind of Owl-furry.
Fronk. Forest person(ranger).

Yes, You all meet in a Tavern. 

The party's campaign opened in a tavern. Reverie was cut short by a Kenku wearing an owl's mask walking into the establishment and hooting loudly and aggressively. The specialist siblings decided this was not something worth pursuing and decided to look into the latest contract at the Lord Barlo's castle. A short jaunt to the castle, the players were observed by a man from a secret society...secretly. They didn't find out about it.

Arriving at the castle and handing over their weapons, the party all went in at once and spoke to the Noble's son, Kevan Barlo. Kevan was a chubby man with a reddish beard. He spoke to the party of the problem. Someone was attacking caravans and leaving behind mutilated corpses. Fronk elected to investigate one of the corpses. which had been stored carefully in the family's mausoleum in the back. No relation, was a good place to put bodies for adventurers.

They were taken to the mausoleum by the family's majordomo, who presented them with the corpse. The body was fairly well preserved, being only two days dead, and stored in a colder area. They found the strange bite marks which seemed to have been made by some kind of animal, but not one he'd ever seen. Like a wolf, but the canines were doubled up. Fronk investigated further, and found pieces had been torn from its flesh in random order, and none of them were a killing blow. Stripping the corpse he also discovered a small bullet hole in the man's chest, directly to the heart. Going through the man's belonging, Shoosalaw discovered a piece of chocolate, which, when unwrapped, filled the air with the delicious and nearly irresistible scene of peppermint and chocolate. None of the party knew what chocolate was, and the only thing the majordomo said was that the Barlos forbade those in their employ of partaking in this devilish confection.

Returning to the Lord Barlo, they presented their findings and were rewarded for giving over useful information. With some bartering, the Lord was eventually persuaded to hand over 100 silver pieces each to the group, and told them that double this would be their reward if they could find the bandits and creatures doing this and put a stop to it.

Let's Go Shopping!

Directed to the local General Store, the party was introduced to Hank, a black-bearded, friendly and greedy shopkeeper. The party used their ill-gotten silver to buy and trade for more supplies, things such as friendly animals, more torch fuels, rope, shovels, etc were purchased. Hank was friendly man, who offered no angry judgement or such to the Kenku hopping around his store. All colors and creeds are welcome at Hank-Co! He also attempted to peddle Lucia De Castillo's chocolate to them like a pusher and dropped some hints for them. If you want to use Blood in the Chocolate, it's best you start dropping hints as soon as possible. Hopefully the party makes the journey(both perilous and strange!) to the factory at some point. 

Pushing off the store owner's attempts to get them hooked on the sweet stuff, the party stepped out and headed for the gates of town, but ran into a group of adventurers in the midst of carousing. They were invited to join, but declined.

With this, the party headed into the wilderness. There was very little in the way of monstrous encounters and they arrived at the attack site where the most recent body was found, and...proceeded to do very badly at searching. Eventually, some kind of cosmic master took pity on them and directed them to a path- Fronk suddenly passed a bushcraft roll and thank god they discovered covered tracks. Following these covers with a series of quality bushcraft rolls, they followed a forested trail that goes alongside the caravan route to Dunnsmouth. The party managed to find some buried weapons here: high quality flintlocks, shot, and powder, carefully stored and easily recoverable should anyone need it. For why?

But then, them ghouls.

The party was ambushed by a trio of white skinned, crawling, almost naked but save for pants man crawling at them awkwardly on hands and good, shrieking and howling and clawing. What could the party do to stop THIS? The answer: shoot them. Shoosalaw pulled out his gun and fired a blast aimed at the man, but the shot went wide. Not willing to be outdone, Fronk decided to open fire as well, and his bow struck a ghoul in the shoulder. Being a real and actual undead, blood began to gush from the wound and the creature collapsed, screaming loudly, causing the other two ghouls to retreat.

Wait a fucking second.

Undead that...bleed? Ghouls may run away, as lore indicates they're crafty....but bleeding? Shoosalaw reloaded his gun and got a shot off into the kneecap of another, hobbling him. The only remaining uninjured ghoul dashed away, pulled a horse for him and the shoulder-injured guy out of a small hidden area where they'd been stashed, and they rode off, bullets and quarrels and arrows following them.

Now it was time to interrogate this ghoul. Oops, the ghoul tried to sleight-of-hand shoot Shooasalaw, so there's a bunch of broken fingers, and a confiscated gun. The 'ghoul' was unhelpful, spitting false teeth at them and revealing makeup making his skin whiter. It seems that the bandits had a simple con: pretend to be undead monsters and startle villagers. Kill them, make it look like the bodies were partially eaten, and then abscond with the booty. He was rather unhelpful, and so was dragged back to Castle Barlo for the chance to spit in Kevan Barlo's face and then be promptly hung from his neck until he died.

The Lord thanked them for their deeds, and gave them a place to stay, with food and lodging for the night.

During the night, a member of the Lord's guard sneaked in and stole Shoosalaw's mint chocolate, consuming it whole, before crawling out.

Shoosalaw woke up at 6 am and, discovering that his shit was stolen, woke up the rest of the party screaming and squawking loudly, flapping aggressively. Sadly, there was nothing to be done, and an apology was offered by the Lord, who promised him he would hang whoever stole it, as his position on Lucia De Castillo's poison is very clear..

Follow that blood trail!

Following the trail left by the fleeing ghouls, the party advanced with a bloodhound they purchased from Hank-Co. They were led directly north into an abandoned stone city, one with missing roofs. Nothing could be scavenged, and their looting caused them to be noticed by the bandits making camp there.
The DM had a non-violent encounter planned, was hoping to drop some plot hooks when Fronk said "nah" and simply shot his bow at the leader, who drew his rapier and charged, while his two henchmen pulled out pistols and began to fire. Shoosalaw found he couldn't hit the broadside of a barn, but Ash was more than capable of leaping from his hiding place(him being the only one who succeeded in his stealth check) and garroting the leader, who promptly failed his paralyze save. Aaron managed to fell one of the henchmen with a crossbow, and then began to strangle the other, while Fronk attempted to stab the leader while he was paralyzed. He...snapped his sword in half instead, and spent the next two turns trying to pluck the leader's rapier from his hand, eventually succeeding.

Bandit leader managed to finally pull himself free, drew a pistol and aimed it at Ash. Then he rolled a 2 and missed embarassingly, before getting a quick poke to the heart from Fronk.

Shoosalaw, finally reloading his pistol, scurried over to the other guard while he was struggling with Ash's garroting and blew the top of his skull off.  The party high-fived themselves about this, crowing loudly about how this "hardcore DnD" wasn't so hard at all!

The bandit's camp was based around the entrance to a building, and the party took to looking for their loot pile, disappointingly only finding things like wine bottles(worth 100 silver each) and a draft of...well, basically Baileys but with Lucia De Castillo's effects on it. There was also a gunpowder barrel, but with that all looked over and dealt with, the party took a long breather and then entered this building they were using.

And with that, the party entered the Tomb of the Serpent Kings.

The first four rooms were quick - they had been warned there were tricks and traps by the DM, and so one of them used his pole to smash the four different snake statues and loot everything. The door...they were very, very careful adventurers, sadly. They managed to scan the door and discover the trap, and, despite knowing how it would trigger, they put and serious effort into devising a way to break the hammer.

Trap destroyed, doors open, they sent their only dog into it. Who died in the dark very quickly. They heard the rattle of approaching footsteps, and Ash set himself out to block the door with his body. For some reason the thief with 6 hp thought that was a swell idea. Not that Ranger with 8. Nope.

The skeletons entered the torchlight, moving rapidly and clawing at the adventurers. A single slash to the chest made Ash realize he wanted to live, and fuck this. The others were already sprinting down the hallway screaming at the top of their lungs.

Retreating carefully, Ash drew his blade and blocked the entrance of the building, while Aron dumped lantern oil underfoot where the skeletons would have to run. They set the corridor on fire, as three skeletons came charging at them, being burnt to little effectiveness as they crossed the barrier.

Fronk took a stance to block them and took two hits, losing 7 hp in total. He began to reconsider while Aron picked up the gunpowder barrel, heaved it at the bony bastards and shot it with his gun, causing the skeletons to explode into chunks of charred and shattered bone. Fronk survived, making a run for it when he saw what Aron was doing.

The party sat around the bandit's abandoned campfire by the entrance to the Tomb eating Shoosalaw's cheese wheel in stunned silence.
Fronk said that in all his years of adventuring, skeletons had never been scary before.

end of session 1.

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