Monday, May 28, 2007

Shadows of the Black Feather Part III: Zombie Smackdown

Three day weekends are great weekends for gaming.

So in our third session of Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, Garsome the ex-retired Dwarf Mercenary, Milo the Halfling Rogue, Cedric the Human Cleric, and Ashlyn the Human Paladin decided to travel up to the village church to see what had become of the village priest, and to investigate the rumored source of the necromantic infection. They were in for some surprises.

First they chopped thier way through some ghasts and zombies hanging around in the streets on their way with little difficulty. Garsim had one noteworthy moment where he Great Cleaved two ghasts and a zombie in one swing. Milo also got to try out his alchemical flare stake on a zombie and burnt it to a cinder.

Then they approached the church, which was clearly decrepit and had recently been defiled. They waltzed in guns a-blazin, sure in the power of whatever it is they believe in (deus ex machina?).

The Evil Priest surprised them as they entered with a hearty blend of mass inflict moderate wounds scrolls empowered by an earlier casting of unhallow. The PCs were not pleased. To their credit I got no whining about the lack of rolling for initiative before springing that on them (the adventure actually calls for a surprise Circle of Death casting, but that's just sloppy playtesting).

The priest won initiative, and the first order of business was to cast dispel magic on the pesky dwarf. Cedric likes to cast magic circle of protection on Garsome's beard, and that just isn't compatible with my preferences to make Garsome roll Will saves vs. domination, so that had to go. The protection spell was dispelled as well as all his magic items became dormant (except his ring of protection) for 1d4 rounds, which was nice for me.

A lack of magical arms and armor didn't phase Garsome though, and he still charged the priest as zombies and deathlocks (undead wizards) burst through the neighboring doors to surround the non-dwarf members of the party. Cedric re-cast magic circle of protection vs. evil while turning undead and the evil priest cast protection from good and later summon giant crocodile! Garsome eventually finished the priest off with his Dagger of Venom, which was the first weapon to regain its magical charge, and the priest fell through the hole in the center of the church, into the darkness below.

The players knew that the priest was wearing some good stuff (he was a high level NPC after all), so they healed up with Cedric's wand of cure light wounds and trudged down the steps to the basement to ransack the place, where they found the priest's son made into a huge franken-monster waiting for them along with some reanimated ex-companions of NPC paladin Ashlyn Lightbringer.

The PCs took it in stride and attacked the monster like the stalwart heroes they are, until they found out that one bite from the Blaspheme resulted in a psychic shock to the PC making him lose his next turn (no save!) if he was anything but evil, as well as a souped-up version of Necromantic Zombie Fever which even Garsome failed his save against!

Cedric made ample use of his Bolstered Quickened Maximized Turn ability and Milo rolled around and jammed exploding wooden stakes into every undead he could get to. The brave little guy even took a bite from the superbeast for the team, ringing a little bell he found to get its attention.

Between Ashlyn's 'Smite Evil' and Garsome's 'Smite Everything' the creature was eventually felled, and the magical plague that was animating the corpses around Barovia was eradicated. The PCs buried the ex-companions of Ashlyn and bid her farewell, and if they needed her help in the future they could find her at the Blood o' the Vine Tavern (backup PC).

For their trouble, the 3 PCs eventually hauled off 1416 gold each, a suit of magical full plate, a magical shield, a magical silver greatsword, an evil-looking tome about creating undead, a good-looking journal about fighting undead, a few scrolls, a few potions, and a hefty "thanks" from the villagers.

Now that the zombie plague is taken care of, maybe they can actually get to investigating the witches that are described in the letter they got from the dark and mysterious gypsy three sessions ago.

Cheesy video for the players: