Friday, May 25, 2007

Shadows of the Black Feather part II: Village of the Damned!

My players logged onto the server on Thursday and they continued their trek through the zombie-infested village of Barovia, on their quest to right wrongs and left rights.

The human following them around finally broke out of his teleportation mishap-inflicted amnesia and introduced himself as Father Cedric Finalrest, cleric of Kelemvor and general enemy to undead-types. He asked if he could join the party. With that introduction the role-playing gods nodded their satisfaction and two became three, as Cedric joined Garsome and Milo.

The trio marched their way down the streets of Barovia and came across a dead body being devoured by giant maggots. The cleric with his fancy detect evil ability could sense the zombie ambush waiting to happen from the doorways on either side of the house, and prepared accordingly. Two flying evil heads flew out of one of the windows but were immediately put down by a couple of throwing axes launched from Garsome. Then the zombies did their B-movie pop-out attack and between Garsome's Great Cleave and Cedric's Holification rituals they were put down pretty quickly. Milo managed to help the group by taking most of the hits and getting hurt pretty bad. But like a good rogue he was the first to loot the dead body.

They searched the body and found some papers detailing that the man was named Viktor Litmunova, and strangely he hadn't succumbed to infection. Well, they didn't really comment on this fact between healing themselves and looking for gold, but at least the cleric said some "Hail Mary's" for the guy after he did his battery-of-healing party restore. I swear Devin's on autopilot with the healing and protection spells, he throws them out so fast. I think I could hear him hitting "Alt-Q" every thirty seconds.

Continuing on, they barely got a sentence of descriptive boxed text after that battle before they "Heard the sounds of battle coming from the center of town!" They rushed to the town square and stumbled into a mass zombie rave. Barricades had been set up in the center of town but one of them was busted and the zombies poured in to get at the besieged villagers. A lone paladin was fighting off the zombies but was hard-pressed. One of the zombie-creatures was actually an Entomber, and could magically bury people alive, which it subsequently did to the paladin. So the party rushed in and Garsome's axe went a-swingin. Cedric flew over the crowd of zombies and started doing his turning-undead pulse attack, while at the same time casting protective spells on the land-based dwarf. Milo drank a potion of barkskin and sincerely wished we could stop fighting sneak attack-resistant zombies all the goddamn time.

When Garsome reached the Entomber he was not nimble enough to avoid being swallowed up by the earth, and Garsome was buried alive! Cedric flew down to melee range to give the Entomber a taste of some seriously channeled positive energy, but failed his cast defensively roll and the Entomber grabbed him by the ankle and overhead slammed the cleric into the ground, which sucked him under. Upon seeing his two kick-ass companions put into early graves, Milo, who was engaged with some very determined zombies, decided to "lead the zombies away" and took off running from the battle and off the map.

Holding his breath, Cedric tried to turn undead from underground but failed his concentration checks, while Garsome slowly clawed his way upward and back toward air. The zombies gathered around the sound of digging and as soon as his head popped up they all whack-a-moled the stout dwarf. Cedric, for his part, decided that being buried alive was for the birds and called upon his granted power from the Traveller domain, and the loose earth above him gave way as easily as if it were air and Cedric flew out of the grave to bathe the zombies in the 8 levels of glorious awesome that is the holy god Kelemvor. Six zombies immediately burst into flame at the sight of the quasi-resurrected cleric and Garsome took out the remaining zombie as well as the troublesome Entomber with some well-placed axe strikes.

After digging out the paladin, they learned her name was Ashlyn Lightbringer and she and her companions had arrived in the village just three days ago during the zombie infestation. Her companions went to the defiled church to find the source of the necromantic infection but never returned, and Ashlyn implored the adventurers to help her find them. This is where the DM misinterpreted the probable immediate goals of the party. I figured that they'd want to rest and memorize spells, as well as buy and sell some items at the shop as they had finally reached the center of town which was a respite from constant zombie attack, and up till now it just had been nonstop combat. So I prepared for a lot of role-playing and price haggling for such an event, as well as alchemical item preparation, rumor-dropping opportunities, and innkeeper surliness, thinking the players would want to actually prepare for another foray through the zombified village.

Instead, Garsome the dwarf, even though he had gotten pretty beat up in the last battle, was fully ready to go to the church and rescue her companions, immediately. And Cedric had no problem wrapping up any loose ends with his cleric buffing and healing spells. So I had to play her both ways, where she wanted to them to help her, but to wait until morning. Here's how the conversation basically went:

Ashlyn: I implore you good adventurers, my companions have not returned for three days from whence they ventured to the church, and I would have them saved! Will you join me in my quest to the church upon the morn?

Garsome: Sure, let's go lady!

Ashyln: Uh, don't you want to look around the town square first? I mean, we should rest and pray to good Lathander for our spells, and there surely are merchants here who would trade their magic wares with you. I can introduce you to...

Garsome: But you said they were in trouble! We should head out right now.

Ashlyn: 'Tis true, good dwarf, they are in trouble, but we cannot help them if we are wounded and die en route! The church is on the other side of town and we may encounter many perils! Plus the villagers will need us here until the sun rises in case of another zombie onslaught during the night!

Cedric: No prob, we're not wounded. I cast three cure moderates on the dwarf, cured Milo's disease and channeled some hp to him, cast consecrate on the town square, plus our 10' magic circles of protection vs. evil still have 768 rounds left on them. I can cast hold portal on the building's doors to protect the villagers while we're gone. Oh yeah, and you get, *rolls,* 18 hit points healed. Let's go!

Ashlyn: you not wish to see Bildrath's wares over at the Mercantile? He may have items that can help us in our quest...

Garsome: I just need this axe and a head to chop it into.

Ashlyn: ...

Garsome: I'm a fighter.

Fortunately they eventually got the hint (railroad) and resigned themselves to interacting with the NPCs. They bought some undead-hunting equipment, learned about a magic sword and magic holy pendant that are lost somewhere around here, questioned the burgomaster's son, found out about a gypsy encampment where some lady will read your fortune, and generally humored me until morning. Delp (Milo) had to go to work early the next day and he lives 3 hours into the future on the east coast so we wrapped up the game for the night.

UPDATE: While I was writing this post, Brando sent me a hilarious email on the same subject with his interpretation of the conversation:
Holy Avenger Lady: I fear my friends are in dire need of help.

Garsome: Well, then let's go get them right now.

Holy Avenger Lady: But there is a shop we must go to first, the situation is very dire.

Garsome: OK, after we go to the shop we can just head to the church and check it out. Like pronto.

Holy Avenger: Mayhap we aught to rest a spell at the Inn.

Garsome: C'MON! It's not complicated. The undead are over there. We're undead slayers. It's a match made in heaven. Just freaking point the way!"

Holy Avenger: But there is some lady that lives out of town that must be consulted.

Garsome: Christ! Look. I don't really care where we go at this point. Just as long as it isn't standing in the middle of the road where the ground is going to swallow me up again. You wanna go talk to the country lady? Fine with me. You wanna go to the church and kill heckavuas. Also just fine. If you want to go to the shop and buy ghost water, it's all gravy to me. But stop listing things that we have to do, and then immediately say that you don't want to do it.

Holy Avenger: The Burgermeister's daughter has had a very rough time recently.

Garsome: ..........

Holy Avenger: But we can't go there first. That just wouldn't be proper.