In this adventure, the party play out the the undead siege of Courtbridge led by Zane Bloodstrike, with climatic results.
Playing in this episode were:
-Mike (me), the evil dungeon master of the world Lorr
-John, playing Lord Farfal Kerreh, a chaotic good human cleric of Pelor
-Kyle, playing Kai Relin, a neutral human ranger
-Alistair, playing Sir Stelian Soul-eater, a neutral Vryloka Warlock Binder/Vampire Stalker
Chapter 1: First assault
Following from last time, there was an impending threat of an undead siege which the party had helped to prepare the defenses against, and were now prepared to defend against the undead on the front line. Attached to a 6 man squad, two particular people they got to know were Sgt.Baed, a hardhitting soldier used to fighting the undead, and Daglos Shield, a recently married and freshfaced recruit. The sky was now increasingly darkening, and the thickness of the white mist increased. It was on the 9th night of the declaration of war that the heroes heard the scrabbling of claws on hard stone, and to their horror a first wave of ravenous ghouls had climbed the west wall. The party and the squad fought off the group heroically with minimal casualties. It was then the mist disappeared, and revealed a large army of undead, with siege ladders, catapults and a huge bone tower, and they assaulted the west wall. The party were told by a messenger that they had to hold them off while the Courtbridge army dealt with undead resistance at the other gates. With that, the group prepared themselves for difficult encounters…
Chapter 2: Defense of the West-gate
The undead struck in waves, some of the monsters the party had to fight included frost zombies, wights and their hated tomb guardians, as well as a number of zombies and skeleton minions which acted as support and a nuisance. In addition, every turn a potential siege event could happen which could badly effect the party, including things like arrow storms, flame catapults and undead surges. The party dealt with them largely well, but the squad lost 2/3 of its men, only Daglos and Baed being left. It was then that the huge Boneskull siege tower crashed unto the wall, and began to spit out undead as well as slowly breaking the West-gate in with a swinging siege hammer made of bone built into the tower. As the party attacked it, they realized that it took damage and was effectively an undead creature. A successful arcana check then revealed that a magical force must of been sustaining it, and was separate from the rest of the energy that was keeping the undead army animated, so the party attributed it to Malidon Skull-Drain, the final necromancer of the cult. With this in mind, the party hacked away at the tower in one of the most tensest battles in the campaign, but finally managed to destroy it-one hit away before the gate collapsed. With that, waves of Courtbridge soldiers swarmed up the wall and took over from the heroes, and the heroes then returned to High Lord Alain to rest and prepare for their next task. While taking their daily rest, Sir Stelian Soul-eater embraced his true dark inner self, and changed from being a devoted warlock to a vampiric monster, largely due to the power he saw in Zane’s attacks from Valdevich many weeks ago.
Chapter 3: Zane’s reappearance
However, just as the party were convening with Alain, Zane landed down on his skelental bat (known as Vyshree) and doomed the party and the High Lord to death. The fight started and was highly intense, Zane not only substantially stronger than last time, but also the party wanted revenge for being beaten in the mansion in the Valdevich adventure. Zane, despite still being highly tough and causing masses of damage, finally had enough with toying with the heroes, and after they managed to kill Vyshree actually showed anger towards them, threatening to kill their Supreme High Lord if nothing else ! With that, he became mist and then floated towards Lordsbreach. Stelian also turned into mist now being a vampire and followed him, while Farfal and Kai left Alain to deal with defending the capital while they also pursued Zane but through the sewers.
Chapter 4: Zane’s revenge
However, the sewers had a surprise in store as Kai and Farfal run into none other than High Lord Zarkovich, who was trying to flee the capital. The two bullied and intimidated the traitor into coming with them, so he could be held responsible for his actions. Meanwhile, by the time Stelian reached Lordsbreach it was a terrible sight indeed. Most of the Supreme High Lord’s Royal Guard were dead, Drogen Steelblade himself having been decapitated. Zane was now locked on combat with the Supreme High Lord himself, who was still a worthy combatant be it aged and mortally wounded, but he was ultimately killed, a single flaming broadsword strike across the chest blazing him and throwing him into the pool. Then, using the power of an blood-red amulet, Zane summoned black balls of shadow energy and attacked Stelian. It was here where both Kai and Farfal arrived, and they too joined the fight, although not before they checked to see if the Supreme High Lord could be saved, which he could not be due to the effect of the poison, but then did warn them to look for his Codex in his quarters in order to find Zaggaroth’s phylactery before expiring, the next key step of defeating the Lich.
Zane now had more powers from the amulet, and with some successful checks the party realized that it was tied to both Zane’s life force and the undead army, and without destroying it he would be unbeatable. As such, the party aimed to destroy this amulet, and Zane showed physical anger and intense pain with each hit, and realized that it was time to flee. Just as he was to teleport away however, Farfal managed to grab unto him and as such was able to teleport with him. Zarkovich had accidentally been thrown into shadowfell ball, and infused with such energy began ran into the city screaming about his unbridled power. Kai and Stelian, praying that Farfal could end Zane and this siege, decided their efforts would now be best used to reinforce the Courtbridge army and perhaps try to find Zarkovich.
Chapter 5: Zane’s ruin
Farfal teleported to a place known as Blackfire mountain, which overlooked Courtbridge, and found Zane firing up one of the eldritich machines that the party had found in Valdevich. He explained that these could be used to rip open holes to the Shadowfell plane, in which undead and shadow energy would spill out from them, and thus would give the armies of undead the advantage. Regardless of this, Farfal was able to destroy the amulet, Zane finally dying and rather satisfyingly melting into a pool of bloodied goo, before passing a skill challenge to disable the machine. Due to the sheer power of the amulet, the undead army besieging Courtbridge also collapsed, and it marked the end of the attack. Farfal returned with the heroes, and the day was won ! However, it was not exactly the celebration the heroes expected, as the Supreme High Lord, the beloved if mysterious leader of Lorr, was dead, and as such a great funeral parade was organised among the people and guards of the capital. In addition, the city had suffered damage which may take years to recover, a great loss of life of both civilians and armed forces and finally it was clear that despite the victory, the undead threat was not over, but rather had just begun.
Chapter 6: Ah, so THATS who the torturer is !
Realizing this too, the party now has to act quickly and destroy Zaggaroth’s phylactery in order to stop him returning so that the final assault on the Black Pyramid really counted. As such, they found in the Supreme High Lord’s quarters a key that opens a vault which leads to the Codex itself, which in itself contains the location. The location of the vault was unknown, and as such Farfal suggested going to the library to find some potential clues. Farfal decided he would go there alone while Kai and Stelian went to the now reopened markets to buy items, and the party split there ways. When Farfal arrived there, he found a suspicious looking book which could give a possible clue to where the vault is. Suddenly, a half-elf sat adjacent from Farfal, and explained in an Australian accent that his name was Cryce Larker-The Torturer ! He told Farfal that he had been hired by Zaggaroth, and the deal was simple; give the Black Pyramid stone over and he could live, don’t hand it over and it would be taken from his corpse. When Farfal laughed at his attempts to threaten him, Cryce rebutted by showing him a bomb under the table they were sat at which would soon go off, leveling the whole building, and also that his entire family (Kayla, Layla and Daniel) were here to for whatever reason. As such, the threat suddenly became no longer a laughing matter…
And that’s where this episode ends ! With not many episodes left to go before the campaign finally ends, be prepared for story arcs to be tied up and characters to die in the next final episodes, as the story reaches it’s climax ! As you can tell, it sounds like it’s gonna get pretty damn awesome, so stay tuned !
Until then, Happy Gaming !