Princes of the Apocalypse, session 3

Red Larch. The Dessamber Valley. 13th Mirtul, 1491 DR.

Following the disastrous expedition against the Lord of Lance Rock, the remaining adventurers sent messages back to Waterdeep through their faction contacts, asking for aid. It was a few days coming, but five new adventurers presented themselves in Red Larch: some sent by the Zhentarim, others coming to find out what the Zhentarim were doing in Red Larch in such numbers!

With such reinforcements, it was not long before the new group headed to Lance Rock to confront the necromancer one final time. All had, by now, heard rumours of the necromancer’s undead beginning to range out from Lance Rock, attacking travellers and increasing his store of corpses to work upon. The signs that the last group had destroyed had been replaced, and new undead protected the necromancer’s caverns.

The adventurers were properly nervous as they entered the caves, but no undead lurked in the “ambush” cavern – instead a tripwire attached to some bells was strung across the entrance. The adventurers carefully removed it, and progressed inwards. They first made their way to the “stock” room, where the necromancer had kept his corpses. As expected, there were more corpses there now – travellers ambushed by the necromancer’s minions – and four skeletons stood guard. Unfortunately, skeletons were not fast enough nor strong enough to stop this group, especially as the cleric was burning them to ash with her sacred flame spell, and the fighters were smashing the skeletons’ bones with great swings of their hammers.

Krovis, now a paladin of Kelemvor, blessed the bodies of the corpses and sent them to ash.

The group then returned to the entrance chamber and proceeded down the other passage. The “entertainment” room had been restocked – four zombies were there, including a recognisable dwarf in a bear suit: Thumbalina!

The zombies, unaware of the party’s advance, were easily subdued. It may have been a different story if the warning bells hadn’t been discovered, but now the question was what to do with the corpses. Krovis was in favour of destroying all the corpses, but Jandar talked him out of it, explaining that their contacts would likely be able to raise the mountain dwarf.

With that, the group progressed to the necromancer’s chambers. With numbers on their side – seven of them – they still faced a difficult challenge, with the necromancer standing far, far away from the group, guarded by his skeletons. Krovis charged into the chamber, as the rest of the party made their way more cautiously, taking advantage of what cover there was. Krovis was struck several times by arrows fired by the skeletons – four times, the last a critical hit. Somehow he maintained his feet throughout, although he had to take a moment to catch his second wind before engaging the skeletons proper.

It could have gone worse for the party, but the Lord of Lance Rock had – in the end – been caught off guard by the ferocity of the adventurers’ attack. Missile after missile pierced his flesh, and bolts of force struck him from afar. He had time for only one spell before he was struck down, and that spell proved not as effective as he wished. Krovis went down, but by this stage his companions were able to destroy the skeletons quickly and revive the paladin; he’d given them enough time to win the battle.

The adventurers progressed on to the necromancer’s bedchamber, in which they found a strange pedestal made of body parts, holding a glowing globe in which a strange rune resembling an eye drifted. The rune disappeared as they touched the globe, but none of the adventurers were aware of what the rune meant. A wand of magic missiles was retrieved from its storage place, as well as a number of coins, before the adventurers were sure that they’d discovered all the secrets of Lance Rock. The necromancer’s body burnt to ashes, they returned to Red Larch to great acclaim.

The Players and their Characters

  • Michael is playing Krovis Thorn, a LE human fighter 1/paladin 2 working for the Lord’s Alliance.
  • Josh is playing Grigori, a CN human fighter working for the Zhentarim.
  • Danielle is playing DDG, a rock gnome cleric working for the Emerald Enclave. (The character doesn’t like the name her parents gave her, so is referred to by her initials).
  • Dean is playing Zed Lepplin, a human warlock.
  • Callan is playing Jakesy Flagons, a halfling rogue.
  • Shane is playing Monkey, an air genasi monk.
  • Harry is playing Francis Copeland, a human fighter.

DM Notes

Neither Mikey nor Noah joined us again, and Josh was away on camp, so I was contemplating the problems associated with running the session with only three characters, before learning that Callan’s table was also hit by cancellations (work, illness and car trouble). The solution was easy: I merged the tables for this session. Next session we will likely split again; I doubt we’ll be missing so many players again! We also had one new player joining us for the first time: Dean. I’m not sure which table he’ll play on long-term; it rather depends whether my table or Callan’s needs more players!

There are a number of details in this report that I worked out when writing it rather than explaining them in-session. One example of that is the number of days that passed between the events of the last session and this one. Writing these reports is quite good for working out the passage of time – it also helps me to remember the events more clearly. There is a lot of banter and discussion that doesn’t make it into these reports, unfortunately.

Dean chose to go to the shrine in town before leaving a give an offering to the gods. I rewarded this with inspiration, one of the uses of the mechanic I may repeat in later sessions. I will likely consider how significant the offering is to the character. A 1 gold piece offering is significant to a first level character, but not to a tenth level character. There has to be some element of sacrifice involved!

You may note that Michael has suddenly jumped to third level. Where have all the XP come from? Well, they’ve come from adventuring in the D&D Expeditions adventures! I’m not particularly a fan of jumping characters from one campaign to another, but I’m rationalising it by saying they were adventures he had before coming to Red Larch. Interestingly, he’s also now taken levels in paladin. His choice of Kelemvor as his god was made during the session (he had some other god chosen at first) as he realised how much he liked the deity and its interaction with the undead. Michael was also the one who last session made the mistake of telling the necromancer they were sent by Kelemvor… it seems he was correct!

Michael was all for destroying Thumbalina’s corpse, which would have distressed Danielle. (She intends to go back to running Thumbalina next session). This is one of those times when I make sure I step in as DM to ensure the players’ actions don’t cause problems. Michael agreed to let Thumbalina survive, and so we have the mountain dwarf back next session. Josh made a choice to leave his PC dead, so he’ll have a new character next session, although I don’t know what it will be!

This was also a good example of what a DM needs to do to make the setting react to the actions of the players. It didn’t really make sense that the necromancer’s caves would be exactly the same the next time the party went back, so I added in replacement undead, put in a new trap, and added in reports of the undead attacking travellers.

With the destruction of the necromancer, that ends Episode 1 of the adventure. There will be a new event at the beginning of the next session which will start Episode 2. I hope it also means more role-playing in town, something that we didn’t do that much this session primarily due to the process of introducing new characters.

One comment

  1. Callan

    I had skeletons do a death dive, sword first from above in the zombies with rocks room the second time the players went there and I was running. Can’t remember if the skeletons got surprise – I may have had a perception check to determine that. And they took fall damage doing it, but it was pretty cool and made the encounter fast and punchy!

    Liked by 1 person

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