Saturday, June 9, 2012

SESSION VII - The Fires of Monstcrom

In which Monstcrom's striated scowl is turned into a grimace by the sounds of battle, Nel performs heroic feats of acrobatics and the thoughtful tactics of the living provide a flaming apocalypse for the dead.

Roman Oil Flask
SESSION VII

Grimgrim – Fighting priest of the fierce God of Dooms, Monstcrom! (M) Cleric 1

Lemon Jackson – A magician sans pantalons with strange yellow eyes and who tattoos himself with spells. (M) Magic User 1

Huxley McTeeth (Hux) – A gaucho with a past, clad in plains' finery, possessed with in strength disproportionate to his years and small frame. (M) F1

“Eyestabs” Nell – A scary woman armed with many poison hat pins and a dead dwarf's crossbow (F) A1

Drusilla – Eleven lass of surpassing beauty(for a creepy eyed, fanged, and slit-nosed monster), disturbingly unpleasant affect and taste for human babies - armed with pole arm and scimitar (F) Elf 1

The PC's awake with the dawn, and after a spell memorization, sortie out of the shrine to discover a graveyard once again cloaked in mist. Grimgrim explains his promise to Jackal-Mask and the party agrees to go after the cultists rather than the fleas.


The party is slightly disturbed by the pile of torn rags, bloody gibbets and splintered bones they discover where they left the cultists' bodies, but it's not unexpected.

As they are discussing the party notices a group of human figures warily walking towards them. The adventurers retreat up the steps of the shrine when it becomes clear that whoever is approaching has spotted them. The group is made up of two scalemail clad hooded men, three hulking zombie guards and three skeletal robed figures that move jerkily. The party waits until the line of zombies stops at the bottom of the steps and just as one of the cultists raises a had as if to parley, Grimgrim shouts “Dammed unclean filth, shrivel in the light of Monstcrom!” brandishing his holy symbol and preparing to leap down the stairs.

Monstcrom's power is strong and the zombies turn to flee, followed by the robed figures. The two men turn as well, but the rest of the party viciously attacks them with missile weapons.

Nell flings a poisoned hat pin at one of the fleeing cultists, catches him in the side of the face - he collapses frothing and twitching as the scorpman poison bursts his heart. Huxley's hand axe slams into the other fleeing man and Drusilla puts another axe arrow into his still form. All is not in the parties favor however, as Lemon's thrown dart flies wildly and harmlessly strikes a fleeing zombie enraging it enough to turn and attack.

The bolt necked Zombie advances while Grimgrim and Hux leap to engage it. It misses a clumsy grab at Grimgrim who smartly smashes one of its elbows with his flail. Hux's thrust ineffectively tears the dead thing's flesh, but Drusilla finishes it with a brutal blow from the second rank.

Grimgrim mentions that a funeral god will reward the party for bringing the dead cultists to some sort of pit, presumably in the graveyard, and the party sets of looking for it.

The adventurers quickly stumbles upon a large pool filled with murky water. They skirt around it afraid of tentacles, or schools of undead piranha (I wish I'd though of that!) and soon afterwards find some kind of excavation going into the ground. While the party is poking around in the pile of busted coffins off to one side, despite Grimgrim's warnings not to dig up graves, a group of eight corpse fleas emerges from the sinkhole and begins chittering in a disturbing manner and clacking their long serrated arm claws together. The party prepares to defend itself and tosses the bodies of the two cultists and their zombie guard towards the fleas and the pit. All three corpses are dragged into the pit and the party quickly retreats afraid that the fleas will turn on them at any moment.

Still filled with a sense of success the party marches boldly through the graveyard toward the large masoleum in the North East, presumably to do Jackal-Mask's bidding and maybe even to recover the locket requested by Dawn the farm temptress. The party's brave/foolhardy plans are set aside when they approach the steps to see no less than twelve neck bolted Furter zombies and at least as many robed skeletons standing out front. The guardian dead also notice the party and one of the skeletons begins to ring a gong. As the massive portals to the sepulcher begin to swing open the party assesses the odds and turns to run. Several skeletons pursue them, but quickly turn back when it becomes apparent that the character's lead is not getting any shorter.

The party returns to their shrine redoubt and ponders a course of action. Lemon and Nell suggest and all out assault on the mausoleum: a bombardment of oil bombs, a flight of missiles and a steady retreat to draw out any enemies who survive. Drusilla suggest further exploration of the graveyard, while Hux is adamant that they not return to the sepulcher's front doors. A scouting expedition is suggested and the party agrees that Nell will attempt to sneak about the sepulcher looking for a backdoor, a way on to the roof or other means of attack while the party watches from a safe distance.

The walls of the sepulcher are slick marble, unpierced by windows and its roof is covered in carved minarets, seemingly of solid marble as well. Nell sneaks around back and the party follows. A group of corpse fleas bounds out of the graveyard and watch the party chittering in a vaguely threatening manner. They fleas don't attack however, and they watch as Nell begins her ascent with 40' of thin rope tied around her shoulders. It would be a tricky climb for anyone, but is eased slightly by columns The final ascent to the roof involves a difficult under-hang, but Nell's almost supernatural strength and dexterity carry her through (Roll under Dex+Str – 25 [+2 for Nell's Class/lvl bonus] and Nell rolls the 5) with seeming ease. Once on the roof Nell ties the rope to two sturdy minarets and the rest of the party clambers up.

While the rest of the party readies 8 oil bombs (they are down to only a few flasks left) and Lemon lights his lantern, Nell creeps forward to peer over the front edge of the sepulcher and as expected the undead guard-force is lined up on the steps, though some may be invisible under overhang. She motions the party forward and they sneak as best as they are able, Grimgrim and Drusilla having thought even to remove their noisy armor. The party makes it to the edge, clambering over and around the slippery marble block carvings (mostly curlicues, skulls and demonic fanged faces) of the roof without rising an alarm. Just as they reach the edge a zombie looks up, its neck bolts flashing, and the players lob their flaming oil bombs almost in unison. Nell, Lemon and Drusilla have the presence of mind to hurl their flasks underhanded behind the under-hang and towards the doors, trying to block the dead from escaping indoors.

The oil bombs slam into the steps, quickly followed by a second flight of three more bottles. The intense heat and reek of burning zombie pushes the party back from the edge, and combined with black smoke makes it hard for them to rain missiles on the flaming undead below. The PC's decide to make their escape and launch an attack on the doors while the undead are still in confusion, and the party clambers back to their rope. They manage to climb down and rush around the corner of the Sepulcher just as the flames are dying down. 11 Flasks of oil over two rounds make quite a mess and the soot blackened doors are surrounded by flaming piles of bone and flesh. Several of the dead are still standing, five zombie, (four of whom are badly burnt) and 3 unburnt skeletons seem to have escaped the oil attack.

Grimgrim raises his holy symbol, but the dead are too angry to be frightened off by Furter's metal-ness. Nell's crossbow is more effective, a heavy bolt striking a skeleton in the chest and destroying the complicated soul-clock that animates it. Drusilla's and Lemon's thrown weapons miss while Grimgrim and Hux rush forward to engage badly roasted zombies.

The cleric and fighter wade into the zombies, and their heavy armor protects them from several serious blows, however they are too busy warding off the attacks of the five zombies to return an attack. Lemon misses with a dart, but Nell kills another skeleton, this time exploding its skull with a bolt and sending it to wander spinning through the graveyard. Drusilla's spear puts down a badly crisped zombie attacking Grimgrim as well.

The front line renews it's attack and Hux cleaves the unwounded zombie in two, while Grimgrim smashes one of his assailants' skull to pieces. Nell's bolt sends down the last skeleton, just as it lines itself up to attack Huxley from the side. The parties only injury comes when Drusilla accidentally jabs Huxley in the back of the calf with her spear, opening a bloody gash.

Despite his injuries, Hux fights on, spitting a zombie's chest with a savage stab and dropping it. The last zombie catches one of Lemon's darts in the back of the hand but despite its burnt state fights on. Huxley's armor brushes off it's attack and another bolt from Nell ends the fight. The door appears to be opening a crack, and the party rushes forward with Nell, Huxley and Drusilla all wrenching it open wide and sending the cultist behind sprawling. The three cultist startle as the party pushes forward, with Huxley's unbandaged leg leaving a bloody trail behind, amongst the burnt and hacked remnants of the cult's animate guard force. Another glance is all it takes for the cultists to scrabble through a door and motion their animated reserve of two skeletons and a zombie forward. The charging zombie catches a dart in the throat and is finished by Grimgrim's flail. A skeleton claws Grimgrim's neck and sends him stumbling back half choked. The Skeleton's are brought down quickly however and the party stops to rest a moment, bandage their wounds and take victory slugs of brandy. They deserve them having just slaughtered 43 HD of undead, with only minor wounds.

Renewed and euphoric from their victory, the party looks around. They are inside the sepulcher, and room is the same slick greenish white marble as the outside walls, brightly lit by sunlight streaming in from the open doors as well as from the surly glow of four brazers in the corners. A cloying herbal incense scent seems to lay behind the overpowering smell of oil and burnt rot. Three doors lead from the chamber, two small patterned bronze doors on the right and left and a massive double door directly across from the entrance. The walls have been carved with mourners of various races and descriptions, all facing the central doors. The room is otherwise empty and it appears the floor has been recently scrubbed.

The party has Nell listen to each of the doors, and hears nothing from the central doors or the left door. Behind the right door, where the cultists retreated, Nell hears frantic hammering and some muffled discussion. After a short debate the party pushes through the left door, finding it locked from the inside. A steel booted kick from Hux shatters the lock and the party pours in ready for mayhem, but finding only a dusty and thoroughly smashed office. Close examination reveals that a battle must have been fought in this room, as old blood has been splashed on the walls and dried on the floor. The other door exiting the room has a mystical white sigil painted on it and is sealed with white lead. Lemon finds papers in one of the cabinets, a list of “entombed” with names, two dates and a number following. A few even have notes next to the names that says ominous things like “special – black rot laid to rest” and “special – silver chained, burnt”. Another drawer is filed with a receipt ledger apparently for burials and entombments. Not interested by this meticulous record keeping, the party prepares to enter the next room, after spiking shut the door to the entry chamber and blocking it with a large desk. Listening to the sealed door reveals nothing, and the party has no doubts about the wisdom of barricading themselves in and opening a up a magically sealed crypt. The party picks off the lead and Nell tries to pick the lock with her tools. It doesn't work, and Hux once again smashes in the door. Grimgrim and Hux barrel into the room, throwing axe and holy symbol at the ready, but the room is again eerily empty.

Two tiers of man sized stone doors line the walls and several stone tables rest in the middle of the room and 3 sheet covered bodies rest on the tables. Everything is made of the same green white marble and carved with the occasional flourish or curlicue. Beyond the tables is a hole leading down into blackness and on to right wall is another elaborate bronze door. Hux lofts a hand-axe towards the nearest sheeted corpse, but all it does is dislodge a desiccated arm to hang over the side of the slab. The party advances on the corpses and Drusilla whips the sheet off of one with her military fork. It's a dried out corpse, whose chest appears to have been torn open from the inside. The other corpses are the same and all are very dead. All three appear to be wearing the remnants of cult robes and scale mail. As the party is messing with the corpses a now well known chittering comes from the hole and three corpse fleas leap up from below, skittering on the slick floor. The fleas appear to be watching the party, but do not attack, still chittering occasionally instead.

Mindful of their original purpose in finding grave goods the party beings to inspect the stone doors on the wall, and correctly assuming them to be crypts the party begins to yank open the heavy stone doors. They find several strange corpses, including a man whose head has been replaced with a stitched on octopus, a bag of broken bones, a perfectly preserved barbarian warrior and a set of gilded bones (200GP). This tomb robbery is interrupted when Drusilla springs a trap.

As Drusilla levers open another stone door, this one ominously marked with a painted red X, she hears shuffling from within, but is not able to react before the door is pushed open from within and a horde of animate, mummified grunkies leap forth, attacking her viciously. She is bitten a couple times by the tiny menaces and several are hanging on her armor trying to get at the flesh underneath. Drusilla is able to draw her cutlass, and strike one down, but the next round the tiny beasts manage to topple her with a myriad of bites. Grimgrim's turning attempt is thankfully successful, and the pack of miniature mummies is driven off of Drusilla. The tiny horrors dart around the room, letting out dry rasping hisses and attack anyone they can reach. The party spends several rounds chasing the things about the room and smashing them, while Grimgrim manages to revive the much nibbled Drusilla with whiskey and some herb poultices to stop her bleeding.

With a comment or two as to why anyone would load a crypt full of zombie lizard monkeys, the party continues to search much more cautiously, with Hux doing the opening and Grimgrim ready to turn anything within the crypts. The party finds more odd corpses, including one wrapped in chains and a couple of mummified nobles, a gorilla wearing a natty morning suit is also unearthed. Among the corpses the party discovers a 200GP silver funeral mask and the gorilla's exclusive gold club ring and platinum snuff box (300 GP total).

Rather than brave the darkness of the corpse flea infested hole the party decides to pursue the cult and returns to the entry chamber. The sepulcher's entrance hall is empty, except for a lingering smell of burned oil and the door the cultists dashed through is now spiked shut. With the combined kicking of Drusilla, Hux and Nell the door is noisily bashed open. Inside the room is much as the destroyed office, but appears instead to have been originally a cloak room now hastily converted into a barracks. Four guards were stationed here based on the number of crude cots and two marble benches line the walls and spread over the floor along with a canvas drop cloth. The PC's bash open a small chest in one corner, and in addition to finding a spare robe discover a pile of rolled silver coins (800SP).

Another spiked door is bashed in and the PC's enter a much less desolate version of the grunkie trapped crypt. The crypts are each marked with blue X's and the slabs are empty, but the room is not. Several cots, that once spread across the floor are piled in the corner and the cleared space is now filled with armed cultists and undead. With shout of anger the enemy mass charges, unable to surround the party and breaking, as the first attacking skeleton impales itself on Drusilla's braced battle crescent and crumbles to pieces.

As combat begins in earnest Lemon casts sleep on the massed cultists and Grimgrim calls on Monstcrom's rage to drive back the undead. Most of the skeletons stop in their tracks, but the zombies continue to surge forward. Four of the six cultists also curl up on the floor napping. Their magical options largely exhausted, the party must face 6 Zombie, 3 skeletons and two remaining cultists. Facing off against four undead each, Huxley and Grimgrim have their hands full, but their heavy armor manages to protect them. Huxley receives a glancing and almost inconsequential blow from one of the zombies that knocks his hat loose.

The party's response is deadly, Huxley, enraged by his hat's dishevelment opens a zombie's belly with his sabre and sends it sprawling. Nell's bolt nicks one of the standing cultists, and Drusilla decapitates another zombie. One of the two active cultists begin to kick their slumbering comrades, while the second begins to chant a strange sequence of numbers that seems to increase the zombie's speed slightly. The remaining undead renew their attack and a zombie leaps forward throwing Grimgrim to the ground and sending his shield flying. The party's reprisal is again brutal. Grimgim crawls to his feet, while Hux slashes down another zombie and Nell's bolt plunges deep into the chanting cultist's chest. A second zombie is torn to pieces in an elaborate flurry of polearm thrusts. Only two zombies remain, but two newly woken cultists rush forward to take the fallen zombie's place. While the zombie tackling Grimgrim manages to bite him, it fails to injure him seriously, and Drusilla and Hux fend off the remaining attackers. Lemon throws a flask of the party's diminishing oil supply with terrible accuracy, and flaming cultists stumble about the back of the room.

The battle ends quickly as the surviving cultist drops down the hole in the floor and the remaining undead seem to slow. The party does not and hacks them down with almost no pause. After this latest massacre the party stops to bind their wounds and consider their next steps. None of the adventurers are seriously wounded, but they are getting tired and their spells are diminishing. Rather than brave the hole in the floor the party decides to retreat to the chapel they cleared last session and rest.

3 comments:

  1. At NTRPGCON this weekend, I bought ASE1 based largely on the awesomeness of your play reports.

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    Replies
    1. That's great to hear! I hope you enjoy the setting as much as I do. I'll throw up the next play report tonight or tomorrow I think - though I am running out of backlog...

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