Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The Favorites of Selune campaign - Level 4 - Session 3

We stopped the previous session of our 4E D&D campaign with a cliffhanger: The players had entered a temple of Bahamut with sarcophagi lining the walls, which had when approached disgorged a load of skeletons. So this session starts with the fight against the skeletons. Due to the position of the entrance the skeletons are both left and right of the players. There are six skeleton minions, and behind them four blazing skeletons.

Now minions in 4E D&D are monsters with just 1 hitpoint, so the players kill most of them before the skeletons even get to act. But the temple has a surprise in store: Whenever it is the skeletons turn in the initiative order, two more skeleton minions come out of randomly chosen sarcophagi. At first the players think that this is controlled by the blazing skeletons, which are nasty enough anyway, constantly setting the heroes on fire or damaging them with their fire aura. But killing blazing skeletons doesn't stop the minions from arriving each round. So the warlord concludes that the stop switch must be somewhere in the high altar area of the temple. There the players find altars to Bahamut with an inscription in draconic, which the cleric can read. They correctly interpret the instruction to kneel in front of the altar and praise Bahamut as the way to stop the skeletons, and the flood of skeletons stops.

Now the high altar region of the temple is bathed in a silvery light. And in a previous adventure the dwarven warrior of the group had acquired a scroll describing an ancient artifact, an axe called Aecris. The scroll said that this axe was last seen in the possession of Sir Keegan of Winterhaven, the last commander of the Keep on Shadowfell they are currently exploring. And there was a cryptic hint to "follow the silvery light". Thus the warrior now eagerly opens the door at the back of the temple, leading to the crypt. There the players find the tomb of a knight, with a stone effigy on top carrying a stone axe. Touching the lid of the tomb gives a rather predictable result: The lid of the tomb disintegrates into dust, and a skeletal knight with an axe rises from the grave, swearing to protect the rift from being reopened and challenging the heroes to state their intentions.

The conversation with Sir Keegan, the skeletal knight, is in fact a skill challenge. That is to say a mix of roleplaying with a series of skill checks. So Sir Keegan poses a series of questions to the heroes, and judges their responses by the result of appropriate skill checks. While starting badly with two critical failures rolled, the players then manage to get the next four skill checks right and convince Sir Keegan that their intentions are good. So Sir Keegan tells them his tragic story about how he was charged to defend the rift to the Shadowfell, but the evil influence of Shar seeping through the rift drove him mad and made him murder his family and lieutenants, before being driven into the dungeon by the remaining soldiers. To make up for his past sins he offers the group his axe, Aecris, which of course the warrior is only too happy to accept. Aecris is an artifact, and thus soon the warrior starts hearing a voice in his head driving him to glory on the battlefield and instilling a hate against undead. 4th edition has an interesting system for artifacts: Their powers depend on a score which depends on how the user's actions align with the goals of the artifact. And they come with an expiry date, leaving either when they fulfill a goal or disagree with the wielder's actions. That allows to have several different artifacts over the duration of a campaign, without them becoming the standard for magic items.

Having done this part of the dungeon, the party now returns to the zombie labyrinth and take the other staircase down from there. It leads to an empty room with yet another stair deeper down into the dungeon, and a simple door. The players decide to check out the door first, and find themselves in a corridor that seems to only have dead ends to the left, while leading further around a corner to the right. Unexpectedly the rogue in the group decides to first check out the dead end, and by that runs into a nearly invisible gelatinous cube. Two rotting corpses join the fight one turn later from the right corridor. This was designed to be a trap where the cube follows the group and attacks from behind when they face the undead, but the curiosity of the rogue foiled that plan. After finding that the rotting corpses have an aura that makes anybody standing next to them take -5 to attacks due to nausea, the warrior can use one of his new axe's abilities: Using it as a heavy throwing weapon that returns to the hand of its wielder. So the priest with his turn undead and the warrior fight the rotting corpses, while the other battle the gelatinous cube. Apart from the undead having a nasty surprise, exploding on death, the combat goes quite well. The group finds some treasure, and a good place to take an extended rest, and we end the session there.

Eeek a cube! Nasty things. They can be cute though (see comic). :P

As always, I enjoy reading about your adventuring sessions!
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