The session started off on a odd foot because about half the group wasn’t there – KT was up in Milwaukee for a VNV Nation concert, TW hasn’t made the last couple of sessions for various reasons (drill, a nephew’s Confirmation, etc), SS forgot, CW has a new job and works on Sunday afternoons, and KR showed up for her semi-regular late session because of a Sunday morning commitment. So all we had for the entire session was MR, KB & CB, and MS – but everyone seemed to have a fair amount of fun in spite of the odd dynamic.
The first thing is that I simply ruled that the characters whose players weren’t there had all passed out in the aftermath of the Vesna, Gregor, Jezabel, and Gwion raised their voice in a hymn to evil and chaos and the subsequent Doombell ringing. The second thing that I ruled was that while I realized that I had totally reversed the descriptions of two different rooms (the “chapel” and the “temple”) on map, I was just going to run with what I had read. Then I had to decide, essentially off the cuff, as to what I wanted to do because I was two players down.
So out of the “mirror-polished wall with disquieting images moving about within the stone” popped out a random number of spirits (conicidently one for each PC) – which then proceeded to paralyze Ketzl, Gryphon (who promptly Teleported out psychically and hasn’t returned yet), and Gregor (who had discovered that he had evidently just lost his Paladin-status and his Protection from Evil 10’r ability…), they also discovered how Energy Drain works (-1 penalty to Hit,Damage, Saves, and Initiative). Sorer Isabella managed to get off her own prayer of Protection vs Evil and was untouched but watching helplessly, while Tier manged to slay two of the spirits – and get hit for a total of 3 points of Energy Drain before deciding to raise his own Protection vs Evil as well.
Then the big surprise occured as MS’s old character, Roland (the 0-Level Cavalier-Paladin) walked out of the wall. He was looking a bit worse for wear – gaunt, unwholesomely pale, dressed in new armour and with a new weapons. He merely looked at Tier, the erson who had accidently sent him off to the Realm of the Dead, and said “Stop me or step aside.” Tier stepped forward and was struck down – and Roland waled out of the room without a second glance at the party, spirits in tow. Isabella then manageed to heal Tier up from unconsciousness and the two of them started dragging unconscious and paralyzed people from the temple before something new stepped out of the wall.
At this point KR returned so Frater Nikolai and Brother Illya woke up – and since there was no more combat, I had both Gwion and Jezabel wake up as well. The party quickly decided to heal as much as they could and head back to Seraph Keep to get help with what was obviously a very evil place. Amun the Sunhawk had returned, relaying that the Keep still stood and that the people there welcomed the warning (from the vision during the last game session) so the party decided that they would start with the Keep given that this was the closest to civilization despite it being a solid three days away given the shape the party was in.
So after three days of nervous travel, hoping that they don’t run into anything major (and they ran into nothing more than normal forest critters – an almost ominious state of affairs given what they normally have happen in their trips back and forth from the Caves) they come upon a dark and silent Seraph Keep as the shadows of the day grow lang and evening draws nigh…
Yeah, I set the mood well enough that I triggered my spouse PTSD by the way.
The party discovered an abandoned keep where a great slaughter had eveidently taken place and no bodies were to be found – not even of pets or animals. The only living creatures were scavangers.The only two bodies were those of two horses that barely propped open the portcullis, but the gate was wide open and the fires were gutted in their pits. Food and wares were laid out as if a great terror had descended upon the people there almost instantly, and while there was some suggestion that some individuals had fled with their valuables – there was no evidence or looting nor was the church defiled.
But there was evidence that some creatures had been bled out – the ropes and hooks were there in spots and there was much blood.
But no bodies…
And that is where we called it!