Sunday, April 19, 2020

Doctor Reichmann's Menagerie

Doctor Reichmann's Menagerie
Our online D&D game set in Ravenloft continues.

The Characters
Tekla Vardagen, half-elf warlock
13 Shattered Mirrors, tabaxi warlock
Tank Orkerson, half-orc fighter
Gnagar the Bloody, kobold monk
Al', drow cleric

When we had last left our heroes, that had defeated Jiro and his undead servants but were left contemplating what to do about the skeletal throne that seemed to be the source of the curse that had befallen Daitsu. The party was wary of simply destroying the throne for fear of an unknown backlash. Tekla's magical investigation of the throne's properties assailed her mind with images of a flayed goat's head and a fearsome wand topped with a skull. Gnargar threw a shuriken at it from a distance; the throne was damaged but nothing unusual occurred. This gave Tank the confidence to smash the throne into pieces with a mighty blow.

Destroying the throne seemed to do the trick. The veritable army of the undead headed toward Daitsu could be seen strewn across the hill, their unholy march defeated by the throne's rupture. Ren was discovered dying of a wound inflicted by the town's constable, but he was healed by Al'. Ren declined the group's offer to escort him to Lady Shizu so he could explain what had happened in Daitsu; he feared immediate retribution for his family's role in the town's downfall. 

And so the party returned to Lady Shizu and told the story of what they had discovered in Daitsu; they also put the most glowing spin on the events as possible and noted the Ren had sent for workers from other villages to insure that the much-needed rice would be delivered shortly. Although Lady Shizu was not as pleased as she could have been, she did live up to her end of the bargain: each member of the party was given a bulging bag of gold and they were told that passage for them ad been booked on a ship called the Sea Raptor. The Sea Raptor was headed to the land's main continent; they were told to seek Leonora Vos in Lamordia--she could help them return to their own world.

Three days later, disaster struck while they were aboard the Sea Raptor. In the middle of a card game below deck, the ship was boarded by Kosti reavers; the captain gave orders to abandon ship in the midst of the assault. The characters grabbed Bela Drachenov, a Vistani who was the only other passenger on the Sea Raptor, got into a lifeboat, and rowed out to sea. A light was spotted; they went in search of it, hoping for safe harbor.

The party came ashore upon an island on which stood a lighthouse--the source of the light they saw asea. 13 Shattered Mirrors scaled the iron fence surrounding the lighthouse and the extended building connected to it in an attempt to reconnoiter the area, but he was stopped by two strange figures: one a hybrid of hawk and man carrying a spear and the other a hybrid of woman and crab--her claws clicking like knitting needles prior to the French Revolution. Luckily, the situation was diffused and the two mongrel-creatures offered to take the group to meet Doctor Hesselius Reichmann, the owner of the lighthouse.

The party were allowed into the first floor of the lighthouse, where they observed a number of stew pots in the fireplace, a cabinet of curiosities, and a life-sized porcelain doll dressed as a maid. When Grangar attempted to open a wooden box within the cabinet, the doll came to life and grabbed his hand--she possessed enormous strength. The doll explained that she was one of Doctor Reichmann's creations. She also let slip an ominous "I have meat inside me," which put the party on edge.

Eventually she went to find Doctor Reichmann. When he appeared, he was seen to be an older gentleman who walked with the aid of a clockwork brace on his legs. After hearing the group's tale of woe, he divulged that he had been crippled--and his wife killed--by a magical calamity in Darkon. He claimed to have fled to this lighthouse so he might pursue his research unhindered. (He and 13 Shattered Mirrors commiserated about the small-mindedness of scholars.) The Doctor invited the group to spend the night in his lighthouse; he was expecting a ship to arrive with supplies the next day, so they could surely depart with the traders bringing him additional goods.

The doll was tasked with giving the party a tour of the lighthouse while the Doctor went back to his work in the adjoining building. She showed them the room they were expected to bunk down in (empty save for a dusty cradle), a bedroom appointed in a feminine style, a floor with a locked room that the doll said was the Doctor's laboratory, and the lighthouse's lantern and mirror--which the group realized was oriented so that ships would be given a mistaken impression where the dangerous rocks were and thus be more likely to wreck themselves on the shore.

After they made a pretext of turning in for the evening, the group went back up to the locked door of the laboratory and finessed their way inside. They discovered a number of strange apparatuses connected to a glass coffin in which lay the Doctor's pregnant wife! Their intrusion into this chamber was detected; knock-out gas filled the room and rendered a few of them unconscious. The doll came back up the stairs and wanted to take Bela away as fodder for the Doctor's experiments, but Tekla invoked the fey power of her patron and became even more ethereally beautiful; she was able to momentarily convince the doll to leave them for the time being.

It was decided that the doll was a problem that needed to be dealt with before she made another attempt on their lives. 13 Shattered Mirrors planned a cunning ruse in which the doll would be lured up to the Doctor's laboratory, pushed inside, and then locked in. However, she turned the tables on him, pushing him into the lab and locking the door. The rest of the party sprang into action; Tank and Gnargar kept her pinned in the doorway; 13 Shattered Mirrors was able to open the door and attack her from behind; Tekla and Al' used witch bolts and sacred flame to hurt her from afar. A brutal strike from Tank did the lion's share of damage to the doll; she eventually collapsed on the floor--and was proven to be an amalgamation of inorganic and biological components. 

Since he was clearly trying to kill them, the group then decided they needed to confront the Doctor directly...