Sunday, December 18, 2022

Sepulchre of the Swamp Witch

When Mattie asked if there were any games going on for Friday in my Discord, the temptation to squeeze in one more session for the year--even if I hadn't planned on running anything--was too much. I grabbed my copy of MORK BORG, put the call out, and gathered three interested players to run through the "Sepulchre of the Swamp Witch" adventure from Heretic. This was the first time playing MORK BORG for everyone involved, including myself, so I might also do a review of the game as whole later on.

The Characters

Kutz, a Gutterborn Scum, played by Michael

Daeru, an Esoteric Hermit, played by Mattie

Graft, a Heretical Priest, played by Andrew

Akhenaten, Kutz's small but vicious dog

Jude, Graft's pet monkey

The Premise

"East of Lake Onda in the Slithering Swamp is the Swamp Witch's ancient sepulchre and an altar of dead roots covered in lost symbols. They say if certain forbidden words are chanted at it, any wish is fulfilled. Even stopping the approaching Doom is not outside the powers of the Swamp Witch's altar. You stumbled on these forbidden words on a murdered messenger wearing mad King Fathmu IX's crest in a ditch. You just need to get past the Strange Serpent Drug Cult lairing in the ancient tomb and reach the altar."

The characters arrived at the Swamp Witch's sepulchre armed with the following rumors: the snakes guarding the entrance are not to be harmed, the cult kidnaps people to use as sacrifices, chanting the forbidden words backwards will raise the Swamp Witch from the dead.


The group found that the entrance to the sepulchre was a partially submerged stone door too heavy to be opened by brute force alone. The party was then addressed by a large, emerald-colored snake perched upon a leaf floating in the swampy water. The snake told them that only those who received its bite were allowed entry into the cult's compound. Graft was the brave guinea pig; once bitten, he found that the world now seemed kaleidoscopically, psychedelically brighter. He saw colors he had never seen before, including jale, dolm, and ulfire. Observing few ill effects in their companion, Kutz and Daeru soon followed suit and let the snake inject them with its hallucinogenic venom, and the the stone door raised like a portcullis. 

Inside the first cavern chamber, the group encountered members of the serpent drug cult cooking gator meat over a fire. The cultists assumed that Kutz, Daeru, and Graft were new recruits. (They were also pretty high on serpent venom, so their guard was definitely down.) When questioned about the whereabouts of the Swamp Witch's altar, the cultists said they weren't allowed to talk about that. The party then ventured further into the compound to find it on their own.

Eventually, the group stumbled into the cult's "worship hall," which proved to be little more than a number of filthy blankets laid on the ground--two of which were occupied by drugged-out cultists celebrating their unholy rites in disturbingly carnal ways. Also present in the room were three large cages, each of which held some starved-looking prisoners. Guarding the cages were cult members with forked tongues and snake-like scales creeping up the sides of their faces. When asked about the location of "the altar" (the group wasn't specific in asking for the Swamp Witch's altar) they were directed to a nearby chamber.

In this chamber there was a stone altar, clearly stained with blood, overlooking a pit of skeletal remains and flesh-hungry serpents. Assuming this was the altar they sought, Graft and Kutz bum rushed the cultist who was busy throwing meat to the snakes below. The cultist toppled into the pit, but a large emerald snake similar to the talking one they had encountered outside emerged from the pit to question them as to what the hell they were doing. Melee broke out at this point and Kutz was riding too high on snake venom to keep ahold of his shortsword, which clattered down into the snake pit. Daeru ended up whipping the emerald snake to death.

When the group tried reciting the forbidden words at the altar...nothing happened. This was not the altar they were seeking.

Exploration continued. In a room filled with luminescent plants, Kutz found a large trident made of an unknown, alien metal. The trident was so large that he had to wield it with two hands, but it made for a nice replacement for his lost sword. Graft also scored a ruby ring, which he promptly gave to his pet monkey to wear. Among the human remains, the group discovered stranger skeletons that belonged to massive, three-eyed bipeds.

The group wandered into a room in which hundreds of colorful moths were endlessly swirling. The moths emitted a sound like a multitude of human voices engaged in a slow-motion, high-pitched scream. The moths were circling thirteen obelisks, in the center of which was an open sarcophagus. Tentacles of light emerged from the sarcophagus and waved slowly in the air. Kutz threw a bomb into the room, attempting to clear away the moths; the moths dispersed momentarily, which gave the group a glimpse of what else was in the room: a woman hovering two feet off of the ground, her head a whirling mass of smoke, a humongous zweihander chained to her back.

Not ready to deal with her, the group cut down another corridor and found an altar made of tangled dry roots. Surrounding the altar were a number of man-shaped wooden figures scattered on the ground. Kutz decided to say the forbidden words and sacrifice Akhenaten, his small but vicious dog, but the sacrifice was rejected and Kutz was slammed into the ceiling by a mysterious force. 

To glean more information on how to get the altar to grant their wishes, the group decided to confront the Swamp Witch. "Luckily" she had sensed the failed sacrifice and was on her way to the altar chamber. She told them that only an unwilling human sacrifice would be acceptable. 

A plan was hatched: they drew one of the forked-tongued fanatics into an isolated room in the sepulchre and ambushed him. The fanatic fought for his life, nearly killing Daeru--who was saved only by fate intervening to spare her. Kutz knocked the guard out with a mighty blow from the trident, but using the item changed him. He now found that his eyes were bulging and his skin was green and coated with slime. 

Dragging the unconscious guard atop the altar, Kutz brought the trident down again, ending his life. Arcane light flared, and Kutz's wish to suspend the approaching apocalypse was granted. However, using the trident again turned his flesh rubbery--providing him with some natural armor as he further transformed into something other than human.

Deciding that the guards were too formidable, the group lured three more standard-issue cultists into the chamber and sacrificed them one by one. Further wishes were granted: Daeru was granted a hot spring in her hermit's cave, Akhenaten was brought back to life to assuage Kutz's guilt, and Jude was given the ability to talk. (Jude immediately asked his "boss" if he could have a pipe because he always liked the idea of smoking.)

Although their wishes were granted, using the altar had several other strange effects. The Swamp Witch was greatly weakened and fled the chamber. A magically barrier holding back an army of frog-demons was ruptured, allowing them access to the cult's compound. The fallout from these events was evident when the party made their way to the sepulchre's exit: the Swamp Witch had been killed, and her zweihander was left laying on the ground. (Graft scooped it up to add to his inventory.) The remaining cult members were now in a pitched battle against the frog-demons and were clearly losing. 

Using the chaos of the battle as cover, and relying a bit on Kutz's new resemblance to the frog-demons due to the trident's corruption, the group left the Sepulchre of the Swamp Witch. Ultimately, they had forestalled one apocalypse and possibly initiated another: the frog-demons would soon take over the immediate area and rampage throughout the world.

Would our "heroes" survive? Daeru might retreat to her hermit's cave, never to be seen again, waiting out the tumult in the newfound luxury of a hot spring. Kutz, destined to become a frog-demon due to the trident's taint, might one day come to be king of the demonic invaders. And Graft, in his mighty armor and wielding the Lunar Zwiehander, might wander the world, pushing back the chaotic horde.