Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Walking Dead of Marat (Part 1)

We tried to continue our "Savage Krevborna" campaign the week before, but my internet cut out before we even got to start playing. We did get it together the week after though! Here's what happened.


Geradd, disreputable swashbuckler

Raoul Carathis, occultist and necromancer

Prioress Catarina Redmoore, prioress of an unsettlingly convent

Doctor Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist


After arranging for passage to Marat with the pirates that were suppling Doctor Reichman's lighthouse, the group continued their journey. When the pirates dropped anchor, they put the group (plus the Widow) on a rowboat so they could traverse the bayou surrounding Marat. As night was falling in the bayou, they spotted a campfire on an island rising out of the waterway. Around the fire was a Polnezna family busy making dinner. Their houseboat was tied to a tree. The family's patriarch smiled broadly and gestured for the group to join them.

After dinner, the affable mood changed when the patriarch's daughter gave Catarina a tarot card reading. The girl seemed to go into a trance; while in the trance she made a pronouncement about a "rain of blood" and the "lost one" who was calling to them. Once the reading was complete, the family quickly excused themselves, locking themselves inside their houseboat while the group made camp outside. Although the group kept watch all night, the Polnezna family managed to slip away unseen in their houseboat.

The next morning the group continued to Marat. Again, they spotted a light in the distance amidst the gloom of the bayou's overhanging trees, but this light seemed to be hovering mid-air. As they got closer, they could see that the light was coming from a house on stilts. They could also now hear the sound of a lonesome banjo coming from the house. The group followed Geradd up the rope ladder hanging from the house's porch. Inside, they found a mute young man holding a banjo; strangely, even though the man was young, his hair was snow white. 

Because the young man couldn't (or wouldn't) speak, the group devised a way to communicate with him based on the speed of his banjo playing. They managed to glean that something was very wrong in Marat. Judging by the inscription on the book of poetry he had on him, they deduced that his name was Luc. Ultimately, the you man joined them in the rowboat and helped guide them to Marat.

Once they had booked a room at the Six Mule Inn, they noticed that the townsfolk were gathering in front of the town's church for a funeral service. The group decided to follow the funeral procession from the church up to the cemetery hill overlooking the plantation. One odd thing they noticed: the coffin was wrapped in chains. The reason for this became apparent when a loud knock was heard coming from the coffin as its occupant stirred. Soon, the coffin was rocking wildly as the priest droned on during the Last Rites. The people gathered graveside were not shocked by this uncanny event.

After the funeral, the townsfolk went about their business, but the group decided to talk to the priest, Father Brucian. They noticed that both the church and the decorations that Father Brucian wore were a bit "non-standard" for the Church of Holy Blood, which Father Brucian explained away by noting that the missionaries who originally converted the island's populace mixed the Church's faith with the pagan symbols of the prior religion to facilitate the adoption of the Holy Blood creed. According to Father Brucian, the people of the island originally worshipped a "god" they called the Lord of the Swamp.

Father Brucian was able to explain the troubles afflicting Marat that were holding up the molasses shipment. The problems started three weeks ago when a plantation laborer named Hogarth died--and then rose from death as a ravening undead creature. Since then, other deaths and horrific returns had plagued the plantation; now the workers were afraid to tend their fields for fear of turning into the living dead. The priest was also able to sketch the lay of the land in Marat: Marcel and Jean Marat run the plantation, as their family has for generations. Luc, the young man in the house on stilts, is the youngest Marat brother. Prior to the terrifying incidents, there had been no unrest among the workers.

Most of the group decided to go back to the graveyard and examine the walking dead monstrosity that had been buried earlier, but Catarina stayed behind to watch Father Brucian to make sure he wasn't up to anything beyond the pale. (He wasn't.) The group set the Widow to work exhuming the coffin and breaking its chains. The former plantation worker inside had indeed been turned into the hungry dead. Unfortunately, an overly ambitious lunge with his rapier landed Pendleton in the coffin himself. As the ghoul crawled over him, ready to strike, the Widow punched her hand through the monster's chest--killing it once more.

Once the group reconvened, they spoke to Lillian, a girl working at the Six Mules Inn. She reported smelling a horrible "wind of death" when a patron at the inn suddenly died and rose again as the undead. An herbalist named Flora also detected the powerful odor of carrion. The group spoke to Flora the next day, corroborating Lillian's observation. They also learned that Flora's daughter was among the missing--and that in every instance where a townsperson had disappeared pieces of red licorice were found at the "scene of the crime."

The group wanted to speak to the Marat brothers, but no one responded to their knocks. They were caught in the act of letting themselves into the plantation house, but Geradd managed to sweet talk the Constable Gremin into accompanying them inside to see if anyone was ill or injured. They found no one inside the house; it seemed as if it had been unoccupied for some time. However, Raoul managed to discover a secret alcove with a black hooded cloak, the pockets of which held both pieces of red licorice and a scroll. The scroll appeared to be a ritual to transform the living into the walking dead.

The label of the cloak indicated that it was a product of Levy's Tailor Shop here in Marat. Under the guise of buying the Widow a new outfit, a prospect bankrolled by Pendleton, the group managed to get some interesting information out of Levy. He had made the black cloak to Jean Marat's exacting specifications. He also admitted that he had seen Jean Marat carry his brother Marcel's body into the church!

Back to the church. The group put some pressure on Father Brucian; Brucian broke down and told them that when the troubles started Jean had brought Marcel's dead body to the church; Jean demanded that Father Brucian restore Marcel to life--a feat Brucian was unable to accomplish. Father Brucian thought he had managed to convince Jean to inter his brother in the family mausoleum in the old, overgrown section of the graveyard. As the adventure ended, the characters had resolved to find the Marat crypt.