Sunday, June 11, 2023

The Walking Dead of Marat (Part 2)

This is the second half of a Savage Krevborna adventure we started the week before. Now that the adventure is over, I should note that it was based on the old Ravenloft module Night of the Walking Dead.


Geradd, disreputable swashbuckler

Raoul Carathis, occultist and necromancer

Prioress Catarina Redmoore, prioress of an unsettlingly convent

Doctor Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist


At the close of the previous adventure, the group had decided that they needed to find the old cemetery and locate the Marat family crypt. However, on the way to the cemetery on the hill they heard the sound of a lonesome, melancholic banjo. When they looked down the alley the sound was coming from, they saw Luc watching Constable Gremin examine something in the dirt. As they approached, they realized that the constable was looking at a large, day-old bloodstain--at the center of which was a single piece of red candy. 

Following tracks at the scene of the crime, they returned to the inn and talked to Lillian. When asked if there were any other visitors to the inn, she told them that a man named Johan Werther had arrived recently; she described him as a fop and reported that he had said he was a folklorist who had come to Marat to collect regional songs. During this conversation they also got Lillian to admit that the inn was actually a brothel frequented by the plantation workers. 

She also revealed that Jean Marat was also a visitor who availed himself of the inn's illicit services. He favored the attentions of a particular woman who worked at the inn, but Lillian noted that the girl hadn't been seen all day. They correctly assumed that she was the victim who had been taken in the alley. In fact, Lillian showed them that the inn's back entrance connected to the alleyway where the blood and candy had been found. While they had the back door open, the group was hit with a wave of charnel odor that left Raoul feeling unnerved and fatigued. Lillian told them this was the same stench she remembered smelling just before one of the inn's guests died and returned as a revenant.

The group attempted to follow the smell, which brought them back to the bloodstain in the alley--but did not otherwise reveal more clues as to what had happened. However, on the way back to the inn they heard a woman scream! Running to her aid, they found the inn's back door open, Lillian on the floor with a vicious wound at her side, and an aristocratic man who resembled Luc standing over her with a dagger! They had managed to interrupt Jean Marat in the act of killing Lillian.

As the group engaged Jean, they discovered that his body was partially undead--which made him difficult to wound. He also had the frenzied strength of a madman; Jean managed to stab the Widow (whose wound leaked a curious mixture of oil and blood) and he nearly managed to kill Pendleton. But Jean was put down, and Pendleton used his alchemy to save Lillian's life, patch up the Widow, and heal himself.

Raoul also took the opportunity to animate Jean's corpse as a zombie under his control. When Lillian regained consciousness and saw the re-reanimated Jean, she promptly fainted again.

As they regrouped, they heard an ominous crack of thunder as the sky quickly became overcast with heavy clouds. Rain began to fall in torrents. Just then, a foppishly dressed dandy (presumably Johan Werther) threw open the door to the inn and proclaimed that an army of the dead was marching on the town of Marat! As Johan and Lillian barricaded themselves away inside rooms in the inn, the group sought a higher vantage point; what they saw confirmed Werther's story: the animate dead were slowly shambling down from the cemetery hill toward Marat.

Skirting the approaching undead horde, the group made their way up cemetery hill through the rain and the mud. The graves all showed signs of having disgorged their occupants. They also located the gates to the overgrown section known as the "old cemetery"; a key they had taken from Jean's body allowed them entry. Once inside, they quickly located the Marat family mausoleum--a large structure with stained glass windows alight with an eerie yellow glow. The Widow was stationed outside the tomb to make sure that no undead were able to enter after them; she was also given instructions to enter and help after a minute and a half had passed. 

The floor of the mausoleum was carpeted with human bones and the remains of victims the undead had been devouring to sate their unnatural hunger. On a raised platform, sitting in an ornate chair, was the ghoul lord Marcel Marat, flanked by a pair of braziers burning with a strange yellow light. Attempts to converse with him proved futile; he would not share his necromantic secrets, nor did the party acquiesce to his demand to give him the scroll they had found at the plantation house. Battle was the only option as he had no plans to let them leave alive.

During the melee, Raoul realized that the unusual braziers were fueling Marcel's necromantic powers. A concerted effort between Catarina and the zombiefied Jean Marat under extinguished the braziers--plunging the tomb into darkness. Geradd lit a torch, but was attacked in the dark by Marcel. With a torch now burning, Pendleton saw that one of Marcel's undead minions was attempting to sneak behind them and cut off their exit from the mausoleum, but the undead lackey was swiftly dealt with. The Widow burst through one of the tomb's stained glass windows and dealt Marcel a shattering blow to the back of his skull. Geradd stabbed Marcel, piercing him through, turning him to dust and bones.

With the death of Marcel, the revenants under his control all fell inert. Among Marcel's belongings they found a ring with a red stone and a star chart that seemed to function as an overlay for the one they had recovered in a prior adventure from the stolen loot of the Scarabasca. 

With the undead menace dealt with, the group managed to get the sugar cane and molasses shipments back on track with help from Constable Gremin--who now slipped into a leadership role in the absence of the Marat family. Luc had now gone mysteriously missing during the attack. They also stayed long enough to collect the Widow's new outfit from Levy's tailor shop. They returned through the bayou to the waiting pirate ship and set sail again for Lachryma.