Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Wolf, the Rabbit, and the Rose

In my head, this is kinda what Laorishe looks like
We've finished exploring the Necropolis of Omera! We're taking a little hiatus from the Savage Krevborna campaign and one of the players is going to run some Pulp Cthulhu for us. The timing is great because given the events of this session I need to rethink the direction the campaign is heading in as we near what is likely the endgame of the campaign.

The Characters

Pendleton Torst, rogue anatomist

Catarina Redmoor, prioress of an unusual convent

Geradd, dissolute swashbuckler 

Panthalassa Laurentide, a very weird orphan

Raoul Carathis, necromancer

Daytona Midnight, dhampir gunslinger

Asudem, a drowned antiquarian brought back from the dead


When we last left our heroes, they had followed lines of poetry scrawled on the ceiling of a hallway and inadvertently triggered a trap that sent a boulder rushing their way. Luck was on their side: most of the party were able to flatten themselves against the wall to avoid the boulder, but even those that were struck by it were merely bowled over and suffered no injuries greater than painful bruising. However, Daytona's doppelganger chose that moment to arrive with a summoned hellhound in tow and began to open fire on the party. Geradd killed the hellhound instantly, but the fight with the doppelganger proved more difficult--especially because wounding the doppelganger was causing injuries to the real Daytona. 

When Catarina managed a kill shot that splattered the doppelganger's brains across the wall, the real Daytona dropped unconscious and began to bleed out. The timely medical intervention of Pendleton was able to save Daytona from the black gates of death. They were able to loot the remaining glass lizard eye they had been looking for from the pocket of the false Daytona's duster. 

Now that the last eye was in their possession, they decided to return to the third floor of the Necropolis and use it to open the locked chamber. The interior of the room was massive; it had a high, vaulted ceiling, a marble floor, and was lit by hundreds of candles. They could see the glitter of golden treasure in nine alcoves within the room, but what drew their eye immediately was a massive object in the center of the chamber that was covered with a shroud. 

Peaking under the shroud revealed that the thing had massive feet of fossilized bone not unlike a bird or reptile. Of course, the fossilized creature began to move, casting off its shroud as its thundering footsteps cracked the marble floor. It revealed itself to be the animate remains of a powerful, primordial creature. Despite its lack of organs, its terrifying roar momentarily stunned some members of the party. The creature proved nearly invulnerable to their attacks; bullets and blows could not even chip the fossilized bone. 

The party was riven, with some members fleeing the chamber while the others tried to stay and fight. The monstrous skeleton's powerful teeth were taking chunks out of the party and the fight was not going in their favor--until Geradd began to climb up its bony ribcage and attempted to pull its head from its neck. Vertebrae were cracking and he was straining in effort, but ultimately he pried its skull loose from its body and sent it crashing down to the floor in a pile of bones. 

After collecting as much treasure as they could carry from the alcoves, they decided to explore one last room they had left untouched. The interior of this chamber was decorated with murals of hunters armed with spears and bows. There was also a sarcophagus of black basalt with a wolf statuette on the lid. Above the sarcophagus a golden orb dangled from a chain. Raoul clambered on top of the sarcophagus and tried to grasp the orb, but it shot a fiery bolt at him that sent him diving for cover. Pendleton, who wears the cloak of an elven pyromancer that he believed made him invulnerable to fire, also tried to grasp the orb, but this merely taught him the limitations of his magical protection: he was badly burned by the bolt that struck him. 

Daytona cut this Gordian knot by simply firing at the orb and destroying it from a distance. Inside the sarcophagus was a leather sack filled with black pearls, a black iron key, a ruby scepter, and a ruby choker. 

Returning to the fifth level of the Necropolis, they took the northern passage and found themselves in a walled rose garden that was open to the purple "sun" that shone above them. A teenaged girl, barefoot and filthy, emerged from the depths of the garden and introduced herself as Thomasina, the third wife of Dorian Margrave. Under her breath Thomasina reminded herself to be "Polite, informative, and regal," though her behavior left the party wondered about her mental state. She offered to take the group to Rosaria and Laorishe or accompany them as they explored this level of the Necropolis.

They opted to explore further and get their bearings. After passing through Rosaria's bedroom, they entered a room with a large blue orb resting on a pedestal. Somewhat oddly, after it was determined that the orb was not a solid object, Pendleton stuck his head into it. His attempts to look around inside of it caused a variety of effects: the blood lake on this level became agitated and began to flood the walkways, an earthquake shook the Necropolis, and he heard a mysterious, authoritative voice in his head. Messing with the orb also caused the door to the chamber to seal shut and a new door to open on the northern wall of the room.

Following the northern passage brought them to a room in which a large brass mechanical orrey was whirring about, its planetary bodies in motion around the sun. Raoul noticed that the sun had a hatch on it; inside was a human-sized chair with many levers. Raoul sat in the chair and began throwing levers. Unfortunately, this caused the purple sun to go out. The temperature dropped suddenly; the group could now see their exhalations. They could hear the tolling of a distant bell. 

The bone moon began to glow with an eerie blue aura. Six androgynous figures, each with a length of chain spilling from a wound in their abdomens, emerged from the moon and attacked the party. Geradd was grievously wounded by one of the creatures, but the outbreak of violence unveiled a different side of Thomasina: she drew a hand axe from her belt and went absolutely berserk. She lopped the head off one of the creatures, and leapt upon another--whom she tore at with her teeth whilst bashing it with her weapon. When three of the creatures had been killed, Pendleton had a clear path to the orrey; sitting in the chair, he was able to throw the right levers to get the planetary bodies to align correctly. This banished the remaining creatures. 

The group decided they had had enough of exploration and asked Thomasina to bring them to Laorishe and Rosaria. The two women appeared much like they had in the dream that some of the group had shared previously, save that they were much paler--due to undeath, of course. Laorishe wore a crown that featured wolf symbology, and Rosaria's crown was fashioned with roses. Laorishe smoothed Thomasina's hair and placed a crown with a rabbit motif on the girl's head. 

After exchanging pleasantries, Laorishe pressed the party on what their attitude was at this point regarding Dorian and the sword they wished to gain possession of (1). The consensus they had come to on their way through the Necropolis was that they would like to negotiate for the Brineblade with Dorian. This news pleased Laorishe immensely; the three wives led the party down the stairs to the final level of the Necropolis where they found Dorian waiting for them with six heavily armored knights (2).

Dorian was a massive man, and now, due to his life of sin, he was a drakoi--a man whose visage had been corrupted to that of a dragon. He bore five swords, two at his left side, one at his right, and two strapped to his back. He greeted the party and congratulated them on making it to the sixth level of the Necropolis, a feat few had managed. He drew the Brineblade, a cutlass with a coral-like handle and a pearlescent blade. He too was pleased to hear that they would like to bargain for the sword. His first offer was that he would exchange the Brineblade for two things: they would disrupt the binding spell that kept Dorian and his wives trapped within the Necropolis and that they would join his conquering army. 

The party accepted the offer (3).

Geradd entered the crawlspace the led to the ritual chamber and broke the binding sigil. Dorian, his wives, and his retinue of knights met them on the way up; Dorian was true to his word: he handed over the Brineblade.

As they exited the the Necropolis together, Dorian told them that he would call upon them for their aid when the time was right. 

Outside the Necropolis, they found Raymond Carathis and hired mercenaries waiting for them. Raymond admitted that he had considered robbing them of any loot they acquired in the Necropolis should they emerge alive, but his errand was altogether different: he had been sent with a letter for his cousin Raoul that he feared not to deliver personally. Raoul broke the seal on the letter and visibly paled. He informed the group that he had urgent business back in Creedhall, and that they needed to depart in all haste.


(1) - If it seemed like the party was still planning on fighting Dorian for the Brineblade, Laorishe would have attacked them and commanded Rosaria and Thomasina to join in the fray. Thomasina is a broken maniac who has been trained to be Laorishe's attack dog. Rosaria would rather not fight the group, but she's more afraid of Laorishe's wrath than she is of the party. For her part, Laorishe is the personification of "Ride or Die": there is nothing she wouldn't do to protect Dorian.

(2) - If the party had resorted to violence at this point, things would likely have gone very badly for them. Although they were uninjured at this point, they were low on Bennies and in this scenario they would have been badly outnumbered; they would have to fight Dorian (who could wield all five swords on his turn), his six knights, and his three wives (two of which are murderous psychopaths). If negotiations turned sour, the session would have ended in a very different way.

(3) - I was shocked that they agreed to Dorian's first proposal, or at least didn't counter with an offer of their own. This greatly alters where the campaign is going.