Sunday, May 12, 2024

The Resurrectionists

We've come to the final adventure in this particular Krevborna campaign! It's hard to believe, but the campaign started in January of 2023, but we wrapped things up last Friday. For now.

The end of the last adventure found the characters once more on the Isle of Omera--this time to attend the coronation of Dorian Margrave as the island nation's king. However, Dorian's regime ended shortly after his coronation and Omera was soon under attack by the Church. The group also met with tragedy while fending off an attack from House Carathis; Serafina, long a friend of theirs, was killed in the ensuing battle. And worse: the entire island was under attack from something called the Executioner's Psalm. With Dorian Margrave gone, it was up to them to save the island and its residents.


Catarina, unconventional prioress

Pendleton, rogue anatomist

Raoul, necromancer

Geradd, swashbuckling nobleman

Daytona, dhampir gunslinger

Panthalassa, feral child


As the party approached the Executioner's Psalm, they got a better sense of what it entailed. The Executioner’s Song was a massive cathedral barge currently sitting offshore of the Isle of Omera. It was as if a sprawling cathedral of black stone has been ripped from the earth by its roots and set atop an ancient battle barge of dark wood and iron. The windows of the Executioner’s Song were brilliantly hued stained glass; a round window at the highest point of the tallest central spire was projecting a beam of pure white light onto the island. Where the light touched Omera, the land was dissolving into smoke–giving off a distinct ozone smell. They looked on in horror as the beam inched inland, destroying all in its path.

The group's plan was a three-pronged assault. Geradd had rallied Dorian's remaining troops and gave them orders to lure any guards aboard the Executioner's Psalm into a battle that would draw them away from the structure. Meanwhile, Captain Laurant would bombard the barracks on the Executioner's Psalm from the Dawnrazor to take out any additional forces the Church had brought. While all that chaos was raging, the party would storm the Executioner's Psalm and attempt to stop the beam it was using to destroy Omera.

Panthalassa smashed down a side door so the party could enter the Executioner's Psalm. The group began to explore the cathedral structure, desperately looking for stairs that would lead them up into the central spire that housed the window that the beam was emerging from. From the various tapestries, murals, paintings, and a carved stone sarcophagus they located along the way, they were able to piece together the origins of the Executioner's Psalm: it was an ancient weapon of war used against pagans by St. Vigil. Worse, they were hit with the realization that St. Vigil had probably returned and raised the Executioner's Psalm from the sea because Pendleton had inadvertently released him from imprisonment in the Necropolis during a previous adventure.

The group found the cathedral to be uninhabited, but still managed to put themselves in peril: when they made their way to the eastern side of the cathedral, a wall they were passing exploded from Vanessa Laurant's cannon fire, injuring several members of the party. Nevertheless, the group eventually found access to the cathedral's roof and discovered the stairs that would lead them up into the main spire. At the top of the spire, they found three figures busy in prayer: 

  • Cardinal Radinov, a man with a dashing mustache and pointy beard clad in red priestly vestments, who had a splinter of wood thrust into his heart; unearthly radiance poured from the wound.
  • A ten-foot tall winged angel in bladed silver armor--the very same angel they had fled from on a previous occasion! 
  • The remains of St. Vigil, a walking reliquary comprised of golden armor ornately decorated with cherubs, his saintly skull visible behind a glass helm.

As the three rose to face the party, their prayers and ended and the beam ceased its destructive procession. However, all three of their foes were armed with Dorian's missing enchanted swords. Things immediately turned against the party. St. Vigil conjured lances of holy light that ripped through everyone, causing some dangerous wounds before the fight had even begun in earnest. The bleeding angel took to the air, rushed at Pendleton, and tackled him out of a stained glass window. 

The group slowly fought their way back from the brink of defeat. Cardinal Radinov was the first to fall; Raoul weakened him with two necrotic bolts, then Catarina stabbed him to death with one of her magical bone daggers to heal herself. Out on the roof, Pendleton found himself stalked by the angel. As the angel was about to bring its sword down on him, Pendleton felt a sharp pain in his head and then heard the sound of steel on steel--Captain Laurant had interposed the Brineblade and parried the blow on his behalf. "No one gets to kill him today but me," she said. "On your feet, Doctor, there's still work to be done."

The Widow attacked St. Vigil, but was unable to break the glass protecting his skull. Daytona, leaning out the broken window at the top of the spire, channeled his infernal power into a shot that blew through the back of the angel's head. Meanwhile, Geradd was able to succeed where the Widow had failed. Hefting the sword known as the Fang of the Worm, Geradd smashed through St. Vigil's glass helm and sundered his holy skull into mere fragments of a now destroyed relic.

As the party regrouped, they noticed that tremors were now running through the Executioner's Psalm. The cathedral began to shake more and more, indicating that a hasty departure was now in order. But there was one problem: they still hadn't located Emily's body! Raoul quickly held a seance; following Emily's cryptic clues led them to a tomb on the Executioner's Psalm where her casket had been hidden. The group carried her to their rowboats, though by now it was clear that the Executioner's Psalm was sinking--they found themselves wading through water as the sea reclaimed the cathedral barge. 

Aboard the Dawnrazor, the group mulled over what to do with Thomasina. Catarina wanted to execute the girl for the murder of Rosaria, but the rest of the group attempted to talk her down. The Widow even placed herself in between Catarina and Thomasina should tensions escalate. Once they returned to Omera, Raoul set himself to the task of learning how to resurrect the dead. His first attempt was Rosaria, who he drew back through the veil of death. Rosaria was glad to be alive again, and perhaps even more glad to be out from under the thumbs of Dorian and Laorishe. She was conflicted about Thomasina, but did not believe the girl should be punished for her actions--even though she couldn't bear to take on the responsibility of fixing her.

There was much more riding on Raoul's second attempt to raise the dead, as he was now finally in the position to bring his beloved Emily back. He was again successful. There reunion was tearful, and Emily finally got to meet Raoul's adopted daughter, Panthalassa. When the girl approached her, Emily removed Panthalassa's skull helmet and whispered "Look at you. So pretty. I think we'll mean something to each other, if you'd like that." Panthalassa promptly burst into tears at meeting her new mother.

Meanwhile, Geradd wasted no time establishing himself as king of Omera in Dorian's place. There were parades in his honor and many feasts, as well as consolidating the remaining army under his control. Captain Laurant appeared, with two of her zuvembies carrying a treasure chest between them. Captain Laurant said, "I am considering stealing the honor of being the first to pay homage to the new king. I do have one question: what do you say to making Omera a safe haven for pirates?” When Geradd agreed, Laurant made him a sound offer: in return for yearly tribute and for defending the island by sea, the pirates would have safe haven on Omera henceforth. She presented him with the treasure chest as his first taste of a pirate's tithe, removed her hat, knelt, and swore fealty to the new king.

Before Captain Laurant left, Catarina asked her why she had come to the island in their hour of need and why she bore the Brineblade. Vanessa explained that Scylla had tried to sink the Executioner's Psalm, but its holy aura rebuked her approach. Unable to scuttle the cathedral barge herself, Scylla had charged Captain Laurant with the task of assisting the party and had given her the Brineblade for that purpose. Catarina also took the opportunity to ask Vanessa what she thought of Belle Silvra. Sensing that Catarina may be building up to a conflict with Belle, Vanessa Laurant stressed that Belle is adept at manipulating people and money in service to Scylla and that Belle and Catarina are perhaps the same sort of women--stubborn, beautiful, and possibly not the best at communicating openly. Before taking her leave, Vanessa suggested that Catarina approach Belle with her complaints before waging war against her.

Of course, the group's resurrection tour was not yet over. They made the journey back to the mainland and ventured to Viktoria Frankenstein's island on Loch Riven at Creedhall. First the stopped to talk to Father Prim, who was not wearing his customary priest's cassock, but was instead wearing a black suit and a mourning arm band. He said that Viktoria had shut herself up within the chateau, which they could see was now totally dark with no lights in the windows. They also observed that there were a number of bouquets and wreaths outside the chateau; Serafina's graverobbing admirers had braved the island to pay their respects to the fallen Angel of the Graves.

Pendleton led the group down into the catacombs beneath the chateau and found a very drunk Viktoria slumped in a chair in front of one of the cold storage chambers. Scattered at her feet were a number of empty wine bottles. She explained: "If I’m drunk, I can’t operate. This bottle is the only thing keeping me from going in there and making a monster out of her. I don’t want to do that, but (she tapped her head) I’m never entirely in control of myself." The "Viktoria" part of her brain, as opposed to the monstrous "Frankenstein" part of her brain, just wanted her friend back the way she was. 

When Raoul explained that he could bring Serafina back, she said, "I hate to admit it, but I think I’m starting to understand why you’ve worked so hard to bring Emily back. How embarrassing for me–I'm human after all." She then asked two more favors of the group: she wanted Panthalassa to shock her into unconsciousness with her lightning hammer, and she wanted Pendleton to bind her hands and gag her mouth so the "Frankenstein" part of her brain couldn't try to stop them by calling for Father Prim. She also had a life lesson to impart to Pendleton as her heir, "Let me give you some motherly advice: who we are pushes us to reject everything else in our lives in favor of our work. Resist that, resist it as strongly as you can. Resist it better than I have. Hold on to the people you love and who love you in return." 

They followed her instructions, and Raoul was once again able to return the dead to life. For her part, the newly returned Serafina was perplexed, having now experienced both sides of the grave. When Viktoria came to, and was released from bondage, she pushed everyone out of the way, gathered Serafina in her arms, and bawled. Serafina, her pale face visible over Viktoria's shoulder, appeared to be terrified.

In time, Pendleton defended his first "thesis," producing from his body a homunculus named Lillasyra. His friends were both terribly impressed and horrified. Viktoria Frankenstein was justly proud of her heir, Serafina applauded, and the creature was entrusted to the Widow's care.

Raoul, Panthalassa, Lenore, and Emily retired to the Sabbath estate to begin the work of figuring out their new family. Geradd reigned upon the island of Omera. Catarina began a new venture--making the lands under her control sanctuaries for the oppressed. She and Daytona even took tentative steps toward a romance that has yet to fully blossom. Still, we turn the page on our "heroes" here. They were never traditionally on the side of "good," but over the course of their adventures they did right some wrongs, save many innocents, and spare the world from becoming a darker place. What more could be asked of them?

* * *

If you would like one last recap, here's a short fiction piece I wrote from Viktoria Frankenstein's perspective the day after Serafina was brought back from the dead; she muses on each of the characters and their personal journeys over the course of the campaign. My players have dubbed this "emotional terrorism," and I am absolutely fine with that.