We played A Time to Mourn (chapter 3 of The Gathering Storm) last night and had a great time. The party consisted of six PCs (Human-Scout/Rat Catcher, Human-Coachman, High Elf-Swordmaster, Human-Roadwarden, Dwarf-Trollslayer, Human-Grave Robber) and I think it’s the largest party we’ve had so far. We would have had one more if our High Elf-Bounty Hunter wasn’t called away at the last minute.
We started off with a re-cap of the last adventure and integrated the new party members into the group after the TPK that took place of all that were present last time around.
Quick recap and prep below…
Last session was a TPK except that Duffy and Lance’s characters were not present. I’m not saying that’s what kept them alive but it sure didn’t hurt. Judy, Brian, Stewart and Andy met an awful end at the hands of a powerful group of beastmen that were being appeased (not totally successfully, though) by a pair of Deliverance-esque families in the hills outside of Stromdorf.
Brian’s character was Duffy’s character’s brother and Brian’s new character is Duffy’s character’s cousin. Sheesh, might need ancestry.com to keep this all straight. Anyway, Gnu (Brian’s new character) brought news of Otto’s death to Hidro. Gnu had been adventuring with some new mates (easy enough entry for other new party members and everyone headed back to Ubersriek for Otto’s funeral. Gnu and his mates are the ones that found the carnage after the fight in the storm with the beastmen, killed the rest of them, picked up a rather strange rock (more on that in a bit, but some of you should remember it) and reported the goings on to the city guard. Stewart’s dwarf was interred in a cave and it was thought that dying bravely in combat erased his name from his clan’s book of grudges. Judy’s elf soldier was brought back for burial with Otto, since she had left her elf-kin’s fighting company, and Andy’s mage’s body was retrieved by members of the Colleges of Magic from Altdorf.
Hidro is grieving the loss of his brother but realizes that there’s still work to be done in Stromdorf so the stay in Ubersriek is short. You do meet up with Lord Ashafemberger (from our very first game) and he puts you up in his manor for a few days. Alto (Lance’s elf) is very skittish in certain parts of the house but that’s mostly because of the bad painting he looked at. Not a single daemon or cultist to be found at the manor this time around.
Back in Stromdorf you are spending time at The Red Bull (see previous game updates or memory banks for its significance) and are pretty well rounded out as a new adventuring party, but still maintain the Mattik’s (Hidro and Gnu now that Otto got himself perished) small brewing business and do side work for Guido and Benito. A couple of things of consequence happen…
- Several adults from the Hotlz clan are brought into town in chains by the city guard. Marie (mama of the clan), Imelda (Marie’s daughter) and Reiner (porch-sitting mandolin-playing dullard) are all missing, though. Otto (patriarch) and the rest of the surviving family men are brought to the gaol and are awaiting trial (mostly ceremonial) and execution (very ceremonial and quite a town spectacle). Also, the Stewpot Tavern’s proprietress, Keila Cobblepot, the plump and cheerful Halfling has been brought up on charges of conspiring with beasts of chaos and being an accomplice to kidnapping and murder. She was helping the Holtz clan get victims to sacrifice to the beastmen. The Holtz’, being somewhat simple, believed the interrogators that told them they’d go easy on them if they spilled the beans about who they were in league with and Keila was named. She is actually quite guilty of helping them but, of course, there’s no “going easy” when it comes to actual Empire justice so they are all quite screwed. It has not come to light, though, about the power struggle within the beastmen camp and that Marie and Otto (not Brian’s Otto) are/were parents to Foaldeath, a beastman that was trying to wrest control of the group from Izka Madtooth.
- A fairly recent, been there a bit longer than you guys (the original group) though, addition to Stromdorf is a human named Niklas Schulmann. He’s a rather flamboyant dresser and wizard from the Colleges of Magic in Altdorf who’s been sent here to study the strange meteorological goings on in the area. The sudden, violent, and a bit strange lightning storms come to mind and that’s part of what he says he’s investigating. You’ve seen him around town a few times and while the locals were wary of him at first he has won them over by helping illiterate townsfolk draft letters and read documents. He’s taken up residence in an old townhouse and has made many modifications to it with copper tubes and the like sticking out of windows, weather vanes on the roof, etc. You’ve heard that he’s looking for pieces of rock with special properties and he’s asked if he can buy you dinner and discuss just such a rock that he’s heard has come into your possession. That’s where we’ll get started on the 12th, at dinner with Nicklas.
After dinner, Schulman who properly introduced himself and asked about the lightning stones and also told them about the mission he’s on from the Colleges of Magic. The party loaned him the stone that was brought back from the farm and he told them about dreams that he’s been having and even saw some of what took place with the beastmen before it happened and only wished that he’d known them ahead of it taking place so he could warn them.
The Mattik’s retired to their brewery and the rest had rooms at The Red Bull so all headed off to sleep. The zombies attacked at The Red Bull and initially just the Troll Slayer and Roadwarden were awoken by the ruckus with the Elf sleeping away. He’d say “meditating” but the dwarf says that he can’t hold his ale and was snoring like a baby full of warm milk. The Dwarf came charging out of his second story room carrying, and wearing, nothing at all. Apparently he sleeps in the nude and this was almost as shocking of a sight as the zombies crashing into the inn. The Roadwarden was right behind him, quite shocked at the double full moon ahead of him that was framed in bristling hair, came out of his room in his nightshirt (thankfully) carrying his crossbow but with just one bolt. Combat ensued with the single crossbow bolt finding its way into a zombie and drawing some of them upstairs. The dwarf headed back to his room and emerged with his flail but still no clothes and waded into the fight. A bit later the elf was roused and he squeezed past the fight at the top of the stairs and made quite an acrobatic move jumping over the railing, onto a table below, and cleaving a zombie in half all in one excellent cinematic series of moves. The undead were beaten down and the dwarf finally put on some pants.
Over at the Mattik brewery Hidro and Gnu were woken up by the watch that were tending to a few other zombies that had come into town. They wandered the streets a bit and came across Professor Kopfchen and his animated skeleton. They made quick work of it and were rewarded with some nice herbal tea. Kessler told the Mattik’s to come see him in the morning.
After breakfast Hidro and Gnu, along with our human grave robber, made their way to town hall and were introduced to Addler who had been shut away for months now. They were told the story of his nightmare after seeing Schulman in the hallway, who was on his way out. Hidro negotiates a deal with Addler to go fetch brother Grabbe from the Garden of Morr so he can interpret his dream and also verify that all is well in the cemetery.
The rains increased as the party made their way to the Garden and about halfway there they noticed, quite easily, that they were being followed by something or someone. The Scout’s dog was loosed into the thicket and screams of “call him off!” could be heard. This is where they met Waltrout and major comedy ensued! I played up Waltrout like Simple Jack from Tropic Thunder, but even amped up a bit more. Holy cow was it fun and I’d like to thank the Academy for the award for this performance! I can’t properly describe everything in the written form but it was awesome amounts of fun.
So, after some introductions and getting Waltrout to help them out we head off towards the Tranig. Lots of bell ringing ensued but no Brother Grabbe comes to row the boat to the other side to pick up the party. Waltrout quickly says that he can’t swim so it’s up to one of our brash young fools to get in the muddy water. The best candidate for this was our elf swordmaster and after stripping down to a dainty silken robe under his armor Waltrout gasped, “I thought you were a girl!” Apparently the high elf’s delicate features and milky white skin led our simpleton to think that he was in the company of an elf maiden. The swim across the Tranig ended up with our elf dipping a toe into the muddy water and then slowly attempting to cross. After being nipped by an eel he made like an Olympic champion and made it across in very short order. Not long after that everyone was over on the other side of the river.
Waltrout stuck with the party through the Liche gate, tunnel, temple and embalming rooms to have everyone emerge into the Garden proper where they headed off to Olaus’ tomb and found it broken into and empty. This is when the zombie hordes appears and the party saw Waltrout running and screaming towards the Ossuary. They followed and fought the hordes where they could but really not thinning them out much at all. We got to the ossuary just as Waltrout was trying to shut the door to keep himself safe but the party managed to squeeze in, into the total darkness. Harried lighting of torches came next while zombies were pounding of the door that they were attempting to bar and then they noticed bones from all over the ossuary knitting themselves together into full skeletons that attacked the party. Waltrout let out a scream and hid in a corner for a bit before he snuck downstairs during the smashing of bones in the flickering torchlight.
They eventually made their way downstairs to find Mourn and the raised Olaus. The fight led to the troll slayer going down but with some very good dice rolls they put down the massive skeleton AND Mourn in quite short order. Unfortunately, Brother Grabbe and Waltrout were both killed in the melee but they also were able to find the other lightning stone that was in the cemetery. With all of the dead no longer under Mourn’s control the graveyard grounds were filled with hundreds of corpses in various states of decay needing re-burial but no Priest of Morr to re-inter them properly.
The return to Addler brought good and bad news. Good in that Mourn was dealt with and Schulman was over the moon about another stone being found. Bad in that we have a cemetery full of corpses that need tending to and no Priest of Morr in Stromdorf or in the party. It was a great session with lots of good roleplaying and hilarity.