Ravenloft Campaign: the Last Dance (Session 2)

Evening October 1st, 755 BC, Pont-A-Museau, Richemulot

After our heroes gathered themselves and checked to make sure Nthntuck and Vinzent were not dead, they banded together and waited.  Vinzent and Tuck (shorthand to make life easier on both the writing and the reading) stirred after about 30 minutes.  No one had been able to find a way in or out beyond the big metal door, but Tuck was a trained tracker and immediately followed the rat’s trails into a pile of rotting and destroyed furniture.   In the furniture was a small chest with Falkovnian gold coins and a diamond, that Elaine found, then passed out mostly equivalent wealth to everyone, leaving herself a big ole diamond to replace the pieces of quartz she had been using as casting material components.  Tuck wanted none, and continued to throw aside furniture until he found a cupboard.  Opening the doors, he found a small hole leading behind to another stairwell.

With everyone’s help, they moved the furniture to see a gently sloping staircase that was covered in condensation.  The sound of rushing water and some mechanical clanking came from beyond.  They took the stair case, which gentle curved left until it ended at a large docking area, where two enormous waterwheels turned, powered by an underground canal.  One of the waterwheels was wooden, while a second was metal or stone and set into the far wall, spinning at a very different, more deliberate and mechanical pace than the wooden one.

Vinzent considered destroying the wooden waterwheel as the others looked about, seeing the only way out as a small hole in the ceiling that a metal rod attached to the far waterwheel  seemed to be going upwards into.  That or the canal, which no one could see very far down.  As Tuck checked the walls for any kind of hidden script and Drew for doors, Violet shapechanged into a wasp to check out the areas down the canal. 

The canal’s ceiling quickly slopes down at both the entrance and exit from this room, making escape through the canal questionable at best.  Violet then flew upwards, being able to fit through the small hole.  It traveled up and up, somewhere around 30 feet, before popping out into an attic of some kind.  It had a catwalk that lead to a door that was wedged shut but with no lock and the clock tower of the school on the other side.  Inside the room was a cacophony of noise from hundreds and hundreds of turned and grinding gears.  Too many for just the clocktower, Violet realized.

She came back down and told the others what was going on upstairs as Dimitri had a minor breakdown.  Then Tuck spotted Graves at the top of the stair well.  Graves ran.  The heroes pursued.

During the run, Dimitri made contact with Graves after a few failed attempts.  Graves ran all the way out of the basement and left the metal door unlocked, allowing our heroes to leave.  Standing in the servants hallway, they gathered their breath before Tuck picked up Graves’ trail.  They all went down a small corridor along the side of the house that lead to the ballroom, where the wedding was to be taken place.

The ballroom was much like the rest of the house, dirty and empty and rundown.  They looked about for Grave’s trail when a sudden whirring of mechanics dropped 8 couples of marionettes to the floor, that all began to dance.  Marionettes that were made of corpses, lacquered, screwed, nailed, and wired together in a macabre scene.  Horror checks were made.  Two failed: Drew and Dimitri.  Drew ran in utter terror back the way he came, while Dimitri stared dumbfounded and … almost intrigued.  Vinzent followed after Drew, Dimitri following them.  Tuck, Elaine, and Violet shrugged off the horror and continued to track Graves, back into the game room.

Drew was a mess, doing everything he could to leave.  Vinzent and Dimitri tried to help, taking Drew back to the library.  In the library, they found it ransacked.  Chairs overturned, books thrown off shelves, an entire mess.  Dimitri threw his hands in the air in frustration.  Meanwhile, Tuck, Violet, and Elaine all continued to follow Graves’ tracks, which lead to the library.  Which also lead to two sets of double doors being open and the sight of the mechanical dancers to very much be seen by everyone in the library … including poor Drew and Dimitri.  Dimitri was already oddly fascinated by the things, but Drew manned up and got his aversion in check.

Dimitri, Drew, and Vinzent search the library as Tuck, Violet, and Elaine head out into the main hall, checking on Madame Tuvache.  In the main hall, more of the marionettes fall to the floor, these ones armed and attacking.  Other than a very minor scratch along Tuck’s chest, the stupid things had a mechanical pattern and were very easily avoidable.  They headed back to the library.

There, Vinzent and Drew found a secret compartment in a clock on the mantle, which had three scrolls in it.  None of them could read the ornate writing, but they could tell two were the same.  With everyone in the library, Drew gathered his items as Tuck continued to track Graves, finding him heading into a side door.  It lead to a tea room, with a strange orange glass door.  Elaine tried to open it and got gunk on her hand.  After a few minutes it became corrosive and ate through her hand and down to the bone before they washed it off.

They found a very nice silver tea set (Violet has appraising and knows what everything is worth) and they dolled it all out not particularly caring too much for who got what.  Another tracking check and Tuck takes them out another door that leads to the main hall way.  It only takes a minute for them to traverse the warrior-puppets.  Dimitri’s obsession seems to only be getting worse, though he does calm his mind enough to finally succeed on an ESP attempt (after a few failures) on Graves, whom he still has psionic contact with.  He reads Graves’ surface thoughts:

“I’m sorry … I’m sorry … please go away … I’m sorry …”

They head into the East Wing of Jerterriere and find a small room that Graves’ footsteps led to.  They bust down the door to find the old gaunt man sitting on his bed. 

Vinzent: “Is Lambert here?”
Graves:  “Yes.”
Drew:  “Is he alive?”
Graves: “… no.”

Next time, they learn more from Graves, and try to find poor Madame Tuvache.


Ravenloft Campaign: the Last Dance (session 1)

And so it begins …

November 28th through 30th, 755 BC, Pont-A-Museau, Richemulot

Over the course these days, our heroes (setup and party member details here) reached Pont-a-Museau and headed to Jerretiere independent of each other, other than Drew and Elaine who traveled together from their hamlet in Mordent.  At the front gates of Jerretiere, a former dance studio, a tall gaunt older man named Graves met them, but wouldn't let them into the estate until the wedding day on the first of the next month.  He gave them money, earmarked for them by their mutual acquaintance Docteur Christophe Lambert, to pay for a few evenings at a local tavern and inn, the Drunken Fool.  

At the tavern, the six all eventually met each other.  They conversed a bit, though none were forthcoming with information about why they were there except the Har’Akir Caliban, who saw no reason to hide that he had been asked to come and officiate the wedding of Docteur Christophe Lambert to his fiancĂ© Madame Araby Tuvache.

October 1st, 755 BC, Pont-A-Museau, Richemulot

Everyone was met at the tavern just before sunset by Graves with his carriage.  Both the Mordent natives were cagey because of it being Nocturne, especially the shaman.  Nthntuck was suspicious of Graves and sat with him upfront after a little protest from the worn driver.  In the carriage, the others all piled in and met Madame Tuvache herself.

She explained how she and Dr. Lambert met and about his love of her first husband’s old dance studio and wanted to have their wedding there.  Also that he had sent out close to twenty invitations, but these six were the only guests to come.  But she was concerned about terrible noises of some kind of monster in the basement.  Vinzent was immediately intrigued at her proposal that all of them check out the basement for some gold, but Drew was incredibly reluctant and eventually the whole thing was dropped.

They arrived at Jerretiere and were brought in to the main hall.  They all sat together with Madame Tuvache.  Drew asked where Dr. Lambert was, but Tuvache blew it off, saying he was looking for the perfect flowers.  "He has a bit of a temper and can be a perfectionisht," she shrugs, and the others agree, especially Violet. Then, a terrible sound from the basement roared up into the main hall.  Tuvache, weeping with fear, once more pleads that they look into it, but this time no one is having it, all unwilling to go down there this evening.  Tuvache then begins to go into hysterics, and in rage over Lambert's insistence of using "this damned old school", she calls off the wedding.

With Vinzent and Elaine both urging they check out the basement, and with Dimitri, Nthntuck, and Violet not arguing against it, Drew gave in not wanting to ruin the wedding.  Nthntuck cast a Sanctuary spell over Madame Tuvache, and Graves escorted them through the game room and the library to the stairs to the basement, stuck back in the servant's quarters.  They head down, Graves leaving to take care of wedding matters.

In the basement, they find just a bare room with only a single armoire.  Vinzent takes a gander, but it merely holds a pretty nice looking clock, but the clock is broken, saying it is 5 til midnight.  A quick look around the room found two locked doors lead to other rooms.  

Drew checked the clock after Vinzent and rolled to commune with the spirits.  He succeeded, hoping to speak with his mother.  Instead he saw a small blue beetle spirit sitting atop the clock with an enlargened thorax and a skull symbol on its back.  He asked the beetle why it was there, and the beetle just clicked; the clock struck midnight.  A small dwarf miniature spun around and began to bang on a blue marble.  One that Drew at that moment noticed was filled with some sort of liquid or gas that was jostling.  He noticed just as it shattered, and he saw hundreds of the blue beetles pour out of the clock, covering the floor and making everyone cough.  Some form of gas had escaped, and was very poisonous.

A few took in a lot of the gas, but it sank to floor level quickly without too much exposure.  They checked the upstairs door only to find it locked.  Vinzent, tired of his charade, threw a bundle of sticks he carried with him to the floor so he could retrieve his hidden rifle.  Of course, this kicked up some of the poison, which he nearly choked and killed himself on.

With the door upstairs being metal, they decided to try to break into the two other doors. Neither of our thieves know how open locks well, and even if they did, neither carried lockpicks.  With some cracks from Dimitri’s hand axe and a shot of the rifle, they break into one of the doors, to find a wine cellar, though mostly empty of wine now.  Just a few centipedes and a chest that served as a rats’ nest, though three bottles were still there.

They bust their way into the next door to find a hallway, with a closet to the right and an unlocked door forward.  Nthntuck went ahead, footman’s mace in hand, as everyone else checked the closet, finding lots of gear including a sword and scale mail.  Nthntuck entered the next room, to find it glowing green with lots of red eyes staring at him.

And this … is where everything went wrong.  These rats, these one-hit-to-kill giant rats, nearly killed two part members, and no one could hit them for the longest time.  To say that our heroes are not combat monsters is an understatement.

Turn starts with Nthntuck casting Sanctuary on himself after the rats all attack him.  3 of the rats run off, and promptly attack the group in the hallway.  As Vinzent gets on one knee to shoot a rat, it launches itself through the air and lands on his face, ripping out a chunk of his cheek and scratching him up, dropping him to Death’s Door, bleeding from his face.  Dimitri pulls his hand crossbow and shoots at the rats now on Vinzent … 

and shoots Vinzent in the shoulder.  Meanwhile, the two rats that made their save drop Nthntuck in one round, ripping open his inner thigh.  Elaine creates a Chromatic Orb and completely wiffs on the roll to hit.  Drew tries in vain to use a sword, as he has no training whatsoever in it and all his weapons and such were left upstairs (he cast Weighty Chest on his belongings, so no one can screw with them, but he didn’t bother to bring them with him). 

Violet used a Beastmark to trick the rats into thinking she is one of them and went into the other room, scaring off the rats feasting on the dying Nthntuck.  Dimitri, abandoning his crossbow, tries to contact the rat that was clawing and biting into Vinzent’s face (who has now taken a permanent loss to Charisma).  And he does … only to roll a 20.  A natural 20 for psionics is BAD NEWS.  His mind does contact the rat, and then a strange purple energy surge happens as the rat kicks Dimitri’s mind out of its and its eyes glow purple before it scurries off, Dimitri completely unable to sense it psionically any longer.

Elaine grabs a shield from the closet and tries to protect Vinzent as Drew continues to slap at the rats in the hallway.  Violet gives up her Beastmark and finally pulls out her sling … and the slaughtering begins.  One sling stone into the head of the rat biting Dimitri.  Next round, more flailing from Elaine and Drew, until Violet kills another with her sling.  The last rat runs, Drew bandages Vinzent to stop the bleeding, and they take a small breather, as session 1 ends.

Session 2 means more exploring of the basement, and trying to find away up and out, plus confronting Graves, who they are sure is responsible.


Ravenloft Campaign: the Last Dance (cast and set up)

So a new gaming season has started.  And I cannot be happier to be in my favorite setting, Ravenloft 2nd Edition.  Quick overview if you don't know: Ravenloft is a realm of darkness, a prison plane for evil things, with actual souls down there as well who are struggling to survive.

Our characters are all heroes in their own right, though only just beginning their journey (in other words, I didn't start them at level 1, and wanted them all to have some power and skill to them before we started).  The schtick of the adventure is that all our cast met a man in their travels, Docteur Christophe Lambert, a Dementlieu surgeon.  They all received a unique letter asking them to come to his upcoming wedding in Pont-a-Museau Richemulot, which they all agreed to do.

 Our cast:
 - Vinzent Albrecht (Human Thief 3), a Falkovnian farmer drafted into war and given a rifle when the Darkonese Sorcerer-King Azalin Rex disappeared ... only to have the army be wiped out by undead at the border yet again.  He returned to his farm to find it ransacked, and has spent the past 3 years stealing to survive.
 - Violet Stout-Tallfellow (Halfling Hivemaster 1/Thief 2), a Tepestani Halfling gardener and druid (but only of bugs) who had an affair with Dr. Lambert 10 years ago, and has trekked a very long distance to come to the wedding, experiencing things along the 3 month trek to get there.
 - Dimitri (Half-Vistani Psionist 2), a Barovian born psionic, telepath, who left to make some money, got into a LOT of trouble in Dementlieu, and fled to Richemulot, where he now uses his mind-reading abilities and Vistani heritage (and alias) to scam people by "telling their fortunes."
 - Nthntuck (Caliban Cleric of Osiris 2), a member of the Order of the Green Hand who was formerly a high ranking and powerful cleric before he resurrected a desert vampire named Palik who drained his levels and his life away to his current state.  He is searching for Palik to bring the walking dead to justice.
 - Elaine "the Great" (Human Invoker 2), an invoker from a small hamlet in Mordent who was trained by the creepy old man in the town, calling himself Tenser the Magnificent.  She has just finished her apprenticeship and is heading to the wedding in Tenser's stead, as Tenser is now a hermit who does not wish to travel.
 - Allenthalis "Drew" Turner (Half-Elf Shaman 2), a Mordentish young man with the unique ability to see spirits (sometimes) and commune with them; his mother is a spirit that has continued to train him past her own death.

We've had two sessions, which I'll write about at a later date.  See ya soon for more.