'Ware the Moloch

Barbounianic Meditations

I see no way that we can survive the next confrontation. The Party’s salvation is in diplomacy and negotiation, not fighting.

My big toe is very hairy.

We must somehow pit the two Draconian forces against each other and pick a side, help that side destroy the other, and then betray and abandon the victor and find an efficient way to fight HIM.

The pebbles on the ground are curiously reminiscent of seaside pebbles.

An alliance with my enemy from before and subsequent betrayal is a wonderfully tasting karmic action.

I know whom I wish to convince that I support and whose enemy I will fight.

What color is this, exactly? If I squint it looks blueish. Chatter. Cocksucka.

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A1S7: Now we fight!
Does that make it a necrophone?

Kilmora patches up some folks and moves a wagon away from the ruins. ’Rocco roams the dead and necro-communicates with a golden-eyed powerful baddie. Osario fortifies the walls and seeks out weak spots. Sievel … did what? I forget. The brother Barbounian drinks with the (totally not Irish) cleric and engages in a religious debate. Ayrikka gets her guardsmen pumping out intel and loyalty.

Dark guys and drakes come out to play and they play hard. Within moments, the fighters are bloodied and our fire-loving cat mage has opened up a chasm illusion/trap. The guardsmen scramble to the walls and try to help.

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A1S6: Diversions along the way
Oh, hi! Fancy meeting you here.

We fought off wimpy attackers who like to hide in trees. Sievel likes to set things like trees on fire. Fire, blades, arrows, death to the attackers. Ruins contain remaining settlers and {SURPRISE!!} Ayrikka’s guard! Wounds were patched, fortifications were … fortified?

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A1S5: Diversions along the way.
Now with more magic biscuits.

The party bravely fought the Kira (aka Preggers the barmaid) doppelgänger and its damnable blinding powers, and killed it dead. Looting and healing happened. The magic circle that looked like a certain fat dragon was destroyed/deactivated by Sievel, Kilmora and ‘Rocco and magic essence (sparkly!) was gathered by Sievel and Kilmora. The group went back above ground to assess the situation. Guards around the Lord Marshall’s place seemed angry and confused, ready to act on any provocation. The party declined to chat with them, leaving Splenome to head for Feywood. Feywild. Fey… oh fuck it. That fairie city we skipped before which vanishes periodically.

An hour or so out of town, their mouthy rake intersected with a weary group of camp followers who had no camp to follow. They spoke reluctantly of horrible death, arrows and fire ambushing their hopeful settlement. Ayrikka cleaned her nails. While Osario plied his words on the folks and fed them a magic biscuit, Kilmora cleaned and rebound the wound of one of the young boys (name from notes here) and removed a black and suspicious arrowhead from his arm. Brother Barbounian caught sight of the arrowhead and his slowly cooling anger reignited. As the travelers told their tale, the party decided this was really thier business despite the traveler’s desire to avoid the group and just get on to Splenome for help. Upon learning that Splenome was mostly dead or enraged about death, they (barely) agreed to follow the adventurers as they backtracked the travelers’ path.

A long daytime journey and some lucky tracking led all to a small overlook where the ruins of a stone building housed fires burning against prying eyes. Brother Barbounian and Kilmora advanced on the building to be met by arrows from above. But these damaging shafts did not hold the suspicious arrowheads which compelled them here…

I didn’t proof this at all!

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A1S4: Room of a Dozen Corpses
Stuffing a doorway with dead bodies in no way disturbs me.

After a messy battle with the guard-zombies and their ravenous cook, the party finds a moment of precious respite. Unfamiliarity causes the two newly-discovered Ludovician agents to decline overtures of friendship, the death priestess and her construct companion choosing instead to explore Splenome’s Keep more thoroughly.

While Kilmora barricades the shattered storeroom door with results that perch between success and concussion, the party’s war-leader plugs the secret passage entrance with the only handy material. Doing their best to ignore the smell of drying blood and spilled entrails, the party takes a much-needed rest…accepting as they do so the consequences for Splenome itself.

The next day, Scievel’s arcane investigations determine the general movement of the zombie horde. Rather than pursue it, however, the party returns to the scene of their first zombie sighting. There, careful exploration eventually reveals tunnels hastily carved into the earth, tracing the path of the zombies. Following this, the party arrives in a vast underground chamber dominated by a dark ritual circle which appears to be draining Kira, the pregnant waitress of her life.

Hideous swarms of death-beetles emerge from piles of corpses, the false undead are revealed to—within the circle—truly become that which their phantasm suggests, and a terrified Kira drives her dagger into one of her saviors…moments before the party realizes that the corpse of the real waitress lies crumpled in a corner of the room.

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A1S3: Where does this lead?

After the zombie massacre ended with the possessed dragonborn (formerly the head of the city guard a minute ago) dragging the last zombified guard and himself into the flames, Brother Barbounian and Osario got the group roughly patched up and standing mostly upright. The doors to the chamber were secured and a short rest was much appreciated by all. Some looting went on, some magical items were found and shared among the group. Damages and wounds were repaired and patched and everyone generally tried to recover their composure.

Upon investigating the former Lord Marshall’s chamber, a narrow escape passage was discovered and filed into. Osario and Sievel’s spectral cat led the group into what turned out to be the guards’ break room. Inside, zombified guards and a particularly gnarly deathly chef tried their best to find a menu of adventurers to satisfy their new cravings. Conversely, the party decided to take out their frustrations on the gruesome crew. Meanwhile, (a warborn) and (a cleric?) rip the other door off the hinges, and burst in to join the righteous smackdown.

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A1S2: Explain yourself
You did what?

After the tavern incident, the group is brought before the Lord Marshall to answer for their actions.

Using their silver tongues, implacable reason and empathy Brother Barbounian and Osario convince the Lord Marshall that something strange and unnatural is afoot.

The head of the city guard, a dragonborn, seemed suspiciously concerned for the death of Preggers, aka Kira the barmaid, even though she was heroically saved from zombies by the group. This, the clever and arcane explanations of Sievel, (did someone else speak up, too? someone rolled nature) and death beetle evidence from ’Rocco bring the Lord Marshall to declare the dragonborn head of his city guard unwelcome and banished from his town.

Unfortunately, while the group is planning a celebration to be held at the last standing pub on the other side of town and generally patting themselves on the back, everyone else turns into a zombie. The group is so surprised and baffled they largely fail to defend themselves and the session ends with the majority of the party bleeding out over the stone floor while the monk tries to staunch wounds all around.

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A1S1: No Rats In This Basement
Come to Splenome, have a few drinks...

Faced with three choices, the party (sans their resident artificer) decided that the likeliest source of immediate information on The Dicing Lords was the most pressing matter.

Thus, they traveled to the city of Splenome, familiar to some already. There they were to meet Cobblegrim, a dwarf information broker with something to sell. Some careful reconnaissance in the tavern gave them a sense of the other patrons, including a party of freelance adventurers of some renown (now deceased/redeceased). Though the party’s rake plied his charms at the bar, it is Brother Barbounian who makes first contact with Cobblegrim.

Moments later, Cobblegrim made second contact with the cellar floor, while a horde of zombified flesh took his place in the tavern proper. Quick action from Sievel, the party’s mage, dramatically reduced the undead ranks—but moments later they nearly removed her from the fight. The conflict was brief and decisive, but followed immediately by a revelation even more unpleasant than basement zombies: the undead were, in fact, still-living townsfolk.

Almost too quickly to be believed, the head of the city guard—himself a winged dragonborn—arrests the party and brings them before the Lord Marshall. They must plead their case and display their innocence, or face an assuredly swift sentence.

*Credit where credit’s due, this adventure (and probably at least two more sessions) are modified from the surprisingly excellent IDW Shadowplague Dungeons and Dragons comic. It’s also important to credit the players, though, who fleshed out the NPCs and situations within minutes of me throwing them in the bar.

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