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Experiences in X2: Chateau d'Ambervilleby Ville Lδhde
I just started DMing X2 again. The first time was in late 80s, early 90s, and one of our present gaming groups is going through it now. I thought it would be nice to write a gaming diary of sorts, just for the highlights, and I am inviting others to offer their experiences.
This is a resolutely old-school campaign: we have been playing a host of classic Basic modules using the Red Box rules "as written", trying to find how the old beloved game works if you really play it as the rulebook suggests. So we have been generating characters with the cruel rules of the Red Box, even rolling 1st level hit points. So quite a few 1 hit point starting PCs, terrible attribute scores etc, but also some great ones. Moving towards Expert levels we have been using mostly only the rules in the Expert Set, even though Cyclopedia is our go-to source. So for example no Weapon Mastery (I never used it).
It has been fun and so bloody that the players named their group "The Rotating Knives" (yes, from the Monty Python sketch). We started with all players having 2 PCs, and it was a good decision, since we started with Keep on the Borderlands, and it is a meatgrinder. During Keep on the Borderlands, Palace of the Silver Princess, Rahasia, Horror on the Hill, Journey to Rock and a homebrewed Basic-Expert transition scenario The Lost Dwarven Mine, they lost at least 26 PCs, not to mention a host of retainers (actually the first session of the Keep was a TPK with the kobolds). Slowly as experience levels have been gained, we have been moving towards 1 PC per player, so at the beginning of X2 we had 9 PCs (for 6 players), mostly on level 5, which is quite a bit more than X2 recommends. Then again, I think hose recommendations are crazy, as the module is potentially TPK-deadly even for this seasoned group.
SESSION 1: The Elf Joins the Banquet
So, "Les couteaux rotatifs" finds themselves magically transported to the Chateau, and during the transportation a force invades their minds and they learn a new language called French (I think this is an important addition), but they do not know many of the things they have names for, and they glean no other new knowledge.
First they met Jean-Louis, and their fighter successfully beat the Demos Magen in the boxing match. So, they won a lot of money and immediately are faced with a problem. Even though they have found two Bags of Holding in previous adventures, they will run out of room fast. (I think this is a good device to limit the exp gain during the adventure, and for us it created funny moments. This positive problem is added by the loot they gain after defeating the rakasta next door.
I was really dreading the ghastly banquet next door, because if you DM it as written (and that is the spirit of our campaign), it can devastate the party. Only three PCs decided to remain out of the banquet, and the rest really went to town with it: they stuffed their faces and drunk a lot. And they had incredible luck. The fighter raised his ST to 18, the thief his DX to 18, without any tough attribute losses. Nobody died of toadstool poisoning, even though 4 ate the dish (so, those guys gained the extraordinary poison save bonus). At the end 4 or 5 of them drank the brandy! Only one of them, a newly recruited elf, joined the ghosts. All his magic items of course went with it, but nothing crucial was lost. This could have ended really badly but as I said, this has been the spirit of the campaign the whole time, and experiment of sorts.
The blinding effect in the hallway was fun, and again the PCs were lucky and did not meet any random encounters.
Later they were surprised by the green slime and the black pudding, and that could have been pretty ugly, but again they were lucky. A charge from a Staff of Power (found in the Lost Dwarven Mine) and a lot of oil flasks took care of it. One of their dwarves became the pet of the intelligent sword. Since it was clearly a thief sword, we named it Arsene Lupin. The aranea were taken care of without any hassle
To be continued.
SESSION 2: "Oh, that was not your sister then?"
Well this was all kinds of fun this time.
First the PCs woke up the ogre who thought it was "Janet". One of the magic-users charmed it instantly and succeeded. The clumsy "Janet" was highly entertaining. The PCs decided to look for a secret door, based on their map, and they managed to find Richard's room instantly. Everything started well, a pretty favourable reaction and all, and the PCs learned a bit about the whole situation (the name Etienne popped up for the first time). Unfortunately as the PCs thought "Janet" had been cursed (and not killed and stuffed into the chimney), they introduced it to Richard, who was of course enraged and let our his Aslan-roar. What luck: only the thief started to flee, in the direction of the foyer and the grey mist, of course. At the same time, Richard was however successfully Held. Two PCs remained to guard him, the others ran to catch the thief. The remaining PCs happenened to be the most morally corrupt ones and they simply killed Richard, making up a flimsy cover-story.
After a breather, the PCs continued on their way. They met Guillaume d'Amberville and had an extremely favourable reaction. Guillaume, who displayed some strange facial ticks, offered a demonstration of his magical talents and hinted about the forest and "a fair maiden at the crossroads". (Guillaume thought it would be fun to direct the PCs to hurry through the killer tree forest and see how they fare.) They parted amicably.
Next the PCs ran into the wraiths but again had great luck: they surprised them. The magic-user, freshly on level 5, used Lightning Bolt for the first time and blasted them both to oblivion. I had the player roll for generic luck (3d6), and the bolt also revealed the safe and triggered the deadly trap harmlessly. Again, gold was found, but the PCs cannot carry it all.
The PCs decided that it would be time to rest, and the amber glow surrounded them. They gained experience, and the other magic-user gained her fifth level! As time around them seemed to have stopped, the PCs decided to wait for a week so the mage could scribe her first 3rd level spell from a scroll. They had enough water in their waterskins (and purify spells) to keep somewhat clean, they ate exceptional French cuisine offered by the amber glow, sparred, drunk and bickered. During this time the dwarf lost the intelligent sword, as the chaotic cleric decided to Remove Curse his old Helm of Alignment Changing (from the Lost Dwarven Mine, the previous aventure). So the sword passed to the thief, the only Neutral left. (The party is fifty-fifty Chaotic-Lawful, but the players have found a good way to make this work and to be entertaining.)
After their week-long rest, the PCs headed for the forest. At the kitchen bridge they were ambushed by four weretigers, and nearly lost two PCs. It was a close call, all in all, but nobody died. Two PCs were infected, but I had already ruled that the Staff of Healing they found in the slime room has spell charges (I highly suggest using this optional version of the staff here, or else the scenario will be even more dealy), so they could cure them I ruled that the staff is equivalent to the 11th level requirement to Cure Disease lycantropy.
In the huge greenhouse, the PCs were heading towards the Killer Tree forest, as they saw Guillaume levitating above the treetop shouting "Allo! Allo!" and waving them forwards. Free of doubt they moved on and were attacked by the trees, but luckily not totally surprised, so only the strong tip of their column can be rached by the trees.
We will continue hopefully next week. (BTW, if the PCs handle the Killer Trees well, Guillaume will applaude them and offer his Potion of Invulnerability as a prize. He is, after all, quite mad.)
SESSION 3: "Nice cave you got here"
"Les couteaux rotatifs" tackled the killer trees in a two-tiered battle. The first one involved only the first four heavily armoured PCs, but it was still brutal. All the four trees remained standing, with tentacles severed, as the PCs did not dare to approeach them in the forest. They ventured on, without sufficent care, so the two remaining trees near the path surprised them, and that was nearly fatal: the cleric and the two mages were instantly snared! However, with some luck in initiative and a Lightning Bolt spell they saved the day. Nobody died, although the halfling nearly re-enacted the classic Olf Man Willow episode.
Upon leaving the small forest, the group met applauding Guillaume. The PCs were furious for being lured into danger, but Guillaume was oblivious and greeted the hero, praising individual accomplishments, having kept score and rewarding "the most valuable player" with a potion. It was fun: the players are so scared that they really did not want to risk a confrontation, although this one would not even have been that dangerous. The learned about Isodore, Richard's wife, who is the matron of the forest, and thus were sufficiently spooked. They after all had just killed Richard. However, even though they made a lot of noise during their trek in the forest, they had incredible luck: they did not meet any wandering monsters! (As I said, I am DMing this pretty much "by the book", so I will not force the encounter.)
Guillaume directed them to meet "the fair maiden" at the crossroads but did not join them, saying "she really does not like Ambervilles". Again, the PCs were tiptoeing around the encounter, extremely wary of the mysterious woman with the unicorn. They learned about Etienne's death and the coinciding curse, and that Etienne had originally bound her to the forest, and that the chateau had been built in "Glantri". They also heard about Averoigne. (NOTE: In this campaign, I placed the early Basic adventures in the far west, beyond Hule, during settlement efforts of the Lawful Brotherhood. Chronologically I placed them in the 500AC's, during the Thyatian and Alphatian colonization drive. So the PCs speak a version of common Thyatian but have very little knowledge about the Known World. As the Mist hijacked them to the chateau, they were travelling with a trade caravan through Hule towards Sind and eventually Darokin and Glantri, so the name is known to them. If they survive this adventure, they will be placed in Wendar for Saga of the Shadowlord, around 800AC just before the plague. I have always wanted to play around with that! It is an interesting period in general.)
They dispatched the troll at the bridge easily, feeding the remains to a Bag of Devouring (and thus avoiding fire and an extra wandering encounter roll). At the pool it was so much fun, as they were so scared of the gargoyle statues that the amoeba attack was a true surprise. The halfling was again in danger, but they are a tough bunch, and Gamling (yes) survived with minor wounds.
The attack of the Wild Hunt was nearly a disaster, as the PCs were surprised. One of their mages was nearly devoured by a tiger, but the beast rolled terribly again, with worse luck this session could have ended the whole adventure. A well-placed Web spell (stopping one of the tigers) and the death of one rider broke the morale of Andre-David, but before he had time to withdraw, he was also Charmed! This created an opportunity for some extra material. Andre-David was not only happy to meet "his best friend" and sorry to have attacked him, but the whole Hunt was mightily impressed by their adversaried (reaction roll 12 after the surrender). They invited the PCs to rest and recuperate in their lair, as the PC were at this stage pretty mangled and without healing powers. Andre-David opened up the magic door into the hill with a chant to Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods (obviously, since Andre-David has the head of a black goat). The cave was decorated with Shub-Niggurathian motifs improvising quickly, I tied the Killer Trees to them. This reeeeeaaaally spooked the players, since they are old hands with Call of Cthulhu.
From Andre-David they learned about the conspiracy to kill Etienne, and about the both libraries they were inquiring about knowledge.
As "evening" approached (there is of course no real day and night among the Mist), the PCs were preparing to rest and the Amber Glow appeared! Again time stopped, wounds were healed, delicious food was served and spells were replenished. As the PCs returned to real-time, Andre-David was amazed, as his guests had been healed and rested during the blink of an eye. The PCs concocted a story about their mystical powers of sleeping, and Andre-David was awestruck: "Are you from Kadath?" (I am a bit proud of this improvised line, as it again made the players jump.)
The PCs left their new friend and headed for the chapel. In the chapel they experimented with the grisly organ and got into a fight with a couple of magical statues. Sadly, the statues did not manage to touch anyone. I am sure that if they had gained a positive effect, that would have created a nice internal conflict about daring to try again. Hearing Magdalene's pleas for help, they had to pick a fight with two other statues, but even in this fight no statue managed to score a "hit".
Magdalene was saved, and she headed straight for Charles and the library, with the PCs in tow. As the PCs sided with Magdalene, Charles was quickly killed. Magdalene grabbed her shield and left, telling the PCs that she wanted to "seek her death". The PCs remained to look around in the library, perusing the stange titles of the books: Libre Honorius, Codex Gigas, Malleus Maleficarum... and Pnakotische Schrifte, Libre Ivonis, Cultes des Goules etc. They also found Charles's spell book, managing to avoid the two poison traps I placed to guard it but unable to use it for now, as the spell book is Magic Locked.
Until next time, sometime next year, as our group is avoiding unnecessary travel before the festive time, for obvious reasons.
SESSION 4: "He sure seems to be drooling a lot"
After Magdalene left, the adventurers searched the rest of the northern chapel. They were so scared of the dancing robes that they decided to leave that red herring alone. Funny how that sometimes works out. They destroyed the golem and the skeletons, wisely decided not to poke the holes in the reliquary, but surprisingly they totally missed Simon's sanctum. Usually they search every likely secret door location, but today they just plain forgot the whole thing. Good for them, this time. But perhaps they will meet Simon still, as you can see.
They headed for the eastern wing. In the graden, the amber lotuses forced half of the group asleep, but they had luck: only one of them was grabbed by the grass, so they managed to extricate themselves and cleared the path through the forest with long-distance weapons (puncturing the rest of the lotus buds that were close to the path). The dolmen arch scared the bejesus out of them, but they dared to pass, and three of them gained substantiel bonuses.
Then: the throne room. I had been fearing this one. It is a TPK-potential encounter, and since the spirit of our campaign is to play the early classic modules as written, warts and all, situations like this can be terrible. (Everyone has agreed to the party line, of course.) But the PCs were extremely lucky: three successful saving throws bought them enough time to realize what was going on, and the intelligent sword gained earlier afforded them the quick Deteck Magic that allowed them to realize the throne was "haunted". Thus Catherine's soul was destroyed, and they even managed to find the crown jewels.
After battling the salamander, their day was full and they retired into the amber glow, with some long-awaited level-ups.
They defeated the green giant and found the trapdoor but decided to leave exploration of the dungeons for later. They ended up fighting the Sollux and defeating him. In the library Claude was wary of them but allowed them to search the shelves. In additon to the scrolls and the handout they found for example "La Vita Nova", "Ouverture de Cuisine", "Niebelungenlied" and "Beowulf". One of their mages read the cursed scroll and became a pretty bichon frise. Happily their cleric could cast a Remove Curse. However, they had to spend a day in the library, waiting for the "night" and new spell choices. Marie-Helene happened to walk in during the day and did not like the adventurers one bit but refrained from conflict for the time being. As the adventurers found new spells, they spent a week in the amber glow again, gaining the coveted Fireball and de-dogging the mage.
This was a bad session for the mage, however. He pulled a bad tarot card and was Feebleminded. He was the only one in the party to have Dispel Magic, so they have a bit of a problem. Next they ended up fighting the lupins (this is not your most Lawful and nice party, mind you), and Claude, accompanied with Marie-Helene, arrived and joined the fray. The cleric Cause Feared Claude away, and Marie-Helene was forced to stand down and parlay. The adventurers want her to help them find aid for the Feebleminded mage. Isidora in the garden would be one alternative, but Marie-Helene is thinking about steering them towards Simon...
SESSION 5: No Comfy Chairs This Time
So, Marie-Helene capitulated, and after a brief negotiation it was decided that the adventurers would go looking for Isidore. Marie-Helene was disappointed, as Simon would have been a much more dangerous encounter, but she (meaning me) only thought about him after first offering Isidore as an option. So, after looting the Lupins' treasure, they set out fot the Indoor Forest, with their Feebleminded mage friend made invisible by their other mage, to protect him, and led on by a leash.
Marie-Helene said that the only way to find Isidore would be to simply walk through the forest, calling for her. She of course hoped for dangerous wandering encounters that she could take advantage of. However, some weasels and robber flies did not offer opportunities. Marie-Helene also tried to make a run for it into the chapel but was stopped by the adventurers. Grumplily she vowed not to try anything like that again. Finally they found Isidore, or rather, Isidore found them, casting Hold Monster from the forest. The fight ended quickly and peacefully, though, as the charismatic dwarf managed to calm Isidore down. At the precisely same time Isidore Charmed him! In the end, Isidore traded a Dispel Magic casting for the looted Charles's spellbook, and the Feeblemind was lifted! The adventurers returned to the East Wing.
The PCs did not search the remaining rooms of the East Wing but headed straight for the Dungeon. They had tremendous luck in the Magical Letter room: two PCs gained Charisma (one raised it to 18!), and no averse effects. The magens were a tough fight, but the hobbit remembered Charles's magic ring and tried it. In that situation I ruled that Galvan Magen's Lightning Bolts count as spells, so that was extremely useful. The Brain Collector was dispatched easily.
Then it was time for magic dreams. Most of the PCs rolled for bad dreams, and three of them came true! Four adventurers were tortured by the Inquisition in Averoigne, and two PCs had an attribute loss as a result. The thief had to battle a terrible cockatrice, but had incredible luck in the opening melee and finally evaded the monster by Elven Cloak. The dream became true, but without any ill effects. One of the mages scored a jackpot and gained a level! She took part in a quest for the Heartstone in Ghyr, by the way. One of the dwarves spent a year in an elvish village, but sadly those experiences did not come true.
Then they started searching for the Silver Gate. The Death Demon was not released, and one of the adventurers took the magic horn. The ghouls were destroyed, but the PCs did not decide to explore the labyrinth (I had one designed, darn it!!). They also got into a fight with a group of dopplegangers. Finally a couple of friendly rakasta helped them to avoid the Hellhounds, the Amber Golem was destroyed, and Averoigne awaits!
Phew, this was a tough run, but in the end the group lost only one PC. Next week, it is the inn of Bonne Joissance.
SESSION 6: Troubles and Time Travel
It all started out just fine. Despite being bloody, with their clothes in tatters, armed and armoured suspiciously well, and having two dwarves and a halfling in the group, the adventurers managed to talk themselves into Bonne Jouissance (or "Joissance" in the module text).
The patron Thibault (yes) remained suspicious but sensed an opportunity to cash in, and offered the best food, drinks and even new clothes at a steep price. The adventurers, laden with gold, happily obliged. The matron Claudette was a fount of information, so they learned something about Averoigne and current events: a mysterious comet had appeared in the heavens a while ago, lycantropes and phantoms were prowling the woods, and the pagans were restless. From Vyones, tales of walking corpses were heard, and mysterious murders were taking place in the realm. "It is a strange time, as if everything is taking place at the same time, the old and the new."
(In essence, I retained the basic structure of the adventure, although Cthulhudrew had good ideas in another thread about breaking it up and having the events take place in different eras, with time travel structuring the whole thing. I toyed with that notion, with Sylaire's gate as a focus, but in the end I decided against it. After all, the spirit of our experiment with these old-school modules is "playing as written" mostly. But I would definitely try something like that next time, if and when that comes. So instead, I made all these simultaneous troubles an element of the story. Basically, the Silver Gate in the Chateau purposefully directs the PCs to this precise point in history, which has been engineered by Etienne himself! In this reading, Etienne was the greatest mage in Europe, "greater than Albertus Magnus, Gilles de Rais or Nicholas Flamel". He knew Nathaire and secretly helped his Colossus plans along and arragned for Gaspard du Nord to find refuge in Vyones. He summoned the Beast from the depths of space, and he furthered the rivalry of Azedarc and Moriamis. All this just to create the backdrop to his insanely intricate contingency plan in case his family turned on him. For him, forcing his relatives to suffer timeless torments was the main goal but also, given enough time, he was sure somebody would eventually complete the quest and resurrect him. As the Chateau travels outside time, there was no hurry. Only Sephora, and to a lesser degree, Moriamis, know anything about this.)
So, everything was hunky dory in Bonne Jouissance: the silver-tongued dwarf of the group managed to purchase a rough map of Avergoigne, and a local fur trapper agreed to be a guide towards the mysterious Sylaire. Then everything went to pieces, as in the morning the cleric decided abruptly to cure Claudette's one blind eye. A nice thing to do, undoubtedly, but the locals were afraid, and with the urging of the travelling monk Rainier decided that the adventurers are heathens, servants of the devil et cetera. No battle ensued, but the adventurers had to leave without their guide. They managed to purchase horses at least. But they were in a foul mood and decided to travel to Vyonnes.
During the first day of travel they happened to meet "Sire des Emaux" (Jehan Mauvassoir). Yes, he just came up from the Wandering Encounter list on the very first throw! This could have been harmless, had not the enthusiastic dwarf told him about their strange quest and mentioned the names Jehan and Azedrac. Thus Jehan, in the guise of breaking the bread of friendship, slipped them some potion of time travel. Two adventurers had the sound mind not to drink. But six of their friends disappeared, and Jehan told them they had been sent 500 years into the past, and the only way to meet their friends was to drink up. (Jehan had his own drink ready in hand so he could escape "elsewhen".) So the two adventurers chose to take a leap of faith and chugged.
In the past, the adventurers found themselves in a summertime forest, instead of autumn. They knew that walking to Vyonnes or Ximes would take ages. But in Bonne Jouissance they had noted that the core buildings were ancient (I had pointed this out, really for just this improbable eventuality!), so they hoped an inn of some kind would be there. It would take a couple of days to reach it on foot, as their horses had been left behind. The walk was perilous. First they were attacked by shadows, then phantoms attacked them with Confusion spells (this was very nearly fatal).
I had prepared for the eventuality of time-travel. I decided that at this point in history, Moriamis resided in Sylaire, which was not yet a ruin, and was in contact with Sephora. But the PCs had not yet visited Sylaire and knew nothing about the big picture. They were truly lost. Still, they had the name Moriamis to go on. With enough investigative work they could find about her. Thus I had prepared for a longer stint in the past. However, the Wandering Encounter table produced Moriamis the very next day! Note: I had already decided that Moriamis would not appear in the "now" period of Averoigne. She could only be met in the past (as in the original story). So, some good luck for the adventurers. I could of course have decided against this and not let the dice rule, but I went this way.
Moriamis agreed to help the adventurers. She would guide them to Sylaire and send them to the time of their arrival in Averoigne. She also gave them a potion of time travel on the condition that they would murder bishop Azedrac. The adventurers agreed, and Moriamis made sure they were sincere with an ESP spell. They were. So we will most likely have adventures in Ximes later on!
Back in the "right" time, on the moors of Sylaire, they found the gate to Sephora's dream realm. Sephora was expecting them, as "Etienne told me somebody would come looking for the sword". Sephora told them something about Etienne's plan. The adventurers agreed to kill Malachie. The werewolf-mage had taken over a part of the forest and allied himself with wood imps. The adventurers were ambushed first by Hasted imps and their wood spider mounts and lured into a net trap. Malachie then attacked with a Dissolve spell and tried to kill the one fighter left out of the mud and not entangled in the net. But the fight was too tough, so the (Hasted) Malachie fled to his cave. The adventurers followed, and as the cleric had prepared with a Detect Evil, they were not surprised when Malachie attacked them with spells from the dark of his lair. One of the mages was polymorphed into a rabbit before her Fireball could incinerate Malachie, but another mage managed to cast a Lightning Bolt. A fighter of the group entered the cave just in time before Malachai closed it with a Web, and killed the werewolf. A convoluted battle came to an end. They gained the werewolf's head and his spell book (cursed to bestow lycantropy on the first reader, and of course a mage of the group immediately started perusing, but luckily she made her saving throw). So, the PCs gained the Sword of Sylaire.
The travel back to the main road took many days, but they were lucky and had no dangerous encounters, apart from a nightly band of pagans, and did not get hopelessly lost. They even managed to find Bonne Jouissance again, and upon scouting the place noticed that their horses were there. Confronting Thibult they learned that a stranger had sold the horses back to him. Embarrassed, Thibault returned their property.
After a suprisingly uneventful journey north, the adventurers reached Vyonnes. They learned about Nathaire and the Colossus rampaging in the northern lands. Note: I decided that the PCs will have to contect Gaspard themselves. It makes no sense for the former pupil of Nathaire just to make himself known in public, and in any case I don't want the role of the PCs to be passive. So next time we will see how this all turns out. Do they try to take on the Colossus without help (which would be disastrous, most likely), or do they remember that they are actually looking for the Viper-Circler Mirror? It is funny how such things sometimes slip your mind.
SESSION 7: "Bada-Bada-Booom"
The adventurers began immediately searching for Gaspard du Nord. The innkeeper was very friendly, but alas, did not know Gaspard, and since the adventurers could not tell what kind of man they were looking for, he could not help. They decided that the cathedral, a center of learning, might be a good place to start. The guards were friendly, but the first priest they got to meet was so suspicious of the motley crew that it amounted to nothing. Then they had a good idea: what about the town crier? They located the official, and although he was suspicious, a little bit of greasing the wheels helped along. Again, they did not know who or what Gaspard was, but they surmised he might be some kind of scholar. The crier pointed them to a book dealer (a very rare occupation). The dealer was persuaded monetarily to arrange a meeting with Gaspard, with his client, as the adventurers had looted some interesting books from Chateau d'Amberville. "Hermocrates" (the likely non-existing dialogue of Plato), and Hobbes's "De Cive", way ahead of it's time, convinced the dealer that these guys meant business.
Gaspard, who was in the midst of translating Libre Ivonis, was puzzled that these strangers knew about him and the Ring, and Etienne, who had been his acquaintance, but the book dealer's presence calmed his nerves. Gaspard told them about Nathaire and agreed to offer the mirror in exchange of the destruction of the colossus. Note: I changed this part of the module extensively, since the idea of the PCs working in public with Gaspard, using clearly magical means, did not fit the ambience of Averoigne. So, In secret, the adventurers traveled to Moulins, where the colossus had stopped on its way to destroy the town. Since they had access to Invisibility spells and the Fly spells from the Sword of Sylaire, it was all over soon. The colossus fell. The adventurers did some book deals, got the Mirror and headed for Perigon.
On their way, in St. Zenobie, they met the troubadour Gerard. He was of great help, since he knew who Luc le Chaudronnier was. In Perigon, great persecutions of heretics and others were taking place, as the populace was terrified of the killings. The adventurers met Luc, who had been thinking about locating the Beast for a long time, but did not believe his powers were sufficient to defeat it. So he agreed to hand over the Ring in exchange for help. They set out into the night, looking for the Beast, but alas, the monster of the celestial void surprised them, managed to kill Luc and took off with the corpse into the darkness. This was a grim moment, but the adventurers had a good idea. One dwarf took the Sword of Sylaire, was made Invisible and flew in pursuit, tracking the still warm blood trail. He managed to track the beast into the Abbot's tower and saw the "abbot" bathing in his bedchamber, covered in blood, with the Ring of Eibon in his finger.
What follower was utter carnage. As the PCs had barely managed to hurt the beast at all in the melee, they decided to use magic, in the most blatant way possible. Their two mages cast Fireballs (one normal, one from their Staff of Power) into the bedchamber at the top of the tower, and the flying dwarf followed. To his horror, the Beast was still standing, so he fled and cried for another fireball, which was launched before the surprised Beast had time to flee. The Beast was destroyed. However, this was too much for the tower, and it collapsed in flames. An absolute pandemonium followed, with the rest of the adventurers trying to pose as relief unconvincing, perhaps, but the monks were not about to attack armed strangers. Their chapel was on fire, the abbot dead. The adventurers, using Detect Magic and Detect Evil spells, finally managed to locate the Ring and disappeared into the night. The hobbit grabbed the ring, and the ancient Hyborean demon within began whispering dark promises to him. The stout fellow did not fall to the temptation. Oh, those hobbits and their rings.
Basically the adventurers had everything they needed, but surprisingly, they decided to keep their promise to Moriamis and set out for Ximes, with murder on their mind. They were extremely careful and low-key when they arrived in the city, so there was no chance of the bishop being alerted to their presence (he, after all, though they were securely in the distant past). The thief of the group scouted the Cathedral and the bishop's manor extensively for three days, using the Fly spells from the Sword of Sylaire and Invisibility spells, so they got a pretty good picture of the bishop's routines. Finally he even located the bedchamber, where Azedrac and Mauvassoir shared the bed every night. They decided to strike there. Again, using the Sword, they got three of their fighters airborne, one of the fighters managed to fail a Saving Throw against their cleric's Silence spell, and thus silent and covered with Invisibility spells and one Elven Cloak, they flew in. At the manor, they noticed that the window was very sturdy, with the shutters having thick metal bars. Luckily, the halfling had gained a Ring of Spell Storing with Knock in the Card Room of Chateau d'Amberville, so this did not ruin their ambush. Azedrac was killed, but Mauvassoir managed to escape by consuming a Time Travel Potion.
So, they left the town, found a secluded spot, completed the ritual and found themselves in front of the Tomb of Etienne. Next week, the Conclusion.
And after that, if the adventurers survive: Expericences in X11, Saga of the Shadowlord, beginning in the year 798 AC!
SESSION 8: The Tomb
Well, this went surprisingly well for the PCS. No fatalities as they mowed through the dragon, the salamander, the giant, the manticore, the golem and the hydra. (In the late 80's/early 90's, only two PCs remained standing in the end.)
As expected, they were giddy with excitement and expecting the Final Monster, when they entered the heart of the tomb. Ever so gingerly they opened the coffin, read the instructions, burned the tapestry, and well, that was it. Rewards, experiences, thanks, goodbye. Etienne wrote them a recommendation letter to king Gylharen of Wendar and whisked them off to Wendar City in the hour of need.