Decaying Lands 22: Skeleton Staredown

PCs Present & Played:

Claus, Magic-User 4 (Vegas)
  Wiebke Bott, linklady & burgeoning apprentice
Jewel, Really Good Dog 3 (Rudy)
  Buddy, ratter dog
Karl Gelt, Exiled Prince 1 (Helpful Waffle)
Tenkos, Cleric 3 [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 3 [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)

Long hiatus! Too much work, no time for games. Last time (a long time ago) the party explored an underground... something. They burned some torches, saw and were ignored by some skeletons, stole a bag of silverware, and swiped a bunch of fancy rolled up tapestries.

Sidebar: Shoutout and thanks to Ian Reilly for the awesome d100 skeleton table that is starting to become very relevant to the party.

When we came back they were loaded down with the rugs and across the large atrium from the seemingly excavating skeletons. They debated as to whether to take what they got and leave or investigate further. Either character or player curiosity (or fear of leaving whatever was happening to progress) ended in a decision to keep going after stashing the tapestries and silverware back in the elevator. Viggo specifically made note that he was dumping out the silverware and keeping the sack with him.

Alas, while they were doing all this the torch they had left in one of the statues in the elevator hallway went out. Karl and Tenkos' torches were still burning brightly though so they weren't too worried.

Their aim was to explore more of the underground while still avoiding the industrious skeletons as much as possible. They skirted the leftward side of the atrium and heading towards the top hallway since they hadn't seen any skeletons going in there yet.
From 1 clockwise round to 4.

Partway down the hallway an arch descended from the ceiling. The writing was Old Teutonic but Karl was still able to make it out. It read:

"Let the rest of the honored dead never be disturbed."

As they approached they saw that the archway descended down the walls as well, with an inch of stone coming out of the wall covered in iconography holy to the Church. Think that Karl went thru first and when he didn't get zapped or disintegrate then everyone else came thru as well.

The hallways split into five different alcoves that they eventually found to all contain doors. Each doorway had its own descended arch above it bearing the name of the one presumably entombed inside. They went clockwise around in this order:

  • Karoline the Stout
  • Marleen the Mendicant
  • Emil the Sapper
  • Saskia the Bookish
  • Adelmar the Forthwith

Karoline the Stout's door was thick solid wood, reinforced with iron bands, with a knob and lock right in the center. Viggo checked around the perimeter of the door and inside the lock looking for needles or blades or anything else out of the ordinary. All he found was the glint of what looked like hinges on the right side of the door. Quick work with a set of thieves' tools and Viggo had the door open.

The tomb itself was dominated by a large stone sarcophagus, carved in the image of a large, muscular woman in full plate, greatsword held in her hands. On the far wall was a mural showing an idealized version of the woman carved on the sarcophagus standing triumphant on a field of battle. It looked very much like one of the tapestries they took from the feast hall (maybe exactly, hard to tell since they left the tapestries in the elevator).

Everyone except for Jewel (and Buddy) went inside the room. The very good dog and her ratter companion held back, wary of "disturbing the rest of the honored dead." 

They lit the candles that were left in the candleabras and very quickly decided to open the sarcophagus. Claus covered his mouth with his ascot, Wiebke and Viggo got out their crowbars, and they heaved just enough to crack the opening and look inside. Big puff of dust and then they saw a skeleton in some plate mail with a big sword.

Sidebar: I love that Claus has a froofy ascot that he is also willing to use for practical purposes. I also love that this party kind of hits the spread on respectability, with a seemingly higher class dandy or academic (in reality a depraved magic-user) and well-mannered noble (lost prince!) traveling around with two potentially scary, grimy, but ultimately effective and respected professionals (plague doctor and bounty hunter). I guess Caleb kind of fits in between them depending on how much he pretends to be a knight. Jewel opens up a whole 'nother avenue of options all by herself.

First reaction was "Why isn't this skeleton moving rocks?" Their opinion was split between the lid being heavy and the archway denoting some kind of holy area that was blocking whatever was animating the skeletons. Not wanting to take any (more?) chances they finished opening the lid all the way and quickly took the greatsword out.

They wanted to grab the plate mail too so we talked about how one could save time by not taking care for the bones and just smashing them to get the armor out without having to undo straps and whatnot. In the end they decided to leave the armor there since Caleb wasn't around and left leave the greatsword in the hall.

At this point they took stock of the general area behind the descended arch, which is when they found that all five branches led to doors and that they all had engraved arches above them. Karl also checked the back side of the entry arch and saw another inscription:

"Let the rest of the damned never come."

This made them all a bit uneasy and seemed to reinforce their theory that this area was special somehow.

They kept going round the doors, clockwise. Jewel took Buddy and posted up on their side of the arch, in the darkness. She didn't seem to want any part of looting the tombs so she stood guard, using her doggy hearing and super good doggy nose (Scent the Ineffable - smell undead within 30') to watch their back.

The next door belonged to Marleen the Mendicant: simple, metal, and no obvious way to interact apart from a small slot directly in the middle. Viggo dropped a silver piece through the slot. He heard it slide in and hit some metal but nothing else. Tenkos tried a copper piece and heard a lot more moving parts as some mechanism behind the door clicked and the whole thing lost tension and swung out.

Marleen's tomb was even more sparse than Karoline's: only a single candelabra was there to be lit and the carving on her sarcophagus was much rougher and simpler. The mural showed a humbly dressed woman leaning down and comforting wounded soldiers, again reminiscent of one of the tapestries the party took down.

There was nothing inside her sarcophagus apart from some moldy robes and a wooden cross on a steel chain. Karl, the most religious out of the party, took the cross in the hopes that it might have some power against the undead they had seen.

Sidebar: While Tenkos is a cleric, and that might make one think he is the most religious, the faceless doctors from Ghallia are a bit more practical in their application of faith and caring for the souls of humanity. If they hadn't been so effective at keeping back the plague that ravaged Ghallia the Church probably would have burned them all as heretics long ago.

Two doors down, three to go. They tackled Emil the Sapper next. His door was big, stone, and featureless. Inspecting the door came up with nothing but then Viggo widened the search to the stones around the door. That revealed a loose stone that was quickly pried out, leaving a cavity that went back a bit and ended in a t-bar extending out from the dirt. Viggo reached in and started to pull. As he did, he heard two clicks.

While this was happening, Jewel heard some shuffling and grinding of bone approaching, different from the normal excavatory sounds she had been monitoring of the skeletons working. She raced back towards the torchlight with Buddy...

... as it suddenly got a lot brighter. The first click Viggo heard was the door opening but the second one was the fire bomb that was also hooked up to the t-bar and oil and fire shot out into the hallway near the door (per p60 of LotFP Rules & Magic). Oil & fire as written isn't really that bad, just a d4, but if it hits 4 then it can cascade. Everyone mostly got just scorched, except Wiebke.

Wiebke rolled a 4. We didn't have stats for her yet so I had Vegas roll her HP and Con score. HP came up 1. Not looking great. Con 16 gave her 3 total HP, which was better, but now she had to make a save or take more damage. Had to get better than a 15 on a d20, and she did not. Don't remember what the next damage roll was, but it was more than enough.

Wiebke Bott, former linklady, had been burned to death. Viggo was really upset to be exploded TWICE by fire traps. After they realized Weibke couldn't be saved Viggo checked into the mechanism more and saw a metal wire attached to the back of the t-bar, separate from the main pull line.

Sidebar: In retrospect just a simple oil & fire trap is not really that deadly, especially for something to guard a sapper's tomb. I should have made it stronger! I was thinking the threat of catching on fire was a good danger but practically speaking it's not terribly likely (roll max damage, fail a save, then roll max damage again). I also should have probably just rolled damage once but here we are.

Side sidebar: I may be the most upset out of everyone that Wiebke died. Definitely top 3 of my favorite NPCs so far and I was really curious to see where her relationship with Claus went. T_T

Claus picked up the smoldering body of Wiebke and put it in the sarcophagus of Marlene the Mendicant. Karl said a prayer over her and everyone agreed that Marleen would probably have been okay with this.

Meanwhile Tenkos took his torch with Jewel back towards the arch and found themselves staring at the hollow eye sockets of a skeleton, garbed in tagged  northman's clothing. It didn't move, just stared at them from the atrium room with its head cocked.

The rest of the party continued, undeterred, to the tomb of Saskia the Bookish. The door again had no obvious holes or handles but this time they did not find anything on the wall around it. The door was smooth and was made out of a single sheet of some kind of dark green, almost black stone.

Someone made the obvious "speak friend and enter" joke but to no effect. They guessed that "the Bookish" meant that this person was probably a magic user and so they wanted to cast some magic on the door to try and get it to open. They did a quick inventory of Claus's spell slots and came up with two magic missiles, a free 2nd level slot (usually used for comprehend languages for Jewel) and a scroll of Summon that Claus had prepared back during his downtime in Bremmlecht as a nuclear option if all else failed.


They went with magic missile and four shining pink bolts of eldritch energy slammed into the door, each one causing more and more of the rock to chip off in large chunks.

Sidebar: I tried really really hard to describe a slate blackboard without calling it a slate blackboard. In retrospect I could have said it was like shale or slate and it wouldn't have given too much away. Trying to describe things in qualitative terms without being super obvious is a challenge I really enjoy as a referee but I can see the potential to go too far as well.

The four bolts punched a sizable hole in the middle of the door but also made quite a significant amount of noise. Jewel began to bark as she smelled more undead approaching and a number of skeletons appeared out of the darkness to join the decayed northman:

Skeleton wielding its own arm as a club
Skeleton wearing a spiked helm
Skeleton covered in wax
Skeleton with charcoal burned bones
Skeleton with a shield on its back
Large quadrupedal skeleton with sharp claws and a terrible beak
Skeleton with the head of a large, many-pointed stag

The stag-headed skeleton took a step forward from the group up to the edge of the boundary between the corridor and the atrium. A raspy voice hissed out from its skull and slithered down the hall for all to hear: "Who are you? Whaa-t do you wan-t here?"

Continuing the MS paint streak, it's too fun. Is this remotely recognizable?

Jewel kind of whimper growled (if I recall) and Tenkos mumbled something non-committal. The stag-headed creature's voice slid down the hallway again, repeating its question. Tenkos called back over his shoulder to the rest of the group, "Hey I think we're going to have to fight this guy soon!" and we ended the session.

Sidebar: End time was a little earlier than usual but it was a great break point and some of the players thought it might be better if Caleb was present. You know, just in case.

Torch Inventory:
  • Torch 1: OUT
  • Torch 2: Lit, Statue 4, d4
  • Torch 3: OUT
  • Torch 4: Lit, on the floor?, d6
  • Torch 5: Lit, Karl, d4
  • Torch 6: Lit, Tenkos, d8
  • Torch 7: fresh
  • Torch 8: fresh

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