Welcome back to our continuing coverage of our GURPS game, already in session.. Let’s meet our players.
Jianjun – Priest of The War God, and bringer of the Holy Light. Not big in the zombie circles.
Grognak – Barbarian slayer, and new world champion in the Dwarf-Toss.
Frau Blucher- Cleanser of the unclean, and a decent makeshift shot put. And introducing Virgil Runnels Jr. as the Frau’s stalwart manservant –
Gunter – Happy-Go-Lucky bear about town, and drinker of fine ale, as long as he does it outside.. Stupid “No Animals Allowed” rules.
Everynne, The Red Lady – Setter of fires, and enjoyer of fires.. The Red lady does what she likes and likes what she does.
Zen – Sworn enemy of the J.K. Rowling Estate and master of the aggressive disarm.
The Party Gathered a number of rumors while going about their business in town, let’s see what they learned, shall we?
-“If you’re ever lost in the woods, you can pay a little man to take you to the BEST inn, in the new world.”
-“If you’re looking for something to do, there’s a guy in a dress outside of town who’s trying to get folks into his church.. Give him my name, he’ll give me a copper a head!”
-“We saw a pair of Bigfoots, walking hand in hand in the forest. Then they ate my horse..”
-“A giant damn cat kept asking me the same question over and over.. I think I blacked out before I could answer her, though.. I woke up just outside town.”
-“A priest of Tyr led a ships worth of slaves to freedom, but lost his high holy symbol, and his hand, in doing so, The Church would greatly appreciate them returned.”
-“I was minding my own business, going to meet… someone… out in the.. somewhere.. and this giant THING lifts me off my feet, shouts DWARVEN ONION at me, and threw me in a lake..”
We rejoin our party taking in a bit of well-deserved rest and relaxation, after several weeks sleeping on a ship, and one magical night borrowing the sleeping bags of some recently deceased goblins. Given a weeks room and board at the local inn by the Lady Penelope, the group dropped almost immediately into sleep, taking only enough time to move Grognak off four of the beds into just two. The scene begins mid-afternoon, at breakfast.
Taking their place at an empty table in the Salacious Unicorns’ dining hall, the buxom proprietress arrived, quickly sized up the group and started placing cups and tankards in front of the party, strong tea for the dour priest, red wine for the wizardess, a steaming mug of tarbean tea (Note: fantasy talk for coffee) for the Pirate (Yeah, I said it the first time, for once!), what appeared to be a large bucket of mead for Grognak and ale for the Dwarf & her friend who was CERTAINLY not a bear wearing glasses and a fake nose. After serving she promptly sat herself down on the holy warriors lap, and began aggressively flirting in dwarven, ignoring the rest of the party for most of an hour.
Midway through their eventual meal, the group was interrupted by an elder member of the church, asking politely for a moment of their time. Jianjun was more than happy to silence his companions and let the priest speak, and invited the man to deliver his message. It seemed, as luck would have it, that the Church’s new Oracle had foreseen the parties involvement in the recovery of several evil artifacts for the church, and the priest hoped that he might start them on their holy quest this very day.
Having little else in the way of work to do, the group was willing to sign on, but when they questioned the priest, he stated that only the Oracle could give them more information, and stepped aside to present said oracle, only to reveal Elan, the young priest from the day before. The sight of the boy caused Frau to leap to her feet, level her mace up and shout “UNDEAD!! UNCLEAN!!” Before the Dwarf could strike, or Elan soil himself, the elder priest frantically explained that Elan had been resurrected by his the grace of his Goddess, and was not, in fact, a member of the undead.
Elan explained that he had received a powerful vision of the events about to transpire, and that he would lead the party deep into the woods, to discover “The House of the Fallen Lady” though he had no idea what that meant, or who this lady was. Elan stated that the object they sought would match the unholy relic already in the parties possession, so identifying it would be no difficult matter. Young priest and old both quickly looked at Zen, who smiled innocently, and called to the barkeep for a refill on her tarbean tea.
The group said that was good enough for them, and prepared to depart. Before they could exit town, however, the older priest did request that they do everything in their power to protect the child, perhaps with more vigilance than they had shown last time..
Elan began to lead the party deep into the woods, on no trail that their giant woodsman could discern, never veering, but still insistting that nothing looked quite the same as his vision. Soon after, Grognak decided to seat the young Oracle on his back, to which Elan proclaimed, “OH, this is MUCH better.. I wondered why I felt so short.. Alright, this way!” and began to lead them much deeper into the forest at a quicker pace.
About mid morning, Grognak picked up a strange smell, stopped the group and whispered “Dire Wolves, ten of them, up ahead… Get ready…” This was a critical success on his perception check, which made the parties lives MUCH easier. The wolves ambush was ruined, and Elan had more than enough time to run and hide under Gunter, who decided to sit and watch, rather than get involved in the fight.
Grognak made quick work of the first wolf with his warhammer, but growing angry at the next who bit him soundly on the groin, decided to attempt hand-to-hand combat for several rounds, and was less successful, though the wolf failed at each attempt to bring the barbarian to the ground, despite his aggressive hold on his.. loincloth.
Meanwhile, as the priest called upon his miracles to heal and protect the barbarian, the Red lady issued forth a jet of fire, immolating several of the large wolves. The Frau crushed bone and flesh alike with her heavy mace, while Zen danced in and among the wolves, slashing and jabbing with her newly acquired Shortsword, liberated from the cloaked thief she slew the night before. Not like he needed it anymore, right?
Despite the overwhelming numbers, and MANY successful defense rolls on the part of the dire wolves, the party did finally best the beasts, and after finding no treasure and scowling at the GM, the party replaced Elan on his perch atop the barbarian and continued on their journey.
Another hours walk deeper into the wilderness, Elan called a halt, and informed the group that they had reached their destination, an old, mostly crumbled cemetery. The Graveyard was scattered with only a number of grave stones, two stone statues, and a small square gazebo.
Elan informed the party that his vision ended here, and given that information, he would be headed home, safely under his own power. Before the group could argue, the young priest wandered back into the woods alone, vanishing in the brush. “He’s gonna die again, isn’t he?”
Seeing no reason not to inspect the graveyard, Frau made first entrance into the once holy site. Feeling as if she walked through a thick spiderweb as she made ingress, Frau’s heard the tell-tale moan of zombies, raising up from their dug graves, and approaching the dwarf with a hungry look in their eye.
The imminent threat of undead upon them, the party sprang into action. Zen shrank back into the shadows, as she is wont to do, as Jianjun stepped to the boundary of the graveyard, held high his quarterstaff topped with the symbol of his lord, Erlang Shen, revealed to be a cast iron image of a clenched fist, and called upon the light of the war god to drive back the undead.
As the lumbering barbarian entered the fray, the Frau called him to her side, and pointed at the furthest fleeing Zombie. Knowing the dwarf’s mind, Grognak grabbed Frau, spun in a tight circle, and flung her directly at the undead abomination. As the holy warrior neared her pray, she braced her shield, screamed her battle-cry; “UNCLEAN!” and smashed headlong through the zombie, destroying it utterly.
The remaining zombies were handled quickly, unable to defend themselves while shambling in fear from the cleric’s holy light. The Turn Undead power is a contest of Will, and this group of shambling meat-sacks rolled an 18. on 3d6. I could not have done worse. They posed no threat to a party that already excels at killing undead.
Given a few free seconds with the empty cemetery, the party searched the gazebo, finding a false floor under a thick layer of dead soil. Beneath the false door was a short ladder, leading down to a deep spiral staircase.
Descending several levels into darkness, the party emerged into a dimly lit hallway, spreading out to their left and right. Taking a quick consensus, the party headed to the right for ten or so yards, before the hall took a sharp left. As they rounded the corner, Jianjun noticed a shuttered window on the wall to the right. Taking a moment to inspect the window, the cleric found the shutters stuck closed, beyond his strength to open. Thankfully, Grognak is never at a loss for finesse, and smashed the shutter with his warhammer, revealing a wall of packed dirt and stone beyond. “Well that’s helpful..”
Resuming their trek into the underground structure, the group turned the corner, only to find themselves facing an unlikely grouping of individuals; two small red imps, a bespectacled young man in dark robes, resembling nothing so much as a depressed <Excerpt removed for copyright reasons> OK, well, think famous British Boy Wizard, glasses, black hair. You get it. Behind the young man stood two animate skeletons, armed with wicked looking axes. Jianjun wasted no time, shouting “DEMONS” and saying a quick prayer.
Taking no time for diplomacy, the party sprang into action, with Grognak lunging at one Imp, The Frau charging towards the skeletons, while the groups rogue was nowhere to be found. Everynne began chanting to ready a fireball, with eyes only for the young wizard downfield, but before her spell was ready, Zen slipped from the shadows, and drug her shortsword across the boys neck, dropping him instantly to the ground in a pool of his own blood.
The imps revealed to be Devilkin, fell quickly to the opening onslaught, and the skeletons fared no better, as The Red Lady turned her attention to one and the cleric blasted the other with holy light, dropping both. Taking just a few moments to search their prey, the adventurers found a small amount of coin and a few odds and ends, mostly paraphernalia of an apprentice wizard, if the Red Lady was to be believed. The highlight of the loot was a potion belt, made of hold several vials or grenades. It was similar indeed to the one their own mage wore over he crimson robes.
The hall continued on for three dozen or so yards, with a left turn about halfway down, and two doors spaced out along their right. The party seemed interested in what might lay beyond those doors, and turned to Zen to find out. Taking no great amount of effort, the Pirate whipped out a set of lockpicks, and opened the lock only to exclaim “DAMNIT” as a small needle jabbed her in the finger. Thankfully her gloves were thick enough to prevent real damage, or the poison that had been smeared on the needle, but the lesson was learned to check for traps FIRST, and THEN pick the lock. More player knowledge than character, it was nonetheless an important lesson.
Inside the first room was a small bedchamber, with a desk on one side, a small chest of drawers and a bed on the other. After a quick ransack of the room they turned up a strange book in a language none of the party could read, and a jar, containing a strange piece of meat which Grognak identified as an organ from a Frost Snake, worth a decent amount of coin to an alchemist. They loaded up their new-found goods, and continued back along to the other door.
Finding the second door in the hall not locked OR trapped, they looked inside to find a mostly empty bedroom, with two unused beds, and soiled clothes. A reluctant search turned up nothing.
The party continued to the end of this hall, ignoring the first left turn, and turned left at the end, finding a hall matching the first they explored. Two doors were on the right, and one on the left. Checking the first on the right, they revealed another set of stairs headed down. A quick consensus decided to explore the rest of this level, before moving further In. They re-closed the door and headed on. The next door along was locked AND trapped, but Zen had little trouble opening it, exposing what had once been a richly decorated bedroom.
Taking NO time before falling into a search, they uncovered coin and various goods, including a much finer quality tome, in what appeared to be the same language as the book recovered earlier. Both coin and book were packed up, as the party crossed the hall to tackle the 3rd door.
Finding neither trap nor lock, Zen led the procession into an old, but still utilized dining hall, with a long table, several chairs in various states of disrepair and bits of what appeared to be a recent meal still sitting about. Never ones to let food go to waste, the party helped themselves to some bread and cheese. I’m not surprised here at all, my own gaming group once made no pretenses about looting a bag of smoked rats, saying only, “food costs money, no need to waste it..”. At the other end of the dining hall, was another door which lead back into a hall they had ignored earlier.
Across this short hallway they faced another door, though at this point Zen was distracted, so Grognak took his turn at picking the lock, and smashed the stout wooden door into kindling. Grognaks player looked at me “Doesn’t appear to be trapped now, does it?” Sometimes I get my own medicine back to me, heh.
Inside was what appeared to once have been a great library, still containing a large number of books, if in a less than desirable condition. Before the rest of the party could even begin to search, The Red Lady extended her mystic senses, pointed to a shelf 3 over and 4 up, and said, “That book there, its magical and valuable. Get it and let’s go.” A critical success on her Perception + Magery roll, it led them to the only real source of treasure. I thought I was going to get them to work at this one..
Heading left out of this room brought them to another long hall, showing that this level of the.. building? Dungeon? Whatever it was they were in, was shaped like a squared numeral 8. Seeing 2 more doors on the far side of the hall, they decided to check the one on the right first, which opened into a strange workroom with a row of rusty cages to their right, and a covered stack of something on their left. A workbench covered in miscellaneous tools sat against the far wall.
While Zen picked through the tools, Frau heard a slight hissing sound, and silenced the group before finding its source coming from under the tarps. Yanking back the thick canvas revealed another long cage, this one filled with 3 Serpents covered in white fur, hissing and snapping at the party around them. Grognak branded them Frost Snakes, but finding that neither Hanseath nor Erlang Shen required their followers to handle snakes, the group decided to come back to this room on their way out and decide what to do then. Zen reported finding only a cheap set of surgical tools, which Jianjun offered to put to good use.
The final door led to a small chamber adorned with nothing more than a stack dead bodies, which the group declined to search, preferring not to be arm deep in rotting corpses. They made for the stairs leading down.
Down the stairs led them to a long hallway, lit by fresher torches than above. The hall branched out to their right only a dozen paces to a door, and twice that distance to their left, turning right. Choosing to go right first, they opened the unlocked door to a small room with a soft chair, a small table, and a half-empty bottle of wine. Taking the wine, they closed the door, and turned to explore further. The hall looped them around, showing one door on the right, and another on the left, further on. The door on their right opened into a torture chamber, littered with various rusted implements of its trade, and a few unmoving bodies. As they turned to leave, one of the figured still attached to the wall let out a low moan, revealing it to be still, barely, alive.
Given healing and water by Jianjun, the man begged the party first not to kill him, and later, once he understood, to take him OUT OF THIS PLACE. Assuring the man that he would be safe, they led him back to the room with the soft chair, gave him food and wine, and turned their attention to the last unopened door.
The door opened into a large chamber with doors on either side, already open, that led to shallow pools of what the holy members of the party confirmed were Unholy Water, yet had once been holy to some deity.
At the far end of the chamber were two large wooden doors, carved with a relief, long since faded and unreadable. Finding no locks or traps, Zen shrugged and pushed the doors open, revealing an immense chapel complete with a number of zombies, a robed figure standing at an alter chanting strange words and holding a wicked black dagger, and two large, red-skinned demons holding broadswords dripping with blood.
Having interrupted their unholy ritual, the zombies turned to charge the party, while the demons took flight, moving to engage the largest threat, the hulking barbarian. Seeing only his Lords foe before him, Jianjun left aloft his staff, calling once again upon the light of Erlang Shen to repulse the abominations.
Grognak and Frau Blucher charged to engage the enemy now fleeing the brilliant light of good, with the barbarian impaling a demon on his warhammer, and Frau calling the blessing of Hanseath to smite a zombie as she unleashed her battle-cry. The Red Lady used her deep knowledge of the arcane to alert her party that the robed figure on the dais was attempting to summon yet another demon, and began to cast her own, a fireball, to better cleanse the unclean. Seeing nowhere to hide, Zen launched into a sprint for the alter, drawing her blade and focusing only on the menace who stood before it.
As the cleric advanced, holding his holy symbol high, the zombies and demons were forced to turn from the fight, seeking refuge, and leaving their backs open to the onslaught of their foes. The Red Lady let fly a burning globe of fire which burned itself through the chest of one demon, and Grognak yanked free his warhammer, killing the other. Frau brought down zombie after zombie, fighting her way toward the summoner, but was quickly blown past by Zen who leapt into the air, landing on the alter one foot on either side of a recently slain corpse, and brought her blade down severing the forearm of the fiend attempting to bring further abominations. Not having the level of health needed to continue casting spells while bleeding from a stump, the demonoligsts ritual was ruined.
Finding it easy to crush the remaining zombies with their leaders dead, the group began to search the room, collecting the dagger the dagger from the bleeding and crying demonologist, (later put out of his misery by Jianjun) and opening a door to the side of the raised pulpit, revealing more dead bodies, mostly stripped and in various states of decay.
Given several minutes to thoroughly investigate the room, Zen found what she believed to be a secret hatch, but was unable to open it, relying on the help of her associate Grognak, to reveal its secrets. A few moments work with his warhammer, opened crawlspace, holding a stout wooden chest, which was promptly drug out and opened like a Yule present. Inside were a number of random goods, including a hefty pouch of coin, a small gem, various potions, and wrapped in a heavy cloth, a very light shield, made of Orichalcum, an almost indestructible, but incredibly light metal, branded with an unknown word in calligraphy, and smelling faintly of smoke. As the mage looked upon it, she claimed it magical, and heavily so. Relieved of his life, the demonoligst was also relieved of his robe, adorned with fine tassels, and enchanted with the ability to resist water. Or blood, if one was to be sprayed with such a thing..
As they began to pack up their new treasures, the party saw Zen pull from her pouch a cloth-wrapped dagger matching the one taken from the now dead Demonologist. There were looks all about, nods of understanding all around, and an agreement that they would discuss it when they arrived back in town. The party made plans to collect their now rescued prisoner, and made haste to leave this unholy place.
Thankfully, thy encountered no trouble leaving the dungeon, and marched quickly as they could to the safety of town, and their cut of the rewards.
Awarded 12 points for the hefty battles, returning the prisoner alive, and recovering the u holy relic, the party was pleased all around. Each member received a cut of $467 in coin, with Frau being given custody of the new shield, revealed to be named “Kemoth’s Weightless Bulwark”, and worth more than the rest of the treasure combined.
All around, a good adventure, pleasing to both players and GM alike, I hope. Sorry for the delay, more to come soon.