Here’s the write up for our eleventh Scarlet Citadel session. Hopefully these write ups will prove useful to others running the adventure.
You can read earlier posts here. This post contains spoilers for Scarlet Citadel.
In this session, the characters were returning to Redtower to rest and recuperate, and in Torander’s case, to earn the 200 XP he needed to level up. Years ago, I read somewhere a good DM is like a magpie, stealing things from all sorts of places to make their game better, so to spice things up a bit, I incorporated cool elements from a few D&D books I’d bought recently into the session.
Last session, the characters had withdrawn to Level 1 of the Scarlet Citadel to take a short rest before heading back to Redtower. Since this level of the dungeon is now slowly becoming overrun by undead coming through the portal from the Dry Lands, I picked a new undead creature, the corpse wisp, from the Grim Hollow Monster Grimoire. These CR 1 incorporeal skulls have a deadly life drain attack and things went really bad for the PCs at first before they were able to defeat the creatures and safely exit the dungeon. Torander picked up the “coals” these monsters leave behind when killed – he can use these as components to add necrotic damage to his spells.
Safely back in Redtower, the characters’ first stop was to Zula the witch to replenish their supply of potions of healing. This time, Zula had a quest for them – to burn some food scraps in a fire pit a short walk away in the forest “to feed the dead.” When the characters did what the witch asked and burned the scraps in the shadow of a strange rune-covered boulder, they learned that feeding the dead in this way allows them to return, instead of keeping them away as they’d been told. This unsettling encounter came from What Crooked Roots by Cassi Mothwin, a collection of creepy folk horror encounters.
Next, the characters visited Eva at the orchard to follow up on stories they’d heard about her son Gabe having nightmares after spending the night in the clearing with the ancient stone arch on the village outskirts. They also went to Yarila and Porevit’s temple where they met the alseid druids and Eva’s husband Cibor.
At the Lifeless Clearing, the party ran into a group of bandits working for Cagoth-Ze with orders to find “that idiot Tymon” and a fight ensued. Their leader was carrying a mysterious torch-shaped relic carved from a brilliant blue gemstone. After burying the bodies in the woods, Torander witnessed the arch glowing and caught a brief glimpse of someone in chains inside it. With the sun beginning to set, they decided to return to investigate further on the following day.
That night, The Cage played host to a frog race – a fun encounter I’d borrowed from Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. Gabe had found four colorful mutant frogs in the pond northwest of town and the adventurers were invited to take part in the race. Dimitar named the party’s bright red frog Gove and coached him to victory with help from the other PCs. Unfortunately, the frogs swelled up to giant size when the race finished and became aggressive, attacking Mayor Broz and the other bystanders. The characters stepped in, killing two of the frogs, and knocking Gove and the other one out so they could return to normal size.
Once Gabe had returned the surviving frogs to the pond, he told the characters about his nightmares of grasping shadows and a great city collapsing into oblivion, setting up Warlock Lair 50: The Light of Memoria for next session.
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Main image by David Auden Nash