This weekend we played our first Empire of the Ghouls session for two months continuing with Chapter 5: Into the Fuligin Realm. Surprisingly (to me), the group seemed to have learned the importance of staying incognito and didn’t start a massive fight in the ghoul outpost!
Here’s the write up which contains spoilers for the campaign.
1st Deep Winter, 92 FY (contd.)
The party set off for Lillefor with their eight liberated human slaves in tow, leaving the two unconscious derro behind. Bubbles scouts ahead – the Underworld is her favoured terrain, and the group can move much faster with her as a guide. When she spots a ghoul patrol up ahead at a T-junction, Bubbles uses Anu-Akma’s Book of the Hungering Dead to disguise the adventurers as darakhul. The ex-slaves agree to be tied up again loosely to complete the ruse. Zygmunt poses as Dorren Gristlebone and presents the slaver’s papers. The ghouls allow the group to pass but suggest the “little lords” obtain travel papers at an outpost, then visit the Naming Shrine to take part in the Ritual of Rebirth.
2nd Deep Winter
The group passes safely through a ghoul outpost. Shortly afterwards, they encounter Varja Fliedermauser, a kobold bat keeper travelling to Lillefor. Varja’s bats take a shine to Bubbles, but their bonding is interrupted by the appearance of a derro speaker and his three ghast allies. The derro screams that Varja is not worthy to be treating with the minions of Camazotz, Demon Lord of Bats, and attacks. Penumbra casts sickening radiance on the enemy group and the others advance to destroy the ghasts. Bubbles’ ensnaring strike traps the derro inside the tiefling’s spell, and Louthin and Zygmunt finish him off with arrows and javelins. They find a shard of obsidian covered in strange runes on the derro’s body which radiates pure evil. They throw it into the first chasm they come across.
3rd Deep Winter
Bubbles feels better this morning after recovering from a mild case of darakhul fever.
After passing through a kobold outpost, the party arrive in Lillefor where they rent human-sized rooms at The Sleeping Giant. They find a merchant named Ziv who is heading to Zobeck and will take the rescued slaves to safety. Later, Penumbra buys a necklace of adaptation and Zygmunt sells an unwanted magic longsword. Chatting to the locals, they learn that the Last King had allies among the derro cults, and that derro can often be found fighting in the arena at the Pit of All Flesh.
10th Deep Winter
The adventurers arrive at the Pit of All Flesh after a seven day trip through the tunnels disguised as darakhul. En route, they encountered a pair of xorn desperate to return to the Plane of Earth. Penumbra cast banishment to send them home; the grateful elementals gave the party a potion of superior healing before they vanished.
Entering the outpost, the characters do as they are told and head for the administration building to get their travel papers. There are ghouls guarding the main buildings and ghoulsteeds and emaciated beggar ghouls drinking from the disgusting fountain of rotten flesh, but no derro to be seen.
After obtaining their papers, the party see a skeleton lead a docile looking human into Noshings, the local tavern. Wondering if there are derro in the building he was led out of, Zygmunt bangs on the door. A strange undead creature, seemingly composed of hundreds of tiny skeletons creating a humanoid shape, is guarding several captives inside – none of them derro. It rasps at Zygmunt to go away; he does.
Bubbles is determined to head to the Pit of All Flesh and the others agree – no one is keen to sample the food and drink at Noshings. The characters head through the gate and into the arena where a crowd of ghouls, dark folk and myconids are watching from the stands as four darakhul – one mounted on a giant beetle – slaughter helpless humanoid captives. Occasionally, tentacles emerge from the deeper pit in the centre of the arena floor and grab one of the slaves.
When the party overhear a spectator wondering how the derro is getting on against the Lord of Old Flesh in the centre of the pit, they leap into action. Penumbra jumps into the pit first and tries to banish the giant monster. Bubbles, Zygmunt and Louthin follow, leaping in and attacking the ancient otyugh in melee. Poor Bubbles is poisoned and diseased by the Lord of Old Flesh’s erupting pustules and then grabbed by its tentacles, but the combined attacks of the characters are too much and the aberration falls dead, with Zygmunt delivering the killing blow. Penumbra grabs the derro and dimension doors to the edge of the outpost. The others follow, waving away sponsorship offers from darakhul nobles.
Gorlu, the rescued derro, thanks the adventurers, telling them where to find the Cult of the Withered Hand. Orda, their leader, knows the secret location of the “King of the Underworld.”
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Main image by Roland Deaconu