This weekend we continued with Empire of the Ghouls, Chapter 5: Into the Fuligin Realm, as the adventurers met with the Last King and entered the Dragons’ Graveyard.
We are playing in person, so I used my Giant Book of Battle Mats and Tact-Tiles for the battle maps. I’ll be able to draw a better map of the graveyard in advance next time!
13th Deep Winter, 92 FY
Following the directions given to them by Orda, the characters enter the vermin-infested tunnels to the north of the derro caves of the Withered Hand. There are insects everywhere – in their hair, in their backpacks, and crunching underfoot, and the tunnels are so confusing, it feels like the group is going round in circles. Fortunately, Bubbles and Zygmunt confirm they are on track.
As Bubbles leads the way, a huge megapede drops from the ceiling. When Penumbra’s blight spell kills the creature, it dissolves into swarms of centipedes that scatter in different directions. Later, as the characters reach the caverns of the Last King, an enormous centipede swarm crosses their path. Thousands of tiny eyes seem to turn to look at them.
The adventurers meet with Narosain, the Last King, in his throne room. When the exiled ghoul monarch asks them why they have come, Bubbles says she is looking for her brother Vicmorn; the others say they are here to rescue the kidnapped Archduke Avgost. Narosain says that Duke Morreto Lichmark, the Emperor’s favourite, and Radomir Marrowblight, high priest of Vardesain, are preparing a special ritual in the Pure City of Vandekhul. Maybe Avgost will be an unwilling participant?
Zygmunt declares his hatred of the Ghoul Emperor, prompting the Last King to offer a trade – if the characters recover his staff from the Dragons’ Graveyard, he’ll give them access to his allies in Vandekhul. The staff is in the hoard of a cave dragon named Gondecap.
14th Deep Winter
Having agreed to Narosain’s proposal, the party set off for the Dragons’ Graveyard disguised as darakhul. En route, they encounter Gerta Stoneeye, a travelling ghoul merchant riding a ghoulsteed. Bubbles buys an expensive potion to protect her from poison. She and Louthin each buy a single ball of holy verdant bat droppings.
15th Deep Winter
The characters have a run-in with a band of deep trolls as they are looking for somewhere to camp. When Louthin attacks with his longsword, he chops off bits of their oozing flesh which take on a life of their own. Zygmunt burns the trolls with scorching raysand fire bolts to stop them regenerating.
16th Deep Winter
The group bluff their way past the ghoul patrol on the bridge over the Yellow River and are fined for not having the correct travel papers.
18th Deep Winter
The characters enter the Dragons’ Graveyard. Bubble scouts ahead and triggers a “welcoming bell” trap which crashes down on her, along with half the ceiling.
Moving forward, the group enters a cavern with a huge dragon skull lying on the floor. An undead dragon, glowing red, and a kobold wizard attack. The kobold fireballs the party, then runs after being struck by Zygmunt’s wrathful smite. Penumbra banishes the undead dragon, and Louthin chases after the kobold. Bubbles drinks her expensive potion, fails her Constitution saving throw, and is poisoned.
In hot pursuit, Louthin crosses a large room filled with piles of gold coins, then blunders into a “spinning stalagmite of doom” trap but avoids becoming impaled. The kobold wizard turns and casts a second fireball at the pursuing characters before running off again.
Meanwhile the disturbance has brought a couple of kobold trapsmiths and a cave drake into the battle. The trapsmiths throw acid at Penumbra while the fighters deal with the cave drake. Then, the kobold wizard returns yet again, casting his third fireball, before Bubbles engages her in melee and finishes her off.
By the time the kobolds are dead, Penumbra knows her banishment spell will have worn off. There are large caves to the left and right – Louthin spots something big moving in one, and there are two glowing skeletal dragons (one black, one green) in the other. Deciding not to press further without a short rest, the group returns to the dragon skull cave and takes on the red graveyard dragon. The creature breathes fire on Bubbles and Zygmunt before it falls to the adventurers’ swords and spells.
Battered by their ordeal, the party head out the entrance and find a small cavern to take a short rest in the hopes that The Gears will be there to administer to them.
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Main image by Roland Deaconu