This weekend we continued with Empire of the Ghouls, Chapter 5: Into the Fuligin Realm, as the adventurers continued to explore the Dragons’ Graveyard, in search of the Staff of the Underworld.
I had time before we played to draw out the cavern complex on my Tact-Tiles and this proved to be time well-spent as we used the map for the entire session. I made the scale a bit bigger than it is in the book to give the large dragons more room to move around.
18th Deep Winter, 92 FY (contd.)
Rejoined by The Gears and Herr Biegen, the adventurers head back inside the Dragons’ Graveyard with Bubbles sneaking ahead. Hearing movement, the ranger creeps around a corner and surprises a pair of kobolds, killing one instantly. As the other one makes a run for it, a cave drake drops down from the ceiling behind the rest of the group and attacks Penumbra. The warlock banishes the creature, and the others move into position to attack it as soon as the banishment spell ends.
Things don’t go to plan, however, as another pair of kobolds appear from a side passage and throw vials of acid at Zygmunt before running away. Penumbra drops her concentration – the cave drake reappears and is swiftly despatched. The kobolds pop up again and throw their bolas at Zygmunt, giving him a nasty electric shock. The warlock and paladin go after them, and a game of cat and mouse ensues.
Meanwhile, The Gears studies the central chamber littered with gold coins and spots a network of thin wires tied to the columns. He throws a rock into the room, triggering the trap safely and bringing the ceiling down. Bubbles finds a pile of treasure in the cave drakes’ lair and starts filling her pockets with loot. Zygmunt loses patience with the kobolds’ guerrilla tactics and charges into a “holy deluge” trap, causing a barrel of acid and holy water to fall on his head. The paladin and Penumbra kill one of the kobolds, the other escapes yet again.
The Gears spots another pair of kobolds and tries a different approach, whispering to them in Draconic that he is an undercover agent of Gondecap and will lure the intruders into a trap. Luckily, the kobolds fall for the ruse, and take up position around the next bend while The Gears calls out to Bubbles. Yet again, the best laid plans don’t quite work and The Gears blunders into a flash bomb trap himself. Dropping all pretence, the cleric attacks. The other characters arrive and this time the kobolds don’t escape. With their enemies dead, the battered and bruised adventurers withdraw to the entrance for another short rest.
Returning inside, Bubbles leads the way past the kobolds’ sleeping quarters to Gondecap’s sanctum. As the characters fan out, the cave dragon senses The Gears and Herr Biegen with its blindsight and breathes lightning. Biegen goes down and his broken body falls into a crack that opens up in the cavern floor. Bubbles attacks but is poisoned by the dragon’s other breath weapon. She swallows her holy bat droppings and heads for The Gears so he can cast lesser restoration. Penumbra, Zygmunt and The Gears attack with spells but Gondecap resists and breathes on the characters again. Penumbra dimension doors to the far side of the cavern, discovering the dragon’s hoard and the last surviving kobold. Eventually, Bubbles misty steps onto the flying Gondecap’s back and stabs him to death, landing with style when his body crashes to the floor!
With Gondecap dead, the kobold surrenders, and Penumbra lets him go. The characters start gathering up the treasure, grabbing the Staff of the Underworld. But they are not out of danger – two graveyard dragons, one black and one green, appear from the cavern to the west. The party flee for the exit, low on hit points and almost out of spells. When they manage to bloody one of the dragons, it backs off. The Gears presents Rava’s holy symbol and turns both, allowing the characters time to escape.
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Main image by Roland Deaconu