In our first Empire of the Ghouls session of 2023 we continued with the final chapter, The Pure City of Vandekhul and the characters’ exploration of Chandelier Island. It was a fun and challenging session with the banishment spell causing some very entertaining shenanigans.
26th Deep Winter, 92 FY (contd.)
The Gears pushes open the doors leading into a dark temple to the Unsated God Vardesain and his herald, the demon lord Hriggala. Here, Vermigia Wormfood, a darakhul priestess, and her ghast acolytes are chanting beside an altar overlooking a pit leading to Evermaw, Plane of Undeath.
The adventurers advance, with Louthin using his trusty staff of rat summoning to conjure a swarm of rats around the priestess. Vermigia casts banishment, sending The Gears, Herr Biegen, and Louthin to Evermaw where they are attacked by corpse worms. Zygmunt attacks the ghasts, as Bubbles and Penumbra try to break the priestess’ concentration without success. Then, things get worse as the avatar of Hriggala appears and nearly swallows Bubbles.
Vermigia loses her concentration, and the three characters return to the temple, but she soon casts banishment again, sending Louthin and Bubbles to Evermaw this time. Penumbra casts her own banishment spell and Vermigia joins the pair in the Plane of Undeath. Bubbles falls unconscious after the priestess casts harm on her, and then goes into a frenzy, biting her three times.
When Penumbra casts eyebite on the bone golem that appears from the doorway to the north, she stops concentrating on her banishment and Vermigia returns. Louthin escapes the maw of a corpse worm with misty step and revives Bubbles, then The Gears kills the priestess, bringing both characters back into the temple. Penumbra switches her eyebite onto the avatar which is forced to flee from her towards the back of the pit and the adventurers attack it at range. Finally, the portal closes, allowing the characters to finish off the unconscious bone golem and take a much needed breather.
They don’t get long, though. As Kalo and Bubbles both travel over to the far side of the pit to investigate the statue of Vardesain (and fail to find the secret door), The Gears and Herr Biegen wander through the opening to the north and find themselves in a chamber occupied by darakhul.
Battle is joined, with the characters low on spells and still wounded from the previous combat. The Gears turns the undead, driving away one of the Servants of the Unsated God, but the other two ghouls fight on, and Bubbles falls unconscious yet again.
As the fighting moves into the next chamber which contains a pool of ghoulbane oil, skeletons arrive from the west. Penumbra shatters most of them, then Zygmunt turns the remainder. Finally, two bone collectives join the fray, taking Zygmunt down and swarming around Penumbra. Eventually, the adventurers are victorious, and can fill seven vials with ghoulbane oil, emptying the pool, before taking a well-earned long rest.
27th Deep Winter
Bubbles searches amongst the bones and finds a piece of jewellery, then climbs to the top of stalagmite to see where the ghoulbane oil is dripping from the chandelier of crystal above. The characters board the Skin Trader and set sail for the Pure City of Vandekhul, disguised as darakhul.
Three hours later, they arrive at the docks and their ship is boarded by four darakhul customs officers. The party are charged 25 gp in duty for their cargo of hides, but Penumbra’s seeming spell allows her to disguise the vials of ghoulbane oil. The Gears animates his holy symbol and clockwork amulet, and the two items hide among the rigging while the inspection takes place, while Zygmunt convinces the officials that Svarog’s holy symbol is an insignificant trinket.
Next, the party face interrogation by the Harbour Master….
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Main image by Roland Deaconu