In this month’s Empire of the Ghouls session we continued with the final chapter, The Pure City of Vandekhul, as the characters arrived in the ghoul city and started exploring. I think we’ve just got two or three sessions to go before we reach the end of the campaign.
This session write up contains spoilers for the adventure.
27th Deep Winter, 92 FY (contd.)
After the customs inspection, the characters decide they need to come up with a convincing cover story for the Harbour Master. Louthin remembers they still have a letter from Duke Morreto Lichmark, ruler of Vandekhul, to Goran Malik, groom at the Blood Wedding, so they decide Penumbra will use her seeming spell to disguise herself as Goran, and Bubbles will pose as his new bride. Unfortunately, the Harbour Master is a suspicious sort and doesn’t appear convinced by their overly complicated tale. Nevertheless, the characters are issued with bone tokens and allowed to enter the city.
Ghoul stevedores load their cargo onto the wagon of the friendly Danko who takes the skins to a warehouse in the merchant district, accompanied by Zygmunt, while the others get rooms at the Gutless Zombie.
Bubbles bothers Grigore, a vampire from the Blood Kingdom, in the taproom. She eats a bowl of spicy gnome brains which upsets her stomach, and she throws up over Grigore, enraging him and drawing funny looks from the other guests. Meanwhile, The Gears chats to the dwarf darakhul Yavor Wormsong who tells him of the delights of the Sulphur Caldarium. The drow darakhul landlord, Vuzmyn Bloodtide, tells them where to find Marquis Lazlo Dimas’s palace, and the group head off through the city, attempting to avoid drawing any further attention to themselves. A pack of zoogs attempt to pilfer things from the adventurers but are soon driven off.
Passing the Emperor’s Summer Palace and the palace of Duke Morreto, the characters reach Marquis Lazlo Dimas’s residence. Presenting the stone cockroach token given to them by Narosain, they are admitted into the presence of the former general. The party explain they are in the city to rescue Archduke Avgost and need Lazlo’s help and advice. Lazlo tells them that Duke Morreto and Radomir Marrowblight are working together without the Emperor’s knowledge. They plan to sacrifice Avgost at the fifth gong tomorrow in the Bone Cathedral to win the favour of the Hunger God, who will reveal great secrets to them. Lazlo recommends the adventurers speak with Ludmilla Janova at the Temple of Agonizing Bliss and advises them not to trust Marquess Dorva Graysuture. He suggests Bubbles goes to the Meat Market to find what has happened to Vicmorn.
Back on the city streets, the characters come under attack from a group of darakhul slavers and their lich hounds. The party deal with their assailants but Penumbra and Zygmunt cause a stir among the locals by blasting their opponents with radiant damage. They flee to an alley and hide from an aerial patrol mounted on giant bats.
Next, they visit the Temple of Agonizing Bliss where Louthin fails to convince Mother Ludmilla of the threat posed by the upcoming sacrifice. No one wants to drink blood from the vats, so they leave. Afterwards, they head to the Bone Cathedral and talk to the servants of the Unsated God in the foyer but are not allowed further inside.
Their third stop is the Boneheaps. Here, the party are surrounded by emaciated beggar ghouls; Zygmunt recognises Ajarlo Maccioni, the fake relic peddler who sold them “Sister Adelind’s fingerbone” back in Grisal, among their number. The Gears impresses the Beggar King with his revolutionary talk, and he tells the characters where to find the secret exit from the city in the western wall and even sends a group of beggar ghouls to watch over the party. Unfortunately, by now the characters have drawn too much heat.
En route to the Meat Market, they are confronted Captain Zsolt Styxdeep who has orders to bring them in for questioning. The party decide to resist arrest, leading to a big battle in which Bubbles contracts darakhul fever yet again, is poisoned, and falls unconscious, but she does succeed in killing the captain.
Grabbing the breastplates from the four dead darakhul officers, the adventurers flee the scene. The fifth gong sounds – they have 24 hours before tomorrow’s sacrifice.
If you’d like to keep up to date with my Empire of the Ghouls campaign and other posts, please do join my mailing list – there’s a sign up form on the home page and subscribers receive a free Parsantium supplement.
If you’ve already signed up and haven’t received a download link, please get in touch.
Main image by Roland Deaconu