Thursday, March 10, 2011

March of the Phantom Brigade: Session 5

This week's session started with the introduction of Salazar Vladistone.  After the cleansing ritual was completed, the sense of dread around the castle has disappeared and the characters and all the settlers can rest with ease.  Brother Splintershield and Malgram once again thank the party for their efforts in protecting the alcolytes ang giving the settlers this chance to finally start the rebuilding of the town of Inverness.  Brother Splintershield promises them a new beginning and riches to come.

Suddenly a cry goes up from one of Malgram's scouts at the main gate:

"Malgram! Brother Splintershield! Come forward to the gates. Hurry! Hurry!"The two settlers and the party rush to the gate and the scout points out to the following sight:

The ghostly soldier strides up the path, stopping just short of the place where the ritual was performed.  The spirit looks back and forth across the ground in front of himself, as though examining a barrier that no one else can see.  He looks up and calls out toward the castle in a raspy, otherworldly voice that echoes across the ruins.
"Who dares bar the path of Salazar Vladistone? What right have you to keep me from my sacred grounds? Send forth the one responsible for this disrespect so that I might slay him and break this spell."

Brother Splintershield steps forward, unafraid of the ghost figure.  Salazar demands that he either lowers the ritual barrier or face him in one on one combat.  Brother Splintershield demands to know why he should do either?  Salazar tells him that he was a great hero and leader of the Silver Company.  Brandis looks over at Jarren and mentions Oldivya. Jarren looks perpexed.  Brandis whispers Oldivya Vladistone, and the gravestone in the courtyard.  A light goes off in Jarrens mind.  Of course.  Salazar turns to the two and through his teeth says: "Do not descicrate her name in my presence!". 

Brandis apologizes and says that he meant no disrespect.  He asked Salazar if they were married and what happened.  He coldly tells the heroes that he has ventured into the Ghost Tower and only death awaits them.

He turns other matters and tells Brother Splintershield that if he does not lower the barrier, the ultimate outcome will be the same, that the barrier will come down and the settlers will die!  Brother Splintershield sees this as an empty threat and tells Salazar this in no uncertain words.

"So be it." Salazar calmly states.  He turns his back on the group at the main gate and as he walks away, he gives the following words:

"You have denied but a single tortured spirit this night. We shall see how you fare against the Phantom Brigade."

Salazar fades into the background.

Six months later, the town of Inverness is a bustling community, with homes, shops, workplaces and farms settled in the surrounding area.  The party is having a drink when Faldyra comes in and sits with the adventurers.  She still has not found a way to enter the Ghost Tower, even with the help of Jarren and Valanae.  Fargrim is still grumbling that all he is making for the town are nails and spokes for wagons.  He is wondering when his shop is going start making weapons so he can show off his superior weapon making skills.

Belgos, coming back from a recent mission with Malgram and his scouts, overhears another group of rangers talk about the strange deaths from the past couple of days.  The party invites the scouts to sit with them and tell them their stories. They learn that they have found some dead farmers with no visible signs of injury except for the weird growth of crystals all over their bodies. Valanae confirms that there is no disease that can cause this that she knows of.

Another ranger talks about his encounter with a rabid deer.  Belgos interrupts the story, surprised that a deer would attack somone due to their skittish ways.

Many lights have been spotted in the woods in the past few night.  The rest of the party attribute this to possible will-o'-wisps or ghosts that may be haunting the region.

Brother Splintershield arrives in the tavern, and comes directly to the party's table, apparently stunned with some news he just received.  He asks the party to accompany him to the town square. In the town square, 6 bodies (the bodies of foresters) lay on the ground dead with the so called red lesions on their bodies.  Valenae confirms that the foresters died from whatever caused the lesions.

Jarren approaches one of the bodies and confirms that there is no residual magic from the crystals and assumes that whatever caused the crystals, is no longer active in them.  As he moves to get up one of the "dead" foresters grabs Jarren by the scruff pull him close and whispers in his ear: "....the demon of the forest...a plague...drank the water....others yet may live" and then takes his last breath, releasing Jarren.  Malgram, who just had drawn his bow, puts the arrow back in his quiver and states: "This looks grim.  We must send out search parties to find the remaining foresters."

Malgram take his rangers and said will search to the west and asks the party to search east, which they agree to readily.  Brother Splintershield says he will lead the party to find the other foresters. Malgram refuses to let the cleric go, saying that this is what the ghost wants.  After much quarrelling, Brother Splintershield is going to accompany the party east.

Walking through the forest is not difficult.  Belgos chooses to remain in the shadows, flitting from tree to tree.  After an hour or so, he comes back to the party saying he has identifies the tracks of the foresters and he says he has spotted some of the crystals growing on the trees nearby.  Fargrim confirms this as well.  Fargim decides he is going to try to jusp from tree to tree, so he climbs the tree, attempts to jump to the next on and falls flat on his face, taking damage.

Approaching a clearing, the party sees six figures.  Circumventing the remaining bushes the party is confronted by the foresters, now seemingly infected by the crystals.  They attack in a feverish, maddened and aggressive state.

Belgos from his hiding spot, knocks an arrow and hits the closest forester to the ground, he then moves further into the bushes where he launches another arrow that finds its target, while Splintershield hits him again while he is down and Keira landing the final blow.  One of the foresters yells and launches one of his throwing axes at the party, narrowly missing Belgos, and moves to confront him hand to hand.

Jarren puts his hands together, electricity forming into a ball and launches it at the two closest plagues foresters, electrocuting one of them, which serves just to enrage him. Fargim throws a hammer at the one the wizard just hit and it goes wide almost hitting Brother Splintershield.  Valenae attacks her closest foes with no avail. Two of the foresters convege on the Brother Splintershield and he manages to deflect their blows. The other two attack Valenae and she also manages to dodge their blows.

Belgos provokes from the opponent next to him and manges to hit and knock him prone, while moving to a safer location.  Brother Splintershield attempts to smite on of the foresters and misses completely, and stomps his foot in frustration.  Keira shows him how it is done, further bloodying the target. Jerren forms a freezing orb in his hand and manges to catch two of the foresters in its wake, bloodying one of them.  Fargrim chooses again to throw another hammer and completely misses.  Valanae has a little more luck this time and clobbers one of her opponents.

Two of the foresters hit Brother Splintershield and he takes quite the hit. Valanae is once again hit looking quite injured at this point.  Keira is brought down to 1 HP by the foresters and on her next turn moves away from the foresters and uses her second wind.  Belgos concentrates on the bloodied opponent and manages to take him down this round, while the forester in front of him decides to attack Brother Splintershield and takes his down to his bloodied value.  Valanae is brought down by her foes after having healed herself.  Keira comes back and takes down another opponent after her second wind.

Brother Splintershield takes one of the foresters down, refusing to kill some of his villagers.  Jarren takes down another foe with another arc lightning.  Fargrim misses again with his greataxe another two times.  Belgos takes another forester down, and between Keira and Jarren manage to take out the remaining foresters.

One thing I noticed is the ease of the encounters of this module.  Nothing really challenging to the players.  I almost feel to add more monsters to up the ELs of some of the sessions.

People are having a great time and that is all that counts.  How are your sessions faring?