Thursday, November 17, 2011

Carrion Crown: Haunting of Harrowstone pt.2

Strange days in Ravengro
After the heroes had defeated the four zombies in the Restlands they had a short discussion whether to continue with their operation.  After all, their original mission was to enter the false crypt in the search of a lost stash of holy weapons. However, not long after they noticed approaching torchlight from the town and decided to bail. Additionally, both Vincent and Aldoriel were low on spells for that day.
The party made their way across the graves, to the east end, before heading down the river and finally to the old Lorrimor estate. Using the key provided by Kendra, they silently entered the house and went to sleep.
The next day they were awakened by Kendra knocking on their doors. Apparently, Sheriff Caellen was in the living room, eager to talk to them. Besides some minor concerns involving a side plot, the sheriff wanted to know how the players spent the night. They reluctantly admitted being in the Restlands, but were surprised to hear allegations of grave robbery. As Caellen explained, four corpses had been dug out in the middle of the night, their graves now open and desecrated, and the culprits even had the guts to leave the rotten bodies scattered around. At this point they came clean and explained him about the undead incidence. He listened closely and thought for a long time with narrowed eyes. The sheriff was a stern character but he knew when people lied to him. And there was an unsettling amount of truth in their voice.
He also wanted to know whether the heroes knew anything about the grotesque desecration of the Harrowstone Memorial down at the river? They hesitantly looked at each other and asked him what had happened.
“If you don’t know you should go see for yourself,” he gloomily answered. “It isn’t a pretty sight and it reeks of bad news…”
The Harrowstone Memorial is a testimony to the heroic effort by Warden Hawkran who sealed the prison during the riots 50 years ago. Still a solid statue depicting him and his trusty men, the monument reminds all of Ravengro of the immense sacrifices that had to be made back then.
When the heroes reached the site there was more gory than glory, sadly. During the night, someone had splattered blood all over it and the surrounding area. At its base, the letter V was written in blood.
During some basic investigation with one of the deputies the heroes learned there were no witnesses or suspects. Well, they were actually the prime suspects. The common man argued that they were both grave robbers as well as profane scoundrels. Being new around Ravengro isn’t easy.
After some snooping around they noticed some interesting facts. Besides the obvious prints in the ground there was another set of tracks more distinguished than the rest. Sadly the rain had washed out a lot of them and they weren’t able to track them.
Additionally, all the blood wasn’t from a humanoid. It was animal blood, likely from a cow or rats.
Mmmmmmmmminding the coooowssss
This was an excellent opportunity for the heroes to investigate Ravengro a little bit further. There was no doubt that they were, in fact, not very welcome. Stern gazes, intense stares, subtle mumblings and even superstitious people drawing wards in the air as they passed by; they all became more and more common.
(At this time the players had lost 1 Trust point from the funeral, 1 during to plot elements and an additional due to being caught stealing a minor object from a tavern owner. Items had increased in price and they suffered a -2 on all socially related checks).
They began with the taverns, first visiting the Outward Inn. The owner, Sarianna Vai, bid them welcome and told them to enjoy themselves while she got their drinks. The Outward Inn was the more sophisticated place to stay in Ravengro. It offered exquisite rooms, good drinks and often had entertainment in the form of minstrels. Some of these were present this day, playing drums, flutes and strings, which created a nice atmosphere. They spoke to Sarianna for a while, asking her whether anyone in town had a cow stolen or killed?
(My players are fucking Columbus’es) 
She had never heard of such a thing. She could tell them a bit more about town, how long she’d been there and that she found ‘The Laughing Demon Inn’ a bit too frivolous to her taste. She too had noticed their rather cold welcome and that something in Ravengro was just…not right. The desecration of the old monument only reinforced this belief.
At the very same instant, both windows in the inn exploded as two shapes busted through them. It was to stirges, normally occupying the marshlands far to the northwest. The minstrels and remaining customers screamed and headed for the exit, but the heroes noticed how the stirges moved almost rhythmically to the music and seemed confused once it stopped.
The battle was short. Whereas the rogue and the sorcerer were punished by the blood sucking vermin (color spraying vermin is not a good idea). It was the cleric, however, who kicked major ass in this struggle. At first with the domain-granted acid arrows (since this is a cleric of Gond, we’ve decided them to manifest as small acidic throwing stars) and second by the sheer force of the warhammer.
Stirges - Don't fuck with the clerics
It didn’t take long for the players to realize that stirges reacting to music like this, was likely a sign of the Piper of Illmarsh. Searianna Vai offered them 100g as payment for their heroic effort, but they only needed 20  leaving her the rest. (Why 20? No idea. But I decided that would earn them 1 point of Trust. It’s the classical Bioware-Light-side-gain mechanism)
Keeping up with the investigation the players went around town asking for missing cows. The owner of the Laughing Demon didn’t know much either. The people at the Town Hall weren’t of much help either, except they could point out both Mr. Gibbs and another farmer on the outskirts of town, who were active in the livestock trade. (You might wonder why I chose to mention Gibss so soon, but frankly, the players were keen on him being involved pretty much from the start, due to his close location to the memorial)On their way through the town they suddenly noticed a strange set of footprints, starting in the middle of the street. Following them, they realized that they were actively made by an invisible being heading south out of town, towards Harrowstone Prison. The peculiar thing was that the heroes seemed to be the only ones to notice.
They followed the tracks outside town, all the way into the mist, in which they turned into tracks made by a carriage. They could hear the faint sound of whimpers and tormented screams, shackles being dragged and desperate cries. The sounds grew louder the closer to the prison they got, and eventually the sound of executions and heads being lopped off became prominent.
The heroes saw Harrowstone as a sinister black shape in the mist. It was eerily silent. They decided to throw a quick gaze at the courtyard, before quickly heading back to town.
The players decided to wait till nightfall before setting out for the false crypt once again. This time there were no interruptions except some minor difficulties picking the lock on the grating. Once down, two giant centipedes attempted to chew on the heroes, but except for some dexterity damage they made it through alive. The secret stash contained some oils of magic weapons and ghost touch, plus holy water and restorative potions. (In the original writing there is a truck load of arrows here, which I somehow fail to comprehend? Why should we assume every party has an archer, and why give him so much fun? In my case none of the players used bows, so I altered it a bit)
Thereafter they went to the memorial and waited for some hours, attempting to ambush the culprit, should he make another attempt that night. He didn’t. Instead they decided to investigate Mr. Gibbs more closely.
The Gibbs-farm was silent and dark at this time. The players decided to investigate his tool shed first but ran into severe problems opening the lock, since they took a -5 penalty not to leave any obvious traces on the lock. In the end things went well, though, and they rummaged through his belongings, old plows, piles of firewood and sacks. It was about 10 minutes later that the discovered some empty water skins and a bloody razor beneath a pile of wood. Shocked by this gruesome finding, they closely put everything back and left. Sadly, due to a very bad roll, Gibbs heard them and woke up, meaning they had to make a run for it before they could cover all tracks. What possible repercussions this could lead to, only future will tell.
Pondering on their next move the heroes returned to the Lorrimor estate to sleep, but as soon as they reached their rooms they heard a loud pounding on the door. It was slow, continuous and steady. Carefully they looked out the window and saw a dark shape outside, which left them prepared for whatever they would face.
Whatever it was, it ran away as they opened the door, leaving only the rain. They attempted to follow it and backed it into an alley.
“Who are you?” Edgar shouted.
“It’s me…” a sneering, drooling voice said from the darkness “…don’t you recognize your own professor? I’m here to protect my daughter!”
From the shadows a hideous reflection of what was once Professor Lorrimor appeared. It had burning red eyes and fangs and claws coated in dirt. Without hesitation the heroes attacked.

(In the original setting they recommend using a zombie for the professor, but a ghoul was just as fine for me. I could only imagine saving the more powerful undead for the special NPC’s)
The professor fell to a well aimed sneak attack, mixed up with an earth sliding spell from the conjurer. While swift it also managed to draw the attention from some of the kids who had snug out at night. They were all very insistent on following the heroes and watching the corpse, and instead of sending them home and risk alarming the city, the heroes brought them along as they re-buried the professor. As they did so, they refrained from stealing any of his possessions in the grave (actually setting a good example for the kids, so I rewarded them another Trust point).
At this point the party decided the time would soon come to confront Harrowstone prison, so they took a day off to recuperate. The cleric needed to shake off the ghoul fever and the rest of the party needed some dexterity points back. On the final day, once they got up, things had turned worse…
Another letter had been inscribed unto the statue. This time the letter “E”. Additionally, stories had spread around town that the children had seen the walking dead rise from their graves. A lot of people were growing worried, even more so suspected the heroes or sinister forces from the beyond.
For the same reason, the councilmembers had decided to have a public meeting in the town hall this very same night. Whether the heroes will attend, we shall see next week.

And that was the end of this session.

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