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Actual Play

Castle Xyntillan – Session #13 – Dust to Dust

The Company:

  • Ynes (T4)
  • Hendrik (MU1)
  • Davignon (C1)
  • Jaquet (F3)
  • Bartolomea (C3)
  • Jürg (Bartolomea’s husband & non-combatant)
  • Gene (C1 retainer, agent of the bishop of Chamrousse)
  • Rivka (porter)
  • Lina & Edna (heavy foot)

Loot:

  • Gold crown (later found to be a tin fake)
  • Two golden urns
  • A ruby gear

Casualties: None!

Report:

A month has passed since the previous expedition. It is now the year 1526. The bishop of Chamrousse has sent a retainer cleric named Gene to reinforce the party. Bartolomea invites her newly wedded husband Jürg to join her on the next expedition. Hendrik worries about possible ulterior motives of his brand new wife Ronja. A new cleric named Davignon also joins the company as a full partner.

On Wednesday, January 3, 1526, a miserable winter day, the company finds itself once again at Castle Xyntillan’s gates.

Ynes and Bartolomea are both eager to fulfill the holy quests imposed on them by the angel that keeps visiting them at nighttime. Their first goal is to find the throne room and the scepter that should be there somewhere. They decide to take a new approach and head for the gate beyond the gatehouse.

In the courtyard they check the windows of the smithy and see the same hammer as before, still working away at the anvil under its own power.

Moving on, they also peek through the windows of the barracks and see a bunch of skeletons are still using a plate-clad adventurer hanging from the rafters for target practice.

The company assumes formation, enters the stables and kicks open the door to the barracks. Vicious skeletons make to attack them, but Bartolomea uses her divine powers to destroy them before they do. Jaquet jokes about the impossibility of making mincemeat of skeletons.

“Be gone, foul spirits!” (Goya)

The company searches the room, but find little besides a bunch of “wanted” posters for someone named Claude Malévol. 3.000 GP reward, dead or alive, “preferably dead!”

They head to the smithy and open the door. The hammer stops what it is doing and hovers in the air ominously. They decide not to enter and exit the stables back into the courtyard.

The company heads to the pair of guardhouses fronting the gate. The skeleton guardsmen dozing inside are easily dispatched this time around.

Ynes goes to check a number of windows to the south of the gate. Seeing nothing of immediate concern, they open the double door and observe a wide corridor with another set of double doors at the other end. The walls are lined by murder holes, and another door is set in the middle of the south wall.

Ynes melds with the shadows and carefully heads for the south door. She opens it, checks a few corridors behind it, but once again does not note anything out of the ordinary.

The thief returns to the company and continues to check the murder holes in the north wall. Behind it she sees a large room with the remains of what appears to be a scorched battle site. Slightly worried, she once again heads back to her companions.

The company marches down the corridor in formation and safely makes it to the double doors at the other end. They open it, and enter yet another courtyard. The donjon towers over them. There are three statues (a king, a sightless ape, and a hunchback) and a large circular stone set in the floor. Several doors lead off into various directions.

They shove aside the stone and look down into what appears to be a cistern gone bad. Dirty water, smell of rotten eggs.

When they prepare to move on, a grizzled veteran carrying a large sack, accompanied by a bunch of axe-wielding crazed-looking types enters from another door. The men are surprised to find the company there. Before they can act, Hendrik pulls a scroll from his robe’s sleeves and quickly casts charm person on the leader.

The man turns out to be Patrice Desjardin-Malévol. Hendrik makes clever use of the situation to interrogate him about potential treasure nearby. Patrice does not know of any but does point them in the direction of the throne room.

Meanwhile, Ynes sneaks closer and nicks open the sack with her dagger. Gold pieces spill to the ground, but no one dares grab any. Patrice absentmindedly comments that it looks like he needs a better sack.

They bid Patrice and his entourage adieu, and head through the north door. It opens onto a corridor, and they decide to head east in the direction of the donjon.

At the corridor’s end, they open another door, and emerge into what appears to be the ground floor of the donjon: a torture chamber. Nasty implements of torture are spread around the room, some holding rotting remains of poor saps who fell victim to the Malévols. In the center of the room’s floor and ceiling is a large shaft with chains suspended inside it. Looking down, they see a lot of corpses in the basement, and they hear the sound of scratching and squeezing rodents. They inspect a statue of a lady justice, and pluck what appears to be a gold crown from her head. Then, they head up stairs leading to the next floor.

At the head of the stairs are two doors. The first one opens onto a room filled with uniformed skeletons lying against the walls. They do not enter, and in stead check the other door. This one opens onto a balcony, with rungs attached to the donjon wall leading to a balcony on the next floor.

Carefully, one after the other, they climb up and open the balcony door. This leads into what appears to be a temple. A raised platform is shrouded in curtains. Before it are two golden urns and also ash-filled braziers.

The room is searched. Jaquet discovers a bricked-up door to the north, and Ynes discovers a secret door to the east. Before she can enter, Bartolomea picks up one of the urns and a wraith emerges from it, enveloping her in shrouds of darkness. Acting quickly, Bartolomea brandishes her holy symbol and begins to preach at the thing. It shrinks back. Davignon joins her, and drives the thing back further. It tries to make for the balcony exit, where Bartolomea’s husband Jürg is ensuring the door remains open for a swift escape, but the clerics manage to pin the creature, and ultimately destroy it.

Meanwhile, Ynes opens the secret door, climbs up the ladder hidden behind it, and on the next floor discovers the roof of the donjon, which has become the roosting place of a large number of enormous evil-looking pigeons. Various bodies of humans who have fallen prey to the monsters are scattered about. Ynes carefully creeps back down.

Davignon, foolhardily picks up the other urn, and wouldn’t you know it, another wraith emerges. Well-prepared for the eventuality however, it too is destroyed in short order by joint turning attempts from the three clerics present.

Convinced that they have put the worst this room has to offer behind them, they pull back the curtains encircling the platform. Behind it stands a large primitive metallic idol of an owl-like monstrosity. They inspect the thing, and discover a panel in its back. They open it, and see that the statue’s guts are made up of clockwork. One of the gears is cut from a ruby. After much hemming and hawing, the gear is plucked out. The statue shudders and collapses, and the company, satisfied with their haul, make for the castle’s exit and get out without any trouble.

Referee Commentary:

We kicked off a second “season” of Castle Xyntillan with a doozy of a session. Despite a large party play moved at a high pace thanks largely to decisive play. I also think my current referee doctrine of being extremely generous with information — to the point where I never require a roll to find hidden things — also helps a lot with fuelling player decision-making. A final thing that has sped up play on my end of the screen is that I have figured out how to add the referee map to its own layer in Roll20, so I have one less thing to look at now.

Three clerics, one of which level 3 at this point, made mince-meat of the many undead that were in the party’s way. I did make a mistake though, in that I allowed multiple turning attempts per encounter. From now on, every cleric gets one shot, and that’s it. (We use the delightfully straightforward d20 turn undead mechanic created by Brendan over at Necropraxis.)

The highlight of the session was undoubtedly the clutch charm person pulled out by Hendrik’s player when they ran into Patrice and his band of berserkers. They were poised to immediately attack and it could have turned into a real slaughter if they had done so. It really was lucky: Hendrik’s player at the last moment decided to scribe the scroll before heading out, and equipped it in one of his three quick-draw slots (a rule I have adopted from Skerples’s glog-hack Many Rats on Sticks). One thing I did forget was that under the spell-casting rules we are using (OED book of spells) monsters do get a save against charm. But no matter, the scene that unfolded was absolutely hilarious.

So yeah, the players made out like bandits, despite the fact that the gold crown turned out to be fake. Almost all of the company members levelled up at the end of the session. Let’s see how long their luck will last!

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