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Actual Play

Castle Xyntillan – Session #38 – Patricide

The Company:

  • Jürg (F6/T1)
  • Claus (T4)
  • Sara, Alyssia & Finnian (heavy foot)
  • Noel (porter)

Loot:

  • Potions: cure paralysis, extra healing, love
  • A vial of poison
  • Oil of slipperiness
  • Handful of rust dust
  • The Ring of Spirits
  • A staff of command
  • Plate armor +2
  • A mysterious mahogany box

Casualties:

  • Sara, head smashed to a pulp by a frankensteinian monster

Report:

The company sit down with the Compendium of Champions, a magic book recovered during the previous expedition, and look up the tale of their lost comrade, Claus. As they recount his many heroic deeds, and come to the fateful moment of his flight into the castle’s dark halls, they turn the page, and suddenly hear a knock at the door. Opening it, they see standing there, alive and well, bucknaked, and very confused — Claus!

Intrigued by the plain gold cup they recovered as well, Jürg begins to experiment with it. He puts it to the lips it to the rotting head of his once-beloved Bartholomea, and revives it. It begins to mindlessly snap and snarl, and roll its eyes. He also pours a cup of deadly poison from it.

Next, Jürg consults the spirit of alchemist Girolamo. It tells him the thing is the dreaded False Grayl, and that it is the phylactery of Aristide “The Patrician” Malévol. Jürg asks around town about what it would take to destroy the thing, and if he should worry about any adverse consequences. As he goes about his preparations it becomes clear to him the forces of Chaos are being channeled through the grayl, and are seeking to control his actions. Jürg might be aligned to Chaos, but he considers himself his own man, so he resolves to risk it.

First, however, he must get rid of the Blade of Rel. He spends a lavish sum on satanic paraphernalia and constructs a shrine and case for the sword. Then, he takes the blade, and using all the willpower he can muster, places it in the case and locks it. The weapons tries to fight it, but Jürg ultimately prevails.

Next, under a clear star-lit night sky, Jürg lights a fire under a cauldron set in their residence’s courtyard. A maelstrom of Chaos energy whirls around him as he, with trembling hands, takes the cup and tosses it in the cauldron. As it begins to melt, phantasmic forces burst from it, and the spirit of Aristide appears, translucent, hovering over the fire. “Jürg, you have foresaken uuuussss!” it cries, and with a bone-chilling scream is then sucked into the darkness between the stars. Jürg faints. The next morning, attendants awaken him. The False Grayl is gone. The liche Aristide has been destroyed. And Jürg is no longer aligned to Chaos, nor to Law for that matter. He is a plain old neutral.

Claus, meanwhile, acquires some new mundane equipment, and then goes on a mean bender to celebrate his return from the dead, if indeed he ever really was dead. As he does so, he manages to insult Othmar, captain of the guard, whom Jürg previously had a feud with. What are the odds?

***

As they prepare for the next expedition, they manage to hire a new bunch of foolhardy heavy footpeople. (The previous batch was lost in the confrontation with undead crusaders.)

Now that the liche is out of the way, they decide to go straight for the jugular, and finally try and breach Aristide’s laboratory. They enter through the rose garden, and make their way through the north-west section of the ground floor, and up the stairs, to the carpeted hallway. Family portraits leer at them, and an eerie disembodied singing can be heard.

They study the door to the lab, which has an ominous text written on it. Claus tries to pick it, but the door appears to be magically sealed somehow. The signing in the hallway grows louder, and a cold breeze starts blowing. The company decide they have overstayed their welcome, and make for the wax works room which should be adjacent to the lab.

Jürg takes the horn of blasting they acquired in the previous expedition. Sages have told him it may have the equivalent effect of a catapult. So he points it at the wall and blows on it with all his might. A deafening sound erupts and a shock wave smashes through the wall. As the dust settles, they see machines and coils in the next room. The coils resemble the ones they had previously seen downstairs. But these no longer function. They search the room but find nothing noteworthy.

They open a set of double doors to the north, and find themselves in a massive laboratory space. A vast array of alchemical equipment is hissing and bubbling away. In the center of the room stands a huge glass dome covering a table with various intriguing items on it. The dome won’t budge and appears to be impenetrable.

There is a door to the south, and to the west. The south one opens onto circular stairs leading down. The west door opens onto a short hallway that dead-ends.

This not being their first rodeo, they check the end of the corridor and of course find a secret door. Without thinking twice they immediately open it, and find themselves in some sort of control room. Lots of machines, a metal cabinet, an operating table with a coil pointed at it, and in the middle of it all a huge monstrosity composed of disjointed human body parts, busily throwing levers and flipping switches. The thing notices them straight away, and demands to know what they are doing here. The company, flabbergasted, can only stammer some nonsense about Aristide sending them. Offended by the obvious lie, the monster attacks.

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” (Mathew Browne)

Claus fires an arrow at the thing, dodges into the room, and melds with the shadows. The monster smashes Sara’s head to a bloody pulp between his two mighty fists. Jürg, taking his news acquired crusader’s two-handed axe, begins to chop away. Witnessing the fate of Sara, the rest of te retainers immediately make a run for the exit. Jürg and the monster continue to trade blows as Claus steps in and out of melee range to occasionally jab the thing in the back. But mundane weapons don’t appear to harm it. Jürg takes a terrible beating, but in the end prevails. The monster is chopped to tiny pieces.

They search the room, and open the metal cabinet. Inside they find three pyramidal coils, weirdly buzzing. Jürg smashes one with his axe, and it is disabled, but not before a bolt of energy shoots into his weapon. They do the same trick with two other weapons, and as the final pyramid is shut down, they hear a heavy whooshing sound from back in the lab.

Returning there, they are very pleased to see the glass dome has disappeared. They grab everything on the table, and leave the castle in a hurry. They make their way back without further issue.

Referee Commentary:

A shorter session than usual due to circumstances, but no less uneventful because of it. Players made good use of the newly acquired major magic items. Claus was brought back, to its player’s great pleasure.

Jürg’s actions during downtime were quite dramatic. I like to keep the action outside the dungeon moving so did not make a huge hassle out of his plans. We handle such things with broad strokes and a few rolls at most. For ditching the Blade of Rel we did one control check. For destroying the grayl I had him do one save. He succeeded at both. Before the session I did some quick reading in early editions of D&D on phylacteries, cross-compared with the magic jar spell, and decided that if they did destroy the cup, that would be it, Aristide would be done for.

As for using the horn of blasting to, well, blast a hole in a wall, that seems to be what the thing was designed to do, so we rolled with it. I love how these kind of items can really function as circuit breakers for what would otherwise be quite challenging sections of the dungeon.

That lawful two-handed axe allows a player to keep rolling attacks so long as they hit. Stupid powerful as well, and we had a bit of a debate how it would work in combination with the fighter’s multi-attack ability in Hackbut. If it wasn’t for this weapon, I think they may have been in real trouble facing that Frankenstein monster.

The players were once again incredibly lucky with their encounter rolls. I rolled none again. This has been the case for several sessions now. The law of averages demands I start rolling an awful lot of 1s anytime soon now.

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