We began this session with the party licking their wounds after the massive fight against the enemy champion and his humanoid minions. Ferros was unconscious and Galzor was called on to start handing out the Healing spells. Once Ferros had been healed, he reciprocated and soon the Team was up and running again.
There was one door left to examine and Ferros decided to investigate it. He pushed it open and beyond it, he found an area of utter darkness. It was no ordinary darkness, however – it reeked of evil magic and Ferros came back into the main room and let everyone know about it.
Elador, who had only two spells left, used his magic to cancel out the darkness and the party found themselves in a short passage leading to another room. As they moved down it, they were confronted by a blond, very handsome man who demanded to know what they were doing invading his domain and killing his servants.
The party announced that they were looking for the golden chalice, at which the beautiful stranger laughed evilly and said “I don’t think so”.
Ferros raised his bow and was about to open fire when he felt a strange sensation – as if he did not want to shoot the newcomer. He put forth all his strength of will and managed to overcome this feeling, letting fly with his arrow. It missed, as did the shots of other members of the party. The handsome attacker swung into action, uttering a single word to Ferros – “Die!”, at which the brave cleric fell to the floor with a groan. Their enemy hurtled into the fray with a glowing staff that the party soon found out was bad news for them. Adthar was the first to fall, having been unable to land a blow on their attacker. Neither were Alurax nor Cafaror able to do him any damage – he seemed supernaturally hard to hit. But if supernatural defences were protecting him, supernatural energy in the form of a magic missile from Elador did manage to hit, albeit doing only a small amount of damage.
His glowing staff and his plate mail armour proved too strong for Cafaror, who found himself forced back down the passage, but he managed somehow to sneak under the stranger’s defences and land a blow that did him some damage. Now Merlin had joined the fray but he was having no better luck in his attempts to hit. Cafaror was hit by the glowing staff and left reeling but still upright.
At this point, with only Cafaror standing between the mysterious man and escape into the dungeon, Alurax let fly with his bow. The arrow was true and took his target through the throat. Clutching at the arrow, their enemy dropped his staff and crashed into the wall, then spun and hit the floor, breathing his last. Thus passed Lareth, known as the Beautiful, but beautiful no longer.
Another timely roll of the d30 from JG. I'd deliberately broken the session before Lareth made his appearance knowing that they would need plenty of luck to overcome him. I held back on the use of his spells for two reasons, firstly because several of them were touch-based and he'd not be able to use melee weapons and secondly because there was a real danger of the party being very badly hammered, if not suffering at TPK. And of course, I forgot to have other members of the party apart from Ferros save to overcome the Sanctuary spell. My bad, but I don't think the adventure suffered from it overmuch.
Elador and Ferros, who had recovered from the sinister power of Lareth’s Command spell had managed to find their way into a sumptuously furnished room and while its owner was busy giving Cafaror and Adthar a hard time, they started to search it. They uncovered riches beyond their wildest dreams, gems, gold, platinum – Lareth was clearly a man to be reckoned with when it came to wealth. But there was no sign of the golden chalice, although a search of the dead man’s body soon revealed the cup, stuffed into a small bag.
The party believed that they had cleared out the dungeons under the Moat House and, taking a look at the amount of loot and plunder that they had amassed, decided that transport was needed to get it all back to town. Alurax volunteered to make the journey with the money they required. Elador said that he would also go, to protect Alurax and to speak to the Council of Cleric about raising Elysia, now that they had the money and the chalice had been recovered.
While they were gone, Ferros, Cafaror, Merlin and Galzor settled down to guard the loot and keep an eye on the place. A day after their fellows had gone, they heard noises in the corridor, which were getting louder. They readied themselves for action, Merlin checking to see if he could hear anything meaningful but unfortunately, nothing of any use was heard. Then there was a thumping and banging at the door. The four poured several flasks of oil into a pool in front of the door and as it burst open, dropped a torch onto it. The four bugbears that charged in got a very hot surprise – roasting heat and flames leapt up to meet them. One staggered into a wall and dropped to the ground; the other three charged on but met a determined resistance, although Merlin was brought low by a savage blow from one of the bugbears. Ferros and Cafaror proved their worth, with the cleric killing two and the fighter finishing off a third. Two bugbears that had been waiting outside took fright at what had happened to their fellows and ran for it.
I'd given the lads the idea of laying the oil trap; without it, they'd have had a really tough fight on their hands and again, the danger of character deaths. I'm not an evil DM and don't believe in being nasty for the sake of it.
When Alurax, Adthar and Elador returned, they were surprised to find out what had happened but this did not deter them from loading all their hard-won gains onto a cart and three mules and setting off for town as fast as they could go.
When they arrived, it was to the wonderful news that Elysia was now back in the land of the living, looking none the worse for her thanatic sojourn. There was even more good news to come as it transpired that, thanks to their experiences in the Moat House and its dungeons, everyone in the Team was now third level, with the exception of Ferros, who was fourth and Elysia, who had now advanced to second level. I was quite surprised at that, having spent the better part of an hour condensing all their kills, loot and ideas into XP totals. The sharing out of the GPs gave them the biggest boost but they had the perspicacity to keep back 5,000gp just in case somebody else met with an untimely demise and needed Raising.
Alurax claimed the shield that they had cut out of the giant lizard, Cafaror became the new owner of the mysterious cloak that was now revealed as a Cloak of Elvenkind. JG didn't seem to want it, having previously been very keen to hang onto it. I'm not sure why but I didn't quibble about it. Adthar got the plate mail that had previously belonged to Lareth. Ferros got a scroll of Protection against the Undead and Elysia obtained a scroll with three magic-user spells on it. Two of these were of a higher level than she could currently use. I've also printed out all the descriptions for the spells currently in her spellbook and those for the new ones she's found, in the Blackadder font so that it actually looks like an authentic manuscript. She can slot them into a ring binder and will then have the information on the spells she wishes to use without me having to pore over the PHB and interrupt game flow.
Because his sister was now alive again, Elador took his leave of the party. He was now a fourth level magic user and had important tasks to attend to on behalf of the Town Council. He needed some serious magical support for this and took with him the Staff of Striking that Lareth had used to such detrimental effect against the party. Its XP reward of 6,000 would have unbalanced the party and led to envious feeling so I thought this was the best way to handle things. The party had seen it in action but only on its lowest setting (the highest one would have slaughtered them as well as using up charges)
Ferros, having shown his ability against the Undead, was approached by the Council of Clerics to see if he was interested in becoming a cleric that specialised in hunting and destroying the undead. He agreed and was informed that from time to time, he would be given assignments or missions to combat the grave-dwelling hordes or recover objects and tomes that could contribute towards the sum of knowledge about these hideous creatures. This was a campaign development that arose out of Ferros' player's luck wit the dice when it came to turning rolls. A certain amount of clerical specialisation I am okay with and it's something that will lead to character-relevant adventures in the future, another way in which the players' actions are building the world. I've also brought in a house rule that a cleric will get XP equivalent to his WISD for every undead he turns. It seemed odd that a cleric could use a cool power like that and get no XP for it, whereas if he just bashed in their brains with his mace, he'd be rewarded. This seems fairer.
Everyone was pleased with the outcome of their expedition to the Moat House, but it was clear that this was only the start of great things to come for our Team.