We got straight into the action this week, pausing only to scout around the edge of the lake in which the abandoned ziggurat sat. Seeing no signs of other entrances, the adventurers gathered around the dark opening and started to ease their way in. The wind and rain made the place sound like it was moaning, putting all of them on edge, and the sound only got louder as they edged inside.
A simple shadowy pillar-lined chamber led to another exit leading deeper into the building, and they were about halfway across when the more keen-eyed of them noticed movement near the ceiling – several shadowy forms. With the moaning seeming to dull their reflexes and triggering a fear response that sent Kurtis running from the room, they began to fire up, revealing several of the shadows to be mirror images of the true threat in the room – a cloaker that was lairing there.
As Keil’s bolts of flame had done the most to hurt it, it chose to swoop down and envelop him, biting him relentlessly as he tried to wriggle free and lashing out with its tail at those around him. The battle was then on to somehow kill the cloaker before it could kill Keil and without accidentally doing the aberration’s job for it. The brief but bloody battle left the creature broken and burned in pieces at the ziggurat’s entrance, and they pressed on up the stairs into the dark.
A short climb brought them into a similarly-sized room with an altar in it. Chains led from its upper corners to the ceiling, and a disturbingly aquatic theme that had begun in the first chamber resolved into images of leering piscine demons around the room. Seeing nothing obvious in the room, they moved cautiously through. It was only Kurtis’ noticing of a drawer in the altar that made them pause. Before you could say “It’s a trap”, the central part of the floor had opened up into a forty foot pit. Most of the group managed to leap to safety, except for Quilynn. Fortunately the featherfall rings appropriated from the sky ship sailors and shared out among the party saved her life, leaving her at the bottom of the pit, surrounded by bones. The altar remained where it was, suspended from the chains.
That was the point where the vampire spawn encountered in the woods made themselves known. Standing on the ceiling with their spider-climb abilities, they started firing their bows down at the adventurers, having failed to dominate anyone into doing their bidding. The fighters took the battle to them, clambering up the chains to precariously dislodge them while spellcasters supported them from the edge of the room and down in the pit. Overpowered and badly damaged by the onslaught, the spawn – formerly the dwarven adventurers encountered on the train earlier in the day – attempted to shift into gaseous form to escape, only to be doused in holy water bought back in Trolanport when the adventurers has been planning to gatecrash the ambassador’s party.
We paused there, as time was pressing on. This phase of the adventure has very much moved into more traditional dungeon-crawl territory which is a nice change of pace as a linear approach. It is intended to lead up to the final set piece encounter with Lucan as he is currently boxed in by the adventurers within the crumbling ziggurat. Of course, there are bound to be a few more twists along the way, as some judicious Knowledge (Religion) rolls by the party have revealed that the ziggurat is a relic of an ancient goblin aquatic fiend’s cult.
Long term players in the group have already been muttering about Elemental Evil, harking back to the epic campaign that we played through when I was at university many moons ago, so it’s nice to see the old terrors and paranoias starting to rear their heads. I may have to reward them with some old sights and sounds…