The adventurers rested, either leaning against the altar with weapons in hand, or scrambling around the spare furnishings of the temple. The Shadows moved faster than Folk did, and they didn’t have much time until the ten of them that were released found the way up and out of the crypt. Ander and Jethro found glass bottles in the Undertaker’s apartment and filled them with water for their skins, setting the bottles and some of the silver they gathered from the Keep in front of Hugh, who performed a ceremony to bless the water. Holy water seemed to be a potent ally in the fight against what was to come. Clouds gathered over the temple, and the adventurers prepared for a fight. As the sky darkened, the adventurers scrambled to the squares of sunlight made by the overhead windows; shadows didn’t usually exist in daylight, and the adventurers needed all the help they could get. The Shadows ascended the crypt stairs in groups of two and three, met by eldritch blasts, sacred weapons, and holy water. Now, with time to prepare and adequate supplies, the adventurers drove back the Shadows with only a few wounds and a little strength sapped. Not yet ready to return to the crypt, Hrive went outside the walls to retrieve his mule, and the group foraged old abandoned gardens for food. Sleep came easier in the keep without gnolls to harry them, but the adventurers were still wary.
Morning came, bringing with it a cold snap and some draconic images floating through the clouds. The Dracona chased the Folk north after the war, but fled south after winter came. These floating dragons, likely aftereffects from all the magics used in decades of war, were reminders that the adventurers weren’t far from these battlefields. Having never seen a real dragon, or even a real dragonborn, the clouds were little other than ominous. It was time to return to the crypt.
The party unlocked the door and descended into the crypt, lighting the iron chandeliers in the entrance hall. The first room they entered appeared to be the resting place of an ignominious noble family, based on the accounting of their deeds literally painted on the ceiling. Unsure about how the dead felt about this, Elliot lit off a detection spell, as did Hugh. Hugh immediately saw corrupted influences through several walls…the crypt was literally crawling with undead. Elliot saw something more interesting, a magic signature within one of the sarcophagi within the room. After a brief debate with Ander about the nature of burial rites and the ethical nature of grave robbing, Elliot went ahead and opened the sarcophagus. Inside was a chest in a false compartment, with the “head” of the sarcophagus occupied by a small urn. The inscription said something to the effect of “The Brewicks cared so much about their money that they have been buried with it.” The urn was presumably a family member that should never be resurrected, but the adventurers didn’t open the other sarcophagi to find out. When Elliot was able to pop the lock open, he found the Brewick family fortune in its entirety: Hundreds of pounds of coins, with several valuable items on top. Jethro couldn’t help but grab a few pieces of platinum on the top of the pile, but other than that the treasure was left alone for the moment. It was time to enter the next room. Elliot’s detection spell showed three entities on the other side of the door. The party was ready.
Elliot opened the door to three mummies raising out of their sarcophagi. Ander immediately attacked the closest one, and found himself grabbed, the mummy’s necrotic touch draining nearly all of his life away. This would not be as easy as it may have looked. Thinking quickly, Elliot grabbed his crowbar and heaved at the sarcophagus, managing with his giant strength to flip it over and pin the mummy to the ground. The rest of the party entered the room, preparing to deal with the two remaining mummies. Ander wasn’t done with the one who nearly killed him, though, and emptied an entire flask of lamp oil onto the mummy, setting it alight. Mummies are vulnerable to fire, and Ander used this to his advantage. The mummy had one more trick in it though, and swiped at Ander, doing enough to send the barbarian to the ground. Elliot attacked one of the other mummies, getting struck but not as severely as Ander. Hrive healed the wayward barbarian and kept his distance from the mummies using his whip. Jethro and Hugh used spells and tried to prevent the mummies from closing the gap.
When Ander got his bearings, he soaked his sword in oil and set it alight. In a barbarian rage, he drove the sword deep into the mummy, burning it within and without. Meanwhile, Hrive tried to smite a mummy, not quite pulling it off but hurting the creature mightily. With these moves, the group, a little worse for the wear, was able to dispatch the three mummies. They retreated to the Brewick burial chamber, closed the door, and decided now was the time to gather up the coins and haul their treasure to the surface.
After doing some more exploration, the group decided to squat in an old tavern near the harbor. There was a steamer chest for the gold, and a view of both the harbor and a large gated complex down the road that Hugh believed used to be a university. Feeling that continuing to plunder the crypt would result in significant harm to their health, the adventurers discussed their options. There was the Imperial Shelter to the north, where the Regents may still be. There was an odd collection of masts offshore which the group saw while on the beach. And there was still plenty to be done in the city, maybe a tavern could be reopened if potential patrons knew the area was safe. Ander was the one who spoke up and cast his vote for moving on. There were other places to go, and the Imperial Shelter may further accelerate the restoration of the city. The party decided to sleep on it, making their beds around a chest of coin that, for now, they had no ability to spend…
The rules of an RPG can only cover so much. While there are games out there like GURPS which attempt to cover a massive range of possibilities and circumstances, most games, even relatively rules-heavy games like D&D, eventually fall back on the GM to decide how things work.
The two major combat encounters in this session were built around my determinations of how to apply the written mechanics around the monsters and the environment. In one encounter I was arguably being a little tougher, in the other I was arguably being more permissive. The first was the shadows…coming into daylight should have crippled them, but I narrowed the interpretation to direct sunlight and made the encounter more interesting with the squares of light from the windows. The second was the mummies…while the vulnerability to fire is in the Monster Manual my general instinct was to say yes to whatever the players planned, including improvised fire weapons and using the stone sarcophagi to pin enemies.
More permissive, less permissive, it’s all up to you! The only thing that matters is consistency. When I make my situational judgments, it’s all about what makes sense in the moment, though I lean towards making as many things interactive as possible. Sometimes this makes things easier (like when a character can pass a strength check to pin a mummy with a stone coffin), and sometimes it makes things harder (like when direct sunlight that can harm Shadows is stuck behind cloud cover). But regardless, it means that I have notes and logs like this one that I can go back to when a similar situation comes up again. If there are more sarcophagi in the future, I know what the DC is for a character to push one over. If there are Shadows in the future, I know how much sunlight actually disadvantages them. And if one of my players remembers a situation like this better than I do, I’m inclined to believe them! It is best to note everything where possible, but do make it clear to your players that sometimes their memories may be better than yours. As long as everyone is aiming for consistency rather than gunning for the advantage, the occasional in-game correction is OK.
Are you more for rules or rulings? How do you keep track of your special circumstances and interesting encounters? Feel free to sound off about this and more in the comments. And don’t forget to check back later as this Adventure Log continues!