Shadows of Keron Episode 27: Pitch Black

Posted: 15 July 2013 in Shadows of Keron
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Previously, on Shadows of Keron… The party have delivered Princess Karmella to her bridegroom-to-be as agreed, been paid, and are now heading south across the Brown Sea en route to the Independent Cities.

The trireme on which the party has secured passage, like most Bronze Age vessels, doesn’t stay out at sea overnight; it pulls up on a convenient beach. While those PCs whose players aren’t present and the NPC crew make camp, Peter Perfect’s eye is drawn to a ruined temple on a hill in the jungle. He takes Alihulk Jr, Abishag, Borg and The Warforged with him to investigate.

They discover, as dusk is falling, that the temple is part of an entire ruined village, and that it is a temple of Hulian. The village seems to have been abandoned for some years, judging by the state of decay. The Warforged hears noises down the well in the centre of the town square and looks into it.

The Warforged: Kumal? Are you in there?

There is no answer, so he drops some rocks down the well.

GM: Have none of you read The Lord of the Rings? Seen the movie?

But this falls on deaf ears. While Alihulk and Borg are exchanging insults and building a campfire on the temple steps, and The Warforged is throwing things down the well on top of whatever is making the noise, Peter advises the party that they are not permitted into the inner sanctum, and moves inside to pray, accompanied stealthily and unseen by Abishag. The village and its clues are ignored.

Inside, they find the priests and paladins of the temple, slaughtered and devoured in what appears to have been a last stand against… something. At this point Abishag’s player correctly identifies the scenario as Pitch Black, the first Riddick movie, but I ignore him and move on as it seems the rest haven’t seen it. While Peter is praying, Abishag scouts around the altar as he is convinced there must be a secret compartment full of loot. Alas, he is mistaken.

Meanwhile, outside, a stream of millions of eyeless bats shoots out of the well like water from a hose. The Warforged launches an unprovoked Blast spell into the cloud of bats, incinerating many, and those outside are showered in red-hot crispy bat parts. The party leap to the not-unreasonable conclusion that these critters are responsible for the mutilation and death of the priests, and barricade themselves into the temple using rubble from the village. Comments about streams of bats arcing off towards the beached ship and their colleagues are ignored. Comments that the bats are getting steadily bigger are heeded.

As they are sitting back congratulating themselves on a barricade well made, Peter points out that the temple roof has holes in it. This prompts a further frantic search for a secret passageway, and at length they discover that by applying large Strength dice to the statue of Hulian in the inner sanctum, they can slide it back on rollers and descend into a cellar below, where they find the pitiful remnants of the villagers, and not a few small bat carcases. They pull the statue back into place behind them.

Holes in the cellar walls lead them to a tunnel dug by bats, through a narrow, winding passageway where man-sized, eyeless killer bats are melded into the walls Aliens-style and pounce on them, and at length into a large cavern where a dragon-sized queen bat lies in wait. Peter talks himself into believing that this simple, albeit ugly, animal is a supernatural evil beast and is disappointed when his Holy Warrior edge fails to provide any assistance.

Needing no further encouragement, the party fall upon her, and after a protracted melee with fire support from the spellcasters, they slaughter what they have decided is the source of the evil. They retreat back to the foot of the staircase and hole up until dawn, when the bats return to their cave; then they emerge, fashion a makeshift lid for the crater where the well used to be (Blast again, I’m afraid), pour all the oil they can find down the well shaft, throw in a torch, close the lid and weight it down, then dust off their hands and march back to the beach, smug at a job well done.

Here they find the NPC crew slaughtered and those PCs whose players didn’t show up hiding in a cave somewhere. None of them knows how to drive a boat, but they cast around and find a small fishing craft before paddling off erratically into the Brown Sea.

REFLECTIONS

This worked pretty well considering I was making it up as I went. Since it was entirely improvised, though, it wouldn’t have hurt to let Peter use his Holy Warrior on the Big Bad Bat – it would have made no difference to the outcome, but he would have had more fun by bringing his character’s specialisation into play.

I realised afterwards that I was using the wound soaking rules incorrectly, by allowing the Big Bad Bat to soak damage from a previous attack. Strictly, one may soak after any attack inflicting damage, but one may only soak the damage from that attack with that roll.

Overall, though, a success. I can do better once I get back into practice, as you’ll see later…

Next time, on Shadows of Keron… You lose, ye hated Elder Gods! You lose!

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