(This session was run in November of 2017. In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place immediately after Session 17: The Child Who Wasn’t a Child, approximately midsummer. A description of the campaign world and a list of player characters and recurring non-player characters can be found at The World Map.)
Tanin told the old woman that the party agreed to destroy Lord DeLacrane. The old woman’s eyes widened as she spoke an incantation and waved her hand. A portal appeared on the side of the cavern wall. The party passed through the portal and found themselves in front of a double door made of stone with intricate carvings depicting a mighty warrior astride his horse. Kulo unable to see in the dark, lit a torch.
The double door was unlocked, but the hinges groaned from the years of disuse and humidity as the party entered an antechamber. Pabelle recognized the quality of the stonework in the antechamber, suggesting it was built by a master mason. As the party members inspected the walls, a faint scraping and dragging sound could be heard from within the tomb.
The party descended a series of steps into a long and narrow room. Three large pillars stretched from floor to ceiling at intervals along the center of the room. Various sculptures in bas-relief adorned the walls, depicting Lord DeLacrane at different stages of life. A large, sinister statue stood at the far wall–a giant skeleton, whose eyes seemed to sparkle red in Kulo’s torchlight. Human and animal bones lay scattered along the floor in the center of the room. Kulo moved closer to inspect the statue, noticing the eyes were rubies. Kulo passed his torch over to Tanin. Checking first for traps, Kulo began to pry the gems out of the statue. Meanwhile, Belladore placed her ear along a door on the south wall and listened for danger. Pabelle and Velnius looked down a hallway to the north, seeing no movement and hearing no sound other than Kulo’s quiet grunting as he worked the gems. Belladore heard scraping coming from the room to the south as if a chain dragged on the floor. Gently trying the handle, she found the door was locked.
As Kulo popped one of the rubies free, the various bones that littered the floor coalesced into a number of skeletal forms shambling with vile animacy reflected through the evil green light that emanated from their eye sockets.
These skeletons were like the ones the party fought before in the field with the human sacrifice in Session 17: The Child Who Wasn’t a Child. And like before, each time a skeleton was dispatched, it exploded in a miasma of necrotic energy. Given the close quarters in the tomb, the final death knell of the skeletons took their toll on the adventurers. And almost as soon as one was destroyed, new ones would take their place.
After a couple more skeletons were destroyed, Belladore ran to the door opposite the locked one she had been listening to. In haste, she tried the handle and found it unlocked. To escape the explosions of necrotic energy, she darted into the room. Meanwhile, the rest of the party continued to fight the skeletons, growing desperate with each unfolding moment as waves of necrotic energy sucked the life out of them and new skeletons would coalesce into new forms from the shattered remnants of the ones just destroyed.
Belladore cast bonfire to see in the darkness of the room she found herself in. To her relief nothing appeared to be alive or at least animate in this room. This smaller 15′ × 25′ room was barren except for a sarcophagus in the curved alcove near the door she just entered. She popped her head out the door to tell the rest of the party the room was safe. Kulo relayed the information to Tanin who told Pabelle and Velnius. Kulo shot one last crossbow bolt before running into the room. The skeletons cut off Pabelle, Velnius, and Xerbo’s access to the door Belladore and Kulo had entered. The hallway behind them was their only means for escape.
Belladore moved to the door that presumably opened into the hallway nearest Pabelle and Velnius. Opening the door, she peeked out to tell them to come this way. Tanin broke free from the skeleton he was fighting and darted in the room through the same door Belladore and Kulo had entered. Pabelle, Velnius, and Xerbo took the cue and dashed down the hallway into the small room on their right. With everyone in the room, they barred the doors and quickly discussed their next strategy as they were now trapped in the room. Scratching and scraping could be heard at both doors as the skeletons tried to gain entry.
They decided they would let one in the room at a time, destroy it, and then continue until they had defeated the skeleton menace. The plan worked. As each skeleton was funneled in the door, the party could focus all their attacks on it, destroying it before it had a chance to strike any of the party members. Most in the room still had to contend with the explosion of necrotic energy, but no longer were they suffering additional injuries as well. After destroying several skeletons this way, the scraping at the doors suddenly came to a stop. Belladore peered out the southern doorway, seeing only a pile of inanimate bones on the floor near the threshold.
After healing their wounds through magical means, the adventurers turned their attention to the sarcophagus in the room. Moving the stone lid from the coffin, the group revealed the skeletal remains of a child, the tattered remains of a dress indicating a girl. She held a small doll clutched in her skeletal fingers. Belladore uttered, “Emma.”
Leaving the small crypt, the party of adventurers turned right to explore the rest of hallway. They descended two sets of stairs into a long room about 20′ × 45′. The opulent, yet decaying room contained a raised dais with a stone altar along the easternmost curved wall. Six marble columns, some with cracks and chips from age, flanked each other about every 10′ of the room. A copper ewer sat on the altar. Two brass braziers, its fires long since extinguished, filled each corner on either side of the altar. A tattered tapestry hung above the altar depicted Lord Harrold DeLacrane astride a horse, leading a charge into a rival army. Four sarcophagi rested along the walls of the lower part of the chamber.
Tanin moved to the copper ewer and altar, investigating it for anything of value. Remarkably the ewer seemed to contain a fresh smelling liquid, despite the apparent age of the crypt. The hairs on the back of Tanin’s neck stood on end as he felt like he was being watched. Looking up, he realized that the source of his uneasiness came from the tapestry. Within the ranks of Lord DeLacrane’s army, demons stood alongside men. Tanin hadn’t noticed them from a distance. He shrugged and grabbed the ewer, turning to tell of his find to his companions.
As soon as Tanin lifted the copper ewer, the lids of all four sarcophagi slid open and four ghastly corpses, their tongues lolling disgustingly, emerged to rend the living into oblivion.
The fight grew intense as the four ghouls broke the party up into three separate groups of battle. Velnius and Pabelle paired up to fight one ghoul as did Kulo and Xerbo. Belladore tried to keep her distance from being directly engaged in melee in order to keep her options open between spells that could assist the group and hurling daggers at the undead. Tanin, completely across the room when the ghouls emerged, now found himself the target of two of them.
One ghoul fell to the blows of Velnius, Pabelle, and Belladore, allowing all of them except Tanin to focus on the other ghoul at the back of the room. Fighting two of the ghouls by himself, Tanin was seriously injured. But in mere moments his companions came to his assistance and finished off the remaining ghouls. Tanin smiled wanly at his friends and motioned with the ewer in his hand, “looks like that was not all for naught.” Smelling the liquid, Kulo recognized it as a potion of vitality like the one found in Session 14: The Vault of Pallon the Pirate. Kulo quickly transferred the contents from the ewer to an empty vial in his pack, storing it away for later use, and leaving the copper ewer on the floor.
The party doubled-back down the hallway to the long room with the three pillars and statue with the ruby eyes. Two unexplored doors remained on the western side of the room, an ornate stone door and a wooden double-door to the north. Belladore tried the stone door, but found it locked. The wooden double-door opened freely, however.
The corridor before them continued for 10 feet before a set of stairs raised onto a platform. The party found themselves in a small room, about 15′ × 15′, surrounded on all sides except the stairs, nearly identical stone sarcophagi. A tattered tapestry hung on the north wall depicting a bull-headed demon in a menacing posture. The party cautiously removed the stone lids on the sarcophagi. The coffin on the left contained the skeletal remains of a human, the coffin on the right contained the partial skeleton of a bull, and the coffin underneath the tapestry was empty.
Kulo suspected there was a secret door on the wall with the tapestry. Examining the floor, there were clear marks where the sarcophagus on that wall could be swung out into the room. He just couldn’t determine the mechanism. Tanin grabbed a bunch of the bones of the human and started to arrange them in the empty sarcophagus. Kulo asked him what he was doing but he simply asked for help moving the human bones to the coffin underneath the tapestry. Once they had been moved to the empty sarcophagus, Tanin grabbed the bull skull and began to place it at the head of the human bones. Pabelle seemed alarmed at this and gave a worried look to her companions, but Tanin moved with confidence.
Once the bull skull was placed in the sarcophagus, the casket swung out toward them under magical force and a door opened inward underneath the tapestry. Tanin gestured at the tapestry and smiled.
The secret door opened onto a sepulcher containing two alcoves, each with a separate casket. Remnants of dried flowers could still be seen resting on each of the sarcophagi, indicating the air in the vault had been little disturbed over the years. Two braziers, long since extinguished, contained only the ashes of centuries. Two chests rested near each of the caskets.
The adventurers examined the chests first, finding mostly everyday items like clothes, mirrors, and brushes–this sepulcher appeared to be the resting place for two women. The caskets each held a skeleton of a woman, both still in the remains of a dress as she was buried. Both wore necklaces that sparkled with an unreal sheen despite the years that had passed since the women were interred. Kulo and Velnius snatched the necklaces, before the group moved on to the final rooms of the crypt.
Returning to the ornate stone door, Kulo managed to pick the lock with his thieves’ tools. A 10-foot long hallway opened up to a 10-foot wide corridor with passageways both north and south. At the intersection, the party scanned both directions, Kulo’s torch flickering light for those unable to see in the darkness. The southern chamber appeared to open up to an altar flanked by two statues of skeletal priests shrouded in robes, similar to the statue discovered earlier with the ruby eyes, although these did not have gemstones for eyes. A bowl rested on the altar. Two pillars jutted from floor to ceiling in the center of the room, miniature grotesques carved along its length stuck out their tongues in an irreverent manner.
The party decided to wait to explore the altar later, turning their attention to the room to the north instead. A flight of stairs led to a landing with three sarcophagi resting along the curved back wall of the chamber. A large and elaborate mosaic depicting Lord DeLacrane on a throne filled the wall above the sarcophagi. Before they could investigate the caskets, a cluster of skulls leaped from the floor, biting at their legs. This proved to be more of a distraction than anything else, as the adventurers quickly caved in each of the skulls.
Once again, the adventurers found themselves with the grisly task of removing the lids of the caskets and discovering what their contents held. All three contained the remains of warriors, their dried skin and skeletons visible between their armor and weapons. Lord DeLacrane rested in the center coffin, his armor still impressive in its quality after eons of disuse. He clutched a magnificent sword with his skeletal hand.
The adventurers concocted a plan. Fully expecting the corpses to animate as soon as they were disturbed, Velnius gingerly threaded and tied a rope around the skeletal hand holding the sword with the intent of preventing Lord DeLacrane’s ability to attack. At the right moment, Velnius and Tanin would coordinate their actions with Velnius holding the rope taut, while Tanin struck with his scimitar, the Blade of Dark Deeds, attempting to sever the head of Lord DeLacrane.
Velnius gave the signal and pulled the rope taut. As Tanin swung his scimitar down, the skeletal hand of Lord DeLacrane, shrouded in a necromantic shadow, shot out impossibly fast attempting to grasp Velnius. Velnius’s quick reflexes prevented the chilling touch of Lord DeLacrane from connecting, but he dropped the rope in response. Tanin’s blow cut into the neck bones of Lord DeLacrane, doing significant damage to the undead creature, but failed to send it to the abyss for eternity. All three undead warriors sprung up from their caskets to face off against the adventurers.
The fight was short but intense. Being outnumbered, the undead were quickly reduced in numbers as the party members focused their attacks on one ghoul, then the other, before directing their attacks against the animated corpse of Lord DeLacrane. The wight fought savagely, but fell shortly as the party members hacked it to pieces.
Velnius took Lord DeLacrane’s sword, the infamous Fang of Kahbis. The adventurers moved back into the room to the south to investigate the altar. Tanin created a ghostly hand, casting the cantrip mage hand, to move the bowl on the altar. The bowl apparently sat on a pressure plate and once removed triggered a magical trap. Another ghostly hand appeared and reached to touch the hand grasping the bowl, but since it was a hand manifested from a spell, no harm was done. The bowl held no particular value and was stained a dark rust color–Tanin concluded that unholy rituals used to take place here.
Before leaving the DeLacrane Tomb, the party decided to explore the one last room they had left behind: the locked room from whence scraping sounds could be heard. Kulo picked the lock, exposing a macabre sight–a shambling corpse of a bride, chained to her groom, now a ghoul.
The party surrounded the two undead, deciding to return them to the afterlife. Assuming this would be a quick battle, the party focused their attacks on the ghoul, but he continued to take hit after hit after hit. The blades of the party members did damage, but it seemed as if they would have to reduce his emaciated corpse to ashes before he would stop fighting. A couple of the adventurers switched to attacking the bride instead. After a couple of rounds of battle, the bride collapsed and with her, the chained ghoul. The adventurers discovered that the ghoul’s necrotic existence seemingly was tied to his undead bride–as long as she stood, so would he by her side.
Searching the bodies, Velnius pilfered the wedding ring from the bride and slipped it on one of his fingers. To his horror, the ring shrank to the size of his finger and no amount of pulling would remove it. Velnius cursed his ill fortune and regretted taking the ring from the bride, unsure of what consequence it would eventually bring.
The adventurers returned to the entrance to the vault. The shimmering portal remained. They stepped through and found themselves transported back to the cavern beneath the well in the ruined villa. The old woman was there. She smiled a rictus of delight and asked, already knowing the answer, “Did you complete your task?” When Tanin replied with an affirmative, “yes,” her grin widened and she unleashed a number of magic missiles, red shimmering darts, from an outstretched hand as her reward. As the darts slammed into Tanin, the rest of the party leaped into action, ready to add the old hag to their list of fallen for the day. Kulo quickly responded with a bolt of his own from his crossbow, which hit her squarely in her shoulder.
The old woman decided not to risk a battle when her freedom had just been provided to her. She started to whisk out of existence when Tanin clutched the magical vertebrae in a pouch on his belt and invoked its magic circle power. Glowing runes appeared in a circle around the old hag, potentially trapping her in that spot, and for a brief moment, her eyes showed fear . . . and anger. Perhaps through her desire to finally be free, she resisted the magic circle and teleported from the cavern. A faint cackling could still be heard as the adventurers exchanged looks of irritation.
Before departing the cavern beneath the well, the adventurers saw one last ghostly image of Emma. She appeared before them, clutching the doll to her chest. Tears fell from her eyes. She disappeared in an instant.
Kulo and Tanin advanced to 6th-level. Velnius advanced to 5th-level. Pabelle advanced to 4th-level.
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Vault of Lord DeLacrane: An exclusive map available from the Map of the Month Club as part of Heroic Map’s Patreon Rewards (you also get an alternate version and supplement every month).
Corrupted Skeleton Paper Miniatures: Distrigillator’s Roads of Apocalypse (4th ed.) – Set 19: Armies of Undead: Carcasses
Ghast/Ghoul Paper Miniatures: Paper Forge’s Patreon Rewards
Lord DeLacrane Paper Miniature: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Free Undead Sampler (I used the vampire paper mini for Lord DeLacrane, but not vampire stats)
Bride (Johanna DeLacrane) Paper Miniature: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Ghostly Spirits
Bridegroom Ghoul Paper Miniature: Brave Adventures Undead Warband