Tuesday, 7 April 2015
LotFP Solo - Part the Fifty-Fifth: „Die Toten stehn auf, die Mitternacht ruft, / Sie tanzen im luftigen Schwarme“
It is a cold and misty day as Manfred leads his companions out of the village to the old cemetery. They fan out amongst the graves, checking the newer-looking ones for the wizard's name. Finally Orst finds it written in fanciful lettering on one of the large monuments. Everyone takes a turn at digging, save to confessor who is too old and frail. The soil is much harder and rockier than they expected, and the light is fading as they finally have unearthed the coffin.
The lid opens with a groan, and the stench of decay wafts out of the grave. "I can't look," says Emmeline.
The wizard's body is in an advanced stage of decomposition; the blackened and worm-ridden flesh is falling away from the bones, and the shroud which was once wrapped tightly about it has become a mass of stringy sludge. Even brave Lycinia and stalwart Manfred recoil at the sight.
And then with a nauseating squelch, the cadaver begins to move, animated to some sinister purpose.
The Undead Thing
AC: 15, MV: 90', HD 8, HP 40, #Att: 1, Dmg: 1-6+paralysis (as Ghast), Special: destroyed by running water, control 16hd of zombies
I let it automatically surprise the PCs, but between getting up and summoning its zombie minions, the fight realistically starts on round 1. It wins the initiative, the zombies go last.
Each zombie will rise in 1d3 rounds. I took 8d6 and rolled them on the table (as d3s) to determine their relative locations and number of rounds to rise. I got the following pattern:
The open grave and the PCs are roughly in the centre. I made a map (with Hexographer) which is based on the actual churchyard in the photos at the beginning and end of this post (somewhere in the very very very rural part of Yorkshire). I had assumed there would be a lot more running around between gravestones with zombies in pursuit, but it didn't quite work out that way. I've learnt my lesson: no more fancy maps until after the fight is done. Anyways, here it is:]
[Zombies are 1,2,3 depending on the round they activate. 0-level humans are lowercase, as I broke the cardinal rule of having all different initials for the party members (thus Manfred & margiste). X is the bad guy.]
Lycinia and Manfred scramble out of the hole as the corpse-wizard rises silently into the air, floating right above ground level over the yawning grave. It swipes a clawed hand at [1-3 L, 4-6 M] Manfred's back. He takes only a scratch from the filthy nails [3 damage puts him at 21hp] but the chill of death suffuses his very bones, and he falls senseless to the ground [failed save vs. Paralyzation]. The confessor edges away from the edge of the grave -- and from the elf -- whilst gripping the holy relic of St. Lisaveta tightly; he knows its power will keep nothing away if they are too close when he begins his prayers. His companions retrieve their weapons, but are hesitant to assault the risen corpse. Around them come the sound of dirt and rocks being shoved aside with more-than-natural speed. Some others of the churchyard dead are rising, bidden by the foul dweomer of their master [first round zombies (z1s) are up].
The corpse-wizard grabs Lycinia's arm. The unearthly chill coming from the thing's claws saps her strength [4 damage drops her to 12hp], but she keep her head and does not succumb to the shock [makes her save. Elves aren't immune]. She cries out, but strikes back with skill, sending decaying flesh and ribs flying with a crunch [9 damage puts it at 31hp], and forcing it to relinquish its hold. Gerdie joins her, but keeps a respectful distance; the tip of her sword barely scratches the awful thing [1 damage put it at 30hp]. Orst does his best to step around Gerdie to get to the unconscious Manfred, and also his sword. Frère Ambrosius begins his devout prayers, holding the relic overhead like a beacon of hope -- one to which Emmeline and Lady Margiste flee in all haste. A pair of zombies [z1s], freed from their sepulchres, shamble forward called by the will of their master. Three more [z2s] are struggling free of the ground.
Faced with two foes, the corpse-wizard feints toward Lycinia. Its ruse pays off, and Gerdie is unprepared for the putrid, bony hand which grabs her face. She goes pale, and falls to the ground, unable to move, staring in wild-eyed shock [6 damage drops her to 14hp; she fails her save and is paralysed]. Lycinia lands another solid blow [5 damage leaves it with 25hp]. Orst does his best to lift Manfred, whose chain armour makes him rather heavy. The zombies [z1&z2s] continue their plodding approach, as three more [z3s] emerge from the ground. One of them reaches Lycina, but its rancid hands fail to grab her. Another lunges towards Emmeline, who bats its clutching fingers away with her sword [-3 to hit from the protection from evil and -2 from parrying did the trick].
Lycinia feels the chill of a bony hand on her back, but her armour keeps it far away from her flesh [a miss] as she turns to deal with the shambling cadaver behind her. A mighty cut bisects it at the waist [6 damage drops it to 0hp], and it collapses in a heap of oddly jutting bones and decay. Two more move in to take its place [but miss their attacks]. Orst drags the unconscious Manfred over to the cleric, and drops him at his feet. "Do something! Heal him!" he shouts. But Frère Ambrosius does not stop his prayers over the relic, as he is seized with fear by the walking dead about to surround him and his companions. Lady Margiste and Emmeline go on the offencive; together they reduce their foe to a torn and shredded carcass [1 & 7 damage respectively drops it to -2hp]. But more are approaching, so many more... [2 attack Emmeline, one goes for Lady M, all missing].
Lycinia switches to a more defencive footing [-4 to hit, +2AC]. And yet she cannot keep the corpse-wizard's chill touch nor the swollen and meaty fist of one of its servitors away [2 + 1 damage leaves her with 9hp]. Her own attack finds no opening [miss]. Orst is still screaming at the frightened confessor to attend to Manfred, but as he does so he draws his sword to join the girls in their battle. Only Lady Margiste seems to hurt one of her dreadful foes [4 damage drops it to 6hp], but at least none of their decaying claws rend the livings' flesh [zombies all miss].
Lycinia whirls out of reach of the floating horror [it missed by a lot] and brings her sword down hard on the shoulder of one of the corpses. The blade shears through its frail ribcage and cracks its pelvis in half [9 damage takes it to -1hp]. Its compatriot stumbles over the broken form as it grabs for the elf [miss]. Orst is still screaming for the cleric to do something, looking back over his shoulder enough that he fights not at all well [miss], and his opponent manages to get in past his guard [2 damage leaves him with 4hp]. Frère Ambrosius finally snaps out of his shock, and begs the Light God to restore Manfred's sense, that he may go forth to once again smite these abominations. The Light God finds his entreaty pleasing, and Manfred stirs, climbing to his feet and picking up his sword [Cure Light Wounds removed his paralysis]. Lady Margiste and Emmeline are still beset with horrific walking corpses, but holding their own [they miss, the zombies miss].
The corpse-wizard rakes Lycinia with its claws when she is distracted by the zombie attempting to pummel her [5 damage drops her to 4hp; she makes her save]. Doing her best to defend herself [+2 AC, -4 to hit], she eventually drops the zombie, and turns her attention back to the wizard-thing, fending off its claws with her magical blade. Manfred is now fighting alongside his companions. The zombies' advance is relentless, and they prove hard to put down. One overpowers Orst [8 damage drops him to -4hp], snapping his neck, and another nearly breaks Lady Margiste's jaw [4 damage leaves her with 2hp], but not her resolve -- nor that of her friends [ML roll succeeds].
Lady Margiste and her brother fight well together; each of them destroys one of the shambling cadavers with their swords. Manfred looks over to see Lycinia fighting desperately against the floating wizard-thing. He rushes to her aid forthwith, and she falls back to catch her breath [still fighting defensively] whilst he takes the lead. Emmeline manages to fell her undead opponent, leaving her and Lady Margiste to face the last of the ambulatory cadavers together.
Manfred, graceless brute that he is, presents a much less mobile target than did the elf. The corpse wizard strikes him again and again with its terrible claws [5+4+6 damage drops him to 6hp]. The third hit causes him to seize up in terror, and he falls with a shriek, unable to move, his eyes darting round in horror. But his rapier has already removed one of its dangling legs [7 damage] and Lycinia manages to land yet another punishing blow [8 damage leaves it at 10hp]. Meanwhile Emmeline and Lady Margiste have been stabbing at their foe, keeping it away but doing it little real injury.
Lycinia is desperate, and puts her faith in her armour to protect her. She assaults the corpse-wizard with renewed fury, and shatters its pelvis [4 damage leaves it with 6hp]. Its clutching claws cannot touch her. Lady Margiste impales her opponent on her rapier, driving it in up to the hilt. "Ha ha!" she calls out in triumph, but prematurely. The blade having pierced nothing but rotten flesh, the zombie was not hindered at all [she missed by 1]. A bony fist crashes down upon her shoulder, and she falls at its feet [2 damage drops her to 0hp].
[rounds 15 & 16]
Emmeline yelps as her friend is struck down, but lets no worries distract her from her vengeance. In a single fluid motion her rapier darts across its neck, sending its head sailing several yards through the air [7 damage drops it to 0hp]. The corpse-wizard makes a final grab for Lycinia, grabbing her throat in its twisted claw [3 damage puts her at 1hp]. It pulls her close -- too close for her to swing at it properly. Its eyes glow with the immanence of victory, and then suddenly wink out as Lycinia smashes in its torso with the ornate hilt of her sword, sending decaying ribs flying. It loosens its grip and tumbles back into its grave in a heap [8 damage drops it to -2hp].
An exhausted Lycinia flops down on the dirt next to Manfred, and idly begins trying to slap him awake. Emmeline tosses her sword aside and kneels over Lady Margiste. "She's still alive!" she exclaims, tears of joy coursing down her grimy cheeks. Lady Margiste does her best to smile up at her friend, but swoons from the pain. Frère Ambrosius emerges trembling from behind a tombstone. "It's over?" he asks.
Manfred and Gerdie soon come back to themselves, but for poor Orst, alas, it is too late. Manfred takes him inside the old church and refuses to speak to anyone, even his sister. Gerdie jumps into the grave, and searches the coffin, moving bones and foetor aside with the tip of her sword.
[The only answer from the Contact Outer sphere spell that turned out to be false was Q2, so it is not Zarhusvosstek's spellbook that they need. In fact, his spellbook isn't even here.
Q: Is the item they need in the grave? Unlikely: 63, Yes.]
"There's no books or scrolls or nothin' like that even in here," says Gerdie. "Just this weird brass flask."
"Grab it," calls Lycinia. "And grab his head."
"What? No. You come get it if you want. That's foul."
Lycinia sighs and lowers herself painfully into the grave as Gerdie clambers out. She takes up the shovel and uses it to cut the head off from the trunk, then deposits it in the disturbed earth beside. She climbs out, picks the head up in the shovel and follows her companions into the abandoned church.