Thursday, August 30, 2012

Carrion Crown: Shadows of Gallowspire pt. 3

In the final Dungeons and Dragons - Carrion Crown-video, I sit down and talk about the campaign as a whole, plus how I would write the sixth chapter to be more fun and consistent with the other five.

Also, credits!

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Diablo 3 patch 1.0.4

Maynard sits down and shares some of his impressions from the new 1.0.4 - Will it pull him back to the burning hells once more?

On the Jay Wilson issue:

Jay Wilson's apology:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Carrion Crown: Shadows of Gallowspire pt. 2

Maynard returns home after session and sits down with some thoughts and disappointment of SoG. Seemingly, the weakest link of the Carrion Crown campaign

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Carrion Crown: Shadows of Gallowspire pt. 1

(This session included Galfur the dwarven inquisitor, Mutt the human barbarian, Kia the vampire-sorceress, Colin the halfling paladin and Edgar the human cleric. The average party level was 13)

For the conclusion of the fifth chapter, please see my video evaluation here:

As the world was slowly crumbling away into pieces, the party swiftly set out from Caliphas, being aware time was likely growing late. The sky had darkened and the black clouds gathered over Ustalav. Red lightning storms erupted and the crackling energies sizzled out into the distance, from the towering construct of Gallowspire.

Lots of citizens ventured to greet the heroes and bid them the best of luck on their way. As they left the tavern in the rain, a mob of people were watching them in silence, bowing their heads and letting The Watch escort the heroes to the main gate. Several members of the governing elite met up with them as well, asking them to do whatever was in their power to save the country. Mutt told them to look for the green pillar; once it had been quelled; they would know there were safe.

Travelling is half the journey!
Setting out the heroes decided against using any kind of teleportation devices, being rather sure the area of Renchurch and the surrounding Virlych had been fortified to resist such basic means of invasion. On horse, it was five-day travel, which they knew was a notorious long time as they raced against time to secure Count Galdana. Still, they had very little choice in the matter.

On the fourth day, a Feather Token bird arrived. It carried a small message for them from Addivion, boasting they were too late, although he would recommend them on getting this far and as a reward present them with an offer. A last chance to get out of Ustalav, go somewhere else, and leave the rebirth and the Carrion Crown to him. Needless to say, the heroes declined.
(I wasn’t really sure whether there should have been more random encounters along the way, but honestly, this chapter throws more than enough encounters at the players as it is.)

They were shown the official map of Virlych, which Mutt had drawn from research back in Caliphas, and decided to set up along the river west, and make heading north through the Hungry Mountains, eventually reaching Renchurch. They decided to travel throughout the forest on the northern bank, as they could often hear the distant screams, which somewhat resembled those of a dragon.

Summoning a stone bridge from Wall of Stone they crossed the polluted river and headed through the withered branches and trees. Barely a sound was heard, besides a few looming crows screeching, as they entered a clearing containing an odd archway made of bone. Kia identified this as a witchgate. A device able to displace anyone wishing to utilize any kind of teleportation within its limits; meaning teleportation would likely be very dangerous in these areas. They had to admit this was an unexpected hindrance.

Neither had they expected the grove of huge Hangman Trees that suddenly jumped upon them with a roar. While Colin and Mutt were both enthralled by their spores, the rest of the party took up arms. Edgar unleashed a Repulsions spell, keeping all the trees at bay, while the ranged weapon took them down from afar. (This encounter was trivial at best; and as a GM you will find plenty of other like it in this adventure. Some of them will hardly seem challenging. This, I assume, is intended. After all, evil is as evil does; it wants to better its odds by having the heroes throw away resources at the waves of minions, leaving them all the weaker for the final confrontation. Depending on whether you wish to play it generously or not, this has some very serious impacts on the chapter. If you feel they’re up to the task in heroic mode, you might limit them to have only one rest during the adventure, of even; none at all.)

With their first victory in hand, the heroes moved onto the mountains.  Their spirit was high, and after a couple of hours, they trekked up a narrow path and found a shortcut leading them into a large cave, reeking with the stench of death.  They decided to enter, arms drawn. Not long did it take before they were jumped  by a howling being; a mighty linnorm hurling itself at them as they intruded on its domain.

Flying over them, it had a brilliant chance for a fast breath attack, and sprayed them with a burning fire. Kia, now with her vampiric powers, charged in to do a vampiric touch, sadly not estimating the linnorm’s combat reflexes bringing her health even further down. Joining in was Mutt on his flying broom and Galfur on his flying carpet. Colin and Edgar moved to safety and set up for a bunch of ranged attacks. The linnorm stubbornly remained airborne and chopped away at Mutt, while Kia very carefully decided to back out. As the breath attack ticked for the second time, Edgar managed to get in a powerful amount of channeling, turning the tide of the battle eventually, and as Colin joined in, the powerful arrow-shots helped bringing the evil dragon to its knees soon enough. Now the long ascend towards Renchurch awaited them.

Their journey took the high and further into the mountains.  After a couple of hours they saw a column of smoke rise in the near distance and decided to check it out. A small, quickly made camp was placed against the cliffs, complete with a couple of tents. What was more important was the mumbling shade of an old woman tied up to a sturdy pole; she was gagged and desperately eyed the heroes with pleading eyes. As Colin attempted to free her, a stern voice shouted “Halt!” and an elderly man clad in armor approached him with four guards. The heroes identified them as paladins and inquisitors; Knights of Ozem, led by their captain, Sir Garvis Karst. Karst warned the heroes that this woman had been possessed by a demon and was to be brought home to the cathedral to be purged. While Kia chose to remain in the background, Colin and Galfur was allowed to investigate her closer. They kept mainly with Heal checks but only identified bruises and wounds. The woman begged them for help, pleading innocence desperately, when they removed her gag. The heroes however, were in doubt and decided to leave the witch to her fate and ask the paladins for further information about the mountains. They could only provide little information about the journey north; it was dangerous to travel and would lead them dangerously close to Gallowspire, the final resting place and prison of the Whispering Tyrant.

Somewhat in doubt whether they’d made the right choice, Colin and Galfur returned to the troupe and moved on.

(Right, I handled this a bit differently. As written, this encounter is almost certain to end in a fight. I decided to keep it as a purely moral choice, which meant the heroes decided to simply skip out on it entirely. Ah well; can’t all be winners it seems.)

The cloister of Renchurch
The heroes arrived at the cathedral later that evening. Everything was eerily silent, as expected, and they had the sinister feeling of everything watching over them. A great evil nested here and lay in wait. From what they could see, the entire cathedral was surrounded by an old wall, containing structures like an old watch tower, a swampy lake, stables and a graveyard. For a while, the heroes considered where to go and what approach to take, and in the end they agreed they needed to conserve their resources for the upcoming fights, and instead head directly through the front doors of the Cathedral.
 As they did this, from the tower sprang a howling Banshee and a bloody struggle began. She began screaming and the heroes noticed how soaked swamp-driven mummies started raising. Soon after the doors swung open and an athach burst out to join in on the fray, while a rain of arrows started hammering down from an unseen point atop the cathedral.

It was a fierce struggle; especially when Mutt failed his fortitude save against the banshee’s wail, blasting him for 140 damage. The Gate Tender grappled Kia and hurled her through the trapped main doors of the cathedral, triggering the Reaper Door and piercing her with a barrage of knives.

(Individually, these encounters might seem kind of underwhelming for a 12-13th level party so I decided to pretty much hurl the entire bunch of them at the players at the same time. After all, they should know better by now than to walk straight for the obvious route. I did alter a bit of these events as well, for example – All my players have more than 100 hit points now, meaning that the ooh-so-scary-door-trap of 3D8+3 damage is downright pathetic. I ended up upgrading it to 9D8 instead. Besides that, it seems reasonable to throw as much stuff at them as you think they can handle at this point. After all, this is the welcome committee!)
And so, they looked at the open doors, ready to step inside and face the dangers of Renchurch Cathedral…

To be continued this Wednesday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Path of Exile Beta Impressions

Maynard sits down with a solid alternative to Diablo 3 - The awesome game 'Path of Exile' - and tells you why you should play it.
Guest star: Mr. Tanglefoot the Hedgehog.

Best viewed in HD!
(And pardon the occasional slips and such; the heat is killing me)

Contrary to my statement in the video, I am not going to touch Diablo 3 after reading this.

Even more reason to ditch Diablo 3, it seems.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vlog: Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition preview

Maynard sits down and decides to give the new Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition a chance. How does its presentation live up to the expectations of an old warrior of the Sword Coast?
(Apologies for the initial shaky camera)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Carrion Crown: Ashes at Dawn pt. 6 - Video review

As we completed the fifth chapter of Carrion Crown, I got out and got myself a webcam. I’m random like that. This means I decided to sit down and do a small talk about Ashes at Dawn – what worked, what didn’t and what would I like to change? Check it out.

PS: Sorry for the wet hair, the buzzing computer and the scratching hedgehog.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Carrion Crown: Ashes at Dawn pt. 5

(This session involved Edgar the human cleric of Gond, Mutt the human barbarian, Kia the human sorceress, Colin the halfling the paladin of Lathander and Galfur the dwarven inquisitor. The average party level was 12).

The heroes wiped up some of the mess around the stables and got their bearings together before advancing into the abbey. They were even so lucky as to be greeted by Kia, who now returned from her wounds suffered at the tailoring store. Being on their track for some time, the sorceress had finally found her way to the abbey and was ready to jump back into action.

It turned out the be the case rather quickly, as not long after the heroes spent some time talking - looking out at the heavy rain, and then noticed a swarm of spiders making its way across the floor towards the door. Immediately remembering their research, Galfur pointed it out and shouted "Kia! Blast it!"
Not really sure about the fuss, Kia fireballed the swarm and blew half the smithy to pieces along with it. The heroes pretty much assumed that this had to be part of Oothi and that this part was pretty much dead by now.

Ring, ring, ring goes the trolley
They decided to move swiftly from there and head towards the small door. On their way they heard the sound of nervous footsteps and speculating voices saying "Be careful, that explosion was rather huge. They must be right out there!"

The heroes moved out of the stables and tried one of the other doors, realizing it was locked. Instead, Kia turned invisible with greater invisibility and moved down to check. Six armed mercenary-guards were moving out, armed, nervously looking around. Judging from their clouded gaze they were dominated.

The first one of them to spot the heroes yelled "Halt! Lay down your weapons and surrender!"
With Kia still invisible, with an empowered fireball left, things pretty much went:

(Paizo, you made my players very happy by placing this bunch of CR 7 guys here for my level 12 party to play with : ) )
One they managed to capture alive and dragged him off to have a little chat. As they cured him up, he immediately punched the cleric in the face and ran away, screaming for reinforcements. Mutt and Galfur immediately tried grappling him but smashed into each other with a thud, meaning he got a strong head-start. Eventually they tracked him down in the forest and brought him back in shackles. At this point, Kia dispelled the dominate person spell, meaning he instantly panicked and flew into a rage once he heard the heroes had killed his friends. Through some sweet talking he softened up and told them he and his friends had been ambushed by the witches, appearing as innocent young ladies at first, up the coast. They had then been brought here and charmed to keep the abbey clear of intruders, along with the glabrezu outside. He could describe very little besides the first of the abbey. Some rooms upstairs, two witches, and a monstrosity clad in darkened armor, dripping with blood.
They afterwards decided to let him go and head back into the building, actually through an unusual entry: Skipping most of the base-floor and instead going right up by the green terrace. 
Well, she turned me into a newt!
As they arrived up there they took in the scenery for a bit. Apparently, someone had made sure to keep this place well maintained with potted plants, some trees and even a small stone-table with benches and a tiny chess-board. The rain was dripping happily away on the patches of grass, but didn't manage to elude the inquisitor's gaze that instantly spotted a swarm of spiders trying to hide (my party in general has very, very good perception-checks, making the spider-game somewhat meh). Repeating success, he ordered Kia to take care of it and another fireball tore up a massive hole in the wall along with splattered spiders across the terrace.
Going inside they found themselves in a small study-chamber along with several books and three doors. Investigating the eastern one first, they found only some old guest-chambers and bed-rooms along with a couple of secret doors between them. Nothing spectacular and they wondered it was so very quiet up here.
The answer revealed itself when they stepped into a large alchemist workshop in the west-wing. Three large tables with vials dominated the middle of the room, whereas a bubbling cauldron with a red substance was placed far to the northwest. The heroes pondered this for a bit and then went to investigate the cauldron. Immediately, another four mercenaries appeared from hiding and attacked, while a cackling erupted from above the ceiling as one of the sisters revealed herself.
Hetna REALLY likes riding her broom...
 The heroes scattered out for cover, and on her first turn, the witch used her waxen doll to take control over Mutt, making the barbarian jump through the window with his poor will save and crashing to the ground outside. In her surprise round she also unleashed her elemental gem and summoned a large air elemental to aid her. Galfur drank a fly potion and Kia made use of her overland flight to meet in an arcane shoot-off with the witch. She cast a disintegrate at her, which was saved on a well rolled fortitude save. Colin, however, with his smite evil inflicted plenty of pain, making the witch order her minions to fully focus on him. Soon after, all four piled on top of the poor halfling in a bundle-grapple.
The witch decided for Kia to be too dangerous and hurled a baleful polymorph at her. As her fort-save was very low, Colin instantly used his paladin-sacrifice power to take the fall, and was immediately turned into a turtle.
The air elemental charged up and caught Kia within its whirlwind and Mutt climbed back up and through the window with his grappling hook and rope. As he entered, Egdar blocked off the windows with a wall of stone to avoid any more thrashings. Kia made her best to escape from the whirlwind but to no luck at all, and Galfur charged in to beat on the witch. As her cloak of dreams popped he made his save nicely and inflicted a moderate amount of wounds on her. (In general, neither her cloak of dreams or prepared poison-spell did that much in this fight).
On her turn, the witch hexed Kia with bad luck, took some more beating from Galfur and ordered her goons to grapple Edgar instead. Mutt came to his rescue and started mowing down some of them, while Kia kept struggling with the whirlwind. Following that, another baleful polymorph set in, now with forced dual rolls for lowest result on the fort-save, instantly turning Kia into a sheep. Luckily, she maintained her mental-state, which dramatically altered the course of the battle on her turn. With a still silent dispel magic the sheep managed its caster level check in the whirlwind and dispelled the turtle's state, bringing back the paladin. As Mutt was well on his way making short work out of the thugs, the witch soon received a barrage of do-good'er arrows, which brought her to -18 hit points. Not long after, the party mobbed it up and celebrated.
They tore down the stone wall and poured out the remaining blood brew, outside the window. As they searched the lab they found some bottles labeled "Youth Tonic" and as Kia picked one up she had the sudden urge to drink it. Resisting with her willpower, she gently decided to put it down again and instead concentrate on a special flask with a few drops of golden liquid. Mutt recognized this as the vial of youth inherited down in the Caliphvaso family. As far as they could judge, the remaining content would be able to grant the one imbibing it a solid handful of additional years. They decided to simply bring it along for now.
The mood was good as both the witch and her companions had brought along some good loot.
(If you've played or read this part, you will likely notice I changed the witch's spell selection a bit, such as giving her two polymorphs and so on. I've never tried using witches in my campaign, so I didn't know that much about them, and with very little time to read up, it mostly involved what spells she was going to throw at my players. I'll have to say that the mass pain strike approach seemed not only weird, but also useless against my group. It would do so very little difference, compared to everything else I could throw at them. So instead of adding spells to her which I was unsure about her even having access to, I stocked up on some she already had. It was a very interesting and to me surprising fight. She seems like the stronger one of the two sisters so far, but it's too early to say. The fight also states, I believe, that she shatters her gem upon escape, which again seemed odd as the whirlwind was an awesome factor in this fight. I was very curious to see what would happen if the sheep didn't get the chance to turn spells, with a grappled cleric, a barbarian out of reach and only the inquisitor against her in the air. She could very well have won, as he didn't hit that hard at all.)  
...I got better?
To the south the heroes found the sleeping quarters in which the soldiers had resided and to the north a very interesting study-chamber containing an old skeleton of a hag, apparently stitched together by several small pieces of string. From what Edgar could judge, only the skull was missing. On the shelf, the heroes found an old tome of necromancy and blood magic, apparently describing the process of reviving dead tissue and notes on inflicting vampirism upon oneself. Kia was immediately interested.
With focus on the skeleton, the heroes agreed this was likely the remains of Oothi; now to decide what to do with her. They agreed someone should take a finger bone from it for starts. Colin had the honor. As soon as he did, four invisible blades cut deep into his back.
Panic erupted, everyone flailing wildly with their weapons, Galfur attempting to invisibility purge without luck, Kia flying to the ceiling and casting, yet another, fireball with selective blasting. The skeleton was smashed into a million pieces and the invisible foes immediately turned their attention to her. Colin, near the brink of death, healed himself while Edgar cast True Seeing on the inquisitor who saw four invisible stalkers hovering around Kia near the ceiling (Interesting topic, does true seeing enable you to see invisible stalkers? I'm not entirely sure, but decided yes). The dwarf jumped on to his flying carpet and Mutt on to his newly acquired flying broom and raced up there. Kia took a full round worth of invisible slams and with a shriek encapsulated herself in a resilient sphere. With a true seeing and Mutt's blind-fighting feat, the stalkers were downed quickly.
With the skeleton out of the picture, they only needed to terminate the remaining spiders. 
Ding, ding, ding went the bell.
In the final chamber the heroes found the old bell-tower in which stairs led both up and down, and of course the immediately spotted a spider-swarm on its way up the stairs. Kia, this time thinking reflectively, hurled a fireball at it and tore up the tower. Including the bell that instantly came crashing down. With everyone but Mutt failing their reflex-save, the entire party crashed to the floor below for a smashing amount of damage.
Having learned for whom the bell tolls, it took them some time to heal up and get back on track. Luckily, none had been killed. Instead they decided to investigate the ground floor fully, seeing as they were there and all.
Not that there was much to find except some old rooms, a kitchen, a larder and some very old flasks of wine for the heroes' cellar. Two stairs, however, led downwards to the basement and they decided to take the first one, on their way naturally spotting another spider swarm being blasted into oblivion.
The halls downstairs were covered with bloody runes and symbols, a strong presence of evil emanating from every direction. As they headed south they arrived in a very old, large room containing skulls and desecrated tombs all over. In their midst was a desperate, pale soul digging and mumbling to himself all the time. They recognized the almost faded symbol of Tyr on his breast-plate and concluded this was the paladin mentioned in Radvir's journal. Calling him out, the almost deranged human revealed his vampiric features and clumsily stepped towards them. Before he could get that far, however, Edgar noticed his obvious signs of dominance and cast dispel magic. As he returned to conscious, he presented himself as Halloran and thanked the heroes for freeing him from his bonds. He also told them how he had eventually been caught by Radvir and turned into this monstrosity. Already now he had been feasting on several of the guards and lived the unholy life of the nocturnal. His shame had overpowered him, and now he wished for nothing more than to redeem himself before suffering his final death.
 He pledged himself to Edgar, the holy father, asking whether he would grant him a quest so he might die with a pure heart. Edgar reluctantly instructed him to accompany them in the fight against the remaining witch and whatever this towering, metal-thing might be. The paladin eagerly accepted and offered to take them north to the creature.
As soon as they entered they saw the grim monstrosity stand before them. A towering blood knight clad in armor, dual wielding bastard swords and constantly bleeding in a slippery cascade, ready to take them on in a challenge.
Kia flew up towards the low ceiling, Edgar buffed and Galfur did some more; then he charged in and unleashed his blood-fountain on the entire party, with only Mutt and Galfur saving. Everything now covered with a slippery substance didn't interfere with the heroes. Colin unleashed a series of shots, shaving off the top of the blood knights hit points, and in a sudden burst of extreme aggression, Mutt scored a critical hit with his x3 undead bane halberd while fully buffed up and in rage, for a well total of a 100 damage.
And thus the blood knight was no more.
(Seriously, what a let down! With everyone making their second saves against the poison and nobody failing the reflex save on the greased weapons there is just so little one can do. Especially with a power crit like that. Ah well, at least he got to save himself a sweet reputation beforehand.)  
At this time the heroes and their vampiric companion heard a faint clapping up in the end of the room. A vampiric witch stepped out of the shadows, ready for battle...
To be continued next week.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Carrion Crown: Ashes at Dawn pt. 4

(This session included Edgar the human cleric, Galfur the dwarven inquisitor, Mutt the human barbarian and Colin the halfling paladin. The average party level was 11.)

Dress this!
So the heroes had finally made their way through the nocturnal murderer's basement and finally stood face to face with the culprit. Much to their surprise, after bashing down his basement-door, they realized it was none other than Radvir Giovanni greeting them; the otherwise respected and well-known vampire-tailor. His spawns stared hatefully at the newly arrived heroes and their master, well aware of the alarm the heroes sprung earlier, had prepared his defenses well in advance.
”You should never have interfered with this!” he hissed ”It doesn't concern you!”

And thus he charged.

Nothing like beginning a session with a good fight!

Colin got the upper hand of initiative and unleashed a hail of arrows at the advancing vampire. He noticed how he moved gracefully through the air, avoiding slashes and arrows alike almost as if he was displaced from his apparent location (remember, Radvir drinks his potion of Cat's Grace and Displacement before the battle, if he's aware of the heroes approaching). A few of them connected and burned into his skin and thus the rogue leapt a long way to the flank with his bladed scarf (I'd never heard of this beforehand, my players had a hard time taking this guy seriously, I have to admit), and just as he was to slice through the air, a spawn which had readied its action charged in and provided the vampire with a flank. Not only did Colin take a neat beating with 7D6+8, he also suffered two negative levels due to the slam.

Damn rogues!
The rest of the party joined in, but without their sorceress there was very little offensive ability left, besides from Mutt who fiercely tried taking down Radvir with a full attack. Due to the vampire's now buffed AC of 32 and displacement-spell, it wasn't easily done. In fact, he danced for some time even when the inquisitor joined in and instead decided it would be easier beating up the spawns. The remaining two remained stationary in the back, prepared to aid their master for his fleeting tactical advantage.

Colin had a really good round on the following turn, bypassing the displacement and scoring three hits with smite evil on the vampire, bringing him notoriously down in hit points, even with his previous fast healing. He went into a blood-rage and five-foot stepped into full attack position of the paladin, immediately having another spawn flank up to his side, and unleashed his barrage of blades on him, hitting with two out of three. After 14D6+16 damage the spawn also got lucky, resulting in three additional negative levels in one burst, instantly slaying the halflfing paladin.

(Thus, session was off to an even greater start!) Radvir, however, was getting dangerously low on health and prepared to escape the following round through gaseous form and let his minions be mobbed up. Chance never came, however, as Mutt and Galfur with a flank-attack got through his displacement and thus slew the foul being where he stood, only to deal swift justice on the remaining spawns.

(Radvir was a surprisingly lethal fight, but he works largely on his spawns in my book. And of course, being the hallmark of the higher levels in D&D, who wins the initiative. Him being so dependent on his sneak attacks for being dangerous makes it even more important to get the first strike and move out on the flanks, so remember that Cat's Grace potion. It ups Radvir's initiative to +13 and his AC to a full 32. If buffed out, it might be perfectly viable to let him move up close and personal to the entire party and start slicing, holding his spawns prepared to charge in and flank on the condition of him full-attacking something they can flank. In this way, Radvir hits with +21/+21/+16 for a potential 21D6+24 in one turn.. If you feel he still needs buffering, give him some poisonous attacks, or even read up on Ice Titan's ”Heroic Mode Radvir” as I like to call him: This version replaces Radvir with a very lethal monk-build which is very unforgiving, especially for ranged casters and grouped up people.)

”Dear evil diary; I totally foiled the heroes' plans toda-- wait, there is someone at the door?”
Being the megalomaniac villain that he is, Radvir of course keeps a journal of his exploits. As the heroes searched the small basement room, they found it lying conveniently on the desk, next to some staked vampires who were apparently paralyzed and unable to move for now. They decided not to take any chances, and instead return everything to Siervage and letting him decide what to do with them. They also decided not to execute Radvir by themselves, but instead pacify him and hand him over to his betrayed community.
In his journal, Radvir mentioned some very interesting things. (Sadly, this is one of those things I would have loved for the adventure to include as a hand-out, but sadly it is only summed up. I therefore have made up my own excerpt from Radvir's journal, explaining of recent events and his involvement with them. Feel free to use at your own leisure!)

 A lot of things started making sense for the heroes as their eyes went through this. Not surprisingly, Radvir had been a close ally of the Whispering Way all along, wishing nothing but throwing the vampire-society into turmoil and thus unable to stand against the Whispering Tyrant, should the cult be successful in creating the Carrion Crown. Apparently, for this very purpose, the mentioned sisters in the old abbey seemed responsible for the odd concoction; the Blood Brew, which somehow warranted closer investigation. Another thing that quickly caught their attention was the mention of their friend Adivion Adrissant, the scholar, merchant and aristocrat they met during Countess Caliphvaso's ball. He'd been very friendly to them back then, very interested in establishing some trade-connections and listened dearly to their stories and heroic moments. But for now, it seemed like his interest ran much deeper than that. Him bearing the title of Lord in connections with The Whispering Way was certainly an ill omen.

The heroes decided to do a quick sweep of the remaining basement, including the adjacent room which contained nothing but silence and four coffins; likely the resting place for the now former owners. Eager to inspect, Mutt went to the first one which immediately sprang to life and grappled him.

It's a mimic!!!

The coffin mimics all animated in the narrow room, effectively sending Edgar and Galfur running screamingly away, while the third dragged off with Mutt to munch on him in the corner. Edgar cast Freedom of Movement on Galfur and ran to the far side of the room, while the inquisitor kept shooting arrows at the things. The only thing Mutt could rely on at this time, was his own brute force and whatever daggers he could produce and punch it up with..
(This was one of those Benny Hill fights, really... It took for god damn ages, with two thirds of the players being terrible damage-dealers. In the end they would have won, but I actually ended up lowering the mimic's hit points to something which could be completed in one night. They don't hit really hard and by the time the barbarian had smashed the first up, he made good progress on the second one as well.)

And thus the heroes made their way quickly through the rest of the basement, wrestling with a few mechanics and challenge before finding the secret door into Radvir's personal chambers, in which they found another letter.

From his knowledge, Mutt had heard about this old Abbey that once was dedicated to a saint of Tyr but later converted to vinery. As far as he knew, it had been abandoned through time, so it was likely these supposed witches were there in the utmost secrecy.

As the dark times fell...
The party handed over the evidence to Luvick Siervage who was most pleased with the results and yet quite unnerved to realize the evil forces mobilizing against him. He promptly instructed the heroes to journey to the north along the cliffs, where they would find the old abbey. They were to put a significant end to this threat once and for all, making the witches pay for their blasphemous mockery of his society. As for Radvir, the traitor was bound to the tallest spire of the city with enchanted links, unable to escape his impending doom in a few hours. The heroes, who had of course made sure to loot him of all vital possessions first, were invited to stand by as spectators.

As dawn cast its golden hue on the city, even down on the streets they could vainly hear the frenzied tailor wail and cry in anger when his flesh began searing and shortly after caught fire. It was with a roar Radvir became engulfed in flames and after some minutes was reduced to tiny pieces of ash drifting off into the wind. It would have been a grand moment indeed, had it not been for the fact that a strange gathering of grey clouds had started in sky. It looked like an unusual large amount of rain was on its way.

The heroes went to recuperate and after 10 hours raised Colin from the dead. Being briefly updated, they immediately went to the city gates to set out in pursuit of the Abbey. As they moved out they noticed how the heavy rain had started and how the clouds nearly grew darker and darker for every hour. The faint sound of thunder in the distance roared, almost as if some gigantic beast was making its way to their location. Colin had an inner sense of an unholy presence starting to settle all throughout the land. Definitely, this was a dark omen of things to come.
They spent a significant amount of time reading up on the names they'd been given, to learn that these witches had once been part of a coven led by a vicious Hag known as Oothi. Oothi was destroyed a long time ago by an inquisition and burned to the stake, however, it is believed she managed to escape in one form or the other, meaning the church scattered her bones all throughout the world. It was said, however, that her remaining sisters were now eagerly searching for her remains as through foul necromantic rituals, it would indeed be possible to make her walk this earth once more.
During their research, the heroes encountered yet another dire event. Apparently, their old friend and ally, Count Lucinean Galdana, who was also introduced to them along with Adivion Adrissant, had gone missing this very night, which had now put the town in an uproar. Being a very respected member of society, searches were going on at all gates and the heroes were questioned about their knowledge of his last location. They only knew that he had invited them to see him after the ball, and that Adivion had expressed an interest to join. While the Watch assured them they would go and investigate, the heroes knew all too well that Adivion was no longer in town. They'd checked.

In the name of the demonic rose
As the heroes neared the abbey they shielded themselves from the rain the best they could. It was pouring down, sometimes making paths and trails dangerous or unstable. What they couldn't help but notice was the occasional red lightning striking at random places out in the distance. Whenever it happened, it almost seemed as if something red and glowing was hiding in the nearby clouds. Not exactly sure why, they just knew that this somehow signalized that time was about to run out. Evil forces had been set in motion and if they didn't act swiftly it might spell a very bad future for Ustalav.
They arrived around noon at the old abbey and noticed its surprisingly fine condition. It was located close to a small bay with plenty of water at the foot of the tall cliffs and the abbey itself was in two floors, the upper one housing a prosperous balcony with green vegetation. Besides from his they noticed a small, closed, stable, an old tool shed, a well and the vineyards themselves. Further down the path they would return to the grasslands.

From where they stood, they couldn't spot any sign of life, but a faint sound of someone working and
 humming lowly emanated from the stables. Colin, not wanting to take any chances by now, detected a strong evil presence coming from within, which in adventurer-language roughly translates to:

Back on plot, however, Mutt decided to add a twist to it and politely knocked, a short moment later being greeted by a young stable boy. Mutt told him he carried an important message and smiling the young boy asked who it was for?
Not really that far into the plan, Mutt decided it was more trouble than it was worth and pounded the boy with his halberd, only to see him laugh with a twisted unearthly laughter and warp into a towering, drooling demon. Before them stood a glabrezu.
It immediately cast a mirror image which was torn apart by Galfur and Mutt. It also saved the demon from some nasty shots from the zealous paladin. On its next turn, the demon cast Power Word: Stun on the paladin, well aware he was too far away from the cleric, and retreated to gather up the party as much as he could. Taking a bit of beating, he managed into next round and created a field of reverse gravity sending Edgar and Colin flying up in the air, more or less defenseless as the cleric had no luck getting spells through in his current state and failed his one dispel magic attempt. He attempted to confuse Mutt who luckily made his save. Both the barbarian and the inquisitor got to hang on to the door, but had to rely on their one-handed weapons to harm the demon, who now turned to fiercely tearing them apart with his close combat attacks.
In the end, Galfur hurled himself at it and got out of the gravity-zone, thus finally able to finish off the foe with a well-aimed lethal blow.
As the demon gurgled and fell to its dead knees, the party took a deep breath and looked at each other. Certainly, this was not going to be easy...
To be continued this night!