Last night, for my 28th birthday party, I ran Death Frost Doom. The characters were pre-gens ranging from 2nd to 4th level. All were created by yours truly. Our heroes:
*Brother Ignus, cleric. A devout soldier of the Lord Almighty, Brother Ignus was asked by the Church to travel to this remote outpost of the Duvan'Ku and retrieve the Scroll of Seven Sorrows, said to be a map to the ancient Duvan'Ku capital.
*Roberr Dulock, thief. A former pirate, Roberr was abandoned by his shipmates in a jungle colony after contracting a wasting disease. Brother Ignus happened to be doing missionary work there and healed him. Afterward, Roberr was (mostly) reformed and now follows Brother Ignus in his travels.
*Marga Anatola, magic-user. Marga was a village witch, spending most of her life making love potions and curing warts. When the spoiled village elder's son demanded a love potion strong enough to take a girl against her will, Marga refused. Furious, the spoiled youth turned her in to the Knights of Science. Brother Ignus happened to be passing through the village and used his pull with the Church to spare Marga from being burned at the stake. Marga has left the now hostile village and travels with Brother Ignus.
*Circian, elf. When the star-seers of Circian's clan saw the Dead Sign in the heavens, the Elder Council forbid them from acting upon it. The Council deemed that the elves would not fight against the Duvan'Ku again, this time leaving mortal man to save his own soul. With the secret blessing of his clan matriarch, Circian has left the Forest of Shadows to warn human kind. He has joined forces with Brother Ignus to discover the truth behind the return of the Duvan'Ku.
The short, spoiler-free version: Everybody died.
Below is the full, spoilery version. BE YE WARNED.
The adventure really did play out like a weird tale. The beginning of the end came when, after a brief foray into the dungeon and the expenditure of all their spells to detect magic, evil, etc, the party decided to bunk down in the cabin. This resulted in Roberr gaining an insanity. I decided on paranoid schizophrenia. The spirits told Roberr that Marga was actually one of the Duvan'Ku. Roberr resisted this idea... until they found the painting and he became convinced it was prophecy.
Down in the dungeon, the party bypassed the chapel door by having Roberr knock out one of Brother Ignus' teeth with a mallet and spike. It was hard core.
The tension mounted as the players kept searching, in vain, for traps and secret doors. Every sound (the rattling of the chains, the unearthly music) caused the cleric to leap to the defense, shouting challenges to the cold, empty air. The players told me that the module was creeping them out.
In the room with the pedestals and the plaque causing the tattoo compulsion, everything began to fall apart. The cleric was the only one to fail his saving throw when Roberr read the inscription out loud. The elf managed to subdue him with a sleep spell. As the party searched, Roberr used the magic eye piece to read the tablets. I invoked his paranoid schizophrenia here, having many of the tablets address him directly and say things like "The witch Marga is one of us." "Roberr, they will abandon you!" Roberr, growing increasingly paranoid and insane, sneaked up behind the magic-user and attacked her. Unfortunately, Roberr had pilfered the cursed dagger from the chapel, and he missed. Now he believed that Marga was actually shielded by dark magics, and shouted for Circian to help him. The two attacked the magic-user and slew her. The elf took the eye piece and examined the tabets, finding absolutely no mention of Roberr or Marga, but rather devotions to the Dead One and such. Infuriated, the elf attacked the thief, and after an epic sword battle, the elf ran poor Roberr through.
Awakening the cleric, he found that Ignus was still possessed by the strange compulsion, and restrained and bound him. He let the lantern sputter out, and there in the dark he sat with his friend until this thrashing ceased and he regained his senses. Circian explained what happened to their two friends. Both were broken and horrified, but agreed that they had to press on in the name of their mission.
The two of them never suspected that the plant creature was alive, so when Cirian's magic blade bit into it, he was impaled by a lashing, spiked vine. Ignus threw oil onto the plant and burned it, in the process burning the purple lotus powder that he didn't know his companion had taken...
Ignus woke up, alone, on the floor. A horrid strength coursed through his muscles, and a vicious, unrelenting lust burned within his body and mind. While he had dreamed the sleep of the purple lotus, the dead had come forth from their tombs. Seeing them at the end of the corridor, Ignus turned his cross upon them and ordered them away.
...he had no idea that hundreds of them were roaming the halls. As they turned to face him, Ignus had his last lucid thought, and that was that he must retrieve the scroll. After running to the altar and seizing it, he raised his shield and tried to plow through the horde of undead. He found himself unable to pass, fending off blows from their rotting fists. His shield was torn away from him, as was his mace. As he turned to flee back to the altar, his backpack was torn away by the unquiet dead. Consumed by the effects of the lotus and the horrors of the last two days, Ignus took the scroll and, with an anguished cry, hurled himself into the pit before the altar...
Ignus died upon impact, which was great enough that the giant below the mountain stirred in his sleep. When the giant awoke, all of the undead were crushed, along with the mountain, along with the town they had come from, along with poor Zeke. When the giant lay back down to sleep, the resulting earthquake sank ships and destroyed towns nearby. Thousands died, thousands more were injured, the the blighted mountain was erased... along with the only map to the sleeping city of the Duvan'Ku.
That was the blow by blow. Thoughts and analysis shall be forthcoming in the next blog entry.
Good night, all.