Death is a Cruel Mistress

March of the Dead
Nex (Andrew)'s character has a Near Death Experience while in the catacombs, revealing more clues around the plot

Note: This was written back during the campaign, after a session in which the party of adventurers were in a catacomb searching for clues into what the Whispering Way is up to (or a piece of the machine they are trying to construct, I honestly can’t remember exactly because it’s been six years). I put them up against a horde of enemies, fully expecting at least one character to go under 0 hp. Andrew’s Sorceror-Necromancer did, and I discreetly told him during the session a very basic idea of what happened to his character, and that I would send him a full write-up before the next session. I think I went home and wrote this that night while it was fresh on my mind. The purpose was to give the characters a clue, which Nex related to the rest of the party the next session. Combined with things they found in the crypt, they pieced together that the Whispering Way was using powerful necromancy to bind the souls of the dead from all over Galorian into some giant soul crystals in order to power their nefarious machine.

The necromantic sorcerer Nex moved his hands in a memorized pattern, arcane words flowing from his lips as he readied his spell. Even with the low lighting, he could see that several of his party members were badly wounded. Another attack from the spider-like demonic creature just ten feet from him would be deadly. Already, he himself bled from several wounds, swooning with sickness and loss of blood, mostly caused by the spiny creature that lay dead at Nex’s feet. His last spell had not affected the daemon as well as he had hoped, but it had obviously gotten its attention.

The daemon didn’t even turn. It didn’t need to, with a multitude of eyes that seemed to see everywhere around it at the same time. It barely moved, and suddenly the air buzzed and hummed with deafening activity as thousands of unnatural-looking wasps materialized. Nex barely had time to try and put his hands up to stop them, but it was no use. He reflexively opened his mouth to cry out in pain as the first few stingers found their marks beneath his robes, but it was cut short as buzzing insects flew into the opening and began attacking the soft inner tissues of his throat.

That was it. A gripping feeling in the pit of his stomach told him that no matter how hard he tried, he was going to die. The excruciating pain of dozens upon dozens of stings, inside and out, almost made him welcome the Great Void. As his body fell and his vision faded to black, time seemed to slow down. The pain began to subside, as if his brain was struggling to block it out.

In the next instant, he became aware that the room had gotten brighter, even if the colors were slightly muted. He could see the other members of his party clearly, see the darkness that surrounded them and the creature they fought. He realized that the cleric had turned his direction, but was not looking at him—-Achaodani was looking at something on the ground next to him. Nex adjusted his gaze and saw the swollen, sting-ridden body that he had inhabited in life. It looked so pale, cold, and fragile. Looking down at his current state, Nex was only slightly surprised to see a silvery line protruding from his stomach where his belly button had been, the other end disappearing into the stomach of his corpse in the same place. He wondered if the cord would prevent his spirit from moving into the Astral planes completely, wondered how far it could go. As he turned this thought over in his mind silently, he became aware that he was drifting toward the back of the room and that as he did, the apparent anchor was growing longer, even continuing when his body passed through a stone wall.

Focusing, he concentrated on moving the opposite direction, back to his body. If the party survived and could heal him, he didn’t want to be far away when it happened. He—-or rather, his conscience—-continued to drift but was starting to pick up speed. He willed muscles to run that were not there as his ethereal “legs” sank through the stone floor. The only thing that kept him from panicking was that silver cord, which he knew would lead him back to body.

As he struggled, he turned some of his attention to his surroundings. Nex realized he was in a hallway very similar to the ones they had been walking through before the group was attacked. More coffins, more skulls, more dust, and more rat droppings. Something about it seemed odd, but at the moment he couldn’t put a finger on what. Looking toward the end of the hallway, he stopped struggling against the unseen force momentarily. Of all the things he expected to see when he died, this was not one of them.

Scores of spirits floated in a single-file line, coming down from the floor above, through a short section of hallway, then disappearing into the opposite wall. The angle suggested they were bound for a location deep in the catacombs, ignoring the physical stone completely as they moved in a straight line. Some fought against the pull, reaching out with wispy hands at anything they could have grabbed when they were alive—-torches, the corner of a stone sarcophagus, even the walls and floors themselves. Their cries and moans suddenly filled his sense of being. He no longer possessed ears to hear, but the anguished wails still reached his mind, touching him directly, in a way that shook his very sanity. Their lamenting and striving were obviously in vain, and Nex wondered how long it would take before they became resigned to their fate as most of the other spirits in the line were. Apathetic, depressing, these moved onward without seeming to notice or care where they were and where they were headed. Nex wasn’t sure who to pity more, if they were worthy of such a thing.

His sense of empathy was quickly discarded, however, as the realization dawned on him that he was being drawn towards that same line. He had no idea where it led, but like the spirits that fought aimlessly, he was fairly certain he wanted no part of it. Ignoring the line of souls he began using all the focus and concentration he could muster through his magical training in life. Each moment, his dread grew. He was only being pulled harder, through one room, then another, but always down. He began to pass through the next floor down, when he felt what he could almost describe as a tingle. The silvery line disappearing into the stone in front of him went taught. A sense of hope flooded Nex’s mind, and then suddenly he felt himself being violently ripped back in the direction he had come. Sparing a glance at the line of ghosts, he saw the anguished visages of spirits, realizing that he was escaping the fate they could not. They reached out to him, pleading, and then were blocked from his view.

A coldness such as Nex had never known flooded over him, and he attempted to gasp for air as the pain returned. It was almost enough for him to regret being pulled back into his former shell, but the memory of what it had saved him from made the agony worth it. Luckily, the wasps had left his body alone when they realized he was no longer a threat. His mind floated in blackness as his body refused to respond to any of his commands, but in the distance he could hear—-by more natural means now—-the crackling sound of magic flying through the air. A soul-numbing squeal followed, and then all was silent. The next sensation he was aware of was that of energy flowing through him, healing his wounds. As the welts in his throat vanished, he sensed a rushing sensation as his spirit filled the voids of his physical form. He felt the hardness of stone as his palms slapped down on the floor, coughed once, and then emptied the contents of his stomach onto the floor below him.

On the plus side, he was alive.

Session 1: Introduction


Note: This is a more detailed version of exactly what happened during the first session. I wrote up a brief summary for some players who were absent. If you don’t want to read all of this but are curious, here is the summary:

"…Our group was greeted by The Eight who apparently were upset about some disruption of the balance or some bullsh**, so they told us we were all banished. They opened a portal, Chaam Balaam flipped double birds and threatened to kill them all, Sonny showed them his assets, and they magically forced us through the portal. Floating floating floating, zip zip zap, the party winds up in another dimension and three of its members – Chambalam, Sonny, and Achaodani, gather in a meadow. They are quickly met by a messenger on a horse with a letter from Cori’s character Shaniqua (or however you spell it), which says “I need to talk to you guys, blah blah blah, come get me, blah blah blah,” the end.

After hiring an Elven guide named Ereanil (sp?), they buy some horses, someone raped some oxen and gave them an STD, and they went to the next town. Upon finding that they were now Evil for [deleted as a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t played through ‘Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad’], the party decides the next logical step is to rob a bank. Which they do. Just before they rob the bank, they hire some guy Ereanil knows as a bodyguard to help them through the mountains over to the lake they’re heading for, and he pretty much gets paid to hold the horses while most of the group makes off with about $3k gold. The party is almost caught, but they aren’t, so everything is cool and they are now headed into the mountains towards the city of Caliphas, their destination."

And now, the full version:

Our band of adventurers step through a magic portal, not knowing the destination but knowing they need to exit the magical labyrinth they’ve been wandering for some time. When they pass through, they find themselves in a meadow clearing, surrounded by eight, stern-looking figures in robes. One of the figures speaks, telling the group that for their actions, they have upset the balance of Neutrality, and for that, they are to be banished from this realm. The heroes look around in confusion, attempting to get more information from even one of the figures, but to no avail. Another magic portal opens behind them, gaping. As it does, the Sorcerer Chaam Balaam raises both of his hands toward the mysterious figures, turning the backs of his hands in their direction while extending his middle fingers. Taking the queue from his comrade, the flighty Monk known as Sony turns toward the portal. Lifting his flowing robes and exposing his leather leggings with a hole cut out for the posterior, Sony vigorously slaps his ruddy cheeks at the figures. With that, a magical gust of wind slams into the party, forcing them through the magical doorway.

The group finds themselves floating in space, a darkness that is punctuated by glowing, swirling clouds that are far out of reach. There is no sound, no sensation of movement, and yet the cannot help but feel they are moving. Without warning, the Druid Shaelwyn flashes with a bright light and then vanishes, leaving no trace behind. The rest of the party glances around in bewilderment just as the Dwarven Ranger Barbeard disappears in a similar fashion. Then Sony, Chaam Balaam, and finally the Cleric of Neral (with his zombified Barbed Devil in tow) known as Achaodani all flash with brilliance before vanishing.

Achaodani awakens on a hillside, next to a tree. Glancing around, he spots the monk down in a field and begins walking toward him, calling out. They are soon joined by the sorcerer, but the rest of the party cannot be found. As they look around, getting their bearings, the cleric notices that his devotions to Neral have been cut off. Chaam Balaam tests the fields of magic and concludes that they have traveled into the dimension of Golorian.

As they are making this observation, they spot a lone rider approaching in the distance. As the man makes his way nearer, the unseen Mephit belonging to the sorcerer swoops near the man, conveying his face as a mental image back to its master. Detecting no malice or deceit, the heroes warily watch as the rider draws near. The man stands in his saddle as he approaches, calling out to them and telling them that he is looking for three men by the names Sony, Chaam Balaam, and Achaodani in that meadow at that time. Bewildered, the heroes turn to each other and then back to the man, confirming their identities. The man removes a letter from a satchel on his horse, sealed with wax. Wishing them a good day, the man turns without another word and rides back in the direction he came, to the north.

Opening the letter, Sony reads aloud. Not recognizing the handwriting at first, he is surprised by the signature. The letter reads:
"My fellow travelers-
There is much that I would tell you, but I do not have time. The balance of neutrality is shifting in this world as well. I need to speak with all of you. There isn’t much time. Travel north east over land, crossing the Menador Mountains until you reach the Nosam River. Head downstream to the southern edge of Lake Encarthan. From there, you will need to secure passage on a ship to the city of Caliphas. I will meet you there in the Quarterfaux Archives.


Wasting no time, with the help of the Mephit, the trio ascertains that the closest village is in the direction the rider has gone to the north. Within an hour, they find themselves in a small village with a population of less than 500 common folk. They purchase a map. The friendly cartographer (who incidentally has never been outside the county, but has some lovely renditions of the surrounding area) suggests that if they are headed in the direction of Menador, they should hire a guide. There happens to be an Elf staying at the local inn that knows the area and can take them through.

The group heads to the tavern at the inn. They wait for an hour before a tall Elf walks in the door. He is greeted immediately by the locals and orders two drinks. Swapping local gossip, he informs the group that the local oxen seem to be plagued by a disease, which is being blamed on a half orc monk sneaking around the pens at night and “having his way” with the beasts. Hearing this, Sony mutters something inaudible and buries his face in his mug. After some banter, Chaam Balaam asks the Elven Archer if he would be willing to take the group through the mountains. They discuss pricing, and it is decided that Eärendl will join the party. If they reach Caliphas and he has not gained more than 100 gold in wealth, they would pay him that amount from their own stocks and he would be free to leave.

Finishing their drinks, the group leave the anteroom of the inn with their new comrade and purchase the three most travel-worthy horses that the village stable master has to offer. Riding hard to the north-east, the group arrives in a larger trading town on the river known as Famoath*. They find lodging in a local inn, more expensive than the last village, but with better accomodations. Eärendl tells the group that they should hire at least one more bodyguard as they enter the mountains, and that he knows a good candidate in that town.

Sitting around drinks that night, Chaam Balaam and Sony begin discussing how their actions in the labyrinth had affected them, making them feel decidedly more evil. Both had struggled to maintain the balance throughout their lives, but they felt like their recent actions had tainted their souls. And it felt great. They made up their minds to take advantage of their newly found freedom from morals and make themselves considerably more rich by knocking off the local bank. Chaam Balaam is in it for the challenge, and Sony wants enough money to pick up a Smoking Bottle the next time they find one at a merchant’s shop. Eärendl, being hired by the group and not resisting the desire for wealth, agrees to help pick any locks and disable any traps they come in contact with.

Buying some drinks for locals loosens the tongues of merchants in there, pointing to the Lending House of Famoath as being the safest place to store your valuables. The next day, while Eärendl seeks out his mercenary friend, Chaam Balaam sends his mephit to scout out the bank and figure out what types of physical and magical barriers stand in their way. From the outside, it is obvious that there are some Divination enchantments around the building. The lending house is a simple building with only a few rooms and a series of windows for the clerks. One room houses what is presumed to be the manager’s office. Upon entering the bank through the large double doors, the mephit feels the tingle of magic. Moments later, an older man with a white beard walks out the door from this room and looks around the lobby area, peering cautiously at the people in the bank. After a few moments, the man does not look satisfied but gives up his search and walks back through the door.

Opposite the manager’s office, a large door of steel bars leads into another room, behind the clerk’s counters, but this door is the only visible egress. Through the bars, the mephit can see various locked boxes, and detects abjuration enhancements around the door and walls. It is obvious that the most valuable items are kept in this room.

After another night of drinks and finding out that the old man in the lending house is a retired sorcerer who settled down in Famoath, the party decides to rob the bank the next day and sets out to make a plan. They are joined by Eärendl’s friend Cleveland (or “Cleave” for short), a Cavalier of the Order of the Cockatrice. Cleveland agrees to join the group with the same stipulations as Eärendl, but he can offer nothing more than to watch the horses while Chaam Balaam, Sony, and Eärendl break into the bank.

The next day after dusk, the plan is set in motion. Achaodani, his Hamatula, and Cleveland stay with the horses approximately 1,000 yards up the road from the lending house. Chaam Balaam, Sony, and Eärendl make one last check over their equipment—in which Chaam’s mephit finds a Smoking Bottle among the various items sequestered away in it’s masters Robe of Holding—and then execute their plan.

The sorcerer uses Teleport to put himself and his companions inside the bank, just outside the vault. They are cautious about magical enhancements that would dispel teleportation once they get inside. Meanwhile, the mephit flitters around the building, keeping an eye out for the other sorcerer or other guards. Eärendl quickly goes to work, discovering immediately a trap door beneath the floor directly in front of the vault door. Sony uncorks the Smoking Bottle and keeps a lookout on the front doors, hiding himself behind the clerks’ counter.

As the archer attempts to disable the trap, he feels a sickening “twack,” almost springing the trap under him, but he manages to keep the mechanism from dropping him. Within a few more seconds, he has the trap disarmed and begins to work on the door. Warmed up, his deft fingers make short work of the lock as smoke fills the lobby.

Cautiously the sorcerer enters the vault, spotting a warning notice on the wall. He pulls a mirror from his Robe of Holding and places it in front of the text, averting his eyes as much as possible. With the mirror in place, the other two enter the room. Dozens of locks face them, in everything from neatly-ordered lockboxes that appear to be the personal possessions of locals or merchants, to larger safes with more complex locks, to some older, worn-looking wooden boxes. As Eärendl begins picking one of the more complex locks, the monk smashes through the top of one of the wooden boxes. He excitedly pulls his fist back and clears some wood away, only to realize that the box contains nothing more than ledges of transactions. Frustrated, the monk crumbles some up and toys with the idea of stealing them just for the sake of it, but decides it is not worth it. At the same time, Chaam Balaam casts Unseen Servant just to help even the numbers should they run into trouble.

The elf manages to pop the lock off the first larger safe within a few more moments, revealing gold. At the urging of the other two, he begins picking the lock of the other. He gets it open and they manage to collect the gold when through the smoke, two shadowy creatures jump out, followed by the white-bearded old sorcerer, coming from the direction of the manager’s office. He cries out “Thieves!” but has little time for much else before Chaam Balaam mentally commands his invisible minion to charge the other man and “kick him in the chotch.” The older sorcerer’s words are cut short as the unseen foot connects solidly with his wrinkled coinpurse, but as he doubles over, he swipes with the dagger in his hand and dispels the Unseen Servant.

Realizing they don’t have much time, Chaam Balaam grabs the other two and casts Teleport again, then again, and a final time, landing them only a few yards from the horses. They quickly jump on their mounts with their approximately 3500 gold in stolen treasure, hollering that the Lending House and Famoath can pucker up to their posterior regions, and ride off into the night.

To be continued…

*Note: “Famoath” doesn’t actually exist on any Golorian map, it is the name of a minor NPC, but it sounded good at the time. ;)

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.


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