The fourth session of Carrion Crown saw Annie (Grift), the Dan (Darius Carfax St. James), a Dan (Sir Horace Gunderson), Toby (Solis and his eidolon Gea) and Tyler (Alexandros Callimachi) take the exceptionally bold step of exploring a dangerous environ bounded by stone and inhabited by hazardous beings opposed to letting bygones be bygones. In short, they went dungeon-delving.
The session began with some retroactive continuity. Our GM, Hunter, decided “V O O R D” would be a more interesting answer to Grift’s interrogation of the spirit board. Further, the offerings of the Unfurled Scroll passed around the room for the two arcane spellcasters. We had been so taken last time by the shiny, enticing tome Allendru had for the professor, our casters forgot about base commerce. At any rate . . .
Smarting from coming up dry twice before, Solis attempts to identify the four vials found in Lorrimor’s cache of weapons in the false crypt. This time, he recognizes them as haunt siphons, capable of absorbing a haunt into the vial. He goes on to caution his companions the siphon then becomes a powerful vessel of negative energy and probably ought not to be lobbed at anything also brimming over with that sort of power.
Having exhausted the apparent opportunities of Ravengro, the group decides it’s time to explore Harrowstone, which ties into so much they’ve learned about Lorrimor’s death and the longstanding mysteries of the town. Despite Gunderson’s protestations of “Nine-thirty for eleven!” they all rise early the next morning and set out for the ruined prison.
“Has someone befouled the truncheon?!”
— Grift expresses concern for a civic landmark
Almost immediately, they are side-tracked. Everyone in Ravengro gathers around the Harrowstone memorial, making quite the hubbub for a bucolic morning. Closer inspection reveals a giant V daubed across the memorial, painted in some dark brown, crusty substance. While Solis determines there were no lingering magical traces, Grift and Horace sidle up to the ubiquitous Father Grimbarrow and a new face, Benjen Caeller, sheriff of Ravengro. The general mood is one of “Beats the crap out of me.”
On learning the group’s destination of Harrowstone, Grimbarrow signals for the acolyte Aramis to retrieve “supplies.” About everyone present manages to find somewhere to look other than Grimbarrow’s rosy visage, thinking of the supplies retrieved from the cemetery. So there an audible gust of wind whispers past as five adventurers sigh in unison to see “supplies” means vials of holy water, even as Solis cobbled together a plausible story.
“But what does it mean?”
— Solis and Alexandros on the big red V
It very nearly passes from thought as a random event of almost no significance before the flash of realization dawns collectively that the Splatter Man, that scholar of anthroponomastics, was known to slowly spell out his victim’s names before closing in for the kill. The realization is quickly followed by relief, as none of the present parties has a name beginning with V — none they’re admitting to.
Thoroughly puzzled and feeling a bit bad for whoever V may be, because surely the poor soul would be in a lot of trouble sooner rather than later, the adventurers carried on to Harrowstone, a foreboding edifice of crumbling rock swathed in creeping ivy. Grift crossed the threshold of the broken gates first, preternaturally struck down by some sort of fit, clawing at the air and writhing. He sprang back to his feet with almost the same speed, brushing the episode off as nothing. Grift strides back across the threshold, which Callimachi had prodded tenatively while Solis and Gea considered the prospects of scaling the wall.
“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so did Grift return to the yard.”
— Darius drafts a verse
The prison walls encompass the keep, a manor house, a fetid pond and not much else. Sir Horace notices arcane runes etched around the foundation of the keep, colored a disturbing shade of red. Archivist Darius copies them down. Solis recognizes elements of necromantic and abjurational magic. And it’s apparent to everyone, all speakers of Varisian, that long dead warden Hawkran figures prominently in the carvings. Callimachi takes a scraping of the red coloring for identification later by someone skilled in the alchemical arts.
The manor house seems like a dead end, so they move on to the keep itself. Rubble and standing water block the obvious approaches. Solis, Gunderson and Grift are all nimble enough to mount the debris, while Carfax St. James and Callimachi detour through the water to a break in the wall. This proves fateful.
Neither the archivist nor the inquisitor notice anything untoward, right up until the power were the flaming skeletons rise up from the water to assault them both. Callimachi immediately goes down for the count. Carfax St. James fumbles for the lore of burning skeletons, warning everyone to their propensity for exploding on expiration, and fends them off while the three others inside scramble into the fray.
“I scream like I fight, y’all.”
— Grift and Gunderson
Grift decides to take the gloves off. He reveals steely claws for fingers, which regrettably don’t do a lot of injury — or any — in the initial flurry. A second pass debilitates one skeleton to the point of exploding in flames. Realizing the effect words will have on these foes, Darius falls back to sticks and stones.
Once all the flaming undead are dispatched, the cadre mops up. Callimachi regains consciousness and is grateful he didn’t drown in two inches of water. Something about the prison seems to impede healing magics, as attempts at cure light wounds produce lackluster results.
Attention returns to the interior of the keep. In a room of scorched training dummies, a pit opens to what may be the lower level of Harrowstone. Doors lead into an courtoom-like space, with benches arrayed before a podium behind a wall of bars. Horace leads the way. With every step, the stentorian cry of “Guilty! Guilty! Guilty” grows louder and the temperature drops. Gunderson feels the cold such that he begins to freeze in place. Grift leaps to the fore, snapping open his haunt siphon, which promptly restores the courtroom to its normal state.
Probing beyond the courtroom reveals a whole array of doors and avenues to explore. Before anyone can move, every door slams shut, sealed. Smoke issues forth from everywhere and the temperature rises. Voice are heard in the distance, screaming for help, to be saved. Sir Horace leads the escape, breaking through one door. And suddenly all is normal again.
While what signage indicates the property room — at which Gunderson’s eyes gleam and he nearly rubs his hands in delight — is locked tight, other rooms are more easily penetrated. The records room yields up information about Father Charlatan and the Mosswater Marauder. In the warden’s former office, a safe refuses to give up its contents without the key. Grift uses a detect undead scroll, learning the whole prison is essentially overrun with some form or other of undead, save the warden’s office. They seem to fear Hawkran even in death.
A flight of stairs lead to rooms with names fraught with portent like the branding room and induction chamber. Everyone opts for the chapel of Pharasma instead, which is completely swathed in cobwebs. Only Gea and Alexandros spot the chapel’s inhabitants, giant spiders hanging from the ceiling. The inquisitor heaves a torch at one and the eidolon readies its constricting grip.
“Where’s the torch? We’ll have to cauterize.”
“The branding room is over there.”
— everyone thinks they’re a medieval barber
Carfax St. James’ wealth of bardic lore falters at this moment — and then a spider sinks its venomous fangs in his hand. “Suck it out!” he cries only briefly before common sense flees before the warm euphoria that settles across him like a heavy blanket. In spite of the venom’s effect, the archivist dispatches the spider handily. Meanwhile, Grift brandishes a steel talon. Without even touching the beast, a spider falls dead as a sickly green vapor transfers from it to the young man.
Exploration of the chapel in the wake of the battle reveals holy water and a wand of cure light wounds, which Callimachi pounces on immediately. Initial appraisal suggests nothing about how much efficacy the wand has left to offer, so Callimachi immediately expends a charge on himself, just to be sure it still works.
We paused the game there, to return in a week and a bit’s time.
 Doing 3d6 of damage to a haunt, and then inflicting the same as a sort of negative energy grenade if the occupied vial is ever ruptured, not unlike a grenade.
 As in Hunter not at all subtly prompted us, “So, next morning you’re heading to Harrowstone?”
 Now played by Alan Rickman.
 Hunter again. Subtlety is for the weak.
 We both rolled crappy, the minimum two points of healing each.
 And in the process, Annie realized she’d mistakenly taken a 7th level revelation for her oracle. But the spider stayed dead, so that was a relief.