[Carrion Crown] Who Lops the Lopper?

Carrion Crown: The Haunting of Harrowstone coverCarrion Crown continued this week with Annie (Grift), the Dan (Darius Carfax St. James), a Dan (Sir Horace Gunderson), Toby (Solis and his eidolon Gea) and Tyler (Alexandros Callimachi), and Hunter presiding as GM.

This being the Dan’s final night with us, and an abbreviated night for him at that, we were eager to get down to business. After a night of rest at the Lorrimor manor, the adventurers are back on the road to Harrowstone Prison, arriving there almost before they know it.

Returning to the second level of the keep, inspection reveals nothing of interest in the remaining cells — save the last. This one holds a dusty skeleton weighed down in chains and leaden replicas of holy symbols. This must have been the cell of Father Charlatan, going by Vessoriana’s indications. Carfax St. James probes the cell first, expecting a haunt to occur, as it had so often before. Nothing happens. Solis sent Gea the eidolon in. Again, nothing happens.

Gunderson suggests breaking open the shackles, as perhaps they prevent Charlatan from manifesting himself. Solis senses nothing magical about the irons. No one’s knowledge of religious practices indicates that replicas of holy symbols would have any binding effects on a ghost, either. The general consensus is to leave the body as it lies, rather than stirring up ectoplasmic hornets.

“There goes the element of surprise.”
— no one took Improved Shin Rope

The stairs to the basement level prove blocked by a deadfall, so the only way is down the shaft used by the destroyed lift. Grift handily shins down his silken rope. Sir Horace follows suit. The rest of the group has a bit more trouble. Solis, Gea and Darius all take a stab at emulating Grift’s athleticism, but fall one by one into what proves to be murky water flooding the lift chamber of the lower level.

When Darius makes his doomed attempt to descend, something curious happens. Figures moving in the gloom of the lower level catch the archivist’s attention. As he calls out warning to those below that ectoplasmic entities are on the move, Alexandros notices Darius’ fingers curl away from the rope, almost as though they’re pried away by an unseen hand.

“St. Elmo’s fire in the hole!”
— Grift

Carfax St. James plummets through the air. As he falls, strands of burial shroud and chains materialize out of thin air, wrapping and encasing him before landing in the murky water. The clear signs of a haunt in progress goad everyone to action. Callimachi stands at the top of the rope, overlooking the scene below. He pops the top on his haunt siphon and drops it straight down into the brewing fracas to minimal effect.[1]

While Grift and Sir Horace contend with ectoplasmic beings rising up out of the water, Darius’ singular experience continues. He awakes to find himself on a bier in a temple. A priest on hand informs him that he died and was brought to the temple of Pharasma by his friends to be raised, but they could not stay for the process to conclude. When Darius attempts to stand up, he’s wracked with pain, as though he’s being violently compressed on all sides.

“We rid you of this turbulent priest!”
— Annie paraphrases oral tradition

Back in the prison, Horace hefts the spectral bundle to keep Darius from drowning.[2] Grift activates his own haunt siphon. The chains and shroud cocooning Carfax St. James begin to burn away. Within what must be an illusion, Darius struggles against the invisible compression holding him in place. As he breaks free of the forces pinning him to the bier, the kindly priest of Pharasma blows away like smoke on the wind. Father Charlatan is, seemingly, vanquished without ever having materialized in the physical world.

“A power ballad about the man who loved his stick too goddamn much.”
— Darius Carfax St. James[3]

The flooded lift chamber leads into a four way intersection, presumably connecting subterranean cell blocks. Skeletons scattered around the ground rattle as they clamber to their feet. Darius lunges about with a handy bit of charred timber. Calliimachi puts the disrupt undead spell recently granted by Iomedae to good use. Solis summons a dire rat to do his bidding. It’s all a great deal of effor to little effect, as no one can seem to land a substantial blow. Meanwhile, the skeletons begin to smolder, clearly preparing for the kind of conflagration seen in the outer yard. Sir Horace is nearly beaten down to his knees, but quaffs a potion and, revitalized, vanquishes the flaming skeleton menacing him, even side-stepping the inevitable explosion.

“He may be hiding behind the very particles of the air!”
— Darius Carfax St. James

The north passageway out of this junction finally brings closure to Carfax St. James’ preoccupation with the Lopper and his many potential hiding places. A headless skeleton wielding an axe lurches out of the cell block, already smoldering. Once Darius determines this is not the Lopper himself, despite the axe in hand, Solis shatters the skeleton into fragments with but a single bane arrow.[4]

Beyond the now-still bone shards, they find cells ringing round a barred pit in the floor, what must be an oubliette. Roaring up from the pit comes a spectral form wielding an axe. Indeed, this must be the Lopper himself. The wraith goes for Grift, but a ghost touch bolt from Alexandros throws it off the mark. Solis and Horace follow suit with enchanted missiles of their own.

The hail of missiles continues until the supply of enchanted ammunition gives out. Callimachi transforms Gunderson’s blade Corvelle into an enchanted weapon, then hands off the wand of cure light wounds to Grift. The Lopper swirls around the chamber, failing to injure anyone, before finally cleaving through Solis and Alexandros, gaining vitality back in the process.

From there, it’s a not terribly exciting battle of whittling down the Lopper’s spectral strength with now well-tested attacks: cure light wounds, disrupt undead and whatever else people can throw at it. Grift finally lays the spirit to its final rest with a tap of the wand.

Gunderson takes the lead investigating the oubliette. He rappels down the shaft, finding a veritable trove of items scattered around the mortal remains of the Lopper. Gold, a stone of alarm, a masterwork sword and broken masterwork crossbow — which Solis mends shortly after — and a ring of keys. Everyone’s eyes light up at the discovery of keys to open some of the locked doors in Harrowstone. None of the keys are small enough to fit the safe in the warden’s office, but the property room, now that’s an enticing prospect.

“Is the first intra-party throwdown going to be over wooing a woman?”
“She’s got money!”
— Tyler and a Dan[5]

The property room yields a mix of objets d’art and exotic weaponry, presumably confiscated by adventurers of a chaotic, feckless bent. Mixed in with a war medallion from the Shining Crusade and portrait of Stiven I are a silver war razor and shuriken. The last particular catch Grift’s fancy and he scoops them up.

Scrupulous ransacking of the long dead’s seized possessions reveals a secret chamber adjoining the property room. This space holds only five things: a bloody handaxe, a tangle of holy symbols, a moldy spellbook, a smith’s hammer and a tarnished silver flute. Solis’ arcane senses suggest these objects are linked to their former owners, the five notorious ghosts of Harrowstone. Darius goes so far to suggest that damaging the objects in their owners’ presence could have a deleterious effect on the ghosts.[6][7]

“I’m a motherfuckin’ ninja!”
— ninja squee

Reinvigorated by the glory of acquiring stuff, the adventurers troop back down the hole to Reaper’s Hole, the western passageway of the basement level. A portcullis bars access to the cell block. Searching for the mechanism, they find three fractured skulls in the guard room, with a fourth built from fragments. This and the synchronized strike of headaches among everyone but Sir Horace portends the Mosswater Marauder’s presence, which manifests in due course. Solis immediately pops his haunt siphon, debilitating the deceased dwarf’s dweomer. Gea gets the notion that damaging the skulls may resonate with the ghost, and so leads by example.

Unsure what to do to damage the Marauder’s hammer, Gunderson bathes it in holy water to no effect. Darius then casts cure light wounds on it, which has a noticeable effect on the ghost. Finally, Callimachi finishes the ghost off with disrupt undead.[8]

In the opposite guard room, they find the portcullis’ winch mechanism. Sharp-eyed Darius rejoins the party with a gem in hand and news of a secret room. Inside is a cache of weapons and a rope of climbing.

There, the adventurers paused to catch their breath. Only the Splatterman remained of Harrowstone’s most notorious prisoners, but he was obviously the most potent of the bunch, his influence stretching outside the prison’s walls to the village of Ravengro. Should they press the advantage, while luck was on their side, or retreat to rest and gather resources?

[1] Not super-bright, as it meant the siphon was lost in the water during the battle, but I swear, it looks cool in the mind’s eye.

[2] Again with drowning in a few inches of water. One more time and it will be an official thing with us.

[3] The context is lost, but it might have to do with the wave of healing actions taken after the flaming skeleton battle.

[4] Also known as a triple damage critical hit.

[5] Again, the context is lost. It came out of bickering over who could woo Kendra with gifts best or get her to cover the party’s bills or something of that sort.

[6] I think it was about here that the Dan had to leave us to complete preparations for his big move. Adieu, Dan, till we play again!

[7] Much as I may hate to say it, Darius became frighteningly competent once Hunter started rolling for him.

[8] Continuing my tradition of rolling little but 1s and 3s with that spell. This time, it was a 1.

1 thought on “[Carrion Crown] Who Lops the Lopper?

  1. Pingback: [Carrion Crown] A Hero Falls! | Held Action

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