Chaos in the Old World

The Gathering Storm - Session 7
The Restless Dead

After defeating the zombies in the temple of Morr, the party had a chance to patch up their wounds and investigate their surroundings. The altar was made of stone and carved to resemble a pile of bones. The bier was constructed from black wood and was worked with engravings of black roses and ravens. Beside the altar was a font of clear, cool water. Stone ravens perched on the font at each of the cardinal compass points. After studying the font for several minutes, Fergis Maelstrom surmised that it was holy water blessed by Morr. The group tried to use the water to cure their wounds but there didn’t seem to be any effect.

The only obvious way forward was to the west where a pair of double doors stood shut. The doors were made of black steel with a slight patina and decorated with winged death’s heads. Heinrich Gert studied the door for a few minutes before trying it. It was locked so he pulled out his lock picks and attempted to pick it. After a minute or two the lock had been breached and the doors swung open. However, Heinrich noticed a small drop of blood on the tip of his finger where a needle trap had pricked him. Almost immediate the poison began to course through his body making him feel sluggish. He attempted to wash the wound in the holy font but that did not seem to help. Only after drinking two healing droughts did he feel strong enough to continue.

The party continued through the door and up some stone steps, eventually emerging out into the rain soaked cemetery. The storm continued to rage, wind blowing, rain lashing down. Lightning flashed and seemed to strike a mausoleum on the far side of the cemetery with regularity. Haphazard rows of listing and cracked headstones lay all about. Many decorated with black roses that seemed to be fading and wilting as if Morr was withdrawing his favor. In the center of the garden was a tomb of some considerable splendor.

The party decided to investigate the tomb. It stood behind a hedge of black rose bushes and was decorated with symbols of Morr and the dragon crest of Olaus Stichelm. Disturbingly, the front of the tomb appeared to have been burst open from the inside. A large pedestal outside was clearly intended to hold something but whatever it could have been was long gone.

The heroes decided to move on to the mausoleum. As they moved along the muddy path they quickly found themselves surrounded by hordes of undead that came crawling out of the soft graves. It was obvious that they would soon be overwhelmed and decided to hack their way to the mausoleum.

The zombies swarmed around them, but the heroes hacked, smashed, and burned their way step by step with steel and magic. Finally they entered the mausoleum and shut the doors behind them. Although the doors could not be barred the mindless undead outside could not work the handles. However, they could still be heard pounding and clawing at the wood. Urgan Morzak used some pitons to fortify the door.

Inside they discovered that they had entered an ossuary, where bones of the dead were stored to make room for more burials. Even more disturbingly someone had made elaborate sculptures from the bones. A pyramid of bones dominated the room, elaborate bone candelabras stood in the corners, and the coat of arms of the the Emperor made entirely of bones hung on the wall. The party did not have much time to contemplate this before the bones began rattling to life. Skeletons began forming and attacked the group. The party smashed skeleton after skeleton, clearing a path to the nearby spiral staircase. Finally they were able to descend the stairs into darkness.

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The Gathering Storm - Session 6
The Garden of Morr

After destroying the zombies in Thunderwater Inn, the party heads out into the streets of Stromdorf to help. They immediately come to aid of a couple members of the town watch. Afterward an elderly man hobbles down the street screaming “It’s alive! It’s alive!”. He’s dressed in purple robes, has a wispy beard, and a pronounced stoop. He desperately pleads with the party to follow him to his home.

The heroes arrive at his home to find an articulated skeleton hanging in his study which has come to life. Grommel leaps into action and bashes the skeleton to pieces. The thankful old man introduces himself as Hieronymus Kopfchen, a former professor of history and linguistics at Altdorf University. He offers the PCs some tea, which they accept since the zombie crisis seems to be over. He tells them that this reminds him of the stories of Olaus Stichelm and his successful defense of Stromdorf against hordes of undead some 500 years ago. The town reveres Stichelm and a statue of him stands in the market square.

When they return to the inn they find Captain Kessler and his men gathering up the bodies of the zombies to be burned. Kessler is furious that some of his men were killed by the zombies. He also puts all watchmen on duty throughout the night guarding the walls.

The next day the party awakens to Sebastian Brenner knocking on the door. He hands them a note from Kessler saying to meet him in one hour outside the Town Hall. The party grab a quick bite in the taproom where the mood is subdued and all conversation is around the undead attacks the night before.

When the get to the Town Hall, Captain Kessler tells them that Burgomeister Adler wants to talk to them. They head upstairs to his private quarters and are ushered into a well appointed office that looks out over the town square. As they enter Niklas Schulmann is leaving. It’s obvious that he’s been asked to help in some way, but claims to be too busy with his current studies. He seems relieved to see the party and remarks that they are more than capable of handling the situation.

As rain continues to pound outside, Adler explains his reason for summoning them. The party learns that the burgomeister had obviously been involved in an affair with Sebastian Brenner’s wife, Madriga before her suicide. Adler says he had a dream the night before where her skeletal form came to him clutching the silver pendant he had given her. She seemed to be requesting help.

Captain Kessler remarks that he’s sure this all has to do with the deceased necromancer Lazarus Mourn somehow. He asks the party to head out to the Garden of Morr about an hour outside of town and retrieve the priest Brother Grabbe to interpret the dream. He offers the group 50 silver each for their trouble.

Feeling greedy, Fergis Maelstrom makes a lame attempt to guilt Kessler into paying up front. The captain isn’t to be trifled with, however, and doesn’t budge.

The party leaves the Town Hall and finds Schulmann waiting outside in the rain for the party. He claims to have had strange visions while studying the Lightning Stone. He says a saw a dead woman leading a dead army. At her side was a dead hero wielding a greatsword and clad in armor decorated with dragons. The party deduce that the dead hero is probably Olaus Stichelm.

Finally the party head out to the Garden of Morr. They discover that they are being followed by Waltrout Glockner. Confronting him, he claims that he was simply heading to the garden as well to check on his friend Brother Grabbe. Soon the arrive at the River Tranig. Waltrout tells them to ring the nearby bell and Brother Grabbe will come out and ferry them across. However, after ringing the bell and waiting several minutes no one shows up which distress Waltrout a great deal.

Grommel volunteers to swim out to the ferry boat and bring it across. The Tranig is slow moving so it is an easy swim. However his attacked by small school of Reik eels.

After crossing the river the party stands before the black wall of the garden. The only obvious way in is through the Liche Gate which leads into a black tunnel that passes under the wall. All natural light extinguishes when they enter the tunnel and Fergis has to use a great deal of concentration to keep any magical light lit. In the tunnel they lose Waltrout somehow and are briefly frightened by a swarm of bats.

They emerge from the tunnel into a temple to Morr. There is a low bier in front of an altar and a nearby font. Presumably this is where the dead are blessed before being interred. Embalming chambers line the temple. As the party is investigating they are attacked by several zombies. They make quick work of the zombies and prepare to continue their exploration.

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The Gathering Storm - Session 5
Trials and Tribulations

The party stops at the Holtz farm to rest after stealing the Lightning Stone from the beastmen of the Oberslecht. The find the farm deserted and decide to rest in one of the barns. Inside they find the decapitated body of Tristan Eigel.

The next morning they return to Stromdorf. They are greeted at the gate by Captain Kessler. He informs the party that the Holtzes have accused them of murder and arson. The group follows Kessler back to his office and relates the entire story of the strange events the night before including the involvement of Keila Cobblepot. They also mention Florian Weschler’s signet ring which is likely hidden in Keila’s private residence.

Captain Kessler sends some guards to Keila’s residence. They return a short time later with the ring, prompting Kessler to place Keila and the Holtz clan under arrest. There is a trial that day for the Holtzes, Keila, and Hildette Krass who had been accused of being a witch by the party. All are found guilty thanks in part to the testimony of the PCs and are scheduled to be executed at the Field of Verena that very afternoon. Captain Kessler returns the signet ring to party.

The execution is well attended despite the stormy weather which still rages and seemed to grow even worse. After listing their various crimes, Captain Kessler, orders the executioner to cut the rope and all are hanged until dead. Just before her death, Hildette Krass, is heard gibbering in a strange tongue.

The party lingers around hoping to examine the bodies, but they are constantly under the surveillance of the watchmen and decide not to arouse suspicion. They eventually just retire to their rooms at the Thunderwater Inn which have been paid for by the town in thanks for their help.

Late that night, Fergis Maelstrom is awakened by a chill wind and a sick feeling. He eventually falls back to sleep.

Later, the entire party is awakened by a crashing sound downstairs in the taproom followed by the blast of a blunderbuss. They hastily don armor and gear and head downstairs. They find that the Holtzes and Hildette have returned as zombies and are slaughtering anyone they can. Even worse, those killed also arise as zombies and participate in the bloodshed.

The heroes manage to clear out the inn of zombies. Hearing some screams outside, they head out into the night to help.

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The Gathering Storm - Session 4
Ride the Lightning

The following day the party decided to head out to the surrounding countryside and visit the Holtz farm. They planned to follow up on the lead that Reiner Holtz had been seen driving a wagon pulled by a white pony out of the city the same night Florian Weschler disappeared.

Before heading out, they stopped at the ramshackle hut of Hildette Krass. They had heard that the old spinster occasionally provided remedies for the poor women of the town. The heroes hoped that perhaps they could get a few healing droughts from her. However, they soon learned that she was practicing magic and turned her into Captain Kessler as a witch.

Meanhwile, Urgan spoke to a man scooping up dung in the street named Waltrout Glockner. Apparently he sold the dung to the local tannery. Waltrout claimed to have seen Madriga Brenner leaving the back door of the Burgomeister’s quarters late one evening. He also mentioned that his good friend Lazarus Mourn was burned to death for necromancy about a year ago.

On the way to the Holtz farm, the group spotted a glow on the horizon and smoke rising into the air. Soon they came across a farm completely destroyed by fire. Symbols of Chaos had been scrawled on the few remaining structures in blood. The also discovered a wooded sign the read “Eigel” that had been trampled into the ground. Satisfied that this was not that Holtz farm, the party moved on.

Finally, they arrived at the Holtz farm and found Tristan Eigel and Fritz Holtz arguing loudly in the middle of barnyard. Tristan seemed to be accusing the Holtz’s of having something to do with the Eigel farm burning down, while Fritz argued that it was actually Tristan’s fault. The argument appeared about to turn deadly but the party managed to help diffuse the situation.

The Holtzes invited them inside and the party got a chance to interrogate them a bit. They eventually learned that Keila Cobblepot sometimes drugs guests and sells them to the Holtzes to use as sacrifices to the local beastmen that live in the nearby marsh known as the Oberslecht. The Holtzes claimed that these sacrifices are the only thing that keeps the beastmen from razing the farms of the nearby and attacking Stromdorf itself.

The Holtzes get the PCs to agree to meet a mysterious creature named Foaldeth. Foaldeth turns out to be beastmen shaman. He asks the party to steal an object known as the Lightning Stone. Foaldeth explains the beastmen revere the stone and see the raging storm as a sign from their gods that it is time to attack the nearby city. He also says that if the PCs can kill the current leader of the tribe, Izka Madtooth all the better.

The party traveled deep into the Oberslecht and found the beastmen herdstone with the Lightning Stone lashed to it. The stone is constantly the target of lightning strikes. They defeated many of the creatures, killed Izka Madtooth, and grabbed the Ligtning Stone. They headed back out of the Oberslecht with the stone.

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The Gathering Storm - Session 3
Arrival at Stromdorf

The party arrived at Stromdorf finding the weather worse than expected. A massive storm had settled over the area and seemed to be growing worse by the hour. The citizens of Stromdorf are used to wet weather but most remarked that the weather seemed to be unnaturally bad. The river Teufel overflowed its banks and threatened to wash the rickty wooden bridge away. As the party crossed the bridge began breaking up. Heinrich Gert was swept off the bridge and plunged into the fast moving river. To make matters worse while struggling to stay afloat he was attacked by a large Reik eel. Grommel dove into the water after Heinrich and eventually helped him reach the shore and kill the creature. Draping it over his shoulder, the trollslayer and his comrades headed into the city.

First the PCs stopped by the Stewpot Hostelry owned by the halfling proprietress, Keila Cobblepot. There they learned that Florian Weschler had stayed at the inn, but had left abruptly some days ago. They also met the swashbuckler Eduardo Castillo Rodrigues from the city of Madriga in Estalia. He seemed to be a drunk and down on his luck but claimed to have once found a lost city of gold in the far away land of Lustria. He said he had been chased away by a tribe of lizard men and captured by the beautiful pirate maiden Janine de Belleville and forced to walk the plank. He mentioned that he had been passed out in the alley the night Florian Weschler left. He only saw Florian’s bodyguards leaving the next morning, but had heard a cart go by sometime after midnight. He also said that he had saw Florian come into town on a wagon pulled by a white pony. Keila warned the group that Eduardo was a compulsive liar.

The party headed out to investigate the town a bit eventually coming to the market square. Along the way, Eduardo acted as a tour guide and told them a bit about the city. The burgomeister, Phillip Adler had not been seen in many weeks. He was once a very competent politician but had recently shut himself up in his quarters above the town hall for some unknown reason. The city council had not met since then, and Captain Arno Kessler had been in charge since.

As they passed the well, Eduardo warned them not to drink the water. Madriga Brenner had drowned herself in the well recently. She was the wife of the owner of the Thunderwater Inn, Sebastian Brenner.

Next the PCs headed off to the Thunderwater Inn to continue their investigation and partake in some of the famous Thunderwater Ale. They noticed that although the inn was full a chair was kept empty by the fire. The locals warned the party not to sit there. Eventually a well-traveled woodsman arrived and sat in the chair. The party talked to him and found out that his name was Franz Bieber. He said that he saw a wagon being pulled by a white pony heading out the east gate the night Florian left. The wagon had been driven by Reiner Holtz.

After Franz left, Urgan Morzak decided to sit in his reserved seat attracting the ire of the owner of the inn Sebastian Brenner. As a physical confrontation threatened to break out, Captain Kessler arrived and calmed the situation down, asking the dwarf to leave for the evening.

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The Gathering Storm - Session 2
Forest Spirits

Still lost in the mist, the party is forced to make camp deep in the Reikwald forest. In the night, they are attacked by a group of wargs. Grommel and Urgan chase after and defeat a pair of the creatures. When they arrive back to the campsite, they find the rest of their companions have been dragged off into the night. Following some strange lights, the dwarfs track down the rest of the party to an ancient circle of stones. The rest of the party are unconscious and being held captive by a group of forest spirits. The dwarfs eventually rescue their companions, slaying sprites and dryads in the process.

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The Gathering Storm - Session 1
Sweet Marrow

Searching for jobs in Ubersreik, Fergis Maelstrom, Grommel, Heinrich Gert, Paelius Drannor, and Urgan Morzak eventually meet up with the merchant Karl Mansfield who is interested in hiring the party. He asks the party to track down the missing merchant Florian Weschler. Florian traveled to Stromdorf to sell some goods several weeks ago. Karl received a message saying the Florian had arrived, but since then he has heard nothing. He offers the party 1 gold crown to discover Florian’s whereabouts, 2 gold crowns to recover his merchant guild signet ring, and 3 crowns to return Florian alive.

The party sets off early the next day after purchasing some supplies. While traveling along the road one evening they are engulfed by a strange mist. They eventually come across a small village with a comfortable looking inn called The Sweet Marrow. They spend some time drinking and chatting with the locals, however as the sun sets the locals reveal themselves as bloodthristy undead. The heroes battle their way out of the inn, setting fire to the building in the process, and flee into the forest.

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