15 August 2007

The Battle of the Sea Wyrm

I’m not sure this is an appropriate title for the PCs battle with the undead (and other icky) denizens of the Sea Wyrm, the long-buried cargo ship that they found interred in the hard mud of the Great Swamp west of Bornhavn, and under the control of the vampire, Rant Strongale. After all, it took them some time to recognize that it was, in fact, a buried ship, and even longer to discover (from the documents found in the Great Cabin) that it was, in fact, called the Sea Wyrm. But hey, Blucher wanted to call Waterloo the 'Battle of La Belle Alliance' after Napoleon's headquarters, while Wellington insisted on naming it after the place he had slept the night before. So does it really matter?

I have no idea what else to name it. "The Battle of Bornhavn", despite the alliterative allure, made no sense, since the fight didn’t take place in the town.

This would be easier if the Party had a bard. ("Name, name, name, name the ba-a-a-a-a-a-tle...")

And anyway, who cares? After all, it’s not really about names, is it?

It’s about killing monsters for XP, and taking their stuff.

* * * * *

In the real world, it takes far longer to describe an engagement than it actually takes to fight it. The opposite, of course, is true in the D&D world, where three hours of dice-rolling, note-taking, miniatures manipulation, chip-munching, cross-talk and topical movie quotes are often necessary to resolve 60 seconds of actual combat. So at the risk of sounding unnecessarily brief, here’s what happened.

The Party penetrated the sunken ship using the mud tunnel discovered by Breygon, Joraz and Greywind the previous night (which, after all, was the only way in). Their reception was a little different this time, due largely to the fact that they had already disposed of more than half of Strongale’s undead army during the Battle of File’s Manor. Most of the skeletons and zombies, and about half of the ghouls were dead. Again.

However, they did run into the nest of Large Monstrous Spiders on the crew deck (at Area 5), taking them out without incident; and they also bumped into the Ghoul at Area 6. The Ghouls and the Wight that would have been found in the wardroom had been killed at File’s Manor, so I mentally folded the deckhouse level (and the Great Cabin) into the Wardroom, and hit them with two full-HP Wights and all of the Skeletons simultaneously in the new “amalgamated” area. This caused them some damage, but everybody made their saves, and so no negative levels were gained. Breygon was happy to find the scabbard for the vampire’s sword (which they had, for whatever reason, left behind at Bellik’s Rest). They also found the excerpt from the ship's log, but had some difficulty reading it (verdammt ancient inkjet printers…).

The PCs then proceeded into the hold. They checked out the bow first, scaring up and dealing with the Ghasts and Ghouls from the cable tier (area 22) before heading aft for the main event. Unfortunately they hadn’t been all that quiet, so the vampire Rant – having already taken their measure in File’s Great Hall – popped up in their midst at area 24, surprising them with a close-quarter attack and managing to put the bloodsucking bite on Breygon, nailing him for two constitution points. This put Rant within easy melee range of the other members of the party, however, who (despite soaking up some damage from Rant’s slam attacks) managed to hit the vampire so hard in only two rounds that he was forced into gaseous form and retreated under the door frame to the aft hold, area 25, to take refuge in his coffin, which was disguised as the support structure for an altar. Due to the damage he had sustained, he remained in gaseous form, floating around the nasty artefact concealed within his casket.

The PCs listened briefly at the door, heard some shuffling, and thus were not surprised when they burst through and into the nasty reception awaiting them. The Wight, Zombies and Skeletons attacked the Party pretty much in line abreast, and the PCs made fairly short work of them. Once the bad guys were out of action, the Party began ransacking the hold in their usual happy fashion. Casting detect magic, Qaramyn localized an extremely powerful source under the “altar”, so the PCs stripped off the mouldering cloth and boards, exposing Rant's coffin. Weapons were readied, and Gwen threw open the lid, exposing the Orb of Undeath.

As I recall, Qaramyn shouted, “That’s it!” and pointed at the Orb with the vampire’s insubstantial mist swirling around it; whereupon Alric shouted “It’s his skull in a ball!”, or words to that effect, won initiative over Qaramyn (like, for the first time EVER), and whacked the Orb with Viloriannis’ +1 blessed heavy mace.

Ka-BOOM. Reflex saves all around!

Everybody made their rolls and took minimal damage, except for Gwen, who took zero, and Alric, who was at ground zero. Mace-boy ended up with a face full of crystal shards and smoking skull bits. Qaramyn actually shrieked.

And that, as they say, was that. The remainder of the session was spent digging through the crumbling ruins of the buried ship and trying to sort the refuse from the rewards.

But that particular endeavour – and the dreams that followed it – are another tale.