Wednesday, June 12, 2019

GM Notes - Morgansfort Session 13 - Death Frost Doom, part 1 of 2

In the morning, the party leads the group of freed Mothers to the chapel of the Green Mark, down to the crypt, and through the green crystal portal to Bishop Nemesine’s floating cathedral over Ravenstone which is built into a dead titan’s decomposing head. Nemesine leads the group into a small chapel/shrine room of the side of the main chamber. There is an altar, and a bloody magic circle off the floor. Off this chamber is a set of two opposing alcoves, which between them function as a in/out portals, each with green crystals. Nemesine sends the Mothers through first to a small portside town on the western side of the northern continent. The party sees the Tarred Goose in port.

Nemesine then delivers his terms to the party. He will send them with two of his acolytes to an area north in the Demonfrost Mountains, specifically to the foot of Mt. Deathfrost. The top of this peak is said to house the tomb of the Duvan’Ku death cult, the original worshippers of Shah Gzerohn. A group of 12 clerics of Tah sacrificed themselves to seal in the evil there. Also sealed inside the mountain is the Miter of Tah, a powerful relic stolen by the cult which Nemesine seeks to erase his curse and leave this dimension. If the party returns with the Miter, Nemesine promises to disband the Green Mark, end the slave industry of Ravenstone, and leave the known plane. The PCs are welcome to any other treasure found there. Nemesine has also gives them a green gem which will allow them to read ancient runes and writings they may find in the tomb.

The party is equipped with furs, boots, and camping/climbing equipment. They pass through the portal half a day’s journey from the town at the foot of the mountain. Rumors of horror are told that night before an early rise to head up the mountain. Halfway up the mountain the two acolytes take their leave as they cannot approach any closer to the peak without intense mental and physical anguish. A little further on the party discover the shack of Zeke Duncaster, a crazed old trapper who has made his life on this mountain by giving headstones to the unmarked graves at the top of the mountain. One notable marker for Marybelle Walker is in progress. Zeke discovered the names in a book in the cabin at the top of the mountain. He begs them not to proceed and even attempts to stop them short of physically barring their way.

The party reaches the top about 10:00 p.m. The moon shines overhead. The cabin sits at the top of the summit looking down on a huge field of graves and markers covered in snow. An evil-looking dead tree with a hangman’s noose watches them. There is a faint droning sound as they approach the cabin which gets louder the closer they get. They move to the back door where a set of somewhat recent tracks leads off amongst the graves. They find a frozen corpse there in a nightshirt perhaps from a few days ago. There is also a well that the party decides to stay away from after Pater’s episode in the buried elven undercity.

The party enters the cabin from the back and start to explore the back rooms. A harpsichord can be heard upon entering, but it immediately stops as the PCs enter the room with the instrument. That room also features a large painting of the party themselves dressed as they are now, standing before a large skeleton-encrusted altar with a dark passage open to the left of the altar. In the painting, Mel is seen drinking from a cup in one hand and holding a handful of fist-sized glass spheres. In the empty bedroom across the hall, they find a stash of purple lotus powder which Renik recognizes as a potent natural hallucinogen. They take the lot. They find a plain kitchen and a front room with a fireplace, mounted stag head, mirror, a clock, and a desk with a book of millions of names of sacrifices going back millennia – the last few pages full of Zeke’s checkmarks. There are also three chairs that face the party as they come in. The mirror is cold with runes for “every brother” and “every sister” on either side. The stag’s eyes are cloudy and bubbled. Oh, in the middle of the room is a trapdoor on the floor with a padlock on it.

Before trying the padlock, the group inspects the last bedroom where they find the belongings of the corpse outside, one Norquist Orve, a mountaineer and tax dissident. His journal details the path he took up the mountainside, not the longer, cleared path the party took. They take some of his climbing gear and rations and go back to the trapdoor which the unlock and open, exposing a dark shaft, 50’ deep with iron rungs inside. They descend without light as there is no room for lantern or torch within the shaft. Renik and Pater spark a witchfinder candle at the bottom. The droning becomes louder with the opening of the trapdoor and as they go down.

A long hallway of crystalline walls writhes with agonized faces calling out in a lost language. It ends with a door with a gargoyle’s head as a lock. A key is in the lock which requires one to place their hand in the mouth. Pater is volunteered and the door opens and he takes the key. An antechamber of small table with severed hands holding quills next to parchment with the instructions to “transcribe” and “replace” carved into the hands. A set of bronze double doors to east feature a huge sigil, the sign of the Duvan’Ku. The party opens the doors and lets out a gust of cold air.

The group enter the large chapel of the Duvan’Ku. The room is shaped like a blunt-tipped arrowhead pointing east. Rows of stone slab prayer plinths cover the floor. Twelve ice skulls hang from a ceiling fixture. An altar inside a huge skull is at the far end. To the left of the altar is an organ made of bones. Murals adorn the northern wall, one of hanged women with a caption, “name them, but build no monument unto them.” Another mural shows a man being stabbed with nine swords and thrown into a pit as an offering. Two sinks of black water are attached to the southeastern wall and filled with teeth. The Duvan’Ku rune for “gift” is atop the basins. There is a large bronze door with a wheeled lock on the east wall between the altar and the sinks. Another small door leads out in the north wall.

The group inspect everything. Nyphus finds and takes a jewel-encrusted dagger and a ruby necklace in a bowl on the altar. One of them (Mel?) attempts to match the note on the organ to the increasingly louder drone to no effect. Pater or Renic fish a locket with a portrait of a man out of the teeth basin. It matches the picture of the man in the mural stabbed by nine swords. During their time investigating two of the ice skulls hanging from the ceiling have fallen to the floor and shattered. Water drips from the others. The group contemplate pulling out a tooth to offer as a gift in the sink but instead head through the north door.

They enter a hallway with many doors. They try the room to the right which contains dirty bedclothes and cots. Searching discovers a wooden mask with human teeth (obviously taken from the basin) inserted into it. The door to the left reveals a small set of rooms – one locked (that they can’t open), a toilet, and a library with a map. They copy the map on a sheet of paper and move on. The next room on the left off the main hallway is a kitchen/eating area with marble benches and a firepit. The upper walls are stained with smoke. Pater searches the cabinets and the upper walls, and finding no ventilation, discovers a place where there are no stains. A small panel in the ceiling is found with a passage or flue about 5’ x 5’ heading above the room. Pater goes first, and the rest follow, but it is a tight fit.

The passage leads into the ceiling of a room with an elaborate bone-encrusted sarcophagus with a scene on the top in bas relief of hundreds of beheaded men on a battlefield. The top is removed and a desiccated female mummy rises. Nyphus addresses her. She looks at him and asks him, “What do you carry?”

GM Notes - Morgansfort Session 14 - Death Frost Doom - Part 2 of 2

So, here stands the final chronicle of my two-year Basic Fantasy campaign. It ended a year ago and I'm just now getting around to fini...