Shadow Over Alfheim Pt 5 – Necromancers of Stull (Commenced)

Rather than continue with another raid on the Island Fortress or check out Gernauch (Tower of Dreams; the new character is from there and hasn’t heard from anyone there in some time), my players decided that they wanted to check out what was going on in Stull. The survivor from the raft incident reported that there had been repeated attacks on the sawmill community by strange undead things.

The goblin thief and the fighter spent a day scuttling the goblin canoes they found on the far side of the Isle, meaning that I’m going to have to adjudicate some of what was going on in there. I’ll take a look, but I’m probably going to rule that the goblins were slaughtered like dogs; the orcs (who would’ve been some friendlyish orcs from the first session) might have gotten out alive had the players not stolen their canoes (they were mercenaries who were going to be helping the goblins try to take the fortress from another tribe). Amazingly enough, the Goblin and Fighter provoked no random encounters while doing their thing.

After that, they spent a few more days in town resting, scribing a scroll, and then headed off for Stull. They heard of the attacks and negotiated a decent % of the profits from the sawmill if they could do something about the undead.

The Necromancers of Stull module is supposed to kick off with skeletons attacking the school at sundown. Only the party decided to check out the cemetary during the day and the Monk volunteered to camp out up in a tree (using his class’s climb ability!) and keep an eye out. So, he was able to sound an alarm as the skeletons poured out of the tomb. The elf managed to save the children by getting the stragglers onto a floating disk. The rest of the party fought the skeletons in the streets.

Here’s where Turning has become an issue.

They chased the skeletons back to the cemetary, killing all of them. Only according to the module, 15 minutes after the fight with the skeletons, a dozen zombies show up and attack the mill. They’ve already gone into the dungeon, and depending on how long they stay there, they’re going to either find the attack under way or find the town aflame.

The ability to turn undead in an undead campaign, especially with two characters who can turn has made things something of a mad pursuit with a cascade of encounters as people chase the fleeing undead. The party followed the skeletons back to the crypt. In the crypt, they turn a few more skeletons, and, in pursuit of them, run headlong into a party of zombies. The clerics didn’t manage to turn as many of these guys, and they put the hurt on the goblin thief, the fighter and damn near killed the elf (who still only has one hit die). They then stumbled headlong into the troop of zombies who were marching in place, but turned most of them. This was part of an encounter that is written to draw the attention of a level 6 mage and a wraith, which is where we’ll pick up next time.

I’m going to have to figure out some way to avoid every encounter beginning with most of the undead getting turned. Probably by having stronger undead. Then again, except for the Zombraire’s Estate, Necromancers of Stull is one of the only other modules that is undead heavy.

We were missing our orc and our goblin (of the non-thief variety), so if they come next week, they’ll probably ride into town, just behind the rest of the party to find the village under attack by zombies.

One thing I’d like to note, Maze of Nuromen, which had very few encounters written into the rooms themselves, tended to lend itself to more roleplaying situations, if only because it didn’t feature encounter cascade.  When rooms are close to each other (often without even a door between them) and full of monsters, there’s not single sequential encounters; it’s more a case of “While you’re fighting the monster in room a, the monsters in room b show up.  And while you’re chasing the monsters around the corner, the monsters in room c are all ‘Whoa, hey, there!'” making one big and brutal fight.