Session Date: November 11, 2017
In this episode, the Hand of Light discovers the importance of listening to NPCs despite how much they dislike them. The heroes also discover unexpected allies, finish up the yuan-ti temple, and investigate a “Bone Graveyard.”
21 Flamerule, 1367 DR
Unsure of their ability to battle the two massive snakes in lower, flooded level of the yuan-ti temple, Dexter proposes they move on.
Karn protests briefly, citing the thirty some yuan-ti eggs the snakes carry and the likelihood of them hatching into more yuan-ti to plague the Mere of Dead Men and surrounding area. Amazingly, Luna and Dexter manage to convince the paladin quite easily that there are more important matters to deal with.
Apparently not even the mighty Karn had the cojones to fight these powerful beasts in their own element…
As the Hand of Light begins to travel toward a Bone Graveyard to the south that Mildred “Milly” Mildew told them about, saying that her missing grandaughter might be there, Dunkle surfaces from the water, a massive black tentacle wrapped around him. “Help!” he gasps before the tentacle begins to pull him back under the water. “Pirate energy!”
Lyr holds his mandolin forward like a mounted soldier holding his saber, and jumps into the water with a shout of “I’ll save you!” The bard’s confidence in himself is overestimated — isn’t it usually? — and a tentacle quickly wraps around him, too. Lyr’s eyes go wide, and just before he is pulled under the water he squeaks, “I’ve got this, guys!”
Karn, Dexter, and Luna shoot glances at each other and then shrug. What’s one bard anyway?
Lyr’s player joined Dunkle in the ranks of players who didn’t make it to the game session. Life sucks; then tentacles grab you.
So, the heroes begin rowing their boat to the south. Gabriel, the priest of Ohgma, rides with them, and Milly is poling her own boat along with them.
Suddenly, the water churns around them, and a reptilian form rises before them. “You are surrounded, smoothskins,” the creature states awkwardly in Common. “Give us that one, and we let you go.” It gestures at Dexter with its spear.
Dexter, having identified the beast as a lizardfolk, says, “And why may I ask?”
“We hunger,” it states, “and only walking corpses are to be found here.”
Karn smiles and says, “What if we told you where you could find two delicious and quite fresh meals?”
And so the heroes tell the lizardfolk about the two massive snakes and even offer to help them kill them. The lizardman agrees to the arrangement, and two more rise from the water.
And thus the three players who came to the session each got to play a lizardfolk warrior! They were level 9 barbarian/fighter hybrids I made that morning when I found myself up to two players who wouldn’t make the session.
Then, with their new allies in tow, the Hand of Light heads back to the yuan-ti temple. One lizardfolk goes under the water and draws the gargantuan snakes out from their lair. Dexter banishes one immediately, and the heroes gang up on the remaining snake, fighting from a wide staircase that runs up the outside of the temple.
The snake turns out to be quite nasty, spitting acid and even swallowing on of the lizardfolk. Fortunately, the snake regurgitates its still-living meal, and the adventurers are able to bring it down.
Once the remaining snake returns, the heroes all unload on it. It doesn’t take long before the beast is but a corpse floating in the swamp.
Then the group takes a few hours for the lizardfolk to prepare a meal of the snakes and set up an impromptu smoke tent to cure more of the meat.
For their help in bringing down enough meat to feed them for months, the lizardfolk offer to aid them further in the swamp. The heroes mention they are looking for a Bone Graveyard to the south. The lizardfolk tell them they know of it — in fact, many of their clan entered it and never returned — but that it lies to the east, not the south.
Hey, Milly is an old woman. Her memory is going… (And I just work here.)
The group then travels to the Bone Graveyard where they find an island covered with skulls and bones from a wide variety of creatures, small and large. The ground is spongy, but it supports them, allowing them to leave their boats behind.
They spot the ribs and backbone of some monolithic creature rising in the distance and start toward it.
As they travel, rotting arms burst forth from the moist ground, and zombies pull themselves out of shallow graves. The Hand of Light and lizardfolk immediately go on the offensive, hacking and slashing into the small horde of undead.
The battle is over quite quickly, though, as simple zombies proved to be no match for the heroes.
“Well, that was invigorating,” Luna says, patting her Maul of Disruption. As it turns out, undead are her favorite sort of enemy.
When the heroes reach the gigantic ribs and backbone, they notice two petrified lizardfolk standing near it. They question their lizardfolk allies about it, but they know nothing, having never dared enter the bone graveyard themselves.
All about are many rotted corpses, and then they recognize several as lizardfolk. It would appear they have learned the fate of their compaions’ clan.
Then, two more zombies, these quite large, rise up from the ground and advance on the heroes. Just as they move to engage the monsters, Luna practically skipping with joy, another creatures floats up into the air above the skeletal backbone.
The Hand of Light pauses collectively, and Dexter mutters a simple, “Oh shit.”
The newest combatant appears as a large skull with a glowing central eye and large maw. Ten spectral eyes float about its skull, turning to regard the intruders.
“Death Tyrant!” the wizard says, recognizing the monster as an undead beholder.
The battle that then unfolds test the heroes to their limits as the death tyrant begins unleashing ray after ray of deadly magic at them.
It turns out that a death tyrant can fire SIX rays per round. Oh, I was in heaven! LOL
Karn is nearly petrified right off the bat, and the heroes urge their lizardfolk allies to simply run, which two of them do after taking the two large zombies down. The biggest challenge the heroes face is actually getting at the monster as their two heavy hitters — Karn and Luna — are mostly useless at range.
Dexter, however, as an answer with fly. Of course, as soon as he casts the spell and the two paladins begin flying up toward the beholder, the aberration begins targeting the wizard with all of its rays. Freaking out, Dexter downs an invisibility potion and hides under the skeletal backbone.
Outraged, the death tyrant strikes Gabriel with a petrification ray. The simple priest has no defense against the attack and turns to stone.
If Dunkle survives the tentacles, he’ll find his new student too “stoned” for learning the ways of the rogue, I feel.
Karn flies toward the death tyrant, but gets zapped by a sleep ray. As he falls unconscious, his grave falls over fifty feet to the ground. A lizardfolk hits him with a javelin to wake him, but Karn then spends precious time recovering his weapon.
Meanwhile, Luna has much more luck, closing with the death tyrant and slamming it with her maul of disruption. She empowers the blow with a smite, giving the monster much to think about.
The death tyrant uses a telekinesis rays on her, moving her back, but the determined paladin comes right back at the beast and continues to work it over with her maul.
With the monster nearly dead and his glaive recovered, Karn flies recklessly at the death tyrant, glaive extended. His weapon impales the monster through the bottom of the jaw and up through the skull.
The monster screams in agony, and then its spectral eyes wink out as it becomes noting more than a large skull.
After the death tyrant is destroyed, the heroes loot the area of treasure from the aberration’s previous victims. They then begin to scour the area, destroying at least fifty more zombies.
When they finish, Milly tells them she’ll go home to her cottage now.
“But what about your lost granddaughter?” Karn asks her.
“Shelly?” Milly looks confused. “She’s a weaver in Baldur’s Gate. Has been for years. I’m sure she’s fine, dearie. Thanks for your concern, though.”
As Milly poles her boat away through the swamp, the Hand of Light stifles a surge of rage.
“I have a feeling we’ll see her again,” Dexter says.
“Probably at the head of an undead army,” Karn replies.
The heroes had noticed on several occasions that the undead always completely ignored Milly.
It’s amazing that they never asked her about that though… I had a backstory and excuses — er, reasons — prepared and everything!
The Hand of Light then tells the lizardfolk they are looking for people being captured by undead and dragged off into the swamp. The lizardfolk tell them they have, in fact, seen this. The undead are taking the people to a tower to the east.
“Damn it! I told you!”
Dexter, Luna, and Karn all turn to see Lyr dragging himself out of the swamp. Apparently he had escaped the tentacles.
“I told you we should have gone to the tower!” The bard begins flicking chunks of black flesh off his clothes. “We wasted all this time wandering the swamp while my mother is held hostage!”
Karn shrugs. “Hey, you win some and you lose some, right?”
The Hand of Light
Below are the famed members of the Hand of Light adventuring party.