Manus Invictus, Episode 1 – Myrkul’s Devoted, Part 1

Session Date: January 6, 2018

Watch the entire game session on YouTube: Myrkul's Devoted, Part 1

With five members of the Hand of Light adventuring party either killed or captured by the undead forces in the catacombs beneath Iniarv’s Tower, the opportunity presents itself for a new group of adventurers to rise to prominence along the Sword Coast. Introducing Manus Invictus, the Unconquered Hand...

10 Eleasias, 1367 DR

Having arrived to Waterdeep but a tenday ago, the members of Manus Invictus begin looking for odd jobs, like any good adventuring group looking to gain fame and fortune. They hear of a powerful wizard named Dexter Ambrose who is looking for help dealing with a necromance and undead to the north.

It sounds like a boring cliched job, to be honest, so two members get drunk at the Sloshing Boot tavern in Dock Ward while the other three decide to meet with this wizard. And thus Daeris Rosebloom, Maximillian Pitackleton, and Profero head to Eltorchul Academy where this wizard is apparently an instructor.

They aren’t exceptionally impressed by the wizard, an average-looking middle-aged human. They are even less impressed when Dexter explains that the rest of his adventuring company was wiped out by undead while he was indisposed by a cluster of black tentacles that had been plaguing his former company, the Hand of Light, since its earlier days.

Why would the Hand of Light delve into dangerous catacombs without their wizard? And why would they not simply destroy these tentacles like any adventuring company worth its weight in dead monsters would?

Dexter charges Manus Invictus with defeating the necromancer, a woman named Miriam Hargreves, and with recovering a magical bag full of a veritable library of valuable tomes. Once the adventurers press the wizard for five hundred gold apiece – because freeing the region from a dangerous undead threat clearly isn’t reward enough – they depart, promising that they won’t return to Waterdeep a failure as Dexter did.

They find their other two companions so slobbering drunk that they likely won’t be able to travel for days. So, they leave them behind at the Sloshing Boot – which is quite somber, apparently having lost its prized bard recently – and head to another inn, Guinevere’s Rest. There they pick up three lizardfolk warriors that Dexter mentioned might be available to help them if needed.

And two men down, they’re definitely needed.

13 Eleasias, 1367 DR

Traveling north under the blackness of the midday sky – when is someone going to do something about the darkened sky anyway? – the adventurers are ambushed by a group of drow and their pet displacer beasts.

Outlined by faerie fire and unable to see their assailants, it’s a tense moment for the adventurers as the large displacer beasts charge in and poisoned bolts rain down on them from the darkness. However, Maximillian casts daylight and reveals the battlefield to all.

With the element of surprise over and the advantage of darkness stolen, the battle quickly turns against the half dozen drow warriors and two large feline monstrosities. As Profero drops drow after drow with his own crossbow, the remaining dark elves drop into the tall grass and flee.

However, Manus Invictus refuses to let any enemies escape and possibly bring more in against them. They chase them down and ruthlessly execute them.

Imagine that. The players no longer want to leave potential enemies behind them. I wonder why…

As the heroes continue their journey north, they talk among themselves about the implications of drow patrols on the surface. At the very least, It would appear they are taking advantage of the darkened sky to extend their territory.

At worst, the drow have something to do with the sky.

15 Eleasias, 1367

The heroes find the entrance to the catacombs below Iniarv’s Tower exactly where Dexter described them. They note a recently trampled path heading to the northwest, but think little of it. It must be the path the undead take when raiding the road and the town of Leilon.

Shrug and move on. No investigation. No tracking. Okay, right then!

After making their way through the catacombs for nearly an hour, they find themselves in a large chamber whose tall ceiling lies out of sight in the darkness. Four artificial waterfalls fall into fountains in the four corners, and the north and south walls are lined with stone slabs. Upon the stone slabs rest a couple dozen rotting corpses.

Maximillian blasts several corpses with firebolt, expecting them to rise as undead, but nothing happens.

The heroes shrug and move into the room. As they reach the center of the room, five of the corpses do indeed rise and move nimbly toward them, their eyes burning red with hatred.

“Must have shot the wrong ones,” Maximillian says.

One of the wights, formerly a female dwarf, charges in with a large club, and another – a half-orc – wields a greataxe. Curiously, the third wight, a half-elf, has a broken lute strung around its shoulders. The fourth is slight of build, wielding a rapier, and the fifth bears a heavy pick and shield.

Three of them are, of course, former members of the Hand of Light. It’s two bad two of the players missed this session… It was a cool treat for the group to fight their former selves.

Manus Invictus and their lizardfolk companions, not carrying who these fiends used to be, engage the undead creatures. Just as the heroes are falling into a familiar rhythm, two ghost-like wraiths fly through the closed doors and home in on the group’s most vulnerable members.

With a cleric in their party, the heroes deal with the new threat with comparative ease, and the monsters are quickly dispatched.

Interested in the wights, the heroes search their corpses over, but find nothing of value. Whoever they used to be, they are but copperless bodies now.

Farther into the catacombs, they enter the foyer of a chapel to Myrkul, the former god of the dead who was killed during the Gods Wars some years ago. Double doors lead straight ahead, presumably into the main chapel, and – they suspect – where they will find the necromancer.

So, they decide to check out a couple side doors first. You know, no need to leave enemies behind them before confronting their true foe.

Behind the door to the south they find a scriptorium, complete with six skeletal figures sitting at desks. Five of the skeletons put down the quills they were writing with, turn to regard the heroes, and warn, “Enter not the study of the high priest!”

Manus Invictus can see a single door on the other side of the scriptorium.

“Guess that’s where we need to go,” says Daeris. “Let’s kill some stuff!”

As the heroes move into the room, the skeletons cry, “You were warned!” and move to attack.

Fortunately, they are but pitiful skeletons, and the adventures make short work of them. Unfortunately, they were inhabited by vengeful spirits, and five ghosts rise from the skeletons’ shattered remains.

Daeris is possessed immediately by a ghost, and watches in horror as her body begins to attack her companions. Maximillian, however, is having none of that. Using turn undead he forces the spirit out of the rogue’s body.

Things go well for the heroes, with them dispatching three of the ghosts, but the last two fight prove to be annoying, if not deadly. Moving through walls so the heroes cannot attack them and possessing their lizardfolk companions, they drag on the inevitable end.

But the end does come, and the heroes finally vanquish the undead spirits.

Beyond the door in the scriptorium, they do indeed find a study. At a desk they find the fourth journal of Iniarv and the necromancer, Miriam Hargreve’s, journal. In a chest they uncover the mother lode of treasure: fanciful objects of art, gems, and nearly more gold and platinum than they can carry.

The players recognized much of it as coming from their former characters. One commented that having to write it all down a second time was punishment for not selling it when they had a chance.

Feeling slightly worse for wear and knowing the necromancer is likely close by, Manus Invictus holes up in the high priest’s study and takes a short rest.

Manus Invictus

The famed members of the Manus Invictus adventuring party.

Maximillian Pitackleton, cleric

Daeris Rosebloom, rogue

Profero, fighter

Dawn Fledermause, fighter