[Note: The original design for this module ended with the "final stand" in Cadavra's lair - with the option for cleaning up the undead army as a bit of an afterthought - a half page describing the location of each repository of undead. Dramatically, that seemed like a big let-down - another necro-lair and a series of mop-up operations. More importantly, it didn't allow for the closure of the main plot - a murder mystery. Justice was not done for any of the Dev'shir children by the simple slaying Cadavra in her lair.
But this text in the module provided the hook for an exciting option: "If the PCs are relatively undamaged, Cadavra activates shadowform from her cloak, and flees. If she escapes, she hides in the sewers for a few days before plotting to recover the cauldron (if the PCs don't have Illserves tome). Otherwise, she foolishly releases her undead horde ahead of schedule on the Dev’shir estate, and dies seeking her revenge.
That last sentence is how this should end! To heck with waiting days for mop-up. My version would have her release her army ASAP and direct confrontation! This only required one thing - a way for her to get to Punjar quickly before they could prepare defenses. Fortunately, the details on the Cauldron stated that she could raise a Large creature!]
The fully-laden Cleora's Gift approaches Windgate from the water-side.
You'd think that wall would be safe from attack my undead, but the skeleton's have formed a ladder using their own bodies, and many are already on the keep walls...
[Meta - scooping undead in front of the gate!]
At least the gate his holding so far - and some town soldiers have arrived, but they are outnumbered and wont last.
Elam is fighting along with the family guard...
BANG, BANG, BOOOOM! Something large breaks down the gates!
A skeletal dragon! That's how she got here so fast! "We must stop that dragon" shouts the knight with the Lance.. "We've got to set up defenses for the Manor house, fast!" snaps the bard.
The roof is our first stop!
Chaos and blood everywhere. The party sets up positions (notice the band members at the corners of the manor house - more on that in another post.) And the bone-dragon attacks, dishing out boku damage!
The fighter throws his lance, to discover that his family heirloom is a dragon-slayer and does extra damage. They might have a chance, if they get moving...
Range attackers stay on the ship while Bosnan navigates...
The undead rush the Manor through the gate, but don't enter. Instead they block entrance to the house!
The Dragon continues to chase and attack the ship, which seems to be either lucky or magically protected - only the heroes are in danger at the moment...
Fortunately, the bard is there with a heal...
Finally! Cadavra appears, and flies (in shadowform) into the house past her undead army.
The Illusionist and the thief quickly enter from the roof, from an attic vent window...
There are panicked staff, trying to hide everywhere... A maid points in the direction of the other tower.
Meanwhile, outside the party has succeeded in wounding the bone dragon, and many of the undead on the walls have been defeated - though the gate is still a mess.
A critical blow with the dragon-slayer lance dispatches the abominiation. Elam jumps off the wall and heads into the house via a servant's entrance. The knight and the fire mage get dropped in the back yard, and follow close on Elam's heals.
The illusionist and rogue hear yelling and fighting at the base of the spiral stairs and hurry down...
Apparently, undead managed to get into the house from the inside! Lord and Lady Devshir are hurt. The illusionist provides cover and urges them to climb the stairs but Cadavra will have none of it - she screams "NO! Come back here" and lets loose chain lightning - severely wounding the Dev'shirs.
The rogue has had enough: "That's it, bitch. Whatever your issues are, killing them won't fix them." - Clearly, she's too mad to save.
The illusionist locks down the undead while the Rogue vaults off an undead to land next to Cadavra - and delivers a stunning blow, reaching deep into her heart.
Elam and the others enter the chamber
as Cadavra falls and she says her final words "No. Wait. No!"
Lord Dev'shir looks satisfied. "Thank you for slaying that witch!"
This seriously tweaks the Illusionist. "That was your DAUGHTER - Lakaisha!"
There is a look of shock and dismay as he walks over to the dead witch and wipes off the white makeup to confirm the identity.
Elam: "Whaaat? My sister died in the stable fire four years ago!"
Lord Dev'shir: "Shut up Elam, know your place."
[At this point, I asked the party who they wished to support, or did they wish to leave. They were unanimous that they would support Elam...]
: "Elam, this is her diary. It tells her story in her own, twisted words, but in short - your parents lied to you about all of it. They only thing they didn't know is that after they sent her to the asylum, that she faked her death there."
Elam scans the diary, and is face and demeanor change from a foppish aristocrat to that of a Lord of a Noble House...
: "Father. YOU shut up! You've lied to me my entire life. Mother - how could you? You put your personal shame before that of your own children! Look what you've wrought! My sisters, the only ones who truly loved me are dead - and you made me
the instrument of hers! Damn you!"
"It was all your doing - both of you! You set us against each other - favored Dugesia, married Lakaisha off to the first noble with money - that scumbag who abused her. And all the while whispering how your son, "Elam the Lesser" would never amount to anything. That ends today! I am Elam the Lesser no more!"
: "Now son..."
Lord Elam Dev'shir
: "I said SHUT UP. I'm not listening to you anymore. I now know your secret - be glad that I keep it that way
- but you now do what I say! Go to your rooms!"
After they leave - Elam addresses the party "Bosnan, I'm certain that I can count on Charles' and your team's discretion in this matter?" The team agrees.
"You've done the Dev'shir family a great service, more importantly, you've helped me see the damage that corruption has done to our legacy. I intend to do something about that. And as a reward for your service and sensitivity, you may keep any non-family heirlooms you've found. I'll keep the diary - thank you so much for that.
And, Charles tells me you don't have a home-base for your group - I'd like to offer you one of our old warehouses and a small budget to build it out (structually) as you see fit. You are a good group, and for my first act as a noble patron - I want to make it possible for you to help others as well.
Until you have a place, you may park your airship here, at Windgate."
And so ends the Scions of Punjar!
--- BUILD NOTES ---
- . FREE Topiaries! by mproteau
. Hadur Dev’shir Statue from Hero's Hall by Kev's Lounge
. Staircase from Propz: Dungeon Features by Arid Hills Productions
. Flags: Toothpick and cloth impregnated with lots of white glue, by OldSchoolDM
Phew! That was a lot of work. I'm planning on posting my "change notes" with a detail of the tweaks to this excellent module, but need to get some real work done for a few days!
"What do you think, sirs?"