The party entered into a very large room, shaped somewhat octagonal, with all sorts of things to take in. First were the undead things that were mulling near a large set of double doors to the left of the party. Second was “the sickly-sweet stench of decay” that permeates this huge room. The walls are lined with thousands of skulls and light by hundreds of candles.
Four statues of noble knights stood at attention in the room as well. But it was the dais to the right of the PCs that was the most noteworthy. Atop the dais is a large white marble throne and upon the throne is the “preserved body of Arden Brightheart,” “clad in resplendent robes and burnished armor.” Here, it would seem, was the veneration chamber of the paladin.
Even before I could impart information from the Sword of Conviction, all three players had a feeling this was an important room. Ragnar1965 immediately marked the statues as dangerous and asked JediWife to be ready with her character’s bow. In essence, he asked her to point the bow in the statues’ direction and to shoot if anything made a movement. I don’t know if Ragnar1965 thought the statues were themselves dangerous or if they might be hiding something. Nightwing was ready to take out the undead things near the door and, with coordination with Ragnar1965, they had the ranger entice the flesh-eating monsters to charge the ranger only to be hit with an amazingly high roll on the cleric/magic-user’s turn ability. The things again fled the room.
As the party moves into the room, the statues come to life and begin to advance upon the characters. When JediWife sees her elven maiden’s arrows doing little to no damage, they rethink their approach. They only had one round to ponder before the statues are able to attack them. By this point I’ve related to Nightwing that Greyson the Ranger has been told by the Sword of Conviction that the Dread Watcher is nearby. More than that, the Sword cannot say. It urges Greyson to prepare for battle and casts a bless upon him. Nightwing and the others don’t know what to do. They are afraid the statues are a diversion to either weaken the PCs or to set them up for a surprise attack. And since what they’ve been able to find out about the Dread Watcher, they do not want to be surprised!
So what they do is to have Greyson the Ranger stand with the Sword of Conviction out and ready for anything while Madriel the spellcaster begins pummeling the statues with Sound Burst. Alura the elf pulls Lord Tulwar’s Blade and attacks the first statue. The fight is brutal with the elven maiden taking lots of damage while the lady spellcaster uses magic-missile or healing as need be. The ranger moves slowly about the room attempting to stay out of combat, but he finally has to come to the elf’s aid on the last two statues. Finally the last statue went down, but much of the spells memorized by Madriel was used up and Alura was low on hit points to boot.
The room was now very still with candle-light flickering about and the party knew something was very wrong. The Sword of Conviction again pushing Greyson to find the Dread Watcher, for the Sword could sense the Dread Watcher. Nightwing has Greyson step onto the dais and approach the throne. Ragnar1965 had his PC hold her wand of magic-missiles and moved to the side so she could be parallel to Greyson. JediWife had Alura do the same with her bow and arrow. All three began to suspect the body of Arden Brightheart might be booby-trapped.
Nightwing had his ranger bend over the body to examine it closely. I told him to “give me a roll” for his investigation. Before the die stopped rolling the body of Brightheart attacked Greyson and I called for an initiative! While they are rolling I tell Nightwing his ranger took damage and he had to make a saving throw. The ranger felt a horrible chilling touch from the body as its hand reached out to slap him. Nightwing made the save, they got the initiative and I got to read a great “monologue” as the illusion of Brightheart fell away and the frightening form of the Dread Watcher appeared! Since the evil villain’s monologue is important for the ongoing campaign, I’m going to report it here for my player’s future referencing:
“Woe unto you who dare tamper in my master’s work! Skullshank shall not abide those who would disrupt the construction of his most fearsome invention. But you are too late – even should you recover the lens from the chapel, you shall not prevail. I can sense the Eye of Night is with you! It will be well that I reclaim this topaz for my master as well! The Oculum shall be completed. And once completed, Skullshank shall rule the land without question!”
What a great monologue!
With that, the Dread Watcher got a severe beating from the Sword of Conviction. If ever a natural-20 should appear it needed to that night. Nightwing rolled almost maximum damage (a d12 for a bastard sword used two-handed, rolled twice, plus the magical and strength bonus added twice. That’s how I do natural-20s. So his damage was near 30 points!) on his first hit of the combat. Prior to that nasty hit, Alura shot and hit with her bow, but for no damage and Madriel used her wand to hit the Dread Watcher with two magic missiles. The Dread Watcher missed hitting Greyson on his attack. And I decide it is time to have the villain go invisible. I figure a round repositioning him would be a very good thing since the Dread Watcher got hammered for over half his hit points!
Well round two occurs, Ragnar1965 opts to attempt to turn the opponent since his PC cannot see the Dread Watcher. Not a chance, so Ragnar1965’s turn is over. JediWife figures she’ll try one more arrow, but with the huge minus since the Dread Watcher has vanished, the arrow hits nothing. Well, my plan is to take the Dread Watcher to a position behind the destroyed statues. All I have to do is wait for Nightwing to roll for the ranger. Unless he rolls another natural-20, he cannot hit the Dread Watcher with the heavy penalties for attacking invisible opponents. Of course, Nightwing throws a game changer into the mix. He has Greyson pull out his bag of dust he keeps handy and tosses it at where the Dread Watcher was! The invisibility is negated as is my attempt to reposition the Dread Watcher.
It just went downhill after that! Nightwing has his ranger toss the Sword of Conviction to JediWife’s elf while he pulls out Whisker and Fenis. I’m casting hold persons and hitting the PCs with the Dread Watcher’s paralyzing touch. I hit them with the fear aura. I even used the wand of suggestion, but to no avail! The three of them made every last saving throw!
The Dread Watcher got smacked about like a little league team against professionals because all of the player's dice were on fire!
I’ll describe the cleanup and the conclusion of chapter two of this fine DCC soon.