Sunday, September 6, 2020

Castle Xyntillan Session 18: Don't Trust a Malevol

In the last session, the party returned to Tours-en-Savoy, met the inquisitor Brother Michel, got dragged into a magic-item treasure hunt in the Castle, hid the Will of Aristide, began exploring a new section of the castle, and learned of the inquisitor's true quarry: The Holy Grayl! What will they find in the uper floors? How long will their lucky streak continue? All this and more in this week's session of Castle Xyntillan!

The Party

Longo Lightfoot, Halfling Thief, wears a sky-blue headscarf. Played by CaptainSabatini.
Corby the Joyful, Human Cleric of Sucellus, wears a short, conical hat. Played by diregrizzlybear.
Idred the Most Omniscient, Human MU, wears a full-visored greathelm. Played by David Perry.
Boroth Swinney the Joyous, Human Fighter, wears a masked helm depicting a happy human face. Played by Justin Hamilton.
Francois, Light Footman, noticeably dogless. 
Rodolfo, Heavy Footman, running from a warrant in town.
Hubert, Heavy Footman.
Gwynefa, Arbalist.
Herman, Arbalist, escaped convict and former boar.
Emil, Lightbearer, strange obsession with some Malevols.
Karo, Arbalist.
Allan, Arbalist, claims to know a great secret, pursues a Malevol for past crimes.
Clovis, Heavy Footman.
Eric, Light Footman and cart driver.
LaBeouf, Camp Cook.
Raymond, Mule.

Casualties
Idred, unconscious and resuscitated

Loot
Silver mirror, 50gp
Golden comb, 180gp
Musical pocket watch, 350gp
Bottle of cognac
Butler's snuff box
Butler's iron key
Coiled wood wand, unidentified
Holy water, stakes mallet
+1 Lucern hammer
+2 Black cape 

The Game
  • At the beginning of the session, the party filled in the details of the last session for Boroth's player, examined their surroundings and discussed plans going forward.
Corby: Are we ever going back to that skeleton who's still alive in his own coffin and wanted us to bring him babes?
  • Their exploration of the nearby rooms led them to a chamber filled with faded frescoes of the crusades. Nearby, they found the ghost of a headless monk prostrated in front of a crude altar. Idred offers it a skull he picked up from the catacombs in a previous session, and the ghost placed the skull on its shoulders. It then threw the skull to the ground and attacked the party in a rage. Corby turned it away and the party distanced themselves.
History Painting: 'The Crusader army attacks Constantinople' by Jacopo  Palma il Giovane, circa 1587. – Rearview Mirror
Longo: Is it evil?
Idred: I have Detect Evil prepared if you really want to know.
Longo: That's an odd spell to prepare. I just assume everything here is evil.
  • Next door was a cozy game parlor, filled with all manner of games of chance, as well as board games. The party fixated on a card table, scattered with a few coins and an old cutlass. 
Corby: Aren't coppers like pennies, we just leave them?
Boroth: We use them to pelt the help.
Longo: I learned my lesson about touching random swords. Buuuuuuuuut-
Corby: I think I have to, my religion commands it.
  • Three of the party sat down and were dealt in by a ghostly hand. The pile of coins grew steadily as they bet over several rounds, until Boroth won the last hand and took his winnings (largely from the pockets of his companions). They then gambled for the cutlass, putting down their magical arrow. They won again, and the ghostly hand disappeared after flipping them the bird. It turned out to just be a worn old blade.
Ghost Dogs Playing Poker (ghosting Any Image in a Scene Is the Same) : 10  Steps (with Pictures) - Instructables
  • The party located an external door, and the balcony it led out onto. They toyed with putting down a rope so they could enter and exit the second floor as heir pleased, but didn't know how long the rope might last there.
  • The next door down had a slimy trail in front of it, but it was solidly locked, and not even Longo could get it open.
Longo: Guys, this is a master lock, there's no use.
  • Down a nearby hallway, they happened across a lone man in ragged clothes, with a sack over his shoulder and a rusty hacksaw in one hand. He introduced himself as Jerome Malevol. He slowly approached, but didn't seem immediately hostile. Boroth read his mind, and determined that he was scared out of his wits by the party.
Party: Is he really subtle or just an idiot?
Longo: Are you an idiot?
Jerome: Me, uh... yes.
Longo: He's really subtle.
  • The party allowed him to pass by, moving to one side of the hallway. But halfway done, he stopped in front of Idred and started asking him some questions. Idred responded, and Jerome stumbled over his words before shouting SNEAK ATTACK!
  • He got surprise, hit with a backstab, and reduced the party wizard to -4 HP, the very brink of death. He then won initiative and ran around the corner, out of the reach of the party's arbalists. Boroth stood his ground to make sure there wasn't another ambush, while Longo took three of his hirelings and pursued Jerome. He attempted to make a fighting retreat, but Longo got him between the ribs, and he bled out on the floor. 
Idred (coughing up blood): Last time we trust a Malevol.
  • Corby immediately healed Idred, bringing him back from the drink, and a pair of swigs from a spiced wine got him back in fighting shape, and in remarkably good spirits. The party looted Jerome's body and moved on.
  • The room which Jerome had been exiting was occupied by a tall mirror that seemed to absorb light and the portrait of the exaggeratedly feminine Priscilla Malevol
Idred: How do we recognize her?
GM: From her bust.
Idred: fucking loses it
GM: That was NOT intentional.
  • As the party investigated an adjacent room, the mirror began to glow with unearthly light, and grasping green tentacles emerged. The party dashed into the next room, a bedroom in shambles. The body of a recently-dead butler was in the wardrobe, and from it they scavenged a snuff box and an odd iron key.
Tentacles from a mirror. | Tentacle, Cthulhu, Kraken
  • They were cornered in the bedroom, with the tentacles just outside. They experimented with throwing pieces of the furniture outside, and found that the tentacles nabbed anything that hit the ground and dragged it back inside the mirror. Longo still had several makeshift bombs from the Mandrake incident. They formed a plan.
  • They threw the bombs and several pieces of furniture into the room, and when the tentacles grabbed them, the party dashed out into the corridor. They were followed shortly by a loud boom, and a shower of glass cut through the mirror room just a few moments later.
  • With the mirror destroyed, the portrait of Priscilla took on a disgusted, disappointed expression. Idred made a guess and removed the portrait from the wall, revealing a niche. Lying inside was a wand made from two coiled branches of a dark wood. He, of course, pocketed it.
  • The next room over appeared to be totally bare. Boroth stepped inside, and the party was momentarily blinded by a burst of golden light.
  • When they recovered, the room was filled with supplies: holy water, hammer and stakes, a magical cape and polearm. And Boroth was grinning like an idiot. He had seen a vision of a saint entrusting him with a holy mission to slay the vampires of Xyntillan. He had accepted, and could now vaguely sense how many vampires existed in the castle, and where they were.
Hugh Jackman's Van Helsing has better lessons for the Dark Universe than  The Mummy
AWWW YEEEAAH!
  • With this find, the session concluded. There was a little combat XP, one of their number was almost killed, and they've recovered some potent items. What remains to be found? Will they be able to complete their new holy quest before the vampires slay them? Find out in next week's session of Castle Xyntillan! 

Takeaways

I ran the card game very simply. D6 rolls from each, rerolling ties to a victor each round, purely a game of chance. I worried that ti might be too simplistic, but playing cards was never the main attraction, and it was just a novelty to kill a few rounds and have some fun.

The stars aligned for Idred to very nearly die, what with an NPC with thief levels backstabbing him from surprise. If he had taken any damage earlier, or the party had waited a round to help him, he'd just be dead. As it stands, it was a tax on their (still quite plentiful) healing resources, plus whatever effect the spicy healing potion is going to have on Idred going forward.

Finding the wand behind the portrait was a surprise for me. I didn't give any hints to that one. I was also pleasantly surprised by how they dealt with the tentacles. I thought they might try battling them, or perhaps just running away. I had forgotten entirely about the bombs, and after I established that the tentacles were fairly blind, well.

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