After scouting the ruins of Castle Inverness during the previous encounter, the party returned to the caravan and reported that everything was all clear. Brother Splintershield directed the caravan to proceed to the ruins and once there everyone began unloading the wagons and getting settled in. Splintershield and his acolytes began preparations for their cleansing ritual, a blessing to keep the ruins of the castle safe and free of any evil encroachment.
This week the party consisted of Belgos (the Dragonborn), Jarren, Keira, Valenae, a Battlemind and another Rogue. Because of a scheduling conflict, I couldn’t DM this week so we actually completed two encounters last week. Regrettably we were forced to end the second one (the week 4 encounter) rather abruptly as we ran out of time. The result was a somewhat rushed ending, but the build up was very exciting as you’ll find out.
Voices cried out in alarm. At the base of the tower, in the centre of the ruins, a fully formed ghostly tower began rising from the ground. It wavered for a few seconds and then materialized in the exact spot the original tower once stood. Somehow the tower of Castle Inverness was once again as good as new.
The settlers, the priests and the adventurers were all weary and suspicious of this strange happening. Some people hid while others drew weapons, ready for possible attackers to burst forth from the tower. One of the acolytes bravely (or foolishly) stepped towards the tower and examined it. He circled the structure and touched the very solid walls. He announced that the tower was solid now and that there didn’t appear to be any obvious way inside.
Unsure how to interpret this event, Splintershield urged his Clerics to begin the cleansing ritual immediately, just in case this is an omen of bad things on the horizon.
As the holy men began their ritual strange groans and cries that can only have originated from the darkest depths of death’s domain emanated from all around the castle walls. The undead arose and began approaching the castle from all sides.
As the undead got closer, Splintershield cried out that the ritual was almost complete and he needed but another minute to finish it. The undead could not be allowed to enter the ruins and the Clerics could not be disturbed while they complete the ritual.
Malgram and his Rangers climbed the walls and began taking shots at the undead. The heroes, being closest to the front gates, were asked to keep anything unfriendly from passing through. The ritual must be completed.
Those nearest the gates spotted two zombies and four skeletons approaching. The Battlemind immediately ran forth to engage them in melee. Keira threw a dagger and destroyed one of the closest skeletons. They didn’t seem very tough, but the heroes could see more of them approaching. The undead had numbers on their side.
Jarren climbed on top of the wall and began attacking the undead with his ranged attacks. He split his attacks between the skeletons and the zombies.
A skeleton managed to get through the gates, but Belgos attacked him with his sword. Belgos (now a Dragonborn don’t forget) used his breath weapon to take out another nearby skeleton. After securing the gate, he too climbed on top of the wall for a better vantage point.
Valenae waded into the fray and used a divine power. It destroys one of the zombies, dealing radiant damage and providing her with an aura of radiant energy that damaged any enemy creature that ends its turn adjacent to her. Beware undead minions!
The zombie reanimated and attacks Valenae, hitting her. However, by ending its turn adjacent to her it was destroyed by her radiant aura. The other zombies attack the Battlemind.
The party retaliated destroying another zombie and eliminating the last of the skeletons. However, more skeletons approached the battle. Two of the skeletons had ranged attacks and attack Belgos and Jarren on top of the walls. One of the skeletons avoided the melee and managed to get through the gates.
Belgos tried shooting the rogue skeleton but missed. His only other option was to put himself in the skeleton’s path, blocking him. He jumped off of the wall, falling badly, and taking a little bit of damage. The skeleton was still animate, but now the Ranger was in an adjacent square which would hopefully stop the skeleton from getting any further into the ruins.
A third zombie joined the battle and grabed hold of the Battlemind. The Battlemind was unable to free himself on his turn. Keira, Valenae and the Rogue try to destroy it, but they either couldn’t hit the zombie or couldn’t do enough damage to destroy it. With the Battlemind in his grasp, the zombie took a huge bite out of him consuming half of his hit points.
The Battlemind, fearing another devastating bite, attacked the zombie and scoreed exactly enough damage to drop it to 0 hit points. However, more skeletons continued approaching the gates keeping everyone busy.
The heroes continue to be overrun with undead. No more zombies seem to be approaching but the waves of skeletons keep coming. It would take a miracle to defeat the superior number of skeletons.
A brilliant light infused with radiant power washed over the castle ruins as the Clerics completed the cleansing ritual. All of the undead in the wave were immediately destroyed forever. Everyone, including the heroes, cheered as the undead are defeated.
The victory is short lived as a lone ghost approached the ruins. He reached the edge of the cleansing ritual’s boundaries and couldn’t come any closer. He identified himself as Salazar Vladistone and he demanded answers. Brother Splintershield confidently approached the ghost, careful to stay within the protected zone.
The ghost demanded that the zone be dismissed. He has a right to enter the ruins and would not accept this restriction. Splintershield arrogantly taunted the ghost and demanded he leave this place for it was now under his protection.
The heroes tried to intervene and learn more about what was really going on. The ghost reveals that his wife is buried in the cemetery and it is he who tended to the graveyard all of these years since their deaths. His own resting place is many days away, yet he journeys back and forth as often as he can. He demanded that he be allowed into the graveyard to be near his wife’s remains. Despite his pleading, Splintershield refused.
“You have denied but a single tortured spirit this night. We shall see how you fare against the Phantom Brigade.” he said as he faded from sight.
So ends chapter one of D&D Encounters: March of the Phantom Brigade. When chapter two begins next week, months have passed and the town is flourishing. We’ll see how the events from chapter one shape the next chapter.
As an added bonus this season we’re recording our D&D Encounters experiences and making them available to you as downloadable podcasts courtesy of The Shattered Sea. Listen to the Week 4 Encounter. Bear in mind that these recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at time it may be difficult to hear everyone.
Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.