Nightwing Temple, part the second

Who’s in and Around That Temple

Hrafnsmál will almost always be in his “nest” at the top of the tower, consulting with his ravens or studying from his library. Ásmundur and Ámundur will be below, on the ground floor of the chapel, playing a game of chess. Three to four dozen ravens will be roosting/circling the tower at any given time, with large (10+ ravens) flocks regularly coming and going. A dozen or so animated skeletons stand aimlessly around the main chapel area. There used to be more of them; however, the group guarding the chapel and the tunnels outside of it have gradually gotten harder to control, to the point where the valravns have barred the cellar entrance and left the skeletons outside to their own devices.

The valravns suspect some sort of outside influence and they are correct. At the end of the tunnels, a necromancer named Naha has taken up residence after noticing the valravns out in the city on one of their various missions. Years of research later, he knows what the brothers are and has tracked them to Nightwing Temple (although he is unaware of the presence of Hrafnsmál). Setting up residence in a disguised and repurposed storm drain, Naha has used subtle spells to gradually reduce the control the valravns have over the skeletons with the intention of luring them to investigate. He’s set up a well-hidden alarm rune in one of the access tunnels and has prepared a nasty surprise in the form of a ritual circle created by setting crushed gems into floor carvings, primed with some blood sacrifices, which combined with an icon of Tittivila,  should allow him control over any undead opponents. He’ll then be able to put the valravns into some stasis coffins (AKA the best thing to ever come out of ToEE) and start on some awesome experiments.

The Chapel

Should the players approach the temple with a dead cat on a stick, they will be allowed to gain entrance freely. Inside the chapel, the skeletons will be arrayed to either side of the pews, tracking any visitors with their empty eye sockets. There is a skeleton impaled to the floor here with a Tooth of Vorn (or similarly interesting magical weapon). Ámundur will appear out of the gloom of the rear of the chapel and ask the party’s business with “the master”. He will not reveal Hrafnsmál’s name, although he will give his own and his station of “the master’s herald”. Ámundur will agree to convey a message to his master if asked politely. He will not allow the party to go up the tower unless they know Hrafnsmál’s name — if they do, he and Ásmundur will accompany the group upstairs. If the party asks about the sword, the valravns will offer it to them or if the party just takes it, they will say they are welcome to it; however, either way they will ask the party if they will do them a favor in return, to be named later. If the party refuses, they will be attacked unless they can talk their way out of it. If, at any point, Ámundur is attacked, the skeletons will charge the party and Ásmundur will arrive in the following round. The valravns will target any obvious spellcasters and will use space intelligently. If the encounter starts turning against them (all the skeletons are dead and/both valravns are wounded/one valravn is killed), they will shapechange into giant ravens and escape through holes in the chapel ceiling to the top of the tower.

If the group decides to openly assault the Temple, they will first be met by a swarm of ravens, who will concentrate on attacking the faces of the party, with special attention paid toward the eyes. If they manage to gain entrance to the chapel, they’ll be met by the skeletons and then the valravns in human form should they reduce the skeletons to half-a-dozen or less. Combat will then follow as if the party decided to attack the valravns in the above paragraph.

If the party decides to leave (they have delivered their message, etc.) the valravns will inform them that it will be many hours before the water recedes again and they can leave the way they came in (this is true) and it would be easier to go out through the cellar entrance. They hope that the party will flush out whatever’s been spooking the skeletons without having to do so themselves and will try and ease the party into going that direction.

NEXT TIME: Maps (this time I swear) What’s At the Top of the Tower

How It Went

In our group’s adventure, the party was given a message to take to the “occupant of the temple” and given directions on how to proceed through the Warrens/Lock district, including the advice to have a dead cat on a stick in order to enter peaceably. After a humorous interlude involving getting barstaff to procure a dead cat for them, the party headed straight to the Temple and entered with no fuss, although they were mildly surprised that the guardians were not interested in eating the dead cat. Then followed a comedic interchange with Ámundur (the party asked about the dead cat, with Ámundur telling them that just seeing a dead cat “pleases the ravens”), with the party leaping to the conclusion that the knight was a zombie of above-average intelligence and the valravn amused by the resulting interaction. After providing the party with some old yet decent wine from the chapel cellar, Ámundur took their message to the tower while Ásmundur “checked the waterfall schedule” in the temple foyer (in reality, he closed and barred the front gate, which somewhat agitated the party when they heard this). Ásmundur then said that the next time the waterfall would open was some time in the future and it would be easier for the party to leave via “the back way”. The players did not question why this meant the front entrance should be closed and barred and instead followed the valravns (Ámundur having had returned from the tower with a sealed message in a scroll case) through the chapel cellar to a barred stone door. The two groups parted jovially and the party headed down the dark and dank passage, showing minimal concern at the sound of the door being barred behind them.

Traveling through the catacombs and sewers between the Temple cellar and Naha’s house, the party were ambushed by a group of eight skeletons. Having gone through previous combat encounters like a hot knife through butter, the party were overconfident against what appeared to be a lesser danger as one party member ran for cover in a tunnel while the rest decided to duke it out while surrounded by the undead foes. They quickly realized what a bad idea this was when two party members were dealt near-critical blows. With both the dwarf and the priest 1-2 rounds from death, they broke off combat and bleeding badly, managed to gain safety in the tunnel leading to Naha’s secret chamber, getting lucky with healing spells to prevent any party deaths from their gushing wounds. Only the halfling was in any shape to fight and was having no luck using his rapier against his fleshless opponents. Switching things up, he concentrated on disarming the skeletons and then defending against their bony fists while retreating down the tunnels to keep the conflict on a one-to-one basis.

Reaching the bricked-up end of the tunnel, the dwarf burst through it with a single blow and he and the elf were met by Naha’s domination attempt. The elf reacted quickest to run past Naha, who, surprised by the lack of dominated valravns, attempted to paralyze the dwarf, who resisted and responded with a direct charge, chopping off one of the necromancer’s hands. He was quickly joined by the halfling, leaving the half-orc in the tunnel to hold off the skeletons, a decision based on the priest managing an exceptional success on a strength spell, allowing him to scatter the undead with relative ease (although he was almost killed at one point, saved only by an extremely poor damage roll on the part of the skeletons). Naha pulled out a potion from his belt and was preparing to down it when the dwarf struck again, severing the arm holding the potion and killing the mage in the process. The halfling doubled back to help the half-orc finish off the skeletons, leaving the dwarf to sample the potion, which turned him into a fine mist. This is where the session ended.

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