As most adventures begin, everyone is being lazy in the tavern waiting for the next challenge to burst in. A city guard nearly bursts the door off the hinges as he run in with Sparky on his heels. A mysterious Apparatus of Kwalish washed on shore. Inside was a powerful undead creature that was subdued after a few city watch casualties. More importantly the undead corpse had a letter bound by magic to only be opened by Leohben Wyrmsbane. Leo reads the letter but does not share any information with his team. He only asks them to help in a personal matter. Patril, always eager for money, couldn’t resist asking if there was a reward involved. Leo does reveal there is potential for handsome reward. The team accepts and they go to investigate the apparatus.
Talos and Elder determine the corpse has a necrotic contaminate that is spreadable like a disease. The guards who searched are quarantined after some investigation. Meanwhile, Budder is trying some red-neck ingenuity to weaponize the apparatus and Leo is preoccupied with the gross stain the undead man left next to the pilot seat. Evidently the stain was left after he died and fell out of the chair.
After wisely purchasing underwater gear and undead battle material, the company sets off to the coordinates on Leo’s letter. After submerging to the bottom of those coordinates they find wreckage of the great battle that happened, but no bodies. Although, the adventurers can only see as far as their lights. Everything was on top of what they think was a huge underwater mountain range riddled with holes. They adventurers enter a hole and it eventually leads to a chamber where they can walk free of water, but they must leave the apparatus behind. They encounter cave slime and bottle some up. They descend to the heart of the mountain.
Suddenly they hear clacking and groaning echoing from all directions in all the small holes riddling the larger passage. The sound grows louder as they come to an opening. The opening leads to a room with evident signs of workmanship. Two giant doors are in front of them. Two braziers are unlit on each side of the entrance. Also, some necrotic energy seeps from the ground. As the group fans out exploring the cave the clacking grows.
Disembodied hands crawl out of the holes at one end. Pieces of bodies come out of another end using ligaments, joints, or undead flesh to crawl along the floors. A tentacled create drops from the ceiling onto one area of the necrotic seepage. Another humanoid creature with three skulls drops into the other seepage area. The adventurers struggle with the groping hands and body parts while completely disabling the tentacled creature. The skeleton lord rains fire, ice, and raises dead body parts. Budder streaks across charging and harassing the bone skeleton while everyone else destroys the minions and tentacled creature.
After the battle the examine a dais in the middle of the room with a puzzle. After three attempts the adventurers figure out the puzzle to unlock the doors. Meanwhile Patril flies through the caves ultimately becoming disoriented, but does make it to the room on the other side before anyone else.
The room has three large tunnels coming in and a gargantuan cargo ship, with a dragon head at it’s haul, moored inside the cave. Signs of explosive rigging has been put on the ceiling. Two boulders are on either side of the ship. Inspections show they are new and were carved out of the ceiling. Elemental seepage is all around the ship’s haul.
Leo rushes down to the cargo hold and finds signs of someone living in the cargo hold recently. Ranting and raving pages of a journal are found. Presumably the ship’s captain. By this time he has let the others know this is a rescue mission for a pirate captain who was a childhood friend. She was the thief while he was the distraction during their childhood on the streets. But, he shares no more.
The rest of the team set about examining the explosive rigging and looking to explode some of the three tunnels coming into the cave. They hope to collapse the caves and therefore reduce any interference from them. After failed attempts to explode the caves, the clacking and moaning begins again. The undead have been wakened by the booms of their explosions. Something also moves under the water behind the ship.
An impossible fight the DM has rigged begins. An undead spectral kraken raises from the depths behind the ship. Three bone summoners emerge. Two fire skeletons with nasty fire auras rush in. A host of undead minion hands and body parts crawl forward. After some traditional fighting, the group realizes this is a TPK (total party kill) unless they can figure something out! They get on the ship and detonate the ceiling explosives!
Bursting upward a bubble surrounds the ship rocketing to the surface. But the kraken has solidified and is hanging on tight! As the party works to destroy the tentacles holding on, Talos watches the kraken fade in and out of substantial and phasing. He decides during a phasing and insubstantial time to run inside the kraken and burst all his holy waters he had equipped himself with in town. As he enters the kraken his telepathy picks up warring personalities inside the kraken. One is a woman’s voice, the other is a harsh voice of the kraken. As he bursts the holy water he communicates with the woman. He sees flashes of images he has chosen not to disclose to the party and is relayed that the woman is trapped somehow inside the kraken. As the kraken solidifies around him, Talos becomes trapped. However the kraken is not suppose to have a war-forged or holy water inside of it’s head and takes massive damage. Budder charges forward for the final blow rending open the kraken’s head to reveal Talos inside.
As the kraken dissipates a small crystal skull is left on deck. Talos quickly figures out the woman’s consciousness is somehow linked to the crystal skull. Leo asks for the skull and it tells him how to activate something on the ship for when the break the surface. Leo runs to the control room and activates the sequence saving the party from having to roll significant athletic saves to remain on the ship when it suddenly bursts through to the surface.
They later deduce the woman’s voice is Leo’s childhood friend’s voice. The ship’s sails are dragon wings and the ship is built on top of an ancient dragon’s bones. The rest, is to be continued…
GM Special Notes: I wanted to challenge the group to think outside of the regular combat rules. I also wanted to introduce terrain that could be used in battles. Cave slime, elemental seepage, boulders, even braziers can be turned into weapons or have strategic value. The group used most of these although I think they were looking forward to a challenging battle and not a TPK :) I also tried to emerge them into the story with aged paper letters and journal entries. Lastly, I introduced a puzzle to remind everyone that non-combat encounters can exist. Despite the frustration over the TPK I think this was a memorial session! (At least I hope it was!)