Session Report: Corpses for the Corpse Lion!

This is part 1 of The Barrow of the Old King, written by Daniel Sell and published in issue #1 of his zine The Undercroft.
Part 2

Campaign Date: July 12th, 1630 CE
Location: The estate of Baronet John Hotham of Scarborough, the surrounding countryside, and the Barrow of the Old King
Cast: Leif the Unbroken (Nic's Fighter), Raoul De Lorenzo (Ross's Magic-User), Mystery (Bill's Specialist), and Peter the True XXVII (Peter's Fighter).

After the horrific events at the Tower of the Stargazer, Mystery made her way back to the town of Abingdon. How she had survived the explosion of the tower was, well, a mystery (Bill was absent during the session, and was given an opportunity to escape at the start of this one, which succeeded). Once there, she sent messages to the relatives of her dead comrades who, by multiple quirks of fate also happened to be adventurers, and joined her in Abingdon. Mystery took a Haven turn recovering from the trauma of the tower and despondently gambling away silver.

Mystery and her new companions traveled to Hotham's estate to report on the events of the tower mission. Since they had technically been successful in ending the lightning storms and strange occurrences, Mystery was rewarded with 700sp* and given a new mission by Hotham's castellan, a Dwarf named Quinn who had advised the family for generations. There was, of course, the matter of the inheritance tax owed on the party's inn-in-progress in order to leave it to their relatives, which would be graciously waived in exchange for a favor: recovering a ring from a barrow within a dark forest. The forest was known to be occupied by savages who must not be allowed to live within Hotham's domain. Legends of the king buried there held him to be a slayer of giants in ages past, and there were surely treasures to be found within, which the party was free to keep in exchange for procurement of the ring.

*The Ref had assumed the PCs would be walking away with, like 12,000sp from the tower- if, ya know, they hadn't fucking blown it up on top of themselves.

Setting out on the road, the party traveled nearly a full day's journey, finding a large murder of crows feasting upon the body of a man in Parliamentarian garb in the road. The crows seemed to emanate malice towards the party as they approached the body, but flocked away to the trees nearby when threatened. The party searched the body, finding silver sewn inside his cloak and severing his hand, holding a dagger in rigor mortis. After arriving at the forest, they made camp and set a watch. After eating rations, they realized they had underprovisioned themselves and would need to forage for food. Unsuccessful Bushcraft rolls caused them to waste time and lots of ammunition. As the night fell, they heard the roar of a bear, which was uncanny, as there are no bears in England...

The next morning they found a stream filled with salmon and were able to catch enough for another full day. Moving on towards the heart of the forest where the barrow lay, they felt a strange chill in the air and a hint of frost on the trees, quite out of season in July. As the tomb came within sight, they found a dusting of snow on the ground. Scouting the exterior, they found several monoliths which Mystery noted bore carvings very similar to a stone found in Harmstead on her previous adventure.

The party ventured into the tomb, finding several mummified bears chained to a chariot and wrought iron doors to the left and right. After making sure the bears were dead, they examined the doors, which were attached to chains and pulleys to raise them. They raised the door to the left and hauled a rock in from outside to hold it in place while they examined the room on the other side. It was filled with ranks of iron soldiers standing at attention, and one toppled over, revealing a lacquered preserved skeleton inside. They found another door, which when opened spilled out a large pile of bones, many of them showing signs of claw marks. Digging through the pile, they found a collection of jewelry and well-preserved hide clothing totaling 75sp. Meanwhile, Raoul stood watch in the chariot room with a torch and musket propped on one of the bears.

The passing of time necessitated a random encounter roll, which resulted in Raoul hearing a strange clicking noise in the shadows. Failing a surprise roll, he was attacked by a "Corpse Lion", a huge grasshopper-like creature with a thirst for blood. Before he could even get off a shot he was laid low and bleeding out. Hearing him call out, Leif, Peter and Mystery rushed out to help him and were able to slay the Corpse Lion and another one hiding in the shadows. They were able to stabilize Raoul, and quickly loaded him into a wagon, sending Mystery back to Hotham's estate with all haste to get the aid of a doctor. Leif and Peter, showing a shocking lack of caution, decided to continue exploring on their own. They opened another room, revealing an impressive diorama depicting detailed vistas  along the forested hills, with a small castle in the center of the room, crafted of bone and surrounded by a moat of sparkling mercury. The two investigated the room, going inside the castle (sounds like a great idea, right?), which triggered a save versus Magic, which they both failed. They were whisked away into a vision in which they found themselves as passengers in the chariot from the main hall, leading a host of warriors toward an army of humans and giants. They were allowed another saving throw to wake from the vision, which Peter passed and Leif failed. He rode the chariot, a phantom passenger viewing through the eyes of the king, as he blocked arrows with his shield and trundled over the bodies of enemy soldiers. Unfortunately, he rode too close to a giant, and was crushed by the blow of a mighty fist. Back in reality, Peter saw his friend fly like a rag doll, propelled by some invisible force, and settle on the ground, broken. Oh, and Raoul died under the care of the doctor, because 17th century medicine is a bitch.

The adventure continues in episode 16: Uh, the Snow is Bleeding...

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