Nighthawks

Search for the Vampire Princess' Sword
... let's get this party started!

Players created their characters:

Lazlo – Dwarven Artificer/Alchemist, working the Nighthawk as the engineer

Nez – Half-Elven Warlock, first mate of the ship

Eldeus – Human Wizard, ship's cook

Shylo – Halfling Rogue, deck hand and frequent assistant cook

Scruffy – Human Tempus fighter, deck hand

On the first night:

The ship was docked at the Capital and the Captain (Lathario Jones) was out investigating a new mission.  Lazlo crept off the ship (seldom seen, he's shy) and visited an alchemists shop in the city, which Eldeus and Scruffy went in search of food stuffs.

Shylo, meanwhile, truly erred while trying to lift some goods, and Nez had to go ashore to bail her out.  The town guards apparently know her by reputation and after a short time in jail, she was released to Nez, who gave her kitchen duty (again).

On the way back to the ship, the characters crossed paths (lucky them!) and heard three thugs (not really thugs!) trying to bully Eldeus and Scruffy out of their purchased provisions.  A fight ensued (of course).  A fourth member of the gang showed up on the room with a bow, and Scruffy was dropped twice.  Others were injured, but not as seriously.  Lazlo was key in bringing Scruffy back up.

The assailants were overcome, with a quick two weapon fighter surrendering, and the the bowman and mage escaping.  The big brute fighter was dropped, but not killed and was helped away by the slick fighter after Scruffy took his belt and his swords.

The crew quickly returned to the ship without incident, and the captain told Nez about their destination in the Northern part of the No Mans Land.  Nez and the captain decide to fly through the pass, even though the longer trip around would be safer.

(At this point, Shylo's player had to leave, so Shylo was consigned to the kitchen until she could return).

The ship reached the pass uneventfully (not unexpected, considering the civilized lands they flew over).  They entered the pass on the evening of the third day.  That night, Lazlo and Scruffy had watch.  Lazlo spotted what looked like large birds carrying smallish creatures.

It was the Kobold air force, attacking with hang-gliders!

A short, fierce fight ensued.  Most of the minions were dispatched by a well-placed acid wall by Lazlo.  Scruffy went toe-to-toe with the leader in a brutal fight, with Eldeus sniping and harrying those trying to sabotage the ship.  Nez was almost done in by a knee chop, but still managed to take out here assailant who wound up screaming and throwing himself off the ship in terror.

The night ends, players garner 295 xp.

New Character Joins Crew

Scrag – Dragonborn Paladin, deckhand

Second Night:

The rest of the flight was uneventful, and the end of the next day they approached the location where the captain Jones told them the tomb was located.  Unfortunately for them, two ships were ground anchored.  Smaller, but more agile than the Nighthawk, it was too risky to approach by air, so the captain ordered them to hide behind a nearby ridge.

The ship was anchored approx. 30 feet in the air and the crew climbed down ladders and set off on foot.  After an hour hike, they were looking down on a campsite and could see a rather large contingent of people gathered around the entrance to a large tomb.

The captain assured the others that he knew the opening word, and that since they weren't already in, the interlopers did not. While they counted the possible opponents (20+ on the ground, and an unknown number still on the two ground anchored ships above them), Lazlo, hanging back like normal up to this point, felt a tap on his shoulder from behind.

Turning, he saw a small kobold, done up in a lot of small animal skulls and painted with war paint.

"Come!  Follow Scales!" the diminutive kobold whispered.  Lazlo quick assumed the worst and tried to swing at the agile kobold, but failed to hit.  Dodging and weaving, the kobold led him further from the group.

Lazlo, realizing he might be walking into a trap, called out to the others, who came running.

"No!  No hurt Scales! Scales want to help you!  Embarrass Big Goblins helping your kind in valley, Kobolds then trick them into traps and drive them away!"

"How can you help us?" was the general consensus from the party.

"Scales know back way into the stone place!  Come follow me, we go up top of cliff, behind trees.   Quiet now!  Or the big gobs'll get us!"

The group followed as quietly as they could.  If you can imagine a  dragonborn paladin behind quiet, you are better off than Scrag, who managed to get hung up on every branch and tree limb all the way to the cliff top.  Only his dedication to his god, the mighty Bahamut, kept him from swearing out loud.  The hobgoblins below, in a display of overconfidence, heard the ruckus and laughed, imagining a hunt for kobolds to fill the supper pot the next day.

Soon, the small kobold led to them to a stone plug, weathered and worn atop the cliff.  Then he scampered off, reminding them to embarrass the gobs for him.

Acting quickly, they maneuvered the plug out of the hole, and peered down into the depths.  Iron rungs descended into darkness.   Alduin picked up a rock, waved his hands over it and dropped the now glowing stone into the hole.

It was only thirty odd feet deep, so they clambered down in single file.  The bottom of the whole was a small passage running east and west, parallel to the cliff. The bottom was covered in dead plant life and loose rubble. The near east wall was pock marked with small holes, and the north and south walls had  gnarled roots poking through it.  As they began to head west to the far end, a glow appeared at the holes on the east wall, and large ants pored through the wall.  The captain began clambering up the ladder, and the rest of the group split up.  The fighter, and paladin to face the ants, and the others to provide back up.

As they moved back west, they saw two things:  the passage was only a total of fifty feet long and ended in what looked like the geared up back side of a secret passage, and that a horde of rats was pouring in through holes in it. They were caught!

A desperate fight ensued.  The rats were quickly overcome, while the ants proved more difficult.  They were almost too beautiful to strike, and several times the fighter and the paladin found themselves unable to force themselves to strike them.  Then, when they had almost won, the entire remaining ant swarm shimmered, and then appeared in the midst of the back row, but it was too little, too late and they were quickly dispatched at that point.

The captain applauded their efforts from above and clambered down to examine the back side of the door with them.  Quickly, they figured out how to open the door and stepped through.

They now stood in the main entry way.  To the south stood the massive main doors to the tomb.  The place they now stood in narrowed down to a stairway which descended into darkness.

Gleefully, the captain ordered them down the stairs to the sword.

At the bottom of the stairs, they found themselves facing a square room, with elaborately carved archways leading off to the four points of the compass.  The south door, from which they entered had no words inscribed above it.  The three remaining arches did.  The captain translated them to say, "Choose wisely."   Thick dust covered the floor, undisturbed for ages.

Trying to be helpful, Scrag began to clear the floor of the dust by kicking it clear.  Half way across the room, a sigil on the floor glowed blue when he stepped on it.  He froze.  Eldeus crept close and scryed the runes meaning.  It appeared that the paladin had just activated the magical defenses of the tomb,

Shylo was quick to point out the value of having the rogue look at things first.

Damage done, the party peered down the remaining three passages.  Eldeus was of the opinion that since they never do the right thing anyway, the left passage should be their first choice.

The left passage revealed a collapsed tunnel.   The party came to the conclusion that previous explorers had triggered the trap and that it was the wrong passage.

The center and right passages were too long to see to the end of.  In a burst of brilliance, the paladin decided to visit the cave-in for a chunk of rubble to pitch down the passages to set off any traps waiting for them.  As the reached the pile of rubble, a ten ton block crashed down from the ceiling, and nothing was left.

Silence and shock followed the impact.  A few moments later, the block raised back up to the ceiling.  In a panic, Scruffy ran over to the trap to try and recover the body and the trap triggered a second time.

(Of course, by this time, the audience must realize that the characters were not dead, but the players played it beautifully, each beginning to create new characters).

At this time, the rest of the party noticed there were no crushed remains under the trap.  Soon all members but Shylo went through the trap.  Shylo had trouble going through a known trap.  She was almost killed trying to outwit the trap while trying to trigger it at the same time.

The party was gathered together 10' below.  When the trap was triggered, the block fell and the floor moved down at the same time.  Step off the floor into the newly revealed north passage and the floor went up and the trap reset.

So, now the party was trapped down in the tomb.  Only none of them had considered that yet.  A pack by the door contained a small number of coins and a gem.

Moving down the short passage, they came upon a narrow room.  Skeletons stood in niches along each side.  The far side of the room was a door shaped like a vampires mouth.  From the mouth, running almost to the south door came a 10' wide stream of blood-red fluid.  It wasn't blood, because the room smelled of sulfur, not rust.

One by one, the skeletons came to life and attacked the party.  A fierce battle ensued, and Scrag proved his mettle time and again against them, though grievously struck several times.  During the battle it was discovered that the fluid was flammable, and filled with deadly, necrotic energy.

Victorious, but weary, the players decided to take an extended rest and since only the dead 'lived' down here, nothing happened.

Rested and full of vigor, they entered the final chamber.

15' tall statues of vampire warriors lined the sides of the diamond shaped room.  The center of the room was dominated by a 30' square dais raised 5' off the floor.  Urns decorated the corners of the dais, and a sarcophagus lay at its center.

Quickly, Scruffy, Scrag and Eldeus moved to remove the lid.  And to no one's real surprise, the occupant took offense.  A fierce battle ensued, with a pack of dire rats being summoned to aide in the battle, but falling to another acid wall.  After a tough battle, the day was won and the vampire princes' sword lay at the bottom of the final resting place.

Leery of actually touching the blade, Eldeus used the mage hand spell to move the sword to a floating disc of force.  A search of the room revealed three of the urns contained dry, dessicated food baskets, while the last contained a basket of seemingly fresh, tasty food.

Devious use of mage hand in the red stream retrieved a few lost shurikens from the battle with the skeletons, along with another small pile of coins.  The characters were feeling flush with victory and the night came to a close…

The night ends as the players each pocket 400 xp, for a total of 695 xp.

Final moves

The night begins with the characters taking a short rest. During the short rest, Scruffy and Alduin place the Vampire Princesses sword in Scruffy's scabbard and wrap the handle of the sword in Alduin's cloak. They leave Scruffy’s old broad sword lying on the ground in the blood stream room where they rested.

As they wrapped this up, Scrag and Shylo set about trying to find a trigger or other passage out of this area. They searched the hallway where the trick elevator deposited them into the level to no avail. In the middle of the search, with a load crunch and sudden flash of movement, a hobgoblin appeared as the trap was triggered from above. The hobgoblin was bent over, as if picking up rock or something.

Stunned, no one moved. Until with a shout Scruffy entered the fray. Making an error of epic proportions, Scruffy leaped into the fray and accidentally drew the vampire sword, discovering it was intelligent, malevolent and powerful. As he hit the platform, the whole unit reset and slammed them both up to the top level.

Scruffy could see three more hobgoblins in the sigil room. But he didn’t care. With the sword screaming “Kill!” in his mind, he struck the hobgblin standing next to him and reduced it to a dry withered husk, which sent him back down to the group.

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