Undead Fire Fight
Last we left our heroes they had decided to back track to the Forge of Spells in the hope of re-enchanting their weapons before delving deeper into the mines. Outside the Forge of Spell room they were set upon by four ghouls.
Aurelia winning the initiative raced up the stairs dodging the halflings in front of her to get a bead on the ghouls at the opposite end of the cavern. Lining up a ghoul and scoring two solid hits she disintegrated the foul beast in a hail of eldritch blasts for 25 damage. Merric quickly recovered and moved into the centre of the cavern but being unable to reach them set himself up to dodge, preparing for the ghouls to attack him first.
Having a clear target with Merric still wearing the driftglobe as a helmet, the three ghouls raced forward and set upon him with their claws. Two successfully scored a hit for 13 damage forcing him to roll his con save or become paralysed. His second save he rolled a 1, but due to the halfling Lucky trait got a reroll and passed.
*Aww that would’ve been really fun to play out… Wait am I the evil guy here?*
Moving forward to stand by his fellow halfling and spoon *inside joke, refer earlier session* Wendel became a blur of staff and unarmed strikes felling another ghoul. Asterin raced up the stairs and casting Firebolt at the ghoul attacking Merric for 5 fire damage.
Another round of Aurelia’s eldritch blast and 19 force damage later saw another Ghoul smouldering at Merric’s feet. *What the hell? Tam had certainly been blessed with lucky rolls tonight.* With only one ghoul left Merric struck with his blade scoring 13 slashing damage, retaliating the Ghoul successfully dealt a further 13 damage clawing the fighter, however Merric still succeeded on his Con save.
Wendel opted to finish off the creature, spinning his staff rolled a 1 to hit *but halfling lucky trait again* rerolling for a combined total of 19 bludgeoning damage. In full momentum Wendel came out with a unarmed strike *hold up Sparky it’s dead!* but the creature had already collapsed.
*Wow just wow. That was a lot of damage dealt by the players. However, Merric did take a considerable beating soaking up 26 damage. *
Moving into the Spell Forge room Asterin knew instantly that something had changed with the magical energy of the room *Arcana check 12, the rest failed* Investigating further Asterin discovered that the green flamed brazier had been tampered with and that several runes had been damaged. Any further enchantments that the forge provided would be unstable with unknown outcomes.
*The players had forgotten that Mormesk the Wraith had asked them to remove the Spectator creature in this room, which they not only did but also reported to him for the reward. With the Forge of Spells now empty it allowed the hatred filled wraith to enter his old workspace, old memories of life cut short only angered the wraith more and lashing out he damaged the brazier. *
Attempts to test the brazier’s remaining enchantment energies resulted in a teleporting dagger which appeared to have no latent magical ability. The party opted to try for a short rest in the room but were interrupted by another wandering group of three ghouls. Seeing the sisters on lookout at the double doors the decaying creatures raced towards them.
*The party had already dealt with the Black Spider who had retreated from the mines with his forces. They had been previously keeping the undead busy with a primitive blockade to the west. With these forces gone, the undead were left completely unchecked seeking out any remanent of life remaining in the mines.*
Winning the initiative order the three ghouls got the jump on the two sisters swiping at them through the broken doors with their claws. Three strikes, two missed and one was blocked by Aurelia’s sudden shield spell. Aurelia drew her crescent claw blade and struck out with Green Flame Blade for 10 damage, further burning an adjacent ghoul for 10 fire damage.
With the door blocked by Asterin and Aurelia, Wendel drew out his short bow scoring two hits and 15 piercing damage killing the ghoul in front of Aurelia, creating a gap in the door which Merric quickly took advantage of. Ducking around Aurelia and through the door, Merric pierced a ghoul with his rapier for 19 damage killing the beast in front of Asterin.
Clearly annoyed at the sudden appearance of the halfling the last ghoul slashed towards Merric for 8 damage, fortunately Merric made his con save *sigh again*. Another round of melee from Aurelia for 10 damage and Wendel stepped through the now clear doorway to finish the last ghoul off with his staff.
With their short rest now over Merric wisely used his hit dice to restore some of his health which had taken a beating from the two fights with the ghouls. Knowing where the undead presence was coming from the party boldly moved west to end it once and for all. Deciding to use stealth, the group snuck into the smelter room setting the scene for the final confrontation.
A blast furnace and a mechanical bellows powered by a waterwheel dominate the large chamber. The furnace was cold and dark, but heaps of coal are piled nearby, along with carts full of unrefined ore. The waterwheel sits in a ten-foot-wide channel cut into the floor of the room, but the channel is dry.
Passages exit to the west, south, and east. The empty channel exits to the north and east. More than a dozen withered corpses are scattered around the room. These slain dwarves and orcs are still wearing the remnants of their armor. Floating above them is a skull engulfed in green flame.
Unfortunately, 50% of the party did not succeed their stealth rolls, this was partly due to Merric in front with the Driftglobe blazing away making the stealth roll rather high. The Flameskull screamed at the group “Begone Intruders!” as 8 of the corpses got to their feet. *Zombies!!*
*With monsters I allow the players to roll to see whether they know anything about it. Due to the origins of a Flameskull players could decide on Arcana or Religion to identify it. Both Asterin & Aurelia rolled for Arcana and the halflings opted not to roll believing that their characters would never have experienced nor heard about this sort of creature*
Asterin succeeded and recalled that the Flameskull was an undead that was constructed from a dead wizard so had access to spells. Although they could be defeated, they couldn’t be destroyed and would resurrect after an hour unless the body was destroyed by holy water, dispel magic or remove curse spells, none of which the party had. *They really should have checked in town with Sister Garaele who could have provided holy water.*
Boldly Asterin moved into the centre of the room casting Thunderwave on 3 of the zombies, but only caught one zombie in the wave. *nimble zombies they were too, rolling 2x 20s!* 4 thunder damage to two zombies, the third zombie was hit with 8 damage and pushed into the canal for a further 3 fall damage. The loud noise of Thunderwave echoed throughout the mine.
*Yeah, this is going to come back and bite the group. That noise has 300ft range. Someone had forgotten about the map of the mine from the Black Spider that indicated more undead in the room to the south. *
The Flameskull floated up about the smelter and summoned the Flaming Sphere beside Asterin. With Asterin being the only source of holy magic and therefore the greatest threat to the creature, it focused its attention upon the cleric ramming the sphere into her scoring 8 fire damage.
Wendel moved to intercept the rising zombies around the south entrance, but despite hitting 3 times and scoring 19 damage was unable to fell even one. The zombies turn they swarmed both Asterin and Wendel, with the lone zombie in the canal failing its climb check remaining where it was.
The two zombies on Asterin missed their attacks. However, the three of the four zombies on Wendel successfully hit the halfling with their slam attacks for a total of 18 bludgeoning damage. It was Merric’s turn to help out Wendel and leaping into the fray, but despite scoring 21 damage to the zombie on Wendel’s flank it remained standing. Although passing his dex save, Merric ended his turn too close to the flaming sphere and received 3 fire damage.
Concerned about the attacks upon her sister, taking cover in the passageway Aurelia scores 20 force damage, removing a zombie on Asterin’s flank with her Eldritch Blasts. Unleashing her own magic, Asterin hits out in melee at the remaining zombie by her side. Summoning Green Flame Blade she burns into both it and the zombie in the canal for 16 and 8 damage respectfully, but it’s not enough to destroy the creature. Concerned with the flaming sphere, Asterin steps out of reach narrowing avoiding the Zombie’s attack of opportunity.
Filled with malice towards the group, the Flameskull flies over the smelter landing on the opposite of the canal, protected from melee range. Leering at Merric it casts Fire Ray scoring 12 fire damage and then redirecting the flaming sphere to smash into Asterin once more. Failing her dex save, Asterin takes 5 fire damage.
Wendel now surrounded by zombies burns through his kii and becomes a whirling dervish of death killing two of the already injured zombies and striking out at a third. A combination of flurry of blows and hands of harm dealt 23 damage to the third zombie, although showing signs of heavy damage remained standing.
*It didn’t occur to me until after Wendel taking out two zombies that I had neglected to utilise the Zombie’s Undead Fortitude trait. It is doubtful that it would make much difference with the amount of damage dealt this round, but it was recalled for future rounds. *
With only four zombies left, with one still stuck in the canal failing its climbing checks, one attempted to slam into Asterin but missed and the remaining two missed their attacks upon Merric. Retaliating at the zombies Merric is able to score 21 damage, but it remained standing. Moving around the creature, Merric stood as clear away from the flaming sphere this time.
Fed up with the flameskull overseeing the fight from relative safety, Aurelia lined herself up and successfully scored the construct with one of her Eldritch Blasts for 7 damage, hoping to break its concentration on the flaming sphere, however the Flameskull passed its check. Asterin once again used her Green Flame Blade to finally vanquish the zombie in melee for 12 fire damage and burning the zombie stuck in the canal for 5 fire damage. *lol this zombie has been stuck in the canal for the whole battle thus far.*
With his undead minions mostly dead the Flameskull grins wickedly and a ball of fire streaks out landing between the party catching everyone (except the canal zombie) in a fireball for 29 fire damage. *Woot fireball!* Aurelia and Wendel pass their dex save, Asterin, Merric & the zombie do not. Merric’s eyes holds back the pain as the zombie is consumed in flame. Although Aurelia seemed smug with her fire resistance bringing the damage down to only 7, her eyes widen in fright as her sister Asterin collapsed to the ground unconscious.
“Wendel! Heal my sister!” shouted Aurelia. The Flameskull wasn’t finished yet and rammed the flaming sphere into Merric who failed his dex save again and taking 5 more fire damage. Merric was in bad shape.
Wendel hearing Aurelia’s shouts, dodged around the burning Merric and the flaming sphere to lay hands of healing on the fallen cleric stabilising her with 8 health. Asterin is brought back to consciousness to see the zombie finally climb out of the canal and moaning attempts to slam into her… completely missing her.
Merric quickly makes use of his second wind but rolled very low only receiving 6 health so retreated back out of harms way into the passageway beside Aurelia, drinking a health potion for a further 6 hp. Aurelia glared at the Flameskull angrily and bringing her hands forward screamed out eldritch energy towards the creature scoring a whooping 24 damage resulting in the Flameskull failing its concentration check. The flaming sphere fizzles and disappears.
Scrambling to her feet, Asterin immediately cast Cure Wounds at 3rd Level restoring 15 health, but not wanting to provoke an attack from the zombie remained where she was. The damage from Aurelia’s eldritch blasts has taken the Flameskull completely by surprise, concerned for its safety it immediately cast blur and got ready to unleash some more fire damage next turn.
Wendel confused about what the party was doing, quickly felled the remaining zombie then fled into the passageway beside Aurelia and Merric. “What are we doing guys? Are we running?” he asked. As if in answer, Merric puts away his shield and moves further into the passageway to hide behind Wendel, concern with taking any further hits.
Aurelia looked down at the two halfling beside her. Shaking her head she moved to the front of passageway glaring at the Flameskull. Despite the disadvantage due to Blur, she hit the creature with one of her Eldritch Blasts for 14 damage. A streak of pink eldritch energy lit up the Flameskull, its green flames being consumed in the pink hailstorm. In its death throws the creature screamed up towards the ceiling, as fireworks burst from its eyes before it exploded into pink flame.
*Aurelia had taken out the Flameskull single handed, while the rest of the group had kept all the zombies busy. That was some ridiculous damage rolls. *
But it wasn’t over yet as Asterin and Aurelia detected movement from the southern corridor as 5 more ghouls entered the room. *Remember that initial Thunderwave? It took 4 turns for the adjacent undead to arrive. * Aurelia retreated back into the passageway as Asterin lined up a Scorching Ray catching two of the creatures for 4 & 7 fire damage before retreating behind her sister in the passageway.
Wendel takes out his shortbow and readies an attack but is unable to see anything as Merric is holding the Driftglobe and is further down the passageway. Instead, he sets up patient defence as his bonus action and gets ready. Resigned to further combat, Merric re-equips his shield and steps forward to illuminate the area.
It’s worked thus far, so Aurelia repeats her actions moving to the corner and kills a ghoul outright with Eldritch Blast before retreating once more. Asterin running low on spells, launches a firebolt scoring 15 damage herself and killing an already damaged ghoul. Following suit Wendel pops forward with an arrow from his shortbow, but only hits once for 6 piercing damage, before jumping back behind Merric.
The remaining three ghouls move forward surrounding Merric and getting into melee with Aurelia. Missing Merric with their claws, they succeed is striking Aurelia for 7 damage, fortunately Aurelia rolls a dirty 20 on her con save. Using his sentinel feat, Merric retaliates at the ghoul striking Aurelia, but misses. Still it’s his turn anyway so he continues slashing at the creature scoring a 21 damage. Although hurt, it remained standing.
Aurelia’s green flame blade lashed out at the creature but failed to score a hit. It seemed that the rolls were against the party, as Asterin also failed to hit with her Firebolt. Wendel, reaching out diagonally, smashes the ghoul in front of Aurelia for only 2 damage, but it’s enough as the creature slumps to the ground. Stepping over the fallen ghoul Wendel continues with a kick towards an injured ghoul hitting for 7 bludgeoning damage.
Annoyed at the halfling monk, one of ghouls swipes its claws at Wendel, but completely misses. Merric reacts with his sentinel feat and this time scores 9 damage. The other ghoul doesn’t fare any better swiping at Merric and missing. Dodging a claw, Merric lashes back at the ghoul scoring 9 damage felling the beast then rounding on the remaining ghoul dealing another 10 damage.
Grinning Aurelia heroically saves Wendel blasting the ghoul with her pink eldritch blasts for 19 damage killing it. “My hero,” she claims sarcastically at the halfling as the ghoul smoulders in front of them.
With the sounds of battle dying away, the party sighs, it was a tough fight. Asterin quickly informs them about the Flameskull’s potential resurrection within the hour and not having the spells or abilities to stop it. Resolved the party discuss to themselves what to do.
*Anyone who is familiar with Matt Mercer and Critical Role will also be familiar with the group ritual mechanic he uses for when players want or need to do something that is beyond their current abilities. Usually when attempting to resurrect someone. I’ve enjoyed this mechanic and give our players the same opportunity when I can.*
Asterin is determined and approaches the Flameskull’s body. Sitting down she enacts a ritual praying to her god Aerdrie Faenya for guidance and aid to vanquish the Flameskull. Wendel steps forward to assist with passing the soul of the dead wizard imbuing the Flameskull using a kii point to do so. Suspecting that her pact weapon is capable of absorbing life essence, Aurelia brandishes her blade and joins them. Merric noticing a change in the group, remains respectful and quiet.
The following checks were made:
- Religion check for Asterin. Roll of 19.
- Medicine check for Wendel. Roll of 18.
- Melee strike for Aurelia. Roll of 25.
As Asterin knelt praying to Aerdrie Faenya a soft light fills the room accompanied by angelic music. A single dove feather appears from the light and floats down to rest of the creature’s body. Kii energy builds up within Wendel’s hands as he places his palm to the side of the skull as he connects with the trapped soul, realigning it and guiding it towards crossing over. Aurelia walks around her kneeling companions, raising her Crescent claw above her head point down she concentrates her patron’s powers into the blade. The weapon glows a sickly red as it reaches crescendo, and she drives the blade down into the skull forehead.
The energy of the skull breaks, and the creature’s body transforms into floating motes of light as it slowly disintegrates into thin air. With the creature now vanquished everyone can feel a change to the air of the mine. Whatever foul presence was inhabiting the place is no more.
Re-joining with the Rockseeker brothers the group leave the mine behind to return to town. On the way they discuss the future of the mine and the 10% royalty that the party would receive. Wendel advises that he was never interested in the wealth and was happy to make the world a little safer. He requests that his portion is donated to the local orphanage.
Somewhat shocked by the request the brothers instead offer to build a new orphanage and school with Wendel’s proceeds going to fund the construction and continual maintenance. They make this offer with the request that the buildings are built in honor of their fallen elder brother, Tharden, who always had a soft spot for children. Wendel loves the idea and can’t wait to talk to Sister Garaele about the project.
The party arrives back in town as the day is beginning to fade and when the townsfolk hear of vanquishing of the Black Spider and the new mine they are overjoyed at the news. A valuable mine and removal of the head of the brigands will guarantee the future of Phandalin for a long time to come and the entire town throws an informal party to honor the group. *Who still haven’t come up with a name I might add.*
With the sun setting in the distance the party are happy and have earnt an opportunity for a couple of weeks downtime. Drunk in their revelry the town people fail to notice not everyone is overjoyed with the party’s success. Griska is nowhere in sight and Wendel can’t shake off the feeling of wandering eyes. As if a knife was pointed at his back ready to strike.
*Thus ends the Lost Mines of Phandelver, with the party at level 6. There will be a break in this narrative as I come up with some new homebrew content for the group to adventure through. In the meantime, we’ll have some narrative of our Call of Cthulhu one-shots that are run by Tam, our resident warlock Aurelia. These will be written from the players’ perspective by Sarah, as a chronicle of the unfolding horror. *