So this past Friday I ran a great session of Halloween themed Labyrinth Lord. I had three players, so it was decided that each would roll up a primary character, and then bring along a hireling to bulk up the party.
DH played Ezekiel the Younger, an aged magic user with his long suffering fighter hireling Floyd, who was hired in Briggs' Tavern back in Strangledorf as the winner of an arm wrestling contest. Charles played Iandor the Cleric, who went to the local alchemist and purchased the services of Gorm, a homanculus (which is one of the unique player classes I created for this evening to replace the usual Tolkeinian elves, dwarves, and halflings with something more Gothic and Halloweeny) and Joe played Grar, a barbaric fighter who retained the overqualified services of Vaan the Thief.
The adventure began as the group made their weary way down the road through the haunted valley known as Ghoulardia Pass, trudging past the graveyard and Lake Zacherly as the black stone watchtower known as Cardille Keep loomed over the dark pine forests up the mountainside. It was late at night, with the pale light of the full moon adding to the chill in the mountain air, so the group headed toward an old hunting lodge they could see at a fork in the road past the graveyard, a cheery light burning in the window.
After knocking on the door and receiving no answer, the impetuous Grar forced the door, and found that the living room inside had been torn to shreds, and the light they had seen was actually the rug burning from an overturned oil lamp. As the party went inside and set about searching the room, a deep, ominous growl sounded from the depths of a darkened doorway leading out of the smashed parlor. Moments later, the terrifying figure of a female werewolf stepped into the flickering firelight and sprang to attack.
As Ezekiel's servant Floyd stepped up to defend his master, striking ineffectively with his hammer on the creature's magically protected hide, Grar grabbed up the burning rug from the floor and threw it over her head. While the flames did the beast no harm, being suddenly blinded and on fire caused her to panic nonetheless, and she fled the room and crashed through a window and fled into the night.
The party couldn't rest for long, however, as the creature's mate, an even bigger specimen of lycanthropy, surged into the room from another doorway. Grar, Floyd, and Gorm moved to face this new threat, as Ezekiel took the opportunity to cast "Charm Monster", which brought the werebeast handily under his control. The monstrous wolf beast was dubbed "Mister Barky" by the simple minded Grar, and became a powerful ally for the party under Ezekiel's control.
Moments later, the female werewolf returned, having cast off the burning rug and circled back to defend her lair. She was nonplussed to find her mate bristling and growling in her path, defending the strangers. Ezekiel ordered his hireling fighter to take the mage's silver dagger and take part in the confrontation, but the prospect of stepping between two quarreling supernatural beasts with a mere dagger in hand caused Floyd to exercise his discretion as an employee. The she wolf snarled back at her mate in defiance, but after a brief scuffle was pinned to the floor with emphasis by the magically charmed male. When the werewolfess was allowed to regain her feet she fled the cabin for good, howling in confusion and dismay.
The werewolves subdued or defeated, the party set about searching the premises. They found three magical crossbow bolts in a chest at the foot of a bed which was currently occupied by the torn carcass of a deer, and also found a crossbow and 20 bolts, a spear, and two hand axes in a room full of hunting trophies.
It was in the ransacked larder that the party found a small stone well capped by a wooden cover. When it was removed, a vertical shaft with iron rungs leading down into the depths was revealed. The party formed up, and climbed down into the darkness.
Down below, they found a long hallway of rough carved earth shored up by crude timbers, that eventually came to a fog shrouded crossroads where visibility was reduced to a mere ten feet. They decided to turn left, and headed in a Westerly direction, until they out of the fog and reached a chamber hung with pale, trailing roots from the forest above. The impetuous Grar strode into the room, shoving the woven tendrils aside, but as he did so he caused the weakened roof of the chamber to collapse on him. Once the dust had cleared, the night sky was visible above, ringed round by the jutting branches of pine trees. Iandor activated his trusty Rope of Climbing, and the party climbed up to scout the opening, finding it had opened in the forests up the hillside from the hunting lodge.
Grar decided to clear a path through the room by pushing through the roof with his shield held over his head, which he proceeded to do, collapsing several more sections of ceiling but avoiding any further head injuries in doing so. The group paused and explored a side passage that ended in a small fountain fed by a pure, natural spring, before ascending a staircase they found at the opposite end of the room of roots.
At the top of the stairway, they found a worked stone hall leading to a rusted iron door, upon which hung an ironwork skeleton with an archaic breastplate and helm. Scroll work beneath the black iron bones was engraved with the name "Count Gore De Vol and his Legion"
As usual, Grar was the first to the door, and he took it upon himself to knock. This proved to be his undoing, as his ringing blows on the iron skull activated a poison dart trap in the sculpture's mouth. The mighty fighter stiffened, and fell back dead.
Saddened by the sudden loss of his employer, Vaan the Thief stepped forward and inspected the door carefully, picking the lock with ease and determining that the dart that had felled Grar was indeed the final projectile. After conferring for a few moments, the party decided to let Iandor use his Animate Dead spell, and brought Grar to his feet as a zombie. With the now lifeless body Grar and Gorm in the lead, they opened the door.
Beyond they found an ossuary, with piles of bones and skulls stacked around the room beneath crossed scythes. In the center of the west end of the chamber, they found a dark metal sarcophagus with a bright metal sword laying on its featureless lid. They ordered Grar to pick up the sword, but when they did a chilling howl filled the room, and the angry specter of the Count appeared. It surged forward and planted it's clawed hand on the zombie's chest, and its life sapping touch reduced the party's undead companion to a withered, motionless husk that dropped to the floor and crumbled on the flagstones. As the party closed ranks, eight skeletons pieced themselves together from the bone piles in the ossuary, grabbing scythes off of the walls and charging the interlopers. The specter's chilling grasp landed on poor Gorm, who became weakened under the apparition's life destroying touch.
At this point Iandor held high his holy symbol and rebuked the phantom, turning it so that it fled to one of the far corners of the crypt. From there the battle went quickly, as skeletons fell, mostly from the deft strokes of Vaan the Theif. Being stupid automatons, they wasted their blows on Mr. Barky as the others fended them off. Soon, it was just the party and the specter, which cowered against the far wall hissing and cursing as the adventurers planned their next move. They knew if they pressed their attack against the haunt it would lash out, holy symbol or not, and they knew its soul draining touch would be fatal for any of the group. It was decided that since Gorm could be brought back to life with a cure spell and a lightning bolt, that he would lead the charge against the creature, with Iandor's vial of holy water as a second wave of attack, and a lightning bolt from Ezekiel as a last resort. They pulled the sword in the crypt loose from the sarcophagus with difficulty, as the coffin's surface was magnetic, and hoped that the sword was magical enough to affect the specter.
With that, Gorm charged, and laid a mighty blow on the haunt. The sword he held was indeed a powerful tool against the undead, and the specter's incorporeal form was split nearly in two. Floyd charged forward and hurled the holy water vial, striking right in its heart and causing the thing to boil away in a hiss of ectoplasm with a final muttered curse.
The elderly wizard hatched a plan with Vaan the theif to go and stab Morgus in the back, casting an invisibility spell on him. They couldn't get Gorm to part with the magical sword, so he merely carried his own short blade to do the deed, finding Morgus shaking his gnarled fist at a collection of ruffians composed of four human fighters, a homanculus, and a grimling.
Unfortunately, Vaan's tread echoed in the closed space, and Morgus was vaguely alerted to his presence. He turned and tried to cast Hold Person, but missed. Vaan decided to cut his losses, literally, and took a stab at Morgus, then bolted using the Boots of Striding that he'd "inherited" from his former employer Grar. The rival evil wizard shouted for his flunkies to give chase, and they pursued him, stopping short as they found themselves faced by the party and its lycanthropic ally. With a shout the ruffians charged, and the battle was joined.
Soon, it became apparent that the fight was reaching a stalemate, although Ezekiel cast a charm person spell and gained one of the ruffians for the party's side, and a Hold Person spell froze the hapless grimling in place. Morgus came around the corner and was thoroughly nonplussed to see Ezekiel there, and called off his men for a parley, revealing he'd had a map to a treasure down in the maze. He was prepared to bargain a share of the wealth in exchange for a way out of the catacombs, for a collapse had closed off the tunnel that he and his lackeys had made to get in. Reluctantly, the party agreed, and led them through the dark tunnels.
When the group reached the crypt, Morgus revealed that there was a huge sum of gold to be found in the sarcophagus. As soon as they laid eyes on all the coins, the party decided to end the truce and attacked. Morgus attempted to take control of Mister Barky, but failed to do anything more than release the beast from Ezekiel's control. Faced with an angry, uncontrolled werewolf in their midst, the party and their rivals scattered and fled the scene, ending the adventure for the time being.
All in all, a good session, but as DH pointed out in his recap, I kind of brought things to a clumsy stop at the end. I probably should have let the combat play out naturally rather than have Morgus call off hostilities prematurely. All I can say was I was feeling short on time (it was 11:00 or so when this phase of the adventure rolled around) and didn't want to make anybody stay late. In retrospect, I should have just let it flow. Heck, I didn't have to go anyplace, I could have gone all night if I'd wanted.
Anyway, all that aside it was a hoot of a session, full of thrills and chills and totally in the spirit of Halloween. Labyrinth Lord was a breeze to run, and all told the old school style really suited the session. My players were all in excellent form, and a great, ghoulish time was had by all.
Bwah hah hah hah haaaah!
By the by. Stay tuned. Soon I'll post about the alternate classes I used to give this session its more monstrous feel.