Last seen in the Battle of Hobgobiton, the Gnomeking of Gnomesville in Machodor was thought to have suffered some sort of disaster and, along with two regiments of Pegasus Dragoognomes, presumed dead.
|Trouble in Gnomesville|
|Mach Mandalf Missing!|
Previously, some player characters had travelled to Twin Peaks in Brovenloft and from there to Rome. A week later and now the Rome in Brovenloft had formed an alliance with Machodor, a state of affairs that took some of the player characters (and me too frankly) by surprise; but, in hindsight was inevitable given the shared religion and alignment of both powers.
The Machodor Adventurers Aid Society had quickly set up a branch in Rome, and here was holding on to the Silver Spike and the Flagon that had been retrieved from Gnomesville in Machodor.
This session was played on 07/Oct/2022 and the PCs adventured for 1 day.
"The Gnomeking needs me? I'm his top guy!" -- Amadeus (Human Cleric Level 6)
Drinking from the flagon transported the PCs West from Rome to the region the Mists of Brovenloft had manifested a Cursed copy of Gnomesville. They found themselves within the common room of the Big Persons' Inn. Featuring large windows and a single large door leading outside, it was usually the only suitable place for humans; but now there was a difference, the party had been shrunk down to gnome size themselves.
Taking this change in their (now somewhat shorter) stride, they searched the room and found nothing unusual, and another exit; a gnome sized trap door in the floor behind the bar counter. Outside it was dark and uninviting, the screams of Nightmare-Pegasi (a bizarre hybrid created by the Mists) could be heard, but the creatures themselves could not be seen; whether due to their being ethereal, or hidden in the low clouds, the party could not tell.
They opened the trap door and surprised someone coming up from below. This someone was wearing a large floppy hat and carrying a staff, and looked familiar; yes, it was Macho Mandalf! Or was it? A quick interrogation by the PCs revealed that he was, in fact, a copy of the Wizard they knew, created using the Level 7 spell Simulacrum. He had been sent to Gnomesville in the stead of the real Macho King, who was busy elsewhere, and now found himself in Brovenloft. He volunteer that, in wizarding terms, he was a mere Conjurer himself (which the party quickly identified as meaning he was level 3).
The Simulacrum lead the party down a spiral stair case, at the bottom of which was a square shaped room filled with barrels of food and water supplies. Everything was actually gnome sized, but by now the party had adjusted to the fact that they were too, so it all seemed normal. There was a door exiting the room in the centre of each of four of the walls and the floor showed signs of recent traffic. Mandalf told them he had searched this area previously and found one of the barrels had something scrawled on it in the Lawful Good Alignment Language;
"Gems are our desire, we cannot resist them."
They knew that the Gnomeking was lawful good, was this some kind of message from him? Putting that thought aside, the party now chose to investigate through the western door and found there a long corridor proceeded directly away. From this direction a disconcerting peal of laughter echoed as they formed up a marching order. The sound was almost chilling enough for them to go elsewhere; but, after some discussion, they agreed to light a fire arrow and shoot it down the corridor. At first nothing seemed to happen in response to this, but soon they could see a large group of grey skinned gnomes carrying weapons and shambling towards them.
Using the barrels the party set up a barricade at the doorway and from there readied themselves to hold the creatures at bay. Karshe (Human Fighter Level 3) was in the front rank, hankering to skewer some gnomes with his Military Trident +3. The Macho Mandalf Simulacrum brandished a wand and pointed out that, although he had never used it before, he was told it was indeed a wonderful wand. At this point he received a lot of negatives from the party, they recognised the description and knew the the random result of using the wand could be dangerous, useful, or both.
As the zombie gnomes closed with them Amadeus failed to turn the creatures, he felt due to strong evil in the area augmenting their resistance. Indeed, he normally would have been successful, and his failure resulted in a protracted battle that was notable for one particular ability of the enemy; upon a successful hit they drained a point of dexterity. By the end of the fight several of the henchmen and a party member were down by a few points. As to whether this loss was permanent, who could say?
A search of the bodies showed that they carried nothing of value, their weapons and equipment were rotted or corroded, so the party proceeded carefully in the direction the zombies had come from. The corridor opened into a chamber and they found themselves in a dining hall dominated by a large, heavy, wooden table with twenty seats. The settings were foul with rotten food and certainly held nothing valuable, but a thorough search did turn up something; writing scrawled under the seat of one of the chairs.
"Beware the smile that causes pain, once seen the damage soon comes."
There was a door at the end of the chamber and after passing through it without issue, they found a corridor that continued west for thirty feet before turning south. As they rounded the corner a fateful random encounter roll cut this whole mission short; the Cursed Gnomeking was out taking his Giant Weasels for a walk. They rounded the corner at the same time and were suddenly face to face!
|Amadeus at top right|
I had enjoyed putting together a themed encounter table for this location, and there was only a 1 in 96 chance of this encounter coming up (and that's only if I rolled a 1 on the encounter check!). So the party was immediately thrown into the deep end against a very powerful creature they had done little research into. There were many more clues scattered around the dungeon by the Gnomeking they had not yet seen. You see, the Cursed Gnomeking had a split personality. The dominant evil part was created by the Mists of Brovenloft; but, sometimes, his true lawful good alignment would briefly get the upper hand. This was why there were clues at all. Now he fought to control himself, but the Mists were stronger, all he could do was get out one last clue;
"The Spike is all you need to get to the heart of the matter."
The Cursed Gnomeking was a Gnome Vampire. To represent the internal conflict within him during the battle I rolled each round, with the results modifying his effective 'age'.
|From the 2e Ravenloft Monster Manual Appendix|
At full power the Cursed Gnomeking was 500+ on this table; but, fortunately for the party, on the first round he counted as 0-99. The party was also fortunate in that he chose this round, when he was at his relative weakest, to 'smile', which has the effect of an amped up Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter.
Technically, neither side was surprised, and they were too close to charge at each other, so the Giant Weasels attacked the front line and Shinji declared his go to spell; Hypnotic Pattern. The party won initiative and the spell held 4 of the 6 Weasels, which was to be vital for the party's survival.
Corvirius (Human Magic User Level 3) made himself invisible and brandished the blessed silver spike. I think Amadeus tried to turn the vampire (but if so it was ineffective). Some blows were traded between the front rank of Karshe, Vincent (Human Fighter level 1), the henchmen and the two remaining Weasels.
Knowing they were in trouble, in a panic the party had given the OK for Macho Mandalf to use his Wand of Wonder. Now, he pointed it at the enemy and intoned the command phrase, "Oh YEAH!" Darkness engulfed the corridor 30 feet away, which was of little use but at least did no damage to the party.
Now the Cursed Gnomeking Smiled at the party.
|2e Ravenloft Monster Manual Appendix|
Even a his lowest strength in this round, which meant there was no penalty to the saving throw, everyone except for Shinji and the Macho Mandalf Simulacrum failed to save and started to feel a chuckle building up inside them.
Next round the party won initiative, Shinji kept up his Hypnotic Pattern, not sure what Amadeus did (maybe cast Prayer), but the rest of the melee types traded blows with the Gnomeking's Weasels.
Another roll for the Wand of Wonder resulted in a Lightning Bolt of 6d6 Damage, half that if saved against. This bolt severely wounded the four mesmerised giant weasels, and hit the Vampiric Gnomeking for half damage as he rolled a 1 (he takes half damage from lightning). However, in the confusion, the wand wielding simulacrum had not accounted for the invisible magic user sneaking up behind the vampire.
Since there was some doubt over the Corvirius' exact position I gave him two saves; passing both would mean zero damage, passing one would mean half damage. The result was half damage, leaving him with zero hit points and he collapsed to the ground unconscious, dropping the spike as he did so. Bad, but he was still alive. And then the Cursed Gnomeking's Hideous Laughter kicked in, doing 1 point of damage to everyone who had previously failed their save and causing them to collapse as well.
Corvirius now went down to -1 hit points and for a moment thought he was dead, but, since his Constitution was 15, he was still saveable; if someone could find the invisible magic user and render him aid. There was some real laughter at this but it soon stopped when they realised that all but Shinji and the Simulacrum were out of action.
Next round the party lost initiative and the Weasel's fell on the collapsed characters, chowing down on henchmen for the most part. The Gnomeking found time to drain Vincent's lifeforce taking 2 points of his dexterity, which, unlike with the other undead gnomes they'd fought, did not return a after just a few turns.
The Simulacrum shouted "OH YEAH!" and 30 gems shot forth from the wand in a 30 foot long stream, causing 5d4 damage to any creature in its path.
"GEMS!" cried the Cursed Gnomeking and turned his head to follow the stream of bright stones, which did him no damage but did cause him to drop his guard momentarily. The hypnotised Weasels took the full brunt of the damage and the gems finished the job that the lightning bolt had started. As a bonus their deaths freed up Shinji from having to concentrate on his Hypnotic Pattern.
Next round the party won initiative and Vincent made his save to recover from the laughter, he jumped up and grabbed for the Gnomeking while he was distracted. Karshe also managed to get into the action and snatched up the fallen silver spike and struck the Cursed Gnomeking in his black heart.
Immediately the monster collapsed and the world changed. The dungeon began to feel insubstantial. Shinji grabbed the opportunity to collect the scattered gems that were nearby. In translucent letters a psychic message reached the party, it seemed to hang in the air before them;
"Congratulations! You have defeated the Curse and saved Gnomesville and its Gnomeking. You may choose to stay in Brovlenloft and return to Rome, or return to Machodor. Return to Machodor Y/N"
|A new terror|
But just as things were returning to normal in Gnomesville, Patrons in Brovenloft were calling for the Cursed Gnomeking, and the Mists of Brovenloft answered!
Corvirius (Human Magic User Level 3)
Vincent (Human Fighter Level 1) special thanks to Vincent's player who stayed up through the night in Europe to play in this session. I'm sure someone in Rome has restored Vincent's lost Dexterity by now.
Karshe (Human Fighter Level 3)
Shinji (Human Mendicant Wujen Level 4)
Amadeus (Human Cleric Level 6)
Macho Mandalf (Human Wizard Simulacrum Level 3)
Amadeus' many henchmen