Day 31, Month 8, 3 After the Night of Fire (ANoF)
...and attack the player characters! There are some ten zombie-like creatures that attack the player characters, and they defend themselves to the best they can. Kiarra Foxten and Teela Goran take on a pair of the zombies, and are able to kill them with a great deal of work and effort. Barm Vaks and Torvu Peng are able to deal with four zombies between them, and are horrified to recognise several of the zombies as people from the village of Wilkerson Dale. Devron Sharpis is able to deal with four of the undead creatures on his own, but has a difficult time accepting the fact that these were people from Wilkerson Dale.
The player characters regroup, and taking care of their injuries sustained in the fight, discuss their plans. Torvu Peng explains the ramifications of the zombies, the fact that several of the reanimated dead were Wilkerson Dale villagers, their connection to Necromancy, and the tower down below. Each of the characters draws their own conclusions. The player characters decide that they need to scout out the valley down below, and determine who or what is in charge. Barm convinces the others that he and Kiarra are best suited to the scouting mission. The two prepare to head for the valley to check things out.
Barm and Kiarra stealthily make their way from the edge of one small copse to another, gradually working their way towards the edge of the dark tower in the valley. They observe that many of the orcs and goblins that are working and patrolling the area of the tower are seemingly dazed and not in control of their senses, and this makes it somewhat easier for the pair to work closer to the tower. As they travel through some brush-covered hills, they round a boulder and come face-to-face with two orcs!
Back where Devron, Teela, and Torvu were left behind, the three decide not to just sit around and wait for Barm and Kiarra. The three decide to do some scouting, Teela using fortune magic, both in the characters' favour and any opponents disfavour, as they go. They come upon what appears to be a small camp of orcs and goblins, and they are immediately captured and placed in a cave to await questioning and the arrival of their leader.
Barm and Kiarra are surprised when the two orcs tell them that they favour a parley, and the Kiarra recognises one of the orcs as one they met during the original encounter with the inhabitants of Stor's End. He tells them his name is Mr'azz, and that they are the leaders of the rebel orcs and goblins. When they ask what they are rebelling against, Mr'azz tells them of the arrival of the Necromancer Andar Phaldern, formerly of Kar'Danan, and how he conquered the scattered orcs and goblins, and then enslaved the dead bodies of the villagers of Wilkerson Dale who came to settle in Stor's End. Through sheer willpower, Mr'azz and several others broke free of the Necromancer's control, and encountered other orcs and goblins who had wandered into the area, and joined forces with them. The goblins and orcs plan to kill the Necromancer and assume control over the tower. When Barm and Kiarra volunteer their assistance in stopping the Necromancer, the orc agrees to take them to the makeshift camp that he and the other rebels have established. They set off with orcs.
Arriving at the orc and goblin campsite, they are greeted at first with a good deal of suspicion, but Mr'azz has other matters to attend to after getting the characters accepted into the camp. When he learns of the capture of Devron, Teela, and Torvu, Barm and Kiarra are able to convince him they are friends of theirs, and the player characeters are reunited. The player characters are given a small cavern for their rest and convenience, and then join the orcs and goblins for a meal and a planning session. Devron and Barm have a great deal of difficulty adjusting to the "friendly" orcs and goblins, although a bit of testing of mettle and the like goes on as well.
The player characters debate different strategies with the orcs and goblins, but are unable to reach a consensus of what they plan to do. The orcs are unable to give the players any indication as to how Andar Phaldern was able to take control of their minds, but they are unable to dissuade the player characters from going down and trying to talk to the Necromancer. Later that night, the player characters debate the matter. Devron and Torvu both agree that the priority is to find out what happened to the villagers of Wilkerson Dale and how how this was accomplished, and learn whether the Necromancer knows of the village or whether his entire sphere of influence consists of the region of Stor's End. Devron suggests that the goblins and orcs may have their uses later.
When morning arrives, the player characters are hard pressed by the goblins and orcs not to go to the lair of the Necromancer, but eventually leave the campsite and begin their trek through the hills down to the dark tower. The player characters make the descent through the hills, with no ill happenings, and arrive in the hilly bowl of the dark tower. They are ignored by the various zombies that they see as well as the majority of the working goblins and orcs. Eventually, they are confronted by a patrol of orcs and goblins. Unwilling to fight, the characters tell the orc leader that they wish to see his "master", the Necromancer. The orcs and goblins escort the player characters back to the tower; leaving four guards, the orc in charge proceeds to fetch their master, Andar Phaldern. The player characters debate an easy escape and taking the fight directly to the tower and its inhabitants, but are discouraged by Torvu Peng, who says that there would be no telling what the Necromancer would do.
The orc, whose name is Abar'ixt, returns with his master, Andar Phaldern - who is revealed to be a young man of about 18 years of age, and Kar'Danish. The boy invites the player characters into "his" tower, and has his three servants, whom the player characters recognise as Wilkerson Dale villagers, serve them a repast from the remains of the tower's larder. Over the course of the meal, the player characters explain their presence and the purpose of their visit. They also learn Andar's story; he explains how he arrived near the tower during the Night of Fire, and took refuge within. He learned the secrets of the tower, and remained within for a very long time, living off the tower's food supplies and well water. How when he first travelled out of the tower, he encountered the goblin survivors of Stor's End, and how they decided to serve him of their own free will. He explains to them about the arrival of the orcs, and their rebellious nature against his authority, and how the tower exerted a form of control over those who come near it after a while, and turns them into slaves of whoever resides in the tower as long as he or she is a Necromancer. He explained how when he encountered the settlers of Stor's End and tried to befriend them, they were slaughtered by the goblins and orcs, and how they became enslaved to his minor necromantic abilities through the power of the spells of the tower.
And then he tells them that this brings them to the present, and that he doesn't know what to do about them, and their new allies in the rebellious orcs and goblins, though he has no idea how they overcame the conditioning of the tower. The characters start to feel faint, and collapse to the floor, the last thing they hear is Andar's ringing laughter, as he tells them that each of their drinks contained a minute trace of Locara's Kiss. The characters' world goes black.
As you can see, Friday night's game session of the Desolation rpg was, to say the least, a bit shocking at the end for the players and their characters. Kathy and SteveB were really surprised by the final moments of the session, although Joanne stated that she saw the end of the session coming. The group agreed that they all dislike Necromancers, but that they enjoyed the more friendly approach that I took with all the goblins and orcs this session. They're still pretty creeped out by the notion that several of their friends and people they know from the village are now undead, and they said to me that come hell or high water that Necromancer is going down before the end of the scenario! Goddess, but I love creating villains that actually give rise to this sort of emotion in players. :) Of course, is he really a villain? That remains to be seen! :)