The West Wing
The East Wing
Lithanor the elf levelled up and gained an advance in Weapon Mastery, becoming Skilled with the longsword. Morgan, Bhakragh and the two men-at-arms also levelled up. Mazaramus cast Invisibility every day on two party members until everyone except Lithanor was invisible. Lithanor was weapon training (who was training him?) and didn’t want to be invisible anyway.
Two weeks later, the amber bubble disappeared, and the party began exploring the chapel. At first, there was a lot of stumbling and falling over each other, accompanied by exclamations such as “Oy! Watch where you’re going” and “Ow! Who trod my foot”? Mazaramus suggested that everybody drop an item so that it becomes visible and then pick it up again so that at least the party members have some sort of marker so that the other party members know who is where. Mazaramus lit up his lantern, given how dark and gloomy the chapel was.
The chapel was quite large, being cross-shaped and 240’ across at its widest. Several statues were stood around the chapel, about 10’ from the walls. These statues, according to the script to be read out to the players, bore a strong resemblance to the Amber family. So far, the party had only encountered three members of the Amber family, and of those, one had a lion head and one was dead.
Sneaky went off to investigate some stairs in the bottom left corner of the section of the chapel that they were in. Another stair-case in the south-eastern corner also led upwards. She found that the stairs led up into a loft overhanging the chapel itself. The loft was filled with angelic looking statues, choir boys by the looks of them, and against the southern wall was a large organ keyboard, but no pipes. Sneaky started playing the organ…badly (none of the party had any musical ability) and the statues started ‘singing’, for want of a better word.
Lithanor also went up into the choir loft. On his way he passed a statue in the main chapel which came to life and touched him. Fearing some horrendous magical attack or at least taking some damage, a scroll appeared in Lithanor’s hand as soon as he was touched. The statue returned to its position and became motionless again. He later found that the scroll had the spells read languages, mirror image and clairvoyance on it.
Arriving in the loft, Lithanor tried to put a stop to the cacophony that Sneaky was causing. Sneaky simply dodged out of his way and returned to the main chapel, pressing a few keys at the high note end of the keyboard as she left, just to wind Lithanor up.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party decided to investigate the large altar slab at the north end of the room. As they neared the centre of the chapel, they saw a door in the centre of each of the east and west walls. Morgan, Bhakragh and the men-at-arms went to check out the door on the west.
The altar was covered in a white altar cloth and adorned with few religious items. A large religious symbol was fixed to the north wall beyond the altar. This symbol was totally unfamiliar to the party. Who knows what strange deity it represented? It was in the form of a cross, the bottom part of the cross being longer than the other three, and held to the cross was a human figure, nailed to it by his hands and feet, and wearing a crown of thorns.
Gandi found some red wine in a goblet on the altar, which he drank, and some strange wafers in a bowl which were rather tasteless. Removing the religious items, Gandi and Mazaramus began removing the altar cloth and rolling it up.
Morgan, Bhakragh and the men-at-arms arrived at the door in the west wall. Two statues animated and touched Bhakragh and Merick, who received a potion of fire resistance and a potion of plant control respectively, though Bhakragh later gave his potion to Talanius. Sneaky, on her way back to the rest of the party via the eastern stairs and along the eastern wall, was touched by another of the statues that had animated. Eagerly expecting to receive a magic item freebie herself, was horrified to find that she had instead contracted a virulent and fast acting form of tuberculosis, and immediately became feverish and started coughing up blood.
Sneaky arrived back with the group who were examining the altar, as did Lithanor. Klaus used a charge from the staff of healing to cure Sneaky of her disease. It wasn’t too difficult for him to guess where she was, given her coughing and the blood stains that were appearing on the floor.
Suddenly feeling much better, Sneaky went to examine the eastern door. She did a thorough check this time, checking for traps and listening at the door, with no results. She went through the door and found that it led into a 10’ wide passageway running north and south. Three doors were set at intervals along the eastern side of the passageway. She checked out the closest door before opening it and found that it opened up into a simple cell. Sat in the cell were what appeared to be three monks in amber robes, who rose up and advanced towards her. Sneaky dashed back into the chapel, just as the other doors also began to open, with three more ‘monks’ emerging from each.
On the other side of the chapel, Morgan’s group (who had been reluctant to open the door before having the thief check it out) heard several doors open on the other side of their door. They backed away from the door, drawing their weapons and forming a semi-circle.
The ‘monks’ were now shambling into the chapel. Sneaky used her ESP ability (gained from the feast) to try to read the thoughts of one of them and found that it had no thoughts!
The party now realised that the amber robed monks were in fact zombies. The ensuing battle was swift and one-sided. Morgan, Bhakragh, Merick, Talanius, Lithanor and Gandi were considerably more skilled in combat than when they last encountered such a number of zombies in the Shrine of Evil Chaos in the Caves of Chaos. Klaus banished several zombies with his turning ability. Even Sneaky joined in the fray, slicing a zombie with her dagger with a backstab attack, rolling a natural 20 and inflicting a massive 17 points of damage.
The zombies were despatched without any injury to any of the party. They then noticed two doors in the northern wall behind the altar area, one at the west end and one at the east end. The party decided to go through the east door first. Okay, most of the party decided to go through the eastern door. Lithanor was feeling a bit heroic and decided to go through the west door on his own.
Beyond each door was a corridor that led northwards for about 50’ before rounding a corner. Guessing that these corridors would join up around the corner, the main group and Lithanor advanced down their respective passageway. Lithanor rounded the corner, relying on his infravision, and found that it was indeed a long corridor, with a glaring light at the other end making his infravision useless. The glaring light tuned out to be Mazaramus’ lantern. Once his sight had readjusted to normal, Lithanor found that the corridor running from west to east had three doors in the southern wall. The main group advanced towards the centre door, and hailed Lithanor to join them.
Lithanor was still adamant that he was going to operate solo for a while, suggesting that the party go through the centre door while he went through the west door. Again, Lithanor was guessing that all three doors led into one large room, and they could tackle any beasties or whatever lay inside if they took it or them on from multiple directions.
The main party entered the centre door and found that it led into a small 30’ by 20’ room with two other doors leading from it, one in the east wall and one in the west wall. The room was cluttered with various religious items strewn all over the place. In the ceiling were four strange holes. Mazaramus began prodding one of the holes with his 9’11” pole and found that water began trickling out of the hole. He prodded harder and a considerable amount of water poured out of the hole, followed by a burst leather sack.
Meanwhile, the sound of combat came from the west. Klaus began making his way towards the west door to investigate but was impeded by Mazaramus intent on investigating the other holes, the second of which caused a load of gold pieces to pour out of it, Gandi and Sneaky picking up the gold pieces, and the general clutter of the room.
Klaus was about to reach the west door when a number of giant bees emerged from a third hole that Mazaramus had been prodding, and he found himself having to help fight them off.
What Lithanor had found when he went through the west door was a table with eleven seats around it. Seated around the table were skeletons, which animated and rushed to attack as soon as Lithanor entered. However, one skeleton, which was considerably bigger than the others, leapt onto the table whilst throwing back the robe that it was wearing to reveal four arms, each wielding a large mace.
Lithanor tried to hold this creature in the doorway so that the other skeletons couldn’t also join in to attack all at once. He eventually managed to defeat it, but had taken a severe beating and had six hit points left. The remaining skeletons were about to rush him when Klaus entered through a side door and vanquished them all with his turning.
Tied by a string around the neck of the large four-armed skeleton (which I had inadvertently revealed to the players through a Freudian slip to be a bone golem) was an ornate silver key. This one was embossed with the letter ‘M’.
The fourth hole in the other room was revealed to contain some strange chicken-lizard creature. After prodding it out of its hole, the party quickly hacked the abomination to pieces before it could get a peck in.
The party gathered together in the vestry where the holes in the ceiling were. They spent a few minutes dithering about and wondering what they should do next, so I made some overdue wandering monster checks to motivate them.
Gandi heard some strange footsteps coming from the hallway outside, like metal on stone. He also heard what sounded like stone shattering, though this sound was more distant and somewhat muffled. Mazaramus, who was still invisible, went out into the hallway first, followed by Sneaky and Gandi. The rest of the party moved into the skeleton room.
What they saw in the hallway was a man-like creature made of some metallic substance. It was heading towards the door to the hole room when Sneaky and Gandi emerged. Mazaramus backed off down the corridor. The party won the initiative. The creature’s hand began sparking as though electrified. Gandi and Sneaky decided to make a run for it rather than attack, which was a bad move, because the creature then unleashed a lightning bolt. Gandi took the bolt full on. Mazaramus dived around the corner of the hallway and dodged the blast.
The creature ran after the fleeing characters, swiftly catching up with the encumbered Gandi. I couldn’t resist playing the T1000/Escape from the Hospital soundtrack from Terminator 2: Judgement Day for this encounter. Meanwhile, the rest of the party emerged from the western door to the hallway and charged into the fray. Gandi also turned to fight the thing. Lithanor said that it could be a silver version of the Demos that they had encountered at Jean-Louis’ boxing ring. He was almost right – this was a Galvan Magen. The creatures that were with Jean-Louis were Demos Magen.
After a round of hacking away at the Magen, which missed with its punch at Gandi, the party were nicely lined up for another lightning bolt due to the limited space in the hallway. The Magen won the initiative and blasted three of the party before being hacked up. I added a little touch here (still being influenced by Terminator) and had the Magen dissolve into pools of liquid metal and disappear into the flagstones of the floor.
With the fight over and some of the party having somewhat spikier hair, Klaus administered healing to those that had taken damage in the fight. The party returned to the skeleton room and went through the door in the south wall of the room. This led into a cleric’s bedroom (that’s what it says in the read-out bit to the players). There was nothing useful or interesting in this room so the party left, returning to the room with the holes.
Preparing to go through the door in the east wall, Lithanor surmised that the remaining door in the hallway should also lead into this room. He arranged for the party to spilt into two groups (rather than one individual going off on his own) so that they could take on whatever was in the room from two directions.
The party burst into the room from two directions to find….a library,….and a rather frail looking man holding a book. The man asked the party to keep the noise down.
The man was Charles d’Amberville. He was very sensitive to noise, and was convinced that he could hear his sister, Magdalene, who he had recently buried, calling to him from beyond the grave. Magdalene was not dead, and was in fact digging herself out of her grave (the other sound that Gandi heard earlier was the sound of Magdalene breaking the flagstones above her grave).
Before the party could learn anything more from Charles, they heard footsteps approaching from the corridor outside. Shortly after, Magdalene burst through the north door into the room, armed with a long sword which was buried with her (even though the picture in the module shows Magdalene throttling Charles with her bare hands). Morgan attempted to block her path to Charles, and was swiftly disarmed by a swing from her sword. Klaus, thinking that she was undead, tried to turn her, obviously unsuccessfully. Just as she reached Charles, Sneaky, Gandi and the two men-at-arms wrestled her to the ground. Using the wrestling rules in the Companion Set (which were far simpler than the unarmed combat rules provided in 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons), Magdalene didn’t have a chance.
They tied Magdalene up, and when it was obvious that she would continue frantically struggling until she either broke free or dislocated all of her limbs trying (she had just dug her way out of a grave, after all), they knocked her out. By now, Charles had lost all reason and was just a quivering wreck, huddled into a corner and muttering incoherently.
Sneaky, meanwhile, had discovered a chest beneath an old tablecloth. Opening it (and foregoing looking for traps first), she found that it contained a shield and an assortment of copper and gold coins. Morgan’s sword decided to start playing the bagpipes again and began resonating. He held his sword up, and several magic items (as well as those already owned by the party) began to glow. The sword had revealed a second power, the ability to detect magic. The shield in the chest was revealed to be magical, as well as a ring that Charles was wearing. Sneaky managed to palm the ring without the party noticing. The shield was a shield+1, which was given to Merick, the man-at-arms, as all the PCs that could use it already had a magical shield. Sneaky tried the ring on. Whatever power it possessed was not going to be immediately evident.
Leaving Charles to gibber quietly in the corner, and Magdalene all trussed up, they went to see what was through the door in the south wall. In the room were some clerical robes that were dancing around a circle in the floor. After spending some time wondering what the purpose of the dancing robes was, whether they were any kind of threat or waiting for something even more magical to happen (Mazaramus even tried, unsuccessfully, to fit into the robes while they were dancing about), I made another wandering monster check. This time, an armoured woman turned up. She asked the party “what are you doeeng wasteeng time viz zees danceeng robes?”
The woman announced herself as Marie-Helene d’Amberville. Apparently, she had met some of the party members before, having given them some weapon training when the amber bubble had allowed the party to level up, although the party had no recollection of who had trained them.
She asked Lithanor how his swordsmanship was coming on, and tested him by attempting to disarm him, but Lithanor made both his saving throws to retain his weapon. She responded with “I am eempressed. You are learneeng”. She then asked why Magdalene was tied up and what the matter with Charles was. When they explained what had happened, she shrugged her shoulders and said “Well. I ‘ope you know what you are dooeng, but I don’t theenk eet eez zees two zat you ‘ave to worry about.” She then told the party that she had no desire to linger about the chapel for too long, that she was leaving and would most likely meet the party again, before saying adieu.
Looking at their map, there was a big square block in the area that they were in that must surely be a hidden room. They went around to the cleric’s bedroom to search for secret doors (though why they didn’t search in the dancing robes room first as they were already there is beyond me). Klaus and Morgan both found the same secret door at the same time.
Entering the secret room, they saw a man dressed in gilded plate mail and amber robes praying at a golden altar. He must have been deep in prayer the whole time with all the commotion going on the neighbouring rooms. Either that, or he had no desire to get involved unless he really had to. He announced himself as Simon d’Amberville, and in a demanding tone, asked the party to reveal who they were and what they were doing here.
Morgan Bernhardt stepped forward and introduced himself. Before announcing who the other party members were, Morgan sidestepped the issue by telling him that Charles d’Amberville was suffering from some kind of mental collapse and asked if there was anything that could be done for him. Simon became quite alarmed at this point and asked Morgan to come with him to where Charles was.
When he found Charles, Simon was able to calm him down and reassure him. Once he recognised who he was, Charles asked him if his work almost complete, something that the party overheard. Morgan asked what he meant by this. Simon explained that he was referring to Simon’s efforts to undo the magic that caused Castle Amber to be floating about between worlds. He explained that in order to explain further, they would have to leave Charles alone in his library to recover further, as any talk of such magic may send him over the edge again. Obviously, Simon was hiding a few things from the party. The work that was almost complete referred to the undead that Charles had been animating for Simon. Simon then led the party to the altar in the chapel.
When he saw the state of the chapel and the altar, Simon was horrified to say the least, not to mention seeing all the slain zombies strewn about. However, he told the party that the mansion had been transported out of their world by some diabolical spell cast by Etienne (Stephen) d’Amberville and that Etienne was now dead. In order to undo this magic, they would have to find Etienne and somehow bring him back to life. Only then could his foul magic be undone, even if they had to force Etienne to reverse the spell himself. He called upon his deity and cast a spell on Morgan. Morgan failed his saving throw and was under a quest spell compelling him to find and free Etienne (which the party needs to do anyway).
Klaus kept a low profile, given that he was of a different religion, and didn’t entirely trust Simon’s motives anyway. It became apparent that Simon didn’t like demi-humans. When Gandi offered to help to tidy up the altar Simon told him to get away from it. When Lithanor asked Simon a question, he told Morgan to keep his foul pixie quiet. Mazaramus, who was still invisible, used his wand of enemy detection which revealed that Simon did indeed have hostile intentions towards the party.
Mazaramus snuck back to Simon’s sanctum to ransack it. There he found several magic items, one being a broom, and a gold-plated altar. He took the items and on his way back he went into the room where Charles was recovering and Magdalene was still tied up. He handed Magdalene her sword and, after seeing the expression on her face which could have been anything from thankfulness towards her invisible liberator to “whoever this is I’m going to rip its throat out”, quickly departed. Returning to the chapel, he swiftly stashed the purloined items in the choir loft before returning to the party. It was at this point that the party heard a scream coming from the library. Simon dashed off towards the library, closely followed by the party.
Will Simon be in time to aid Charles? Is Magdalene going to dice the party and Simon in a mad rage? Will Gandi find any more holy wine? Find out in the next session.
The party had a rethink over whether or not they were going to follow Simon. Mazaramus went back to the party and said that it would be a good idea to get out of there. The party headed out of the chapel, with Mazaramus heading back into the loft to recover the magic items he had previously stashed there.
Back in the indoor forest, Mazaramus tried the broom and found that it was indeed a broom of flying. He told the rest of the party that he was going to scout ahead to see what lay ahead on the as yet unexplored path through the rest of the forest. Whilst he was scouting ahead, the rest of the party hid behind whatever trees and foliage they could find on the eastern side of the path.
Mazaramus’ scouting revealed that the path wound its way through what appeared to be a garden of some sort before finally coming to a blood-stained archway before the door to the east wing. The archway was steadily dripping blood, with no apparent way of opening the door and going through it without getting splattered in blood.
Meanwhile, back with the rest of the party, Simon emerged from the doors to the chapel, walked to the intersection in the forest path, pondered a while then returned to the chapel.
Mazaramus returned towards the party, but as he was nearing decided to fly to where they had seen the squirrels earlier. However, on the path was a centaur, apparently keeping a watchful eye out as if protecting the squirrels. Before Mazaramus could get up to any mischief, the adventuring day ended (I had kept the time track from the same point in the day in between other rests, regardless of how many days or weeks they had spent training, so that turns elapsed from one day carried on to the next). The amber bubble descended on the party and Mazaramus found himself dragged back to the party.
Gandi was the only party member to level up, gaining only hit points and not requiring any sort of training. Lithanor took the opportunity to transcribe the spells on the scroll he gained from the marble statue to his spell book.
Mazaramus told the party what he had seen on the path ahead, and the party proceeded onward. After a short while, they came to an area where they got the feeling that they were being watched. Moreover, the plants seemed to have faces that followed the party. They ignored these and carried on.
They then arrived at the garden area that Mazaramus had pointed out to them. There were two types of larger flowers. Some were amber coloured water lilies, and there were about a dozen white roses. Mazaramus flew above the garden area. Gandi was suggesting that Lithanor get his rope of climbing out and have it attach to the broom of flying so that the party can be ferried over the garden. I think I should have pointed out that the broom of flying can carry two people but I was somewhat bewildered by their proposed plans. Besides, the thought of Mazaramus flying along while other party members dangled along holding on to the rope of climbing was somewhat humourous.
Whilst the party were discussing ideas on how to get across, Mazaramus decided to fly down and take a closer look at one of the white roses. The rose wrapped its stalk around Mazaramus, sucking his blood and inflicting 8 points of damage. The rose started turning pink. Mazaramus attacked the rose with his dagger, missing. Lithanor, Gandi and Bhakragh rushed to his aid and swiftly slew the Vampire Rose before it could drain any more blood. They then noticed the nearby water lilies opening their buds. They ran back to the rest of the party just as the water lilies released a cloud of spores. Fortunately, all four of them made their saving throws and were able to get out of the cloud.
It was at this point that Merick pointed out that he had a potion of plant control and wanted to try it. He drank the potion and ‘became one with the plants’. He was able to control all the plants in a 30’ by 30’ area. However, the garden area was at least twice this size, so Merick had the plants attack the other plants that were outside of the area of effect, with the Amber Lotus Flowers (the water lilies) spraying their clouds of pollen away from the path. With the Vampire Roses, Amber Lotus Flowers and the Grab Grass (which they spotted when one rose was pulled down by another and then grabbed by the grass) in a plant civil war, the party made a rush for the other side of the garden, although they had to virtually carry Merick, who had a strange, almost euphoric, look on his face.
Arriving at the blood-stained arch, the party held their shields over their heads in an attempt to avoid becoming blood splattered. Those that didn’t have shields went in between those with shields. No matter, the blood still seeped over the sides of the shields and through any gaps and onto the party, but at least they get through the door. Everyone had to make a saving throw vs spells. Klaus, Morgan, Merick and Talanius failed their saving throws. The effects of the blood dripping onto them was not immediately evident, but those failing their saves will gain a bonus of 1-6 (randomly determined for each character) on to hit, damage, saving throws and armour class “for the duration of the time spent in the throne room”.
Incidentally, the throne room is the first room that the party arrives in in the east wing. Barring wandering monsters, there is unlikely to be any combat in the throne room, so the bonuses gained from the blood-stained arch seem mostly academic (with one possible exception as may soon become evident).
Anyway, the party entered the east wing, finding themselves in a large room. In front of them was a raised dais on which were two thrones facing eastwards. Running from the throne to a set of double doors in the east wall was a red carpet. The only other exit from the room was a single door in the south wall. Around the room were a number of skeletons, twenty on guard on the north and south walls, a dozen in decayed court dress in various poses in front of the thrones and one sat in each throne.
None of the skeletons were moving or seemed to animate when the party entered. Nevertheless, Klaus tried to turn them. Sneaky had to make a saving throw vs spells against a mental attack. She made the saving throw, and had a sensation of momentarily feeling outside of her body before returning to normal.
At this point we had to end the game session, leaving the party with several unanswered questions. What has the blood stained arch done to them? Why did Sneaky feel weird? Will Klaus use the staff of healing to restore Mazaramus’ blood loss? Find out in the next session of Castle Amber, when the adventurers explore The East Wing.