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When you have less than 10 stability left, you are treated as shaken for the encounter, when you have less than 5 you are frightened with the source of your stability loss as the source of the effect. If you have 0 or less stability remaining you are panicked. Penalties to saving throws, attack rolls etc for the condition also apply. In this non combat case both Emmetts response is fine
This encounter was one I struggled with for a while but I hope it was flavorsome for you. I wanted you to experience some of the events behind the fire and this formed a great opportunity for it.
In the module as written the hazard to sanity is not there - there are other hazards which I've swapped out for this one which I hope is more thematic.
The mental battering some of you will have taken, raises the stakes and threat in its own and different way.
Vesorianna nods at Emmetts naming of her and answers Simeon.
I can feel among the hateful dead five distinct and powerful personalities. I suspect that belong to the five most dangerous
Behind the words is a memory.
Shouting and confused guards run through out the corridors. Her husband is no where to be seen. She pushes through them to a training room, dummies and empty weapon racks line the walls. Where you saw a blackened pit in the ground in the east room before, there now resides a mighty construction of wood and rope - a lift to the lower levels where the worst criminals were housed.
Guards stand around it yelling down in anxiety and anger, some firing crossbows into the shaft. Shrieks of pain and anger in turn rise from the depths of the prison. Curses and swearing ring through the room.
My husband? Where is my husband?
He's down there ma'am, says one of the young guards - Wilhelm.
Ye daft yung bugger, cusses another older guard, Senior Warder Marius Gottspiel. Don' be tellin her tha' - be worryin' the Gel.
The stocky middle aged guard turns back to the shaft.
Feckers be climbin' the chains now - we can't haul up the lift, too many of them. Fetch the oil... we'll slick up the walls an' chains a treat. That'll stop em'
In the background guards begin rolling casks of oil towards the shaft and the smell of lamp oil hangs heavy in the air.
What of my husband? Has he been hurt?
Get 'er out of ere' - lock 'er in the work room an' we'll come fer her once we 'ave news of the Warden, Marius yells back as they begin pouring oil down the pit.
Strong but considerate hands drag you backwards from and out of the room as you stare at the lift and the shaft that separate you from your husband. You look back to see a young guardsman come down the corridor towards you with a burning torch. I can't see a gods cursed thing in this gloom, he cusses as he passes you and moves into the room beyond where the lift is situated.
You struggle and fight against the men dragging you away from your husband and then there is a "Woompf" of sound, and screaming. Light shoots down the corridor and you hear the roar of a raging fire. The men drag you to the workroom, empty of tools and lock you in with muttered panicked assurances of return.
There are shouts and screams, the sounds of bedlam and chaos and the room begins to fill with smoke. You cough and cough while you hammer at the door and then darkness envelops you.
She continues to speak, heedless or unaware of the mental battering that is taking place.
I do not know much about the prisoners, their spirits save that they be vile indeed.
The halls now lie blackened and still... but not empty. You can almost taste the concentrated evil that fills the building - like rotten meat and corruption.
Bile rises in the back of your throats and you gag at the sensation of focused malevolence and insanity. You sense among the roiling masses of perverse spirits that are felt by the ghost of Vesorianna, that batter on her very soul as it permeates the stone walls of the prison, five spirits, vile beyond your comprehension of evil, who loom behind her with outstretched hands, seeking to grasp, rend, ravage, despoil and destroy.
DC15 Will Check or lose 1d4 Sanity/Stability
She speaks again, and more pale blue spectral smoke issues from her mouth.
They are strong, strong!, she weeps. It is as though I must house my rapists and they will not stop hurting me, they'll never stop. She weeps.
I need your help. If you are able to some how defeat these spirits - though how I do not know - you will weaken them and I will be able to restrain them, contain them and they will not be able to form again save I be weakened. I am growing weak, like I am being bled out but if I am not weakened more I can hold them.
You are starting to understand that while this ghost bears you no ill will, you have no psychic protections against her projected memories and thoughts - you will need to pay careful heed to how long you linger or risk madness.
More blue smoke dribbles from her lips as she answers. Its happening again. kept the prisoners down in life, and even in death he was able to curb the worst of their excesses but he's gone. O', my beloved, the spirit of my husband Lyvar trapped so near yet so far in the dungeons below, had contained them and the worst of their excesses. Blue spectral tears roll down her cheeks.
In each of your minds eye you can see ugly twisted spirits, some hurt, but most seeking to hurt, shrieking, screaming, baying as they batter themselves against each other and against the walls of the prison, some almost escaping but then being silenced or locked down by an iron will.
The vision is unsettling.
DC13 Will Check or lose 1 Sanity/Stability
Can you help? Where is my husband gone?
Again there is another vision, burning into your minds at the speed of thought, taking but an instant to lodge itself in your psyche.
The prison yard holds visitors - seen from a window as they move around the grounds. Men and women in dark robes who speak only in whispers. Though seen there is also a sensation of life, oddly altered to your new perceptions, in each.
They begin to work strange magic around the building’s foundations. The perspective changes and you get the impression you are looking out through the walls themselves as these strange people inscribed runes along the foundation of the building, close to the ground. The runes make your stomachs roll and feel uneasy.
You see a familiar face, albeit from a distance, as Professor Lorrimor confronts the visitors. The sense of his life is strong. He takes down one of the robed figures with multiple bolts of energy from an outstretched hand. A human man, one seen earlier in the ceremonies, thin and almost gray-skinned, wearing a bone breastplate and carrying a black staff capped with a skull gagged by a black cloth faces the professor.
There is yelling and your friends body seizes up and goes stiff.
The robed figures move around him, silently, and he is carried outside the prison walls. There is a crack and one of the gargoyles that perched atop the walls falls outwards and the awareness of life energy that was the professor vanishes.
Will Save DC15 or lose 1d4 Sanity/Stability as you sense your friends death
The night rolls on after the black garbed arcanist murdered the man, and they finish their ritual. Whatever they did, they did so out of sight of the view through the walls, but you feel a horrific storm, yet one with no wind that chilled the flesh. This windstorm chills the soul — it feels to you... to Vesorianna, for you realise that you are sharing her experiences, as if her very being was being pulled apart. Yet the horrific sensation passed in an instant... and when it had, the presence of her husband’s spirit was gone.
There is a feeling of indescribable loss.
DC13 Will Check or lose 1 Sanity/Stability
All in all there is a psychic battering as her experiences are driven into you.
More smoke rolls from her lips... and more mist from your own breath as she continues.
Every day since that event, the spirits of the murderers, rapists and sadists trapped within the walls of Harrowstone have grown more and more powerful. I know now that my husband’s presence kept them in line - contained, and that with his spirit gone, they would now have the escape they did not have in life, to wreak unimaginable havoc.
Oh Husband Mine, she exclaims sadly, beloved Lyvar, I have taken up thy strict task and thy mantle - I do what you can do no longer.
Nalun Phlithmira wrote:
Nalun says Fascinating. as he thinks about what he can remember about a Warden Hawkren or his wife [dice=Kn:Local or History] 1d20+7
Warden Hawkran was the last warden of the Harrowstone prison. It was only through the self sacrifice of Warden Hawkran and 23 of his guards that the prisoners were prevented from escaping — the guards gave their lives to save the town of Ravengro. There is a monument to him in the town. The warden was said to be half elven.
His wife, Vesorianna Hawkran, went missing in the fire that destroyed the prison and presumed perished.
Emmett puts shoulder in while Elidal kicks at the door.
Emmett Str: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
The cracking of wood and groan of timbers echos loudly through the corridors. The door still stands but weakened by the assault.
The old watchman grunts and redoubles his efforts.
Emmett Str: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
The door flies open... scattering some of the bones of a skeleton who was lying near it on its opposite side. The remains are clad in an old rotting dress. Of the room itself, tangled mounds of moth-eaten fabric sit on several wooden tables, each surrounded by workbenches. Sewing paraphernalia such as rolls of thread, boxes of chalk, and other objects lie scattered over the floor.
The room itself has a palpable chill to the air. Your breath comes out as mist.
The ghostly image of a young woman manifests immediately before you, rising from the mound of moldering fabric that serves as her tomb. She appears as a beautiful young woman dressed in a tattered but lovely blue dress. In fact, much about the ghost is blue, including her hair, and the tears that run from her pale blue eyes.
Despite the spectre before you, you feel none of the dread you have felt from other spiritual manifestations in the prison. It is, however, disturbing nonetheless. There is a psychic impression of sadness and loss that pulls at your minds.
A voice issues from the spirit, one that is felt as much as it is heard. Clouds of blue smoke drift from her lips when she speaks. You must be the new guards, what word of my Husband? Is he safe?
Emmett Escheus wrote:
Adventurers, trouble makers that they are, generally have access to such disreputable objects or may know where to find them.
You climb past the rubble and into the building. A stillness fills the halls that is barely broken by the echoing sound of your footsteps.
Your presence does nothing to dispell the emptiness that conveys a sense of loneliness to what should be just a plain abandoned building.
Yet under lying that impression is another one... that somehow the building itself is holding its breath, waiting.
You press beyond the foyer into what seems to be the central corridor, your breathing audible as the sound of it bounces of the hard cold stone walls.
Map is up - where to? What light source(s)
Emmett pushes on the gate.
Will DC12: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
You lay your hand against the stout aged timbers of the gate... and hear terrible screaming, the crackle of flames, and creaking of timbers under stress. You can smell smoke and burned human flesh - a watchman learns that smell early in their careers. It terrifies you. ShakenWill DC13: 1d20 + 1 - 2 ⇒ (16) + 1 - 2 = 15. Your mental stability isn't impacted but you are shaken for the next 10 minutes
And goes pale, frozen there for an instant, shock engraved on his old face... and thats when the huge door tears from its hinges with a groan and crashes down.
Emmett Ref DC12: 1d20 + 5 - 2 ⇒ (12) + 5 - 2 = 15
It slams into the ground with loud crash as Emmet manages to leap away and avoid harm... leaving the way into Harrowstone open.
The trudge up to the prison is a slippery one, the ground having been soaked the night before but you arrive in about half an hour and it is around 10 in the morning. The clouds are heavy overhead but are patchy enough to allow the sun to peek through from time to time.
As usual the prison seems to be a brooding, menacing structure, with the aged heavy gates swung all but closed, likely from the storm the night before, though you could have sworn that one of the gates was on one hinge before.
You can see her internal conflict, frustrations and woes - it takes no special skill, so close are her feelings to the surface. She wants to hate you, she wants to hate herself, she has some sentiment and regard for you and she wants to help, possibly even atone for past ills.
I'll take 50 now and an I.O.U for 50 gold later - written in your hand Father Jaru - the Holy waters are of no help to me but gold is.
She shrugs. You can see she just is beyond caring due to her own burdens and troubles.
I have 3 Alchemist fires on hand. Thats all I can give you for now - a bunch of them are already set aside for farmers for burn offs before spring planting. If you are feeling unwell? Got this remedy thats good for most illnesses. 100 gold for the lot.
Jaru see to stripping Nighteyes of gold and the found items if you could, leave Laments gold. Fast forwarding a little...
Your trip to Jominda's is not as smooth as one would hope. You find yourselves knocking on the door for a solid 5 minutes before getting a vague response and another 5 more for the door to open.
Jominda is not in good shape. She reeks of the local equivalent of vodka and seems to be in the grips of a hangover.
She sullenly asks you in, dumps a spoon of powder into a cup of water, which fizzes, and drinks the mixture down in a single draught. Should take a few minutes to take effect, she mutters.
I really don't feel up to any accusations this morning, and I'd love nothing more than to just ignore you all but as you're not going away and I don't seem to have any customers? I suppose I'd better ask what you need.
Best I move on the contrived BUT story appropriate side story then
You walk out to prepare for the days events when again approached by a haggard looking sheriff, who looks like a man who feels he simply cannot catch a break!
There was an Orc raiding party in the far farms earlier. A halfling family, the Thistlefeet were hit and some of their people taken - The Silken Purse is loaning us 2 men, I'm sending Trestleblade and there are a handful of stout farmers going out to fetch them back. We need a tracker - and the trial proved there is none like Nighteyes. Can you help?.
Nighteyes agrees and Lament also volunteers to go as well. There is some discussion as they reorganise their equipment with you and then they leave you, to return as soon as they can.
Jaru: Ahhh - my bad, yeah, thats number of days til onset, though I should have put it in its own spoiler
Things, so grim and so sober take on a slightly lighter feeling, a feeling of a shared burden. Emmett would, as an old watchmen, want to look in and sit with the departed deputy and all of you at one point or another sit your turn with Vigilance and bid him farewell, as well as look for other... less desirable events before burial. Because its a shared experience you are all able secure a full nights rest and are not overly fatigued the next morning, where the clouds have thinned to allow for some sun to break through and the rain has ceased.
More importantly the original friends of Lorrimor are able to enjoy a sleep unhindered by the dreams that so marred their attempts to rest of late.