CoS Session 16 – Yester Hill

After an uneasy sleep, the party decides to go after the second gem stolen from the winery. They decide to stop by the Wizard of Wines, to have lunch with the rest of the Martikov clan before climbing Yester Hill to the south.  Two painted savages step out of the woods as they approach the turn-off to the winery, heading south toward the hill.

After lunch, the party continues to the hill, finding a large circular wall of stacked stones atop it.  Two pathways circle lower on the hill, and stone cairns are spaced evenly around them.

Devlin hears someone calling to him from one of the nearby cairns.  The voice says “Long have I waited for one who is worthy. My bow hungers for blood. Retrieve it, and rule these mountains in my stead, just like the mighty warriors from the early days of the Whispering Wall.”  He digs at the rocks, exposing the skeleton of a long-dead barbarian chief.  A longbow made from the horns of some great bovine beast is clutched in one hand. Loose around its skull is a simple silver circlet.

Devlin grasps the bow, and immediately intuits its abilities.  Once attuned, it will provide an outstanding bonus to hit and damage (+2), and whenever an arrow it shoots reduces a target to 0 health, Devlin will gain 2d6 temporary hit points.  After the magical item drought of the early part of this campaign, the items earned in these last two sessions will really come in handy. Cordelia is sure the bow is cursed and that Devlin will be taken over by some evil spirit sooner or later.  No gifts come without a price within the lands of Barovia.

They enter the ring of stones, and find the earth within soured.  Dead grass has been trampled by countless feet, and a 30 ft tall wood and wicker effigy of a fanged man (Strahd) stands along one wall.  Directly across from the opening they entered is another which leads to a copse of dead trees some distance away.

Cordelia gets a torch from Devlin, lighting it and walking toward the wicker Strahd, intent on setting it ablaze.  As she gets close to it, there is the clatter of stones from all around them, and six druids and six painted berserkers burst forth from the rock wall surrounding them.

A fierce battle breaks out, with the druids attempting to control the party with hold person and entangle spells.

Cordelia hurls one of the gems from her necklace at the effigy, catching a pair of druids in the blast, frying them instantly.  The effigy is set ablaze.

The-Wicker-Man

Esmerelda is entangled, but even motionless and at disadvantage to attacks, her shots are devastating.  Devlin’s hunters mark and new bow are a vicious combo, taking out druids left and right.

Kokhed charges at a druid, but gets caught between two berserkers, paralyzed by the druid’s hold person.  The berserkers all attack recklessly, striking with great accuracy, but opening themselves up to counterattacks.

Zib casts suggestion, telling one of the berserkers that Devlin is the reincarnation of their tribal leader.  He has the bow and must be protected against these other traitors!  The barbarian’s eyes glaze over and he cuts into a nearby friend.

The extremely one-sided battle starts turning the other direction when Cordelia missed attack rolls with guiding bolt after guiding bolt. Kokhed is on the other side of the circle from the rest of the party,  and after three rounds of automatic crits from the berserkers, finally saves against the hold effect and manages to go into a frenzied rage.  However, he has already taken too much damage, and after a single round of attacks, falls to the attacks of his foes.

Zib launched several shatter spells, which turn the tide, but finally loses his concentration on the suggestion when a druid got close enough to land a thunderwave on the tightly-packed party.

Unconscious, Kokhed is struck by the one remaining berserker standing over him, failing two death saves automatically with the auto-crit he takes, and putting him one away from death.  No one can get in range to heal him!  As the party cuts down the last of the berserkers, Kokhed rolls his last death save…an 8!  Kokhed is dead!

Cordelia has a plan!  Revivify!  But wait…revivify requires diamonds as a material component…diamonds the party does not have!  She doesn’t have gentle repose prepared, so Kokhed will go gentle unto that great night.

The effigy has fallen apart and burned itself out, and amongst the coals and ash lies a pristine green gemstone.  Scooping it and Kokhed’s body up, the party returns to the Winery. They give the Martikovs the gem, and leave Kokhed with them to allow the wereravens to bury him according to their customs.  The Martikovs curse Strahd and his minions, and tell the party they can likely make the winery work with just the two gems for now.

The PCs and Esmerelda head back to Van Richten’s tower in case the good doctor has already returned with Ismark, but he has not.  There, they bed down for the night.  In the AM, the sounds of an approaching wagon wakes them, and there is the good doctor Van Richten with Ismark in tow.

After Ismark is brought up to speed on recent goings on, Cordelia outlines her plan to get into the castle and retrieve the symbol and weapon which Madam Eva foretold in the reading way back in session 5:

This second card tells of a powerful force for good & protection.  A holy symbol of great hope.

(9 of coins / Miser)

Seek out a fortress inside the fortress.  In a place hidden behind fire you will find what you seek.

This third card is  the position of power and strength; it tells of a weapon of vengeance, a blade of sunlight.

(8 of Stars / Necromancer)

Within  the castle, a woman hangs above a roaring fire.  Find her and you will find the treasure.

Cordelia’s thought is to enter the castle in two groups.  The first would include her and Ismark.  They would seek an audience with Strahd and Cordelia would admit defeat, and act like she just wants to go home after the wedding.  They would attempt to keep Strahd distracted, while the others, known as the “stealth” group, would use Esmerelda’s previous scouting of the castle to locate the two rooms containing the artifacts and retrieve them.  If time permitted, they would look for the skull of Argynvost and retrieve it as well, hoping that its return would cause the undead revenant knights to ally with them against Strahd.  With the weapons safely in their possession and the knights on their side, they can plan to attack during the wedding.

Ismark is against this plan, as any delay would cost them freeing Ireena, which he feels should be the focus of any delve into the castle.  He is also concerned that splitting their forces would allow Strahd to divide and conquer them at their leisure.  Devlin agrees that the party should go into the castle at full strength and as a unified force.

Cordelia emphasizes that no one who has tried a “frontal assault” on the castle has been successful.  They argue about frontal assaults versus utilizing stealth to scout ahead a room or so, but maintaining party cohesion as a single group.  As a whole, they end up agreeing  that the items should be the first priority, as they would make surviving any encounter with Strahd or his minions much more likely.  They are worried, rightly, that Ireena will be well-guarded, but Ismark is adamant that rescuing his sister before her transformation into Strahd’s vampire bride be included in the plan.

Cordelia has another plan, if all else fails.  If she can get close to Ireena, she will kill her. Knowing Strahd wants to possess her above all else, she can barter her ability to raise the dead for Strahd leaving them alone (until they are ready to face him).  She doesn’t mention this to the NPCs for good reason.

With most of the day remaining, and knowing the castle is four hours away, the party loads up in both Van Richten’s and Esmerelda’s wagons and begins the journey from the tower to the castle, ending the session.

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D&D Combat Tips for Beginning Players

I have a lot of new or inexperienced players in my home games right now, so I thought I’d post a few thoughts on strategy and tactics when it comes to combat in D&D 5th edition.

Focus fire

The biggest mistake newbies make during a fight is when everyone attacks a different enemy.  This is a learned response from first level, when one hit may be enough to kill each creature on the table.  In those cases, it doesn’t really matter who is attacking what. However, by third or fourth level, many opponents will have upward of 50 hit points.  With everyone hitting a different target, each monster may take 6 or 7 rounds to kill.

E.g: Your party is of 4 PCs is fighting 4 ogres.  Each ogre has 60 hp and averages 7 damage per round (with misses taken into account).  Each character is capable of dealing 10 damage per round on average to the low-AC, low-Saves ogres.

If each character attacked a single ogre, the damage taken vs. damage dealt would look something like this:

Free Fire Rd1 Rd2 Rd3 Rd4 Rd5 Rd6
Ogre 1 HP 50 40 30 20 10 0
Ogre 2 HP 50 40 30 20 10 0
Ogre 3 HP 50 40 30 20 10 0
Ogre 4 HP 50 40 30 20 10 0
Damage Dealt to Party 28 28 28 28 28 0 140 Total Damage Taken

All four ogres attack each turn, with all ogres dying on the 6th round.  The party takes 140 average damage over that period, enough to likely drop a few characters.

Now let’s look at what happens if all characters focused on one ogre at a time until that ogre was killed:

Focused Fire Rd1 Rd2 Rd3 Rd4 Rd5 Rd6
Ogre 1 HP 20 0 0 0 0 0
Ogre 2 HP 60 40 0 0 0 0
Ogre 3 HP 60 60 60 20 0 0
Ogre 4 HP 60 60 60 60 40 0
Damage Dealt to Party 28 21 14 14 7 0 84 Total Damage Taken

Wow, the ogres dealt just over half as much damage to the party as our previous example. The fight still lasted six rounds, but by the second round, one ogre was dead.  By the end of round 4, there was only one ogre left, hitting for 7 damage, while in the other fight, all 4 were still swinging their clubs for 28 damage that round!  Overall damage taken is 84, which, if distributed correctly should result in no one hitting 0 hp.

Kill the guy in the dress!

Now that we know that we should be focusing fire to eliminate enemies quickly, and thus reduce the damage we’re taking, let’s talk a little bit about how to choose who to kill first.  In the example above, it doesn’t matter.  Each ogre has the same stats, capable of taking and dealing the same amount of damage.  But what if we’re fighting a mixed group, say two fighters in platemail and a shield wielding longswords accompanied by two guys in robes carrying staves or daggers?

  • Knowing nothing else about our opponents other than what they’re wearing, we can surmise a few things about them:
  • The fighters are going to be harder to hit (AC 20) and will likely have more hp than the guys in robes.
  • The guys in robes are most likely spellcasters, and each of their spells is going to have a much higher potential damage than the fighters’ longsword attacks.
  • The guys in robes are going to be easier to hit, and have less hp than the fighters.

No brainer, right?  Kill the guys in dresses, then clean up the tin cans.  If the opponent has healers, or those capable of buffing the combat power of their allies, you should focus on them first as well, as they can prolong the life of their allies, or cause them to do more damage.  Usually, when these targets die, or lose concentration, their buffing effects end.

Knowing when to blow your load (going nova)

Blowing your load, or going nova, means dealing as much damage as possible as quickly as possible.  For fighters, this would include using battle master maneuvers and action surge. For berserker barbarians, it means using frenzied rage, and for all barbarians, it means attacking recklessly.  Paladins use divine smite on every attack that hits.  Casters going Nova will drop their best concentration buffs or damage-over-time spells and then their biggest slot-level AE nukes.  For moon druids, it means picking the most damaging wild shape forms.  Rogues really don’t have a nova ability other than the assassin archetype’s bonuses when surprising opponents, and combos with other classes abilities that allow them to get an attack when not their turn (and thus sneak attack more than once in a round).

If you are familiar with raiding in MMOs, going Nova in D&D equates to using trinkets and cooldowns to burn down those last few percentage points of a boss mob’s health before the enrage timer or in a damage race encounter.

So now that we know what it is, how do we know when to do it?  Sometimes it’s obvious.  We’ve come to the last room of a small, three-to-five room dungeon and inside is a dark mage carrying a staff wreathed in black energy, with his undead henchmen.  He cackles maniacally and swears you will now die for attempting to interrupt his master plan. It’s clear the DM is trying to tell you “This is a boss fight.”

Any time your party is facing a number of opponents which are tough for your level may mean that it is time to go nova.  If the party’s raging barbarian is under half health after exchanging one round of hits, it is time to go Nova.  If the opposing side has multiple spellcasters capable of big damage or powerful save-or-suck effects, it is probably a good idea to go nova until those threats are eliminated.  When you are facing a dragon whose rechargeable breath weapon can one shot one or more characters, it is most definitely time to go nova!

If your DM runs the type of game when there’s just one or two big set-piece battles a day, and you have plenty of time to rest in between, then you should always be thinking nova.

Tanking and limiting damage taken

Look at your other party members.  Compared to them, are your hit points higher? Do you have a better armor class?  If you answer no to both of these, you should try to avoid getting hit more than is absolutely necessary.  Sometimes it’s unavoidable.  An opponent with ranged attacks, or spells can freely target anyone within range.  Just like a player character, intelligent enemies will focus on soft targets when able.

But often, fights are with big dumb brutes, such as the aforementioned ogres.  These guys can hit hard, but are limited to melee attacks, or their ranged attacks are much less damaging when they have them.  In those cases, you can do yourself and your party a favor by knowing your role when it comes to taking damage.

Let the party barbarian, paladin, or fighter engage at melee range while you stand back and deal damage from range.  Or if you have to be in melee range to deal damage, make good use of escape and damage reduction powers.  For rogues, this means using cunning action to disengage back behind the tank after dealing your damage, or if you can’t, using your uncanny dodge to reduce the damage you do take.  Monks can spend chi points to take dodge as a bonus action, significantly reducing the rate at which they are hit.  In extreme circumstances, such as fighting giants that hit for huge amounts of damage, it may even be worthwhile for the tanks to use the dodge action rather than attacking.

For ranged casters and archery-types, simply keep a solid distance from your opponent. Place yourself so if they were to move to attack you, it would cost them one or more attacks of opportunity from your tanks to do so.  Take out the ranged enemies at first, if their are any (see focusing fire), while your tanks absorb the hits from the opposing heavies.

On the flip side, don’t be afraid to take a hit or two.  Having all of the enemies focused on your tanks stops being ideal when the tank gets swarmed, beaten down, and overrun.  Ideally, the hits should get spread around enough so that no one drops in a combat, with the majority going to the heavily-armored, high-hp party members.

Crowd Control

Based on the above tips, we know that winning combat means defeating your opponents while taking as little damage as possible.  We focus fire on one opponent at a time to reduce the amount of damage we take over the course of the fight by reducing the number of enemies as efficiently and fast as possible.  We nova when we need to to win a tough fight where the enemies would out damage us if we simply used basic attacks and cantrips.

There’s another way we can prevent damage to us.  That is using abilities that prevent the opponents from attacking us effectively.  Such abilities are collectively referred to as “crowd control”.  Most of these are spells, and thus, we often call spellcaster classes “controllers”.

There are two types of control: hard control and soft control.  Hard control involves preventing a creature from attacking, or forcing it to take actions, or removing it from the fight entirely.

Examples of hard control:

  • Polymorphing an enemy into a harmless frog
  • Casting hold person on an enemy to paralyze it.
  • Casting fear to cause an enemy to flee the battle.
  • Catching a horde of orcs in a hypnotic pattern to immobilize and charm them.
  • Charming one of a pair of wyverns with dominate monster, and using it to attack its mate.

Soft control is limiting your enemy to non-ideal actions or using debuffing effects to reduce their combat effectiveness, or forcing them take damage in order to attack you.

  • Casting a wall of fire between your ranged characters and the enemies to force them to approach the tank or else take damage.
  • Using a slow spell to reduce the enemies’ attacks against you.
  • Fog cloud can prevent ranged enemies from seeing you, and thus force them to attack at disadvantage.
  • A tank with the sentinel ability and a reach weapon projects soft control around him as he can use his reaction attack an enemy which attempts to move around him to engage his allies.
  • A lore bard’s cutting words ability and the vicious mockery cantrip are both debuffs which can provide soft control.

In general, hard control is better than soft control because it is unavoidable.  When combined with focused fire and going nova, crowd control can trivialize an otherwise difficult encounter by shutting down the most dangerous enemies while you concentrate on the mooks.

Maximizing Action Economy

This is a more advanced topic, but I’ll touch on it here, as understanding its importance illustrates the underlying principles of some of the above tactics.

In general, each player or enemy gets to move up to their speed, and take one action on each of their turns in combat, and each character gets one turn in a round.  They may also use a bonus action if they have an ability which grants one.  They may take a reaction any time one is allowed, but only once between each of their turns and the next.  Finally, a character can concentrate on one spell or ability which requires concentration at a time. All of these are hard limitations in what a character is capable of doing on their turn.

Knowing how to maximize the effectiveness of the above action economy is what separates a good player from the average player.  For rogues, this means using your cunning action every round where possible, either to hide after moving to a new hiding spot (and thereby gaining advantage (and sneak attack damage) on the next turn’s attack).

For clerics, this means utilizing your concentration for your most effective buff spell or damage-over-time effect.  Spiritual weapon is an excellent spell choice, as you spend one bonus action to break the action economy on future turns.  It requires no concentration, and attacks a target within range each turn.  You can reposition it with a bonus action, which, unless you’re casting healing word on someone, you usually aren’t going to be using, anyway.

Bards utilizing their action economy will make good use of their bonus actions to provide bardic inspiration to their allies, or use cutting words with their reaction to cause an opponent’s key attack rolls to miss.  Any uses of these abilities which remain when the character recharges them during a rest are wasted, and result in action inefficiency.  The same holds true for their spell slots (and those of any other caster class).

 

 

CoS Session 15 – Argynvostholt Pt 2 and Back to Wachterton

Zib’s player was absent again this week, so I had my hands full running him and Kokhed.

The party starts exploring the remaining rooms on the second floor of Argynvostholt.  They quickly find themselves trapped in an upstairs hallway, a wall of stone manifesting to block the way back from the T intersection in which they stand. Through doors at either end of the hallway, float phantom warriors wearing the livery of Strahd, the spirits of his mortal army.  While their mundane weapons are not very effective against the incorporeal undead, they still defeat them soundly.  The two rooms have nothing of interest, and after a few minutes of searching for a way out, the wall of stone disappears, and they make their way back to the first floor.

It’s getting late in the day, and they hope to make it back to civilization before dark, so they decide to explore the non-spider infested side of the first floor and skip the arachnids for now.  In a wood paneled den, they have one last supernatural experience.  A fiery dragon-form erupts from a still hearth, floating above them.

“My lights have fallen into darkness.  Save them if you can.  Show them the light they have lost.”

With that, the fire burns out.

Cordelia and Devlin both think it would be a good idea to ask Madam Eva to do a reading about the dragon’s skull.  So, with that in mind, they decide to make their way to Vallaki (now Wachterton) for the night as they will be closer to the Tser Pool camp.  They arrive back at the town just as night falls, and make their way past the creepy gate guards and to the inn, where Kokhed is reunited with the Martikov clan.

Late that night, the smell of smoke wakes the party.  After determining it’s coming from outside the inn, they make their way to the street.  On the east side of town, flames rise from the Church of St. Andral.  They quickly don their equipment and run over to the church.  Outside, a group of masked cultists stands on the far side of the street chanting “Witness his glory” over and over.  They look up, and see a laughing Strahd circling above the church, mounted on his nightmare.  Ireena clings to his back, looking very cosy with the vampire.

From within the blazing church, screams can be heard.  A villager runs out the door, making it part of the way down the steps before a feral-looking vampire spawn falls on him, biting deeply into his neck.  The cultists cheer and resume their chant.

Tired, low on resources, and even lower in morale, Cordelia, Devlin, Esmerelda, and Zib turn back toward the inn.  Kokhed changes into a raven, leaving his equipment on the street and flies into the burning building.  He later rendezvous with the group back at the inn and reports there were no survivors within the church.  The priest, and every  innocent who sought nightly refuge there had been slaughtered by a group of vampire spawn.  By morning, the building has been consumed by the fire, and smoldering embers and debris are all that remains.

 

 

CoS Session 14 -Argynvostholt Pt 1

I’m 3 sessions behind on campaign reports, now that I’m running a second campaign and playing in yet another.  It’s the most D&D I’ve played in years, so I can’t complain too much, but I do intend to get caught up before Session 17, when the players will take their first steps inside Castle Ravenloft.

After a few weeks off, we return to the game on the morning following the werewolf fight at Van Richten’s Tower.  Zib’s player is missing for the session, so his character is along for the ride, but quieter than usual.

After learning a bit more about the two monster hunters, Dr. Rudolph Van Richten, and Esmerelda d’Avenir, our party consults a map of the region which Van Richten provides (the fold-out poster map of Barovia), to get a better idea of where they need to go.  Finding the old mansion that Madam Eva had mentioned is fairly close by, they make a plan to go there and look for any clues to its history.  After that, if they’ve got time before the big wedding, they’ll make attempts to retrieve the other two gems for the Winery.

Esmerelda had previously scouted the exterior of the mansion and is interested in learning more about it as well, so she agrees to accompany the party members and Kokhed there, while Van Richten will take a letter from Cordelia east to the Graenseskov to let Ismark know what happened to his sister.  She also wants a chance to evaluate the party’s combat skills to see if they are capable allies to join in the fight against Strahd.

On the way to Argynvostholt, the players encounter a solitary traveler shambling toward them clutching a longsword.  As he approaches, they see that he’s a walking corpse.  He greets them with a query.

“Be you friends or foes of the dark lord of this land?”

They reply that they are foes of Strahd, and he encourages them to visit the very place they are now traveling toward.  He tells them to seek out the leader of his order and convince him to help them against Strahd.  When they ask the undead knight’s name, he pauses, confused.  He doesn’t remember.  For so long, he’s existed in a state of rage at the wrongful deaths of his brothers and the dragon they loved, that he’s forgotten who he was.  This will be a recurring theme with the revenants they meet this session.

He continues on his way and the party does as well, arriving at the manor house a little before mid-day.  The manor was once opulent, but has fallen into disrepair, and one side of the building has partially collapsed.  A large octagonal tower rising from the back side of the building is intact, however, and smaller conical defensive turrets remain standing along the outer walls.

They see a large statue of a dragon facing the steps to the front door, and there is a moment of fear as some long-dormant magical effect triggers as they climb the steps.  The dragon breathes a blast of cold air over them, but it deals no damage, its magic a shadow of what it once was.

Cordelia knocks on the door calling out a greeting, but her knocks are met with silence. They wait a few minutes and then enter, finding themselves in a large entry hall.  A central stairwell climbs in a T to a balcony on the second floor overlooking the hall.  Several sets of double doors are set into the left and right walls, and two other doors are set in the wall ahead on either side of the stairs.

Devlin stealthily moves over toward the right side and opens the central set of doors.  The room beyond is in ruins, the roof and walls collapsed in places.  Huge spider webs are strung throughout, and several gigantic spiders make their way along the webs.  He shuts the door, and they decide to circle back later to clear out the vermin for the tasty experience it will provide.

As they return to the center of the hallway, a shadow of a great, winged dragon crosses the room, disappearing into the darkness above.  There is a slight disturbance in the air.

The party decides to check out the upper floors, as the shadow seemed to be directing them that way.  They head north at the T on the stairs, reaching the balcony overlooking the entry hall below.  From there, they explore a couple of rooms in the upper hall. From a hearth in the second room, a tiny mephit-like dragon made of smoke emerges, flying out of the room and back down the hall to the balcony.  They follow it through a curtain at the west end of the balcony and up a circular stairwell.  It flies down another hall with a partially collapsed ceiling and into a large room directly above the entry hall.

Inside they find an armored corpse sitting on a large throne-like chair, clutching a gleaming greatsword.  His eyes burn with a cold light and he challenges them with a raspy voice, asking if they are friends or foe, and warning that their deaths will be quick should they be foes.  They are quick to assure him they are friends, and foes of Strahd, mentioning their encounter with the nameless undead knight they met on the road.

He introduces himself as Vladimir Horngaard, former lieutenant of the mighty silver dragon, Argynvost.  He and his brother knights are kept alive by their hatred of Strahd, who centuries ago, when he was still a human, invaded this land with an army, slaying the dragon and his knights.  They have forgotten much of their old lives.  Vladimir especially curses Strahd as his lover and fellow knight, Sir Godfrey was slain at Strahd’s hand. Vladimir longs to be reunited with Godfrey.

After hearing the history of the order, the party requests Vladimir’s aid in defeating Strahd.  At this point, they find out that Vladimir has no wish to see Strahd put to rest. According to the revenant, confinement to Barovia is Strahd’s curse and punishment, and he does not wish to see that punishment end.  He gives them leave to explore the rest of the mansion, and tells them they are free to seek aid from the other revenants if they wish, but not to expect much.

They explore the rest of the floor, finding a group of six knights sitting around a table in a large chamber.  These are worse off than Vladimir, and do not remember their names. They are a morose bunch, still pining over the loss of their dragon, and cannot be persuaded to provide any help to the party.

Up to the rooftop battlements, and the party is startled when a silvered statue of a small dragon speaks:

“When the dragon dreams its dream within its rightful tomb, the light of Argynvost will beam and rid this land of gloom.”

They try to converse with the statue, but after it has delivered its message, it remains silent.  Looking out across the manor grounds, they see a mausoleum at the far end of a fog-shrouded cemetery.  Four dragon statues, similar to this face outward from its roof. This must be the “rightful tomb”.

They explore upwards first, entering a door toward the back of the roof and climbing up to a high tower top.  From there, they can look out over the land, seeing Vallaki, the Abbey of St Markovia, and The Old Bonegrinder mill.

They descend back down from the roof through a circular stairwell leading to what they believe will be the chapel.  At the second floor landing, they can look out over the balcony into the chapel.  Three more revenants kneel before a dusty altar.

The party makes their way to the first floor and greet the revenants, but are met with snarls of rage and drawn weapons.  The hatred has driven these three mad, and they wish nothing more than to slay the living.  The revenants are dispatched with relative ease, though many spells are flung by Zib and Cordelia, and the party searches the altar, finding a secret panel containing a necklace with 7 gemstones attached to it like charms, and a small potion bottle.

They make their way out the side door of the chapel and through the graveyard to the mausoleum.  Entering it, they find the interior dominated by the skeleton of a massive dragon.  Its skull is missing, and the rest of the dragon statue’s words leave little doubt that the return of the skull is the triggering event for getting Argynvost’s light to beam.

They feel safe in the mausoleum and take a short rest, identifying the necklace as a necklace of fireballs and the potion as a potion of diminution.  The thought of a tiny gnome amuses everyone, so Zib is given the potion, while Cordelia accessorizes with necklace.  We end the session there with the party deciding to explore the rest of the manor before taking on the room of spiders next session.