Haven: The College Observatory and Biosphere Command

Note: I’m woefully behind, this report covers two sessions, since the second was a direct follow on of the first.
Thursday, February 25nd, with the rest of the party returning to Citadel to recover, Rovert and his growing retinue linger near the Great Road across the lake from the college, where he rests the remainder of the day, recovering from the fatigue of travel and his wounds while time frozen:

  • Rovert (TrS): Level 14 Human Necromancer
    • Sidriss, Level 5 Black Dragon-Infused Lizardfolk Monk Henchman
    • Drej, Level 5 Psuedodragon Familiar
    • Elf-eater Skeleton
    • Zengiff, Talking Rock
    • 2 ogre skeletons

During the day, he sees a pair of giants moseying down the Great Road, apparently unconcerned. He draws their attention by starting to cast a spell and they run toward him. He finishes, hitting them hard with a chain death that nearly kills the one that takes the brunt of it. They retaliate with powerful club swings and while Rovert mostly dodges the first, he ends up prone while doing so and takes the second squarely. Sidriss flies into the fight, downing the most wounded giant and together they manage to finish the second before it kills Rovert, but the damage was definitely headed that way. While the giants are outside Rovert’s normal Animate Dead range, he uses his stronghold effect to animate them both, obtaining two massive, four armed skeletons.

With this fight having fatigued him significantly further than the excursion to the college, Rovert passes Friday at the camp site as well, ignoring various parties of kobolds, orcs, and a gnomish caravan that pass by. Near nightfall, a band of bugbears arrives, examining Earl’s raft. They are about to carry the raft away when Rovert kills them all with a death burst.

After a night of rest, Saturday morning, Rovert again feels up to entering the college. He rides on his new giant skeletons through the lake to the docks again, sending Drej ahead to see if the dome on the hill is clear. It is not, with a dozen skeletons a more powerful looking undead woman with glowing eyes on lookout. He decides to attack them head on (leaving the giants crouched just below the surface near the dock).

They take arrow fire from the skeletons as they approach and when Sidriss arrives ahead of Rovert, he is paralyzed by the leader’s stare. He recovers shortly and Rovert orders him away, engaging the leader himself while Sidriss smashes skeleton archers. The leader has a spell dampening power, but with four death beams a round, Rovert soon forces her to take a gaseous form and flee, but she escapes.

IMG_20200229_173238

With the remaining skeletons destroyed, they realize reinforcements are almost certainly on their way. Drej sees an opening in the dome and Sidriss carries Rovert up to it. Inside they find a massive telescope. Rovert soon finds the control panel and is able to interpret the elvish abbreviations enough to close the dome and prevent anyone one following him in.IMG_20200229_173228

With the opportunity to search the observatory freely, Rovert leaves Drej to watch the entrances at the dome and descends to search. He finds a deck of illusions, a magical refrigerator, energy drinks, and cookies with a faint magical aura in the break room. Searching the offices nearby turns up little at first, but he eventually finds a paper telling him of the location and combination for the vault where tuition is kept. He decides to wait in the observatory until nightfall and then go after the vault. He passes the day perusing copious observatory notes with his fast-reading glasses, picking up tidbits about concerns on the moon and an approaching comet that were being tracked.

At nightfall, Rovert makes himself invisible and casts a muffle spell on himself and Sidriss. Thus stealthed, they are easily able to make their way into the main administration building and into the basement where the note said the vault could be found.  There they find cameras and a dark room for film development, but even with earth penetrating vision, there is no sign of a vault of any kind. Apparently, the paper lied.

With worrying amounts of traffic above, they creep back out of the building and head back to the dock to ride the giants back to the Great Road and make camp for the rest of the night.

Second Session

During the night (still Saturday), Rovert and Sidriss are awakened as they take death damage. Not much, yet, but Rovert senses it growing stronger. They retreat across the Great Road and by the other side find that they are in the clear. Rovert senses it level out and within 20 minutes deems it safe to cross back over to their camp site.

Rovert surmises that the Lich must have cast the spell and decides to try greater stealth on another approach and enter at nightfall. Recalling the layout of the college, he considers visiting the cathedral near the dock to see what force there was slaying undead. Instead he decides to visit the massive glass dome in the northwest of the campus.IMG_20200307_165124

Sunday passes uneventfully and after sunset, Rovert and Sidriss again cross the lake on the shoulders of skeletal giants. With invisibility and silence, they make their way along the shore to the road entering the college from the bridge. Magical lanterns line this road and they scurry past the large entry gate. As they pass, a door knocker challenges them, “you aren’t supposed to be here.” Rovert instantly draws his spell-breaker dagger, but is struck by an invisible arrow before stabbing the two door knockers (turning them to mundane metal) and fleeing, taking more invisible arrows as they go. The arrows soon vanish away and they make their way to the front entrance to the building off the dome.

IMG_20200307_165129They find no threats in the building itself and are able to search it thoroughly, except for a section a facsimile forbids them to enter and they obey. Rovert finds significant loot, including a cash box with plenty of coinage, a stun wand, and several other trinkets. He also learns that this was the command center for a mission inside the dome, what the records call a biosphere, intended to study options for living below the ground to achieve safety from the sun.

With the place looted, Rovert locks himself in a windowless room with a magical lamp and devises a spell to make the link of bound spell points visible, particularly of bound undead. He casts this spell on Sidriss with a very high Magical Intuition check and Sidriss is instantly able to see the bond line radiating from Rovert to the southeast toward all his other undead. He flies out over the college to see if he can discern where the lich’s links are, and more importantly, where his Dead Lord sub-bonds might be so they can slay them and weaken the lich’s armies.

Sidriss returns (worried he was noticed) and reports that all links appear to have a common origin: the top floor of the central administration building. Stymied in his (very good) plan to diminish the lich’s forces, Rovert modifies the spell to detect phylacteries and casts this on Sidriss. Sidriss again goes out over the campus and this time takes a long time to return, returning well after the spell ends.

He informs Rovert that the undead forces were watching for him this time, led by seemingly undead ogres with glowing ghosts around them, possibly able to sense magic. He had decided to lose them before returning. He also reports that the lich’s phylactery is with him in the top floor of the administration building. With the campus crawling with undead, but some of them led away to the east by Sidriss, Rovert casts the spell once more on Drej, sending him to go try and see the phylactery more directly through a window.

Drej arrives safely at the window and sees that the phylactery is worn by the lich himself. He also hears that the lich is berating his vampire commander for not finding the intruders, who have apparently returned. Rovert and Sidriss, knowing they are being hunted, immediately make their way invisibly to the docks. Drej hears that the lich holds no hope for finding them if they are in the cathedral or library and orders that no undead be wasted there. He commands some be sent to check the biosphere, but to be careful. The vampire reports that certain other parties seem to be intact and undistrubed, including “the gardener.”

Arriving at the docks, Rovert uses his puppeteer staff to command the skeletons to fight each other. The lich notices this and orders the vampire to get forces to the docks, clear the campus of living servants, and prepare for him to cast his death storm again. Drej immediately flees the window, joining them as they cross the lake. They hurry across the Great Road and wait on the far side for the storm to begin.

Hours pass before the awaited death storm, which they wait out, staying on the far side of the Great Road long after to see how things unfold. They watch as a group of bugbears search their camp area, some of them taking the makeshift raft across the river while others return on foot. Rovert decides to strike at the lich one last time, following the bugbears and killing them, animating them to send into the college, but then thinks better of revealing himself to be a necromancer and releases the new undead. He returns to his tower, avoiding orc holds, the nekolyns near the blight, and the Vale on his way with his two new giants.

In these two sessions, TrS got a taste for two of the areas of the college, a bit of an idea of what is hidden there, but still a lot to learn. The lich is really angry now. Mortals have been leaving the college alone for centuries and now one dares to enter!? He’s definitely upping his defensive game.

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