Wednesday, July 13, 2022

"Thriller"

In Seattle, it's 12:41am. My kids are still being wrangled into bed upstairs. Summer nights in a home full of nocturnal animals (the beagle snores loudly, roughly ten feet from where I sit). 

In the Port Angeles of my campaign world, in Castle Ravenspire (my version of "Ravenloft") it is, per my turn counter notes, 9:30pm. The sun set approximately 15 minutes ago, and the vampires are (more or less) fully awake. 

The players, however, have little idea regarding this...they are in a windowless chamber, standing over the body of a flesh golem that the managed to completely surprise and backstab to death (yes, I added a flesh golem. If one is going to go "full Hollywood" you might as well have a Frankenstein monster; the werewolf in the dungeon was already killed...though Sofia's PC was infected with lycanthropy. She'll discover that in a few weeks). The four party members remaining in the group have a grand total of 40 hit points remaining, an average of 10 each. They have no more healing spells, no more healing potions. 

Quite frankly, they seem doomed for destruction. True, they have a deck of many things in their possession, but they haven't quite decided whether or not to draw from it. A wish would really come in handy about now...but none of them know the potential of the deck (my players have never experienced this magic item), only that its magic can only be used once. They're holding onto it as a last resort.

There are a total of five vampires in Ravenspire: the countess and her four (half-vamp) thralls. One thing I now realize: I have almost zero idea what these creatures do upon rising. Certainly they have to hunt and feed (I suppose...D&D vampires are somewhat different from the traditional Bram Stoker nosfearatu), but night is the ACTIVE time of these creatures...and Strasha and her brood do have a domain to run.

Per the MM, a vampire moves 12" or 18" flying (though I infer from the text this latter is limited to bat form). The PHB tells us that movement is five times that over a "known" route, and the castle is certainly familiar territory to its inhabitants. On foot, it would take Strasha all of 10 minutes to traverse the distance from her crypt to the throne room, via the chapel...but would she go through the chapel with its silver icon of goodness? By taking the form of a bat, the countess could fly up the 380' shaft of Hightower peak, down Northtower to the Hall of Honor, and from there enter her throne room with some dignity...by passing through the servant's hall?

No.

The countess...like any nobleman...should have a regular, nightly agenda. No need for servants to dress her...or is there? Perhaps. She does have a bedchamber (currently filled with a living human thrall...well, now a dead human thrall after the adventurers got to her), and a dressing suite and bath. From there (where she could reach via the Hightower shaft) she can descend the Southtower stair, check in with her accountant (also currently dead), before entering her throne room. That seems more reasonable. 

Helga (the half-vamp in the servant's hall) is, of course, Strasha's immortal lady-in-waiting, so it will be her duty (upon rising) to head up the servant stairs to the "Rooms of Weeping" to await her mistress. After aiding the countess in the usual routine, it will be Helga's job to clean and tidy Strasha's apartments, allowing the countess as much symbolic "life" as she can muster. 

The three other half-vamps in the crypts...Duke Davis, Sacha, and Lord Paris...are perhaps "boy toys" of the countess. Upon rising, they are probably left to hunt at their leisure (while the countess attends to the business of her domain), until called by their lady. I'd guess it's safe to assume they'd also be flying up the central shaft of Hightower, as it is the easiest egress from the crypts...so long as one can fly.

Well, then...good enough. Strasha will shortly be discovering the murdered corpse of Gertruda (who Helga has certainly just come across). She will then call her paramours back to her while sweeping her apartments. Hurrying to her treasure chamber, she will find its contents ransacked, her giant spiders dead, and her crystal ball stolen. 

Will she assume the interlopers have absconded with her wealth (as they probably should have)? Or will she instead sweep the castle with her undead minions looking for further signs of intrusion? Off hand, I'd assume the latter...after all, she IS a genius, and it shouldn't take long if the vamps run a coordinated search pattern...plenty of time to mount nightmares and release the hell hounds to track thieves fleeing back to town.

No, it shouldn't take long for the vampires to discover the adventurers...not with the trail of blood and larceny they've left in their wake. It's just a matter of time...a handful of turns...before the party is discovered and the entire clan is summoned to descend on them. 

This may end very badly.
; )

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Turns out it hasn't ended (yet) at all.

      We'll see what happens.

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