The following is one of my Campaign Diaries, where I recap the latest game of Dungeons and Dragons that my friends and I play. Click here for the Campaign Diaries in order, click here for a “Who’s who” style summary, and click here for a Dungeons and Dragons introduction post!
There’s been a murder…
The Dungeon Delvers looked at Sir Donat of Rosenbeck, a Paladin, a Landless Lord, and a comrade. They stared at the corpse of a man they all fought alongside, horrified. Although totally naked, he seemed strangely strong and defiant. Three javelins pinned his corpse to the wall. One through his right shoulder, one through his stomach, and the third one piercing the left side of his chest. His left hand was still gripping one of the javelins pinning his chest. Outside an owl swooped past the window, screeching, reminding them of the late hour. Naoise stepped forward, and pulled a slip of paper out of his mouth.
“It’s a note,” she said, “It’s from The Black Spider.” She read it out loud.
Leave for Neverwinter. Do not return. Stay away from Phandalin. Signed, the Black Spider.
“Well… What do we do?” she asked the silent room. Dovogholz and Gryff, who had known Donat the longest, stepped forward to take his body from the wall.
“Wait,” said Theon, “Let’s investigate the body first.” The pair stood to one side, and Naoise, knowing the part Donat played in freeing her, offered to help. They examined his body first. Theon recognised the javelins as Donat’s own, and Naoise noticed that the javelins were ice cold to the touch. Upon closer inspection, the pair of them realised that there was no blood coming from the wounds, as the wounds had frozen shut from frostbite.
During this, Dovogholz got impatient and pulled Donat’s body from the wall, covering it with a bedsheet from the bed in the room. As he did a slip of paper fell from the bed. Naoise picked it up.
“Look at this,” she said, “It says ‘Qelline – Carp – Krampus – Ask Daran.'”
“Show me that!” said Gryff, yanking the paper from her hands. He recognised the writing. “That’s Donat’s writing.”
Investigating the room.
Meanwhile, Theon, ignoring everything that’s going on, asked Reynarín to help him check the room for any clues. She did but wasn’t that much help. The room was a mess. The door they came in was directly opposite Donat’s body. The bed that Dovogholz took the sheet from was broken, and a tub full of freezing cold water sat in the far corner. As Reynarín stepped across the room Theon heard her footsteps slosh and realised that water from the tub had spilt all over the floor, the edges of water closest to Donat’s body were starting to freeze.
Dents and dings and slivers cut all over the wall made Theon conclude that Donat had been taking a bath when he was
Naoise, who still hadn’t given up searching for clues either, found a small bottle under the bed, with a tiny drop of glowing purple liquid inside.
Interviewing the Witnesses.
The group went downstairs, Naoise ordering her new husband to guard the door until they returned. According to Sildar, who brought them upstairs to the crime scene, the last three people to see Donat alive were Sildar himself, Toblin the Innkeeper, and Qelline Alderleaf, a local halfling farmer.
As a result of so many people to talk to, the group split into two. One would travel across town and talk to Daran Edermath (Whom could possibly help them identify the strange liquid) and the other would talk to Toblen and then go to Qelline.
The group who went to Daran found out he was a retired adventurer and was being visited by his old ally Syndra. They asked them if they had ever heard of “Krampus”, but neither had. Syndra helped them identify the liquid as the last drop of a Potion of Spider Climb.
The other half of the group went to Qelline’s home, and found her to be weeping alone in her kitchen. She told them that she’d hired Sir Donat to help find her son Carp, who had been taken by a man wearing a pale blue cloak. She saw the man run across the fields towards Mt Surble. They could tell that she was anxious, as she said she was originally from much further north of Phandalin.
“Where I come from, tonight is the night that Krampus can come and steal children away,” she said, “The Cult of Katara usually aides the Krampus, and I fear the worst.” She led them outside to where the man was last seen, and then screamed in terror to see Mt Surble covered in snow, a sure sign of the Krampus.
A hike in the snow.
After an intense debate, the group decided to sleep for the night, instead of head out straight away. They were tired, low on energy, and the spellcasters of the group (Theon, Naoise, Necrolas and Reynarín) were low on spells. The next morning Naoise ordered Frank to dress Donat in his armour and prepare a funeral pyre for him, but not to light it until they returned.
“Of course, any-an-anything you say!” he said, bowing as she left.
The group set off immediately, noticing the weather getting colder and colder as they marched. It was a long hike, but they knew they could get to the top of Mr Surble before nightfall.
Hours later, halfway up the mountain, the party could see a man in a pale blue cloak ahead of them.
“STOP!” roared Dovogholz, and the man broke into a sprint.
The Cult of Katara
As he ran, the cultist pulled something from his cloak. Gryff, used to looking over long distances, could make out a pale blue gem. The man raised it above his head, and then slammed it down on the cold, snow-covered mountain side.
A flash of blue light and an extra blast of cold air emerged as the snow pulled up onto the air, a swirling ball of snow and ice began to make its way towards the party.
“It’s an Ice Elemental!” warned Theon, gathering a Firebolt spell at his finger tips and shooting it up the mountain.
As the cultist ran, two small imps of icy nature, known as m
Reynarín focused her efforts at one of the two mesphits, killing it eventually. As it died, the mesphit screeched and screamed with an ear-splitting cry, and then exploded, a shower of icy shards, scattering all over Reynarín, stabbing her skin.
“Keep back when you kill the small ones!” she warned, casting a spike growth spell to slow down the fleeing cultist.
It took some time, but eventually, the group destroyed the Ice Elemental as well as the Mesprit. Looking ahead, Theon could see that the cultist was very far up the mountain.
“He’s getting away!”
Santa Claus is comin’ to town!
Just as the party began to chase the cultist, they all heard sleighbells jangling all around them. They watched as a large man dressed in red and white came storming down the mountainside in a sleigh. They could just about make out the cultist cowering as he was consumed by the bright red energy of a spell. The sleigh kept thundering down the snow covered slopes straight towards them.
“Weapons at the ready!” roared Dovogholz, raising his halberd and preparing for battle. The others, cold, tired and battle-weary, prepared for battle with this oncoming stranger.
“Fear not, Warriors of the just!” bellowed the man as his sleigh came to a stop. He had a long white beard and a red coat with white fur trim. “I know who you all are, and I am here to help you in your mission!”
Theon and Naoise looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Naoise spoke first.
“Alright, who are you then?”
“I am called many names in many worlds. St Nicolas, The Great Protector, Fol Novetsk… But I am particularly fond of the name Santa Claus.”
The Gifts of Santa
Santa went on to tell the group of his story. Centuries ago, in another world, he was a young demon hunter, and a good one. The only demon to ever best him in battle was Krampus. As he lay dying in the snow, he shouted out to the god Torm, the god of courage and self-sacrifice.
Torm appeared to Santa and asked to be saved so he could defeat Krampus. Torm instead offered Santa immortality, in exchange for his eternal service. Santa accepted… “and now I travel the many worlds, visiting children whenever Krampus comes near. When I give them gifts, they are protected for at least a year. Then I go again. It’s an endless task, but it keeps most of the children of the worlds safe from harm.”
“Alas, I can’t join you. If I get too close to the Krampus Torm’s blessing on me vanishes, and I’ll just fade away. I can help in another way though…” He smiled at them all, his eyes twinkling. Santa reached into the back of his sleigh and pulled out a large green velvet sack. “You may all reach in here.”
One by one they all came forward, each reaching into the sack and taking out items of great beauty and power. Reynarín took out a silver ring with an orange gem glowing in it. As soon as she put it on the cold no longer affected her.
Naoise went next, and took out a pair of bracers. When she put them on she felt a surge of magical energy that would help her aim her crossbow bolts better. Then Gryff stepped forward, and pulled out a magical quiver that would never run out of arrows. Theon pulled out fur-lined boots, that worked the same as Reynarín’s ring, while Dovogholz took a golden amulet from the bag, that gave him a stronger constitution and will power.
Santa wished the party luck and left them to continue the climb up the mountain-side. The blizzard whirled around them and howled in their ears, but determination led them further up the mountain trail, to save Carp the Halfling boy. H
Will they party save the halfling boy?!
How will they survive the battle with Krampus?!
Who killed Ser Donat?!
Find out the answers to all this and more, next time!
Behind the screen
I had to split this post into two parts! There is just so much in it! The players and I had a fantastic time playing this session, and I really loved it as it is the first time I really let loose and created an entire session from scratch!
I really had fun sitting back and watching the players try and figure out the whodunnit part at the beginning. It was
infuriating interesting to watch them obsess over every little detail in Donat’s room, as well as choosing to deal with his corpse before ploughing on with the plot.
I also got to introduce Syndra Silvane, the friend of Daran Edermath’s. Any other DM’s out there might recognise her from the adventure Tomb of Annihilation. I’m planning on running that straight after we finish Lost Mine of Phandelver, so they should care more about her when the time comes to travel to Chult!
All the best everyone, I hope to have the second part of this post up by next week. Tweet at me or give out to me on facebook if it doesn’t show up!