After a week’s break thanks to some real-life issues, we got back to our Skybreaker campaign yesterday.
Having learned about the kobold incursions, our party’s next step was fairly obvious: visit the mine and see what we could discover about the kobolds’ motive. After an overnight rest, we set off early in the morning, to give ourselves plenty of time to get back to town before dark. None of us liked the idea of trekking through mountain territory full of hostile kobolds at night.
Despite our worries, we didn’t come across any more of the little monsters on the way to the mine. The entrance, too, was clear of guards — a strange detail. We took some time to search for traps, bearing the kobolds’ reputation in mind, but we turned up nothing there, either. Finally, we went in.
Outside the dungeon, Cat had led, scouting ahead of the party. Inside, Matias and Tomal were our vanguard. Cat, with her bow, and Zaz stayed in the center, where they could still strike freely at range. Rodrik was at the back, since he’s less squishy than the center two in case of a rear attack, and more capable of attacking at range than Tomal. Rodrik, being a fairly easygoing type, didn’t object; I figured he’d be pretty pragmatic when it came to survival, and it seemed like a decent plan.
The first passage proceeded into the mountain, downward along a slope. We soon came to an open area, used to store some of the miners’ equipment, judging by the picks, lanterns, and other paraphernalia scattered along the outer wall. It also featured a number of bodies — humans and dwarves we figured for the miners, and kobolds. It seemed the miners had tried to make a stand.
Then, after a cursory investigation, as we prepared to head deeper into the mine, the corpses began to stand up.
This was a rather creepy moment, actually, and I tip my imaginary hat to Ron for it. It also presented us with quite a challenge: over a dozen kobold, human, and dwarf zombies, all of them now standing between us and the mine entrance.
Rodrik was now in “front,” but I rolled poorly on initiative, and would be acting last. Cat started out, sticking one with a few arrows; down it went. Zaz scorched a couple. Matias moved to the front and tossed a throwing hammer; it missed, but it allowed him to mark the enemy. Zombies started to swarm us. Tomal moved up to support Matias. And Rodrik, naturally, turned undead.
It turns out that turn undead is a pretty impressive power when you’re surrounded by zombies. Most of the uncoming horde got seared by brilliant white light and driven back, and a couple crumbled to dust. Since the ones I’d hit couldn’t move for a turn, we had a chance to clean up, and we turned the tide pretty quickly after that, especially once Zaz pulled out a Force Orb on the enemies I’d pushed into a nice clump. Zombies, unsurprisingly, have a low Reflex defense.
This turned out to be an easier fight than Ron had expected, he said afterwards. There was some lucky rolling involved, but he hadn’t counted on the power of turn undead’s “push + immobilize” effect to set up further area-effect.
We took a short rest to recharge our encounter powers, while in-character we talked over what this meant. Was there a necromancer among the kobolds? If so, he was sufficiently ruthless to animate the kobold dead, too. If not, then we had corpses rising as zombies for some other reason. We didn’t have any real information to go on, yet, so we chalked it up to another mystery and pressed on.
We carefully explored the branching passages of the mine, occasionally coming across another body. We burned them, just to be sure. We didn’t see a single live kobold, although we did trip a dart trap at one point that poisoned Rodrik. Fortunately, dwarves have a strong resistance to poison, and he shook it off quickly.
We fought a couple of fire beetles that had turned aggressive, and later a smaller group of zombies that was shambling about a room, but on the whole we were surprised by how quiet and empty the mine seemed. Darstan, the reeve, had led us to believe that the mine had been suddenly flooded by kobolds. Where had they gone, then?
Cat signaled a halt, telling us she’d heard something. She crept ahead into the darkness, returning five minutes later and silently gesturing us back. She’d found the kobolds — some of them, anyway. They’d barricaded the passage up ahead and were huddling behind the makeshift barrier with readied crossbows. They were definitely expecting trouble, and soon. And it would have to be coming from our direction, because there were no other branches between us and the barricade.
One Perception check later, we became aware of a soft shuffling sound from back the way we’d come, growing louder as it progressed toward us…
And there the session ended.