Veil of Whispers 12: An Unexpected Finale

Posted on Apr 21, 2024 in Tales from the Table. Last updated on Apr 24, 2024.
Part of a series called Veil of Whispers.

The curse of high-level encounter balance rears its ugly head.

Date: April 21, 2024

Characters present:

Character level: 12

So Far So Good

Having just beaten the undead crap out of a death tyrant, the party took their airship back to Waterdeep for their reward. With Morwyn’s player having left the group for scheduling reasons, the ten thousand gold was split four ways instead of five. Pi got a ring of protection, Caeus got magical armor, and Sander bought a magical shield. Thus, everyone increased their armor class. Little did we know it would be useless.

Lilith briefed the group on their next target: a dragon laying siege to the city of Dragonspear. How appropriate. There was also another living phylactery—a skeleton king—headed for the very same city. Before the party could head off, they were approached by a wizard named Ceraleus. They were packing their things and getting the airship ready for takeoff when he told them he had created a teleportation circle that would take them to another one of Valdemar’s phylacteries: a demon named Hutijin. Alternatively, they could bring the demon right here to Waterdeep and keep him in a sealed cage. For that, they’d need to bring an infernal sigil stone located in Dragonspear’s museum. For reasons that are about to become clear to you, dear reader, this would not end up mattering in the slightest.

After an unspecified number of days, the party arrived above the city of Dragonspear. No dragon could be seen in the skies. People were moving about in the streets. It didn’t look like much of a siege was going on at all. Setting the airship down right in the middle of a town square, the party noticed that the people in the streets weren’t people at all. They were various undead creatures—skeletons, zombies, and “fleshy dogs”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

The group had arrived too late.

Changing their minds, the party brought the ship back into the sky and headed for the city’s castle. They stopped right above it and used ropes to slide down to the roof. There was a large stained glass window at their feet, overlooking the throne room. They saw a skeleton1 atop the throne, two skeletal bodyguards by his side. Behind the throne was a skeletal dragon with green flames blazing inside its ribcage.

Caues threw all three of the holy grease grenades at once, sending them crashing through the window. Turns out that undead creatures are all vulnerable to those, so the damage was in the double digits as they exploded in a massive blast of yellow grease that covered the entire throne room.

A kraken miniature.
Pi's player sculpted and painted a kraken since we were planning on fighting one. This time it got to represent the dragon since we needed something big.

Sander lobbed down a high-level fireball, wiping out both bodyguards. The skeleton responded with something similar, and the dragon bathed the party in green flames from his bony maw. All that armor class and we only got to roll saving throws. Sander was knocked unconscious and, despite a combination of Lucky, Indomitable, and Inspiration, so did Caeus. Pi moved back from the window to avoid the attacks, but the dragon picked up the skeleton king with his claws and flew up to the roof. Pi raised her staff and fired off a spell, banishing the dragon to a demiplane. The skeleton king fell back down, but hurried up the stairs to get back to the roof. He arrived as Pi was trying to stop Sander from bleeding out. The skeleton king grabbed her with his cold, bony hands, draining her life force with just a touch. Down she went.

So Far Pretty Bad

Sander and Caeus awoke in a prison cell full of other living humanoids. Pi was there too but didn’t wake up. She was dead. Another prisoner told them that their equipment2 was in a chest just down the hall, but there were two zombies standing guard outside. Caeus, with a single hit point to his name, kicked down the door and made a mad dash past the zombies down the stone corridor. Sander, equally healthy, used his cleric-magic to turn the zombies away. One resisted, but the other sprinted as fast as he could away from Sander, leaving the duo with a single zombie to deal with.

There were three chests at the bottom of the hallway. Caeus opened one at random. Inside: his grandfather’s oathbow. He smiled, picked it up and fired three arrows at the zombie. Without all his fancy once-per-day–abilities, his damage output wasn’t so great. Also, that was clearly no ordinary zombie. It could take a hit just fine. It slapped Sander, and then Caeus, killing them both.

To be fair, it would’ve been really cool if they made it out.

Here’s the epilogue written by the DM, presented without edits:

A deadly blast doomed the party, The skeleton king (AKA Lord Soth) gave Pi her final blow. Caeus and Sander are dragged to the dungeons and finished off while trying to escape. The camera fades to black, end music plays.

The people held hostage in the dungeon slowly wither with noone to rescue them. The undead army grows stronger and with noone to stop them, they slowly expand, city to city, within 2 tendays Waterdeep is under siege by dragons and skeletons at the door.

Eventually the whole sword coast is under Valdemar’s control. And when noone expects it, he summons a Tarrasque using a scroll he found in Duskridge. He was keeping it for a rainy day when a heroic party would come to try and stop him.

And then everyone lived…. undead ever after.

In Conclusion

Well, that was definitely something. In hindsight, the adventure should’ve ended with Snake Day—it was a nice conclusion. The whole thing about how killing the Greasard led to Valdemar the lich returning was clearly made up after the fact, and felt like it was done just to mess with us players. The DM, of course, thought it was hilarious. Maybe it was. Although it made a grand total of zero sense to me. Needlessly critical as I am, we had fun overall.

Rest in peace Findus, Montgomery, Rosa, Cut, Theelf, Sander, Caeus, and Pi. Too bad Valdemar probably took over the world and all.

Since we had some time left, I ran a game of Honey Heist for the group. It always brings lots of laughter, and I think the simple rules somehow bring out the best of my game mastering. Maybe I just need to improvise more. Anyway, that’s the end of Veil of Whispers, abrupt as it was. Looks like I’ll be running something next.

  1. The same guy as in session 7, as it turns out. ↩︎

  2. Minus their armor, which they were allowed to keep for some reason. ↩︎