In which the Sigil Six cross the Dread Bridge, Helewynn is given a gift by the Shadar Kai and 300 or so zombies block their path through a deserted valley.
The Shadar Kai gave Helewynn a War Corvid, used by the Shadowfell’s elves to cross the shadow plane in appreciation of the tale of Strahd’s slaying and for her heroism. It is named Butters because the group tried to teach it the words, “Jusko is a butt,” as a gag because Jusko’s player was not able to attend. Butters the giant raven. See below for more on the War Corvid, using the stats for the Giant Eagle but with a better Intelligence.
A raven the size of a stag rushed onto the road.Black Tongued Thief by Christopher Buehlman
I made a little sound in my throat without meaning to.
It’s an unforgettable thing, seeing your first war corvid. Especially if it’s not on your side. It plucked Spear’s foot out from under her, spilling her on her face, then began shredding her back with its hardened beak. I woke myself out of just watching it and thought I should probably nock another arrow, but the corvid was already moving at Axe, whose name was actually Jarril. I tell you this not because you’ll know him long but because what happened to him was so awful I feel bad just calling him Axe.
They were getting their shit together, asking questions to the Dread Bridge’s stable hands about the car and feeding of a War Corvid and Kuru’s player said, “I want some kind of a wrinkle. Maybe Kuru got someone pregnant back in Barovia or there’s a child in his Vistani cart, a stowaway Vistani child looking for adventure and a way out of Barovia.
Brinne was born. She is a 16 year old girl who said, “You got my elder sister pregnant, Kuru; getting me out of Barovia was really the least you could do.” She asked Bugwump if she could be his apprentice because she wants to be a Wizard. I made her 16 because Bugwump’s player has a daughter in real life and I wanted Brinne to be a different age than her.
I rolled on the Encounter Table but decided to throw that roll away and instead choose a mob of zombies. Quickly searched, 5e, zombie mob and found stats I liked.
Mobs are cool monsters. It was a fun encounter – a little slow but getting around the 300 zombies, who had eaten their naive necromancer who had not understood the power of the Shadowfell, took the entire session.
When they tried to split the zombies up, a cold wind blew and Failed Soldier realized that some fell power was controlling them – not some necromancer in a tree but some kind of Undead Power that made its home in the Shadowfell.
Helewynn wanted to give Butters something to eat, so she swooped down to grab an outlying zombie. I asked for a DC 12 Animal Handling and when that was failed the zombies grabbed both steed and rider. Failed Soldier and Kuru, on pterodactyl, swooped in to help and things got rough. Only through Failed Soldier’s healing, giving it the hit points it needed to rise again, and Kuru’s turning it invisible, giving it advantage on its roll to escape the zombies’ clutches, did they stop a pterodactyl from perishing under the weight of the mob.
While Helewynn, Kuru and Failed Soldier took flight to scout out the mob, Trundle, Bugwump and Brinne forded a river. I asked for a DC 10 Survival check and Trundle failed the roll. I decided that meant Trundle didn’t see zombies under the river’s mud lying in ambush. It was less of a failure and more of a complication due to a failed roll. Trundle and Bugwump made quick work of the zombies before they could ever attack. Bugwump’s spell seemed to create some kind of localized black hole (what was that spell?).
In the end, they would land just ahead of the zombies, leading the mob away and sending their carts in another direction. The folk on flying steeds would catch up once the carts were through the valley. When the mob was too far to catch the carts, the Sigil Sixers on flying steed could see some kind of odd movement among the zombies as they passed along a goat corpse.
A zombie with its head down as if in prayer brought forward a goat head; its eyes glows red as it spoke, “You have evaded my toys on your way through this dead valley. But the Eyes of Orcus are upon you…”
DM’s Notes: Using the search terms, valley, D&D map, I found this map and used it for giving the zombie mob context.
Next Game: We will pass through the Ygoni Valley on their way to Gloomwrought.
More Actual Play posts about the Thursday Night Delving Club’s shenanigans? Links Below: