All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 1, Knights & Elves

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought, Session 1, Knights & Elves

All Shadows Lead to Gloomwrought / Session 1: Knights and Elves

In which the Sigil 6 meet a quartet of Holy Knights of the Raven Queen and pay their toll for crossing a Shadar-Kai Bridge with the Tale of the Strahd’s Slaying.

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Failed Soldier?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
  • Trundle rolled a fairly high perception roll looking at the Demi-Plane of Dread’s Mists and so he could see that they were not natural but manufactured and also malevolent.

    “Let’s take our time and get to Sigil by walking through the Shadowfell to Gloomwrought – enjoy the market there, purchase magic items with our fortune and not be on the Lady of Pain’s clock for a while…”

    Their friend, Tefnek, a Ranger from Chult, is with them. Their pterodactyls are in a cart/pen on a mule-drawn cart.

  • With the Staff of the Forgotten One, Bugwump’s Arcanna rolls are always amazing. He rolled 27 to know more about the Shadowfell and so I told him what I knew of the Despair that can infect travelers and a bit about undead being prevalent, home of the Raven Queen – blah blah blah. The roll is so high, though, I told the player I’d answer questions later as they came up.

    When Kuru heard about the Despair, he bought some joke books from the Vistani.

  • They travelled away from the Domains of Dread and towards the Shadowfell. When they were exhausted, they came upon a hill above the mists, a waypoint for travelers. Already camped there were 4 Holy Knights of the Raven Queen, know as the Raven Queen’s Consorts, they are undead hunters.

    They were very intrigued to hear that the Sigil 6 had killed the First Vampire. The quartet of holy knights, Chatham, Corax, Podum and Morpha (I went to the Raven Wikipedia page and chose words that seemed like they’d make cool names). They had been tracking Lord Soth across the Shadowfell, where he was riding with his posse, recruiting new allies.

  • Players’ Addendum (Jusko’s Player): My favorite part is that while you’re orating a tax report, and Flodier and Kuru are trying shadow puppetry to make your story seem more dynamic, Jusko is boosting Trundle to engage in some light vandalism and he’s totally into it. We’re 15 year olds with magic lasers.

    (Helewynn’s Player): “My favorite part was the entire kerfuffle that occurred after Helewynn just outright told the knights that they had killed Strahd, and then there’s 20 minutes of back and forth bickering in front of four stunned black knights who continue to feed them increasingly better food, and then Bugwump magically pukes on the black breastplate. I5 year olds with fresh tattoos and magic lasers.”

    DM’s Note: Bugwump puked on the breastplate because Bugwump’s player describes the Frog-Kin Wizard’s spellbook as being glands on his body and so his spell descriptions are often biological in some way. The vomiting was a Non-Detection spell, leading to some amazing back and forth about Frog-kin society and vomiting as a ritual act.

  • Jusko discussed having Lord Soth’s breastplate, having found it in Strahd’s castle. He admitted the breastplate seemed to want him to devour life from others. When Kuru ribbed him about having it, Jusko admitted wanting to enter Gloomwrought with an ace up his sleeve, something to barter with.

  • They got to a bridge from the mists, over a bottomless shadow chasm, leading into the Shadowfell. The bridge was fortified by towers inhabited by Shadar-Kai. The knights were to be given free crossing without paying and insisted, upon hearing from Trundle that the Sigil 6 had killed Strahd, that they told the tale.

    “How do we know you are not a Dreadlord, trying to escape?”

    “Because we are he Sigil 6 and we just killed Strahd.”

  • When they were crossing the bridge, all of the Shadar-Kai, fully cloaked and veiled, were gathered to hear the Tale of Strahd’s Slaying. Jusko told them that Helewynn had run him through and so Helewynn told the tale. Elves sworn to the Moon have some kinship to Elves born in shadow, I thought. And so, on a bridge above a bottomless chasm, a Moon Elf Barbarian told the Death of Strahd in High Elvish to Shadar-Kai.

    Helewynn told the tale and asked Jusko to show Strahd’s signet ring, which he did. An old Shadar-Kai crone approached to verify and she yelled, “TRUTH!” in her Shadowfell dialect of High Elvish to the crowd, who gasped audibly.

    DM’s Note: Let me stop for a second and say what I loved about this scene. Jusko’s player set up Helewynn’s player and Helewynn’s player set him up right back. The picking up of the signet ring was something Jusko’s player talked about doing; there was no real reason for Helewynn’s player to take notice but they did remember that detail and used it to make another character relevant in a scene. It was players awesoming up other players. To me, that is what good play is – bolstering others at the table.

    Helewynn did not roll high on the Performance roll, even with Advantage. They still believed her but in the legends to come, there would be huge misunderstandings and misrepresentations of what really happened.

  • I rolled an 8 and a 2 for the first encounter and had a 4e character who was a Raven Queen Paladin, so I used my idea for that character to flesh out these knights.

    I wasn’t sure how to take them out of the Mists, so I rolled a 9 and a 6 and immediately thought of a Shadar-kai toll bridge. I have more thoughts on this and will seed those in the next session.

    It was a low-key game; I was feeling low energy but I loved what came out of it.

Next Game: Jusko’s player suggested the Shadar-Kai give their Moon Elf cousin a gift for her tale. Love it. We’ll start there next game before heading into the Ygoni Valley.

What do you think the Shadar-Kai should offer Helewynn as a gift for telling them about how she killed Strahd?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

More Actual Play posts about the Thursday Night Delving Club’s shenanigans? Links Below:

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The Raven Queen vs. the Ghoul King

I took the Inspirational Tables idea I’ve been using in our Thursday D&D games and applied it to a DM’s Guild Supplement filled with tables.

It went on sale this morning for $4. Please check it out.


The Raven Queen vs. The Ghoul King cover In which inspirational tables are offered to support DM’s in depicting a grave war between the Ghoul King’s pale-handed ghouls & the ebon-winged paladins of the Raven Queen.

Daydreaming about the upcoming Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

A new book is coming out from Wizards of the Coast, a ton of friends have work in it that I can’t wait to read and it is a fun exercise to think: What would I do with it at the table?

I haven’t seen the book but…here’s an idea : use Godbound (Free or Deluxe) to drop demi-gods on it. Turn Ravenloft into a gothic-high-fantasy sandbox.

The Demi-Plane of Dread has been creating misery and fear throughout the planes for too long. It is time to end it. The Powers get serious and drop some heavy hitters into the Mists.

NOTE: I was going to make each character and post a pdf but that feels off. Below is a short take on what those characters could be, the Words of Creation that I’d use to power them and here’s a form-fillable pdf so you can do the rest.

The Arch-Angel of Hope

Words: Sky, Command, Health

Sphere with eight wings and a thousand eyes or belly-buttonless human with wings of fire? You tell me.

Swap out one Word for Sword if you want to go that route…

The Saint of Swords

Words: Sword, Alacrity, Death

I imagined Kaz, the vampire who cut off Vecna’s hand, but if that doesn’t fit, swap out Death for what fits your take on the Saint of Swords.

The Raven Queen

Words: Death, Winter & Birds (from Lexicon of the Throne)

I love the Raven Queen; she’s my favorite part of the D&D pantheon.

The Patron Saint of Paladins

Words: Sword, Sun, Command

Patron Saint of Fallen Paladins? Swap out Command or Sun for Passion or War or Deception.

Too on the nose? You want this to get a bit strange?

Yeah, I hear that.

The Githyanki Lich Queen

Words: Sword, Death, Sorcery

Maybe Command instead of Swords?


Words: Might, Passion, War

Grumsh SMASH!

Asmodea, Princess of Hell

Words: Sorcery, Deception, Underworld

Wanna to play a devil?

The Created God

Words: Artifice, Knowledge, Health

What if golems put together their own god from pieces of dead gods?

Maybe swap out Artifice for Engineering from Lexicon of the Throne if the game is going to have a more science fantasy vibe. Vengeance if getting back at the Creator is important…

I am assuming that the book will have rules for becoming a Dark Lord. We’d hack those to fit this. Maybe a way to call upon the mist for power but when you do you edge closer to becoming that which you hunt? Maybe a new word, The Mist, that one can take at any time in order to gain their own Domain?

And of course Godbound’s stripped down and solid faction rules so that Ravenloft becomes a big, messy, gothic sandbox.

Let me know what you’d like to play, what you think or if there are deities you’d want to play who aren’t listed above.

The Lich Wars

The Liches

Why are they fighting? What are their goals? Can their goals be understood by our soft living brains?

Vecna: traditional lich, concentrating on undeath and secrets known for having an artifact hand and eye

  1. Wizard Cultists missing an eye and/or hand
  2. Floating undead eyes
  3. Swarm of crawling undead hands
  4. Corrupt priests who know your secrets
  5. The Hand and/or The Eye, adorned like reliquaries watched over by the lich-spawn apprentices
  6. Death Knight Praetorian Guard

Acerak: demilich turned stranger and stranger through traversing the far realms while his bejeweled skull mouldered in a horrific tomb

  1. Traps
  2. Illusions within illusions
  3. False treasures behind a secret door hiding the True secret door
  4. Alien tentacle beasts from the Far Realms
  5. Undead beasts with magical gems embedded in flesh and bone
  6. Castle-sized floating gem-fortress shaped like a skull (subtle!)

The Lich Queen: immortal leader of the Githyanki state, sending armies bolstered by red dragon winged cavalry into all the worlds from her capital city built on the body of a dead god in the Astral Plane

  1. Warriors with Silver Swords
  2. Warlock Courtiers with Silver and Obsidian Teeth
  3. Red Dragon Air Cavalry
  4. Gate-Fort under construction
  5. Crystal Psionic Battery in a recently requisitioned mule drawn cart
  6. Githyanki Rangers hunting Illithid

Minor Players

  1. All undead adventuring party (Vampire fighter, ghoul thief, revenant wizard, Spawn of Kyuss Priest) led by Kaz
  2. Local Vampire Lord(s) here to treat with Kaz
  3. Local monks enthralled by Githzarai unorthodox ideas on chaos and free will
  4. Githzarai fighting tournament
  5. Black winged angels watching from a distance
  6. Paladins in black armor helping refugees, offering prayers over the dead

Kaz: vampire rival of Vecna’s, leading a small platoon of ghouls, revenants and vampires

Githzerai Monks: ancient rivals of the Githyanki, monks who find solace in the chaos of their monasteries floating in the chaos of Limbo

Raven Queen: goddess of death and winter, often sends her black winged paladins to planes where these forces are warring to make sure the state of death isn’t damaged too terribly

Roll 6d6 (choose which 6 or go for it and roll all 8)

Arcane forces, unleashed in a battle have damaged:

  1. Time
  2. Weather Patterns
  3. Death
  4. Gravity
  5. Memory
  6. Dreams

For now, the upper hand is held by:

  1. Vecna
  2. Acerak
  3. The Lich Queen
  4. A ducal army
  5. Ragtag adventurers
  6. Stalemate

The last battle was a:

  1. Bloody slaughter
  2. Long brutal siege
  3. Feint within a feint
  4. Series of otherworldly storms
  5. Landing action as one of the armies made its way through a gate
  6. Vicious attack in order to gain control of a vital piece of geography

The Ghoul’s Hungry Throne  is:

  1. Pledging their teeth and axes to Vecna
  2. Rallying to Acerak
  3. Treating with the Lich Queen
  4. Entertaining offers from all armies
  5. Using the chaos to grab more territory
  6. Fortifying its position and declaring neutrality

The three armies are sending scouts and preparing to attack in order gain control of a:

  1. Castle
  2. Bridge
  3. Gate
  4. City
  5. Dungeon
  6. Unknown, what the fuck are these undead wizards trying to gain here?

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The Raven Queen vs. Vecna

This is a world where two ideas of death are at war. The Raven Queen is a young, ambitious goddess who has recently taken up winter and fate into her portfolio, to compliment death. Her black winged angels take souls to their final rest without mercy but are known for allowing a ghost one more soft breeze through the hair of a loved one or a final look back at the mortal world before venturing to Her Winter Kingdom.

Vecna sees death as his personal vault of secrets and lore. He plunders the dead for arcane knowledge and perverts cycles of life and death to make his undead minions and hordes of lifeless bodies to march for his army’s glory. His cult is made up of one-eyed mages who thirst for secrets and power.

Their war would do terrible harm to a world.


Unnatural Events Table

  1. An unnaturally long or cold winter takes hold of the world.
  2. Corpses whisper secrets when you whisper secrets to them.
  3. Anyone near-death can see the paths of fate that their life might take should they survive.
  4. Wizards who take out their own eye gain a level and powerful Necromantic spells in their spellbooks.
  5. Statues of angels’ wings turn to onyx and gain strange powers.
  6. Cemeteries become cold and covered in ice and snow.
  7. Fortune telling becomes painfully accurate and fortune tellers are Raven-bound to be truthful.
  8. Flocks of ravens announce there whereabouts of undead beasts.


Raven Queen’s Forces

  1. Holy Knight(s) of the Order of the Raven Queen’s Consorts (1d4)
  2. Undead hunting team (Van Helsing style)
  3. Pilgrims, visiting the great necropoli of the world
  4. Murder of Ravens doing something ravens don’t normally do
  5. Holy winter nuns of the Raven Queen, taking a body to its final rest miles away
  6. Raven Queen’s faithful peasant spear-folk



Vecna’s Forces

  1. Death Knight and entourage
  2. Zombies (2d10)
  3. One-eyed wizard cultists (1d6)
  4. One-handed Ghouls
  5. Demi-Lich general and entourage being brought to Vecna (roll 2 more times on table for entourage)
  6. Ogre Zombie Lord and peasant levies


Wild Cards

  1. Kaz, here to mess with his ancient rival
  2. Githyanki ambassadors, here to treat with Vecna and arrange a marriage between the Lich Queen and the Lich-god
  3. Orcus cultists, here to sew discord and weaken both sides
  4. Gnolls eating the dead of a recent battle
  5. Orc mercenary company that eats their own dead.
  6. Priests of a dead god, hoping to get their deity brought back.


They are looking for:

  1. A local necropolis
  2. A battlefield with many dead bodies
  3. A gate to the Quietlands
  4. A recently dead dragon
  5. A key fortress/bridge/crossroads/mountain pass
  6. You



General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Corvus carnivorus, Northern Raven.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1860.

These ideas developed, mutated and became Raven Queen vs. the Ghoul King

Corvuston, the Raven Queen’s capital

What do I want from D&D?

More Raven Queen.


Welcome to Corvuston. Once it was a fishing village where a young girl saw her family’s barrows erupt due to incarnations of death with no respect for eternal rest. To her credit, when she destroyed her first god of death, she took its black wings as her own and buried it in a nearby tomb befitting a deity deep beneath the sea.

It is built on a cliff above a violently restless ocean. Its buildings and walls are made of gray slate that turns black when it rains. It is always raining. The locals call the rain raven’s tears, also the name of a fine locally brewed whiskey.

Despite the city’s patron, Corvuston is a living place. Its walls are mausoleums where those who have served the queen the most faithfully are interred. Those who hunt undead and slay necromancers are in the highest spires and towers. The paladins who died weakening Orcus’ avatar in hand-to-hand combat have recently acquired their own white marble tombs. Faithful nuns and monks, death’s sons and daughters who prepare corpses for their journey are all resting in walls’ foundations of Corvuston’s tomb walls. Black winged angels take them to Her directly after the ceremonies are finished. Would they awaken if there was a siege? Would the Raven Queen shrug off her hatred of undead to save her capital city?

No one has found out yet but the Orcus cults and cabals of Vecna disciples strive to test the goddess’ will.

With holy dispensation, the dead can be petitioned if the petitioner is brave enough to walk into the depths of the labyrinthine tunnels, make an offering and see to it that the ghost rests well after the question is answered.

For hundreds of miles, rich merchants, well-landed knights and dukes employ embalmers in their homes, so that if anyone should perish they can be preserved for the journey to Corvuston so that the Queen’s Own can prepare them for their afterlife and the priests can help the mourners grieve properly. Mourners walk through the Kübler-Ross Pilgrimage, going through all of the proper rites so that, as the Raven Queen’s verse states, “spirits rest, the dead sleep in tombs forever so that the living might live for a while longer.”

What’s wrong in Corvuston?

Core of the Problem

  1. Cabal of Vecna Disciples
  2. Orcus Cult
  3. Ghoul Plague
  4. Rogue Death Angel
  5. God of Death’s Restless Ghost
  6. Eternal Life Church

Manifesting as

  1. An army surrounding the walls
  2. Cults that have infiltrated the highest posts of the city’s government
  3. Monsters in the walls
  4. Naval blockade
  5. Beasts striking during the darkest hours
  6. Raining Hell from a Sky Fortress

What the hell are they doing here?

  1. Modrons
  2. Red Dragon
  3. Gryphon Queen
  4. The Beast Princes
  5. Feuding Demon Princes under a banner of truce
  6. The Circle of Eight



General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Corvus carnivorus, Northern Raven.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1860.

These ideas developed, mutated and became Raven Queen vs. the Ghoul King