Last Saturday night, Justin, Jeremy and myself cranked up the volume to 11 and ran the Vaults of Ur campaign again. Been quite a while.
We started out doing a bit of down-time role playing by post, with Thidrek and Noctis following up on some stuff they found while they were away from Fort Low. When we fought the eagle-shark, on the monument it used for a nest, there was a graven image of a magical flying cauldron and some humans flying around in it fighting orcs. We'd seen a similar one in the room of the Hive's Great Minds. We went there to see what they knew about it (not much), and they let us test it out.
The cauldron didn't work for Thidrek, but an Orc Magi watching us (there is a lot more commerce between Fort Low and the Hive these days, we've cemented the alliance through our past deeds). Tark was his name, and ghoul-hunting is his game. We recruited him to come with us, since exploring the Night Zone was the plan of action for the night. Tark, being skilled in magic, was able to pilot the cauldron. The Great Minds of course took it back for analysis.
We hired a bunch of men-at-arms, ten light foot and ten archers. Forager, our main ally in the Hive, also lent us five of his men. Our mission was to see what's going on in the Night Zone, as I mentioned above. The Night Zone is an area of perpetual darkness, where ghouls and an army of skeletons/zombies are battling. This area was created when one of our adventures failed (the one where most of us used new 1st level characters, and explored an old Spiked Circle outpost full of octo-apes in order to find a lost amulet, and apparently we let something out, or the amulet allowed it to come out, and, well, Night Zone).
It wasn't long after we entered the Night Zone that we heard the approach of many booted feet. We arranged our force into an ambush position, and waited. An undead army of skeletons and zombies approached. They sensed us, and took a defensive posture. After a few yelled attempts at parlay (we wondered if we could get them to help us fight ghouls, they wanted our bodies to swell their ranks, we reached an impasse), battle began.
Our archers proved fairly useless, the skeletal archers less so. The footmen on Thidrek's side were mown down fairly quickly by zombies, but luckily Thidrek had taken his potion of speed, and was doing Matrix-style bullet-time moves to keep things interesting. On Noctis and Tark's side, the battle was a little more even, with Noctis staying back in "tactical command" mode and using his bow.
When the undead leader charged with the skeletons when the zombies were about finished off, Thidrek focused on him and took him down in short order thanks to that potion. Unfortunately, while doing that the last of my archers was torn to pieces by skeletons. The last of Noctis's light foot went down, leaving the three classed characters and two of Noctis's archers standing when we finished off the skeletons.
By this time, ghouls were approaching stealthily--not so stealthily that we didn't notice them, but enough so that we were unsure of their numbers. We loaded up some of our dead (to keep them from being animated), and high tailed it back to the Hive.
Next time, hopefully we'll have both more players and more NPCs to help us. A Cleric or two would be helpful for turning undead. Maybe then we can penetrate to the heart of the Night Zone and find some way to shut it down.