[Campaign Journal] Castle Xyntillan, Sessions VI & VII: Spearbones and Strangers

Spoiler: Castle Xyntillan!
Two more session posts.

Valley of the Three Rainbows, home of Xyntillan

Session VI
The Party:
Lou Norman, mad scientist
Adelaide, “knight stientist”
Astaire “Hester”, wizard
Tugtar ‘the Bringer’
Jamila, mysterious archer



Reunited, the party-family turns back around to take on the skeletons that had moments ago outnumbered them. The rain became steady as they snuck through the light woods toward the castle. Lou’s tactical sensibilities came to the fore and the party quickly hatched an ambush plan at the stone footbridge crossing into the castle’s estate. Two skeletons had taken a guard post at the crumbling entrance, which Jamila and then Adelaide provoked with loosed arrows, one finding its home in a skeleton’s eye socket. Another three skeletons followed their comrades out of the light forest in their charge towards the archers. The five spearbones came storming over the stone footbridge only to fall prey to caltrops, a triprope, Tugtar’s hammer, and Lou’s shovel. By the party’s count two skeletons remained, but did not appear, so they threw the bones into the river and trekked in the rain onto the estate and up the walls. Watching the stables, Lou tried to make some noise by clacking bones together, but it couldn’t be heard in the downpour, so he and Adelaide blew their whistles.
Lou: I hold up 3 fingers to Hester for 3 whistles.
Astaire: I hold up one finger.
Two skeletons came out of the stables to inspect the noise. The first was taken by Adelaide’s arrow, and Jamila killed the second. A victory! This accounted for all the skeletons seen in the barracks, a now-empty room filled with odds and ends collected over many campaigns…

What’s in the barracks? Is it safe to enter the castle? Find out next session!

Session VII
The Party:
Lou Norman, mad scientist. played by BarkTrimble.
Adelaide, “knight stientist”. played by Castle Librarian.
Astaire “Hester”, wizard. played by Traveling Merchant.
Tugtar ‘the Bringer’. played by Traveling Merchant.
Jamila, loving mother, mysterious archer. played by BarkTrimble.


wispy white beard
greasy jar of grease
dusty medal with blue ribbon
bottle of Malévol wine

11:15, Spiritday
Standing in the rain, outside the castle walls, the party assists Astaire in a group casting Clairvoyance on himself, and he sets out along the south walls of the castle to see what’s inside. While Jamila and Tugtar accompanied Astaire along the jaunt, Lou and Adelaide hung back in the woods and waited. Peering past the mortar, he saw In the dim light a storage room for a servant’s barracks, then a dark hallway further west. Looking past the peeling wallpaper of the hallway, Astaire sees bizarre shadows flicker on the walls of a mess hall. Long benches and rough goat-legged tables with cluttered tableware crowd the place. 24 old veterans – skeletons all – are silently singing and toasting, throught the two walls. On the table a pale gentleman in a powdered wig and plum silken vest seems to be going on at length about something to the skeletons. Suddenly, as if he felt eyes upon him, he turns and meets Hester’s gaze. His long chin drew up beneath his pencil mustache in surprise, and his crafty eyes gleamed as he quickly turned to step off the table towards a door exiting the mess hall. Astaire, deeply surprised, drew back from the wall and hurriedly brought Jamila and Tugtar with him back to Lou and Adelaide.

Meanwhile in the wet woods, Adelaide talked to Lou about her time spent in a cult. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good place for her and since then, she’s been staying in Tours-en-Savoy. As they both watched the rain, Astaire and company came running up the path, and told Lou what happened, who started immediately and took off into the woods. It was a moment before the party collectively calmed down and decided to look back at the castle to see if anyone had come out.

Neatly framed against a dark interior in the doorway to the castle was the plum-vested gentlemen Astaire described. His powdered wig reached past his shoulders, and spotting Astaire and Tugtar, bade them indoors, waving his hand. Astaire decided to accept the invitation, and Tugtar, feeling a kinship with Astaire, followed him in. Jamila didn’t want to go but she didn’t want her son hurt so- in she went. The overcast sky lit the dank passageway, and the gentleman disappeared quickly down an adjacent hallway, saying, “Come in out of the rain! Hurry!” Tugtar bravely stepped into the dark hallway and faintly smelled incense. Jamila was already trying to make the party leave when she saw bones on the floor, but everyone ran when a voice boomed overhead, welcoming them to their doom.

Jean-Jacques Malévol, the Belletrist
credit Cameron Hawkey

Meanwhile, Adelaide was tired of standing in the woods again and marched off to the stables. Lou followed and they explored the barracks where the spearbones had been. Amongst the chests and furniture Adelaide found a wispy white beard on a coatrack, and Astaire (as the party reunited) found a greasy jar of grease (passing it to Tugtar) and in the corner, a dusty medal with a blue ribbon. Inside a chest were posters for the capture of Claude Malévol (“dead or alive. preferably dead!”) Opposite the barracks was the smithy, which Astaire began to enter but quickly retreated when the hammer working on the anvil hurled itself at the intruder, which bounced off the door. Astaire picked up the now-still hammer and turned to put it in his pack when it suddenly swung upward, hitting Tugtar squarely in the face, before falling still again. Astaire and Tugtar stepped out of the stables to deal with the hammer while Lou and Adelaide checked out the smithy, finding nothing of interest.

Wanted: Claude Malévol!
credit Cameron Hawkey

Leaving the smithy behind and walking along eastern castle walls toward the lake, the hammer leapt out of Tugtar’s backpack, narrowly missing the back of his head. Adelaide grabbed the hammer and swiftly tossed it by the vegetable patch before it brained anyone else. At the lakeshore the party proposed walking along the rocks around the castle to the lake entrance, but decided against it when Adelaide fell into the water on her first try. Discussion ensued and the party went off along the southern side of the castle, but this time walking as far around as they can. In the distance further east, the party spots a gazebo and further away, a old vineyard. Unable to find easy access to the lake entrance, Astaire leads a group casting for Clairvoyance again, and spies a laboratory, dark rooms, a dame’s bedroom (inside of which a blonde woman eagerly sorts through bones in a sack), a (sinister) butler’s room, and last but not least, a room with a coffin under the window and doors kept shut with a black iron bat lock. Astaire, again deeply surprised, urges the party around him and explains what lies beyond the walls…

Which entrance is the best way into the spooky castle? Who are these inhabitants, and why are they in an abandoned castle? Where is Claude Malévol, and is he dead or alive? Find out next session!

We spent time in session 6 getting familiar with the new party members, and the scuffle with the skeletons was the party’s first large skirmish. I remember session 7 involving a discussion about the functions of x-ray vision and ability checks for casting spells. I think it was at this point that I decided passing a DC 15 for spellcasting was stupid because you’re a MAGIC-USER dammit. After this session I quit asking for spellcasting checks! But there were several nice spells cast using group casting as a bonus for the check, which I had adapted from Dungeon Crawl Classic’s rules for magic.

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