Dr. Skull's Conan Cult Campaign : Session 10 Back to Dr. Skull's Conan Cult Campaign

Session/Game: Conan #10         Date: 7/25/04

Episode 10, "Temple of the Rat God"
Campaign Date: Year of the Falcon, Quidro 14 - 20
GM: Andrew Smith
Conrad, Hyperborean, Soldier, level 5 (Joe Fryer)
Grodd, Cimmerian, Barbarian, level 4 (Bob LaForge)
Lord Hieronymous Valanus, Aquilonian, Noble/Soldier, level 3/2 (Mike Miller)
Horsa, Vanir, Soldier, level 3 (Chuck Fleurie)
"Limberger", Zamorian, Thief, level 5, (Toby Miller)
Lord Prospero Victus, Noble/Pirate/Scholar/Thief, level 1/3/3/1 (Pete Zollers)
"Bloody" Turpin, Border Kingdom, Soldier/Thief, level 3/2 (Dave Nelson)
Vegeta, Southern Islander, Barbarian, level 6 (Marlon Kirton)

Since Valanus was laid low by a poisoned blade and Vivenne was taken by “The Bones of Gorlak”, the nobleman has fallen on hard times. Valanus’ family’s province is being robbed of its serfs. Entire villages are just picking up and leaving, emigrating to Zamora to join a rat cult. Threats and soldiers have been useless, and in one case an entire patrol left to join the cult as well. Crops lay rotting in the fields, and this years’ tribute will just barely be collected. Valanus will not be able to get any inheritance until he is able to topple the leader of this cult in Zamora and return his Hyborean serfs back to their native land. Valanus hopes to join or build a mercenary crew to gut this cult from the inside.

Grodd was captured by the rat cultists after trying to make off with some of the cult's riches. The Cimmerian awakens to find himself hanging upside-down nailed by his hands and feet to a post and crossbeam outside the temple compound. A sign scrawled in Zamoran near him reads “Thief”.

Limburger has and Turpin have both found their way to Arenjun, “City of Thieves”. An appropriate place for the two self-proclaimed rogues. Turpin, a soldier-turned thief quickly becoming famous for his capers is using the pseudonym of “Peaceful Bill Hodges”. Leyeden, unknown outside of Arenjun and presumed to be dead for the past five years or so, uses the pseudonym of “Limburger” which is famous as well. Both dine with an underboss of the underworld kingpin named Mikhail in the Zamorian’s secret den of thieves. All goes sweetly at first. The two thieves see a clear exit behind them, and the Zamorian’s guards stand quietly at attention. Talk turns to business, and Mikhail is at first very forthcoming. Turpin and Limburger ask about Mus Sheol, a self-styled rat-priest who has managed to attract much of a following of peace-loving, possession-eschewing cultists who have swarmed across the “City of Thieves” making a general nuisance of themselves. However, when “Limburger” and “Peaceful Bill” ask Mikhail about the ancient ceramic flute that Mus Sheol has been seen playing things get ugly.

Mikhail has poisoned the two thieves’ meals, and the effects are just being felt. The Zamoran offers Limburger and Turpin an antidote in exchange for the Sceptre of Shadizar, stolen by the former soldier nearly a year earlier. Limburger’s quick reflexes allow him to snatch the vial of opaque, blue liquid from Mikhail’s grasp and a fight erupts. Steel is drawn, and Limburger manages to wound the underboss and slay one of Mikhail’s guards. Limburger goes down after several deep wounds by the Zamorians, with only his patron’s magic to save him from death. Turpin, lost without a companion to flank opponents with manages to back himself into a corner near the fireplace of the thieves’ den. Several of the other thieves take the opportunity to cower, flee, or take their revenge on Mikhail and his guards as well. Lord Prospero Victus, a nobleman pirate and his trusty servant/slave/bootlicker Algar join the fray, looking to join the two heroes on their quest to end Mus Sheol’s reign.

Just then three assassins burst into the hall, looking for Leyden (a.k.a Limburger). The master assassin Mobvet (leader of the assassin’s guild known as the ‘Third Eye’) still holds a grudge against the thief and somehow the man had found Limburger. The assassins move into the den, cutting down all in their path. The fight rages. Things look grim for Leyden and Turpin until Vegeta enters the den (quite fortunately indeed!) and joins the fray. The South Islander cleaves through all three assassins in short order, forcing Mikhail and his guards to flee down a secret passage drawing Limburger with them. The hall is emptied, and brief introductions are made as Turpin charges down the hall in pursuit of the antidote to the poison he had consumed earlier. Thirty yards down the hall, Turpin finds the Zamorians. Mikhail and all his thieves are dead. Flesh all ashen, with a black handprint burnt into their flesh. Limburger is huddled close, shivering in fright.

Along with Horsa and Conrad, Valanus enters Arenjun doing his best to shed his Aquilonian nobleman persona. He has come to the city to put an end to the rat cult that is stealing the serfs from his provinces. He marches right up to the temple compound of Mus Sheol and comes across Grodd crucified inverted before the gates. After some discussion, derision, and a pledge of a lifetime of fealty to the Aquilonian nobleman by Grodd, Valanus frees the Cimmerian and escapes from the place before the temple guards can react.

Valanus and his growing band of mercenaries hole up at the “Shield of the White Wing”, a spare, clean inn run by one of Valanus’ countrymen in the center of the sinister “City of Thieves”. That night, Conrad escapes into the night for the darker, deserted sections of the town, Grodd meets with a healer, and Valanus and Horsa unsuccessfully try to hire some more muscle.

Meanwhile, Turpin, Limburger, Vegeta, and the mysterious Lord Prospero Victus sequester themselves in a less reputable area of town. Limburger meets with his mentor, Renudo, who makes the Zamorian thief wait. “There was a more pressing matter at hand,” Renudo explained. Limburger receives orders to steal the rat-cultist’s ancient ceramic flute and return it in exchange for lessons in alchemy and portions of the Golden Wine of Xuthal. Vegeta, Turpin, and Lord Victus spend the day slumming for rumors.

The following morning, Turpin meets with Horsa and strikes up a conversation. The two groups decide to meet at the “Shield of the White Wing” and discuss joining forces. The two groups re-acquaint themselves with one another, and begin to postulate on the rat-temple’s weak points. That evening, Conrad visits the temple in the guise of a petitioner and witnesses the rockstar-like Mus Sheol as he whips his faithful into a frenzy. Conrad finds several of the secret passages Grodd had found, and counts the tremendous number of guards. Later, Conrad feeds the demonic host growing ever larger inside his guts by engaging in murder and cannibalism in the city’s darker quarters.

The next day, Turpin and Prospero meet with one of the feuding thief-kingpins, Aleksandr. They learn that the “City of Thieves” is in fact built on generations of other, older cities that have been buried, knocked down, or covered over the eons of existence in the mountains of Zamora. Aleksandr is more than happy to give the two a map of the undercity of Arenjun, detailing a series of underground passages that should bring the heroes up right beneath the temple. Turpin finds it queer that the Zamorian thiefmaster would be so generous. Unfortunately, Grodd is still recovering from his crucifixion ordeal to join the journey. The remainder of the group finalizes plans and equips themselves to descend into the undercity of Arenjun.

The group makes their way through the undercity, encountering a trash monster who wounded Horsa gravely, an alley where Conrad claimed the life of a poor old hag who cursed him, an open pit that was most likely once an ancient well, an old, abandoned temple to some sort of elephant god decked in gems and riches (wisely left unmolested by the heroes), through the basement of a functioning temple to Zath, and finally to an ancient crypt rigged with pit traps and crawling with rats. Here the party rested an entire day before pushing on to the rat-temple, but not before Conrad manages to lure one of the spider cultists out on his own to be slain and consumed by the hungry, cannibalistic Hyperborian.

Finally, the heroes sneak into the temple and find themselves on the stage of the great ampetheatre. They quickly duck into holes backstage. There they find some putrid, undead guards. The heavier blades in the party make quick work of the dripping, decomposing sentinels. The group sprints past a treasure room, searching out the master of the place, Mus Sheol. Turpin, Conrad, and Valanus form a fighting line using their skills as soldiers to their benefit. They discover the rat-priest in a finely furnished back room of the tunnels, along with a giant bipedal rat-creature. Meanwhile, a plant monster that had been set to guard the treasure room sneaks in behind the heroes. Vegeta, Horsa, and Lord Victus fight off the rabid plant thing with spear, sword, and witch fire, while the fighting form of Turpin, Conrad, and Valanus simultaneously take on the rat-creature. Mus Sheol finally appears and casts a spell on the soldiers, burning Valanus with his black necromatic magic. Limburger rounds the corner and takes a shot at the sorcerer, drawing a touch of death from the rat-priest. However, even as Limburger feels his soul being consumed by Mus Sheol, he manages to flank the sorcerer and slay him with a sword to the heart. The others make quick work of the rat and plant monsters, with Valanus finally hacking the rat-beast in twain with a single, mighty blow.

A quick search begins which nets Turpin the ceramic flute which he neatly folds into his burlap sack without touching the accursed artifact. Valanus begins to make a case to destroy the item while Limburger suggests that Turpin wind the instrument. Out of a cleverly hidden secret door, four guards emerge and surround Turpin, striking him only once. Lord Victus uses his sorcery, previously unused, to convince the thief to play the flute. However, before Turpin can touch the instrument, Valanus runs to him, knocking aside one of the guards like a ragdoll and smashes the flute in the bag with a stroke of his sword. Turpin instead reaches into his bag and touches ceramic bits – but is cursed just as if he had touched the artifact intact. Prospero grabs the sack of flute-bits and rushes toward the secret door with Limburger in hot pursuit. A moment later, Conrad and Vegeta also follow – but not by their own will.

Limburger rushes through the secret corridors beneath the temple. All around, the guards and servants of the sorcerer-priest were deserting their posts and fleeing the area. Limburger turns a corner, right on the pirate noble’s heels when he stumbles right into Renudo taking the bag of flute bits from Lord Victus. Nearby, a man with a splendid stylized tattoo of an eye on his chest steps from the shadows. Although the man had been known to Limburger as Lord Victus’ flunky Algar, Limburger now knows that the man could be none other than the master assassin Mobvet. The lackey was in fact the master.

“I’m sorry, Limburger,” Renudo chirps, “but I’m afraid that your apprenticeship is over”. Vegeta and Conrad, under the effects of a post-hypnotic suggestion put on them as they met with Renudo under the guises of ‘Oduner’ and ‘Nodrue’ months earlier easily grab and subdue Limburger. The Zamorian thief is beaten into subconsciousness.