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Music by Kevin MacLeod.
Token art by Jimmy McClure.
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Ten years ago, the Ghoul Imperium of the Underworld and the vampires of Morgau marched into Krakova and conquered the kingdom entirely, establishing the Greater Duchy of Morgau and expanding the borders of the Blood Kingdom.

The undead occupation has been kept in check by resistance from the Court-in-Exile, as well as opportunistic reaver dwarves who sailed across the Nieder Straits.

But the hidden machinations of the ghouls swirl beneath the surface. Rumors abound of an even more sinister plot that threatens not just one kingdom, but the entire world of Midgard.

Empire of the Ghouls is designed by Richard Green, and published by Kobold Press. It takes place in Kobold Press’ fantasy world of Midgard.

Chapter 2: The Holy Robes of Sister Adelind
Episode 5: The Free City of Johzt

Active Party:
Alaric, level 4 dhampir Death Domain Cleric/Bard
Bahn, level 4 kobold Bard College of Whispers
Kovac, level 4 ratfolk Dawn Blade Rogue
Ry, level 4 shadow fey Black Powder Sorcerer
Torben, level 4 bearfolk Ancestral Guardian Barbarian

After exploring The Stone Galleries last session, the party resumed their travel toward Johzt. The free city has successfully repelled the neighboring undead conquerors thanks to the Viking-like reaver dwarves from across the sea, who now claim the city as their own. Archduke Avgost wishes to form an alliance with the dwarves, while the party hopes to follow up on the rumored undead-destroying artifact in the Temple of Sif.

Traveling via the Fey Road saved them several weeks. But there is no short-cutting the final leg of the journey: over 100 miles of Krakovar, still occupied by the conquering vampire legions from Morgau.

Chapter two is egregiously filled with on-foot travel with little more than random encounter tables. Thankfully this section at least proposes some skill checks to give the players more agency in how they can avoid danger, such as group checks for deception, stealth, or survival.

One day the party takes advantage of Alaric’s (and Lucian’s) dhampir background to try and blend in, treating the others as their servants. On another day they head into the brush, trying to avoid meeting locals altogether.

The rolls are dramatically close, often just barely succeeding on the DC 12 group check, which includes the Archduke. But a single failure leads to an encounter in the evening.

As the others sit around the campfire, the Archduke opens up about the war, how quickly Krakovar fell, and his own survivor’s guilt. While the others pledge to help him, and the country fight back, the ground beneath them erupts as several zombies come clawing out of the earth.

At the same time, a shadowy figure casts a charming spell on the group, trying to incapacitate the adventurers (hypnotic pattern). Half the party saves, and the other half have helpers (such as Mattias and the recently named Guy the random guard) to help snap them out of it.

The party goes to work fighting the zombies, but quickly becomes the Kovac Show. The Dawn Blade rogue absolutely devastates the zombies with his radiant blasts, eliminating their Undead Fortitude. Soon the party is converging on the spellcaster, a unique ghoul called a Necrophage Ghast, swiftly destroying it.

After a few more days of tense but ultimately danger-free travel, the party comes across a group of reaver dwarves, dressed in war paint and riding giant boars. The dwarves have just culled a group of undead, and the party introduces themselves as fellow undead-hunters.

The dwarves begrudgingly agree to escort them back to Johzt. The Archduke loses all sense of anxiety as he arrives in the City of Fish, paying for the ferry across the river and confidently striding toward his favorite inn, the Uncommon Porpoise. He thanks the party for bringing him here, promising that this trip won’t be in vain.

Empire of the Ghouls chapter 2 episode 5 johzt

The party are happy to enjoy a long rest under a roof. Everyone except for Kovac — the ratfolk was bitten by an Imperial Darakhul back at The Stone Galleries, and the fever rears its infected head after he rests. One failed CON save later and he loses half his maximum hit points!

Scared out of his mind, he begs Alaric to take a look at the wound that he’d been hiding. Darakhul Fever is extremely dangerous, but it is curable. Lucky for him, they happened upon a pair of scrolls of greater restoration from the elven ruin, and the party reluctantly agrees to use one to heal their poor rogue.

At the Temple of Sif, the amazon-like women guarding the door only let them pass after Alaric shows them the book they received from Zosia, daughter of Queen Urzula. The courtyard inside resembles a gym more than a house of worship, and one of the armored women challenges Torben to a friendly duel.

The battle is quick, but fierce. The bearfolk proudly holds his ground and matches the shield maiden blow for blow, until she’s finally forced to surrender. The other warriors cheer their respect.

Inside, the party meets Jagoda, the high priestess. She’s intimidatingly strong, scarred from numerous battles, and takes no bullshit from anyone. But she’s keen on hearing what they have to say, especially when they reveal that they’ve met with the Queen, and are seeking the rumored Holy Robes.

Jagoda reveals that the robes may be in possession of a group of zealous warriors that call themselves the Spear Maidens of Hope. They travel around the country battling the undead wherever they can, becoming notorious outlaws in Krakovar.

She suggests they travel to the site of Sister Adelind’s martyrdom, the ruins of Castle Yarosbirg. The anniversary of her death is approaching, and the maidens always make a pilgrimage to the site.

Unfortunately, Yarosbirg is over 300 miles away, in the middle of the kingdom. More travel!? We just got here!

Thankfully Jagoda has another solution: the river. The party can take a barge from Johzt and follow the River Proslowka into the Siarka Swamp. From there they can connect to the much larger River Yoshtula, which runs all the way to Varshava in the south. That should be a much safer journey, right?

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