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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 7: The Blood Vaults p2

Active Party:
Alaric, level 4 dhampir Death Domain Cleric/Bard
I/O, level 4 gearforged Circle of the Moon Druid
Kovac, level 4 ratfolk Dawn Blade Rogue
Lucian, level 4 dhampir Clockwork Soul Sorcerer
Ry, level 4 shadow fey Black Powder Sorcerer

Having reached the city of Varshava and confirmed the existence of a recently constructed Morgauan blood vault, our heroes move to infiltrate and dismantle its operation, and hopefully free any survivors. But it’s a shocking revelation when they discover who’s behind the aggressive blood-letting.

This side quest is from “Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava,” published by Kobold Press. It’s also available in the Eldritch Lairs bundle on Roll20. 

Guarding the entrance to the blood vaults is a Minotaur Skeleton (replacing the original Ogre Zombie, since we already fought one as a dungeon guard several levels ago!). It’s an imposing creature, and I/O whiffs on her trampling charge-bear form combo, but the rest of the party wails on it, swiftly dropping the undead monster.

Kovac disarms the trapped door and they make their inside the expanded mausoleum. Most of the party dons various magical and mundane disguises in case they come across any non-hostile guards or staff.

The entrance chamber is flanked by two statues of the Red Goddess. Between them, the floor is stained with blood. Crossing the threshold results in a nasty cut (1d10 slashing), causing the victim to add their blood to the floor.

Lucian has the good idea of trying to smear blood on his body, but fails the Sleight of Hand check to grab any blood without falling victim to the same attack.

Bleeding and humbled, the party makes their way deeper into the blood vaults, noting three different corridors. Voices are heard from the right-most side, the sound of a human woman arguing with a brutish male.

Kovac (who is not disguised) tries to sneak down the corridor, but shockingly fails the stealth check. The bugbear guards turn and bellow that they shouldn’t be here. Roll for initiative!

Lucian drops an effective web spell, though one of the bugbears breaks free. The tight corridor somewhat stymies the party, and I/O is forced to drop her bear form to attack from afar.

After the bugbears fall, the party loots the bodies and frees the captives, a pair of women from Varshava who are more irritated than frightened. Instead of asking them any questions, however, Alaric pops his fangs and tells them to bugger off back to town. They certainly don’t stay to argue!

A long corridor reveals alcoves of large stone urns with strange glowing runes. They’re unable to life the lids to peer inside, but it doesn’t take a genius to assume blood vaults would have stores of blood.

Instead of doing anything with them, the party moves deeper down the corridor. They feel an uneasy sense of dread as they approach a false wall (added to give the DM a second of breathing room).

Kovac discovers the hidden button to open the door. The wall opens into a vast chamber with a large sunken pile of bones to the south, an altar of the Red Goddess to the north, and four cauldrons bubbling with blood between them.

Sister Alkava is there at the altar, praying to the statue. She waves her hands and several skeletons, as well as a large skeletal snake (Giant Constrictor Snake, but undead) rise from the bone pile.

It’s boss battlin’ time!

Empire of the Ghouls chapter 2 episode 7 blood vaults

Kovac uses a bonus action dash to reach the Red Sister in a single round, and draws first blood.

Sister Alkava responds by turning the blood spray into acid, then casting suggestion, and commanding the ratfolk rogue to search the bone pit for any survivors.

While Kovac hurries south, the others emerge from the corridor, just as the first cauldron bubbles over into a sentient Blood Elemental! (modified a bit from the original statblock presented in the adventure. Namely: half the hit points).

Not only can Sister Alkava summon a Blood Elemental out of each cauldron, but the rune-covered cauldrons also regenerate her health every round.

I/O casts a single target silence spell (breathtaking wind), preventing the Red Sister from using her powerful spellcasting, as long as the druid maintains concentration. Shifting into bear form, she begins attacking the cauldrons to slow the villain’s regeneration.

Alaric approaches, and is shocked to discover that Sister Alkava is Erica, his sister whom he believed had been killed during the war. Erica explains that the Red Sisters saved her, and she found new purpose among their ranks. She still harbors a deep resentment toward their undead conquerors, and has been using dark blood magic to fuel her own power in an act of sedition.

Sedition or no, Alaric is beyond upset to see his sister this way. Unfortunately he has to first contend with the large skeletal snake wrapping him up!

Lucian teleports to the other side of the room to help Kovac, now surrounded by skeletons, while Ry is forced to remain in the initial corridor, trapped by a monstrous Blood Elemental as they trade blows (and spells).

Alaric is freed from the snake thanks to Lucian’s dissonant whispers, and summons his scarab allies to assault the Red Sister.

I/O, importantly keeping Sister Alkava from casting spells, stays away from the main fighting, opting instead to destroy the cauldrons. Unfortunately the villain is able to summon all four Blood Elementals — but destroying the cauldrons halts her regeneration and deals some hefty damage to the summoned elementals.

Kovac is able to slay the skeletons, while Alaric, Ry, and Lucian work on the elementals (and the Red Sister).

Alaric’s undead summoned friend Mattias (a ghoul statblock) attacks Sister Alkava, but is killed by the skeletal snake. I/O finally loses concentration when she engages the final elemental, and Sister Alkava gets off a powerful AOE psychic spell (dark heraldry), downing Alaric and Ry!

I/O revives Alaric with healing word (after he rolls a 1 on his first death save!!), calling to him like his real sister would. Alaric comes to, reminding her that she’s his real sister now. He strides forward, bloody but unbowed, and with the help of his friends, finally deals the killing blow to the twisted sister.

Sister Alkava is defeated, and Ry is quickly revived. The party help themselves to some nifty blood-themed loot, while the DM montages them through the other half of the dungeon they skipped (including being too late to save most of the victims from the main bloodletting chamber, oops!).

They return to Varshava haggard but alive. The resistance group offers them a sizable reward for their help. Though the blood vaults are still operational, the sinister mastermind behind the increased sacrifices (and murder) has been put to rest.

Alaric buries both Mattias and his sister in unmarked graves, and takes an important step forward in his post-war life.

Thanks to the resistance group, the party is able to safely long rest in Varshava, and level up to 5! Their next destination: the ruins of Castle Yarosbirg, to search for the Spear Maidens of Hope.

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