The players unknowingly awaken an ancient army. Viewable by all, yet unseen by the players, people flee in fear of the marching army of spirits on the path to a major walled city. On arriving at the city the players cannot figure out why the gates are closed, the towers are manned and on the defensive - from them...
A group of adventurers traveling back from an adventure to a large walled city for some relaxation, entertainment, and to restock their supplies. They should be a good distance away from the city and preferably in a little traveled area, if traveled at all. The hunter or scout of the group will most likely be the one to see it, a rusted vine covered sword sticking out of a heavy fern covered area. Going to investigate around the sword they will find a large trail of old bones, spear tips, old swords, knives, and armor of an army of over 1000 strung along a path over a mile long. If they search a larger area they will find more bones and equipment. They may or may not find something of actual use.
This army, ages ago, was on their way to attack the city when they were ambushed and destroyed by soldiers of the city tipped off to their movement. The dying words of their commander cursed the soldiers to never rest till they laid siege to the city. Those that ambushed them as proof of their deed took the commander's head with them.
When the players find this ancient site they wake the spirits of the long lost army. The army has been waiting for a leader that is going to the city because their leader was the only one that knew the way from the secret route they were taking. The characters have no idea what is happening and cannot see the cursed spirits.
As the characters travel through the land they will rarely meet anybody along they way. If the do see anybody, that person will be running away in fear. Whether it be day or night, all other people will be able to see the raised army of spirits marching in filed formation behind the players. The players will not be able to see these spirits with any spell or under any circumstances, an effect of the curse.
Rumor will race ahead that an army of ghosts is marching on the city. In the city some scholars will find passages in ancient tomes, like the charlatans of today, find passages that announce the coming of this mystic army and announce the doom of the city. The city is understandably scared and prepared when the characters arrive within sight of the city with an army of spirits marching behind.
The characters are still clueless and will have no idea why the gates are locked and the cities guards have mounted the walls in obvious signs of defense. Will get even weirder for them when they are shot at if they get into arrow range. Up to the characters to figure out what is going on, and then how to remedy it. The spirits will appear to make camp and prepare for war.
The curse will be broken as soon as the first spirit actually breeches the wall or all the spirits killed. They will dissipate if they are pierced by any arrow or sword. If the characters try to enter the city by any secret route the spirits will dutifully follow their leaders. If the characters split up then detachments of the army will follow each of them.
The characters will not be able to see the spirits at any point. Only if the characters leave the area and travel to or past the place where they found the dead army and then return will they be able to actually see the spirits.
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? Responses (10)
A gloriously confusing situation for them to work themselves out of (though they might find it a little difficult to work out what's going on. But what the heck: let them suffer!)
I like it and can add a reason to the suffering. The general was the night before the attack ambushed by some adventurers wishing to steal his sword. Defeated them, but badly wounded he lost the battle and cursed anyone wishing to claim his sword to lead his troops and defeat the city. So, it might be that they found the sword by purpose and for their greed get not only a nice sword, but an army to lay waste their (preferably) home city! If you're really cruel, they must somehow defeat the city, no matter how.(pie fight counts too, to add some humour)
Nice touch Manfred. (however I did get a pie in the face for my trouble)
The commander's head was taken to the city as a war prize. Maybe, over time, the relic of this great victory was moved as the centers of power in the nation moved. If they can find the head, perhaps they can see the army under the command of the grateful and now re-headed commander, or maybe it will move under it's own control now that the original commander has been restored.
I think there should be SOME way for the players to see the army...just to give them a chance to see what's going on.
Maybe the army was killed in the rain, and their reflections can be seen in pools of water? Maybe they can also be seen if water is pouring through them?
It could be a full moon, just any condition on the night of their death that could repeat at some point and clue the players in eventually. I, as a player, would feel cheated if I never got the army of the undead described to me!
The way that will work is that there are things in the world that are more powerful than a PC, and no amount of D&D handwavium magic will change that.
An oldie that could need some updating but is pretty cool in it's layout and options as it is. Looks are not everything. I'm HoH'ing this to shed some light on older posts that deserve it.
This is nifty! Though I would have the PCs need to do more then find the leftovers from battle.
Very nice oldie. Not much else to say other than "I like it."