The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem (Part 1)

The following session report is for +Clint Krause‘s recently completed “The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem“. It contains spoilers so if you plan to play through this at any point then you may wish to skip this article.

Deep within the English countryside lies the beautiful estate of Abelia Prem. Abelia hasn’t been seen in over a decade, her manor now sits dormant before her once carefully tended garden, and rumours that she may have found the fabled “Stygian Rose” have lured one group of adventurers into getting their fingers green. Armed with nothing more than a drawn map of the estate, a handful of rumours, and a sledgehammer (purchased after hearing some of the rumours), the adventurers began their exploration…

Last night at the +MK RPG we held our voting for the next long block games (where I will be running +Zak Smith‘s A Red and Pleasant Land). This meant that after the session of voting we’d only have 2 hours left so I offered up The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem with the expectation that it may potentially carry over into the next session depending of course on how long the characters last.

I had prepared several pregens to get us going, a mix of level 1s and one level 2 fighter as the suggested leader who was organising the expedition. On top of that I utilised the Tenra Bansho Zero Emotion Matrix that had worked so well at Concrete Cow and once more did not fail to disappoint.

The rumour table churned up some interesting results for the characters but the gossip that the grounds of the Prem estate were guarded by statues spooked the characters the most, which resulted in the group purchase of a sledgehammer to take around with them. Without further ado they made their way to the front door of the Prem manor, stopping only to admire the door knobs before hastily looting them (a failed roll meant the door knobs were damaged on removal but still of some value).

Inside they were greeted with the grand hallway, thick with dust and worn by time. The hall bore 4 beautifully elegant statues of ladies wrapped in scarves. A search roll revealed that they were stubbornly remaining to be statues but just to be careful Hieronymus smashed their arms off.

As they explored the library and the sitting room the group’s creed remained the same: thou shalt not suffer a statue. There was a brief lull in the statue disruption when they heard a stone grating sound from outside but nothing could be seen. The effort to destroy or incapacitate the statues redoubled. One awkward moment occurred when Jack tried to show off to Sally by pushing over the statue of the naked elf and ended up not only failing but inadvertently molesting the statue.

A wild goat was found in the ball room, being all goat-like, so Hieronymus decided to try and capture it. Failing the roll while Sidney failed his stealth roll trying to sneak around the goat, Hieronymus then bore the full brunt of the goat’s horns. Amelia saved the day however with a swift chop to the head, decapitating the goat in one hit. At Sally’s urge, Sidney turned the goat’s head into a helmet and draped the remains of the goat over the satyr statue in the previous sitting room as ‘it was clearly the devil’ and this would cover it up.

The ballroom played host to a lot of cobwebs and three large venomous spiders but this situation was quickly changed when the group set fire to all the web, and a failed morale check sent the spiders scurrying out the backdoor. Searching the rest of the ground floor turned up a surprise snake in one of the servant’s beds and the entrance to a cellar which contained a lot of spoiled wine and a locked chest. The locked chest contained a delicate exquisite solid gold rose but once the group and smashed the chest with the sledgehammer it contained numerous pieces of said gold rose. A detailed search turned up nothing else of interest in the room so the group diverted their attention to the top floor of the mansion, smashing statues along the way.

Entering Abelia’s room revealed a sleeping form in her bed… was this Abelia? Evidently not when they prodded the form awake with a sword and it turned out to be a clearly mad beggar man dressed in Abelia’s nightgown (with a large number of her clothes littering the floor). A mixture of failed and successful charisma checks led the man to believe that Sidney and Amelia were in his employ and the rest were rude visitors.

Sidney agreed to usher the rude visitors out the door while Amelia helped the man change into something more suitable to be receiving guests. The conversation between the two of them got heated so Amelia garotted him while Jack came running back in with the sledgehammer and smashed the man’s skull to a pulp. Meanwhile Sidney poked his head out onto the balcony but quickly withdrew it when something on the roof above spat acid down towards him.

The last room to check turned out to be the Green Room, where they learnt a lot more regarding the plants (and some of the wildlife, due to me handing a player the wrong note…) and in particular regarding the Stygian Rose. It was getting towards dinner time now so the characters decided to cook up a roasted goat stuffed with viper. Two players failed their Save Vs Poison roll after consumption just in time for the session end.

Next session will see the exploration of the gardens. Going by the character’s current progression, I’m predicting a TPK but they could surprise me! My thoughts so far are “This adventure is pretty nifty.” but I’ll give a more detailed analysis after the conclusion next Tuesday. Many thanks so far to +Robin Poole, +Paul Fricker, +Scott Dorward, +Lisa St. John, +Victoria Allin, and Ven Black for playing!

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