After being so excited to finally start DCO, the next two sessions in a row were cancelled due to an illness and then another player's business trip. So now we're back.
We picked up this sessions right where we left off, with the group trying to decide whether or not the ginormous fish circling their boat was actually dangerous. They decided the smartest and safest bet was to keep moving. For the next hour, as they continued upstream, they occasionally saw the pike beneath the water, as though it was following them, but eventually they saw it no more. It was approaching evening when Gillie spotted a pretty high and dry rock and recommended they camp for the night. Everyone agreed and hoped for a more productive day tomorrow.
Paetrak took first watch and around midnight, spotted a campfire probably no further than a mile northeast of them. He woke the group and they decided that Daliah and Paetrak should check it out, in case it happened to be Barok and they could get a jump on him. They reached the fire in just twenty minutes or so and found the campsite deserted, with just a fire going, and no other signs of life (no camping gear or anything). Paetrak approached the fire and was hit in the thigh by one of Ghar's eyebolts. Both PCs hid and watched for some site of further attack, but saw and heard nothing. They traveled back to their own site and reported to the others. The group found it weird, but had no real opinion as to what it was about. The night went on uneventful after that.
The next morning, they set off early up the river. It wasn't long before Gillie spotted something in the water behind them. They continued on and soon, everyone could see a shape moving in the water about thirty feet behind them. Daliah fired a bolt at the shape, which popped out of the water, revealing a zombie covered in reeds and mud. They made quick work of the zombie, never leaving the boat. Festith and Whizz discussed why a zombie would be following them, hidden as such, and neither made much sense of it, beyond the obvious "it heard us so it wanted to eat our brains," which didn't help with the whole 'hidden' part.
Around noon, they spotted a windmill lazily turning. As they got closer, they clearly saw the old lady in the window, fighting off swarming crabs. Daliah and Gillie took shots at the crabs as they steered the boat to the small island, and then the group got out and began hacking the crabs to bits. One took a sizable chunk out of Festith's calf, but they dispatched the crabs easily enough. They discussed with the lady her predicament, and when they found out she had children and no food, told her they couldn't travel with them (15 children could not fit in their boat no matter what), but they helped gather up a bunch of the dead crabs for food, and then they lit a signal fire to hope to alert other would-be rescuers of the situation. None of them (other than Whizz, who didn't care) were happy about having to leave defenseless people here, but they figured they'd done the best they could for now, and continued on.
Around midday, they spotted the tombs. Paetrak steered the boat through the shapes in the water, looking for the Ghyls' family tomb, and eventually found it. He hopped into the water and dragged Sorla's body to the stone shape, while the rest of the group watched out for carnivorous fish. Paetrak took off the lid and found the message that Sorla Ghyl had left for her would-be carriers. He told the group what it said, all of whom were amazed (and slightly confounded), then put her body to rest. They continued on.
As it got darker and the group began searching for another defensible resting spot like the night before, Paetrak spotted several shapes moving about in the water around them. Fearing more zombies lurking, they stopped the boat and took up defensive postures. The shapes in the water also stopped. This gave the result I was looking for - they were a bit freaked out. Daliah fired a bolt at one of the shapes while Gillie and Paetrak fired arrows at others. When this happened, those particular shapes popped out of the water, more zombies, and came toward the boat. Several other zombies beneath the surface stayed where they were, and Paetrak saw one leaving the scene, but was too occupied with fighting to do anything about it. They (re)killed the zombies, then went ahead and 'spooked' the other four and fought them off too. Whizz took the eye out of one, and the hand off another, for an "experiment" at camp.
After another hour, and once it was good and dark, they eventually found a decent spot for camp. While most of the group prepares camp, Whizz used the zombie eye & hand he 'procured' to create a new bone minion. He then sent the minion up a small tree to keep watch. Early into the night, the minion alerted the group that a single zombie was approaching. When it was close enough for the group to see and hear, they destroyed it and threw its body into the water. An hour later, another approached. They fought it off just as easily. An hour later, around midnight, came the third zombie. This time after destroying it, Paetrak and Gillie decided to attempt to track it back from where it came.
They followed the trail easily enough and after about thirty minutes, found a fire-less campsite. Though they were very careful, Paetrak still stepped into a trap which set off multiple chimes in the surrounding trees. Suddenly, the two of them were attacked by five zombies rising from the shrubs and trees around them. Paetrak fought off two of them easily enough and fled back the way they came. After a few minutes, they noticed the zombies were not following them, and were completely at a loss. They figured the best thing to do would be to tell the rest of the party. They met up with the party and did just that. Whizz, who has had the most experience with the dead, had no idea why the zombies were acting this way, and assumed they were under some sort of control. The group worked out a likely scenario in which Barok had met up with a necromancer and the two were keeping tabs on and harassing the group. About an hour later, two zombies approached the camp and had to be dealt with. The group was getting frustrated, and seemed to understand that they were experiencing harrying tactics, but didn't know what to do about it. Before the night was through, they were attacked twice more.
The next morning, they hopped into their boat and decided to stay along the western edge of the flooded river, and hopefully get away from whoever was following/bothering them. They soon came to the outskirts ruins of a flooded village (Pollnacrom), where many of the houses seemed to have been destroyed by something other than water. They could hear another home being destroyed further upriver, and also began to see people sitting on rooftops and building their own makeshift rafts. They rowed toward the destructive sound and came across their first Turbine Golem. Whizz was extremely excited by the machine, the rest were very wary. They watched it hack and chop at one of the houses, pulling wood and stone from the supports, and finally, it turned toward them and moved south. They watched it go by (Daliah noticed the dodecahedron stone on its head) and then followed it back south, where they found it assembling a massive pile of rubble with a narrow water passage through the center. They watched it attempted to recharge itself, fascinated, but did not know what else to do. Whizz really wanted to attack and disassemble the creature, but the rest of the group was very wary of it. They decided to head back up and talk to the stranded villagers to see what they had to say.
Back at Pollnacrom, they tried to have conversations with the stranded survivors. Most of the people either ignored them outright, or attempted to hide as best they could, and eventually, the party was able to barter some of their food to get on of the older men to talk. They did not know his language, but got the gist of: the golems tended the dam further north, and had never come this far south before, so the dam's destruction must have messed up their programming. They thanked the man and continued north, now curious about the dam and what had happened. Since they were following the western-most reaches of the flooded river, they missed Gruta's village.
Getting along further in the day, the party noticed a smoke fire to the northwest. They continued that direction and eventually saw an island with three people on it attempting to fend off a Giant Duck-Billed Platypus! They moved in as quickly as they could and were unfortunately too late to save the one of the trio, the father, who was knocked down and killed by the giant creature. It ignored the wife & daughter while it started snacking on daddy. Once in range, Paetrak, Gillie, & Daliah all fired on the beast, wounding it enough so that it fled into the water, swimming further north and away from them.
They stopped on the island to find the wife & daughter crying in fear and mourning the death of their father. They also found a huge pile of corked tubes filled with scrolls. The group offered to row the daughter & mother over to the actual dry land to the west and get them off this island, as well as send them with some food, in exchange for the scrolls. The trade commenced, and Whizz began looking through them, attempting to figure out the ancient language while Festith and Daliah took the two survivors to the western bank. They all met up again about thirty minutes later, Whizz being very excited about what were obviously some "ancient magic relics," and the group decided this may be a reasonable place to set up camp for the night while Whizz studied the scrolls. To the north, they could see the river valley narrowing around a curve northeast, and could see the land on either side rising sharply. They assumed (correctly) they were almost at the dam.
That night went uneventful, the group figuring they must have successfully escaped from whoever was sending zombies at them (in fact, it was this night that the Crows came across Alfredo and his crew, slayed them all, and Zolushika raised them as some new pet zombies). They slept the night and our session concluded.
I felt much better after this session in regards to me getting plenty of Stuart's stuff here. They encountered the Crows (kind of), they encountered the platypus (he'll be back!), they encountered a golem and learned about the dam. The dam next session should be interesting, I've had to remap some of it, but I plan on a fight or two happening in there if the PCs don't find ways around it.