Age of W... (Spoilers galore! Players beware!)

Henrix

Explorer
Here be spoilers! Don't scroll past the spoiler space unless you're certain you are allowed to read DM info about Age of Worms!























My players have gone and done it. Despite all my efforts to get them to do things during the Champions Belt they stayed put, being afraid of getting kicked out of the championships, and did nothing beyond just some measly exploration of the abondened cave.

So they ended up with Auric gobbled up and regurgitated by the Ulgurstasta, Raknian as a Death Knight, 4/6 of the party dead* (no, wait, undead) and the city of Greyhawk turned over to a couple of tens of thousends of wights.

Now, this is actually really cool!
After the first shock (this was monday evening) everybody (except one who really wants us to start Savage Tides so that he can play a pirate ;) ) wants to continue and now has a good grudge going, fascinated and terrified by what has happened to the great city that we have actually played a lot in.

But what happens now? I have some basic ideas, but would like more brainstorming.
Wasn't there a thread about this earlier? I recollect seeing one, but I cannot find it now.

Oh, and I need more wights! :eek: Isn't there a wight template around?



* They had actually a lot of success against Auric and Khellek, dispelling most of their spells (including Fly), but exhausting a lot of resources. They noticed the ground shaking and bulging, but didn't care, until the Apostle reared up after the third round.
By that time Auric had been suggested to give up, Khellek had feebleminded the PC wizard, they had used up a lot of their spells (the duskblade spent two spells a round).
Auric was gobbled up in the second round, and when the paladin was eaten a couple of rounds later all was lost. Another PC got eaten, the feebleminded magician was easily caught by wights, and the duskblade just could not get away.

So I have Auric and two or three PCs as Kyuss spawn (I'll use the template in Dragon 336), one or two PC wights, and of course the Death Knight Raknian.

And I'll probably throw in an NPC from an earlier campaign, one of Ivid's old generals, an animus, as a potential ally. He's probably more than a little pissed at the Ebon Triad and Kyuss, being a Hextorite himself.
 

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Henrix

Explorer
That wasn't much help, really :\

And I don't think they are screwed. A lot of people in Greyhawk and the domain are, yes, and times will certainly be interesting.
But stopping Kyuss is about the same as if Raknian hadn't succeeded.
 


Shane_Leahy

First Post
Treat it like a zombie movie..."We gotta get outta here!!"

But where do they run and are the wights simply going to stay in the city? Do they have any friends in Diamond Lake they may want to save...refugees could be fun. But of course you know who is waiting in Diamond Lake for them in a Gathering of Winds.

Now what happens in the former Great City? Well you have a major temple of Hieroneous who will be under siege and there will be reinforcements sent to deal with the undead. Not sure what other major temples are there. You can bet the evil temples will be sending priests, fresh recruits and who says they will work together at all. Add in the higher level NPCs like the Circle of Eight, Tenser, etc. Heck Rary may try something. All in all I think all this conflict will be focussed on the City so that the players can continue with their primary mission of stopping Kyuss.
 

Shroomy

Adventurer
Henrix, I would refer you to the AoW messageboards on the paizo.com website. I know for a fact that there are threads dedicated to this very issue, so it would be a good start.
 

The end of the City of Greyhawk -or much of it - is a monumental event in the history of the world.

There are a number of threads that deal with this on Paizo's board. You need to get the Powers that Be involved in the clean up. This means that both Tenser and the Circle of Eight are both going to take an active hand in the matter. There is going to be summoning and the letting forth of powers within Greyhawk that are on truly epic scale.

At the end of this - the Circle of Eight will be able to undo most of what has been done insofar as the wights will be destroyed. The City of Greyhawk - left greatly weakened, will be fearing imminent invasion and war by Iuz and Iggwilv.

This is not a bad thing, as it means that the Circle of Eight will be very occupied. Tenser will also be distracted by these affairs but is more likely to take enough interest long term to see that the PCs and the threat presented by Kyuss and the Age of Worms also receives some attention.

In game effect should be handled taking a Heroes of Battle view. The Circle of Eight will appear throughout the city and organize its defence. The PCs are not responsible for this directly and are not the ones who will defeat 20,000 wights.

They are, however, responsible for their part in the coming battle. Have them commandeered (mostly by Tenser as opposed to the Circle of Eight) and ordered to perform clearing missions of the wights in a few areas of the city. House to house fighting and securing the area - that's the principal task - executed over a series of missions. Sometimes its about wight killing- other times about area control - still other times about citizen rescue. You'll need to be a little clever here - but it's not rocket science.

You can supplement the wights towards the end of this story arc with other creatures of Iuz who will be looking for a way to bolster the wights' success and make it more difficult to expunge them.

In time, this can lead to quite a few battles. If the experience gained more or less renders any need for A Gathering of Winds redundant (i.e., the PCs have enough XP) then IGNORE THE MODULE COMPLETELY. Skip AGoW!

The only thing necessary in A Gathering of Winds is:

a) to defeat Ilthane (tie up a loose end) and;
b) to gain a fragment of the rod so as to send the PCs to Tenser ("Manzorian") to look for aid. Tenser is the one who sends the party on the road to Kuluth-Mar on the trail of Bucknard (Belakarde).

You have a perfect opportunity to bring Tenser directly into the picture with the events in the City of Greyhawk and to cause him to take great interest in the AoW prophecy. So that role played by the fragment of the Rod of Seven Parts has been handily replaced all on its own by the event’s in the Champ’s Belt. The matter of XP gained in A Gathering of Winds can be replaced with section clearing of undead in the Free City. Ilthane can have her stats increased to CR 18 and can be encountered in her lair in Prince of Redhand.

Your chief task then is determining the total XP they would have gained from AGoW (and the parts of CB they skipped I suppose), ensuring that similar XP is gained through the "fighting the wights/undead" part of clearing Greyhawk. Your task is one of arithmetic on one hand and mission design on the other so that the two more or less balance out.

If you do your task properly, all that leaves is the issue of missing treasure from AGoW. This is a biggie as the party needs this treasure to fight the bad guys in The Spire of Long Shadows.

I would strongly suggest that the Ring and the two Swords that would have been recovered from Icosiel's tomb in AGOW be inserted into the beginning of The Spire of Long Shadows. Deal with this by having the treasure possessed by Ballaxxus the Beholder in the North Quarter of Kuluth-Mar and MAKE SURE that Ballaxxus fights the party. He's a Behholder with 2x standard treasure. It's not beyond the pale to get that sort of treasure by fighting a beholder and up to 24 trolls for it.

True, the party loses out on the Rod of Seven parts fragment (which really means they lose the roughly 160k Gold they would get for the Rod fragment from Tenser for it) and they lose out on a the increased +4 Int / Circlet of persuasion. IMO, that's penalty enough for screwing up as they have done.

Other than that - no great harm done. Carry on!
 
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If you don't own Heroes of Battle, check Complete Warrior. It has a very workable military misssion generation system that I have used to good effect.

This would also be a good opportunity for the players who need new PCs (to replace those who are now (un)dead) to all come from a single organization devoted to destroying undead, preventing the Wormgod's rise, or similar. You could use the Affiliation rules from PH2 (I *heart* those rules!) for this.

And of course the surviving PCs can be inducted into the group/Affiliation as well.
 

Agreed Josh. Using this event as a “clean out the undead” incident that attracts an affiliation dedicated to undead hunting is a very good idea as a means to replace dead PCs and move the campaign along.

In terms of mission design, the chief problem is that fighting so many wights becomes repetitive. That’s the thing which needs to be addressed by the OP. The mission designs have to be varied even when the monsters being faced aren’t all that different. That’s the difficulty in this. But there are lots of ways to go with this situation.

Ideas include:

  • Search and destroy: Wights spotter in warehouse district. Tenser order PCs to district on a search and destroy mission. Victory Points gained only for destroying entire clutch of wights. Failure means spread of wight spawn to nearby area.
  • Destroy and protect: Tenser sends PCs to area inhabited by terrified people. Must destroy wights and save citizens. Points gained for citizens saved - penalty is facing more wights as lesser Spawn.
  • What to do with a Drunken Wight: The wights are on the ships! Ships are casting off in the Nyr Dyv in panic but one is partly infested. Make sure the wights don’t get out of the city and spread elsewhere. Burn the ship to the waterline if need be but contain the spread at all costs. Fight em below the decks. Push the PCs to make some unpleasant moral choices here.
  • We got Gophers: Defensive line established on main thoroughfare in City and spread of wights contained. PCs gain 1 hour to rest and get some healing; Yikes! Defensive line somehow breached. Find out how. (Travel to sewers and stop advance of wights under defensive line)
  • The Worm Turns: Outcrop of undead in area previously thought contained. Search and destroy again. But this time – it’s not only wights. One of the Spawn of Kyuss vomited forth from the Ulgurstasta has survived! The Spawn of Kyuss are multiplying like maggots and spreading through the terrified citizens holed up in their tenements. This is far worse than a spread of the lesser spawn of Wights. The Spawn of Kyuss must be stopped before the Age of Worms comes early!
  • Rescue Eligos: Eligos has been murdered! In all of the chaos – Celeste reports that Eligos has been slain. Tenser does not have time to deal with this now. Celeste begs PCs for help in recovering Eligos body before it uhm… gets up and walk away on its own.
  • Iuz and Iggwilv intervene: This happens off camera but the Circle is alarmed as demons have joined the fray. The city is on fire! Demons are in the sky!
  • Bozal defeated! Off camera – Tenser has defeated Bozal and the Circle has driven off most of Iuz’s demons. Things seem ok but the war against the remaining wights continues and the PCs are dead tired and out of spells…
  • One last push: A remaining district where a group of wight survivors and a handful of Spawn of Kyuss remains. The PCs must deal with it as a Balor has been seen in the eastern section of the City and all eyes are on the Balor.
  • Bait and Switch: The undead are not alone. After Bozal’s defeat, the Alklith demon from below the Arena (Area 30) has been released from bondage on the death of Bozal but has not – for some reason – been returned to the Abyss. The Alklith moves towards a hospice near the docks nursing some long held hatred and revenge upon some do-gooding old and venerable cleric who did it some wrong decades ago. The PCs are sent to find out what the hell is going on (“Demons!– It’s always “demons”!! Probably just wights and frightened guardsmen. Go and restore order”. )
  • Save the children; the wights have invaded an orphanage and child wights are playing in the streets – and crawling through holes nobody thought to plug up until now. They are like rats! Stomp em out.

By the time these encounters have played out – the PCs should be well on their way to mid point of 11th level. They will still be too low for Spire of Long Shadows though – so the DM will have to be inventive.

Multi-session themes: no time to rest; relentless attacks; always some other problem around the corner; Tenser principally dealing with PCs unit due to their lawful good aligned state (the affiliation Josh Randall mentioned perhaps?)

Use the opportunity to develop the story over a few or three sessions and use the roleplaying aspect of mission assignment and debriefing to bring the PCs closer to Tenser as matters wear on. Play up Iuz and Iggwilv’s menace and overt interference as the # 1 growing and main threat throughout all of this so that the Circle of Eight and Tenser are logically distracted afterward. You need this real and present danger to sell to the PCs so that the aftershocks of this monumental event are logically left to the PCs to deal with as there is something WAY BIGGER on the march that puts Kyuss in the “also ran” category for the Circle. At best, Tenser is left as a dissenter who is otherwise distracted. Otherwise, Tenser’s and Mordenkainen’s “I got better things to do than worry about some more nonsense prophecy” line rings very false and strains all credibility. (Nonsense? The last “nonsense prophecy” coming true 3 days ago just killed 35,000 people you MORON. What do you think we’ve been doing here? A snipe hunt? Are you *really* an Archmage?”)

Lots here to work with. Run with it and have fun.
 
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Henrix

Explorer
Wow, lots of good ideas there, Steel_Wind! Thanks!

And I have already looked at the threads over at Paizo. There were some good ideas there too - not the least of which was DMGII Mobs of Wights!

I'm actually downplaying the Circle of Eight as I don't like to upstage the PCs. They'll be busy but not as successful. Perhaps I ought to kill off some of them, offstage.

I actually plan to draw this to the horrible consequences. Greyhawk will fall to the Ebon Triad and Kyuss. Sort of a Midnight feel in Greyhawk.
I also want the consequences of their failure to be dire. Not just "ooops, sorry, we goofed!", but "Holy Heironeus! The world is going to bits!"

The Ulgurstasta (and Raknian, Bozol, etc) all survived, together with Auric and a couple of PCs turned to spawn of Kyuss (I'll beef them up to favoured of Kyuss to keep them more recognizable). Presumably they keep feeding victims to the Ulgurstasta, and that means more spawn who'll spread more spawn.

My plan right now is to keep A Gathering of Winds, mostly because I like it as a change of pace, but it'll no doubt undergo some changes. As, no doubt, my plans will when they meet my players.
 

Nightfall

Sage of the Scarred Lands
*decides to give your PCs some helpful advice*

Also consider the fact they might have to actually gather ALL the parts of the Rod of Seven Parts or even find/get the Crook of Rao to help banish Kyuss and his minions back. While I can understand Midnight in Greyhawk, there's still some time left before Kyuss ascends the panetheon. Plus there's always the chance Vecna might object to being treated this way.
 

Henrix

Explorer
I don't mean a full-blown Midnight Oerth, rather a small-scale version with the domain of Greyhawk in disarray and under siege by their own undead-infested capital.

And vertainly Vecna'll start to get interested. I figure there is some lag time in communications before the gods get moving, though. Their worshipers have to take the first decisions on what to do. And some of them will want to take over Greyhawk for their own purposes, or maybe even cooperate for a share!
First off I plan to include a Hextorite animus (from Ivids Great Kingdom) who the players heard about in an earlier campaign - he's pissed at Kyuss abusing Hextorites in the Ebon Triad.
 




I did all this work planning out what would happen if the wights were unleashed because when the PCs IMC attacked Bozal - they killed him so fast with two orbs of force that he did not have time to release the Ulgurstasta. He died too fast, you see.

So the Ulgurstasta lost a few hits from the end of the ritual but was otherwise charging up out of the arena sand and reared up during the final bout. Not unexpectedly - but just because they were expecting it didn't help the PCs much.

As it turned out - as the battle unfolded - my PCs were 1 second away from doom for the City of Greyhawk. The PC Psychic Warrior stepped - touched an unconscious Auric lying in the Ulgurstasta' mouth and dimensioned doored him out of the maw of doom. (If Auric had not been unconscious - Auric's Will roll probably would have prevented the dimension door from working).

So - it was that close. Auric would have been swallowed on the Ulgurstasta's next initiative and it was 20k wights time.

As you can see above - I was prepared for that eventuality though - so I wasn't sweating it :)
 


Henrix

Explorer
Steel_Wind said:
As it turned out - as the battle unfolded - my PCs were The PC Psychic Warrior stepped - touched an unconscious Auric lying in the Ulgurstasta' mouth and dimensioned doored him out of the maw of doom. (If Auric had not been unconscious - Auric's Will roll probably would have prevented the dimension door from working).


That is about exactly what happened in my campaign, except that no PC helped poor Auric. Come to think of it he has a bit of a grudge going against the PCs, again. They had basically gotten over their differences (they came to blows in the first adventure) during their stay in the coenoby, but now.... :]
 

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