mikeawmids runs Rise of the Runelords (in Savage Worlds)


Spires of Xin Shalast, Week 4 / Part 2
The golden portal into Karzoug's Spire of Avarice is unlocked at the touch of the Sideheron. The heroes enter a cavernous chamber, lined with golden pillars shaped in the likeness of muscular giants. Runelord Karzoug, a wizened old man with multicolored gemstones embedded in his wrinkly brow is perched upon his throne. He starts to villainously monologue how pitiful they are, etc... The heroes wait for him to finish. He doesn't finish, he just keeps going. The party get bored of waiting and attack! Turns out it is only an illusion, sent to taunt and disparage them as they ascend the pagoda.
The heroes head to the first floor and face off against golden statues in their own image! Karzoug hasn't had time to add Silas or the Faresight twins to his gallery, but some old faces are represented. Aeleana approaches Gold Karack and gets stabbed for her trouble.
"First strike! It has First Strike!" she cries.
"Oh yes, I went to great trouble making these statues as lifelike as possible." cackles the illusory runelord.
Karack doesn't want to know what Gold Asha can do so he takes her out first. Gold Snot stupidly impales himself on the lizardman's spear.
"Maybe too lifelike," Karzoug concedes.
Gold Grogg attacks real Grogg and the two go down in a tangle of limbs, following two consecutive critical failures. Is that life imitating art or art imitating life? Real Grogg recovers first, picks up Gold Groggs golden axe and cuts off his golden head.
"I'm keeping this!" Grogg roars, picking it up. Karzoug does not complain.
Gold Rast breathes a cloud of very poisonous gas over the party! Aeleana gets a lungful of the noxious fumes and starts dying. Forbin and Silas stagger out of the cloud, straight into the line of fire of Gold Ben Kotek's golden arrows! Gold Andor Drake enters the fray. Silas buries his pickaxe in his golden face!
"Enough with the gold already!" Asha cries, "You're the Runelord of Greed, we get it!"
The heroes overcome their golden counterparts and proceed to the second level. The floor is marked by a 6x6 grid of different coloured tiles.
"Oh great, it's a puzzle room," the party groan in unison.
Yes it is! Aeleana spots a silk pouch sitting on a stone pedestal and reaches in to find 5 random gemstones; two amethysts, two opals and a piece of amber. The party quickly deduce the different coloured gems correspond to the different coloured tiles. By only touching two purple tiles, two orange tiles and one yellow tile, Aeleana is able to traverse the room.
"That was easy!" she says.
"Oh, was it?" illusory Karzoug grumbles, before deactivating 25% of the tiles.
The rest of the heroes draw their own gems and manage to cross the room, although it takes Grogg multiple attempts (and multiple healing potions). The party proceed to level three. One wall of the room is dotted with circular depressions creating a 7x7 grid.
"Two puzzle rooms in a row?!" the party grumble, close to mutiny.
Karzoug casts a half dozen gems onto the ground, they immediately grow into hulking crystal elementals. Half are made of blood red ruby, the other half of pale amber.
"Now you must face me, Karzoug, in a battle of wits!" the runelord crows, "In ancient Thasillon, we call this game Syndeste Tessera! You must align four coloured discs in a row to win!"
"That's Connect 4!" the party protest, "Are you really going to make us play a childrens game?!"
"Yes! Shut up!!" Karzoug howls. He waves his hand and one of the amber golems shatters, leaving a yellow disc spinning on the floor.
The Runelord uses Telekinesis to place the yellow disc into the bottom-centre (and arguably best) position on the game board. The heroes focus on destroying the ruby golems to generate their playing pieces. It is a close match, but even their combined intellect cannot overcome Karzoug's genius! The Runelord cackles as he completes a diagonal line of four amber discs! Bwahahaha!!!
As punishment for losing, Karzoug hits the entire party with chain lightning, inflicting a single, unsoakable wound that they will carry forward into the final confrontation!

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Spires of Xin Shalast - The Finale

Wearied and wounded, the heroes reach the pinnacle of Karzoug’s golden spire. It’s been a long road, but the end is finally in sight. A portal blinks opens between two pillars, inviting the party to enter the Runelord’s private demiplain; the Eye of Avarice. Stepping between worlds, the heroes emerge on a wide, circular platform overlooking a lake of molten gold. Poisonous fumes rise from the boiling metal, making the heroes’ heads spin. Wide stairs, warded by fire giants, lead up to the Runelord’s throne, where Karzoug himself sits, a flaming ranseur lain across his lap.

(From the very beginning of the session, this was one epic, drawn-out battle. Neither Karzoug or the heroes had anything to say to one another, so they just went straight into combat rounds.)

Two fire giants lumber down the steps, approaching warily behind enormous shields that glow white hot with heat from the giant’s fiery aura. Lava golems appear on the balconies overlooking the platform and vomit streams of molten rock over the heroes!

Several different coloured gemstones appear, floating around the Runelord’s head. Each gem performs a different function; rubies explode (Blast), opals intercept attacks directed at Karzoug, the amber stones create barriers to block off certain areas of the battlefield, emeralds heal wounds, sapphires create flashes of blinding light and amethysts drain Power Points.

A wall of amber appears, separating Karack and Grogg from the rest of the party. A blue crystal appears on the other side, Asha, Aeleana and Silas are all blinded. Asha recovers quickly and vaults over the barrier, Silas swings his pickaxe to break through the wall of amber. Grogg and Karack take the fire giants apart, while the Faresight twins focus on picking off the golems. Asha stumbles around helplessly, unable to shake the blind effect for about five consecutive rounds.

Seeing that the party are making short work of his minions, Karzoug joins the fray. Robes billowing around him, the Runelord rises over the battlefield and rains devastation down upon the heroes! Silas and the Faresight twins go down! Grogg is sad because he cannot reach the Runelord without a ranged weapon, then he remembers the golden bust of his own handsome face that he picked up earlier.

“Heads up!” Grogg yells, bouncing the golden bonce off Karzoug’s skull.

This does little to improve the Runelord’s disposition. Grogg has made a powerful Enemy (as per the Adventure Card of the same name).

Finally regaining her vision, Asha casts Fly on both Karack and Grogg, enabling them to bring their runeforged weapons to bear. They both have the First Strike edge and can destroy Karzoug’s tricky crystals faster than he can manifest them. They begin whittling away the Runelord’s health in earnest, now that he doesn't have any more floating emeralds to heal his wounds.

(Once Karack and Grogg gained the ability to fly, Karzoug was done. He couldn’t hit their Parry and moving out of combat with them would have triggered all manner of counter strikes. In retrospect, I should have used Timestop/Entangle to stop them attacking and then moved away, or just used the Defend action – although I doubt that would have helped with the numbers they were rolling on their Fighting die).

Asha stumbles over to heal her fallen comrades. Aeleana and Forbin stagger to their feet, but not even the light of Sarenrae can guide Silas’ soul back to his broken body, he has already bled out and died from his grievous injures.

“You insolent worms!” Karzoug screeched, blood spraying from a deep gash across his chest.

“THIS!” Grogg bellowed.

“You can kill me, but you can’t kill my dream of a New Thasillon!”


“I am Karzoug! I am – “


Grogg makes a Wild Attack! Monica hacks through Karzoug’s neck and the Runelord’s severed head falls away from his body. Grogg somersaults in the air and bicycle kicks the head into the lake of molten gold!

With Karzoug slain, the Eye of Avarice closes and the heroes are deposited back in Xin Shalast. Sensing that their master has fallen, the surviving giants abandon the city and retreat into the mountains. The yeti and the dryads celebrate their shared victory!


Spires of Xin Shalast - Epilogue

Following the defeat of Karzoug, the surviving giants shake off the rune giant's domination and fall to brutal infighting. Working alongside the heroes, the yeti and the dryads are able to rout their mutual foes.

Karack Goblinfriend decides to stay in Xin Shalast and mediate a lasting peace between the yeti and the dryads. He later returns to Varisia to report to his superiors at Windsong Abbey, warning them of the catastrophe so narrowly avoided by the death of the re-awoken Runelord. If Karzoug survived Earthfall, it is possible that one or more of the other six Runelords have managed to survive, in some fashion. Karack is tasked with investigating this worrisome probability. Before he embarks on this new quest, Karack returns to Sandpoint to spend time with the friends he has made over the last few years.

Rast Sternhammer retires from adventuring to help his wife run the Rusty Dragon and raise their young daughter. He turns his alchemical knowledge to the brewing of dwarven craft ales and Sternhammer Special becomes a favoured tipple up and down the Lost Coast.

Ben Kotek is promoted to commander of the Black Arrows. He dedicates his life to keeping Hook Mountain and the people of Turtleback Ferry safe from ogres and other threats. He marries Shalelu Andosana and the two are often seen ranging together.

Nobody really knows what became of Solaris.

After driving the giants from Xin Shalast, Grogg the Smasher decides to track down the stolen piece of his brain and exact his vengeance on the gnomish artificers who lobotomised him in Magnimar. Fans of gladiatorial combat eagerly await his glorious return to the arena.

Asha the Fire Princess returned to Absalom to report to the High Priestess of Sarenrae. Concerned by what the rise of the Runelords might portend, she is dispatched on a top secret mission, across the Crown of the World, to the distant land of Tian.

Andor Drake kicks his drinking and whoring habits and becomes Commander of the City Watch in Magnimar.

The Faresight twins load several wagons full of gold from Karzoug's treasury and return to Varisia to retire in luxury, their every need attended by a host of yeti servants.

Silas Vekker is buried alongside his brother Karivek. When the sun rises over the Kodar Mountains and strikes the golden spires of Xin Shalast, a beam of bright, golden light illuminates the two cairns.

Snot the goblin returns to Hope and becomes Mayor of the goblins!

The End!

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