log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 4E Running Commentary on Rel's 4e Campaign (Complete 8/2/10)

Rel

Liquid Awesome
The PC's appeared in a strange landscape. They were surrounded by what appeared to be stone but had a strange look to it that wasn't quite right. But that was hardly the most notable thing about their situation. They were surrounded by a bizarre menagerie of creatures that they quickly discovered to be themselves.

Mialain now wore the form of an animate Oak tree. Astavian was a humanoid who glowed with golden light and wielded a sword in each hand. Eshik was now a Dragon, somewhat larger than the size of Steelslicer, with scales the color of his own dark purple hue. And Zanne was clearly some sort of hulking demon who put them all ill at ease with her form.

There was little time to contemplate this however as they came suddenly under attack by a group of seemingly identical ghostly humanoids, each surrounded by a cloud of Mist. These fought with their claws but also lashed out with waves of thought, painful and intense. The PC's were assaulted by waves of suffering, pain, shame and failure that threatened to overwhelm them.

But they fought back with the abilities afforded by their new forms. Somehow, in this strange place, they felt disconnected from their former selves and abilities. But yet each of them felt "right" in their new form and adapted to it easily.

Eshik breathed thunder among the enemy and tore into them with tooth and claw. In doing so he noticed that his presence seemed to push back the Mist from the enemies he engaged. Mialain brought a portion of her trunk down with a might stomp that shook the whole area while her branches smote down one of the foes. Astavian leapt into the midst of the crowd, hacking with abandon using his pair of blades. Zanne fought like...well, a demon. Her claws would sink into a foe and then hurl it across the large chamber.

As each enemy fell they could see part of its essence flee the body and enter others of the Misty combatants. This appeared to have the effect of healing or strengthening the recipient of this essence. The group fought their way up a wide corridor as these enemies continued to come at them in waves. Finally they battled their way into a massive chamber where a single humanoid, identical to all the rest, lay on the floor of the chamber being beaten and tormented by more of its simulacra. Beyond lay a great door with a massive lock on it.

Zanne had to pause a moment to catch her breath as the rest of the party hurled themselves into battle. But soon all of them were trading blows against the enemy who continued to assault them mentally as well as physically. Each of them barely stood as they gathered around the final version of the enemies they had been fighting. Eshik's aura of Mist banishment gradually banished the corruption from the Dweller who struggled to his feet before them.

"My thanks," he whispered out as he gathered himself to his height of a dozen feet (not terribly impressive to the party who were as big or bigger). "But what has brought you here?"

The PC's explained that they were there at the behest of his sister, Mayaheine who wanted him cleansed of the Mist. This was quickly followed by another pressing question: "Where are we?"

The Dweller explained that they were in a prison of his own making. He had been aware of the fate that had befallen him once he was corrupted by the Mist. He had fled to as remote a place as he could find and sealed himself inside a "pocket realm" with the godlike power vested in Pelor's Mace. It was a place that had the property of reflecting the true essence of one's soul and he began to try to tear away the pieces of him that were corrupted, hoping to escape once he had cleansed himself of their evil. But the Mist was insidious and spread through him almost faster than he could tear it away. Then he reached a point where these shards of his soul were collectively stronger than what remained of him and he was overpowered by them. For the last 500 years they had been locked in this tiny world with nothing to do but torment one another.

The Dweller was fearful of entering the real world again, worried that he might be immediately corrupted by the Mist again. The PC's explained that they had left their Dragon Bone Golems guarding the entrance and believed that there would be no Mist there to taint him. The Dweller thanked them once again and reached out to open the door to his prison...

They stood inside the Maw once again wearing their own bodies. The Dweller stood towering over them, his golden skin giving off a faint glow as he warily surveyed the scene. As the PC's had promised, the presence of the Dragon Bone Golems held the Mist at bay.

The Dweller gestured at the remaining Golems and scattered chunks of Dragon Bone, "I wish to barter for these. In trade, I offer this..." He reached and took down the great mace and held it out to them. "This will show my sister that you have done as she asked. And I will also teach you the secret of unmaking it such that you may imbue your own weapons with some of its power."

The PC's quickly agreed that this was a fair trade but asked, "Are you not coming with us to see your sister?"

The Dweller shook his head. "The world is riddled with evil. Some of it has been done in my name. That cannot stand." His voice spoke with the surety of a being who was unable to deny his own essence. Having handed over the mace (which was so large that it took both Astavian and Eshik to manage it) the Dweller set to humming over the Dragon Bone, bending it to his will and shaping it into something new. In half an hour he had shaped it into a suit of white armor that clung close to his golden frame.

Cautiously he approached the Mist...and it retreated before the Dragon Bone he wore. The group walked forward to leave the Maw, never to return.

*********

Thanks for the prompt, Rechan! I was working on the update as you posted!

Alright so this was a pretty fun session. I had pulled out the stats for some cool monsters that I felt were good personifications of the PC's while inside the Dweller's "spirit prison". They were:

Eshik - Adamantine Dragon
Mialain - Treant
Astavian - Angel of Vengeance
Zanne - Abyssal Eviscerator

I think it was huge fun to play roles that they didn't usually get to play and use a new, smaller set of powers for a few fights. Everybody at the table seemed to really enjoy it and I think it was a break from our usual mode of play that gave some extra energy for the last few sessions of the campaign. I'm going to try and remember to do this in future campaigns once in a while.

As for the opposition, the wolves they fought on the way in were Ghost Worg Packmates. I didn't really work too hard on a justification for why they were more powerful than the ghost wolves the PC's had fought here before. But like I said upthread, the PC's were here to basically destroy the source from which they came this time around so if that could be sensed at all then perhaps the spirit that motivated them was extra inspired. Or something like that.

The "Ghostly Aspects of the Dweller" were re-skinned Ghost Trolls. I liked their combination of claw attacks plus "Terror Strike" ability to emulate the tormented fragments of a fragment of a god's soul. Mechanically whenever one of these critters got killed, the nearest one of them got to spend a Healing Surge. And there were a BUNCH of them inside the pocket realm. So it was a long, tough battle (I seem to specialize in those if you can't tell). But I needed plenty of hit points for the PC's to vent their new powers on.

The one power that stood out for the fact that it was NOT used was Zanne's Abyssal Eviscerator power of Soul Shred, which let it regain 20 hit points on any round where it killed a creature. Poor Zanne did massive amounts of damage to lots of foes the entire fight...and never killed a single one. Every time it seemed certain that she'd kill one on her next round, somebody would kill whichever one was closest to it, thus healing it by enough hit points to keep it alive through Zanne's turn. Then, inevitably, another PC would kill it later in the round. Zanne finally had to spend a Second Wind right before the last fight in order to survive it. Kind of a bummer but sort of funny too. ;)
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Rel

Liquid Awesome
So Rel, how did you stat up Steelslicer when you used her on the PCs side? Did she turn into a companion character or were you using solo stats or what?

I can definitely recall having a sheet of stats for her but I cannot for the life of me recall where I put it. I know that she had been toned down from her solo numbers a bit and she had a narrower selection of powers than the PC's for certain. But she was still a formidable ally.

Cool.

Is that it, or is there some more to come?

Oh there is definitely more to come. And I had a couple conversations with the players yesterday that helped to jog my memory as to some details so I'll be writing up the next portion sooner than later.
 

Rechan

Adventurer
As an aside. One thing that I really dig about this game is just how Epic it feels. And it has nothing to do with level or the foes the PCs are fighting, but purely the tasks they are doing.

Mialee, becoming the high priestess off the bat, spreading the church. Purifying or Rescuing Gods. Saving the King from an assassination. Eshik becoming Emperor. The PCs are doign Important and Big things after they exit the Mines.
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
From the deck of their airship they could see the smoke rising from the gates of New Karak Tor. Airships marked with the insignia of the Arcanon Confederacy hovered above and they could see flashes of fire and lightning stab downward telling them that the battle still raged.

"We've got to get in there and help them defend the gate to the city! And fast!" proclaimed Astavian. Mialain gave orders to Llyra, "We can't risk the ship against that fleet so you've got to just put us down inside the walls and then get out of there. Circle Karak Tor at a distance and I'll signal you when you need to come pick us up." Eshik likewise instructed Steelslicer, "Stay with the ship and protect her. If those other ships get close, shred the gas bags. Understand?" Steelslicer hissed her assent.

Llyra expertly guided the ship in close to the ground where the PC's were able to slide down ropes into the midst of what was clearly a full on retreat by the Dwarves. Another Fireball streaked down from one of the Confederacy airships and exploded in the distance. But the ships were holding back for the moment, kept at bay by ballista fire from the narrow defensive towers that dotted the inner fortifications. A few of the Dwarves stopped and brandished weapons at the party until they saw them wearing the medals they'd been awarded by the Council of Seven that allowed them passage inside Karak Tor. With no further explanation they continued their retreat. Knowing the Dwarves as stalwart warriors the party wondered what had them on the run. A moment later that question was answered.

A stone wall, at least three feet thick, burst open before the onslaught of a huge, horned creature. It seized a chunk of the rubble and hurled it at the top of one of the defense towers sending the ballista and lifeless bodies of those arming it falling to the ground. With a triumphant roar the demon bounded forward with a screaming horde of bugbears following just behind it.

The PC's began to hurl steel and magic at the beast to slow its advance. Astavian called down the Wrath of Ryukaar while Eshik wielded his blades like the Claws of the Griffon. Zanne hoped to halt the creature with her Infernal Moon Curse but it was too mighty to fall victim to her magic. Mialain erected a Blade Barrier hoping to hold the creature at bay.

Heedless of the shredding blades, the Demon rushed forward and grabbed Astavian and simply hurled him against a nearby building with a bone crunching thud, leaving the Paladin prone. It then stomped the ground sending cracks through the stone and knocking everybody within 50 feet to ground, friend and foe alike. It followed this by charging at Eshik and slamming a massive claw into him.

The Blade Barrier did give pause to the bugbears who gave it a wide berth before rejoining the advance of the Demon. This allowed the party to focus all of their attacks on it for a moment but even those that found a way through its formidable defenses seemed only to fuel its rage and fury, causing it to strike back viciously.

Help did come from above as a massive steel spear slammed into the Demon. Glancing back from whence it came the party saw that Gorom the Warden was helping to man one of the defense tower ballistae.

The Demon continued to push forward toward the final gate that led inside the mountain and it seemed that there was nothing that would stop it. It paused and ripped a massive chunk of stone from the base of one of Gorom's defense tower and hurled it at Mialain, missing her by the smallest of margins. Then it did the same to Zanne, this time connecting and knocking her to the ground. A loud *CRACK* sounded from the base of the tower and then the entire thing began to topple over. Eshik leaped into the air and grabbed Gorom and the other Dwarf. The weight of them dragged them all back to the ground but it was enough to save them from being killed by the fall and crashing stone.

Just ahead of them the party could now see the gates into the mountain. A couple of them noticed that these gates now had a purple hue to them, indicating that they had been plated with adamantite. There was a grinding noise and the massive stone gates began to slowly open to admit them. But they all knew that while the gates might be indestructible that the stone around them seemed like mere clay in the claws of that Demon. Once breached the might of the horde of the Arcanon Confederacy would come pouring through and the city would be lost.

They turned their attention back to the Demon and renewed their assault upon it, knowing that it MUST be defeated if the city were to survive. Zanne donned her Armor of Agathys and prepared to get in close using her Shadow Form as protection. Astavian invoked his Crown of Glory and did his best to remain close to the Demon hoping to slow its progress. But this was a struggle because the Demon kept grabbing and hurling him to some distance. Eshik lay about with both blades and bursts of icy breath dealing death to the bugbear minions that swarmed around them as well as landing strikes upon the Demon. Mialain was simply calling upon every healing spell she could summon in a desperate attempt to stem the horrible damage the Demon was inflicting upon her friends.

A shadow passed over them for a moment. It was accompanied by a stony, leonine roar and tremendous crash as the Guardian of Old Karak Tor launched itself from within the gate and locked its stone jaws onto the Demon. A host of Dwarven defenders rushed forth as well and began hacking at the bugbears with axe and hammer. Astavian hurled himself into the Demon with a Radiant Charge compounded by his hatred of (and bonuses against) Mist Demons and finished the creature.

Their champion dead and now facing the massive stone form of the Guardian, the bugbears halted their assault long enough for the party, the Dwarves and the Guardian to all withdraw inside the adamantite gates and close them. Karak Tor was besieged. But it still stood.

********

Another tremendous fight here. I included the use of specific powers since I had notes on a couple things (I specifically jotted down where Eshik stunted to interrupt the Demon's turn to save Gorom and the other Dwarf from falling to their deaths) and had a bit better recall of this battle.

The Demon was a Havoc Goristro and it was big and nasty. It "only" had 310 hit points (due to my 60% HP house rule) but it was dealing out massive damage (due to the 1/2 level +3 extra damage rule that went hand in hand with the HP reduction). And every attack against it seemed to trigger some sort of retributive ability or other.

The slowing effect of Astavian's Crown of Glory was a big factor in this one as was Zanne's Armor of Agathys/Shadow Form combo and I probably didn't quite do them justice in the above narrative. Also they'd never have survived this if Mialain hadn't been pouring out enough healing to partly counter the incredible damage this thing was doing. And Eshik was making a point to take out swaths of minions with his dragonbreath so that they didn't get overwhelmed by Enlarged Bugbears.

Of course my cool moment as the GM in all this had to be the charge of the Guardian. It was one of those times when the players all lit up, knowing that by releasing him earlier in the campaign that they had made possible his appearance in the battle. It was very cinematic and awesome, which is exactly what I was going for.
 


Rel

Liquid Awesome
********
Before I get back into the action I need to mention something that I forgot about that should have taken place prior to the last entry. After their encounter with the Dweller (whose name prior to becoming "the Dweller" was revealed as Mikel by the way) they made a stop at the nearby plateau of Semma, specifically the city of the same name.

They were in the neighborhood and Zanne wanted to check in with Zhomkar, another of the agents of Vond. Zhomkar had been trying to locate the original "Gift from Vond" that the PC's had been tasked with delivering in their first adventure but which had been swapped with a fake. Because Ambassador Harrix (who had turned out to be a doppelganger) had presumably been murdered somewhere in Semma, Zhomkar hoped that the original Gift had been stashed there somewhere.

He was correct. He'd actually located it in the sewers of Semma City a few months after he was exiled from Opkhar and retrieved it. After doing so he'd sent word back to Vond who had responded by telling him that he was to remain as a spy for Vond in Semma and to hold onto the Gift for now UNLESS Zanne showed up, in which case he was to give it to her. So Zanne showed up and Zhomkar gave it to her.

Zanne was puzzled over why exactly she was to have such a gift but she took the Urn and, with great anticipation, opened it to finally discover what it contained...

It was empty. (I wish I had a picture of stobil's face when this was revealed.)

Zanne studied it and it was clearly magical. It emanated the same sort of "preservation" magic that the fake had. She couldn't determine more than that without additional study so she thanked Zhomkar and returned to the ship where they proceeded on to Karak Tor...

********

The enemy was at the gates, but those gates were indestructible. If the Arcanon Confederacy were going to keep coming after Karak Tor then they'd have to go through the mountain. But with most of the surviving populace inside the walls they had enough manpower to double the patrols for any signs of tunneling. Still, they all silently wondered how long it would be until the AC could summon another demon like that...

The PC's rested up from the battle and informed the Dwarves that they would need to journey to the top of the mountain once again. The Dwarves provided them with more of their special liquor that aided them against the thin air and frigid cold of Mayaheine's realm. The group piled on extra clothing and ascended via the great lift.

They arrived at the top to find a sizable group of Dwarves gathered to defend the upper end of the lift in the event that the Arcanon Confederacy tried to enter the city that way. No regular airship could fly that high but they weren't certain about the Eladrin Winged Ships, several of which the AC still possessed. The PC's bade these Dwarves farewell and began trudging toward the mountain top with Astavian and Eshik sharing the weight of the Dweller's huge mace.

No Yetis or Ice Trolls assaulted them this time around and they arrived at Mayaheine's ice fortress without incident. They were greeted at the door by one of her servants bearing the typical markings of being bald with faintly glowing eyes. Still there was something familiar about him that they couldn't quite place.

They were quickly led inside where Mayaheine stood as before, studying the ice crystals in which she said she could see all that was. She turned to greet them and very nearly smiled.

Astavian and Eshik lay the great mace on the icy floor and said, "We have freed your brother from his torment. He is afflicted with the Mist no longer. We offer his mace as proof of our deed."

"Fools. I'm omniscient! I need no proof of your deeds! Nonetheless, you accomplished within a year what my pitiful servants were unable to do for generations..." She gazed pointedly at the servant that still lurked at the back of the chamber. This was the spark that their memories needed: That was Rhazul, the one time head of Mayaheine's Black Moon Cult, whom King Klo of Opkhar had executed and whose body vanished mysteriously afterward. He looked different with no hair and mustache.

Mayheine's voice interrupted their moment of recognition, "You have returned and it is now time for your reward. Each of you have a question or immortality to claim. What shall it be?"

This was something they had discussed at length on their journey from Semma and many ideas had been put forth. But one of them was not debatable and that was the question that Mialain stepped forward to ask, "How can we locate the Nexus?"

Mayaheine replied, "There are a number of ways." Then she paused...

(At which point the players all audibly groaned. They'd been anticipating that Mayaheine was going to be as literal and difficult as possible with her answers and they were certain that they were going to have to use up all their questions to pin her down on things like this.)

...and said, "I could tell you where it is now if you wish. But I could also tell you that it may not be there by the time you get to it. I think the most useful answer I can give you is that, if one of you takes my offer of immortality, that person will be able to know the location of the Nexus, given your other capabilities right now."

Eshik stepped forward and said, "Then I choose the immortality."

Mayaheine DID smile at that point, which was worrisome to say the least. "Approach me." Eshik did. "You are sure of this?" she asked. "It comes with certain...obligations." Eshik simply said, "I am."

The rest of the party watched as Mayaheine casually snapped off a large ice crystal and stabbed Eshik through the heart.


to be continued
 



meomwt

First Post
Thank you, Rel. More fine updates from a wonderful campaign.

Quick question: what level were the PC's when they went went back up to Mayaheine's Citadel? They seem to have plenty of abilities so I'm guessing that they are getting close to Epic, but as I don't play 4E, I am not 100% familiar with the way that powers and the like tier.
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
Thank you, Rel. More fine updates from a wonderful campaign.

Quick question: what level were the PC's when they went went back up to Mayaheine's Citadel? They seem to have plenty of abilities so I'm guessing that they are getting close to Epic, but as I don't play 4E, I am not 100% familiar with the way that powers and the like tier.

At this point they are 12th or 13th level so they are actually not very far into Paragon. Despite the feel of it, this campaign was never intended to make it into Epic levels and it doesn't. Generally speaking I don't like high level games as much as low level games. But the curve in 4e is much more flattened out and I wouldn't mind continuing into the late Paragon or Epic levels to try it out sometime.
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
So you're never going to believe this but here it is: I'm going to finish this thing.

We're getting pretty close to the end now and I had a big pow-wow with the players earlier in the week to try and get my facts straight as best as possible. So while all that is still fresh (and I took notes!) I'm going to finish this out before I leave for GenCon a week from Monday!

Before I push forward I thought it was worth mentioning something I left out as well as a couple of remembrances by the players that I neglected to mention.

First, they reminded me that while The Dweller (Mikel) was fashioning his dragonbone armor to ward off the Mist, he also made a dragonbone greatsword and gave it to the party by way of thanks. Astavian held on to that.

Also they mentioned a few other things about the big fight at the gates of Karak Tor. They still had the explosive device (the "Kapow!") that was given to them WAY back by the Gnomes in the Feywild. Before the battle really got underway, Zanne took this and flew up to where the Arcanon Confederacy forces were about to breach the outer wall. After the demon carved a hole through the wall, Zanne dropped the Kapow! into the breach where it exploded, killing a pile of Bugbears and collapsing the sides of the breach into a pile of rubble that temporarily blocked the way. This didn't slow the enemy down much but it did let the Dwarves get enough distance that far fewer of them were killed during the retreat than would have been otherwise.

Also there is some discrepancy over the involvement of the Guardian in the battle with the Demon. The players remembered that the gate opened and the Guardian was there (which they all agreed was cool) but didn't think it got directly involved in the battle. They remember telling the Guardian to stay out of it because the Demon had already show a propensity for slicing big chunks out of stone with its claws and the Guardian was of course made entirely of stone. I recall it getting in a single attack the round that the Demon was killed. This is corroborated by the fact that I have a single damage entry noted on the Guardian's monster sheet in my binder. I'm now guessing that what happened was that the Guardian's attack actually missed, triggering the Aura of Bloodlust that the Demon gives off.

In any event, it was roundly recalled as a tense battle and one where terrain was a big deal. There was a partly destroyed building just outside the gates and it was blocking line of sight for some of the PC's and was rough terrain for those trying to cross it. The Demon was using this especially to try and break off the attacks by Astavian because he was using Certain Justice to weaken it. Reducing its damage by half was putting a major crimp in the Demon's style so it concentrated a lot of effort on throwing Astavian far enough away so that he couldn't attack it for a round, thus ending his Divine Challenge, thus ending the Certain Justice. It finally succeeded but by then they had inflicted so much damage on it that it only lasted about one more round.

Anyway, I think that covers the retroactive stuff. Now on with the game!...
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
The rest of the party cried out and reached for their weapons but Mayheine fixed them with an icy gaze and they held for a moment. Then she began a low chant over Eshik's body, which seemed to become infused with a pale white light. Some of the color seemed to bleach from his dark purple scales...and he twitched. Then his eyes opened, now emanating a faint light of their own.

"What have you done to him?!" cried Mialain.

Mayaheine stood from where she had been crouching over the Dragonborn and said, "I have unlocked his soul to all that it has ever been. But I hold the key." She gestured with the ice shard that she'd used to slay Eshik, whose blood had etched small and unique imperfections in its surface. She turned and spoke to Eshik directly, "If you are ever killed then I can use this key to bring you back to life here. But doing so requires considerable effort on my part so if you make a frequent habit of it then know that I shall exact some sort of repayment." Eshik stumbled back over among his companions where he stood unsteadily, his mind crowded with memories of events that he had never experienced.

Once sure that his companion wasn't about to fall over, Astavian stepped to the fore to ask his question. He had considered long and hard whether to also accept the immortality as he knew that his upcoming path would be a dangerous one and he didn't want death to bar him from success. But he had suspected, and those suspicions were now fully confirmed, that Mayaheine's offer of immortality had strings attached. Astavian was dedicated to Ryukaar and would not subjugate himself to another god. His choice affirmed, he spoke, "I wish to know how best to go about defeating the Dracolich."

Mayaheine nodded, "Well of course you know that he is a Lich first and foremost and that means that he must have a phylactery. That phylactery must be destroyed if he is to be ended permanently. But I think the more valuable piece of information is that his True Name is Kruxicor. He wears the bones of the Dragon Baelthrax now, but his soul remains his own and that was his name from the time he was an egg."

Astavian thanked her, knowing how essential having the True Name of Baelthrax had been in defeating it (and STILL Eshik had died in that battle!). He stepped back to let Zanne ask what she will.

Mayaheine called his attention once more, "I warn you though...something has begun that may make Kruxicor the least of your worries. He has begun a ritual that, if completed, will have far reaching consequences."

That hung in the air a moment before it became obvious that it was all she had to say on the subject. Zanne then posed her question:

"How can I slay the Besieger and end his hold over me?"

Mayaheine paused for a moment, almost as though she hadn't expected this (an embarrassing event for an omniscient being). "An interesting question. The answer is that you cannot slay him while he DOES have a hold over you. By your agreement he owns your soul. And that is a powerful, powerful thing. Face to face, you shall be his puppet."

This was not welcome news to Zanne but she had feared as much. Mayaheine continued: "I would suggest that your best course of action is to place your soul somewhere that the Besieger cannot get to it." She paused meaningfully. "You have just recently come into the possession of such a receptacle."

The Urn!

Zanne's mind was racing and she immediately began asking another question, "How do I..." Mayaheine interrupted, "You traffic in souls constantly. I'm sure you can figure out a way."

She then addressed the entire group, "I believe that concludes our business. I think you'd agree that I've been quite forthcoming with the information you have requested. As such I would appreciate you telling my brother that I would like a word with him when he's not too busy saving the world."

The PC's looked at each other with some confusion. Astavian spoke for the group, "Your brother?"

"Yes," replied Mayaheine, "He's on his way here to save the Dwarves."

The party definitely appeared as though they were about to ask another question and thus Mayaheine did the same thing she did last time they visited. With a puff of her breath, they vanished from her fortress and reappeared far down the mountain, a few minutes walk from the top of the Dwarven Lift.

"How does she DO that?!" asked Mialain. They started walking.

********

Ok there was a TON of consideration and debate that went on about what questions they were going to ask of Mayaheine. Dozens of e-mails were flying around considering all kinds of options. I note that a recurring theme was how Mayaheine was probably going to be a complete ball buster in terms of giving them straight answers. Watching them plan some of their questions reminded me of the old 1e days when players tried to figure out the proper, airtight wording of a Wish spell.

It was my great pleasure to surprise them by NOT being a Rat Bastard about this. Not only did she not try and weasel her way out of answering their questions, she went above and beyond in providing information they didn't even ask for! Could have knocked them over with a feather! ;)

So the bit where Eshik got the immortality, basically he became part Deva, including gaining their Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes power. He's now aware of all the past lives his soul has led, which will be helpful in some very specific ways coming up.

Zanne's tip about putting her soul in the Urn was something that I'd been planning for a while. Stobil had made it clear a couple or so months prior to this that one of her long term goals would be to get her soul of out hock to The Besieger. I began toying with ideas about how to make that a possibility and bringing Zhomkar and the Urn back into play was one of the tie-ins to previous stuff in the story that I thought was appropriate.

There was actually some groundwork for the purpose of the Urn that I didn't cover in this thread previously. The PC's learned that King Klo of Opkhar was supposed to be "afraid of dying". Actually he was less afraid of the dying than he was what was going to happen to his soul afterward. Worship of The Dweller was the state religion of Opkhar and The Dweller was not known as a nicey-nice deity. King Klo was never terribly religious and was worried that he was headed for some serious damnation in the afterlife.

So, based on that knowledge, Emperor Vond (Zanne's patron), who, being a Warlock, knew a lot about channeling souls, had fashioned the Urn to be capable of holding King Klo's soul such that he needn't fear what might happen after he died. Vond figured that this would encourage King Klo to get off the fence and put Opkhar squarely on Vond's side of the impending troubles with the Arcanon Confederacy. Of course the Urn was intercepted by agents working for the AC who tried to make it look like Vond was instead going to assassinate King Klo thus pitting Opkhar against Vond and giving the AC free reign in the south (probably targeting Semma next).

Anyway, I was quite pleased at how that all tied together.
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
The PC's arrived safely back inside the depths of Karak Tor and got an update indicating that the Dwarven defenses were holding and no tunneling by the Arcanon Confederacy had been detected thus far. They shared with the elders the information they'd gotten from Mayaheine that Mikel was on the way from Opkhar. This was greeted with cautious optimism by the Dwarves but clearly they'd believe it when they saw it. Nobody had ever come to help them before.

The group set about performing the ritual handed down to them by Mikel.

[sblock]Righteous Crusade of Pelor

The power granted to you by the Mace of Pelor's Aspect of Valor is realized.

Component Cost: N/A Requires the sacrifice of the Mace of Valor
Market Price: N/A
Key Skill: Arcana
Level: 12
Time: 8 hours
Duration: Permanent

You dedicate yourself and your weapon to a Crusade against the forces of chaos and destruction that beset the world. While in pursuit of those goals a weapon you dedicate to this cause is imbued with powerful magic. It gains the following properties:
Enhancement Bonus of +3
Against one type of enemy (i.e. Dragons, Undead, Mist Demons, etc.) all criticals by this weapon do an additional 3d12 instead of 3d6.
As a Move Action, you may shatter the weapon. All enemies in a Close Burst 5 take 5d12+12 damage, are knocked Prone and are Dazed until the end of your next turn. When this takes place you heal Hit Points as though you had spend 2 Healing Surges and any allies within the Burst may spend a Healing Surge.

If, at any time, the bearer wavers from this cause or behaves in a cowardly or evil manner, these properties will be lost.[/sblock]

The four weapons chosen to receive this blessing were the pair of Adamantite Axes (one battle axe and one greataxe) that they had found in the depths of Old Karak Tor as well as the Dragonbone Greatsword and one of Eshik's scimitars. The axes were blessed with Undead Slaying and the swords with Mist Demon slaying. These would all be in possession of Astavian (greataxe/greatsword) and Eshik (battle axe and scimitar) since they were most likely to be attacking the Dracolich close up where the "retributive strike" would be most effective. Also, by their nature, the Adamantite axes were already Dragon Slaying.

Among their other assets Mialain still had the large crystal that they had drawn out of the head of Hygeius. They still didn't know exactly what it was capable of but only that it had absorbed the essence of healing magic from Melora's Aspect of Healing.

There was some debate over their immediate course of action. After all they had done for the party, Zanne and Mialain were in favor of staying to help Mikel break the siege of Karak Tor. Astavian and Eshik were both more in favor of going after the Dracolich right away. They argued that Mayaheine had informed them that the Dracolich was performing some kind of bad ritual and that needed to be stopped as soon as possible. The ladies agreed grudgingly that the Dracolich too precedence and with that the heroes settled down for a good night's rest and prepared to depart in the morning.

They awoke to a good bit of activity. In the early hours of the dawn the contingent from Opkhar had arrived! A motley flotilla of airships indicated that King Klo had commandeered anything that could fly (included among them was Tornear the Goblin's ship). In addition there was a flight of gryphons that Mikel had rounded up from among the remnants of the Cult of the Black Moon that worshiped him. This group, with Mikel at the forefront, had fallen upon the AC fleet and forced them to retreat from right outside the inner gate of Karak Tor. The Dwarves seized the opportunity to sally forth and join the battle. The battle against the Arcanon Confederacy was certainly not over but the front lines had been pushed off of the Dwarves doorstep.

The PC's took this opportunity to hail Llyra from where she'd been keeping station miles off to the south and she brought their ship in to pick them up. Wishing the Dwarves a hearty good luck and promise to return to help them as soon as they were able, the group set off to the northwest in the general direction of Opkhar and Semma.

********

The most notable thing here was the debate about helping the Dwarves against the AC vs. going as soon as possible toward the Dracolich and Isle of Wyrms. Both sides had valid points. The Arcanon Confederacy had been a thorn in the side of the party for a long time and Zanne in particular was really itching for a chance to smite some Wizard butt. Mialain was mostly in it for a chance to aid the Dwarves as well as give them a more favorable disposition toward Melora.

There was also the fact that she had a strong vested interest in the Arcanon Confederacy being pushed back or at least halt their forward advance toward Opkhar and Semma. By virtue of the location of the Tree of Life atop the plateau that held the Prison Mines of Pelor, if the AC continued their westward annexation of other plateaus she'd find that the high temple of her deity was inside enemy territory.

In the end however there were two compelling arguments for getting on with the Dracolich assault. First of course was the whole ritual thing. Although I think that in the actual dialog with Mayaheine it was implied that what he was doing was major and would take a long time to do so in theory they'd have a day or two to spare helping the Dwarves. But Astavian was also strongly motivated because his god, Ryukaar, was still trapped in the Elemental Plane of Fire and would remain there until such time as they could liberate the Nexus from the Dracolich.

Finally there was a big metagame consideration: Christmas. We only had a couple weeks before the week of Christmas at this point. If they helped out with the Dwarves then we'd need to spend at least a session or two on that. If they went right for the Dracolich then we could finish before the holidays took us out of action for a couple of weeks or so. Everybody seemed to want to go ahead and finish the game up rather than have to wait a couple extra weeks for the grand finale. So ultimately that trumped the other pro-dwarven motives and they got on with things.

Up Next: The Isle of Wyrms!
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
Eshik entered the Sanctuary again. He quickly made his way out of the orb chamber and into the passageway where the crumbling veneer of the pocket realm opened into the void of the Place Between Places and gazed into the enormity of the nothing.

Previously this would have paralyzed him and driven him to madness. But he now had the consciousness of all the past incarnations of his soul swimming about his mind and the burden did not seem too great to bear. He focused and became aware of shining beacon in the void. Something tied to the place where he now stood inside the Sanctuary: The other eye of Io, the Nexus. He hastily turned and ran back to the orb chamber, willing himself outside the Sanctuary where he arrived touching it on the deck of the airship a couple of hours after he'd entered.

"Still North," he told them. North and West they had traveled since leaving Karak Tor. North to Opkhar. West to Enmurinon. North to Lumeth and even to Thanoria, the furthest north any of them had ever been. It was good that they still had the heavy coats the Dwarves had given them for traveling up to Mayaheine's fortress atop the mountain. But they dwelled little upon the cold because something worrisome was happening below them...

The Mist was receding.

At first it had been hard to tell. But now they were seeing larger and larger swaths of landscape that bore the twisted and ruined signs of having been submerged beneath the Mist for the last half millennium. This might have been cause for celebration considering that the Mist had done nothing but slowly rise for the last hundred or so years. But knowing that the Dracolich was out there, doing something, they could not embrace it as something good.

At the northern edge of Thanoria they saw this effect up close when they stopped to gather food and for Eshik to take another reading on the Nexus. It lay still further north, off the maps as it were. It appeared that the Mist had dropped at least 20 or 30 feet since they had departed Karak Tor. They had a bad feeling about this.

As they continued their flight north they saw storm clouds on the horizon and Llyra worried for the airship. If it began to ice up they would quickly take on too much weight to remain airborne. But they pressed on, knowing that if worse came to worse all but Eshik could enter the Sanctuary and he could continue riding Steelslicer.

Finally they came to a sight most disturbing: An enormous vortex was visible at the surface of the Mist. Something was drawing it down in enormous quantities and whatever it was was almost directly below them...with the Nexus.

"You're sure it's down there?" asked Astavian.

"Positive," replied Eshik.

"Then let's do this," said the Paladin.

They descended into the Mist. It was thick here. As thick as anyplace they'd ever seen it, being drawn into the vortex, which filled the air with a howl so loud that they could barely hear one another. But it did give them a beacon to home in on by its noise since they could see nothing outside the bubble within the Mist created by Steelslicer's draconic presence. And then, suddenly, they could see.

Below was a small island at the center of which was some sort of structure in the vague shape of a rather bumpy cone. The vortex was being drawn directly into the top of that structure. But, apart from the vortex, not a wisp of Mist was anywhere near the island. It seemed to hover, swirling, no closer than a couple of hundred feet from where the cold northern waters lapped at the shores.

Peering down at their destination, Mialain suddenly said, "The island has feet!"
Upon closer inspection it also had a head. The PC's all looked at each other. "A turtle!...A DRAGON turtle!" That would explain why the Mist was kept at bay. They made certain to land nowhere near the head.

The ship touched down and Llyra was given her orders. She was once again to circle above, out of harm's reach, and retrieve them if given the signal (which was the red rocket they'd been given by the Gnomes of the Feywild as a signal not to follow the PC's through the caverns to the Eladrin mainland). She wished them luck and the airship silently rose back into the clear bubble that traveled through the Mist with the Dragon Turtle.

They set about scouting the central structure, which appeared to be made from gigantic scutes from the Dragon Turtle's own scales. Even so there appeared to be many layers of them stacked into a sort of pyramid and so slipping in between them was impossible. They'd have to go in through the front door.

While undertaking this scouting something strange seemed to be following them. A small, reddish disturbance in the air seemed to be swirling around nearby. It looked like a faintly crimson dust devil and it was getting closer and closer. As was typical, the party turned to confront whatever it was. They certainly didn't want it following them when they made their assault on the giant pyramid.

It moved closer and then seemed to pick out Zanne in particular as a target. It would momentarily stop spinning and hang in the air before them as a reddish mist. It was clearly not the same as the Mist however since it wasn't being repelled by the Dragon Turtle. It reanimated into a swirl and seemed to pluck at Zanne's robes and satchel. In a sudden fit of insight, Zanne drew out the book she'd been carrying and studying ever since she found it in the ruined tower atop the Prison Mines of Pelor.

A rune on the cover of the book flashed and the red mist coalesced into the translucent shape of a man. His ghostly voice spoke to them, "You found my book!"

Zanne replied that indeed she had and just exactly who in the Mist was he?

He was the Wizard, Valakir. It was his tower that they had discovered and his book where he had sought to collect as much information about the Mist as he could. And when he had learned the rough location of the Isle of Wyrms and determined to go there to see if the Mist could be undone, he had left the book behind so that knowledge would not be lost in the event of his death.

The party asked many questions and Valakir answered as best he could...

He determined long ago that dragons, their bones in particular, repelled the Mist. It was for that reason that he had captured a dragon's egg and used magic to slow the growth of the dragon inside so that it didn't become too big for him to keep prisoner to stave off the Mist if it ever rose as high as his tower. It was known back during the Dragon War that Adamantite was anathema to Dragons and so he had of course located his tower atop the only known Adamantite mines in this part of the world: The Prison Mines of Pelor.

Once the egg hatched he also cut the wings off the dragon, using an Adamantite knife so that they would not grow back. It wasn't until much, much later when Mialain had unleashed the power of the Glass Book at the Tree of Life that so much healing energy washed over Blackbreather that her wings were restored (there was also the unseen healing that Melora did on Blackbreather's mind to let her be reborn as Steelslicer).

From his tower safe atop the Prison Mines, Valakir dedicated his life to understanding all he could about the Mist with an eye toward undoing the cataclysm that had destroyed the world. All signs pointed toward the Isle of Wyrms where the Mist was known to have first originated at the end of the Dragon War. He learned the art of summoning Mist Demons and made many a pact with them to seek out the location of the Isle, hidden in the depths of the Mist. Finally the location was discovered and he set off for the Isle, knowing that he might never return.

He located it and found it abandoned. The great Temple stood at the center of the "island" and he began to explore it, finding that there was a pillar inside that bore dozens of tablets holding an incredible ritual. It was a ritual that would transform a being into a mist that was the purest essence of their being. Valakir discovered, the hard way, that he was messing with powers that were beyond his comprehension. As he attempted to study the Mist Ritual, he accidentally transformed himself into mist. His nature was devoted to uncovering the secrets of the Isle of Wyrms and so he had been stuck here ever since.

The larger implication of course had to do with the Mist. When the evil forces of the Chromatic Dragons had been defeated and the men, elves and dwarves threatened to invade the Isle of Wyrms and seize back the Nexus, Ryukaar had acted to stop them the only way he could. He transformed himself into the Mist, which embodied his essence of Retribution, Vengeance and Hate, and washed over the world. Such was his power as one of the Old Gods that he eventually nearly covered the entire world. But not quite.

Valakir believed that, even as their worshipers died and their power waned, the other Old Gods somehow acted to halt Ryukaar from destroying everything. They managed to slow his advance enough such that some could be saved. And then they vanished.

But now Kruxicor the Dracolich, High Priest of Ryukaar, was reversing the ritual. He was working to turn the Mist back into Ryukaar, thus making him incarnate once again with the full power of an Elder God...
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
I was low on time yesterday when I finished posting that so let me throw in a bit of GM commentary/implications that grew out of this conversation with the "ghost" of Valakir:

First, this guy was obviously my way to sum up a bunch of stuff that had been hinted at for a big portion of the campaign. It's a little ham handed but you see it all the time in the movies where you have a character basically explain what's going on to the audience (in this case both the readers here as well as the players). I find it mildly distasteful but if you think that it is sometimes a necessary evil to have a character sum stuff up after a 2-3 hour movie, it's really necessary after 160+ hours of a RPG campaign.

Don't get me wrong. The players had done a pretty great job of picking up various clues, following leads, asking sages for info along the way, etc. Valakir was the chance to embody an NPC whose work they had been following for 3/4 of the campaign by way of his book. I was quite impressed with Zanne's player's focus on finding out everything she could, asking all the experts she could find on two planes of existence. So Valakir in the flesh (well, in the mist I suppose) was sort of the payoff for that.

It also spelled out exactly what was at stake here and set up an interesting choice (that was never really a choice to begin with but that's ok): If the ritual was completed then the world is free of the Mist but under the tyranny of the Elder Dragon God, Ryukaar (who is also in control of the Nexus and thus all the planar gates). If they can stop the ritual then they preserve the apocalyptic status quo. Clearly that's the route the PC's would be taking but they did at least mention the alternative during the discussion.

This all ties back into one of the themes of the campaign, the Small Gods. I purposefully made this world such that the gods were relatively "small" in stature compared to the D&D baseline. I wanted local gods who had a lot of influence over a small area but who may be unimportant (and possibly powerless) only a short distance away. Thus you end up with beings like Vond, the Dweller, Mayaheine, the three Dragonborn deities and even Kal-Sarok (the giant crocodile god of the Lizardfolk). In a normal campaign each of these would simply be an Epic level NPC (though Mayaheine did have the omniscience thing going on). In this world, divided and devastated, they qualified as "gods".

Thus, confronted with Old Ryukaar, having the power of a being more on the scale with a typical D&D god, the world would be in some deep doo-doo. The only other "old god" known to still exist is Melora. And her power is much diminished by the fact that nature is still so devastated by the Mist apocalypse. So it was unlikely that she would be able to stand up to Ryukaar.

I think it would perhaps be an interesting campaign to have a world recovering from being blanketed in Mist for 500 years trying to resist the oppression of the only old god worthy of the name. Mialain would no doubt take on the role of quietly recruiting followers while simultaneously cleansing the land of the taint left by the Mist and hoping to restore Melora's power that way. Eshik and Zanne would have become important figures in organizing the resistance of the Dragonborn and Vondites respectively. Astavian would still be trying to figure out a way to somehow open a gate to the Elemental plane of fire to let (New) Ryukaar back in so they could continue the battle together.

But, like I said, I knew they wouldn't choose that path. The devil that you know in this case is a lot more manageable than the devil you don't know.

One other implication arose from this conversation. Valakir specifically mentioned that, if they destroyed the tablets holding the ritual during their confrontation with the Dracolich, he'd never be able to return to corporeality. To his credit, he mentioned this as being a small consideration in the grander scheme of things. But he did point it out.

Anyhow, that sets things up for the beginning of the end! Up next: The Temple Door
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
There was little cover to be had directly in front of the Temple and they could already tell that the door was guarded by a small mob of dark humanoids. They instead circled the Temple and came at the entrance from the right side. The enemy was ready for them.

The foes were all dressed in black leather armor and had pale skin, but otherwise they looked human. They quickly demonstrated an affinity for shadow magic as they unleashed a volley of Shadow Bolts that not only hurt but also seemed to sap their life energy somehow.

The PC's responded but with some degree of caution. They knew that tougher foes lay ahead and did not wish to exhaust themselves against the guards at the door. Instead they pushed forward as quickly as possible, forcing the enemy to come to them.

The party quickly reached the gate that barred their way into the Temple. Now that they were close to it they discovered that it was made of bone! This was in keeping with the necromantic powers that the enemy continued to unleash upon them. What they did not expect however was that the gate itself was a foe. I lunged out and seized Mialain, crushing her within its bony grasp. Astavian and Eshik tried to free her from it, finally succeeding, while Zanne started to unleash some of her powers upon the enemy.

It was not apparent that this was no mere token force meant only to slow any intruders. These were skilled enemies bent on their destruction and they had the means to do so. The battle quickly shifted from attempting to smash their way through the Bone Gate to simply trying to stay alive.

Mialain retreated some distance away so that she could employ her healing powers without being threatened while Astavian and Eshik plied their blades against the chain-wielding warriors who guarded the outside of the gate. Zanne focused her efforts on the shadow mages inside the gate who were clearly channeling some sort of evil magic into it. Zanne too was seized by the gate's crushing grip but she was able to teleport free from its grasp and lay down a Stinking Cloud of poison to force the shadow mages from their channeling. As the power ceased flowing into the gate, it exploded sending shards of bone ripping into Zanne's flesh.

The shadow mages then turned their anger and power against her in retaliation, inflicting a horrible toll on the Warlock. Her Shadow Form's insubstantial nature was all that kept her alive. Outside most of the warriors had fallen to Astavian and Eshik who were both feeling battered since the bursts of shadow unleashed upon them dulled the efficacy of Mialain's healing efforts.

They rushed forward, assaulting the last pair of shadow warriors who defended the now inanimate Bone Gate. Mialain hurled more healing magic at Zanne, enough to bring her back form death's door. This allowed Zanne to drop out of her Shadow Form and unleash her ire on the shadow mages. Two more fell before her but the last managed to flee into the depths of the Temple, leaving the party exhausted, wounded and barely on their feet.

Astavian and Eshik slew the remaining warriors fairly easily. But they had expended far more of their energy than they had wanted and still barely prevailed. As the pall of necromantic gloom lifted from them, Mialain's healing was able to restore them somewhat, but her powers were nearly exhausted. She reached into her pack and drew out the Crystal of Hygeius.

"I was hoping to save this for the final battle, but if we don't use it now I don't know if we'll survive to GET to the final battle!" The others nodded their agreement as they panted in exhaustion.

Mialain shattered the Crystal over her knee and a burst of brilliant green energy erupted from it. It washed over the party, restoring them in mind, body and soul. They looked at one another in astonishment, having received the full blessing of Melora. Renewed and restored, they moved quickly into the Temple, ready for whatever may lie ahead.

********

So the players were treating this as though it was going to likely be a speed bump on the way to the final battle. Surprise! It wasn't like that at all.

The enemy was comprised of four Shadar-Kai Blacksouls (minus their dominate ability) and about 8 or 10 of what my notes call "Wicked Fang Recruits" (it looks like maybe those guys got errata-d but my version has them with a "chainsword" that they could use to pull the PC's. This was used to good effect in the early going when the bulk of the group was still trying to get through the gate all at once).

But the really big nasty of this battle was the gate itself. I based that off of the Pit of the Abandoned Regiment (really I just turned it on its side). It could reach out and grab anybody within 3 squares and deal a nasty 2d10 +10 Necrotic when they were grabbed, followed by 3d10+10 as a Minor action against any grabbed creature on the same round. 5d10 + 20 adds up quick!

I probably didn't do justice to what a pain in the ass this thing was. They quickly learned that they couldn't get past it without somehow stopping the Blacksouls from channeling energy from the Shadowfell into powering it. But Astavian, Eshik and Mialain stood little chance of getting through it to attack the Blacksouls directly. Zanne was able to get grabbed and then teleport to the other side of the gate and drop some area-denial stuff on the Blacksouls to interrupt their channeling. That left the rest of the party outside mowing through the minions pretty quickly once they got down to business.

The big problem was that the PC's didn't want to have to blow any of their big powers on this fight. They didn't know that the Crystal of Hygeius was going to restore them completely as though they had taken an Extended Rest so they couldn't count on that (hey, I've got to keep a FEW tricks up my sleeve!). So they started off with mostly At-Wills and a few Encounters. But they got hit HARD in return and it soon became apparent that this was not an enemy to be trifled with.

I could see them already wondering how they were going to face down the Dracolich and whatever other minions he had inside the Temple without some of their critical Dailies. They were pleasantly surprised when they broke the Crystal (though I'm pretty sure they still called me a Rat Bastard).
 

meomwt

First Post
I based that off of the Pit of the Abandoned Regiment (really I just turned it on its side). It could reach out and grab anybody within 3 squares and deal a nasty 2d10 +10 Necrotic when they were grabbed, followed by 3d10+10 as a Minor action against any grabbed creature on the same round. 5d10 + 20 adds up quick!

I am SO stealing this for a 3.5E game sometime :evil:

(though I'm pretty sure they still called me a Rat Bastard).

Deservedly so, dear fellow, deservedly so!
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
The air was filled with a deafening howl as they entered the inner Temple. The far side of the huge chamber was dominated by the tornado of Mist that was coalescing into a large sphere above an obelisk. Primal forces were at work here. The enormous presence of the Dragon Turtle was pushing the Mist away but the magic of the ritual being performed was drawing it in even harder.

Moving in a slow circle around the obelisk, the huge form of Kruxicor the Dracolich dominated the raised dais. His baleful voice read aloud the Draconic runes carved upon the tablets mounted on the obelisk. The party saw his burning eyes flick hatefully in their direction as they entered. But the Dracolich did not cease in his performing of the ritual.

In the foreground the entryway sloped down to a large open area where, presumably, worshipers would once have stood to swear obeisance to the Dragon Gods of old. At each side of this broad expanse was the pulsing purple-black of a gate to the Shadowfell. More of the shadow mages guarded these and as the PC's watched they summoned forth a ghostly host to beset the party.

Having learned a hard lesson at the Bone Gate, Zanne wasted no time and unleashed a Stinking Cloud directly on top of one of the portals and the shadow mages attending it. Mialain stepped forward to confront the incoming swarm of ghosts and brandished the holy symbol of Melora tattooed on her arm. A blaze of life energy blasted outward and destroyed most of the ghosts. Eshik leaped into the fray brandishing the Adamantite axe enchanted with undead slaying and lay into the remaining ghosts on the right flank. Astavian charged right through the center of the battle, closing fast with his arch enemy.

The shadow mages were far from beaten however. Yet another swarm of undead emerged from the gate on the right. The shadow mages on the left flank emerged from the Stinking Cloud and hurled more of their necrotic energy at Zanne and Mialain, wracking them with pain and sapping their life energy.

Mialain responded by summoning a Blade Barrier directly on top of the left flank shadow mages. Eshik found himself suddenly surrounded by the ghostly attackers but he continued to lash out with both blades and moving ever closer to the shadow mage summoners. Zanne willed the Stinking Cloud to once again engulf the left flank shadow mages, moving it slightly toward the dais in the process. She then spared some attention toward the Dracolich. She watched as Astavian cried out "In the name of Ryukaar the GOLD, I smite you KRUXICOR!" His blade, strengthened by faith and the declaration of the Dracolich High Priest's Truename, struck out and sliced through bone. A pair of Kruxicor's rips rattled on the floor of the chamber.

A tendril of Mist emerged from the ball above the obelisk and wrapped itself around Astavian. Pain wracked him and smoke rose from where it touched him. The Dracolich swatted the Paladin from atop the dais with his tail, sending him sprawling on the floor a dozen feet away. It leered at Astavian in disdain and continued the ritual.

It was at that moment when Zanne saw what she was looking for.

In the center of its head, where the Seal of the High Priest had been when last they saw the Dracolich, sat a whitely glowing orb. The Nexus! Zanne dashed forward and attempted to snatch the Nexus away with her Diabolic Grasp. Alas, the force of magic binding it in place was too strong.

The shadow mages on the left flank emerged, blinded, from the Stinking Cloud and...into the Blade Barrier once more. One hurled a Shadowbolt at Zanne before falling to the ground in a bloody tangle. The other stepped around Zanne and unleashed a burst of darkness that further wounded the rapidly failing Warlock and caught Eshik as well.

The Ranger was holding out as best he could against increasingly overwhelming odds. He had dealt a couple of vicious wounds to the shadow mages but the unrelenting swarms of ghosts emerging from the portal were taking a toll on him.

Mialain was calling forth all the power within her grasp to keep her friends alive but it was a losing battle. The gloom inflicted by the shadow magic rendered her healing spells far less effective than normal. She was merely treading water and praying for a miracle.

As Astavian regained his feet and charged back into battle with Kruxicor, what might be called a "miracle" (you know "from a certain point of view") appeared. Suddenly, a gigantic humanoid form appeared within the funnel of Mist. An instant later it was violently hurled out against the inner wall of the Temple. Rising slowly to its feet, it spat words that dripped of malice in a language that only Zanne could understand.

"I know what you are about, Dragon. And I will NOT let you steal my domain from me!" yelled the Besieger. "Today you will be destroyed and the Nexus will be MINE!"

As if to add insult to assault, Zanne then moved the Stinking Cloud atop the dais. She made no attempt to capture the immense Dracolich within its murky confines. She was content merely to obscure the writing on the obelisk such that it could no longer recite the ritual. A moment of silence hung in the air before it detonated as the ritual failed spectacularly.

No longer contained by the force of magic, the concentrated ball of Mist, as well as the entire tornadic funnel spiraling in through the hole in the roof, exploded outward away from the Dragon Turtle. Every being in the room was stunned and knocked from their feet.

The Dracolich was among the first to recover and let loose a scream of rage that fueled a blast of necrotic Dragon Breath all over Astavian and the Besieger. It then charged forward and locked its jaws on the huge Mist Demon. The Besieger had struck some fearsome blows with its axe but its skin blistered and smoked as the Mist that infused his being was boiled away by proximity to so much dragon bone.

Eshik rose to his feet once more and knew that, if ever there were a time for a desperate gamble, this was it. He turned the flat of the battle axe blade toward the floor and smashed it down, shattering it in a blast of righteous energy imbued by the power of Mikel's Mace. Healing energy washed over him, Zanne and Mialain and likewise destroyed all of the nearby ghostly minions as well as the heavily wounded shadow mage that stood next to Zanne. He looked fiercely into the eyes of the remaining two shadow mages and hoped like hell that they spoke Draconic.

"I don't know what sort of deal you struck with the Dracolich to enlist your aid, but I don't think that he's going to be around to keep up his end of the bargain!"

The pair of Shadar-Kai got to their feet and looked anxiously toward where the Dracolich and Besieger were tearing at each other with tooth and claw. They looked back at the Dragonborn facing them and saw the Elf and Human closing ranks on them as well. They spoke a couple words in an unknown language before turning to vanish into the portal to the Shadowfell.

Astavian was doing battle at the feet of giants. It was glorious. From the day he joined the Order, he had dedicated his life to smiting Evil or Mist Demons, whichever was closest. And it didn't get much Eviler or Mist Demonic than this. It was a buffet of bad guy and Astavian was HUNGRY. He drew forth the Adamantite Great Axe blessed by the magic of Mikel's Mace and began hacking away at the Dracolich, invoking its Truename at every strike.

Mialain, Eshik and Zanne closed in and began their assault as well. Eshik now had his normal blades in hand and was unleashing a storm of slashes at the flank of the Dracolich. Mialain let loose her Divine Glow, striking both Kruxicor and the Besieger as well as aiding her allies attacks. Zanne now had her Armor of Agathys on and stood in close to the battle. But she kept a careful eye on the Besieger, to whom she was still beholden.

Astavian had placed Kruxicor under Certain Justice, leaving the Dracolich Weakened and Dazed. His Crown of Glory ensured that it was Slowed and could not escape. Now was the hour of justice. The Paladin timed the jump perfectly and felt the Adamantite Great Axe bite into Kruxicor's skull. And with a mighty wrench he then snapped the handle from the blade, unleashing the magic granted by Mikel's Mace.

KRAKOOM!!

Shards of skull flew everywhere as Kruxicor was destroyed.

And with a faint thud, the Nexus fell to the floor at the Besieger's feet.

The Mist Demon Lord laughed as he stooped to take his prize...and suddenly found himself across the room and facing Zanne thanks to her Summons of Khirad.

"I don't think so," said the Warlock.

The Besieger raged, "WHELP! I have suffered your LAST insult! I will taste your SOUL!" He made a grasping, summoning motion. But it was like reaching for the leash of a pet and discovering that it was only a shadow. "What?!"


Hovering in the air a mile away, Llyra was just getting the airship back under control from the blast of air that had followed when the tornado of Mist stopped flowing into the Temple. She hurriedly threw a rope to secure the Urn as it rolled across the deck. She wondered briefly if Zanne could feel her soul being jostled about. But it was only a momentary thought as she she ran to tie down another line that had snapped when the ship lurched.

As the Besieger stood befuddled, Zanne lashed out with her Infernal Moon Curse. The Mist Demon Lord was literally hoisted on his own petard as he rose into the air a short distance and was held immobile. But the Besieger had one card left to play.

"I release you from your Pact!" he bellowed. And Zanne could feel...nothing. The powers granted by her Warlock Pact were gone.

What she still had was friends.

They struck the Besieger from all sides with spell and blade. The Besieger escaped the grasp of Zanne's spell and let loose a burst of Soulfire that ripped into the entire party. Astavian struck back with his Dragon Bone Greatsword, dealing a fearsome blow anathema to Mist Demons. The Besieger cried out in pain and brought his axe down on the Paladin with a bone crunching smash. Mialain was quickly there to expend the last of her healing powers to keep Astavian on his feet.

But while the Besieger's attention was elsewhere, Eshik slipped behind him and delivered a slash across the legs that brought the Demon Lord to his knees. His second thrust brought the giant crashing to the floor. The flesh of the Mist Demon bubbled and hissed against the great scutes of the Dragon Turtle and in only a few moments the Besieger had boiled away to nothing at all.

The party embraced and cheered their victory. Each was battered and bruised. All were exhausted and few of their powers remained. None fewer than Zanne. Still, she possessed a wealth of arcane knowledge and could feel herself connecting to the planes of the universe when Eshik placed the Nexus in her hands. She focused and the gates to the Shadowfell turned from darkness to fiery light. She focused harder and the two gates merged into a single, larger gate. The chamber filled with heat.

Astavain knelt and prayed, "My Lord Ryukaar, we have defeated our enemy and I beg of you to return your presence to this world. It needs you now more than ever."

A shape formed in the portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire and the golden Dragon climbed through to greet them as equals.

Ryukaar simply said, "Well done."

********

And that, as they say, is that.

I've just about got one foot out the door to GenCon so I'll have to save some of my commentary for later. For now, suffice it to say that I couldn't have dreamed of a better, more epic, outcome to this campaign. It was almost like the dice were choreographed to provide the perfect amount of tension through the entire thing and then the perfect climaxes at the end. Simply amazing.

The fact that Astavian got to get the killing blow against the Dracolich, then spending an Action Point to stunt including the "Retributive Strike" function of the blessed axe, was PERFECT (and completely exhausted our supply of d12's). Zanne getting to lay the smack down on the Besieger right before losing her powers was also perfect (don't worry about Zanne, she does pretty well in the Epilogue).

I should also mention that Zanne had been waiting to pull that Diabolic Grasp maneuver to steal the Nexus from the Dracolich for quite some time. She stunted that with an Action Point...and rolled a 2. This resulted in a d20 shattered against my brick fireplace. :D

The bottom line is that this was the perfect finale to what turned out to be probably the best campaign I've ever run. I'd like to thank all the players for putting in an absolutely stellar performance and really squeezing the absolute best from this setting, system and from me as a GM. You guys are the best and you (especially my wife who played Mialain) can squeeze me anytime! ;)

Feel free to ask any questions about the finale or any other parts of the campaign and I'll do my best to answer them all when I return from GenCon.
 

meomwt

First Post
The End! Huzzah!

Great summaries and great DM's commentary - I like this sort of thing, it inspires my own DM-ing.

Erm... you couldn't put all your stuff into one big Word document, could you? So I can keep it on my hard drive for ease of [str]plagiarism[/str] <ahem> reference that is. :blush:

I'm sure that some of your other followers wouldn't mind it either.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top