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4E Session report - Carceri

We played our epic-level 4e game yesterday, so I thought I would post a play report.

In the last update I posted, the PCs had just headed off to the gates of Carceri. Since then we have played either 3 sessions of this particular campaign (including yesterday's): due to issues with timing and attendance, we have not had a roleplaying session since late December (when we played an AD&D random dungeon); and the last time we played 4e it was 1st level Dark Sun.

The PCs had agreed to confront Miska the Wolf-Spider (trapped inside Carceri after having been released from the Crystal of Ebon Flame). Because the seventh piece of the Rod of Seven Parts is trapped inside Miska, defeating Miska equals completing the Rod. Which (it is prophesied) will trigger the Dawn War - but the PCs are (mostly, at least - the Rod-Wielder has been oddly silent on this) trying to change the future in that respect.

As the PCs were contemplating the gates of Carceri and speculating as to how they might enter them, they saw a rapidly approach astral clipper - when it arrived in their vicinity, on the barren shores of Carceri, they could see that it was crewed by Bearded Devils (level 29 minions) and four more impressive personages: a war devil commandant, Titivilus (Dispater's nuncio, from the original MM2), an asepct of Dispater (level 28 elite controller, adapted from the MotP) and Bane in his Imerpator aspect (level 29 elite controller, adapted from a Dragon magazine article).

Negotiations - led by Titivilus - ensued.

Now to be honest my memory of the details is pretty hazy some months down the track (and my note-taking practices are poor!), so I can only sketch some general themes and outlines. The key concern of Bane and Dispater (and Levistus, with whom Dispater had recently allied) was that Asmodeus not be allowed to start a war on the Abyss that would, in triggering the Dusk War, allow forces of chaos to once again assault the world and the heavens. This meant that caution was needed in any plan to recreate the Rod of Seven Parts: it should not be done lightly, in a manner that would give encouragement or power to Asmodeus. Dispater even offered to take on the burden of the Rod himself!, while Bane suggested that, as one of those who helped forge the prison of Carceri, he might be able to help the PCs pass through its impenetrable gate.

As the PCs contemplated these matters (which brought to mind once again earlier events involving Bane, Levistus and the alliance against chaos), there was another arrival - Jenna Osterneth, reformed after her defeat by the PCs outside the Masoleum of the Raven Queen. She was travelling using the power of the Codex of the Infinite Planes (also - in this campaign - known as the Book of Vile Darkness, and mechanically a combination of the 4e versions of those two artefacts), which was being carried by three Demons of the Codex (which I adapted from some demons in the Demonomicon). She also had accompanying her a Lieutenant of Vecna (level 28 elite controller, whom I modelled on something in the MM3, mabe some Weavers) and a 28th level elite Secret of Vecna. Jenna also sort to make an alliance with the PCs, in order to ensure that the Raven Queen did not take over creation by being handed the fully-formed Rod of Seven Parts (and she made it clear that loyalty to Vecna was not any part of her plans).

The PCs resolved to stay independent of these possible entanglements. In the next session, they opened the gate themselves (which involved the dwarf PC who is also now the god of punishment, having replaced Torog - triggering many at-the-table jokes about him coming home, visiting his holiday camp, etc - using his Epic Destiny daily for a +10 to STR checks) and flew their Thundercloud Tower into the swamps of Carceri. The Rod of Six (out of Seven) Parts was guiiding them to their quarry.

They arrived at a spit of swampy land on Porphatys, sticking out into an acidic lake. A temple stood in the middle of the spit. The map of the whole thing is upside-down L-shaped - 12 sq wide x 34 sq long (with the temple on the upper part, and water around the sides) and then, on the other side of the temple and also with water around it, the other "arm" of the upside-down L also 12 sq of more length and 34 sq wide (running to the right).

They parked their tower (I came up with some spurious, now-forgotten, but suitably authoritative GM's reason as to why they couldn't have it with them on the spit - it helps to have players who are good sports) and approached on foot. In the temple, with a 30' high ceiling, they could see a great (Godforged) colossus standing on a low platform and behind it a large (soul) gem sitting inside a modestly-sized fitting.

On the other side of the temple they could see a primordial naga, apparently trapping a person sheltering from the 10-ho-damage-per-round acid rain in the lee of an obelisk.

As they approached the temple, a 100-handed one (an immortal servant abandoned in Carceri after the Dawn War) rose from the swamp to confront the PCs. Because it makes one attack per target, to a maximum of 100, it was quite impactful in its opening round. The majority of the PCs therefore retreated from it into the shelter of the temple, leaving the paladin PC to solo it. (And for the rest of the combat, the paladin and 100-handed one have been trading blows - the 100-handed one has more hp and does more damage, but the paladin has greater depth of healing.)

Entering the temple activated the Godforged colossus, which has as its mission dealing with interlopers. A primordial hydra also approached the temple from the water (I had restatted the primordial hydra in the MM to combine the best of it, the MV, and the heroslayer hydra). A primoridal coloussus reassembled itself from the rubble beyond the temple, and started throwing rubble as it approached the PCs. The naga beyond the temple came close enough to start using its minor actions (3 attacks per round - standard, move, minor - for a ranged fireblast and wind blast). And the presence of living beings (PC fighter, hydra) within 5 sq of the Soul Gem activated it.

This combat started in one session and then continued over into our session yesterday (a gap of a bit more than 3 months between sessions - after warming up with a bit of Burning Wheel, and catching up on the current situation in the 4e game, we got in two or three hours of play). The PCs managed to take down the hydra (but over the course of two or so rounds it did get to do probably 300-ish damage to the fighter who was locking it down - with 4 heads left at the end, it was doing +10 damage from its head count plus a further +10 heroslaying the marking PC) and then the Godforged colossus. The trapped human - who was puzzling to the PCs - made a break for freedom, running from the naga into the temple. And then - da-da-da-dum - he changed shape, revealing that he was actually Miska the Wolf Spider.

This was the trigger for the players to start unleashing their dailies (which they had been conserving in expectation of having to deal with Miska down the track - apparently they really hadn't worked out that the human was Miska in disguise!). Miska offered to spare the invoker's friends (but not the invoker himself) if he would hand over the Rod - but the invoker did not take up this offer. The session had to break with this combat still ongoing, although the PCs seemed perhaps to have the upper hand, as the sorcerer had hit Miska with an Entropic Whirlwind (? 29th level sorcerer daily) that means that if Miska ends his turn within 5 sq of the sorcerer the sorcerer can teleport him away - which means that Miska will spend a lot of time being teleported into the blast radius of the Soul Gem.

I'm hoping we will play again in two weeks to resolve this, and then see what happens when the PCs leave Carceri with a completed Rod of Seven Parts and meet up with the Bane-ites and the Vecna-ites waiting outside the gates.
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Finally caught up after reading as many of the previous posts as I can find. Thrilling, and so inspiring!

Scrivener of Doom

[MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION], did you ever post a conclusion to this campaign? I don't recall one and I've also had no luck with Google. Anyway, would love to know how it concluded if you ever feel up to posting any sort of update.
[MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION], did you ever post a conclusion to this campaign? I don't recall one and I've also had no luck with Google. Anyway, would love to know how it concluded if you ever feel up to posting any sort of update.
Hi Scrivener of Doom!

We're still partway through the Carceri episode. Because of our rule that we won't play this campaign unless we can get everyone there, we have'nt got in a session of it since the one I posted there, as one of our number has been renovating his house most weekends for the past year or so.

When we do play it again, and resolve it, I'll be sure to post.

Not to bang my own drum too much, but have you looked at my Cortex+ or Traveller actual play reports?