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Writer's Block -- Help with Finale

Aluvial

Explorer
I've hit some creative writer's block.

My campaign is nearing its end (7 PC's @ 16th level) and is racing towards completion.

I have have a lot of loose ends to tie up but I really don't know how to do it. Can anyone spark my imagination a bit?!?

Here are the threads.

From 1st level, Lady Aborn from DCC #28: Into the Wilds has been a thorn in the party's side since the beginning. A major recurring villain who just wants to overthrow her brother and gain control of Wildsgate... and KILL the meddling PC's!!! As a repeat offender, she has ambushed the town twice and most notably brought a large Frost Giant Army to attack... After the PC's nearly destroyed her (by turning her arms to stone!!!) she got away... hasn't been seen since 8th-10th level.

Orcus! The group is currently in Rappan Athuk (Revised). This is where the adventure is now and will likely be to the end. The group is moving ever so closer to destroying a lowest temple (on 14?) but has only "killed" one so far... They will likely only get two temples and try to take on Orcus at the end. In this sense, I don't need any help at all... although, I really want the other major villains to have some presence.

Assassin's Guild. While in the closest major city, the party thief stole a Deck of Many Things from a visiting Wizard (next entry -- The Seer). Due to some unfortunate draws, the thief gained the enmity of the leader of the Assassin's Guild. After a few attacks from the assassins, the party attacked and wiped out HALF of the guild.... The party still base out of this city (which is 23 miles from Rappan Athuk), teleporting in and out as necessary, but otherwise avoiding the assassin's guild by popping into the cleric's temple (of a dwarven stone god). The assassins have been harassing the party's friends (killing some) while the group literally hides out in Rappan Athuk (moving ever closer to Orcus).

Finally, The Seer, the wizard they stole from, who has sided with Orcus (see Talon of Orcus) and is stalking the party through the dungeon complex... I don't really know what to do with him, but I added him to the 2nd temple and then had him retreat.

So, I've been following the Rappan Athuk module pretty closely, but I really can't conceive of a good way to tie in these recurring villian elements. Questions are: What to do with Lady Aborn (who ABSOLUTELY needs to come back!) or the Assassin's guild? Does the Seer make friends (which might still be open) or join in on some devastating battle against the PC's?

And I realize this... no matter what happens, if the party continues their course, they will likely face Orcus (and will be killed.) This may be a heroic death and might have some blow-back from the players, but it is very likely that a few will miss a save vs. The Wand. I expect that... and after 20+ years, a TPK is alright by me... I just would like some help sparking how to tie those villains together.

Aluvial
 

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SteelDraco

First Post
The link here, I think, is the Seer. A diviner, properly motivated, can be a really nasty villain. They can learn just about anything with proper time and preparation. In particular, he could easily learn about the other villain threads, and help to tie them together. Since he's associated with Orcus, he can also call upon the demon lord's assistance. I'm not familiar with Rappan Athuk - can Orcus do anything where he's currently located? I'm assuming that he can do some, or at least tell his clerics to. The following assumes that.

Orcus is the lord of the undead, yes? If a bunch of assassins suddenly die because of the PCs, they could easily be brought back as undead. I'd be scared about a bunch of undead-templated assassins - shadows, wights, and maybe a bodak or a devourer. I seem to recall that there are templates for these undead types so that they can retain their class levels. Presumably the seer can move back and forth between town and the depths of Rappan Athuk. He'd also be able to move the assassins to where they need to be for the final fight.

What class is Lady Aborn? For some reason, I'm picturing a villain with a pair of undead grafted arms where her arms used to be, since they'd almost certainly break off if just her arms were turned to stone. Since such a horrible deformity would almost certainly mean she couldn't be a normal ruler, this would probably drive her crazy. She'd be all about revenge if the seer contacted her - maybe she was asking around town about the PCs, or had agents doing so?
 

Aluvial

Explorer
The link here, I think, is the Seer. A diviner, properly motivated, can be a really nasty villain. They can learn just about anything with proper time and preparation. In particular, he could easily learn about the other villain threads, and help to tie them together. Since he's associated with Orcus, he can also call upon the demon lord's assistance. I'm not familiar with Rappan Athuk - can Orcus do anything where he's currently located? I'm assuming that he can do some, or at least tell his clerics to. The following assumes that.
Yes, this sums it up. I think that he might be the key.

Orcus is the lord of the undead, yes? If a bunch of assassins suddenly die because of the PCs, they could easily be brought back as undead. I'd be scared about a bunch of undead-templated assassins - shadows, wights, and maybe a bodak or a devourer. I seem to recall that there are templates for these undead types so that they can retain their class levels. Presumably the seer can move back and forth between town and the depths of Rappan Athuk. He'd also be able to move the assassins to where they need to be for the final fight.
I like the undead assassin idea... and it ties them to soften the group before the end.

What class is Lady Aborn?
She's a sorcerer who focuses on cold and winter. I even made her an interesting staff (of winter).
For some reason, I'm picturing a villain with a pair of undead grafted arms where her arms used to be, since they'd almost certainly break off if just her arms were turned to stone. Since such a horrible deformity would almost certainly mean she couldn't be a normal ruler, this would probably drive her crazy. She'd be all about revenge if the seer contacted her - maybe she was asking around town about the PCs, or had agents doing so?
The whole arms thing should definitely resurface. She only barely escaped the last time with a verbal only teleport. The arms were from some odd spell that one of the PC's found and cast. I thought it was interesting and let them have it. The party after casting that spell cracked one of her arms at the elbow, and they keep the arm as a trophy... She's definitely nuts... and is bent on destruction.... having the Seer contact her is a great idea.

Thanks for the help

Aluvial
 

Heathen72

Explorer
The link here, I think, is the Seer. A diviner, properly motivated, can be a really nasty villain. They can learn just about anything with proper time and preparation.

Note also, though, that their motivations are obscure and prone to change because they can uncover potential truths about the consequences of their actions, not only on themselves, but also on their allies and their loved ones. You can use this to your own advantage.

Look at the PC's and consider who they are and who they hope to be. Examine what they are doing and how what they hope to do could impact upon the world. Then give some thought to how the world might turn out if they are not around anymore. Especially if Orcus comes to rule.

How do your answers to these questions impact upon the future of the seer, his loved ones, or his interests. Yes, they have stolen something from this seer, and given he is in cahoots with Orcus he is clearly comfortable with the evil path, but people repent. And they sometimes form alliances with those who have wronged them when they need to.

Consider how the seer's feelings might change at the last juncture he divines that

  • Orcus will one day betray him
  • the PC's find a cure for a disease that would otherwise kill him
  • the PC's actions save the life of someone he holds dear
  • the world that comes if Orcus succeeds is not one he wishes to bring about

Might he consider falling in cahoots with the heroes (or sacrificing himself) to prevent a greater wrong befalling him, or the world.

It's a common trope, but it is a fun one to play out. It would be great fun watching whether or not the party choose to trust him, and whether or not they agree to work with him.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Rappan Athuk Reloaded? And they haven't had a TPK yet? Clearly you're slacking off DM. ;)

I had a slightly different take on your finale that doesn't go the "unite the villains" route, actually quite the opposite!

What if there's some relic in Rappan Athuk that the 3 non-Orcus villains are interested in? Maybe Abeth's Ring? Or some other artifact from your game? I've left it open to accommodate the NPCs motives, but I have some ideas about the relic if you want.

The Assassins take over the temple, so the next time the PCs teleport back they're in for a surprise. :] The Grandmaster is seeking a lead on the relic which the sacristans of the dwarven stone god have details about (was it on e in their care? Or disgust try to destroy it?). Once he gets through torturing clergy and searching the temple he'll go with a crack squad to retrieve the relic from Rappan Athuk.

Lady Aborn has been busy orchestrating her coup of Wildsgate (is that the PC's home base?). However she also has a pressing problem - the spell had an unforeseen curse/magic poison causing her to slowly turn into stone. On the upside her arms are essentially magic objects enchanted with frost magic. The answer to curing her condition (and conquering Wildsgate) is the relic. Bonus points for offing the PCs...does she know they're in Rappan Athuk or does she discover it only at some later point?

The Seer has long sought the relic, perhaps as a means to prevent/ensure a prophecy? He's known it's in Rappan Athuk for a long time, but conditions haven't been favorable. IOW, the PCs have cleared the way. His alliance with Orcus is mostly out of convenience - kill the PCs and get the relic. He might have an ace up his sleeve, knowing that the death of one PC in particular will trigger some miracle/calamity. Realizing that this is the final fight, the Seer plays his trump card: a ritual which unleashes the chaos magic in the Deck of Many Things...he is able to track the PCs by its signature and the PCs are hounded by chaos beasts while reality in Rappan Athuk begins to unravel.

Orcus will try to manipulate these 3 NPC villains against the PCs. On the other hand, the PCs can try to turn the villains against each other, secure a tenuous alliance vs Orcus if they help villain get the relic, or perhaps they can even redeem the Seer. It'll add a little unpredictability and RP to the dungeon crawl.
 

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