Friday was the penultimate session of Post Tenebras Lux.
After what I felt was a fairly disappointing performance by me in the previous session, I decided to spend the session trying to say yes to the players, and generally trying to facilitate the game and story a little more, rather than focusing on the inner life and desires of the NPCs.
So, to that end, when the single combat of the evening came up*, I threw some thorn bushes on the map, and, when my players asked, I told them that any creature in a thorn bush space was restrained until they saved. They liked that, and wound up using it to take out one of the krenshars in nice little concerted tactical action.
I also decided that the final tribe they were seeking – the Blood Hawk tribe, halflings who raise a variety of predatory birds – were very willing to join the struggle, but were distrustedÂ by the other tribes. No one had to convince them of anything, but the party had to prove that they had a hope of pulling off the kind of military action they were advocating. The characters managed to prove that fairly easily, and then they had the halflings, along with their considerable wealth of intelligence gathered by spying, on their side.
We flashed forward a few days to the meeting, and the party had to persuade the tribes that they should unite to drive the gnolls and the Ghostlord (or whoever’s pretending to be the Ghostlord) out of the Thornwaste. Their success with fighting the gnolls, as displayed by the large collection of ears they had claimed, brought the Grass Dragons on board fairly easily, but the Stone Swimmer shaman continued to lobby for leaving the area.
In fact, he essentially usurped the chieftain’s position, telling the council that the Stone Swimmers were going to leave. The party managed to persuade most of his backers that doing so was cowardly, and kept the Stone Swimmer chieftain in power. When the shaman walked, he took only three of the warriors with him.
The next bit of wrangling involved trying to cobble together a plan of attack that had a chance of working, and played to the strengths and prejudices of the three tribes. I didn’t handle this as well, unthinkingly calling for a skill check to come up with the plan, which failed. They tried again with a different plan, and that succeeded. What I should have done is had the characters come up with the plan, and then use skill checks to get the tribes to adopt it.
It ended up with the Blood Hawks planning to infiltrate the enemy camp before the attack, and then rise up behind the lines as the Stone Swimmers and Grass Dragons came in with a pincer attack at the main mass of gnolls.
Now, I wasn’t sure what kind of final session my players wanted – taking part in a big, climactic battle, or smaller-scale action with the Ghostlord, so I left it up to them. In-game, I had the Blood Hawks trot out their big secret: they had a scroll of linked portal and the sigils for the Ghostlord’s teleportation circle. They suggested that a small group of warriors be sent through the teleport circle right into the Lion Tower to deal with the Ghostlord and his power source.
I told the players out of game that the decision was up to them: either they went through the circle to the Lion Tower, or they led the armies and sent a commando squad through the circle. They opted to go themselves.
So, next session will see the barbarians of the Thornwaste going up against an army of gnolls, krenshar, witherlings, and a few oni, while the valiant New Heroes of Brindol strike right to the heart of the evil threatening the Elsir Vale.
And then the campaign is done.
*Four gnoll minions and four krenshars, 900 xp, a level 3 encounter for 6 characters. Back