Been a while since we visited the fellows in Storm Point. The last session, the focus just wasn’t there. I spent an hour trying to get the group to make a single Stealth check before giving up and teaching them to play Fiasco instead ((Used the Lucky Strike playset, and everyone had a great time.)). The time before that, the game was the fifth one I was running in four days, and I wimped out to run the Gamma World game day adventure for them, instead ((A mistake. I was tired and stressed and short-tempered. I should have just canceled the game.)).
This meant that it had been about two months since the previous session, and the Silverfalls adventure had gone on far longer than I had planned. I wanted to wrap it up, which meant unleashing the beholder on them.
See, I’d been carrying around the beholder ultimate tyrant miniature for the previous several sessions, and taunting my players with it. They all know by now ((Or think they do, anyway.)) that I’d never throw something like that at them at their level. Well, I was planning to do just that, but using the stats of a bloodkiss beholder. This was just the only beholder miniature I had.
The release of the Beholders Collector Set fixed that problem, and the release of Monster Vault provided a stat block for a level 9 solo beholder, so that all just worked perfectly. I bumped the level of the beholder up to 10, to take into account the fact that I’ve got six players, and went to town.
I’d never used a beholder in a game before. Honestly, I think they’re kind of silly monsters. But they are iconic, and the ones in 4E are much simpler to run than in previous editions, so I was looking forward to how it played out. For the first round, I became very afraid that I had built a TPK – most of the characters had their encounter and daily powers stripped by the central eye, and the petrify eye had locked down the main tank. Things looked grim.
But they rallied ((Most of them, anyway. The guy playing the cleric spent pretty much the entire combat either petrified or immobilized after only a single petrify ray attack. Sorry, Mark.)), and came on strong. The whole fight was about as good as it could have been, with the party pretty much terrified that they were going to die, and horrific eye rays firing off like a disco laser show. The mechanism for having an eye-ray fire at the start of each character’s turn is a great way to make the beholder feel like a whirling ball of death.
They managed to put it down without losing anyone, though there were several close calls. And then they found the bones of the dwarven ancestor they had come to retrieve, and decided to call it a day.
I didn’t like that ending, though. It lacked the sense of achievement and heroism that I thought the lengthy adventure deserved. So, I had the ghosts of the dwarven warriors appear and ask to be bound to defend the home they had died for. The group used a skill challenge to throw together an impromptu binding ritual, and I described how the ghosts of all those who had died in Silverfalls came back to drive out the drow, troglodytes, minotaurs, and their mind flayer masters ((I had a mind flayer encounter prepped and ready to go if I needed it, but it would have been really nasty to throw it at them right after the beholder fight.)).
So, now Silverfalls is cleansed of the evil invaders and open to resettlement. And the gang are even more heroic than they thought they’d be.
I call it a win.
We’re talking about running a more extended Gamma World adventure next, so it may be a while before we come back to Storm Point. But I’ve got some plans for when we do.