Post Tenebras Lux is done. The campaign ran to 5th level for the characters, and ended with them stopping a cult of oni who were using gnolls to harvest children in the Thornwaste in order to feed the power to the Chained God in the Abyss. Success, and good feelings all around.
The last session wasn’t really what I had planned. See, I didn’t want the last session to just be one big fight, with the party using the linked portal scroll to teleport into the lion tower and just kill the boss. I wanted to put in a bit more variety, but that didn’t seem to happen.
First of all, I let them try to sneak around some of the denizens of the tower, and they failed miserably. So, I pulled one of the encounters I had prepped for the frontal assault option and pulled out a battle map from one of the WotC modules, and laid it out. I chose the encounter that had an oni in it, just because I wanted them to get the idea that there was more than one oni hanging around.
Well, that encounter wound up being a level 8 encounter for 6 characters – an oni night haunter, 3 gnoll huntmasters, 5 gnoll packrunners, and two evistro demons (!), for a total of 2120 xp. It wasn’t until the second round that that really clicked home for me, with the realization that this combat was going to be far longer than I had anticipated. Had I caught it in time, I could have dropped the evistros, reducing the fight to a level 6 encounter, but it was too late when I twigged.
Too late? Yeah, because the the room looked like a final boss fight room, with the remains of the Pool of Rebirth in the centre, and a large number of monsters, including one that looked like the boss. So, the players started immediately laying down their dailies and spending their action points, so it would have been a bait-and-switch in my players’ eyes to turn it into a short, easy encounter.
Instead, I toughened it up. Instead of making the Pool of Rebirth cracked and empty, I put a pulsing, swirling purple light in the bottom, and had it generate four undead gnolls each round (Gnoll scavengers that I had turned into minions and otherwise changed slightly using the Monster Builder. I love that thing.), having them crawl up out of the pit to join the fight. I also added the challenge of unraveling the nature of the purple light and turning it off.
Things got pretty hairy. The paladin spent a couple of turns hanging in the pit, and the avenger had terrible, terrible dice luck. But the sorcerer got to use one power to create a lightning zone to keep the monsters slightly bottled-up, and the cleric used consecrated ground to keep erasing the minion undead.
Having these two zones (three, actually, counting the battle standard the paladin planted) could have made things a bit tough to keep track of, but my buddy Clint, who sculpts miniatures for various companies, had just provided a couple of us with one of the new things he had created – zone corner markers. Even unpainted (which mine won’t be for too long), they were great, allowing us to keep track of what was inside and what was outside the two stationary and one mobile zone. Clint talks about them on his blog.
The current ones are flame-shaped (but could be radiant or cold, depending on the paintjob), and he’s just finished up some different themed ones, as well as base markers for showing marked/cursed/quarry targets and the bloodied condition. They’ll be flat bases with interesting markings on them that you can stand your figure on, sticking it with little blob of blue tack or something similar. I look forward to them.
Anyway, the party killed the bad guys, closed the energy flow from the abyss, and helped the nomads of the Thornwaste destroy the gnolls and tear down the lion tower. Success and heroism for all.
Except the bad guys, of course.
What was I going to have them face? I had planned to have them have to seek out the shattered chamber of the Lion’s Heart, where the master oni had been pulling on Tharizdun’s power to use the spirits to reanimate fallen bodies and call up tainted elemental energy. The encounter was going to be an oni souleater, 2 witherling horned terrors, 3 gnoll huntmasters, and 14 of the minionized gnoll scavengers, for a total of 3,032 xp – a level 10 encounter for 6 characters.
Level 10 is pretty high, but a large number of the enemy were undead, and this group is hell on wheels against undead. I thought that they could probably take it, going in fresh (or nearly so), though it was going to be tough.
But that didn’t happen. Everyone seemed to have fun, though, and I think the consensus was that the campaign ended well. As I try to do at these moments, I asked everyone to tell me a little story of what happens to their characters after the game ends, and they did, and everyone pretty much lived happily ever after.
So, thanks to everyone who played:
- Chris: Torrin, dragonborn paladin of Pelor, and the most civilized dragonborn I’ve had in the games I’ve run.
- Tom: Akmenos, tiefling rogue monster bait.
- Fera, Sergheia Jackalope, half-elven ranger, and winner of the Angsty-est Backstory award (a real achievement in this group)
- Penny: Who first played a fighter, then dropped out, then came back with Bellamira, a half-elven sorcerer working under the name Kara.
- Clint: Who followed the same path Penny did, but came back with Ruinghast, and eladrin revenant avenger of the Raven Queen, and winner of the Most Power Cards award.
- Michael: Arcos, human cleric of Lathander, who dropped out about half-way through the game and was replaced, Bewitched Style, by…
- Erik: Originally played Ash, a tiefling warlock who liked to burn things (and people). When Michael left the group, Erik took over Arcos, converted him to Pelor, and never looked back.
- Dillip: Sparkantos, a human mage who liked to blow stuff up. He left the group at about the same time Michael did.
Thank you all. I appreciate the contributions you all made to the game, and have enjoyed playing with you.
Now to finish up the Hunter adventure for Friday.