Session 4: Meat GrinderXiphonii had to call in sick this week, and I still haven't heard anything from PP. As a result, I gave control of Shamus to Evii (Creig) for the night, and took over playing Gerard myself. This wasn't the best possible situation, given that I'd scheduled an intentionally grueling boss fight for the evening. We also decided to experiment with having everyone use voice chat instead of just me, with what were in my opinion somewhat mixed results.
When we last left our party, they were en route to the temple's lower levels. After an argument between Creig and everyone else about continuing downwards, searching for Jutha Krall, and following the spirit of the fire elemental's orders versus declaring their work done and fulfilling the letter, they made their way downstairs.
They emerged into an enormous chamber with a row of braziers on each side of a colossal carving on the floor. At the far end of the room, an extremely pale elf in jet-black robes stood at an altar over the blood-drenched body of a young woman. Charred corpses littered the ground. Upon noticing the players, the elf turned around, revealing himself to be Krall. "Damn it," he snarled, "You just had to interrupt me, didnít you? I guess thereís no helping it, then. Unfortunately, I wonít get to deal with you personally. But donít worry Ė youíll still face justice, whether I hand it out myself or not. Rise, my servants! Rise, and annihilate the wicked!"
Right on cue, the charred corpses began to move. They attacked the players while Krall returned to whatever he was doing. Gerard and Shamus grouped together to hold off three of the zombies, Creig simply jumped into the fray, Amusel cast Sanctuary to shield himself and act as the healer, and Denzai opted to simply attack Krall. Three zombies immediately chased after Denzai, and a blast of energy from around Krall pushed him back once he got too close. At this point, Amusel decided that he'd had enough ambiguity for one day and attempted to determine what kind of ritual Krall was casting.
As it turned out, he was attempting to summon the Wyrms so he could help them finish what they started centuries ago: wiping out all sentient life on Sanctum.
This got the party's undivided attention. Creig managed to shut up, Amusel went on the offensive, and Gerard dropped his book. United by rage and their desire to preserve the world, they went to work on the zombies. Creig and Denzai charged in
Krall began to curse the party, but suddenly stopped and began to laugh hysterically. "Yes, perfect! Thank you, masters! Come forth," he shouted, "come to me, children of the Great Wyrms!" The carvings on the floor began to give off an eerie blue glow, and four Goblin Shocktroops formed out of the light. At the same time, the fires in the braziers dimmed and the party was restored to full health.
The goblins immediately went on the offensive, charging straight at the players. Fortunately, they were incapable of doing any serious damage, and their recklessness enabled the players to strike back easily, killing two goblins almost immediately. Then Amusel had another bright idea: make another attempt to bring Krall into the fight.
Krall was able to pull enough of his concentration away from the ritual to realize that he'd need to deal with the party, and immediately formed a greatsword out of shadow before teleporting into the midst of the party and attacking Gerard. Suddenly outgunned, the party concentrated their efforts on Krall while he teleported around the room throwing knives at them. Gerard charged towards Krall, who dodged the subsequent flurry of blows, but stood his ground while Krall attempted to retaliate. Denzai was able to land a curse. Krall took the opportunity to physically eject Denzai from the fight, using Mental Thrust to force Denzai backwards through the flames before pinning him to the wall with two thrown knives. Isolated from the party and mortally wounded, Denzai began to bleed out.
From here, Amusel attempted to stabilize Denzai, but Krall teleported behind him and stabbed him in the back for another mortal blow. At this, Gerard suddenly entered a tranquil rage. He calmly walked away from the last goblin, easily dodging the attack to his back, and slowly approached Krall. He readied his fist for a mighty blow, but Krall pushed a small wave of force at the last moment that caused his arm to shatter. Despite his best efforts, Gerard blacked out from the pain.
After dealing with the last goblin, Shamus sprinted to the fallen healer and monk and made a desperate effort to stabilize them. The fires dimmed to embers as if on cue, and Denzai and Gerard were both somehow restored to full health and ability. Amusel stepped back to try and keep the party in good health while the two warriors began raining blows on Krall. Finally, Creig charged into the fray as fast as his small legs could carry him, slashing like a demon at Krall.
Krall staggered backwards in a state of shock. The blue glow on the floor intensified, and his body began to dissolve into the light. "No," he whispered, "this can't be happening! I have done as you wished! I have served you faithfully! So why - No! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
With that, the glow died, and Krall was gone. As the party took a moment to process what had just occurred, the fires in the braziers died completely. A warm light began to emanate from the center of the room. As the party looked on, the light formed itself into flames, and the flames formed a shape of their own. The players realized what was happening, and fell to their knees before the Phoenix, their god.
And on that note, we stopped for the night.
Tropes from this session:
Favorite OOC Moment:
- An Adventurer Is You: By this point, I think the party's pretty much settled into their roles:
- Shamus is a tank of the MeatShield variety, with no points in his key offensive modifier but the highest HP out of the party and an absurdly high AC.
- Creig is a blademaster-type DPSer - relatively high AC and the potential to attack 3 times per turn with a flurry, but very low hit points.
- Gerard is the jack of all trades - average AC and HP, but the ability to attack twice without penalties and deal an impressive amount of damage in the process.
- Denzai is The Mezzer, a fact that came in VERY handy when trying to take down Krall.
- Amusel is The Red Mage on paper, but generally functions as The Medic. Generally.
- Back from the Brink: Happened within the fight. We went from everyone except for the gnomes being dead to completely wrecking Krall thanks to a series of very lucky rolls.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Gerard with Shamus and Denzai with Creig when fighting the zombies.
- Berserk Button: Krall managed to push one of Gerard's hard enough to make him straight up drop a book.
- Big "NO!": Krall, right before he's sucked into the emptiness.
- Boss Battle: The whole session. Boss specific tropes include:
- British Accents: Gerard has a very posh one, at least when I'm controlling him. The fact that he speaks this way despite coming from the mountain is likely going to come up as part of a larger plot in the future.
- Character Derailment: This is part of the reason I don't want to have everyone on voice chat again.
- Cliffhanger: Yup.
- Combat Breakdown: Sort of happens between Krall and Gerard. Throughout the fight, Gerard's blows become more and more erratic until he finally manages to knock himself out, while Denzai's hit to his ability scores forced him to abandon his usual elegant approach to fighting in favor of brute force. In other words, Gerard got progressively crappier rolls while Krall got smacked with a major penalty.
- Cosmic Plaything: Shamus and Creig, for different reasons. Creig just kept missing, while Shamus got a whopping 7 critical hits... that dealt about 3 damage each.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: I personally consider the entire session to be one. It's a lot more low-key than what happened last time, but due to the heavily increased difficulty actually felt even more epic.
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: Amusel noted that Krall was using barely a fraction of his true potential on the fight because it took almost everything he had to conduct his ritual. Otherwise, he'd have the stats of a level 12 character.
- Dragged Off to Hell: This is functionally what happens to Krall.
- Early Game Hell: One of the downsides about being at a low level is that making medicine checks to stabilize dying party members is extremely difficult. The upside is that the enemies do less damage, which means you have more opportunities to make those checks before your HP drops too low.
- Excuse Me While I Multitask: Inverted by the way Krall handles the final battle, and it comes back to bite him in the ass in a big way.
- Evil Laugh: Krall has one when the portal to the Emptiness begins to open.
- Fake Brit: Me as Gerard.
- Fragile Speedster: Believe it or not, Krall is one. His HP was intentionally set one level lower than all of his other stats.
- Glass Cannon: We decided that Creig is one. He does more damage than anyone else in the party, but has the second least hit points.
- The GM Is A Cheating Bastard: This session is the first time I haven't been one - Dependent on Rule of Fun, I'm usually willing to fudge certain not-hugely-important checks if the roll is within a point or so of the DC (Read: I don't want the players to get frustrated by a string of failed attempts to open a locked door). This time, however, I was playing someone else's character in the middle of a boss fight, so all the rolls were done completely straight.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Krall gets sucked through the portal he's been trying to keep open.
- In and Out of Character: Mostly out. We'll probably stick to text chat with voice for the GM for precisely this reason.
- Knife Nut: Krall makes his debut with a greatsword, but rapidly switches to knives to allow himself more range.
- Knight Templar: Krall follows similar logic to that of the Wyrms - everyone has sinned at some point, and has both the desire and capacity to sin again. Therefore, everyone, without exception, is evil, and since all evil must be purged...
- Off the Rails: The session was originally planned as a series of three consecutive encounters, with healing happening between opponents - zombies first, goblins second, Krall alone third. As it turned out, the goblins went down easy, so this probably worked out better for the pacing.
- Laughing Mad: Krall in general, as well as all of us when Gerard went down. There really wasn't much we could do except laugh at exactly how screwed over we were.
- Physical God: The Phoenix.
- Precision F-Strike: Gerard got one after Krall pinned Denzai to the wall.
- Stone Wall: It's become extremely apparent that Shamus is one thanks to some... interesting math on his character sheet. Logically, he should be the party's Mighty Glacier, but he actually does the least damage out of anyone in the party.
- Teleport Spam: Krall uses and abuses this tactic in combat.
- Tranquil Fury: After Amusel was stabbed in the back, Gerard stops swinging wildly at Krall and enters a cold rage. He calmly dodges an attack from a raging goblin, slowly and pointedly walks right up to Krall... and manages to knock himself out.
- Unstoppable Rage: This was his state prior to Amusel's stabbing, although since he's a monk and the dice seem to hate me, he turned out to be very stoppable.
- Wham Line: "He's trying to summon the Wyrms."
After Gerard knocked himself out, leaving only Creig
standing, everyone began laughing hysterically as the "Oh god, we're all gonna die" feeling started to set in. Someone mentioned that now, the fate of the world rested entirely in the hands of two midgets. That was when I piped in: "Wait... I've seen this before...