Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The End: The Third Party vs. The Amazons

This marks the official end of both the "Third Party" (a.k.a. "Good Intentions") and "The Amazons" campaigns in my larger Ruins of Adventure setting. Some time ago The Amazons closed in on the other party whom they had been hunting and turned over the final versions of the character sheets with detailed instructions on how they should be run to fight the "Third Party". While the botted-PvP showdown did not result in a TPK on either side, nor resulted in the end of the larger campaign, both groups have chosen to retire the characters and move on to other games, leaving behind a double handful of rather badass NPCs, some new dungeons, a vision of the pending apocalypse, and some seriously messed up politics for the many other Ruins of Adventure parties to deal with in the future...

2nd of Marpenoth, 1362 D.R.

Grimnir and company stood in the central square of Hillsfar, discussing what to do and where to go. They were startled by a polite, "Ahem," from behind and turned to see Elissa Bivant-Mondaviak standing there with them. The Lady Bivant demanded, politely, for the return of the gloves that Grimnir had made from her husband's corpse, but was refused. Grimnir rebutted by repeatedly accusing her of being Tyr, or his present incarnation, a thing which she flatly denied.

Of course, the lady did not take this refusal lightly. There was a snap of fingers, a shimmer in the air, and a half dozen angry Amazons appeared, ready to throw down.

Battle Cry struck first, pronouncing a divine curse on Grimnir, stating:
"Grimnir, Squire of Cryptgarten, you are found guilty in the eyes of Assuran the Doombringer. You have killed your vassals, consorted with devils, betrayed your city, raised an army of the dead, and awakened that which should not be. You have forced innocents to bathe in the disgusting froth of their slain families, and demanded fealty from them thereafter. Know that no one, man or child, fiend or mortal, living or dead shall listen to your words nor obey your voice, nor that of your children's, children's, children, until you have yourself bathed in the blood of the evil which you have awakened."
Grimnir simply nodded along, matter of factly, at her entirely true pronouncement. Then proceeded to pummel Lady Bivant with a barrage of eldritch blasts, quickly followed up with a sword in the back from Morgianna, killing the councilwoman. Grimnir and company were stunned, and checked several times, but the lady was really quite dead.

Melastasya, who was hanging out by the citadel, shrugged and fired a trebuchet at the square, sending her friends and Amazons alike diving for cover, save Don't Fail, who stepped in front of Ash and transformed herself into living steel, shattering the projectile.

The Amazons did not take the death of their patron well, and retaliated, with many a cry for "Vengeance", as might be expected. Princess dove at Morgianna, stabbing her repeatedly. Dragon Bait hacked Traithe up severely with Worthy of Vengeance, Hot Flanks unleashed a half-dozen simultaneous fireballs (almost a meteor swarm) from her rod, Finds Them and Kills Them cripled Kevorkian with a harm spell, and Don't Fail severed Grimnir's right arm with a ring of disintegration.

Not really ready for such an assault, Grimnir grabbed Kevorkian, Dame, Morgianna, his pet beholder, and Elissa's corpse and teleported several blocks away, narrowly dodging a dimensional anchor fired at him by Battle Cry. Traithe responded likewise, disapparating in a cloud of disappearing smoke and fleeing into the city's sewers. Ash simply leaned back to watch the fun.

Experiment 321 rushed in and incapacitated Finds Them and Kills Them with a quick backstab from a poisoned knife, only to find himself being chased off and the Amazon healed by her unicorn companion. Noting Ash's refusal to help the others, Mel shadow-stepped to the square and started attacking Ash, only to be thwarted again and again by the elf mage's new mastery of Chronomancy and ability to annul her actions by creating temporal paradoxes.

With the majority of their targets apparently fled, Doesn't Shake and Princess flew into the air, eventually spotting Grimnir and the others, who they proceeded to aerially bombard with flame strikes and sunbolts. Grimnir woke up the beholder, who turned his anti-magic eye towards the flying Amazons, intercepting their spells. Unfortunately, the curse lingering over Grimnir took hold and the beholder turned his eye-rays on his would-be master, disintegrating Grimnir.

Distraught, Kevorkian reached into his pack and pulled out the enigmatic bauble that the party had found in Yarash's lair, which he proceeded to toss into the air and destroy with a barrage of eldritch blasts...

2nd of Marpenoth, 1362 D.R.

With Grimnir apparently slain and the rest of their, definitely secondary, quarry suddenly vanished, the Amazons returned to the body of their slain patron. Despite repeated attempts, they were unable to raise Elissa from the dead (as she failed her resurrection survival roll). Don't Fail messaged the Council of Phlan, to inform them of the deaths of Councilwoman Elissa and the traitor Grimnir.

Free of their obligations of both fealty and vengeance, the girls looked around at the city in which they found themselves. Hillsfar was a mess -- the citadel all but destroyed, the walls breached, and all but a tenth of the city's population dead from disease, war, and the economic collapse that followed. Blaming the woes of the city on Grimnir (which was, at least partly and indirectly, correct), the girls agreed that they should try to set the city aright and begin to undo some of the damage wrought by the monster whom they had been hunting for the last year.

The people of Hillsfar, unwilling to provoke the women who had so easily trounced the party that had saved them from dragons and beholders less than an hour before, quickly, and with feigned enthusiasm, welcomed their new "liberators" and rulers...

2nd of Marpenoth, 1372 D.R.

Grimnir, quite alive and not a pile of dust, and friends (sans beholders, followers, or hangers on) found themselves standing in the courtyard of Kryptgarten Keep. A deathly quiet hung over the place and there were no creatures to be seen. In the center of the courtyard stood a gallows, with a single noose and a smear of blue paint on the foot-board. Curious, Grimnir and company flew into the air to look around.

The area around the keep for as far as anyone could was completely devoid of life. The forest was a blacked field of ash, the riverbed was empty and dry, the city of Phlan was a flattened ruin, even the sea was gone--not but a dry, empty, mile-deep chasm. The region had been reduced to a parched, lifeless, wasteland. Most striking however, was the conspicuous absence of a mountain. Where once the tallest peak of the Dragonspines had stood there was now...nothing.

Duvan'Ku was gone.

Or, more precisely, the thing that slept beneath the mountain had clearly awakened to wreak havoc upon the world. Figuring there was nothing to lose, Kevorkian put the Gjallarhorn to his lips and blew. Ash and Traithe briefly lashed out at their companions, driven to violence by the sound of the horn, but no armies of demons or men came seeking them. Everything really was dead, it seemed.

Then, of course, they saw the horizon moving. Something was coming towards them, fast. Something so huge that it's head and shoulders dominated the entire eastern horizon from north to south. A giant as large as the highest mountains in the world. Of course they ran. Blinked. Teleported their way to Sorassar's cave, hoping to use the Pool of Radiance there to raise another mythal to protect them.

But there was no mythal and no pool.

So Grimnir laid an Asgard rune upon the empty pool and transported them to Hell, hoping to take refuge in the castle that they had left there and use the pool there.

But when they arrived, there was no castle and no pool. Only an empty island in the middle of the river Styx, with the flaming flowers of Hell on one side, and an endlass army of Slaad marching, nay seething, towards them from the other. Ash suggested that they use the celestial stairway and lead the Slaad back to do battle with Duvan'ku.

Experiment 321 took up the challenge and lept forward, doffing his mask of insivibility and challenging the slaad to send their greatest champion to face him. After some laughing, fleeing and advancing, and some running in random directions, eventually a mighty white slaad strode through the endless hordes of its brethren, stood before Experiment 321, did a pirouette, reached a clawed hand down its throat, and pulled out a bouquet of roses.

In response, Experiment 321 shoved the roses up his nose, taking considerable damage from the thorns, broke off the tip of his own tail, and fed it to the slaad while break dancing. Honorable duels between beings of pure chaos being what they are, the self-flagellating dance fight went on for some time before the Slaadi got bored and chased Experiment 321 up the celestial staircase, some portion of his infinite brethren following to spill out onto all the other planes of existence, with still more following all the way back to the Moon Steps in the Dragonspines. Of course, the mountain was not there, so the steps led out into empty air (not that the slaad minded).

Ash, wanting a place to stand, so to speak, dug through the bag of baubles taken from the tombs in Deckon Thar (which had somehow ended up on his person through yet another paradox) until he found one that contained both the mountain intact, and an elf.

2nd of Marpenoth, 362 D.R.

Ash, Grimnir, Melastasya, Kevorkian, Dame, Morgianna, Experiment 321, and Traithe stepped down off the celestial staircase into the abandoned city of Deckon Thar. Only Ash found it slightly strange that all of his companions were elves, complete with liripipe hoods, curly shoes, and inappropriately revealing armor and that the city exhibited a distinctive hint of Elvish architecture. Likewise the others did not seem to notice or mind that there was not a slavering horde of Slaad chasing them down the stairs.

The city was in surprisingly good shape, and the mountain was intact, though the hand of Duvan'Ku could be seen peaking out (Ash couldn't help but notice the unusually slender and graceful fingers on the giant hand). Of course, the party decided that they should immediately try to destroy the hand...

They shot it. Lightninged it. Burned it. Banished it. Poisoned it ... Nothing worked.

Then Ash had an idea...he pulled out Yarash's Spoon and pointed it at the hand. The hand quickly transformed, remaining just as large, but becoming a twisted thing, made entirely of thumbs, and oozing with clear, sticky, oil-like substance. They once again blasted the hand with fire, but this time it burned. And burned. And burned. Two days later, the hand was still on fire. The same remained true after two weeks, two months...

Determined that they must do something to keep Duvan'ku from fully waking up, and blessed with elvish patience and longevity, the party decided that they would settle in Deckon Thar to watch over the hand, protect it from anyone that might try to disturb its sleep, and research a way to destroy it.

Dame, Kevorkian, and Melastasya decided to reform the Guild of Naturalists, and resume Dame's experiments at creating flying, soul-draining, god-hating, leech-cuttlefish-lamprey hybrids to feed on the thing under the mountain. After a few years of experimentation, their attempts succeeded, and they named their creations "Ab-bo'leth".

Grimnir and Ash, meanwhile went to Myth Drannor to treat with the Coronal, asking for use of his elf-blade to open the multi-planar sarcophagus which they found in the Tomb of Mog. He agreed, and many of the great lords of Myth Drannor came with them. Ash and the Coronal placed their blades in the slots on the sarcophagus, only to find it full of strangely clumpy and bad smelling particles of clay. Ash dug through and found, burried at the bottom of Mog's litter-box, an exact duplicate of the supposedly unique Coronal's Elfblade. He claimed this for himself, with the Coronal's blessing, and thus became the second king of all elfdom, ruling from the mountain city of Deckon Thar.

Traith explored down the river, finding a city by the sea populated by strange, short-lived, hairy ape-beasts. They were relatively intelligent and possessed the crafts of smithing and magic, but were otherwise mostly harmless and beneath the notice of the elf-lords of Deckon Thar.

The elves budded...

Deckon Thar flourished...

New "pets" wer made...

A thousand years passed...

2nd of Marpenoth, 1361 D.R.

High on the mountain of Duvan'ku, a giant hand burns for eternity. Below the hand is an ancient city, dark and brooding. It is a home to ancient beings of unspeakable power and the tentacled horrors which they created for their unknown ends. What riches await to be claimed in the fabled city of Deckon Thar are anyone's guess, and New Phlan is rife with the rumors of fortune and glory to be claimed beneath the Mountain of the Ever-Burning Hand.