(7/5/03 12:51 pm)
The Impending Assault on the Outer Fane|
After a year and a half of weekly play, my group is prepping for a definitive knockout punch on the Outer Fane and their hated nemesis, Master Hedrack.
Next session will be the summer finale before my group breaks for six weeks of summer vacation. I'm interested in any advice that folks can offer to make the session memorable and exciting. I want to challenge my experienced group of PCs without overwhelming them.
Here's a snapshot of my campaign. I'll try to keep it concise, but there's a lot to say. Regular posters on these boards may notice variations on your ideas, especially from this thread. Thanks, guys!
First of all, I made some changes to the module as written.
- I'm running RttToEE in a homebrew campaign world as part of a longstanding campaign.
- Lareth is NOT the champion of elemental evil – the champion is a prominent NPC from elsewhere in my campaign.
- Hedrack uses a Master Ring (from the Book of Vile Darkness) to control Slave Rings on Victor and Bethe, Ukemil, Naquent, Thrommel, Varachan and Daagra. Tessimon now wears a Slave Ring as well.
- Tharizdun grows stronger with each soul freely given. Unlike other gods, he doesn't feed on the faith and prayers of his worshippers; he feeds on their destruction. This explains the continual conflict between the EEE temple factions. In my campaign, destruction of the CRM temples was an additional requirement to free Tharizdun. The PCs unwittingly helped this with their early crusades against the elemental temples.
Here's the current state of affairs.
- I have five PCs of tenth level (a human wizard, a dwarven cleric, a half-elven shadow dancer, a human barbarian, and halfling paladin) and an NPC monk of ninth level.
- The PCs have a Master Key, and an extra key of earth. They have not used the elemental doors (preferring Teleportation instead). They possess the Orb of Silvery Death, and the arms and armor of the Champion of Elemental Evil.
- The CRM is effectively empty of organized resistance. The PCs have defeated the main gate, earth temple, air door, water temple, fire bridge, and earth bridge. They have explored the dwarven temple, retrieved the Eye of Tulian, and looted the tomb of Unariq VoTalsimol . The fire temple and air temples are also destroyed, though by Hedrack's intervention and one another's greedy misguided treachery.
- Varachan has provided extensive assistance to the PCs via written messages and later by direct intervention to save their lives. He is now out of commission and believed to be dead. The PCs have Varachan's Crystal Ball.
- Hedrack is very familiar with the PC's past tactics, their strengths, and their weaknesses.
- The PCs have made three previous forays into the Outer Fane, all by Scry and Teleport.
- The first foray was a successful ambush of the assassins in their practice room. The PCs immediately retreated by a second Teleport.
- The second foray was a valiant assault on the Greater Temple. The wizard had rolled a natural 20 on a Scry attempt of "the scribe of this mysterious message", i.e. Varachan. I decided that the temple clergy were assembled in the Greater Temple for the testing ceremony of Lareth the Beautiful. I had expected the PCs to watch and learn a few things, but instead they buffed and attacked. Hedrack and Naquent fired off some impressive power spells, then left Varachan, Ukemil, and the shadow mastiffs to clean up. Varachan bailed them out, revealed "the truth", and helped them retrieve the arms and armor of the champion and plan a successful ambush of Naquent. The PCs barely escaped with their lives, and Varachan was compromised. While the PCs retreated to lick their wounds for a week, Hedrack discovered the real champion, sent him to the recovered temple, and refortified the Outer Fane.
- Hedrack hastily promoted Tessimon to the Outer Fane (to partially replace Varachan, Naquent, and Ukemil) before the fire temple was destroyed. She now resides in Naquent's quarters.
- Hedrack expected the PCs to attack again by Teleporting into one of three areas known to them – the Greater Temple, the assassin's practice room, or the study where they ambushed Naquent – and secured those areas with spells and guardians (see below). Hedrack has also obtained a magic item to protect himself against Scrying.
- On the third foray, the PCs fell into Hedrack's trap by teleporting back to the Greater Temple. They immediately triggered a Greater Glyph of Warding with a Dimensional Anchor – one character, the dwarven cleric, could not be Teleported away. The Planar Ally guardian (a pseudonatural eight-headed Lernaean Pyrohydra based on Andorax's work) delayed them for nearly ten rounds while Thrommel arrived and began surreptitiously dominating two of the characters from the shadows. All this was according to Hedrack's plan. Once alerted by the Hydra's noise, Hedrack assembled a command center at the Unholy Font, and prepared to attack with the combined might of the Outer Fane! Bwha ha ha!
- After the hydra was destroyed, but before Hedrack's counterstrike was ready, Thrommel betrayed his master and revealed himself to the PCs. Oozing arrogance, he boasted that their destruction was certainly imminent unless they agreed to his terms. He would spare their lives, and in exchange, they would give their word to help him remove his coffin to the CRM and destroy Hedrack. With a common interest in Hedrack's destruction, no other alternatives, an impending attack by superior forces, a Dimensionally Anchored dwarven cleric who was unable to magically escape, and suspicions that some characters were already dominated by the vampire, the party agreed to work with Thrommel. Thrommel kept the dwarven cleric as a hostage and allowed the other PCs to Teleport away, with the promise that they would attack again the next day with fresh unanticipated tactics, and the vampire's full support.
- The PCs are intending to hole up in a Rope Trick and plan out their next move.
Being an evil tactical genius, Hedrack has prepared extensive defenses in anticipation of the PC's tactics. The defenses are strongest at known vulnerabilities. They are intended to create a safe zone around Hedrack's quarters, and introduce hazards around the perimeter. All spell effects and glyphs are triggered by the presence of non-evil creatures. Glyphs are cast by Hedrack (saves at DC 25).
- An Unhallow with Dimensional Anchor, centered in the hallway south of area 20, prevents teleportation and other extradimensional travel into the following areas: 16, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, and 27. This includes the assassin's practice room (a known vulnerability), Hedrack's chambers, the Unholy Font, and Thrommel's room. Areas 21 and 23 are not protected by this spell, since they are already Unhallow.
- The Planar Ally in area 23 has been replaced by a different psuedonatural beast.
- A second Unhallow (with Dimensional Anchor) protects the study – another known vulnerability. This spell is centered in area 8, and covers the following areas: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. As an evil creature, Satau is not affected by the anchor.
- Area 23 (floor between the railings of temptation): Greater Glyph of Warding with Dimensional Anchor to prevent escape by the first non-evil character triggering the ward.
- Area 21 (floor of room): Greater Glyph (Dimensional Anchor).
- Area 21 (south of north door in deeper darkness): Greater Glyph (7d8 sonic damage within five feet, Reflex save for half damage) as a back-up alarm.
- Area 18 (near south hallway): Greater Glyph (Blade Barrier).
- Area 18 (north hallway, at T-intersection): Greater Glyph (Greater Command, "leave"). Affects up to 14 creatures who receive Will saves each round.
- Area 15 (south hallway, near secret door): Greater Glyph (Flamestrike, 14d6 damage in 10' radius, Reflex save for half).
- Area 44 (south hallway). Greater Glyph (Harm)
- Area 38 (hallway outside of the Chamber of Hate). Greater Glyph (7d8 sonic damage).
- Two ogres from area 6 are repositioned in area 18.
- Four of the eight elite human guards from area 15 patrol the Outer Fane, alternating between clockwise and anticlockwise patrols.
For the next few days, Hedrack will restrict his movements to the Unhallowed areas near the Greater Temple. He will sleep in his quarters at odd hours, give his orders through Tessimon in areas 18 (the four-sided pillar) or 24 (the unholy font), and spend much time in prayer and contemplation. At the first sign of danger, Hedrack buffs with Spell Immunity to the PCs favorite spells. Tessimon will spend most of her time by Hedrack's side.
I'm anticipating events to unfold next session as follows. Thrommel will dominate the dwarven cleric and temporarily hide him in the only secure place he knows – his coffin in area 27. Thrommel will send telepathic messages to the two dominated PCs giving them his advice. He won't attempt to control the PCs, so there would be no additional saves. The advice would come in the form of thoughts or ideas that the characters would think came from their own heads. He needs to do this quickly, because his contact will soon be interrupted by the Rope Trick. Thrommel will then tell Hedrack that the PCs dispelled the Dimensional Anchor and escaped, and will likely endure some temporary pain courtesy of the slave ring. Hedrack will attempt to Scry the PCs from the Unholy Font with Greater Scrying, but will be foiled by the Rope Trick. Hedrack will causes Thrommel more pain.
Thrommel's advice may include:
- Don't repeat past tactics.
- Prepare different spells than normal.
- Strike with surprise.
- Consider a different way into the Outer Fane, possibly an elemental door.
- Be wary for traps.
- SLAY HEDRACK! Without his leadership, the Outer Fane will surely crumble.
- Don't forget to remove Thrommel's coffin, lest he anger and slay you.
The final plan is completely up to the players. Thrommel needs Hedrack dead (because of the Master Ring) and his coffin moved to safety. He will help in any way that he can, without risking exposure. The PCs may try to Scry Thrommel, in which case he would move to a relatively undefended area anticipating a Teleport. The PCs may also try to teleport into Ukemil's room, which they Scried earlier, unknown to Hedrack. They may even try an elemental door. If they Teleport back the Greater Temple, they'll get what they deserve -- Thrommel won't save them a second time.
Thanks to everyone who bothered to read this far. Any feedback? I've got five more days to prepare for a truly memorable session.
(7/5/03 1:32 pm)
Re: The Impending Assault on the Outer Fane|
Wow... Judging from what you've entered here, I'd say you're pretty set. I look very much forward to reading how it went down.
My crew's gonna clear out the Outer Fane tomorrow and then move towards the Recovered Temple. I guess that puts us about even...
...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
(7/7/03 7:01 am)
Re: The Impending Assault on the Outer Fane|
Lessee...looks like you're fairly well covered. Here's my thoughts:
1) What about a Rope Trick makes it scry-proof? You can already scry across planar boundaries, and it is (after all) ONLY a second level spell. If you can scry them, you might not learn much (oh goodie, they're in a rope trick, dang), but it's something. If he can in some manner find out where that rope trick is cast...well, then it gets painful.
2) Where ARE they staying? At this stage in the game, if Hedrack can't find them, he may start resorting to desperation tactics...which IMC included having Chymon raze Rastor completely. The Champion is found, and Oblivion is knocking at the door...they don't have as big a need to maintain a cover as they used to. At the very least, seeing a big column of smoke on the horizon might clue the PCs into some of the consequences of inaction.
3) I would absolutely love it if one of the Pseudo guardians you use is my Pseudo-Clay Golem. Would like to know how it turns out.
4) I'm moderately surprised that, out of all your glyphs, none are Slay Living. From his quarters, it would seem that they're his style.
5) Ever read the novel Temple of Elemental Evil? If you haven't, you might be interested to know that in the novel, Hedrack had a couple of thoroughly dominated young ladies in his quarters. Aside from their usefulness in discouraging area of effect spells, Hedrack might tell them they're going to "play a little game", and use some means (wizard caster, magic item, don't know how you'd prefer to handle it) to disguise one or both as himself when he's out of his own quarters.
Alternately, he could pull the Succubus off of "clone guard" duty and have her perform a similar job.
6) If the PCs don't move it along within a set length of time (I'd say two days is long enough to give them), that Dwarven Cleric might be much more effective and useful as a Vampire...not to mention more permanently dominated.
"Whadda ya mean, Orcs get levels too?!?"