(12/14/03 11:38 pm)
On a mission from Varachan|
Here's how I worked out breaking the players of their assumption they needed to "clear out" the rest of the CRM before moving onto the Outer Fane. It made for a pulse-pounding exciting first foray into the Outer Fanes, so I will detail it her for other DMs to steal if they feel it would be useful.
It involves Varachan being a bit more aggressive than he might normally be, but at the same time I feel this make a bit more sense than waiting in his room for the PCs to break in on him.
Varachan sent a sending to Aranel, the Wizard and resident diviner/scryer of the group with instructions to: 'scry Varachan' at sunrise. To use the previously delivered (unsigned) letter as a focus, and to make multiple attempts if necessary. He mentioned a vague emergency and that the champion may be found. I can post the exact 25 word sending later if anyone is interested.
Aranel was luckily successful in his first scry attempt. Note that it takes an hour to cast scry, which means that divine casters (and any arcane casters who weren't smart enough to save some slots until after the scry) have their spell selection locked in for the day. That raises the difficulty a notch.
Using his own crystal ball as a two-way channel, Varachan briefly introduced himself and told the group (well really just Aranel) that the oracle had confirmed Hedrack's latest guess at the Champion of Evil to be "most likely correct". This was a first so Varachan was a bit panicked. Until now he had assumed that the Champion may not be found, and that the Doomdreamer's plans may not come to fruition, but all of a sudden things started moving more quickly (actually IMC, Varachan doesn't know exactly what the plans of the Doomdreamers are, he just knows they involve opening the gates to the elemental nodes from snippets of information he has overheard).
I assumed that Varachan didn't know about the Orb of Silvery Death and that as far as he knew the Orb of Oblivion was still in the Black Cyst. His idea was to have the party steal the Orb of Oblivion to prevent the gates to the nodes from being opened.
Knowing the party had the components to create an earth key, Varachan quickly explained the quickest route from the earth door (if your party doesn't maybe he can suggest the air door or even dimension door'ing right to the other side of the earth door).
He explained the following path: 14->15->16->18->20->21->21a. He told them about the Elder Earth Elemental, to beware the possibility of being attacked by an assassin, and about how to use the unholy font to avoid the flesh golems if the party chooses to do so. He also explained how to open the gate to the black cyst, and how to safely retrieve the orb from a top the block in the black cyst. He also stashed a torch of revealing, a black thurible, and incense of dreaming for both in one of the elite guard's footlockers in area 15.
I didn't have Varachan tell them about the Champion's gear hidden in the block, as I figured that was information he wasn't privy too. More importantly I thought a minor artifact was enough reward for this and they didn't need 200k gp worth of items on top of that. But if they are smart/lucky enough to search the block they can still find it.
Anyway that about sums it up...
Some other notes and contingency plans:
When asked by the party if he could pull the forces back to allow them easy access, he told them that would make his role in the heist obvious, and that he couldn't do so. (They were particularly concerned about the Elder Earth Elemental.)
I had Bethe follow the group at a distance, far enough to hear combat if it started. I figured she would probably join the fight with the flesh golems but she lost their trail there as they activated an invisibility sphere at that point (avoiding the golems as well).
Unfortunately, the party avoided my climax by teleporting from the black cyst directly "home" to the dwarven bolthole in the earth bridge complex. The idea was that they would go through an easy strugle with the hounds of darkness, some of them would lose their will saves and be creeped out by the temple, the cold would start to get to them, so they would most likely not stick around long. As soon as they started to leave, getting very close to the border with the permanent deeper darkness, Hedrack and Lareth would arrive on the black circle (Hedrack's "word of recall" ability). This is more to give a "OMG! HOLY CRAP!!!" reaction rather than lead to a real fight.
Hedrack would snear, activate a blasphemy if the PCs are in range, and yell for Lareth to "say the words!" Then have Lareth repeat the phrase and basically be confirmed as champion right in front of them to Hedrack's glee. If the champion is confirmed I am not sure what would happen... I was just going to have Lareth be teleported to the black cyst, but I guess if you wanted to add half-elemental templates this would be an appropriate time to have him start to change.
Anyway, Hedrack, not wanting to risk the mission (and given his personality description) should teleport himself to the inner fane fairly quickly (together with Lareth if possible).
Brother of Venom
(12/15/03 7:23 am)
Re: On a mission from Varachan|
I am definitely having the big items in Lareth's hands and the party will not get them until they defeat Lareth in the Fire Node/Recovered Temple. I think that stuff is way too good to just be sitting around, particularly if Varachan can give them all the information of how to get it.
Other than that, I think your use of Varachan is good. Will Hedrack or Naquent realize what is happening, though? It might also make an effective RP situation if the next time they scry Varachan, Hedrack is torturing him.
As for Lareth saying the words, perhaps some mystical, super powerful (i.e. Tharizdun) being prevents anyone from causing harm to the Champion as he is proclaimed. This will force the moment on the PC's because I can see them saying, "I interrupt the ceremony" regardless of what you say.
(12/15/03 4:55 pm)
Re: On a mission from Varachan|
Yeah, that's exactly why I didn't have Varachan know about the items. I think 99% of parties will be falling into the lull of just following instructions, and would not search the block. It's not something you would expect to find a secret compartment on anyway. In any case my group didn't find them, as I suspected.
As for interrupting the ceremony, that's where the distance from the circle (they teleport as the party is about to reach the darkness on the other side of the room) and/or Hedrack's blasphemy dazing them for one round comes in.
With those factors I think it would be difficult to stop.
And no, I'm not going to have Hedrack and Naquent realize what was happening... at least not just yet. They know that Gek (the goblin assassin) spilled a lot of information on that area when he was captured. Also, they might believe some of the information was obtained through commune or other means of divination as they know the party has a diviner and a cleric, at least IMC.
Edited by: Cordo Crowfoot at: 12/15/03 6:17 pm