Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In Which The Warlock Reaches the End...

The usual end to one of my games..
 I feel like it's been ages since I've actually reached the natural conclusion of a campaign.  Both "Pirates of the Underdark" and my Wittenberg Eberron game fizzled out before reaching their true ending.  Even before that, there was my defunct Expedition to the Demonweb Pits game, and the TPK that pre-empted our Dark Heresy adventure.

In truth, to reach an actual end was really satisfying for me.  For once, the story could come full circle.  For once, all of the plot hooks and threads that had emerged over the course of the campaign had managed to reach their natural end.  For once...there would be a worthy end.

Something of a tangent:  my favorite character from The Lord of the Rings isn't Aragorn or Legolas, nor is it even Gimli (though, I'm pretty sure that my dwarf-loving tendencies started with him).  Rather, it's Theoden of Rohan.  This is a guy who truly rises up, facing each challenge set before him, even though it costs him his life, his kingdom, his family, and all that goes with them.  Theoden sets the bar for 'heroic speeches', and sums up my feelings on endings par excellence:
Theoden of Rohan, being inspiring!
 "Look at my men. Their courage hangs by a thread. If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end, as to be worthy of remembrance."

It's that mentality that I took into mind when I designed the final battle of the "Tear of Ioun" saga.  After fending off the siege of Morgordal Keep, our heroes found themselves venturing once more to the source of both the corruption in the area, and their own adventure--the Forlorn Tower of Wellspring.
Ia! Ia!  Fhtaghn!
At the top thereof lurked Volarn--the Opener of the Way--and several of his corrupt, degenerate fleshlings.  Energy streamed from archaic runes etched on the tower's face, pouring forth into a corrupted symbol of Ioun.  Beyond that symbol...Zalgo.  The Render of the Veils.  The Hunger with a Thousand Eyes.  The eternal, the ever-dying.  That which waits beyond the walls.

Our heroes leapt into battle as the energies poured forth.  Charging forward, Guf was so unnerved that he tripped, face-planting into a stream of putrescent water tainted with unholy eldritch energies.  As soon as Martook and Lupin managed to join the melee, they were snatched up by Volarn, being dealt horrific woulds by his claws and writhing tentacles.  Shantira cast bolt after fiery bolt, doing  her best to stem the tide of energy that poured into their world.  Aster and Elladan skirted the flanks of the battle, firing arrows and slinging daggers into the cultists, while the enigmatic Blink charged after Volarn.

In the end?  Victory!  As the battle raged on, Elladan raced to cut off Volarn's escape, hamstringing the creature and casting it down in eternal defeat.  As the Forlorn Tower finally collapsed, and the waters of the nearby river ran clear and clean for the first time in decades, the party escaped in triumph.

As we put away the minis for the last time in this game, I provided a brief vignette for each character, summing up their actions, as they parted ways in pursuit of their own epic destinies:

  • With Morgordal's new alliance with the Doomguard, Clan-Father Russell of IronVictor was able to lead his combined clan into a new era of prosperity and unity.  Morgordal became an important planar and Underdark trading up, with the Doomguard establishing their first ever Prime Material armory.  Russell rebuilt the temple of Kelemvor, providing a new era of law, order, and peace for the dwarves.
  • Lupin, with the assistance of High Templar Wesley Baracus of Blackfall, established a chapel to Bane within Russell's temple.  Lupin also married Shantira, in a Banish ceremony that...well, it probably looked more like an S/M rave than a marriage, but that's life!
  • Shantira joined with the enigmatic invoker Belzadi Riftember to create a new school for fire mages, within the halls of Morgordal.  Their combined expertise broke new ground in elemental research, as well as new opportunites to scorch their foes.
  • Guf, still delveless, joined the IronVictor/Riftember clans as their sergeant-at-arms, reinforcing and rebuilding the keep outside, and training a new generation of dwarves in the arts of war.
  • Aster, still seeking vengeance for Lord Criswell's "betrayal", joined with the assassin 'Cruel' Seirrah and infiltrated the Blackfall Opera House, where Criswell was in attendence.  As Seirrah snuck up on Criswell, Aster fired a single arrow which exploded with fantastic force.  Both Seirrah--who had maimed Aster's ear--and Criswell were slain in the blast, while Aster left, retiring to Gloomwrought.
  • Martook, however, was not granted a peaceful retirement with his family.  His pact with Mighty Bane meant that he was once-again a full-time soldier, being recruited to the eternal Blood War.  While his family moved to his massive manor in  Morgordal, Martook soon found himself returning only to an empty house.
And, from here?  Well, we're taking a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but after that, we're back in action.  The exiled Prince Actorios of Theleb Orethia will make his debut, in Chaotic Frederick's Dark Sun game!  Until then, fellow gamers!

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