Sunday, November 07, 2010

In Which The Warlock Tears Down the Wall!

When I planned out the end-game of the Friday night "Tear of Ioun" game, I wanted to ensure that the ending would be an epic one.  As Chaotic Frederick says, I wanted them to "be saying 'wow' every time".  As I mentioned earlier, I had been hoping for a set-piece battle that really demonstrated the weight and power of the characters' actions thusfar in the game.  Moreso, I wanted them to feel massively threatened, while simultaneously maintaining that feel of supreme bad-assness!

So, when I decided upon a siege on Russell's home clan, I was a little worried.  In fact, I was downright  intimidated.  I had never run a game session on this scale before, and doing so proved to be quite the challenge.

The Defenders of Morgordal Keep
 After building their castle, writing up rules for siege weaponry and other defenses, and preparing troops using the DDI Monster Builder software, the field was finally arrayed against the hordes of Volarn, Opener of the Way.  It was a ton of prep, which culminated with a 4 page long e-mail on my part, detailing troop costs, toughness and more...and then prompted a similarly lengthed response from Chaotic Frederick!

In game, each player was responsible for four items each:  their own character (currently near-epic level, sitting at 17th!), an NPC ally of theirs (also near-epic!), a siege engine that ranged from the traditional ballistae and trebuchet to the mighty acid cannon and pseudo-sentient Hellfire engine, and a legion of troops.  While this seemed like a lot, the rules were incredibly streamlined, moving quickly for each character.  To be honest, each turn only took slightly longer than a normal D&D turn!

Without a doubt, my players rose to the challenge brilliantly.
Clanfather Russell rides the Hellfire Engine into battle!

The battle was joined, and everyone at the table threw themselves into the defense.  Lupin led Banish skirmishers from Gloomwrought against the eldritch horrors, while Martook confronted one of the massive mutants head-on, being swallowed in its toothy maw!  Shantira, Aster, and Guf manned the walls, leading troops directly, while Russell and his clanbrother Thorgrim swung their hammers in unison before the gates of their new home.

Friday Night Will, Chris the II, and Pyro-Jessie survey the field...
 Things looked grim for our defenders for quite a while.  While the defenders had great success wiping out the aberrent hordes with their siege weaponry, their numbers seemed countless.  However, with Martook swallowed and Lupin overwhelmed, the two largest of Volarn's minions--literally, walking engines of destruction themselves--focused their fire on the Hellfire Engine and the keep's walls...

The gates come crashing down!

In that moment of despair, all seemed lost and the Far Realm beasts seemed on the verge of annihilating all within the keep.  Martook let loose yet another unheeded prayer to Moradin from within the beast's gullet.  Cursing once more, he turned to a different source of divine intervention:  Bane, Lord of War.

I was floored!  For session after session, Lupin had (half-jokingly) been trying to convert the party to Bane, only really succeeding with the embittered Aster.  Totally at a loss for what to do, I resorted to an old tactic from "Pirates of the Underdark"--I asked him to 'roll the bones'

"Do ya feel lucky?"

"The Bones" is a simple mechanic, which I culled from Skull and Bones:  Swashbuckling Horror in the Golden Age of Piracy, while I was running "Pirates of the Underdark".  Essentially, a character can toss 'the bones'--2d6--once per session, and hope that Lady Luck can help him out of a dire situation.  Martook's roll?  A ten...near perfect...

Mighty Bane manifested in his mind, offering ultimate victory on this battlefield, in exchange for his fealty.  Martook hastily accepted, his Moradinian regalia reforming and restylizing as Banish armor, and he burst forth from the creature's belly in a shower of gore.  With a half-crazed war-cry, he leapt back into the fray, hewing down aberrations with each mighty swing. 

Chaotic Frederick and Chris the I have the situation under control...

Our session ended late--almost at 1:15 am--with the aberrant army crushed and Morgordal Keep saved.  But the players, triumphant and energized, were excited.  This was a battle for the ages, and was really memorable for all of us.  This was what I was hoping for.  This, my lovely readers, was what it was all about.  this was the culmination of a truly epic yarn.

While we're off next week, the following week will bring our final battle and take our PCs back to where it all began--the Forlorn Tower, just north of the ruins of Wellspring. 

And honestly?  I can't wait. 


  1. A M A Z I N G !!!

    Distributing multiple battle roles in the way that you did is the hallmark of a great GM. And Martook's twist - genius.

    I'd pay to be a player at your table!

  2. Thanks for the high praise, man!

    Handing each player a set of clear responsibilities really helped things move fast and streamlined the table experience.

    What's really going to make this killer for Martook is his family life. His background very much makes him the "veteran warrior, on his last mission for the church before he retires." I'm wondering how his wife and children are going to take this immediate conversion, not to mention the news that he has a new master and new missions...

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Wow. That's dedication. I hope your players were massively appreciative. How the hell are you going to top that for the end of the epic tier???