This session was always intended as the culminating event of the year in which I would tie up all the loose plotlines. With four members of the RPG group graduating, I also wanted to give them some closure so that they would feel that they accomplished a major plot goal or two, knowing that there were much bigger fish to fry in the established world.
We started the adventure where we left off: overlooking the Elvish City of Valkyrie and deciding on a plan of action to rescue the Elven High Council. I did a short mini-session with a player ahead of time to help him get the manticore that he had begun to pursue at the end of last session. He gave a convincing performance to convince the manticore to join him.
Another student had asked me if she could play a few weeks ago and this was a good opportunity to bring her in. She was playing a Minotaur and told the group that the Minotaur civilization had sent her to help liberate Valkyrie and free the Elven High Council.
At the same time, the party Rogue received a signal from a guild member to get the group into the occupied city safely. His guild had been scouting out the area and had a temporary plan to use the sewer system to enter the bowels of the Castle to rescue the Council and Merlin, our Mage’s mentor.
The party asked a lot of questions about the city and how the group may go about infiltrating the Castle. The Guild had conscripted an aide to the Council, Swiftwind, to help the party traverse the lower parts of the castle dungeons. One of the goals became protecting her. They also noted that powerful magical wards likely protected the dungeons, preventing teleportation out by the powerful wizards they were rescuing. Another goal became to obtain a Scroll of Greater Dispel.
The party split up to be less conspicuous in town. Each party member was given the option to purchase a defensive or offensive potion. With the occupation, magical items were heavily regulated and weapons and armor were not even attainable. They obtained the Scroll of Greater Dispel and began their reconnoiter into the sewers.
The campaign started with a trip into a sewer and it ended that way. The party discussed their marching order and came up with a logical one: two of the Guild Thieves would go in with the party’s rogue and minotaur to check for traps. The cleric and fighter would protect Swiftwind in the center of the formation and the Mage and other Guild Thief would bring up the rear.
Traps at the sewer grate and two more in the sewer itself were successfully detected and disarmed. The third one inside the sewer was missed and the two Guild Thieves in front got fried by acid. This flooded the corridor with acid. The Mage attempted to freeze it over with an ice-based spell and got parts of it. This caused a “hop scotch” across frozen acid. The Cleric and Fighter caught Swiftwind before she slipped and fell but the last Guild Thief couldn’t be saved as he slipped into an unfrozen puddle. The party was now down to themselves and Swiftwind.
In the next room, a water elemental sprung from the fountain. Thinking that the water elemental’s power may be linked to the ability of water to be concentrated in one place, they attacked the fountain, cracked it, and the water elemental “went down the drain”, so to speak.
Their arch-nemesis, Valthrun the Prescient, had Merlin chained up in the next room, an alchemical chamber. As before, he was using two orbs to attempt to open another gate for an army to transfer to this part of the realm. Not to be bested this time, the players were greeted by a wall of force when they tried to smash the orbs. Merlin, with his last bit of strength, dispelled the Wall of Force. Combat ensued and Valthrun immediately countered with a huge Wall of Fire that covered the entire chamber except for one square-wide strip near the wall. With burning bookcases blocking their access, the players took turns removing the burning book case and traversing the wreckage to get to Valthrun. Valthrun used Dimension Door to get out of the corner of the room, but took several big hits. He was finished off by their elf ally Ninaran and their new comrade the Warlock who came swooping in on the manticore to save the day!
The adjoining corridor led to the subterranean Dungeon of the castle. The players dispelled some of the wards guarding a swift exit. The castle rumbled as the Elven High Council transported them outside the Castle, to safety.
Or, so they thought. Not all wards were dispelled and the group was transported into the Castle courtyard: right as Rasamex the Elder Black Dragon smashed the gates, preventing their escape. Part of the party fled to the left while the Ranger, Warlock and Barbarian hopped on the manticore. The party provided the distraction that the Elven High Council needed. The Mage, Cleric, Fighter and Rogue were all slaughtered by the dragon. Or were they? How they decide to use their characters from here on out is up to them!
In the actual game, I told players that their characters died. My goal was to provide closure to the campaign, but many were upset by this turn of events. Never wanting to have a player walk away from a table unhappy, I talked to those that had trouble with the revelation and “surprised” them that their character woke up through various means later. Some may argue that I perhaps should never have killed off their characters in the first place. I am frequently inundated with requests for playing games with students after they graduate. That is something that I rarely do and have to have the freedom to have a gaming life of my choice at some point. So, the “character death” model helps to bring closure to these things and prevent kids from slamming me with requests for “hanging out” after graduation, which I obviously do not feel comfortable doing.