Let me apologize ahead of time readers for the following article as there is a good chance that random “USA! USA!” chants will appear throughout this piece as a result of last night’s big news. For those foreigners out there (and according to my traffic I have a pretty nice following in Sweden) this might all be a bit too exotic for you guys to comprehend, but just let the silly Americans wave their flags and enjoy the recap. “USA! USA! USA!”
Back onto the topic, the theme of this week’s session was character development. In some cases it was very traditional and in other cases quite literal, but the constant this week was character development and everyone got some. Some will also note this session had a much darker tone than normal, and that’s true. It’s not to say we didn’t derp and have some fun, but in general this session was a good deal more somber. To put it bluntly if the Demon Baron arc were a trilogy, this was the Empire Strikes Back session. We ended hopeless, defeated, and conflicted—but remain optimistic because that means next session Caitlin gets to rescue slave-bikini Dhother from an evil slug and then we’ll blow up the Demon Baron’s tower. I’m getting ahead of myself (though the imagery is awesome), so let’s start at the beginning.
We returned to the chronicles of Wyrmwick having just left Vante’s Tower with knowledge of the White Orb of Lockton’s Keep. On the request of Bahamut we decided to seek out the orb and add its incredible power to our ranks so that we can use it to take down the Demon Baron. We wasted no time doing this and we arrived in Lockton Keep just a day later. The Keep itself is a lighthouse with a budding city built around it with a heavy emphasis on Moradin, the God of Creation, Hammers, Dwarves, Liquor, and probably Overblown Religious Festivals. We couldn’t get in the church to see the White Orb, so we needed an alternate plan. First we did some reconnaissance with Grieg using the power of his Shadow Orb to turn invisible and insubstantial so long as he remains in the presence of shadows. With this he snuck into the Church before dawn and investigated a trap door that lead into the lighthouse above the church. There he found a blind old woman sitting a wheelchair which we then deduced was the host of the Light Orb.
After debating the morality of killing old women (a tabletop tradition), we decided it would be best just to speak with the old woman directly, and after some negotiating we were allowed to do just that—or at least Denora was. Our meek little cleric headed upstairs and spoke with the old woman about the orb. Not only did we find out that to possess the Light Orb meant losing your eyes, but any owner of an orb is slowly having their soul devoured so that upon their death they fade away to nothingness instead of going onto the afterlife. A harsh price, but the power you receive in return is supposed to be great, and Denora made the decision to put lives of those around her over herself. It was painful as Denora had to experience her eyes literally melt out of her face, but the deed was done. I could link you to one of the many images of Denora without her eyes, but I already have enough nightmares about waking up next to nuns missing their eyes due to thirteen years of Catholic school so you're on your own there.
It was a heavy sacrifice, but Denora made it for the benefit of everyone else, so props to her. The poor girl passed out from the pain and we had to carry her back to the ship. When she awoke she found she could no longer see, and even worse the orb which she was told would guide her after she lost her sight was not speaking to her. It was a tragic scene. If that’s pulling your heartstrings guys then hold on because things do not get any easier. On the plus side Grieg has taken it upon himself to take care of Denora and guide her. Maybe it’s a budding romance, or maybe just the two orb wielders looking out for one another, but at the very least you get your “d’awww” moment which is quite necessary for this session.
We left Lockton Keep having acquired the second orb and information about where the blue orb might be (hint: it’s far to the east in an enormous cyclone) and then headed south for a quick stop at Wyrmwick before continuing on to Felbrigg Stronghold to find Doll’s family, find out the location of the other towers, and handle Dhother’s vampire problem because (shocker) the rosary came back. We arrived and Caitlin, Dhother, and Jonn made their way to the poorer district to find Doll’s family. We learned the family had been imprisoned for not paying their taxes. Outraged, we went to the castle to pay their taxes and get the family the heck out of dodge only be alerted of some very grim news from Lord Felbrigg himself.
The family is dead and what remains of them was fed to the pigs in a farm to the west. No, I’m making a joke—that’s quite literally what happened to them. I should note that Caitlin smelled a very terrible evil coming from the castle and particularly Lord Felbrigg himself while Dhother’s rosary was reacting strongly to the stronghold. Caitlin tried to stay her hand as long as she could, but to the shock of everyone (or maybe just me), Dhother was the one to attack.
We started up a battle with Lord Felbrigg and his guards, and Caitlin got to show off one of her new breath weapons! Yes, in case you missed it Caitlin now has her own breath weapons and the first she used was the special Bahamut breath, Disintegration Breath. It does decent enough damage (2d12) upon hit and 10 ongoing damage afterwards, so yeah expect to see a lot more of that. As for the battle itself it was difficult considering our two Leaders were gone and thus no healing. Still we proved to be victorious and Lord Felbrigg was torn to pieces. We collected his body parts for “disposal” and decided to investigate the castle a bit further. We found a dungeon that appeared to be a feeding pit for the vampire lord, and after exploring his bedroom we found a journal and a scroll. The scroll’s seal was foreign to us so we pocketed that for the moment, but the journal we easily picked and read. It detailed Felbrigg’s life starting from a very long time again before eventually reaching the end where he wrote about making a deal with the Demon Baron to spare Felbrigg in exchange for materials and supplies. With this new information we left the castle and headed back towards Wyrmwick stopping on the way to toss Felbrigg’s remains overboard so that he can rest at the bottom of the ocean ala Dio from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. If I recall correctly we should have about a hundred years or so before Felbrigg comes back, so that’s a plus.
The trip to Wyrmwick was an uneasy one as we had to report that we essentially left Felbrigg without a government, so in other words we left it in complete and utter anarchy. Muzarog came up with a plan to install a temporary puppet government and try to send refugees to Holmin Falls where a fort is currently being established. With that done Dhother and Caitlin headed off to their respective churches for prayer. Caitlin spoke with Bahamut directly and learned the sad truth that Doll’s wife and daughter were indeed dead. On the plus side she did learn that the orb’s effect on the user could be reversed in some fashion, though we’d have to destroy the orbs themselves which wouldn’t be an easy task. Finally she learned that to complete the ritual to become the first born of Bahamut she’d need to travel far to the north to find a way to Bahamut’s castle. Cryptic, but man it might as well been step by step directions compared to Dhother’s experience with Correlon. I kid you not, Dhother prayed long and hard for guidance, and Correlon answered his prayers with a meat spin. Yeah, LordKaT is our DM alright, and consider yourself lucky if you don’t know what meatspin is by NEVER searching for it. After that Correlon decided to cock slap Dhother which was all a very cryptic way of saying “go to Colingrove”. Following that not-so-bitching prayer session, Dhother and Caitlin got drunk, though for very different reasons.
Get your tissues ready guys because it gets worse from here. We left Wyrmwick and returned to Colingrove to see the city preparing for war. As Grieg spoke with some of his old compatriots Caitlin headed to the church of Bahamut to tell Doll the bad news about his family. He immediately felt defeated as though his attempt to change his life was completely meaningless, but Caitlin shared with him the truth behind her own painful loss. She, like Doll, had lost her family, though for a man who just lost everything it was little consolation. It would take time, but hopefully Caitlin could keep Doll optimistic and on the right path. However now she felt rather defeated though she wouldn’t let the party see that as she quickly began offering Dhother public handjobs. Caitlin is good for a great mood whiplash like that.
After we got our supplies we rode off to Watchman’s North to try to take out the tower before Colingrove met the Demon Baron’s army head on. We arrived outside the tower and began an intense fight with the Gnolls inside and a fiendish Chain Devil. The party got lucky in that Caitlin used another one of her breaths, Misty Breath, to turn the Chain Devil and two of the Gnolls into a fine mist making them useless until they save. That allowed us to focus fire on the remaining Gnolls and eliminate them before the Chain Devil returned so we devote our full focus on him. On the plus side Denora possesses a new ability that allows her to project a field of light that makes it so good aligned creatures get total concealment while unaligned creatures are blinded. Even with those bonuses the Chain Devil still nearly took us down in a wild flurry of attack, but we survived just long to take him down.
Now all that was left was to take down the tower, right? No, we were greeted by a man in dark robes who applauded our abilities. It appeared he was a servant of the Demon Baron, but before we could ask him much he cast a spell. In a flash both Dhother and Grieg disappeared and the man told us that if we wanted to see our friends again we were to return to Colingrove and tell the world leaders to give up their resources to the Demon Baron. After that he left leaving the party conflicted and defeated. Caitlin, head hung low, started to head back towards Colingrove while Jonn demanded we try to take down the tower. It was a pretty tense moment full of conflicted emotions that probably stand out as the best moment in the campaign for me thus far. On one side it’s a classic “needs of the many outweight the needs of the few” situation and Jonn has a very valid argument in bringing the tower down, but Caitlin and Denora are both hesitant to do so as it would put the lives of Grieg and Dhother in jeopardy. Five sessions ago Caitlin would have agreed completely with Jonn about blowing up the tower, but now she’s grown close to her compatriots and after just having to relieve the pain of losing a family she’s not willing to risk their lives. Making this even more complicated Caitlin is the fact that Dhother was one of the two kidnapped, and I’ve made it canon that Caitlin and Dhother have a thing for each other—or at least Caitlin does for Dhother.
So yeah, the session ended with Dhother and Grieg waking up tied to posts in the middle of the desert with the same dark robed man from earlier promising to take the orb from Grieg by whatever means are necessary. Fade to black.
You see what I mean now about this being the Empire Strikes Back of the Demon Baron arc? Dhother & Grieg are captives of the Demon Baron, Denora is blind, Caitlin has given up hope, and the Jonn is at odds with his allies about what to do with the tower. It’s a pretty tense moment that will undoubtedly lead to some great storytelling down the line. I love that everyone got the chance to delve a bit more into their characters this session, and I think we’ll learn a lot about each other in the coming sessions.
Credit for the images goes to DarkVolt.
Until next time, Namaste!