Mar 13, 2014

Game Session - Dragon Island (Finale)

If you've been following along with the various game sessions and specifically the last Dragon Island session (here), then the start of this entry may seem a little jarring. Here's the real world story.

In real life, one of the players, Eric (who played the kender thief Theo) was leaving town. He was starting law school out of state and would be leaving on a fixed date. I had planned for this adventure to be the capstone for the first campaign arc, and I was eager to wrap the adventure and the arc in the available time left. It seemed right that Eric, who had been a long time player (second only to Mike in seniority) should see the end of all the hard work they and their characters had put in to the game.

Unfortunately, more real world events got in the way and I ended up not having the number of sessions that I thought I would. Still wanting to make this finale take place before Eric left for law school, I borrow the trope of the black-out time jump that would take the PCs from the end of last session (made even easier as they never did encounter who or what was on the other side of the door, to where they would wake up just outside the entry portal to the final encounter.

At one point I had planned to go back and write a "lost session" explaining what happened between these two points, and I still might, but that is looking less and less likely. These game session notes are already almost two years behind the actual game, and I'd rather get caught up on what's actually happening with players and characters at the current table.

Anyway, without further delay, here's the finale of Dragon Island: The Black Scourge of Ansalon

The party awakens in one of the rooms deep within the mountain. Everyone is covered in various cuts and bruises, but no major injuries. Nearby, they find a number of dead Baaz draconians. Noting that the Baaz are still in petrified form, the party realizes the battle must have been fairly recent.
Baaz draconians, when killed, turn to stone for only a short time before crumbling to dust.
Jessriel, the monk, recalled a vivid dream he had just before waking, wherein a water nymph was talking to him, warning him of the "eminent darkness that would appear before yielding to a brilliant light".

Continuing down the natural cave corridor, the party encounters a magic portal. Figuring that the draconians were guarding this portal, the party steps through.

On the other side of the portal, everyone appeared at the far end of a huge, well carved, and exquisitely decorated chamber room. The far half of the chamber floor was raised 7ft from the front half, a 10ft wide stairway connected the two sections.

On each side of the front chamber was a series of five alcoves. The left side alcoves each held a pedestal topped with a dragon statue, featuring the chromatic dragons. The right side held statues of the metallic dragons. That is, except for the middle alcove which appeared to be clawed and damaged, the pedestal within shattered, and the statue of the dragon it once held melted long ago into the unrecognizable pool of brass on the tiled floor.

Circling around high in the chamber above, a pair of demonic creatures watched over the proceedings. These creatures were covered in thick fur while a pair of leathery bat-like wings stretched out more than twice the height of a common man. The creature's main feature was a large, lidless eye that leaked corrosive "tears" at it flew about. The creature also had a gaping mouth full of sharp teeth and and a long barbed tail.

At the party entered the chamber, the creatures, known to some scholars as Eyewings, swooped down to attack.

In the back of the chamber, over a hundred feet away, a lone robbed figure along with two minotaurs, clad in similar robes but without the cowl pulled forward, stood in a circle chanting around a cauldron of fire.

Off in the left corner, a pile of treasure lay about in a disorganized pile, while the incorporeal form of a huge black dragon hovered over the riches like a dragon laying atop it's horde.

While off on the far right side, two more alcoves had their pedestals and statues destroyed and seemingly turned in to cells.

As the party surveyed the room, the eyewings were quick to attack swooping down on the party and raking anyone they could get a claw on. Theo ran off toward the trio around the cauldron, while one of the minotaurs broke off chanting to meet the challenge. Theo was shocked to see the minotaur open it's mouth and begin to breath fire at the kender. Thanks to quick reflexes, and his shorter stature, Theo ducked below the bellow of flame.

Elsewhere Hunter unleashed a volley of arrows at one of the eyewings, while Adow casts devastating magic missiles on the other. In short order the archer and mage felled the two abominations of the abyss.

While that was going on the second minotaur and the robed figure advanced on the party. Theo, ducking away from the fire breathing minotaur made his way around toward the second one, who he attacked with deadly accuracy.

The robed figure slipped out of the garments to reveal a breathtakingly beautiful and demonic woman. Large horns protruded from her head holding back a mane of rich black hair and drawing attention to her sensual, yet demonic, eyes. Thick, leathery wings unfolded and her thin tail twitched and snapped in excited delight. The party found themselves standing before Lilith, the queen of the succubi.

At first Adow moved toward the demon in an effort to cast spells against the princess of the abyss, but he began behaving strangely at first moving and then broke off his attack in order to move toward the back of the chamber, almost as if summoned by the ghostly dragon. A dragon who seemed to be otherwise unaware of the combat that had broken out all around the room.

Not worrying about one lone mage, Lilith concentrated her attacks on the rest of the part, going after Jessriel and Hunter with her razor sharp claws and poison tipped tail.

Lilith wounded the two, but neither fell under her onslaught, and in fact wounded the first succubus more than she had expected. With one of her minotaur servants dead and the other locked in a fight with the kender, she had no help of her own to count on.

Meanwhile as Adow moved closer to the dragon ghost, a swirl of bring light starting engulfing the mage until the light created a wall around the mage. When the light dispersed, in place of the mage stood the figure of a celestial woman radiating her own bright light. She was clad in a simple gown and wearing a expression of sadness and joy, in equal parts on her face. Large wings, like that of a great bird stretched out behind her, and at once everyone recognized her as one of the Favored.

As the Favored turned toward the dragon she spoke, "Bright, do you not remember me after all this time?"

The ghost dragon looked upon a face almost as old as he was and growled, "You can not be, you were destroyed."

"Do not deceive your own eyes, it is I, Glory, just as you remember me? But what have you done? What is this blackness that poisons your soul? Return to me, Bright Redeemer, not as the black scourge that others think you to be, but as the shining beacon that I remember."

From this a wave of light flowed from the celestial around the ghost dragon, until the dragon no longer looked like the Black Scourge that legend described, but as a shinning brass dragon.

Lilith, realizing that her plan to resurrect the destructive Black Scourge was now lost to her, flew away from the attacking party and through the portal back to the Dragon Island.

With the minotaurs and eyewings dead, and Lilith gone, the party could hear a faint voice crying out for help from the back of the chamber. Theo and Hunter went over to investigate while Jes stood in wonder of the celestial before him, one that seemed to hold a similar resemblance to a water nymph he had seen in several dreams.

In the back of the room, the party found a woman in one of the cells. She identified herself as Catriona, and apparently she was to be the final sacrifice that returned the Black Scourge from the realms of the dead.

With everyone now safe, Glory, as the Favored was known, thanked the party for their help in aiding her cause. She began to explain just what was going on and what had happened to their good friend Adow.

It seems Lilith had been trying to capture Glory for some time, as part of her plan to resurrect the Black Scourge. At one point, gravely wounded, Glory was took weak to defend herself, and sought a hiding place where Lilith would not find her. This occurred during the same time that Adow was taking his Test of High Sorcery. As the mage had just completed his Test, but was near death, Glory assumed the form of the wounded mage, who had lost an eye during one of the trials. Glory hid his soul in the magical gem that now served as a new eye, and cloaked herself in the presence of the mage. This allowed the mage to heal on his own and provided cover for Glory.
As an aside, the player of Adow was taking a break from the game and I was running Adow as an NPC. As such, I took some more liberties with his character than I wouldn't have done had Adow still been a PC.
Unable to find the celestial, Lilith found another viable sacrifice, the female Knight of Solamnia, Catriona, who just so happened to be friends of Davyn (Hunter's mentor) and Bergin, and had stumbled on the prophecies of the Black Scourge that Lilith was looking to fulfill.
Catriona and Davyn, by the way, are actually characters from the Dragonlance New Adventures series of books, which, while aimed at kids are wonderful reads for adults as well.
Anyway, after the Test, Glory, now posing as Adow, aided the party in it's various quests to locate the true resting place of the Black Scourge, which she knew as the brass dragon, Bright Redeemer.

In the ancient past, Glory and Bright Redeemer, were a force of good in the pre-history of Krynn. But when Glory was seemingly destroyed right before the dragon's eyes, the brass was enraged. Rage soon turned to anger, and anger to hate, and the blackness that was in the brass dragon's heart soon enveloped him completely, leading most to believe that Black Scourge was just a powerful black dragon.

Glory's mission, when she learned of her former companion's fate, was to return to him, to see if there was still a trace of the goodness left, and use that to restore the dragon's soul to his original form.

With Bright Redeemer restored, the dragon was now able to achieve his final rest, never to plague Krynn again. Glory, seeing that Lilith had escaped, and knowing she would seek revenge on the mortals who ruined her plan, left the part with one final boon. For their own protection she would scatter this Heroes of the Bright Dragon to the four corners of Krynn and cloak them from Lilith's watchful gaze as long as she could. With that she disappeared, and the form of a mostly healed (he still had a missing eye) Adow laid before the party.
This scattering of the party was also due to real life events. With several of the character's leaving, I knew I was going to be rebuilding the gaming group up once again from the ground floor, and this was one way to explain the sudden end of their shared history together, as well as keep the door open for any possible "reunion" adventures.
And with this, we wrap up this campaign. Originally Lilith was going to be a recurring nemesis for the party, but now she's just a plot line that maybe one of my other campaigns will have have to address.
Next time, we'll start a new set of adventures, with all new characters, also on Krynn.