There we are, this is going to be the last Adventure Prep post of the current campaign.
A lot of things were said since that September 6th night where I pondered how to salvage a campaign that started on the wrong foot. Now I’m planning how to end it.
Last game, the PCs met with the Ambassador of Demon Lord Orcus in the Demonic City of Zelatar so they could assume it’s place in Lolth’s upcoming Grand Council for the signature of some pact between Demon Lords and the Goddess of the Drow.
Orcus has no interest in this pact so he had no trouble sending a bunch of suicidal mortals crash the Spider Queen’s party in his name.
Then the Heroes literally got lost in the Demonwebs and so did the player’s interest in that part of the night’s game.
So this week, I decided that I wanted to conclude the adventure and I decided to bring the party at the door of Lolth’s gathering of Demon Lords and Ambassadors.
As you can see on the picture, there are a lot of people in attendance. I’m pretty sure it’s going to drive home the point that a “kick down the door and kill everyone” approach is NOT a good idea, regardless of what the back of the adventure says (Visit the Abyss. Meet Demon Lords. Kill Everything)
I’ve bitched a lot about Expedition to the Demonweb pits, and most of my bitching is well deserved. It is a rather boring adventure (combat and encounter-wise) and un-interactive (Role-playing wise, there are places where it’s written “the NPC ignores whatever the PCs may say”). It’s also based around a very convoluted storyline.
That being said, I must say that the finale is pretty darn cool. Cool enough for me to use it almost ‘As is’.
Without giving anything away to my nosy players, the last scene, based around the Demon Lords council, is a complex sandbox environment where the players can play as many or as few scenes as they feel like to learn, integrate, plan and act to resolve the adventure.
Much like the later Robert Jordan Novel, it was sometimes excruciatingly painful to get there but the finale is totally worth it!
Now in order to tie in the campaign to this adventure, I added a campaign specific BBEG who’s joined the council to cement it’s participation in this Fiendish pact. I look forward to the PCs meeting and recognizing it.
In order to allow the best possible player experience of these scenes, I will ask the players to rewind back to Ptolus and check how ready they are for the mission up ahead in terms of disguises, background checks and so on.
Then my plan of the evening is to fast forward to the Grand Finale, tone down the ‘if party does X, Demons attack’ a bit (as well as keep the classic antagonistic NPC arrogance in check) and let the players run the show.
Of course if they decide to go at it with swords and spells… I’ll be ready (I have some lighter fluid I’ll use to douse the battlemap and a match).
I don’t know how long the scenes in this setup are going to take… And I’m willing to let it go to 2 full sessions if the players are enjoying it.
However, it’s what I have planned for after that makes me look forward to the game.
You see if the PCs make it out of the Abyss alive it will probably mean that the whole silliness about the world getting absorbed into the Demonweb will be resolved…
..But the world is in a bad shape. It lost a large chunk around Ptolus, it has been at war for 2 straight campaigns and it’s been more or less destroyed by the Yugoloths.
The next part will then be about me describing how everything is collapsing in the world while the Players scram to find solutions. The key reward they’ll take from completing the adventure will be a ‘Carte Blanche’ to visit pretty much any plane they feel is necessary to conclude the campaign.
On the one hand, Cixi will want to have her people freed from Carceri and her ancient Homeworld wretched from the Demonwebs (We might play this off camera if time is missing). On the other, the rest of the PCs will want to save the world, or at the very least their own butt.
The problem is that the Chaos that has been fomenting in the Outer Planes (i.e. the Planescape Great Wheel) in the last two campaigns has broken the balance that held everything together for good. The disruption the PCs will have caused in the Abyss will accelerate the unraveling of the multiverse and the planes themselves will be collapsing.
In order to play this out, I’ll throw away the rule books and go with Story alone. As this will be the last game we play in the gameworld I created 22 years ago, each player will be allowed to bring in characters from any campaigns we played in that world and put them to tasks the players believe will help save the world and/o r its inhabitants.
I have a few solutions in mind, and I have been seeding them in the mind of players and the game itself. However, I promised myself to leave the DM Clue Bat in the closet and let the players figure out and suggest solutions.
We’ll see how they handle it.
If it works out, the next campaign (a D&D 4e one most likely) will be set in whatever is left of the world, 1000 years in its future. If the world dies, we’ll start anew and I’ll draw a new map… anyway, after 23 years, it’s a bit frayed now.
Wish me luck!