Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 10

This was one of the most emotionally intense sessions I've ever run, of any RPG ever.  Players reported afterwards that their hands were shaking during play.

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 3
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 3
Zerin of Birdsall, Half-Elf Paladin 3
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 3
Mara, Human Cleric 3
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 3
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 3 (out for the session)
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 3

Picking up where we left off last week, Kholark and Hobgoblin Recruit #1 (honestly, I forget the names I gave them) pretty handily wiped the floor with Magro, the commander of the guard at the Golden Castle, and Generic Castle Guard #14, though Magro left some serious bruises on Kholark.

As Zerin explained to Count Rodrigo the flaws in his delusional belief that he's the deposed heir to
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the Empire and the failures of his military stratagem, a spearblade erupted from Rodrigo's chest, and then the unthinkable - Rodrigo's body, spurting gore, twisted inside-out like high-speed footage of a blossoming flower of raw, bloody meat.  Behind him manifested a 12-foot, four-armed demon, the Glabrezu that the party has known was manipulating events at the Golden Castle and the associated village of Rodrigosburgh (which hadn't been named until this session).  In its hands, the enchanted lance known as the Empyreal Vengeance.

The horror of watching Rodrigo's body turn inside out blasted the minds of everyone watching - Kholark, Mivahl, Mara took off running, their psyches savaged.  The two hobgoblin recruits' heads exploded like in SCANNERS, as did a number of the assembled townsfolk.  A fairly large number.

Scraping the remnants of Rodrigo off the lance, the demon boomed, "He was of no further use to me. The question now is, will you vagabonds serve my purposes? You have eliminated my agents here, and awoken this unwitting dupe to my manipulations. Shall I simply kill you? You were kind enough to desecrate the dwarven catacombs and allow me entrance to find the Vengeance for myself. Let none say that Ygo-Ythorr, Puppetmaster of the Seventh Tier, is without gratitude. This, I offer to you; your lives and freedom, plus the accumulated wealth of the dead dwarves below. An entire hidden room of buried treasure. All this will I give to thee, if you will just bend the knee to Ygo-Ythorr."

A swipe of the demon's claw dropped Zerin to the ground, bleeding and unconscious, while a Power Word: Stun put Dormammu out of commission.  Cor and Sylvus swiftly dropped to their knees.

Transferring the lance to the crook of an elbow, Ygo-Ythorr stalked forward.  "I know you're in there," he smirked at Dormammu, "Will you serve?"

Moving on, the demon picked Cor up off the ground, licking a taloned fingertip and carving a symbol into the gnome's forehead, marking him.  Mivahl took this opportunity to grab the lance from the demon and stab the fiend in the side, but was seized and crushed in one of Ygo-Ythorr's claws, dropping the lance as he lost consciousness. Kholark grabbed the fallen lance and drove the point into the demon's wounded flank as Mara began firing off healing spells.  Conscious and recovered, Zerin charged in, laying a Divine Smite across the demon's back.  Shrugging off the stun, Dormammu began throwing Eldritch Blasts, while Cor, back on the ground, began casting Magic Missiles into the fiend's chest.

Ygo-Ythorr lashed out again and again with his giant claws, sending Mivahl and Zerin flying, and punched Cor in the face with one of its slender, clawed hands.  Surrounded, however, the flurry of attacks being directed at him (especially once Kholark flew into a frenzy) began to wear the demon down, and finally, Kholark drove the lance deep into the fiend's side - a shockwave shook the entire battlefield, and the demon's already lifeless body was thrown back 70 feet, impacting a cottage and blasting it to matchsticks. Cor took off running with unprecedented gnomish speed, undoing his belt as he ran; he managed to clamber on top of Ygo-Ythorr's rapidly-sublimating corpse and drop a victory deuce on the demon before it completely evaporated. 

In the aftermath of the battle, the party healed up and took stock; 180 townsfolk were dead, plus Count Rodrigo.  Mara was the closest thing the town had to a local priest.  The cathedral had never been consecrated in the first place.

While Kholark rested (he had gained two levels of exhaustion from frenzying), the rest of the party led efforts to bury the dead and comfort the survivors.  Deciding to bring in Anoroc to consecrate the cathedral to Bormo, Dormammu sent Francis to deliver the invitation.  Delighted, Anoroc set out on his way to Rodrigosburgh, despite a heavy thunderstorm rolling into the region.

Zerin took some time with a local carpenter, Tavish, crafting wooden holy symbols representing Bormo, Mara's goddess Mishakal, and his own deity, Fharlanghn.  Zerin inquired about Tavish's religious beliefs, and those of the community.  He finds the local population to be more spiritual than religious, offering prayers to agricultural deities and having some vague inclination towards the Church of Law (which is akin to the Catholic Church in my setting, widespread and the official religion of the large empire to the north)

Two days after the battle, Mara leads the surviving community in prayer, conducting a stirring, nondenominational memorial service to honor those who died.  Afterwards, Kholark stood up, and delivered a crude testimonial to how his worship of Bormo, god of bears, beards, drinking contests and manly wrestling, aided him in defeating the demon.  A few people in the assembled crowd nodded thoughtfully.

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