Tobold's Blog
Thursday, July 04, 2019
Rage of Demons: Final Session

In the previous session the group had gathered all the ingredients to produce the dark heart, the magical object that would act as a focus for a ritual to summon all demon lords in the Underdark to the same location. They were only missing the demon summoning grimoire of Gromph Baenre, the drow archmage who had initially summoned the demon lords from the abyss. And this book was in a highly guarded location in Menzoberranzan, the capital city of the drow. At the same time they were told to leave the dark heart there.

Getting to Menzoberranzan was easy with the help of a tunnel the exiled drow archmage Vizeran had built over the years. But it was still a trip of several days. The group was accompanied by Vizeran's apprentice, Grin Ousstyl. And as they approached their destination it became obvious that Grin had a problem. So they questioned him and found out that Vizeran had lied to them: The dark heart could be placed anywhere, not just in Menzoberranzan. And Grin really would prefer if his hometown wasn't further destroyed by rampaging demon lords. However only Arkoy the cleric didn't want the demon lords to destroy Menzoberranzan, the rest of the group was quite okay with that.

In Menzoberranzan the group encountered Jarlaxle Baenre, head of the Bregan D'Aerthe, the drow spy and assassin organization. The group managed to persuade him to help them getting into the archmage's tower, as Jarlaxle also wanted to get rid of the demon lords. Of course they didn't tell him that they planned the final confrontation to happen in Menzoberranzan. With some very lucky rolls they actually got away with lying to him.

In the tower they overcame some obstacles like guardians and a magical maze to arrive in the inner sanctum. They found a female drow there, trapped in a magical circle, and decided not to free her (good choice, as she was a shapechanging demon). The got the book, and tried to get out of the city again. But as they had placed the dark heart in the city, Grin now decided to betray them to avoid the summoning of the demon lords in Menzoberranzan. But they killed Grin and a drow patrol, and then escaped.

So the rest of the plan went as foreseen: They got the book back to Vizeran, they went back to Menzoberranzan, Vizeran summoned all the demon lords, and the demon lords started fighting each other. At the end only Demogorgon was left. That started the climax of the campaign, the final fight: A level 13 group of 5 players against Demogorgon, challenge rating 26.

Playing Demogorgon as intelligent adversary, at the start of the fight I got the group good: I used Demogorgon's power to create an illusory duplicate of himself with the project image spell, and the group wasted their alpha strike on this double. Then the fight began for real, and it was tough, but not quite as tough as I had thought it would be. It took a lot of rounds, but nobody died. Demogorgon at several occasions used his dispel magic spell to remove spell effects cast by the group. For narrative purposes I described that as him corrupting the spell effect: The grasping vines the ranger had cast to hold him turned into another tentacle, the moonbeam turned into a moon shadow. The corruption didn't do anything else than negating the effect, just like dispel magic, but made it more interesting. After a long fight they brought down Demogorgon, and the campaign ended.

While I am very happy to have played this campaign to the end, I must say that Dungeons & Dragons after 5 editions still fails to work very well at high levels. Demogorgon was nearly too easy for a level 13 group, and this is one of the strongest enemies available in the Monster Manual. The only thing these strong enemies achieve is making the fights longer, not necessarily more challenging. And with the group that strong, it is nearly impossible to challenge them anymore with just regular monster fights in a typical dungeon. "You open the door and encounter 3 ancient black dragons" doesn't really work from a story point of view, and the lesser monsters pose no sufficient challenge.

I will play a shortened 5E version of the Zeitgeist campaign with this group next, and then probably Curse of Strahd. Neither of these will go beyond level 10.


Thanks for the stories Tobold! I do enjoy reading these. :)

As for the 3 ancient black dragons thing, wouldn't it be easier to just say - "you open the door and find a party of humans. Who are your level?"

You know, those -other- people that fought demogorgon. Or maybe heroes of Sigil, whatever. :P
Yes, other adventurers are certainly an option. The narrative problem is more that usually over one session there should be several fights, mixed with other elements like roleplaying and exploration. That still leaves you with the problem of how to explain why this dungeon is filled with adventuring parties. I could come up with one dungeon like that, but the next one would be either a repetition, or I need something else.

Note that 4th edition did this better, because it had the concept of "high-level orcs". You could use whatever monster and use a higher level version of it. If I really wanted to run high-level adventurers, that is basically what I would need to do. But the rules as written don't have this feature, and thus there aren't good online tools for creating monsters of a certain challenge rating.
Hmm I wonder up to what challenge rating the new Undermountain set goes to? That's one pretty huge dungeon... though the top levels would probably be the equivalent of mop up duties for this party.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool