Sunday, 17 May 2015

2.22 – Woe betide us! Our saint has fallen.

[Pendants of Tor-Logos]
Barion (rogue), Bellerophon (paladin), Thorkron (cleric/wizard/mystic theurge)

Session Highlights
The heroes of Agatarkion's kingdom continue to chase Taurus McKymera in search for the pregnant succubus. During a fight with a pack of vrocks they have a glimpse of the balor, Kelsier, who manages to breach the Planes and strike at Bellerophon with his vorpal whip. The clash with the party’s nemesis (Taurus) finally arrives, with both the paladin and the general dying in the process.

Every good DM hates seeing good characters die. When it happens, there are two possible outcomes:
1) The character stays "dead-dead", and all the story investment done so far goes down the drain, possibly compromising several major plots;
2) The character is resurrected, thus banalizing "death" and therefore damaging what possible suspension of disbelief exists in the setting.
If losing characters at low/mid-level can easily be dealt with, the same isn't valid for high level. All the map of relations established between PC and NPCs goes away, and any replacement PC that enters the story will mostly be an alien to the campaign. It would be like losing the main character of a TV show around season 3 or 4. Playing Pathfinder (or D&D 3.5) at high level (12+) can - and will - easily face you with such a scenario.
And so it came to be with our most beloved Saint Bellerophon, the dracopegasus riding paladin.
I tend to favor roleplay-heavy sessions, having less combat, and saving it for good and interesting scenes. But, when appropriate, it is good to prepare epic fight scenes. That is what I tried to do in Castle McKymera, dragging the fighting along several rooms, with different groups of enemies building up tension until the final moment, where Taurus and the succubus awaited. I used a high level fighter template for Taurus, knowing that he would hit hard, but be an easy target for any control spell cast by Thorkron. Any Hold Person, Feeblemind, Dominate, would rend the fearsome Taurus McKymera useless. That is why I threw a wizard loaded with dispels into the game. Taurus knew Thorkron's power and had previously been targeted by his spells. Therefore, it would be reasonable to have a mage nearby to protect him. As to the succubus, a regular one would be to subpar for the party (currently at level 13), so I pumped her slightly, boosting her spellcasting score a bit with magical items, and other less significant things. I have to say that I'm becoming a master at deception, since none of the players suspected that the good Commander Magnus was indeed the succubus in disguise. I mean, come on! Yes, the balor was originally Magnus' son, but I don't usually turn to such cliché plots!
In the end, Bellerophon had a majestic dismissal, throwing himself in front of a Fireball to save Thorkron's life. But this is not the last we've seen of our glorious hero. He will return, with permission from his god, fulfill his mission, and then enter the afterlife. And that is an inspiring story for a saint.
Let us see how the battle will end (we stopped midsession with both the succubus and the mage alive (although heavily battered). The campaign is lively, vibrant, deadly, and glorious!

Session Chronicle and Epilogue (Portuguese): link

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