Random Blogness: Breaking my Toys

Dungeons, dragons, and demons. Oh my.In planning for the Pathfinder game I ran this weekend, it occurred to me that my world design is akin to a child building a tower of blocks. I spend a long time carefully constructing the tower, making sure it’s structurally sound, and making it as big and grand as possible, even if the design doesn’t always seem to make sense. Then, when it seems to be just about perfect, I knock it down.

While my group still calls the campaign “Night Below,” we are now far beyond the Night Below boxed set which I spent five years running. After some bridge adventures that brought the PCs from tunnels underneath some forgotten farmland to the intrigues of a royal court, I am now moving on to a modified version of the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path. Plot-wise, there are some major changes since my world doesn’t have a Worldwound and the big bad of the adventure will be my own evil demigod rather than Deskari. But the chaos still reigns.

Previously in the campaign, the dead dragon-god Derrezen had clawed his way back to life against the will of the gods themselves and had begun plans to conquer the world he sees as his birthright. The PCs tried to rally the realm of Blackwood against Derrezen, only to learn that the intrigues of the court tend to prevent swift action. As of this session, they were meeting with the Queen herself in hopes of finally getting results.

Then I started the session by rolling 10d6 falling and crushing damage and telling the players that their characters woke up in some underground tunnels.

While the PCs were meeting with royalty, Derrezen was walking the streets of Blackwood City in human form. When he got to the castle, he transformed into a great wyrm red dragon and started wreaking havoc. He had some new allies in the fold, as he was accompanied not by dragons but rather by demons, including a balor. The city fell quickly and the PCs wound up underground after a fissure opened up and the royal castle fell on top of them.

Wrath of the Righteous starts PCs at 1st level, and my group is at 13th level. That means I got to cut out a lot of the combat encounters from the first adventure, which I’m not all that unhappy about. It’s rare that I’m disappointed in something Paizo writes, but I think it’s kind of lame that their epic let’s-kill-demons-and-fight-demigods adventure path opens up with back-to-back encounters with giant maggots and cockroaches. Other than that, though, the adventure has a bunch of stuff that I like, such as the use of mongrelmen which are one of my favorite monsters.

The adventure also saddles the PCs with some pretty helpless NPCs right off the bat (their helplessness being more emphasized by the fact that I didn’t adjust their level so they are way below the PCs in terms of power), but their personalities are well-formed. As expected, the douchey aristocrat ticked off the group something fierce even though he might have a heart of gold underneath it all. And, as I had predicted months ago, the transgender NPC barely got a reaction when her backstory came to light.

Thanks to the removal of early combat encounters, we made it halfway through the first book of the adventure path in a single session. The session came to an end with the group’s emergence back into Blackwood City to see the aftermath of Derrezen’s attack. About 50,000 people are dead, the city lies in ruins, the royal palace is utterly destroyed, and several important NPCs, including the Queen and her children, are nowhere to be found.

For the record, it’s been about six years since I ran a session in Blackwood City. And the last time I did, I also had a demigod destroy the capital (granted, more than 100 years of game time has passed between the two cataclysms). So wrecking up the key city in my campaign setting is becoming something of a routine.

To keep my games from becoming overly repetitive, this will be the last time I destroy Blackwood City.



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