Last Saturday was quite the game. Eleven players and that's only because I had to turn one of them away. My highest attendance had been ten players. Actually, one more wasn't that much more difficult. It helped that half the session was combat oriented. Here are the basics...
- Inside the complex, the party heard a human voice coming from beyond a metal door. Once opened, the voice became clearer, though not necessarily more intelligible. "Kavanaugh, O'Grady, Smith, do you copy? This is space station Alpha Blue. Your cryo-chamber beacon is active. We are in planetary orbit at coordinates 9817-vector-75. Kavanaugh, O'Grady, Smith, do you copy? This is space station..."
- The Ice People went home but not without a parting gift. They gave the PCs who protected their advanced civilization asses a palm-sized pyramid of death that shoots lasers. One use only, but as soon as they got it, the players knew who would get the business end of their new toy: the abyssal dragon.
- I realized that Lilah was wearing both a necklace and amulet. I informed Alison of the risk of having two magic items in close proximity. So, she turned her amethyst necklace into a belt, being the slender half-elf she is. Problem solved.
- The dwarf cleric kept putting himself in harm's way, but thankfully he didn't get killed.
- Spidery abominations. I bought a bunch of 4th edition adventures because they were 50% off and came with maps (yes, my addiction knows no bounds!). The adventures came with two books, one for the adventure itself and the other contained some really cool full-color pictures. It's always good to have some visual aid - especially when PCs face something really hard to describe like a giant head on spider legs vomiting baby spiders. Gross!
- After the spiders, the party decided to rest. 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter during the night. Guess what! Yes, a demon lord approacheth. It took awhile to put him down, and then they finally decided to search for treasure and whatnot, since their spells and HP were refreshed. They found a vorpal two-handed sword +3, bag of holding, ring of invisibility, wand of polymorph, and jade idol of a tiger. Socialism must not be a thing in the underdark because there was no equitable distribution. Whoever got their paws on it first, kept it.
- A well was discovered. On the side, in the demonic language of Infernal, was written "Well of Souls". More stars, space, planets, asteroids, etc. could be seen down there. Just like earlier in the campaign. However, the PCs couldn't leave well enough alone. Arik had to investigate. A couple others went with him. Turns out it led a few miles south of castle Steel Keep. It could have been some alien world or alternate reality but then the party would be divided for the rest of the session (probably) and I wasn't going to fall into that trap again.
- Then they confronted the dragon - after discovering that Orcus was raising an undead army to conquer the underdark and then the surface. Among the dragon's horde of gold and magic items was an indigo crystal that would crush the ambitions of Orcus. Well, that's what a dark elf named Alzahn told them, anyway. He also gave the party an onyx amulet of resurrection (one use only) which Arik clasped around his neck.
- First, the laser pyramid from the Ice People. Second, a fireball from Lilah. Third (with the helpful suggestion of the German girl - I'm terrible with names), a cave-in. Down a third of its hit points, the dragon black as the void rushed in to attack.
- Anti-climatically, Lilah used her new found wand of polymorph to turn the dragon into an earthworm. Quickly scanning the rules, we saw that was possible. Sadly, the abyssal dragon failed its saving throw. The new party wizard stomped on him. The end. But then a couple players read the PHB more closely. Turns out, if the polymorphed creature is killed, it reverts back to its original form - alive! By this time, I had already unleashed a purple worm on the party to make up for the lack of an opponent and 30 minutes left before it was time to go home. Now, they were fighting a dragon and a purple worm at the same time. No fatalities for the adventurers. They eventually dispatched both to the lower planes of Hell with only a few gaping wounds for their trouble.
- Here's what was in the dragon's horde: the aforementioned indigo crystal that destroys undead, a helm of intellect, the vicious short sword of Xan, a crimson cloak belonging to one of the Seekers of Doom, a chalice of water purification, three potions of extra healing, a potion of water breathing, a magic staff with ruby skull headpiece, and two hundred and fifty thousand gold pieces!
Last session of the campaign is this Saturday. Then a three week break while I'll be preparing for a family vacation, vacationing, and then recovering from vacation. In the interim, West has volunteered to Dungeon Master a few sessions. I also encourage one of the many players to run a game or two. It's challenging but very rewarding.