Yes, it is finished. Faced with the distinct possibility of going out with a whimper, I always prefer a bang, instead. My home gaming group was disintegrating before me, my only hope was to conclude The Temple of Elemental Evil next session. That being last Saturday, I have a session report for you...
- Prior to the session's start, Daniel (playing Sir Basil) explained his odd behavior last session. Taken aback by Xar's disregard for human life, Sir Basil uncomfortably "went along with" proceedings even though the holy knight had deep reservations about slitting the throat of that woman cultist/vessel encountered last time. Basil decided against confronting Xar for the sake of party cohesion and the greater quest of dispatching the foul remnants of the temple.
- As there was a player shortage, the extra characters who didn't have players to run them (X'fritl and Tidillo, specifically) simply vanished before the remaining characters' eyes. Left with nothing more than a faint, disembodied evil laugh, the "survivors" marched forward to the unexplored areas of the 3rd level.
- Having an hour's preparation, I planned for two special things, unique aspects of my own devising that would make the Temple stand out... that would make it truly mine.
- 1) a hexagonal room with six doors. Four of them led to a jungle. Upon opening those doors, the PCs saw bits of dungeon floor and walls here and there, slowly giving way to an entirely new environment - a mysterious jungle. Just in case they got curious or needed a break from the dungeon crawl, I provided an escape. Those doors led to none other than the islands of purple-haunted putrescence. After their discovery, the players opted not to venture out into the jungle. That was fine by me, though I had my book full of weird science-fantasy encounters handy just in case.
- 2) towards the end, I wanted a couple of dimensional travelers to interrupt the party's progress. We'll get to that later.
- A powerful demon guarded this section of the dungeon. One or more PCs could have died, but near-constant magic missiles and Sir Basil's frostbrand made short work of him.
- More prisoners discovered: human, humanoid, and elf. One of the elves became the party thief. The rest just wanted to go home or stay in the dungeon.
- An illusion made for interesting combat as the characters were almost totally taken-in by were-jackals.
- A bronze pit for a bugbear was easily scouted by Markus the ragged - a templar revenant who joined the party last session. The revenant is a character class provided in FH&W. Tricky to play and DM, I let a lot of stuff fly that wasn't specially mentioned in the rule book.
- A potentially huge encounter with bugbears, ogres, and a hill giant was cut short by Xar's well-placed fireball.
- Some evocative and Lovecraftian descriptions provided a dank and dreary atmosphere - perfect for dungeoneering.
- Stairways showed level 4 having collapsed some time ago. That kept everyone on level 3 where the action was. This being the last session, it made sense.
- Finally, a purple throne, an inner-sanctum, and a towering spider demon with cyclopean 9th eye shooting burning rays of fire. Luckily, two out of the three PCs wore rings of fire resistance. I got most of the stats from Fiend Folio and converted the rest to be the big bad at the temple's end. When not using its eye ray, it had four attacks. I pulled out all the descriptive stops for this one. I mentioned the viscera and slimy entrails yanked out of its abdomen when Sir Basil scored a critical hit - max damage on both dice! When he finally struck it down, after almost dying (luckily he had a potion of extra healing), I detailed its severed head twitching and wounds oozing a yellow-green substance, etc. There was nearly an hour left after the creature's destruction.
- Back to Vengerizing the temple, the party decided to rest up before looting the spider demon's treasure. Nothing happened while they slept. Upon waking, however, the party heard voices and clanging noises coming from the inner-sanctum (they slept in the throne room adjacent). They investigated. Two humans and a magic portal. The humans told of their mission - to retrieve a sacred object containing the essence or soul of their unpronounceable god. Using one of the special abilities of his class, Sir Basil detected that the god contained within the silver container was evil. The party forced the two dimensional travelers to give up the container. Before leaving through the portal, they promised to return... with reinforcements.
- This led to an amusing, though brief, chase through the third level. The PCs hid in a large crack where they left off at the end of last session. After a DM reminder (I usually refrain from that sort of thing, but couldn't resist), Xar used his limited wish scroll to destroy the evil god trapped in the silver vessel. Not finding any easy loopholes, his wish was granted. And not having any way to see if their god was still in the container, the dimensional intruders took back the container.
- Amongst the spider demon's horde of gold and gemstones, the PCs claimed a dragon orb and a few other random magic items from the 1st edition DMG. At that point, they marched back up to the surface, away from the misery-infused stone of this particular dungeon.
- Not that it mattered, but everyone leveled before going home.
I was pleased with this session and The Temple of Elemental Evil as a whole. However, I'm confident that next time I run it, things will go three times as awesome!