Indeed, last session was the campaign's last session. There's a lot that goes into ending a campaign, and I'll be discussing those finer points in my upcoming book How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss. Below are the highlights...
- We had the entire game store to ourselves that day. That happens about once every three games. Usually, there's some kind of card game tournament or miniatures battle going on all around us. So, that was nice. Although, the place was cold. Wisconsin finally got a taste of Spring last Saturday. It felt warmer outside at about 50 degrees and sunny than inside. Oh well, we bundled up in our winter coats. Yeah, if you're in WI in March, bring your warmest clothes possible cause you never know.
- I noticed several awesome-looking miniatures in the back shelves near where we were setting up. Just seeing those demons, snake-men, and gugs got my creative juices flowing. I brought them over to our table knowing I'd be using them soon.
- I reminded the party of Zargon's loot. They divided up the spoils just before being attacked by a couple of invisible gugs (surprise, surprise). The gugs became visible upon attacking. Arik went down after a couple rounds. The rest fought on until both adversaries were down. I thought about giving the gugs some kind of treasure like a magic item but where would it be? Hiding in their fur? Lodged between their massive teeth? Propped up in the corner of a room?
- Lilah declared she was using her see invisibility spell and looking all around the dungeon on the way back up stairs. I can't remember if I rolled 33% or made an executive decision... regardless, she found a demon's horn. After spending some time with it (attuning the thing), Lilah discovered it granted the owner one wish per year. Several Player's Handbooks came out as they wanted to know exactly what a wish spell could do (noobs). They were tickled pink. I put the kibosh on wishing for more wishes, naturally.
- On the way out, they checked out those polished stone fragments embedded in the wall. Again, it showed the demon X'ar speaking with a masked humanoid. But this time, the gladiators in the arena were clearly visible (to one PC who made his perception check) as themselves!
- Skull-Face was waiting for them and became their trusted guide in the city of Xan. Before making their way to the arena, the adventurers tried the local cuisine - giant worm intestines, monkey brains, and alcohol made from honey, dates, etc. They also went into an alchemist/apothecary shop looking for healing potions. This final session whittled the party down to two magic-users and two magic-using rogues with dark elf princess and alchemist NPCs along for the ride. They acquired healing potions. Arik was very interested in poison for his rapier. I actually consulted my 5th edition DMG and picked out two beauties for him to choose from: carrion crawler mucus which paralyzed opponents and purple worm venom that dealt a whopping 12d6 to those failing a saving throw! He went with the latter, obviously. Even though it cost the nigh unbelievable sum of 3,000 gold pieces per vial.
- That stuff was all improvised. The planned encounter on the way to the gladiatorial games was this - a merchant selling rare coins, foreign and ancient. Lilah spotted a coin with a familiar symbol engraved upon it. An eye within a triangle within a circle! Yes, the same as the giant metallic seal beneath their castle. The merchant claimed his coin came from the lost city of Thebes, destroyed by dragons aeons ago. It is said that the priests of Thebes knew the secrets of astral projection and dream travel. Ah, another connection with the circle, square, triangle symbols (ONA) associated with the Eye of Providence. The players asked if there was anything signifying the ONA or Oneiroid Navigation Assistance upon the coin. Alas, no.
- However, Sam was dead-set on researching musty old tomes in Xan's library, Call of Cthulhu style. Lo and behold, he discovered a book containing an incantation that would activate or open the seal.
- At the Xan coliseum, the trade between X'ar and the king was taking place. The king would get the short sword of Xan and retain his power while the demon got whatever was in that little black box. For their intrusion, the king sentenced the adventurers to fight upon the sand.
- Before taking part in the blood sport, the PCs noticed their comrades battling a giant in the arena. How or why all of them were together and fighting for their lives was anyone's guess. Their companions were defeated. Akmenos had definitely been ripped apart into bloody pieces (#SorryNotSorry) The others might have survived, though.
- The adventurers had to fight a three-headed emerald dragon that breathed green flame. Coordination, purple worm poison, and my lucky purple d20, Kaazor, turning on me led the PCs to victory. Kaazor had been rolling poorly all night. Only now do I realize that he hadn't betrayed me, after all. No, he had taken a dive. Well played, my purple friend. Well played.
- Now, it was time for the king and demon's comeuppance. Returning to the royal box, an invisible Arik snuck up behind the demon with yet another cut laced with the purple worm's venom. "Don't roll a one," I instructed Kaazor. I rolled a two. Haha, "Bastard!"
- Turns out, the masked king had been the doppleganger that fucked Ethan's character, Erdan, over years ago. Erdan killed his nemesis with his own sword - Erdan's sword - and the doppleganger went down. Victory!
- Arik re-acquired the short sword and became king himself. He decided to return to his native land with the party, leaving Skull-Face as his royal vizier, as long as Skull-Face promised to send frequent shipments of gold back to the absentee king.
- Back at Steel Keep, a letter had been delivered while the party was gone. The letter was addressed to Arik. It went something like this... Dear Arik, You don't know me, but I know something about you. Namely, that you killed my brother who was a member of the black company of thieves. Even though we had our differences, I feel obligated to pay you back for your bloodthirstiness. At the end of this letter is an arcane mark which will explode momentarily. Adieu. Then it exploded doing 12d6 damage. In my game, death doesn't come until negative hit points beyond one's level. Arik was 7th level and the explosion brought him to exactly -7 hit points. A single point of damage more would have killed him [I don't worry about massive damage or death saves once unconscious]. While he did have a resurrection amulet to spare him if the damage had gone over, it was still pretty cool.
- The only thing left was to speak the incantation before the great seal containing the Eye of Providence. Sam did so. It opened. Below was a dark stairway, it smelled damp along with plant life. They went anyway, finding themselves in a jungle at night, violet aurora-borealis in the unfamiliar sky. As they wandered out, they heard the seal close behind them. They were trapped in this strange land, at least for the time being. Above, they heard the screech of undead pterodactyloids swooping down. That's it. The end.
Yes, a satisfying conclusion. I'm sorry to see the campaign end but also glad it could be resolved in a timely manner. Now, I can focus more of my energies on the book, my family, some home improvement projects, etc.
Thanks for reading!