Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Saga of Majenko Part 10: Down With The Queen

Today we have the final installment of the whirlwind adventure that is The Saga of Majenko (or Curse of The Crimson Throne to give it the name on the cover of the adventure path). From dingy dock wards to undead castles, to fighting dragons in the streets, to slaying devils in the throne room, our party has gone above and beyond the call of duty in protecting their city, and trying to bring down the thing Queen Ileosa has become.

Before we get started, though, make sure you're caught up on all the previous installments.

Part One: Finding The Main Character of "Curse of The Crimson Throne"
Part Two: How Much Damage Could One Pseudodragon Do?
Part Three: Scourge of The Red Mantis
Part Four: Blood Pig Champion
Part Five: Brother to The Shoanti
Part Six: The Assault on Castle Scarwall
Part Seven: The Return to Korvosa
Part Eight: Re-Taking Korvosa
Part Nine: The Assault on Castle Korvosa
Part Ten: Down With The Queen

There, all caught up? Beautiful! Because now it's time for the grand finale!

Down in The Dungeon

We realized after fighting the infernal thing living in the Ileosa's bedchamber, that the queen herself was not in the castle. She had, in fact, left quite some time ago. With the Bloat Mage's notes, and the testimony of his spirit, we confirmed that the erstwhile ruler of the city had fled to a half-sunken temple for a purpose we couldn't guess. We were all confident that it was nothing good, though.

Before we left, however, we had one last promise to fulfill. So we walk in through the front doors of the now de-populated Castle Korvosa, and take the stairs down to the dungeon below. Our party, which doesn't even have a token human in it at this point, takes in the grim, brooding atmosphere, and the claustrophobic vaults. We also completely avoid a high-level trap whose trigger is that the room is filled with light, which was unnecessary between the dwarf, the aasimar, the two tieflings, and the pseudodragon. So, we explore, and eventually find the body that had been unceremoniously walled-up.

Like ya do...
We bring the bones back to the attic room, and the ghost of the tiefling merges with the gypsy in our harrow deck, and allows each of us to draw a card from a Harrow Deck of Many Things, with the special allowance that we could re-draw one card each. So, we all decide to draw. The dwarf gains a level, loses a level, and then gains a small team of followers in Blood Pig jerseys. Majenko gains the ability to automatically confirm a critical hit, though the same ability works against him. One of Egil's enemies has a change of heart and becomes his ally, though with the sheer number of arrested NPCs the DM never got around to choosing one. The paladin becomes immune to sonic damage. Cards chosen, we receive a blessing from the ghosts, and set off southward toward the final confrontation.

One Long Series of Unfortunate Events

We travel southward, following the map we were given. We make our way down rivers, and through swamps, until we find an ancient pyramid, half-sunken into a lake. Unfortunately, there's no bridge to that lake, and no guarantee that there isn't something awful lurking beneath the waters.

Something more awful than me, I mean.
So, we take stock of our options. We quickly realize, through burning a powerful scroll, that we can't simply phase through the stone. Apparently it is protected by ancient magics, and our modern-day shortcuts aren't going to hack it. Deciding that we are not doing another underwater combat in murky liquid we can barely see through, the cleric wind walks us all across the water, and through the vents leading into the upper floor. Everything's quiet, at least until the dwarf touches a stone, and gets sucked into it. That's when the paladin has to turn corporeal again, and start smashing away with his adamantine hammer until we crack the dwarf out of his soul prison.

Which, of course, means the level's guards are well aware of our presence. Which is why we have yet another pack of Erinyes trying to turn us into pincushions. The fight is frustrating, but we've taken down enough of these particular devils by now to know what we should expect. We emerge triumphant, for the most part, and only down a few, minor resources. We also find a massive pool filled with blood, and a dead body floating in it. It looks almost like Ileosa, but clearly isn't. This is around the time we all get a bad feeling regarding the blood samples that were being taken from the citizens of Korvosa before the revolution got rolling.

We come across a shaft, and Majenko stealthily slips up to take a look. What he finds is...

The Final Encounter

At the top of the shaft, waiting for us, is Queen Ileosa. Floating regally above the ground, she's admiring a floating ball of blood. The ball is, of course, constantly shifting and pulsing, with faces and even buildings pressing against the surface before receding. Even the highly-experienced magic users have no clue what it's for, but we have an inkling that we don't want to find out.

So we roll initiative.

Which may have been our first mistake.
The first thing that comes our way is a trio of powerful wraiths. No worries, since a charge from the staff of Necromancy makes them hold still for the paladin to walk by and dust. They get a few nasty slices in, but we emerge triumphant. Before we've dealt with them, though, a line of Ileosa clones appears, and they all start singing. Which is when the wand of silence starts getting plenty of use, since there's no Will save allowed if the spell affects an area and not a person. Ileosa flies higher, and Egil locks her behind a wall of force. Which she then dimension doors herself past.

Despite the chaos of the battle, it's soon down to just us, and just her. And that is where things started to get tough. Not hard, not deadly, but tough.

You see, the queen had plenty of time to buff herself, thanks to our less-than-quiet entrance. Given the level she's at, and the horror that lives inside her skull, she's got a lot of tricks. She's flying, she has freedom of movement (as we found out), her AC is buffed to a mirror shine, and she's throwing down magic like there's no tomorrow. Very little of her magic, though, actually does damage. Most of it's just a debuff, or an obstacle, meant to hamper us for a time. She even managed to get control of the dwarf for a bit, but a smoke screen rendered him ineffective as a threat to the party.

The problem we're having is that we're actually fighting to a standstill. None of the aid the cleric is summoning hits hard enough to get through the queen's defenses, and even the paladin wielding the relic sword is only hitting once a turn or so. Spell resistance, and various deafening effects, have eaten away most of Egil's spells, and even the great and powerful Majenko is little use against her. In a battle that lasted three, full sessions, we accomplished an ignoble goal that I doubt most gamers have ever sought.

Both sides started running out of magic.

The Conclusion

The party retreats with the intention of regrouping. Which is when a line of barbarian frogmen come out of the flooded depths, and we enjoy a brief round of wiping them off the map like a greasy stain. Ileosa follows, but now she's under the effects of greater invisibility. She still can't seem to do us any real damage, but she's getting down to magic items and bard tricks.

Well, shit, we've tried everything else...
That's when the cleric pulls another friend out of her bag. She summons a creature who, while it can't penetrate the queen's defenses, does have invisibility purge as a constant aura. So, at least we can see her again. The paladin lays into her, and the rest of the party is rallying to make one, final strike. Unfortunately for us, though, her contingency spell goes off, and she vanishes. She is nowhere near the pyramid, and there's no way to tell where she went.

Not My Problem

The vanishing act Ileosa pulled seems like the worst sort of adventuring blue balls, particularly after such a knock-down, drag-out slog. However, the personalities of this particular party, and their definition of victory conditions, rendered expectations quite skewed. The ritual was stopped, for example. The citizenry was saved, and we lost no companions in the final fight. Not only that, but as far as we can tell, Ileosa fled from Varisia in its entirety, off to who knows where.

Out of my jurisdiction, that's what matters.
Egil, and by extension Majenko, have done their jobs as well as they can. With the city of Korvosa in ruins, and rebuilding taking place, that is where their duty lies. Balen has no real investment, now that the queen is overthrown, but would be just as comfortable returning to a life of drug use broken up by occasional bouts of Blood Pig. The cleric and paladin both feel that Ileosa should be pursued, in time, but as for the time being they hold a major relic of the church in their hands, and they want to know what the best use of it is. So, singed but triumphant, the party returns to the dockyards and waterfronts, sinking into the hustle and bustle to decide what they're going to do with themselves, and to try and restore what parts of the broken city, nation, and world they can.

And that, my friends, is the end of the Saga of Majenko.

If you enjoyed this story, and would like to hear some others, then leave me a comment and let me know! If you'd like to help support Improved Initiative, then consider stopping by my Patreon page to become a patron. All I ask is $1 a month to help keep the content flowing. Lastly, if you want to make sure you don't miss any of my updates, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter as well.

1 comment:

  1. Ran out of magic. Wow. I wasn't even aware you could do that in high level.

    I was weirdly expecting Majenko to be made seneschal or to be appointed Viceroy. Or something. That was a wild adventure. Thanks for sharing.