Spires of Xin-Shalast 23
This was a short session, because the party levelled up part way through and the rest of the session was spent doing that until we designed to end things for the evening.
The session started at the beginning of round nine of the fight in the halls of the Pinnacle of Avarice.
Just out of sight of any of the characters was a second image of Karzoug, who had been waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Or rather, having expected the party to fall back, level up and then make a second assault on the place the previous week, I hadn’t planned what he was going to do last session, so was keeping him quiet until he was either seen or for a break to plan his actions. He opened up with one of the most deadly ninth level spells – Mage’s Disjunction.
I’ve used this before (a couple of times, actually) in my Epic level 3rd edition game, and it was expensive (by that point, it was costing characters several hundred thousand gp in lost equipment whenever it was cast on them), and very obviously not a spell players would want to use because it utterly destroys magical items they would want to loot. Pathfinder nerfs it somewhat, in that items are only suppressed for several minutes. This is enough to take them out of a fight, but there’s only a 5% chance of actually destroying them. This I think is a good change – it doesn’t completely ruin a character, and PCs will now find it useful to use themselves.
Karzoug couldn’t see where the party was directly, but with Grodok wearing a Sihedron Medallion, he could see them through that and this allowed him to target most of them reasonably accurately. Grodok lost all spells and most equipment (ironically, the Sihedron Medallion made it’s save, so Karzoug could still see the party), most of the summoned Zuishin were banished, and Serena was also hit and lost spells and equipment (including permanently losing a wand).
Esheiri spent a hero point to take an immediate action to move backwards out of range, and Solassar was already in cover around a corner.
I think some players were a bit upset with the use of this spell, something which wasn’t entirely unexpected, but there were reasons I wanted to use it. Firstly, it made sense. Karzoug had it, and it was the most effective spell to weaken the party when they were in the middle of a fight. Secondly, I wanted them to get some feel for what they were potentially up against, and what sort of attacks they could suffer further down the line. Thirdly, I wanted the second to happen when they had a chance to pull back if they needed to.
Following on from that, several more giants came thundering down the corridor (though they had difficulty being effective due to the ‘tight’ confines), and a Lamia priestess moved into sight with an Invisibility Purge cast on herself which suppressed Esheiri’s invisibility, and also threw a silenced stone into the middle of the party.
They decided that retreat was their best option at this point. With Grodok being the only party member in line of sight to the spell casters, a few spells are thrown at him, but they manage to haste and fly themselves again and escape. Their issue is Grodok’s lack of ability to breathe the very thin air outside, but the rules for surviving at altitude are incredibly generous, so in practice it wasn’t a problem.
I gave them all an intelligence check at this point, but with the highest roll being in single digits I didn’t remind them that Grodok was still wearing the Medallion, and so still being possibly tracked by Karzoug. They tried a dimension door as soon as they got outside, and after that failed they fled part-way down the mountain. Finding a suitable overhang, they cast Magnificent Mansion under it, and go inside to hide.
At this point I’m planning a suitable plan of attack. Karzoug knows where they are, and his minions have enough magic to both locate the entrance, and dispel it, spilling the party out onto the mountainside in their middle of their sleep to be ambushed.
As they’re discussing Karzoug’s ability to track them, I gave them a second and final intelligence check, and this time they noticed that Grodok was still wearing the Medallion. So off with the Medallion, casting some Mind Blanks, out of the Mansion, teleporting to another random location, creating a second Mansion and into that.
Solassar found a nice hidden spot for their Mansion, and with Karzoug no longer about to scry their location they were safe for the night. With a six-figure sum of experience stacked up, they were also able to level up for the last time in this campaign, reaching the dizzy heights of 17th level. There is some talk of finding different ways in (possibly a sensible thing to try), and considerable planning on how to defend against Karzoug’s spells.
It is now the 26th of Pharast, and getting close to the full Moon (the night of the 28th) when the Norns told them that Karzoug could possibly be ready to make this presence felt on the world. Exactly when he will rise I’m not entirely sure, but if I want to I have determined a random method which guarantees it will be before the 13th of the following month, with the chance increasing when certain events happen.