We finished our campaign. I think it went rather well. The guys were put into a Kobayashi Maru. There was no win button on the final scenario. A portion of Kusseth still burned, innocents still died, and they tried to kill a cop. Nakmander escaped as well, despite the blade in his face. The final fight was just a mish mash of sorcery in the air, Derf trying to kill a cop, and everyone else trying to kill Nakmander or stop a ritual that was pulling stars from the sky and crashing them down on a city. I mean, we can't even say it was a win in that no one died, Kethranmeer fell in battle trying to stop the ritual.
In the end it came down to magic. I used Quicken Spell almost every round to get off two spells a round with Nakmander, and after the modification to the level, I was casting a lot of 7th, 8th, and 9th level spells during combat. One spell misfired, Nakmander's final spell, and it was the one that took him out. He was about to level a Finger of Death at either D'alton or Gonigi, I wasn't sure which one though, and instead, the spell misfired and destroyed the life sustaining qualities of air in the area, knocking most of the combatants unconscious. Kethranmeer would have been immune to it, but he had already died. D'alton stepped forward, at the urging of others, and coup de graced Nakmander to death. It didn't quite take, because Nakmander had Stoneskin on and Contingency: Greater Teleport on as well.
Now, maybe that is a cheap shot. But the purpose of Contingency is to cover your ass. You put Contingency: Stoneskin on if you know you might be getting into a fight. You put Contingency: Greater Teleport on if you know it might get hairy enough that you might not be able to extricate yourself from hostilities safely. Nakmander was a boss, and a very competent individual in a variety of fields, I thought it made sense that he would have Contingency in place and also come out to play with some gadgets. No one seemed to be bothered by Nakmander's exit or the use of Contingency, so I think we're ok.
Everyone seemed to really enjoy the fight, there was no real chance for them to sit around and dilly dally for fifteen minutes like they sometimes do. Kethranmeer stepped forward and Nakmander did as well, and the fight started. Kethranmeer and his hammer were a thorn in Nakmander's side, he continually attacked the sorcerers, only stepping away from them long enough to save D'alton's life with his "magic" hammer. Almost every spell Nakmander fired targeted Kethranmeer, and my beloved NPC with several thousand words of back story that he never got a chance to talk about, was reduced to a melted and twisted wreckage of a Soulless. He survived a Disintegrate spell, multiple bolts of black Lightning Bolt (not D'alton's shadow lightning, the real stuff) and purple Fireballs. In the end, it was a Cone of Cold that dropped him down far below his ability to stay standing.
After he fell, I read off the description I had prepared for such an event, and went to the bathroom. I'm not going to lie, I didn't have to pee, I needed to mourn. My first post on the blog was like May of 2009, it is now about a year and eight months later. I was very fond of Kethranmeer, I did not have a bunch of ideas I wanted to try out after he died, he was the idea I wanted to try out, the character I wanted to discover. When he fell in battle, the guys said nothing, which kind of twisted a knife in my heart, as if they said: Ok. Is it my turn yet? I even had Nakmander roar at them, asking if this was a high enough price to pay for the people of Kusseth and their safety. They did what amounted to a shrug in response to Nakmander's words. Later, Jeremy said that he was stunned and believed they had all been in shock, they'd never dealt with a death in the party. Whatever happened, I played Kethranmeer and Nakmander true to their natures and didn't hold back out of fondness for the warrior of steel flesh and mind.
Eric had noticed that Kethranmeer had been in rougher shape lately and had interpreted this as some inability to repair himself. Kethranmeer was a better electrician/Soulless repair man than Xein is an alchemist, just FYI. Heh. Perhaps the other guys noticed as well, but they didn't really vocalize it. I eventually told Eric that he isn't broken, that would be stupid and unbelievable. Somehow, after 140 years of fixing himself up he suddenly forgot how. No, I told Eric he was replacing pieces of himself with inferior parts. I hope that after reading the Rankethlek 101, it has become clear where Kethranmeer's wolf-iron parts went.
So, Eric got it in his head that we should surprise the guys with something for the Christmas season. Jesus does love him some DnD, after all. Anyway, this surprise is ultimately what got Eric into Warmachine I think. Eric thought it would be awesome if we purchased and painted miniatures for everyone in the group, we ended up purchasing and painting Warmachine models for the players. I was originally kind of reluctantly dragged along, I only painted two minis and they were the easier ones, no customization really. Fred didn't have experience with miniatures to my knowledge, and I don't know John that well so I didn't know what he would think of them. Anyway, we gave them to the guys as a surprise before we started the final session and it was a winner of an idea. They loved them. Eric even went so far as to paint the character's name on the mini box and cut up a steampunk picture into pieces that he placed within the cases of the minis as a background. The effect was amazing. Everyone loved them. Fred just could not stop touching Derf and picking him up and peering at the detail. John said that he would have happily paid money for a service like this, and I think Jeremy really likes having a representation of D'alton and his Shadow. It went really really fucking well, and I recognize now that it was a brilliant idea. Eric put a lot of time and effort into finding the right minis for the guys, and his painting style is so much more involved than my own. It turned out super well and everyone owes Eric a big pat on the back for spearheading this.
At the end of the scenario, I asked what the guys plan to do for the next year or so. John immediately said that John starts a gun shop. Which is great, because it means he thought about it. Everyone actually had plans for what kind of trouble their characters get into. Xein is planning on becoming a land owner and philanthropist, in addition to making an entertainment industry based spy network. Which is what bards do...so yeah, might want to be careful, lest The Robust Five (More Or Less) get embroiled in a turf war or something.
D'alton is haunted by the death of his friend Kethranmeer, he is crippled with guilt by his inability to aid his friend in battle. He plans to devote the next few years to aiding the Rankethlek and becoming a more savvy combatant, which involves a class change from Rogue to Fighter, I believe he will be continuing with the Shadowdancer progression though. Fred and I have discussed Derf's plans, and they will prove to be interesting I think.
Now, the meat of it. We know the guys headed back to Kusseth City to search for A'lst and the mansion to ensure it didn't burn down in their absence. Is Hell free? Is Kusseth broken? The ritual was designed to specifically drop meteors on Kusseth City to break the city's government and make the country so unstable that Hell (which was also pretty unstable) could finally be freed. The ritual was interrupted by the players, weakening the targeting in the first place, and then Derf stepped in and took control of the ritual and directed the meteor strike to the northwest of Kusseth City.
Now, a disaster of this magnitude hitting anywhere populated in the country could disrupt things. Without the reavers and with all of Nakmander's surgical strikes to remove officials and reavers unwilling to leave, Kusseth had only the barest of grips on the city at this time. Hell is free. Nakmander has his free city-state where sorcery can be practiced freely and can be explored as much as he wants. Unfortunately, Kusseth is still strong. The lumber industry is certainly impinged upon (the Abraxen Reforestation Project is a bit to the northwest of Kusseth City, thousands have perished in the flames and destruction wrought upon the northwest portion of Shanty Town. So yeah, the day cost Kusseth a bit, but it isn't broken. Commander Kothos is going to suffer beneath the mountains of Whurent, he won't be getting reinforcements and building materials and supplies as steadily. If they desire it, the Vyanth can probably make life brutally unpleasant on the convict warriors and soldiers of Camp Osfell for the same reasons. If the Fell Humans desire it, they could push the boundaries of Kusseth and try to expand their own. More likely, a few enclaves of Fell Humans might decide to do some raiding. Perhaps because they believe a group of five Kussethians invaded one of their enclaves, beat up and killed a bunch of their kids, and then broke their magic island (the Fell Humans believe that everything in the Fell Peaks is theirs, including the ruins of the ancient Glenwighta empire and the Glenwighta themselves). If these pissed-off-because-their-kids-are-dead enclaves of Fell Humans do attack, I assure you, they will act in a militaristic fashion. Heh.
So what does all that mean? Kusseth is still strong, but it could take a beating and lose the recently gained ground beneath Whurent and perhaps to some bolder and angrier enclaves of the Fell Peaks, and they might lose their camp within the territory of Vyanthnem. Hell is free, and gets renamed Meroteth in about five seconds, but Kusseth is going to do its level best to retake the place before Nakmander can consolidate power. This is going to put Nakmander on the defensive, and make him desperate, he and his city are strong, but one city cannot hold off the mightiest nation in The Known World. Not without having an ace up their sleeve, heh. Meroteth will be free I think, but it might take a decade or more for Kusseth to give up the dream of retaking it, assuming the city can survive that decade. It is conceivable that Fell Humans may attempt to take it from Nakmander to restore it to its rightful place as the jewel of the Fell Peaks, which is something Nakmander will want to prevent. Perhaps the Vyanth will take an interest in the city as well, it is quite fortified and they would be quite at home within the black, sorcery infused walls of the place.
So, the final scenario, it was made of win. Kethranmeer died and I was sad. The minis rocked. The Known World is altered, folks died and some borders might fluctuate, but Kusseth is still strong. Hell is freed and its original name has been restored, but Nakmander has a long and bloody road ahead of him.
Questions? Concerns? Thoughts?
A Final Side Note: Finally nailed down the date of this campaign's true creation, as in the earliest time I started writing things down for it. It took quite an effort, I had to dig through some old Dell receipts in my Yahoo! email account to date my laptop and how old it is, then find when the first files were transferred over to it, that was back in 2007. The earliest dates I can find on my laptop for this campaign are from June 2008. So there, it is three years and seven months old. I did the math there correctly, didn't I? The first emails I sent out to people regarding the campaign and actually playing it were in early 2009, so it looks like the campaign began on June 7th. We played Eric's campaign in like March or something and had two trials for 4th Edition before that, but my notes indicate June 7th of 2009 was the first session of Hekinoe. All of that is useless info, but it is nice to have a date finally.