Twenty-Eighth Session (13 page pdf) – “Madness in Riddleport” – The PCs confront Elias Tammerhawk and his evil ritual in an epic battle atop the Riddleport Light. But that’s nothing compared to the secrets they uncover after they are sucked into the spirit world! Will Riddleport, and our Reavers, survive? Find out in the grand finale of the first season of Reavers on the Seas of Fate!
Go read the summary first, there’s surprises a-plenty, and you don’t want to find them out from my behind the scenes commentary here.
No really, read the summary first.
Back? OK! I mashed up a bunch of stuff for this finale. The boss fight itself combines the Green Ronin classic Madness in Freeport, where it’s a serpent man posing as the Sea Lord in the lighthouse conducting a Cthulhuoid ritual to drive everyone in Freeport crazy, with the first chapter of Paizo’s Second Darkness Adventure Path, where it’s a drow using the Cyphergate to bring down a meteor and cause an incidental tsunami. “Which one should I use?” is a question only suckers ask. A hardcore GM says, “Both, bitch, and here’s a third thing too!”
In this case, my third thing was the PCs’ jaunt into the spirit world. Whatever you want to call it – shadow Riddleport, the ghostlands, the spirit realm – it’s what has been tying together the shadows and voodoo stuff going on in the campaign. And in terms of good places to go into the shadowlands, Riddleport is one of those places with a lot of restless souls per capita. In fact, the PCs sent a lot of them there.
It was inspired by two things. In Denizens of Freeport, there is an NPC, a crazy elven vampire named Lord Bonewrack, who reigns over a shadow Freeport. Tammerhawk just being dead is lame, but being the vampiric overlord of an alternate Riddleport is cool. And then also the Miyazaki movie Spirited Away inspired some of the visuals and experiences in the city. (My daughter wanted the tasty food stand from the movie to be in the adventure; she was disappointed that Wogan resisted its lure and thus didn’t get attacked by the “fire-barfing piggies.” Those who have seen the movie know about the food stand and the pigs, but she added in the “fire-barfing” part to kick it up a notch. A girl after her father’s heart.)
The shadow Riddleport scene served several important purposes. Sure, it gave them some valuable intel on Tammerhawk. But it was also an opportunity to reinforce important story elements, especially past successes and failures and how past choices and experience have shaped the PCs’ lives.
They talked about going into the Gold Goblin’s basement but thought better of it when they remembered that was where the fighting pit was. Which was good thinking, because just going down there and seeing the ghostly horror resulting from that would have been a 1d4 Wis loss!
Then they got to meet the “real” Elias Tammerhawk. I’m glad they didn’t attack him, that could have been messy. Facing the dead assassin Jesswin (who was technically a “blast shadow,” a new Pathfinder monster) was lively – Tommy had to spend an Infamy Point to not die under her flaming claws. (A lot of Infamy Points got spent – Wogan used one to knock the serpent head out of the column of light, for example.)
And then bang, right back into the fight! I liked the “You’re in the middle of a huge combat and… Now you’re somewhere weird. NOW YOU’RE BACK GO!” The time dilation of the spirit world meant I didn’t need to worry about their buffs expiring or whatnot.
Here’s a funny game table moment – when Thorgrim shattered the glass of the lighthouse letting the storm in, Wogan did proclaim the power of Gozreh was unleashed.
Paul, thinking this was a result of some actual game mechanic effect, asked Patrick “Oh, cool, what power do you get as a cleric of Gozreh when you’re in a storm?”
Patrick replied, “I get wet.”
The revelation of both the fake Tammerhawk and Samaritha worked out well. Serpent (well, his player) suspected it, but the rest of the guys didn’t. They did catch on really quick that she wasn’t in cahoots with Tammerhawk though. She fled in shame, Hatshepsut couldn’t bring herself to attack a serpent person, Zincher bailed out to “go get reinforcements”, and Thorgrim was convinced that the man he thought he was supposed to be protecting was really an impersonating monster freak! Sindawe and Wogan managed to rejoin it idol and the seven glyphs worth of charge in the Cyphergate shot out in a bolt of energy (in my mind, somewhat resembling the gravity-lens superweapons from the anime Super Atragon, if anyone has seen that) boiling the ocean as it streaked to the south.
It wasn’t mandated that Tammerhawk get away – I actually thought they might pursue him down and do a chase across the Cyphergate, but then it turned out no one had any spider climb or feather fall or anything to do that. I was a little surprised; Tommy is always buying spider climb potions but I reckon he was out. And then their gendarme friend Salvadora showed up.
Interestingly enough it was Sindawe who chased down Samaritha to talk to her – sure, he’s twice as fast as Serpent, but it didn’t seem to even occur to Serpent. We’ll see how it goes with him – she can run off, stay with the party, or do anything in between based on how things develop.
Tammerhawk’s escape was a little bit of a letdown to the PCs, but the expected denouement didn’t happen – instead, a tsunami came! Paul (Serpent) and Patrick (Wogan) knew what it means when the tide goes out like that, but Serpent made a poor Knowledge:Nature check and figured it was normal. Poor portly Wogan just about didn’t make it to the top of the lighthouse. I actually thought they’d flee into the city instead, but they reckoned the lighthouse was far up enough on the bluff that it’d make it through.
So in the end of the first “season” of Reavers, they’ve succeeded but at a high cost – both personal (friends lost) and practical (Riddleport is in a very post-Katrina state at the moment).
And that’s the end of my first big plot arc. Based on what’s happened and what the PCs intend to do next will determine where I go with it. Piracy on the high seas, with Razor Coast and maybe Sunken Empires? Off to the Mwangi coast and head into the Serpent’s Skull AP? Do more around Riddleport and use Freeport and Second Darkness adventures? We’ll see, but I know what I’m doing next time – our next game day is on Halloween, so be prepared for a Very Special Episode ™ of Reavers on the Seas of Fate!