Sixteenth Session (14 page pdf) – “The Cypher Lodge” – Looks like the phantoms have taken over the Cypher Lodge, and the PCs have to throw down with Thorgrim and some old friends.
Yep, this was a big finale boss fight. It was built in three parts. (you may want to check out Thorgrim’s character sheet).
First, they (the three PCs and Pirro, an ex-slave and one of their crew) fought a bunch of phantoms and Valgrim down in the sand-floored fighting ring he has under the Cypher Lodge. He cast a mess of spells that were really sweet – shifting sands, hungry pit, etc. Sindawe surprised me with his ruthless innovation – Salvadora was chained over a rafter, so he leapt up and crushed her hand with a vicious blow – shattering the bones, but also immediately causing her to fall to her semi-freedom! She’s a no-nonsense half-orc so she holds no grudge whatsoever about that.
Second, once Thorgrim figures they’re a legit threat, he goes gaseous form and guards and wards kicks in and also everyone gets teleported around the Cypher Lodge – and phantom impostors get seeded into the mix.This was loosely adapted, believe it or not, from a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode where Discord causes all the ponies to turn on each other. My daughter said “you should put this into your next game!” I was looking for something interesting and interstitial to happen – in Madness in Riddleport, they had part one of a fight, then an excursion to the shadow realm, and then the second part and this session was deliberately mirroring that one (shadowy mirrored reflections being a major trope in the game). And it creates a more interesting dramatic structure than “long ass fight to the death in a single location.” So I figured, “Sure!”
The funniest part was how Serpent told Pirro “I’m out of healing!” and then proceeded to heal himself. He’s just an NPC, what does he know?
He heals Pirro to consciousness, then announces, “Pirro, I have no more healing for you.” He turns and heals himself with the last charges from the wand. Then he guzzles some healing potions. Then notices his Lesser Restoration potions at the bottom of his pack, and exclaims, “Oh hey!” He drinks those too. A large tear rolls down Pirro’s cheek.
That’s exactly how it happened; everyone was in stitches. Paul (Serpent) was just like, “What?” Although second funniest moment was Wogan running invisibly from an impostor Samaritha just to run into another Hatshepsut and Samaritha. Everyone enjoyed the portly cleric trying to sneak around to avoid all the potentially killer women.
Third was the big fight with Thorgrim. Thorgrim is bad ass. He is a Fighter 4/ Wizard 5/Eldritch Knight 5. He has a pair of magical axes that he throws along with a Sliding Axe Throw feat that lets him trip with them – like a machine gun. He was getting six thrown axe attacks a round. Despite there being three PCs, three PC-level NPCs, and one goon NPC, they were all unconscious or prone when Serpent had Samaritha case erase to get the rune off his forehead.
I like when the cinematic thing happens! They could have killed Thorgrim just through damage – in fact, he was down to like 21 hp or something; he might have gotten another attack routine in (certainly killing someone!) but he wasn’t unbeatable through sheer fight. He had, however, seen what was going on when Chmetugo the shadow demon was taking control of him/seducing him via the extraplanar connection of his glyph fragment, and cast hidden knowledge – a spell that conceals information you know even from yourself, but you can release it later. In this case he had encased more than a simple piece of information, more of a concept – his Ulfen-ness. He comes to his senses and cries out, “I am Thorgrim, son of Halgrim, the Bloody, the berserker! We do not bend our knees to spirits! Demon, show yourself!” Thorgrim has a complicated backstory, he was an Ulfen (Viking) warrior back in the day and got turned to stone by a gorgon for 200 years and was rescued by the Cypher Lodge – he swore fealty to protect them and also learned magic there. But, in a bit of a Howardian theme, his primal, savage origin is stronger than his subsequent civilization and enchantment. (He’s actually originally from Green Ronin’s Freeport, and I expanded on him.) Anyway, I allowed for several end states; they just about did the “fight to the end” one but Serpent put it together and went for the cool story ending instead!
And then they all leveled! I’m doing XP by fiat in this campaign, and it’s been a long time since 5th (there’s just so much fun to do in the low/mid levels) so they were psyched. Level 6 is where you become independently dangerous in Pathfinder, so it’s a benchmark level.