In the final epic fight of our first campaign, we had a just seen the end of a massive ice storm. The party bravely crossed the icy tundra to the rogue’s house and we teleconferenced the bard and cleric. The whole gang was on the line to take down the dastardly Blackspider. If only I knew what I was doing.
First off, I used Roll20 to have the battle map up for those present and online. I really should have used Roll20 more before DMing with it. The resource is amazing and really improved the quality of the fight for everyone. Because I was so bad at using it, I really slowed down the group, however. This, coupled with the fact that I had never done a mixed online and offline group leads to a lot of hand wringing for me.
Next, the party had been knocking bosses and monsters out of the park no problem, so I tried making the final fight a few degrees harder. I made a deadly level encounter and added a second deadly level encounter to occur right after without a break. I threw in several large story-driven ways to cut the battle short or put the odds in their favor. However, I don’t think I did a good job of hinting or foreshadowing these elements.
I had the Blackspider (who in this version of LMoP is an under dwarf) with a guard of four warrior under dwarves. Four giant spider mounts hid in the ceiling, ready to attack at the start of round two, or if anyone entered their side of the map. Lastly, I had a doppelganger posing as an elf assassin. During the fight, BS would be attempting to finish his spell and release a fire titan from his slumber. He would need a sacrifice (the dragon or the party’s wizard), a medium (the death stone or another magical item), and several rounds to complete the task.
Also, Gundren Rockseeker and the rest of the party members who were absent the last session showed up just in time for the boss fight. Gundren’s unconscious brother Nundren is tied up off to the side. Then, Venomfang the green dragon is shackled and muzzled in the back of the room.
Here’s the battle map at the end of the fight.
The party made short work of the mythic Blackspider. He made it two rounds (maybe) before taking a mace to the face. He was able to cast Darkness round one and hide the enemies. The wizard reacted by casting fireballs into the cloud of shadows. This nearly wiped the baddies from the get-go. However, after the second round, after the spiders descended, the party stopped being able to roll well.
Our esteemed fighter, Woody the skeleton, became pinned in a corner unable to hit the dwarves. Our bard started casting Crown of Madness until the spider he was casting on would die before moving to the next spider. The cleric, the wizard, and the rogue came into direct contact with the spiders. This drug the fight way down. Everything came to a crawl.
With the last of the enemies dead, the spell to release the fire god finished. Out of an orb suspended in the middle of the room erupted two old men fighting one another. One was the fire god Ignus and the other was a Domain Master (DM) who was working to keep the god contained. Here I expected the party to choose one of the gods to help and one to hurt. They perfectly split down the middle on what to do.
So they worked against one another. The eviler side of the party wanted to help the fire god. The gooder side of the party wanted to help the domain master god. So, both gods started fighting the party and each other. The dragon that was present didn’t know who to help (waiting for someone to direct him or harm him). Instead, the bard convinced the DM to go back to his home office, saying that Ignus has done his time. Then, the rogue peed on the fire god and convinced him that he was a new god and his manager.
This was nice because it set up the new campaign that I started writing. I mean, I made several different ways that this could have gone down. The players choose a path I never even consider. This is what happens when you Dungeon & Dragon. Figuring out what to do next is what I do as a Dungeon Master.
Anyway, during the boss fight, the doppelgangers changed places with Gundren’s brother. Posing as a friend, they ran behind the party and stole the Death Stone. Making their way, they escaped to a hidden hatch at the rear of the room. As the party cleaned up, the mountain lift and walked away. As it turns out, the Walking Goblin Castle from an earlier adventure was a prototype for this fortress. Checking on Nundren, they found him dead.
The party gave each other an “eh” shrug and decided to check out the rest of the dungeon. Here they cleared out a couple of easy monster rooms and raided a small vault. Afterward, they met with Lord Dark Doom as he landed an airship at the main entrance of the dungeon. They relayed what happened and started off for Dundertree to celebrate.
In Dundertree they met Woody’s skeletal family. They started throwing a party. Then, there was a rumble. The ground shook and heaved. Then Dark Doom asked whether or not they had contained the rest of Ignus’ power (which happened to be lakes of lava flowing through the dungeon). All of where Echo Cave and the city of Dundertree began to collapse into the earth. The team made a run for Dark Doom’s airship but Woody’s family fell behind. The fighter had to make a tough choice and dove into the underground to save them. Then the ground closed around where they had been and he was gone.
Woody’s player had asked me to let him change characters. This gave the character a good out and sets up a later Underdark campaign (spoiler for any players reading this) I have thought about. The party reacted a little more grieved than I thought they would for the big guy. I felt a little bad about this. It’s alright, he isn’t gone forever.
So, this wrapped up my first campaign. I made mistakes. I lost track of a few storylines. However, I feel a lot more confident about the next one. I’ll be writing the next storyline. It’ll get outside of the LMoP area. I have started doing some world building to hopefully make the world fill out some more. Keep reading for our next adventure!