I thought others might appreciate the situation my group found themselves in at the end of Chapter 6.
Note that this post is loaded with spoilers.
First a lengthy background: I had an easy time introducing Kaurophon to my party, to exactly the right level of trust/distrust, because I worked his intro in a pretty specialized way. They waded through the first two parts of the Test of the Smoking Eye with ease, but things got a little dicey when Vorkaire (the black dragon) showed up. The party ended up running away, and made it to the base of the skull alive, but a little worse for the wear.
After chatting with Saureya (sp), the angel out front and learning there was a rakshasa and a fire giant in front of them, the sorcerer and fighter refused to go ahead until they could stop and rest. Despite my attempting to convey a sense of urgency, they refused to budge. So, of course, they split the party and sent the rogue ahead to scout.
Okay, so... the party is supposed to catch up with the rakshasa and giant as they're resting... which they did. But the ultra stealthy rogue just watched and waited. Eventually, I had to have them them move on and trigger the clay golum fight, which the rogue also just sat and watched... so, that triggered the lich fight... which the rogue /also/ watched from the shadows. I had the giant beat the golum, but had the lich kill him and had the rakshasa teleport away. The rogue didn't see exactly what happened, he just knew the giant got killed and the rakshasa was gone.
The party decided to forge ahead at that point figuring that the rakshasa and fire giant had simply failed the last portion of the test, and they they might be able to mop up whatever it was before it had a chance to regroup.
Turns out they ran headlong into the lich without realizing what they were up against, and decided to try and bulldoze through it's room when they saw their "Lantern of Guidance" was pointing to the opposite door. I decided the lich was only trying to protect it's interest in the "Nexus of Evil," (big bad artifact in that particular room) so when it realized the party was simply "moving past" it was going to be willing to let them move past... but of course, the paladin didn't know that and tried to "hold it off." Alas, he fell victim to a "Slay Living" spell and died (marking only the second death in my campaign). In the end, the party made it out of the lich's chamber and into the eye socket, where I decided the lich would not pursue them... at least for now (it having other interests).
The important part is that the party had reached the final part of the test almost completely drained of resources - including Kaurophon. Now, he already knew the object of the final test (at least, in my world he did), but the previous battles had him drained to the point where he knew he simply couldn't take the remaining characters in combat. So, he decided to talk them into it.
After over-analyzing the proctor's instructions for the final test, he has them convinced that self-sacrifice might be the correct solution to the test - but that he wasn't willing to try it himself. So, he proposed a solution: after describing himself as a man of means, he promised to pay for the resurrection of the fallen paladin, as well as that of any one person willing to leap into the burning plasma to test the "self-sacrifice" solution.
So, the fighter decides to take him up on the offer. He took off all of his armor and equipment, wrote a note to the cleric that said "Sell my gear and give the profits plus the ressurection money to the children" (he's become the unofficial guardian of Cauldron's orphanage) and leapt into the fire.
That's the cliffhanger I ended my game on the other night.
Now, here's my conundrum - what happens now?
Kaurophon believes that the fighter's act will grant him (Kaurophon) the Smoking Eye, because he knows that self-sacrifice is not the correct answer, and he's willingly allowing someone to die due to his withholding the truth. It's an evil act, basically murder, because he also has no intention of paying for anyone's resurrection (another lie he's told).
Unfortunately, what no one (Kaurophon included) knows is there's a twist to the test: self sacrifice is not technically the answer, but the Gods themselves are prepared to intervene one-time-only and protect a single good creature who sacrifices himself, so that he would be granted the template and potentially restore part of Occipitus to the light.
So - who gets the Smoking Eye? I'm going to give it to the fighter, who (after a brief, but private, conversation with his God (or an agent thereof) in the afterlife) will magically re-appear alive, unharmed, and with the Smoking Eye. Kaurophon will be dumbfounded, lacking the Smoking Eye, and still unprepared to forcefully throw someone in. At this point, he'll either leap into the flames himself (now assuming that that actually is the correct answer), or the party (most notably the fighter who knows he'd die) will have to stop him from doing so and have him make good on his offer to resurrect the paladin first.
It'll be really interesting to see what happens next, but I think I'm going to have to get a side-quest together for a couple of reasons. First, the party didn't defeat the dragon outside the skull, they didn't fight the rakshasa or fire giant, they didn't fight the golum, and they didn't defeat the lich... so, they're lacking on XP in a big way (they're just shy of 10th level at this point). Second, they going to need to go on some sort of quest to get their paladin back.
It's a very interesting situation, and not one I could have predicted. Comments? Suggestions?
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Sounds like an interesting senerio.
Have you thought about another possibility...make them BOTH recieve the Smoking Eye! Kourophan (sp?) had effectively murdered the paladin so fufilled the requirements but the fighter was awarded his life and the smoking eye to stop the demon from claiming the plane and therefore dooming Adimarchus in the process.
This would make for a tremendous rivalry between the two and allow you to motivate the players in seeking to thwart his future plans.
Kauraphan (sp?) could immediately attempt to use the Eye's Powers to attack the party, such as controlling one of the phlasms, until the fighter 'returns' and causes the demon to teleport away in horror/shock etc.
You could even then have the demon join the Cagewrights.
Hope this helps
I would simply award the fighter the template. Kaurophon is out of luck, not knowing that self-sacrifice overrules his 'offer'. Seeing that the fighter is rewarded, he might consider doing the same and jmp into the flames - exit Kaurophon ... That is definitely how I would handle it.
On the other hand there is the question of the paladin. Since he died in the Abyss, his soul might be trapped there, forcing the other PCs to free him. Maybe you could have the fighter's god pass this knowledge to him when he sacrifices himself.
Dungeon # 84 holds a nice adventure called 'The Harrowing', which has the PCs delve into the Demonweb. You could use the maps and replace the monsters with demons (or fallen angels) of the appropriate level. You could have the paladin's soul being tormented in the central Ritual Chamber.
I'd thought about giving them both the smoking eye, but I think it's better for the story to only give it to the fighter... at least at this point in time.
I like Delve's suggestion to use K as a recurring villain (with the template, fighting the party for control of Occipitus), and it works well with some of the story modifications I've made. I had a lengthy post at the RPGenius before the forums went away, but the gist is that my whole campaign revolves around Fetor, who's actively aware of Adamarchus's situation, and is subtly manipulating the Cagewrights to free him. Kaurophon is actually an associate of Fetor's, but has double crossed him in attempting to take Occipitus for himself. If things work out, and if Kaurophon survives, he could become another great recurring villain.
I also really like MrVergee's suggestion that the party should have to quest for the soul of their fallen Paladin. One of the remaining party members is his cohort (and sister, the group's bard), so I think it's a task they'll be okay with undertaking. I'm even thinking of having Kaurophon go with them, possibly to look for the opportunity to kill the Smoking-Eye bearing fighter.
I see that "The Harrowing" was written by Monte Cook, so I'm excited to take a look at it.
When I read your post, I immediately thought, they should both get awarded the template. Makes perfect sense to me.
Kaurophon would certainly start to attack and if he is killed on Occipitus that's it for him. Even Adimarchus wouldn't survive that. IIRC there's still a black dragon out there, who could prevent K. from getting away. A dead K. wouldn't have the template anymore ,;-)
I think I've decided where to go from here. After reading though "The Harrowing," I love the plot, but the adventure itself isn't quite what I'm looking for. But, the notion of using the Demon Web Pits intrigued me, so I think I'm going to run my players through an abridged version of "Expedition to the Demon Web Pits," with the story totally rewritten to look more like "The Harrowing."
I'm planning to play up Graz'zt's involvement as the architect of a plot to overthrow Lolth and to substitute Rule-Of-Three with Athux (Graz'zt's other son, the one that was responsible for Adimarchus' downfall). My hope is to use this side-trek to allow the players more insight into what actually happened to Adimarchus, which is something that's almost impossible to learn otherwise.
I am, however, still left with resolving the Calphalon situation (seriously, can anyone pronounce this guy's name?). I'm now leaning more towards granting both the fighter and K the Smoking Eye template, but not returning the fighter right away. In this version, K would immediately inherit the template, scream something like "fooled you!" and attack the remaining players. Lacking both of their meat shields, he probably feels like he could take them, even down as many spells as he currently is. I think that might be a good fight - after all, the party's alive-and-well cleric is carrying a greatsword version of Alakast and could totally ruin his day with it.
If you're planning on giving Kaurophon the template as well, I would seriously consider making him a recurring villain. Give him an 'out' of the situation now, so you can reintroduce him later. In this case I would even go with Delvedeep's suggestion and make him an ally of the Cagewright or a new Cagewright himself.