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O.k, so for all of those that have not read / played Book 5 of Wrath of the Righteous I highly recommend you stop reading, as this experience largely deals with this. This threads primary purpose is to chronicle a recent epic encounter, and for players from various adventure paths to chronicle those rather epic encounters that you cherish for a long time. And so, our story begins...
Ellena: Oath of Vengeance Paladin 7, Mystery Cultist of Arshea 10, Champion 8
Louise: Arcane Bloodline Sorcerer 17 Archmage 8
Fazij: Rogue 2, Vivisectionist 13, Trickster 4
Atticus: Cleric 10, Hell Knight Signifier 7, Hierophant / Guardian 8
Timeor: Cavalier 17, Marshal 8
Riqueza: Gulch Gunner Gunslinger 17, Trickster/ Champion 8
Jekkajak: Ancestor Oracle 15, Hierophant 4
Salvatore: Cleric 14, Inheritor’s Crusader 1, Hierophant / Guardian 6
Fazij and Jekkajak are lagging behind the party somewhat as they are mythic cohorts supporting Atticus and Riqueza, respectively, while Salvatore is the personal representative of Iomedae, sent to assist the main party in rescuing the Herald, and closing the Worldwound. Due to these facts, these three characters are a little behind in levels compared with the other 5 PCs.
[Bit of Background]
The heroes of the first Crusade were weary, having battled through the prison, but knew the end was in sight. They had freed the Runelord Lich Alderpash from his cell (after he agreed to redemption) and broke into the vaults to obtain the Heart of the Herald, a ball of twine, a medium sized Glaive, and, interestingly enough, a small twisted heart that confused the party greatly. While confidence was high, none of the PCs were quite at full strength, having unfortunately been forced to dig into their mythic reserves to handle the Baphomet golem guarding these treasures.
Anyway, the PCs finally enter the final room, and encounter the Herald. After several (pretty terrible) puns related to “Hands”, or “Heart”, initiative was rolled, and things got down to business.
Reacting impossibly fast, Ellena speeds across the battlefield, unleashing a Smite Evil, and then full attacking, dealing non-lethal damage as the Herald rocks back on its heels, down to just over half its health, but still up and raring to go. Furious, the Herald retaliates with a quickened Flame Strike, which the Mystery Cultist manages to nimbly avoid in no small part due to her impressive saves and her ring of evasion. Angered, the Herald lashes out with both glaives but again, Ellena quickly sidesteps the assault, avoiding all damage. Encouraged, Timeor, riding his amazing dinosaur Kenzen, charges and utterly cripples the Herald, who is fast realising the fight he has on his hands. Not to be outdone, Louise triggers a quickened true strike, followed by a Dimensional Anchor, the sorceress ensuring that the Herald is going nowhere fast. Meanwhile, Atticus spends his turn buffing the party with Mythic Prayerand Quickened Mythic Blessing of Fervor. While Fazij delays, unsure of whether or not his master wants him to harm the former herald of Iomedae.
At this point, the party is relatively relaxed. The Herald is very nearly unconscious, and as far as most of us are concerned, all that remains is for us to shove in the heart, and fire up some Atonements. Unfortunately, our GM has other ideas…
Suddenly, a mythic Marilith by the name of Ylleshka flashes onto the battlefield. Screaming in anger that we dared disturb the Herald, she unleashes 14 attacks onto poor Ellena. The attractive Paladin managed to dodge two of them, but the rest rip into her, with 4 critical threats, but only 2 of which confirm, largely thanks to a clutch Force of Will from Louise. Ellena has half a second to cry out before a slashing wall of steel all but cleaves her in two, while across the battlefield Atticus cries out in unison, having triggered his Shield Other on Ellena, both party members sharing the agony of the assault. Atticus nearly falls into unconsciousness (8 Hp), while Ellena barely managed to cling onto consciousness (around 28 HP if memory serves), her damage reduction holding the darkness at bay.
While Ylleshka gloats in exaltation Salvatore acts, triggering his Inspired Spell ability, and the eyes of Atticus flicker open as the damage taken as part of his noble sacrifice are healed. Quickly assessing the situation, Atticus instantly activates his Sacred Bond ability with Ellena, who gasps in relief as those critical wounds which were previously so life threatening are also fully healed.
The group breathes a sigh of relief as the crushing assault from Ylleshka has largely been nullified thanks to the twin Heals being unleashed by the two primary divine casters. On the other hand, most of didn’t expect such a surprise assault, and no-one thinks it going to be a walk in the park yet.
Moving for the second time in the round, the Herald acts again, setting up a Blade Barrier to separate Ellena from the rest of the group, before lashing out again against her, but again, Ellena nimbly dodges each and every blow, much to the Heralds frustration. Having waited on the sidelines for long enough, the lich Alderpash decides to step in, and drops Time Stop, throwing down a Crushing Hand and Clenched Fist, grappling Ylleshka and causing the Herald to stagger slightly, temporarily stunned. However, just as things are going so well, a Noble Drow by the name of Svendack appears, and strikes Timeor with a Crushing Hand, but the Cavalier quickly uses Force of Will to force a reroll, and manages to avoid being hit by it.
Riqueza, seeing the new antagonist, turns invisible, draws her weapon, and tumbles through the Blade Barrier, before opening up from close range against the poor Drow. Svendack has time for about half a second of regret before she pretty much explodes after Riqueza confirms two critical hits and tactfully points out that she “should have ducked”. Feeling as if the tide has now turned, Timeor charges up to the Herald- wincing as worms bite into his flesh - and slams the heart back into the Herald, which lets out a shuddering groan. Reacting quickly, Ellena fires off Atonement, blasting the Herald with divine energy, before perhaps remembering the crippling assault from Ylleshka the turn before, turning and unleashing a Smite Evil, dealing some good damage to the demon. With Riqueza preparing to finish her off, and the various other party members preparing to hit the Herald with more atonement spells, the battle looks well and truly over. That is, until Titus enters the battlefield…
For any readers that are unaware, Titus was the previous character of the Paladin / Mystery Cultist player, who was discontinued after the Crane Wing nerf unduly crippled the character. So, his sister (Ellena) joined the party while Titus mysteriously vanished to be never heard of again. Despite demonic hints, the failure of divination spells meant that no-one had any idea what happened to him, although we had strong hints that the ex Monk / Paladin / Champion of Irori had turned turncloak and fallen into the darkness. So, when we were told that the statblock of Titus had been handed over to a buddy (who was not playing in the campaign) infamous for creating unkillable monstrosities, some of us became a little anxious. Our knowledge checks told us nothing about the abilities of Titus, save for that fact he was obviously evil and wanted us dead, so we were uncertain as to how to handle this.
And so, Titus appears which triggers expressions of shock and betrayal, which Titus pays little heed to as he flies over and flurries Alderpash, who is killed an instant later in a flurry of blows. Louise goes into damage control, summoning 5 Celestial Rocs, which all fail to scratch the abyssal herald. Meanwhile, Ylleshka had not been idle, slipping out of the grapple and desperately tries to finish what she started, by striking out at Ellena, but this time the brunette is ready and waiting, and manages to successfully avoid all attacks as Ylleshka curses her luck. Seeing Ellena in peril, Fazij – with the aid of Atticus, shifts into the form of a Rat King, while the ratfolk gunslinger feels a surge of pride at the transformation of her friend. Fazij steps forward, and with his 5 (6 with Blessing of Fervor!) bite attacks, plus sneak attack, shreds what is left of the marilith. While Fazij attacks, Salvatore calls upon Iomedae for aid and nails the Herald with a second atonement, which – thanks in part to his previous attempts, cured him of his corruption. As the Herald poofs back to heaven, our GM kindly informs us that Baphomet is very much pissed and will show up in one round. The party rapidly confers and agrees to fight it out to attempt to redeem Titus, while defeating Baphomet if (or when) he shows up, hoping to exploit that fact that since his last defeat at the hands of Nocticula, a second defeat will mean the end of the demon lord forever. In addition to this, many party members had In Character reasons for wanting Baphomet gone forever, so we agreed to stay together, and go out in a blaze of glory.
Currently, the PCs would like nothing more than to regroup, perhaps throw down a couple of heal spells, some buffs, and kick back as they wait for the demon lord to appear, but Titus wants none of that. Showing that he too, is just as agile as his sister, he tumbles past the mountain of Rocs practically swamping him and unleashes a flurry against his sister, dealing large amounts of damage. As Ellena gasps for breath, Riqueza pops up and pumps three shots into the chest of Titus, but he otherwise weathers the assault. Seeking to bring an end to this, Timeor charges atop his mighty steed and…misses almost everything, with one final lance strike deflected by a surprise tentacle sprouting from the chest of Titus. With Timeor unable to land a blow, its left to the paladin, tears streaming down her face as she resigns herself to sending her brother into Pharasma’s cold embrace. After a Faith’s Reach Heal from Jekkajak brings her back up to comfortable hp, she smites her target, and unleashes 5, furious strikes…and Titus deflects every single attack with a mass of tentacles.
As of now, the party is stunned that this creature deflected an attack roll of roughly 70 with apparent ease, and there is a minor panic attack as the group wonders how on earth we can take down something with massive saves and a high unbeatable AC. Thankfully the GM has pity on us all and informs us that it is effectively a personal shield that’s costing him mythic power to deflect attacks, as well as the pre nerf Crane Wing in order to handle our attacks.
Desperate, Louise sends in her air support, the army of Rocs fly in, with one managing to land a lucky hit which is promptly deflected. Titus flies in close and attempts to flurry Timeor, but the previous attacks are taking their toll on Titus, and Timeor is barely able to avoid the strikes. The chamber starts to shake as Baphomet beings to materialize and the mood turns to pure desperation yet again, as Baphomet is mere seconds away, and no-one really wants to fight both Titus, a fully powered Demon Lord, and whatever further allies he can bring. In a last ditch effort, Fazij swoops in, and lashes out with five attacks. Titus blocks the first 4, tentacles swarming, but the last attack scores a natural 20, and try as he might, Titus just cannot deflect this one. The critical remains unconfirmed, but with the sneak attack damage, and a desperation surge, the damage is barely enough to take down Titus as Baphomet finally makes his appearance in the init order. With the last action before Baphomet arrived, Titus was Plane Shifted to Axis in the hopes Irori would see to undoing his corruption.
With this session approaching the 5 hour mark, players and GM alike are struggling to keep focused, in addition, the group is running low on both mythic power and other resources. With so much blown on Titus just to keep him down, the group is running out of options and Baphomet believes he has the entire group right where he wants them, and prepares to enact vengeance. The tension is obvious as one player quips that we could really use Nocticula’s help right about now, while another draws a sombrero around Baphomet’s head on the map as we start considering options.
Things immediately go wrong as the invisibility is immediately cancelled from around Riqueza. Baphomet appears right next to Atticus, and slices him in half (dramatization, his body was in good enough shape to be Raised), Aizerghaul ripping the life out of him in a single stroke, as Riqueza’s reflexive shot is also casually deflected. Louise rolls spellcraft and realises that the entire room has been fitted with an invisibility purge tied to an unhallow effect, and Riqueza realises she has next to no chance at even hitting Baphomet. Baphomet throws up a Prismatic Wall to split up the party, as the rest of us stare in horror at the broken body of Atticus. Still not done, the Lord of the Minotaurs blasts the party with a negative energy breath weapon, which Ellena, Riqueza and Fazij narrowly avoid entirely, thanks to their innate defensive abilities.
Fighting off despair, Louise is the first person to rally, as she unleashes powerful magic of her own. A Mages Disjunction ripples through the battlefield, taking down the Prismatic Wall, as well as the unhallow / invisibility purge effect. With the party under the protection of Aroden’s Spellbane, they are left untouched by its effects as Louise follows up with a Time Stop, quickly resummoning her allies that were affected by the Disjunction, bringing forth 4 Lillends and 4 Celestial Roc’s, which are sadly unable to scratch Baphomet. Determined to avenge his fallen master, Fazij attempts to sneak into the space of the Demon Lord, as he provokes an AoO from Baphomet that…scores a natural 20, with a following natural 20 on the confirmation roll. As the party cries out again Fazij calmly Mirror Dodges the attack, before unleashing all 6 of his attacks which….again fail to even touch Baphomet.
Despite the party making some gains, (mostly Louise stripping away some buffs from Baphomet, as well as the Invisibility Purge / Prismatic Wall), with one healer down, and two main damage threats unable to touch the Demon Lord, things are looking grim, with limited options remaining. No player is relishing the fact that Baphomet will get a second attack soon, and will very likely delete someone else from the map, but on the other hand, no-one has many ideas on how to stop him. A TPK looks increasingly more likely.
Not one to give up, and full of rage towards Baphomet corrupting her brother, Ellena enlarged herself, and then smote the evil creature, unleashing all her hatred at her adversary, finally managing to score a succession of hits…but the damage was sadly lacking from the part time paladin. Baphomet casually shrugging off an attack from a Paladin was disheartening to say the least, but it was the cavalier Timeor, riding on his trusty steed that would turn out to trigger the fightback, the entire turning point of the encounter. Bellowing a challenge, (and giving everyone +5 to hit his target) and dressed resplendently in his typical Sauron-esque outfit, Timeor triggered his tactician ability, granting the entire party Outflank and Lastwall Phalanx before activating Coordinated Barrage, granting Ellena, Riqueza, and Fazji another assault. This time, all three of them struck true with the various buffs starting to stack up, and Baphomet began to look slightly worse for wear. Growing in confidence, Riqueza decided to target the glaive, and scored a natural 20 on her close range shot, causing the Horned Demon to curse loudly, dropping his weapon. Attempting to hammer home the advantage, Riqueza fires off another shot from close range and…scores a natural 20. The critical hit fails to confirm, but a well-timed Force of Will rerolled the confirmation roll, and finally succeeded in confirming the strike. The table erupted in cheers, before Timeor reminded us that thanks to Outflank, Fazij got an AoO against Baphomet. Fazij rolled it….and scored a natural 20! The confirmation role went through and again, Riqueza and now Ellena gain a free AoO against the target. Riqueza’s attack went through, but this time it was Ellena with the natural 20, and the confirmation roll that went with it. In turn, this provoked yet another AoO, and again, it was Riqueza who scored a natural 20 yet again, again confirming the critical. With the entire table in hysterics (GM included), and Baphomet having suffering 5 natural 20s in a row (4 of them criticals), the ruler of the labyrinth was well and truly cut to pieces, blown to bits, and generally battered into oblivion. Immediately after, a Relentless Healing Heal from Jekkajak brings Atticus back to life, just in time to celebrate victory.
Many thanks to the GM for this making this session one to remember and cherish, and for informing everyone that teamwork (feats) > all.