for the beginnning, i'd highly recommend N1 against the cult of the reptile god...a slight deux ex machina touch towards the end, but i love how challenging that one proved to be. a mid level one, the tomb of the lizard king had some nice ideas, though i didn't play it straight through.
the u1-u3 level one to three trilogy was good, though your party will be tired of lizard men and sahuagin by the end of that one...so it's a good read, but you'll probably want to pass.
the slavers and the classic gdq series are always good, but borderline 'old hat' they dovetail nicely though, and you can play them back to back and make a pretty efficient mid to high level campaign out of them. again...because of the 'theme' elements, the giants part can get a bit tedious.
if you really want to throw the party, look at some 2e stuff, but mix n match...tinker with and put some planescape modules in the prime material, bring some dark sun elements into your main campaign world. players with some variety in their past will get a simultaneous freak out and nostalgia as they try to work with the changes. having said that, a few of the ravenloft modules are pretty good too (night of the walking dead, a very low level one proves to be a serious challenge for a party of less than third level)
just my two coppers worth
I have been under the impression that the d20 OGL was independent of WotC, but i'm seeing some indications that some of the companies, notably the dungeon crawl classics by goodman games and Troll Lord Games, that they are having to discontinue their d20 lines (and in the case of Troll Lord, it distinctly appears that this is not a voluntary decision.) have i been under a misconception and the d20 license is being revoked?
Is this something that was forcing the construction of the Pathfinder RPG? I really get the feeling i'm missing something here.
Maybe i'm not gonna win any points with some of us... i am a big fan of 3.5, i was a huge fan of AD&D v.1, kind of 'eh' on 2 and 2.5 i've read the rules on 4, i've given it a bit of a shakedown, and i'm not as upset with it as i thought i would be from the feedback.
Does it feel different? yes. no less so than the way 3.5 feels from 1. some of the changes streamline things, some of them don't. The main thing i have a problem with is something that a lot of folks tensed up over, and that's the campaign 'points of light' approach. now to tell the truth, my own campaigns have always had a bit of a points of light approach. i happen to like that point of view. but greyhawk and forgotten realms and eberron were all fine where they were, they didn't need to be altered. in point of fact, in the 4 DMG there is a statement in campaign construction that admits that 'non points of light' points of view are just as valid
balance? yes. i've heard that some feel this level of balance was like trying to make it flow like a video game, where the classes are different but have similar to identical effects in overall play. surprisingly, i don't have any problem with that, and at its core, it simplifies things a lot. multiclassing seems less viable than it used to be, i kind of liked the 'jack of all trades, master of none' compromise that multiclassers in 3.5 faced...but that's a small loss in the face of things.
the 'races in harmony' is good for the campaign setting overall, but as they say in the DMG, even that can be variable if the campaign and DM feels it is called for. Given the isolation of the points of light concept, i think we have room for the campaign base area to be tolerant, but a lot of the nearby regions to have very different points of view.
battles do tend to run a bit long, but if everyone approaches it right, it does flow. higher level battles tend to deal with similar complexity, so to my test experiences so far, they don't tend to get that much longer.
am i happy with all the changes? heck no. i kind of liked the symmetrical outer planes, and this new cosmology is going to take some adjusting to, a few of the rewritten monsters are making me pause, and some of the ones that 'made the cut' weren't ones i'd have chosen. but that's individual tastes.
is it going to be a long term success? don't know. but it's not as bad as the detractors are tending to be. Am i happy with the withdrawl of wotc support for 3.5 and the 3.5 point of view. no. but the books are still here on my shelf, a stack of them that comes up to my waist when they're stacked laying flat on top of each other. them going out of print bothers me. but those who want to play them still have them and can find them.
I'm willing to give it a fair try before closing the books and setting them down. but i've been playing d and d for a long time now (started playing the month Dragon #37 came out).....this is my last version i think. version 5 i think can go without me.
We all know there have been some wonderful books from the earlier editions, we all know many of us are hoping to stick with OGL or 3.5, many of us are going gangbusters with Pathfinder, and many of us are blending what we like from each to our own game....
As a DM, i use multiple works to build my adventures, including several pdfs from first and second edition.
Any projections on how long we'll have to wait until the print runs and rights issues are settled on the 3.5 books and they become available in pdf format? i know it's gonna be a while, just wondering if anyone else is mulling the idea over yet....
I'm slated to convert the remainder of my dragon and dungeon subscriptions into pathrinder, for three issues. I signed up for month to month with pathfinder, paying for nine months, to bring it up to a fiull year. however, when i review my 'issues left' in pathfinder, it indicates four issues, not twelve. did i do something wrong?
I'm very upset about this announcement, but I, the game, and apparently, both companies will go on. I do feel that WotC is making a big mistake on several fronts here, ignoring their fan base without web access for one thing ( maybe not a huge perdcentage of the base, but still a part of the gaming community regardless), and it will also limit player's access in some ways to the joy of 'stumbling' onto things that they would not have looked for otherwise. I also have found, in the past, that WotC's web page support has not been as good as paizo's, to my own experience, so the thought of them trying to pick up the reins of what dragon and dungeon magazines to to be....at least somewhat risky.
I think Pathfinder willb e a wonderful magazine that i plan on staying with, andi would like to see a continued venutre for non AP adventures too, if that becomes viable.
long term gamer, not giving up. but not thrilled with the current state.
the game has been going okay, i hadn't put in entries until i was sure that things were progressing.
The remaining characters reunited, and were met by Kharuu, an individual they had known briefly, long enough to know they dont' like him or trust him. Kharuu is a worshipper of the dark beast of Mehari religion, a source of demons and devils alike, a foul creature that seeks only destruction. Kharuu sought out the pcs because he had learned that another worshipper of this deity is seeking out an artifact that can be used to hasten, if not initiate, an apocalyptic event.
The party has an average level of 6, so an actual apocalyptic type battle is beyond their scope, but trying to prevent it before the fact is within their scope. Kharuu wants their aid because he has no desire to see the end of the world, or at least the local world, any time soon, and he does not trust himself not to be subverted or tempted by the device.
The players researched the information and were able to determine that, even if they can't normally trust this person, and maybe shouldnt' trust him totally, that he is being upfront at this point, as far as the information has been given.
Kharuu has some means to track this other person, but exactly what this means is, he won't, or can't explain to the pcs.
The PCs have started out, trying to catch up to this individual. The artifact in question, the Obsidian Veil, is something with limited, if any, applications other than those serving the dark beast. It is being kept in a mythic location called the Vault of the Blue Hydra, a place that has always had some mystic guardians, and is a storehouse of items of great power, according to legend. However, the legends they have been able to access have only been through mystic research, there are no documents about the Vault, and its location is totally unknown. They have found a lillendi who was defending herself against a squad of neogi and an umber hulk, who explained that she too is seeking the Vault for a different item, something she calls The Deva's Secret. She states that her sister was killed over simply seeking knowledge of the location of this item. Auguries had told her that she would encounter individuals seeking the vault for other reasons if she waited there, and was attacked while waiting for the party. The party has eagerly allowed her to join, knowing her for a Good aligned Outsider and not against their own goals. (Side note: only those with knowledge of the planes know about lilendi, so her presence would attract a lot of attention from any civilized locations. also, the neogi are not native to Shukar, nor are they known, so their presence was a total confusion to the player characters, if not the players.)
While camping to regain spells and the like, agents of the other dark beast's worshipper attacked, and while they were repulsed, it further delayed the heroes. The lillendi has clear knowledge of the location of the Vault and can lead the party on a more direct route to it than the other worshipper had been following, but it's clearly a race now to the Vault and its secrets....this was the break point for the last session, which was just before the holidays, we will be resuming tomorrow night as the party continues trying to race the other villain to the Vault, defend against Kharuu inside their own party, and uncover the mysteries of the items, their allies, and the location. (all this from a randomly generated plot, not bad, imho)
slaadi, modron, gehreleth, yugoloth and hordling all can be accomodated in this, as well as any residents of acheron and pandemonium that warrant being dragged into it (i know the slaadi and modron are 'neutral' but they really are sufficiently alien that they are hard for 'normals' to deal with (as well as the formorians, imho)
maybe it's just me, but having read almost all of both books, i think that the two are going to be very effective, complimenting each other. there is a slightly different approach in each, but neither approach to city construction, or their advice on the urban environment as a gaming environment is at direct odds with one another. One can use both at the same time to build the cities and adventures therein, and the overall flow of play.
i have to say that i know for sure i'll be using the two of them in a combined way to design my cities from here on in, even though i disagree with some points in both books, and occasionally using them in ongoing play. They both stress (and i have known more than a few dms overlook more than very rudimentary design beyond mapmaking in their cities, sad to say)
I have a tendency to lean towards a WotC product (even though a few of them, i have to admit, aren't as good as their 'same topic competitors' ) but speaking on this particular one....i have to stay right in the middle and say i am probably going to end up using these two as companion pieces.
City Works finally came in, and i'm reading it when i'm at work (lunch breaks), and so far, i'm noticing a slight different tone. City Works is geared to help players as well as DM's, while Cityscape is definitely more a matter for DMs to use and then share parts with the players as events and DM fiat warrants.
i'm still early in the book, but for the most part, i am enjoying it, and it looks to me like the two books are going to end up being ones i will use as companion pieces in building my cities. I always try to keep the cities in my campaign each a bit distinct, even if that distinct different flavor may not be immediately apparent to players just looking for a place to 'cash in' their dungeon loot.
i'm close to the others, i'd say optimum range is four to six players. The adventure paths are published saying they're geared for four pcs, but experience and opinion seems to bear out that they are, if played straight as written, better suited for six pcs (and when converted to the hardcover, the shackled city campaign changed their recommended number of players to six).
Having said that, i think that four is totally workable, but a DM has to be ready to 'play it easy' and give the players the benefit of the dice roll a few times (i make all my die rolls where the players can't see them so that if i fudge, i do it in their favor, but they can't see it, so the fun isn't lost.)
Of course, players with a good plan can wipe out some encounters you were certain were gonna be a near TPK, so you won't have to do that as often as you may think.
Just my opinion, for what its worth
back in the saddle, so to speak. I haven't posted while the first few sessions went by. we are three sessions into the 'restart' and the game is flowing smoothly. For a 'behind the scenes' look at the restart, i'm going to go into how the 'restart' adventure came to be. During the hiatus, i had picked up a few more books (now own 49 rulebooks, including a few non WotC ones, but i'm trying to be picky as to which ones stay 'in the stack' one of the books i picked up during the interim was one of the Gary Gygax series from Troll games, specifically, "Insidiae" by Dan Cross, edited by Gygax. Some may have mixed feelings bout Mr. G, but i will recommend this book. it's not an easy read, but it's a very powerful one, and you can use it to tighten module construction, and there are means present to randomly build a plot. now everyone who knows d and d, especially in its current incarnation, knows that anything randomly determined still needs fleshing out. But i picked a simple basic structure, one main plot, not trying to generate any subplots, and i used the charts to build a series of encounters and plot structure to make a complete module. Now this doesn't bring up monster lists or something like that, but builds the personalities and motivations of all npcs involved in the storyline (obviously, one can browse this book and use it without randomization, but this was a test).
I built the outline, the npcs motivations the encounters, and ended up with an adventure of ten base encounters, some of them combat, some non-combat, some that may be negotiated out of combat status (though i don't expect them to be). In a moment's perversity, rather than randomly roll the numbers of each, decided on 5 major npcs, 5 minor ones, and 5 monster types, and populated the various encounters accordingly. Now, keeping with the theme of randomization, i actually improvised a few charts of the various core classes i currently use in my campaign, and assigned character classes to the npc's. i picked a few monsters of appropriate CR for the party (okay, a few are a bit high, but the way this adventure was looking to shape, there was going to be recovery time between several of the enconters.) one of the NPCs rolled up randomly was 'enemy as ally' and i realized that here was an opportunity to use this adventure to help build a bridge between the 'pre break' campaign and the 'restart' campaign. And so, Kharuu, the enigmatic, not hostile but clearly evil mage that the party had travelled with approaches them as they reunite, and offers them the story hook.
We lost the paladin, he was not able to adjust to the new campaign schedule, so we are now down to five player characters, Borak the orc (two regular classes and a prestige class, all from an 'orc focused' web page), Umbra the human rogue (about to shoot for Slayer of Domiel prestige class, from the book of exalted deeds), Bellergal the human mage, Arima the selkie barbarian/fey mage who is seeking to try to do two prestige classes (the man wants to give me ulcers, i swear it) both of which are nonstandard, and kenzie the nymph rogue who is just about to earn off her nymph levels (variant savage species rules) and hopes to go to shadowdancer prestige class once she qualifies.
I'll put in another entry later this week dealing with more of the specifics of what's been played these three sessions.
(I highly recommend insidiae, IF you're willing to put in the effort to flesh out a plot after you roll it)
okay, finished it. i will say it's a good source for ideas and samples. but if you're looking for charts to randomly determine a city's layout and construction, you may want to look elsewhere. the random charts in here are fine. i personally will be using this book, but you still have to do a lot of the work yourself
got cityscape, still waiting on the other, about halfway through cityscape. I'm enjoying it so far. like most of the environment guides, there are a lot of suggestions for springboards, and so far, not as many 'hard rules'. it does refer back to other books for places where ideas may overlap (the DMG, Races of the Wild, and Races of Stone, i recall off hand) So far, it's a very enjoyable read, and a very nice guideline. It's also got a few example cities at the start if you need to pull one off the fly. It does address different 'types' of cities, how cities can and should have at least to some extent their own flavor, something that i do think a lot of DM's let slide, every town very close to interchangable, let alone the cities. As is often the case with WotC books, new feats and spells show up, some of which, even on a casual read, i love.
It's not a 'pick this up and don't use your brain' book, but D and D never was that kind of game, and is less so now than before. I will give an overall review when i finish it, and go into the other book when it shows up, hopefully very soon.
the real blurb, quoted from the back of the module:
The Corinthian city of Nahab has suffered greatly under the continued feuding of its noble families in the last decade. Waging small estate wars between themselves to establish control over trade routes and resource-laden foothills of the Karpash Mountains, the peasant-titled "Noble's War" has left many homes, fields, and villages in ruin, and the city's ruling classes on the dangerous path of self-destruction. Nahab has swelled into the home of pampered nobles, growing fat off the trade and mining that takes place along the Karpash Mountain Way. Despite this, the city never grew in the way like Shadizar and Tarantia, remaining relatively small and manageable by the families that now controlled it.
But Nahab has just suffered a major loss and someone plans to use the sorrow and grief to punish the nobles for the years of unnecessary torment. The unexpeted and gruesome death of Father Tericos Heretio has plunged the entire city's peasant population into a state of grieving and distrust, with even some of the noble homes lowering their penants in his honor. This show of respect is not enough for some, who wish to punish the noble families for all of their combined crimes.
A dark and sinister terror has been unleashed upon the folk of Nahab, striking innocent and guilty alike. It hunts, stalks, and kills, creating a bloodbath in which fear and loathing will grip the hearts of Nahab's citizens. The city cires out for salvation. '
Just got this module, and it looks great. may make it part of my campaign, depends on the tweaks it needs to fit. However, the module has a different description on its back and interior than the sales blurb here on the paizo page. The module on the paizo page sounds good, too, clearly Hyborean in nature. Does anyone know anything about the module that they describe, what name it has, if it was released, etc?
i actually have just ordered both cityscape and city works, Lillith, i plan on putting a comment or two on this posting, and i'll be more than happy to do a side by side comparison on the two as i work through them in adjacent reads (Lillith, feel free to message me at email@example.com if you want to go over any of it, or any of the other weirdness i've posted hither and yon over the last age or two.) *smiles*
not a problem, and one i can relate to. It took me almost three months into this new job to be able to get the campaign started again. if you opt to change your mind, just let me know, the invitation will stand.
good luck, and may you make all your saving throws, and may the players when you dm never come up with an alternate plan that stumps you for more than five minutes *s*
You had expressed an interest in sitting in on a Fantasty Grounds gaming session or two (this was a little while back). My group has been on hiatus for a while, but is expected to resume play next week, with our first session on the first sunday night in November.
You are more than welcome to sit in on at least one of these sessions if you wish, and we can discuss the program's functions as the game advances, if you'd like.
I am giving you the advanced heads up because I am using a fairly good sized SRD ruleset that takes a while to load. Thereby, we can arrange a 'meeting' in my FG so you can load the token and rulesets that I use.
Let me know here, and I'll post a followup with my email so we can coordinate that. (and please nobody else get silly with my email when/if i post it, i have enough spam already without you guys signing me up for crochet groups and the like---*g*)
well, my handwriting and artistic ability are horrible, so my hand drawn maps are usually only marginally legible to anyone but me.
I am, as is known here, a major advocate of Campaign Cartographer in its many forms. If i need a 'handdrawn' map, i find myself using these programs to create a hand drawn looking map that still looks better than anything i could have drawn.
just my opinion, though. i have nothing against hand drawn maps. i just want them legible. which means i can't draw them myself
education: some colledge, never graduated
other interests: Writing, reading, continuing to learn (never did find out a way to become a professional student, darnit).
well, the consensus kind of matches my overall feelings. no big guns, but dont' baby them. make them use what they've got. limit the treasure until they're more 'caught up'
i definitely didn't see this as warranting a divine intervention, but more a case of making them work off their 'karmic bonus'....
of course, one of the fun things, and one i'm actually looking forward to....is when they try to find the people who sold these items to them before.....*grins* oooh...new subplot for mid levels...
My campaign has been on hiatus for a while, and is about to resume, though not completely unscathed.
I had done two things that in hindsight i know were flawed DM rulings, and they complicated each other. I let the party have more magic items than would normally be appropriate for their level (5 at the time) and i let them pretty much find whatever magic items they wanted from the DMG as long as they had the 'in book' money for it (they were in one of the three largest cities for thousands of miles, i reasoned first that if the items were available commercially, this would be one of the places for it, with a delay factor based on the gp value.
So the party is now equipped with considerably more than i would normally have considered appropriate. I did not think it appropriate to just take the items back, so instead i began with the assumption that the party so equipped can start facing tougher challenges, upping their effective Party level. We also were dealing with a higher than '4 pc' party, the theoretical standard espoused in the rules standard for determining appropriate challenges. a six player group, so equipped, i felt, could be treated effectively as at least a seventh level party. The average party level had hit six at the time of the break, and one of the party is not going to be returning at the resumption of the game.
So, five overequpped sixth level characters...i think i'm not out of line in treating them as an effective eighth level party. Any feedback? Or am i just rambling again?
strangely enough, the shift of the circular stairways to counterclockwise is to increase the historical accuracy of the castle. Turret staircases were built with counterclockwise staircases as a standard on the assumption that in case of combat on the staircases, the odds were strong that the attackers would be coming up the stairs while the defenders backing up. with counterclockwise stairs, the attackers would therefore have their right hand swing hindered by the walls while the defenders would be able to swing their right arms to full effect. a left handed individual would endure the reverse effect, but when one considers that only about ten per cent of the populace is left handed, odds favored this being a tactical advantage, however small.
that's true, too. most city maps don't go much beyond the city walls, and most of those don't show the 'outbuildings', the growth outside the city walls. some have logical reasons for nothing to be there, some don't. In my current campaign, there are three primary cities inside the campaign area. One of them is situated on an island in a narrow rivers, so most of this outgrowth is actually a bit away from the city...shantytowns as it were a bit upriver and downriver, but actually outside the scope of the normal city map becuase the rich folk's estates are closer to the city itself, and the narrows where the city was formed has steep slopes (the story behind the selection of that site for the city is interesting, but hasn't been put down on paper yet) one of the others has grown outside of its original walls twice now, and currently has almost as many buildings scattered in an arc around the city as are inside the city, more spread out....of course, that's what happened before, and if a new wall surrounds this outgrowth...the space considerations will begin to press in until it's as packed as the part of the city it currently surrounds
generally, one would expect there to be more intense crowding inside city walls than one sometimes sees. There will be the occasional park or plaza, and the richer people will have progressively larger 'space' inside their estate walls. But usually the interior space of a city will be compact.
In my campaigns, the general trend is for there to be very little if any 'open' area inside city walls, and what there is, is usually maintained by considerable effort and/or wealth
As I understood it from reading the reader's guidelines, the main point is that the maps be clear and legible. They did say something about black and white, so when i get my submission ready, i'm going to send copies in both color schemes. but as long as it's easy to read and for them to rebuild as appropriate....i think it would be ok
my biggest world altering event that doesn't reflect direct player character actions is actually the culmination of a series of subthreads from my current and last three campaigns that will all come to a head between this campaign (still going on) and the next one.
At the end of the campaign before this one, a war between the Mehari Empire (the PC's standard home base in my campaign) and Hasham Lahn, a neighboring country that is a long standing rival of the Empire was ended suddenly with some unusual process that very few of the world's population knows much about.
All that is known for certain by most of the population is that neither side won entirely, that there is now a 'no man's land' region between the two countries that neither side lays claim to (A lawless land where criminals often hide, a frontier in a settled land), and a city near this land is now an independant land. Creatures from the Planes have been showing up over much of the land without necessarily being summoned, indicating that whatever the process was, it left the barriers between planes weakened.
The generals of the Mehari Empire chafe at this 'draw' and blame the rulers of the Empire (which is a theocracy). They are in the process of researching and gaining a power base as they scheme, and in the five to ten year gap between the end of the current campaign and the start of the next, they will strike.
The Empire will be fragmented, the Emperor's family dead or in hiding, the military ruling things and keeping the church from the power it had until recently. Paladins are not allowed to serve in the military, and all of the countries near the Empire look at the fragmented nation and think of expansion.
Into this a new group of heroes rise from humble beginnings....
what i'm annoyed about is that a certain actor declined being cast as Harry Dresden because if the series was to be purchased, he didn't want to commit to living in toronto during the filming schedule. and...James Marsters would have made such an excellent Harry. We already know he looks good in a duster. Here's hoping....
this week's session was something of a non-event, the party mainly spending time in-town between adventures, setting a tenative adventuring schedule when they resume adventuring and wrapping up some loose ends regarding training and the like. Further complicated by DM illness, little was accomplished. Hopefully next week can pick up more.
In this letter, the writer made some interesting observations, but in my opinion, he perhaps didn't make is case as well as he may have liked. He cited White Plume Mountain as one of his favorite modules of all time and the poem/clueset that helped the players in his campaign sort it out as they went through, first coming to understand the relevance and then trying to apply interpretation to the remaining portions of the poem to prepare for what lay ahead. He cited that such hints and foreknowledge can help the players keep focused on an adventure.
Then he stated that he felt that very few if any of the adventures in Dungeon magazine have featured such. Maybe i'm looking at things a bit differently, but I seem to recall that there has usually been some way of gaining advance insight into the flow of a module in adventures published in the magazine more often than not. perhaps information easy to misinterpret, but information is generally available. And if it isn't, a DM can easily structure such information to give to the pcs when integrating the adventure into the current campaign. I've yet to encounter a module that i can plug into my campaign without some tweaking, this being just part of it. That is, no doubt, at least to some extent, a reflection on my DM style and on the fact that my campaign is a homebrew world and everything has to be examined before inclusion.
I did want to take a moment to comment, however, on White Plume Mountain, also, not meaning to put down anyone's opinion who has enjoyed this module. I have great respect for White Plume Mountain and its place in D and D history, but I did not care for the module itself, nor do I agree with the letter writer, Mister Royal, in his statement that the weapons were 'not usable.' The weapons are a bit specialized and may not readily fit into any campaign, but they were three amazing weapons and can create a great many adventuring possibilities just as the players try to learn the 'ins and outs' of each of the items and deal with, or remove, the items from play accordingly. That being said, I have to say that I (and i realize i could well be in the minority here) found the module itself to be uncomfortable and awkward, a series of tricks and traps that the players had to 'jump through hoops' for the rewards of said items. The dungeons were not laid out in what i considered a logical format, it was a clearly manufactured environment existing solely as a series of tests. The creatures are placed with no rationale as to their presence (and in a supposedly abandoned place, how are they kept fed and present until adventurers stumble along?). It always strikes me in such 'test to prove yourselves' adventures that if there isn't a rationale behind why the creature/challenge is in place beside the test, then the issue hasn't been fully thought out, and that was the taste that stayed with me in White Plume Mountain. I saw a lot of people's 'first dungeons' with a more haphazard style to them, but that, in the end, was what it reminded me of, most. Not saying the traps and challenges weren't reasonably clever (i'll never look at the concept of 'no friction' the same way again) but it never really made enough sense to me to include it in any of my campaigns.
Just my two copper pieces' worth
The party resumed their press up the floors of the tower. They found a grim 'larder' consisting of several of the bodies presumably from the time that the city of Shumeharr fell. They found and jammed a trap on another staircase, and then moved up one more floor, finding themselves confronting the wraithlike form of Dekar, the strange figure that had been behind the undead who were attacking the town of Bad Axe. A mystic circle of some kind took up a large part of the floor, and on the symbol was what appeared to be the flayed skin of a person. Five wights began moving forward as Dekar taunted the party. Following intuition, two of the party charged and physically attacked the skin. Dekar's reactions confirmed a connection between it and himself. The rest of the party kept an eye on the wights and dealt with them as they closed. Before full combat could be engaged, the skin was destroyed, and Dekar vanished, the wights going inanimate.
The three who had been dealing with the circle and the skin began to fade from view as the symbol began glowing brightly. Before the others could react, the three had vanished. The rest of the party, determined to keep together, followed.
The entire party found itself in a larger room, surrounded by statues facing inward, statues of something that blended the more horrifying aspects of a marilith and a retriever demon. beyond the ring of statues, they found the form of Tharan Starlight, the mage who caused the fall of Shumeharr. Not quite a lich, not a free entity, it hovered between life and death, mutilated and bound to its throne, powering a persistent link between Shumeharr and the abyss with its life force. Tharan explained how it had found a way to kill all of the residents of Shumeharr in one instant, and the resulting taint of evil left the city's remains a prime tool for a link to the abyss. In exchange for this action, Tharan had been promised power and eternal life. As often is the case in such bargains, the mortal lost more than he gained, gaining a life of imprisonment and agony, and becoming a conduit for power without being able to use it at all.
Tharan confirmed that the form of the statues outside was the form of the demon with which he had bargained, Thekerenna by name. The staff that Kelson had been carrying insisted that it be used to strike Tharan, that in so doing, both it and Tharan would be destroyed, which would close the breach between the Prime Material and the Abyss. The stain of evil on the city would likely remain, but the greater impact would be lessened.
The paladin struck, and the party made their way back to the symbol, which sent them back to the prior level. The party fled the tower, noting that it was beginning to collapse at this point. The party made it back to the outside of the tower before it collapsed, the tower now being fully back in the prime material plane, and it and the rest of the city began to catch up the time that it had lost, most of the buildings collapsing within a few minutes.
(if the description of the floor layouts seem vaguely familiar to old time gamers, that's because the wizard's tower floorplan is the same as the Dark Tower from the old Judge's Guild module of the same name. Changes in most of the contents and manifestations, but the floorplan is a good one.)
The party decided at this time to make their way back to Hadrach City and take a month of 'game time' off, which will be covered in the next session, and the party will begin to look forward and make their plans.
i use plotlines of movies and books all the time (and I've seen it happen in published modules more times than you'd think, but you have to be flexible. Unless you railroad them, which violates (to me) some of the spirit of the game, the players can easily come up with new plotlines, different endings, and many different developments. If you look in my campaign log, you will note that not too long ago, the players ran into an incident that kind of resembled the Dungeon Magazine module Tamerault's Fate (working on the title of that module from memory alone), but slightly different, as i altered the setting and situation, blending it with a similar preceding plot (night of the living dead).
If you look at the First edition module for the Battlesystem Rules, H1, Battle for Bloodstone Pass, and don't look at the other three modules for that series, you will recognize one of the most recurring movie plots in history. Seven Samurai, Magnificent Seven, Battle Beyond the Stars, Seven Magnificent Gladiators, the Three Amigos, and Bug's Life.
It's always fine to borrow a plotline from a book to make an adventure, or campaign plotline, but always try to alter enough that they either don't recognize it at all, or don't until they're committed to the game, and enjoying it as much as you are.