City of Locusts: Re-writing the endgame

Wrath of the Righteous

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Greetings folks - I tried to see if there is any thread already discussing similar re-writes, but I can't find any.

We've recently begun playing Wrath of the Righteous but I've already read through all of the modules quite thoroughly (with the result that my wife has been looking at me disapprovingly, pointing out I'm supposed to be working on graduating...).

I quite like module 1 - 5, find them to be brilliant. Module 6 is ok, but I did find parts of it, especially the end, to not be quite up to the same level of "awesome" as the rest of the campaign - which we play non-mythic, I rather set the lvl cap at 25 with individual classes being capped at 20. Therefore I've decided to re-write the module a bit but before I get down to the nitty gritty details and plan everything (which really has to wait till I've graduated anyway, lest my wife orders me to sleep on the couch), I'd like to get some feedback on my general line of thinking - whether it's just stupid, could work or even sounds rather nifty. My aim is to make things feel more epic and be more memorable for the PCs.

Needless to say, what follows contains countless spoilers.

The plan is as follows:

Part 1 - I'll largely keep it as it is. The changes I'll make really stay within the normal boundaries of being atmospheric, descriptive and reaction to and incorporating any crazy actions the PCs are bound to take.

Part 2 - Rather than the Lexicon of Paradoxes being able to tell the PCs what they need to do in order to close the Worldwound, I want the PCs to find out themselves. Most of the encounters in this part will remain as they are, but much of the story will be driven by the work of one of the PCs - the party wizard - who has expressed strong interest in joining the Riftwardens. The PC and Arvashniel will, at the end of module 5, be asked to research a way to close the Worldwound, and they'll have reached two conclusions at this point. The Nahyndrian Chisel used to break the wardstone in Kenabres is likely to be integral in breaking the link between planes, and they need more information. They'll get the information needed from two sources, I'll replace the Sutur with Areelu Vorlesh's research notes (heavily encoded) on the Worldwound, and the two wizards unwittingly helping Vorlesh, Wivver Noclan and Opon, will provide the remaining information. As such large chunks of part 3 as written will be added to part 2.

Part 3 - The Riftwarden PC discovers that the Worldwound cannot be closed once the ritual to enlarge it has begun (by this time the PCs will have experienced earthquakes and other symptoms for some time). I expect this bit of information still will result in the PCs rushing to Areelu Vorlesh's lair and the PCs will be met by a smiling Vorlesh, covered in blood from sacrifices and so forth. Skill checks, as well as the evidently surging energies, will confirm that the ritual already has been completed and in the ensuing battle Deskari himself will grow ever more visible on the other side of the portal. Once the death blow is dealt to Vorlesh Deskari will use her soul to hasten the ritual, resulting in an explosion as the portals are ripped wide open and countless demons surge towards the PCs.

Part 4 - As this happens time seems to slow down and the PCs are once again called to the chapel of Iomedae - they are greeted by Iomedae and Sarenrae (who is the mother of the PC with the touched by divinty trait). They'll inform the PCs that the gods have decided not to interfere in Deskari's invasion of Golarion and effectively have given the planet up in order to prevent direct war with the Abyss. Iomedae and Sarenrae opposed this course of action cannot defy the other gods. Even so, they wish to tell the PCs two stories and introduce them to someone.

Iomedae will by the way of a story inform the PCs that there is only one course of action now - the only thing which can close the worldwound is the collapse of Deskari's realm. This can only be achieved by killing Deskari not once but twice, but that it is regrettable that the time needed for such a course of action still would leave hundreds of thousands dead and countless demons in former Sarkoris.

Sarenrae will tell the PCs the story of the Circle of Hierophants and how her heart is saddened by the corruption of its noble druids into siabraes. She will then tell the PCs an old fairytale of how a specific ritual these druids performed could send them two weeks back in time, and the dire consequences of a paradox which occured when a young druid once stole the ritual, travelled back in time and prevented his daughter's death.

While this occurs the PCs will undoubtedly notice that there is no singing in the chapel and how once corner of the chapel is shrouded in darkness. Skill checks can inform the PCs of a demonic presence within the darkness. Once tales are told Iomedae will have a look of disgust on her face while Sarenrae will seem strangely hopeful. It is at this time Iomedae waves her hand, the darkness disappears and the PCs can see Nocticula. Her powers seem to be suppressed, but it is still difficult not to be fascinated by her.

She is more straightforward than the goddesses. She has nothing to gain from Deskari's plans, if anything one of her rivals will grow in strength, the relationship between the divine and demonic will suffer even more and trade to her realm might very well diminish. She wishes Deskari to die and she knows how the PCs can kill him. The Nahyndrian Chisel the PCs carry will weaken Deskari considerably if they manage to force it into his body somehow. If the PCs work quickly they might be able to kill him a first time this way before he teleports.

After this the PCs quickly have to find Deskari again and confront him a second time. While the PCs might be able to track Deskari down and kill him, his realm won't fall apart quickly enough to guarantee no other demon will seize control of it. The solution, Nocticula proclaims, is simple. Once Deskari is dead, call out her name and she will appear to claim Deskari's essence, power and realm. She will then make the realm crumble and the Worldwound collapse at once.

I rather suspect the PCs won't trust her, and with some prodding Nocticula will tell them that she has made a deal with Sarenrae. If Nocticula collapses the realm and the Worldwound, Sarenrae will grant Nocticula some of her divine essence, transforming Nocticula into a goddess - and Sarenrae will inform them that in the process, Nocticula will have much the same experience as Arueshalae had, which Sarenrae hopes will lead to Nocticula's redemption.

From here on things move pretty much as I, S and N told them they would, with the one exception that the PCs are struck deaf and dim light surrounds them for the next 24 hours, so as to prevent them from observing whether the Worldwound is closed or not while they search for the ritual. The PCs are transported to the edge of the Stonewilds, where they'll have to fight their way through demons and fallen druids (which should be rather easy on their level) and they'll eventually find the ritual and go back in time.

Part 5 - The PCs have moved back in time and will have to be veeeeery careful not to change what they've already perceived will happen, lest they pretty much be ripped apart as reality unravels and tries to repair itself. They have to get into Deskari's realm, figure out where exactly Deskari is likely to retreat to once he has been killed, make sure they know the location well enough to teleport to it, figure out how to stop Deskari from teleporting away and either trick him to or use brute force to have the chisel weaken him in order to have an easier battle the first time they confront Deskari. The second time he will be at full power.

Nocticula will claim Deskari's realm (unless the PCs find another solution), she will collapse it and Sarenrae will be true to her promise. Nocticula will, however, not be redeemed unless the PCs do something truly extraordinary which lies outside the boundary of my imagination.

I highly discourage any time-travel related plot. That is, honestly, the jumping the shark point for many stories. I used it thwice in my youth as a DM, and it barely hold up.

The point of a book six is to allow players strenght and merits to become evidents, not to force them into impossible situations cause the villains outsmart them. The entire point of the Armageddon clock is to stop that. If that option is not aviable, it was a trick all along.

Here what i think:
1) Allow the characters a chance to stop the ritual, possibly by having THEM discovering the correct way throught immense study and such. Maybe the codex found by Gallfrew is just magical theoremas tha allows a mythic archmage to fanthom reality at a level that allows him to see how the wound operates and how to close it. He could perceive the existance of the suture (whatever thing you wish it to be) and the importance of other components. Maybe, since the characters where empowered by the wardstones, they can BECOME wardstone themselves and use the magic to close the rift at the point of his origin. After That, you can have the fight with Deskari that tries to trap forever the PCS in his realm.

2) Keep the situation with Nocticula as you think. Allow her to have a greater role, if your character have interacted with her enough.

3) The armageddon clock should not start after the battle of Drezen. After pc's victory over the forces of the marilith, you should give them few weeks. in this period we should see the paladins forces actually winning over ALL THE FRONTS. you should have a session or two with the PCS teleporting over all the battlegrounds helping the inviding forces of Mendev ...
Then, when the pcs, on the head of an army, are starting the siege of the City of Locusts, only then the Armageddon clock starts moving. Also, you should chain the fact that this widening of the rift is only possible thanks to ALL THE DEATHS the PCS have caused on the demons side. Basically, Deskari wanted all those mythics demons around cause i knew that, if enough were to be killed, the demonic energies of the Wound would have rised enought to allow to be widened.
Now, this is how you explain the why for the cristals excavation.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the swift reply :-)

I've used time travel once before with a different group (quite successfully), but I do see your point and now you mention it the time travel back then was a lot more integral to the story and planned right from the get go. Would be quite difficult to make it feel like a proper part of this campaign and setting (if it is possible, why isn't it more widely used, for instance). So I'll refrain from incorporating it.

I especially like your third idea and am rather sure I'll use it.

Would it work if I perhaps widen the search for a ritual to close the worldwound a bit, let it involve the need to foray into the Stonewilds, find the circle of hierophants and fight the siabraes, with the aim of gaining access to some sort of mythic scrying pool which will allow the riftwarden player to, with the help of the lexicon/codex, locate the objects and information needed to close the rift? One of my players is absolutely in love with druids and the green faith and practically began jumping up and down once he read abut the place's importance to the green faith and the undead druids, so I'd love to include it :-)

Furthermore, could I perhaps expand the requirements for the ritual needed to close the Worldwound some more, making Deskari himself the anchor on which the Worldwound rests. Meaning that while the PCs can stop the Worldwound from growing, even can decrease it's size, they cannot ultimatively dispel it unless they venture into Deskari's realm and slay him? It could be at this stage Nocticula appears and offers to help the PCs, either in return for one of them accepting her gift and becoming her Herald, or with providing them with some sort of assistance which, unknown to them, would allow her to syphon Deskari's power once he is slain? Of course, the PCs could discover her plan and would hopefully be wise enough to never trust a demon, but without Nocticula's help it would be considerably more difficult to slay Deskari.

Thrandr wrote:

Thanks for the swift reply :-)

I especially like your third idea and am rather sure I'll use it.


We I watch Golarion and all the s&%@ it happens there, i ask myself ... "All of this happens Around Rovagug's prison" ... Golarion is a cage. the energies that pass through it are enormeous. surely an ancient druidic order may be able to offer insight of how to use such energies to empower a ritual without damaging further the planar structures. Sure, that may require an encounter with neutral evil archdruids and a certain uber nabassu with a treant friend ...

About killing deskari: the worldwound is connected to his plane. surely if he wishes, he can force energies to keep it open. so, if he dies or is outside the plane, the wound could be closed more easily. now ... how to call outiside deskari?
three ways:

use his high priestess as bait (taking her alive, tricking her to call for his master)
directly taunt him to "come and get us", possibly over areelu's body.
travel to the rifts, fight him there and then, during the fight, find some way to teleport him out from the plane. maybe move inside a demiplane created just for that, and the move the demiplane out from the abyss with your players and deskari in it.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Once again, I quite like your ideas. Thanks. I'll think a bit more about it during the time between now and then, but I suspect I'll use much of what you advice. Thanks :-)

let me know how things go

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I shall do so - will probably be quite some time till we play module 6 though. We only play every two weeks and my players love exploring :-)

You should totally share any adventure materials you write up concerning the Circle of Hierophants. There hasn't been much put up about that and it's great to get other GM ideas. I've included a sub-plot where a Pharasmin cleric offers her assistance so long as they defeat a Siabre and resurrect her using an Oil of Life, allowing access to greater knowledge and freeing her soul when she dies a natural death into the Boneyards.

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I shall do so - still a good few months till I expect my players to reach that point (I rather like to let them wander of tangents and make up stuff as we go), but in a month or so I'll hand in my master's thesis - and then I'll actually have time to sit down, write this out, plan it, research and so forth. Think I'll let the other GM in the group take over running another campaign while I do so, want to do it properly.

My first though was a rather straight through dungeon delve, but it seems like wasted potential and boring. So time to put on the thinking cap, write it out and return here for feedback :-)

Let us know about any of the tangents they take that could be useful as well. I'm always after inspiration so would be sorely grateful for even a line or two of: "Yeah, my PCs went into the Tala Monastery and convinced the monks to give them some Oil of Tala" would be great. ;) I, like you, love letting them wandering around tangents.

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