This is our second aside as part of the IMPART campaign, where -- when we don't have enough players for our usual campaign -- we do one-shot adventures in which we head off to high-level battles as part of a vaguely-Avengers force that helps protect the Mulitverse. This week's cast included:
Lexx Bloodgood, a Fallen Aasimar Fighter (Champion)
Freek, a Human Warlock (The Fiend)
Sierra, an Aasimar Cleric/Sorcerer
Meghan Bridie Glivet, Human Fighter/Cleric (Grave Domain)
We had several absences plus two additional last-minute cancellations, so the challenge balance on this one was a little off; I note with considerable admiration that our DM essentially fixed it on the fly.
We've been tapped to retrieve the Godhood of a fallen god - one that fell across worlds, and crushed a village when it landed on this material plane. The landscape was once beautiful, but now is scarred by the fall of the god.
We're interrogating a dead bandit who got killed by angels, and they were just here to salvage whatever they could from the destruction - looters, basically. They haven't seen a humanoid misty shape like the one we were told to seek; they did see plenty of winged angelic types that cut them down.
The meteor that crashed into the center of the village is a curled-up humanoid, impossibly large. There are figures around it, but Lexx can't make them out. We move on, racing to get closer.
The closer we get, the more bodies we see -- and they aren't all human. Reaching the village, we find a few Devas still lurking around the god's body. Scythe is among them, wounded but still functional. Scythe immediately approaches, leaning on her scythe. Scythe is going to lead us past the guards, so we follow her. Meghan: What locals could be a problem for Devas? Apparently there was a very powerful bandit camp around here; they had powerful weapons; we've take care of them, and we're cleaning up now.
Moving closer, we can see a few more details: all through the village and around are these red puddles. They're hard to avoid... Meghan steps in a puddle and takes damage (radiant and acid). The substance is ichor -- godsblood -- horrifying powerful and dangerous. Viscous and unnaturally red, with gold specks like stars -- it's also glowing. However, nobody has ever been able to find a way to interact with it safely; containers won't hold it, and spells won't either.
Scythe takes us as close as she can, then asks us to get on with it. We look around for the godhood, but don't see any red mist. Meghan holds the phylactery against the fallen god... but nothing happens. Scythe sort of crumples emotionally at this. "In the attack we had to break ranks so we could get villagers out and... something must have taken it while we weren't looking. Check the village -- maybe whatever took it is still here."
We begin investigating the village: fallen bodies, wrecked buildings. Freek finds a book that's partly destroyed by ichor called The Curse of the Hill Shrine. The book is damaged, but... "Invaders, a shrine was lost, they watch over--, beware the dual gaze." We notice on the east side, just beyond the fallen god's hip, there's a small structure on the top of a hill. Possibly a shrine? We'd have to go around the god, but it's plenty close enough for something to have slipped out, taken the godhead, and gone back in. This is a male war god -- a patron of anger, war, and hate. As he fell, he opened a portal to the nearest convenient parallel dimension because fuck you, that's why.
Songbird's character Sierra sends a message to Scythe, who flies (poorly) over to join us. Songbird uses a healing prayer to restore scythe and partly restore others as we pass. It's not huge, but it's better than nothing.
On the way up the hill, we notice some carved stones -- old, not recent, nothing to do with the ichor -- with worn carvings. They grow larger and more frequent towards the top of the hill, but the ones at the very top are, well, toppled... and at the top is a sort of stone shrine or gazebo. There's a low pillar in the center, with an orb at the top. As we near it, we see something like an ethereal being hovering over the orb and absorbing the red mist.
The thing absorbing the mist seemed fairly... harmless -- but the more of the mist it absorbs, the stronger and angrier it seems. It's an ethereal being roughly our size. Its essence darkens and grows red, soaking into the shrine as well as the being. The ethereal being itself sort of fades into the orb in the center of the gazebo... and the dark, angry aura spreads out through the rest of the shrine. Freek yells for it to stop (Command) but it shrugs his spell off with an epic effort and finishes its meal. And the battle begins.
Lexx has their wings out and opens by attacking the orb, and hits it pretty hard.
Analysis: This thing is a divinty/aberration mix, Neutral (but Neutral Furious) with high Wisdom (20) and Intelligence (18). Sierra drops a massive firestorm on the gazebo and surges up into the air. Lexx, in the center of the storm, is fine -- despite the gazebo's attempt to shove him into another plane of existence with a Devour attack.
Analysis 2: The orb and the shrine are one, so Freek's plan to try to break its power by using Plane Shift to move the orb elsewhere is a no-go. It's solid (AC 20), Str and Dx are both 16, it seems to have fairly normal perceptions; it can do two actions -- try to devour, or try to blast. It definitely has the godhood and presents as agender. And it has legendary actions for Devour, Ray, and Smite (a modified/enhanced Chain Lightning) - very powerfully. Freek drops Darkness on the temple, and effectively blinds it. Godzebo casts Chain Lightning in retaliation - though we're lucky and it doesn't do too much damage.
Then the Gazebo attacks, with a 150' cone that wipes out the magical darkness, the fire, and the holy aura. It's a massive anti-magic field, covering... 1/8 or so of its radius. We need to get out of this field. It can see all of us now. And it's not done yet. It hits Lexx with a magical beam attack - hard. Then it attacks Sierra with something else, inflicting Necrotic damage.
Analysis 3: It has 18 Cha and 20 Con, with 1,000 or so HP. It's resistant to radiant, necrotic, and thunder. It's immune to cold, lightning, fire, and non-magical attacks. It can do a charm ray (wis), paralyzing ray (con), fear ray (wis), slow ray (dex), ennervation ray (con) necrotic dam, telekinetic (str or be moved), sleep (wis), petrification ray (dex), disentegration ray, death ray (dex, necrotic). It's weak again Force damage, but...
It's a demonic Beholder-god in the form of a building, basically. You might call it a Gaze-bo.
Meghan drops Blight on it, and Freek hits it with Eldritch blast and then Hurls it Through Hell, doing a perfectly ridiculous amount of damage to the thing. Sierra Wishes that we were all immune to Charm, Death, Disentigration, Petrification, and Sleep. We are all protected!
The Godzebo then attacks Lexx with Devour, drawing him briefly into another plane and, um, damaging him slightly. And also Lexx is gone. Meghan prays for divine assistance (silently, b/c she's been paralyzed in the meantime) and asks for a gate back out of the Devour-space. Her god, the Harvest Maid: I'll go you one better.
There's now a gate from the Devourspace to the roof of the Gazebo.
Meghan breaks her paralysis.
The Gazebo is not happy about this. It hits Scythe with an enervation ray, for notable but not crippling damage. Scythe responds by attacking and apparently damaging it. Lexx, back on his feet, attacks it four times, and hits with all four to good effect.
The Gazebo is pissed. It does radiant 40 and lightning 25 dmg with, I think, Chain Lightning. Sierra prays, but gets no immediate response. She moves out of the anti-magic cone. Freek moves out of the Anti-magic cone on the other side and tries Eldritch blast again, missing with one ray but hitting with the other three.
The Gazebo attacks Meghan, doing a bit of damage, then attacks Lexx for necrotic damage. Then it attacks Meghan again but fails to paralyze her. Meghan drops a Blade Barrier on top of the orb itself, because magical slashing damage. The Godzebo attacks Scythe, who manages to avoid being devoured but does take a little bit of damage. Irritated, Scythe drops some healing on Lexx.
Sierra swings back down, pulls a blanket out of her pouch, and covers the orb with it. The Orb is blinded, and unable to use its rays. Blanket for the win! It angrily tries to Devour her, but she twists away from it. Freek blasts it again. Meghan: "Gosh, I sure wish this thing had vulnerability to Fire." Scythe smacks the thing for a bunch of damage. So does Lexx.
Lexx gets eaten and immediately comes back out of the portal. (Lexx swears in Abyssal, it turns out.)
Sierra casts Fire Storm again, and does a perfectly obscene amount of damage. Freek follows up with another eldritch blast; and of course the orb's still sitting in the middle of a blade barrier.
Badly damaged, the Godzebo... speaks. It's arguing with itself: this has to be over/it can't be over. It targets Scythe again, more or less by accident sicne it's blinded. Meghan hits it with Blight again, using up the last of its Epic Resistances. Scythe smacks it again.
It's Lexx's turn, and he smacks it again and the glass orb shatters under the blanket. A soundless dual-voice wailing streams out -- one hating and violent, the other remorseful and relieved. Two beings separate, one taking on a physical form and collapsing inside the gazebo, while the red mist rises up beside it. It looks angry.
Meghan waves the phylactery at it, and sucks in the mist. The runes on the phylactery glow a bright yellow even as the red mist struggles to escape. Then phylactery turns dark red, and the runes fade to a lighter glow.
Lexx checks on the fallen being. It's exhausted; it looks like it's struggling to stand. Sierra drops some healing on it. It's hard to tell if it's male or female; it has mismatched eyes, green and yellow, and its voice drops between higher and lower pitches. It claps Lexx on the shoulder, thanks Lexx and Sierra, and apologizes sincerely. I didn't mean to hurt you, I just wanted my power back.
Lexx: Were you a God?
Being: A long time ago. I had followers. They loved me, feared me, sometimes both. I gave them everything I could. And then war came. I had no power after that. The victors built some new shrine for some new god, but it... wasn't for me.
Sierra: Can you help people to the afterlife? There are a lot of dead bodies down there in the village.
Being: I was a god of life and death, male and female, duality.
Sierra: Right, we're bringing you back. We're going to set up a church, restore your worship. Help us bring these people peace.
Being: I... will try. I can't promise, but I'll try.
Being, turning to Lexx: "You dealt the final blow. You helped me at the same time. I know not what I can do, but if there be anything... I am the balance of opposites..."
Lexx: It's taken some time to temper my own self. The best thing you can do for me... is to thrive."
Being: "You seem both sad and happy."
Lexx: True. I've lost things, but found friends... and inspiration. (looking at Scythe)
Being: takes Lexx's hand and clasps it with both theirs, concentrates, and gives Lexx a permanent character inspiration.
Being: Says nice things to Freek.
Freek: Being a warlock was the only way to be able to do the things I felt like I needed to do.
Being: I hope if we meet again you will share your stories with me.
Freek: I would love that.
Being: Sierra, thank you for showing mercy.
Scythe: Whenever you want, IMPART will take you in. There might even be a few followers waiting.
Being: I think I'm better here. I know it seems like a good idea.
Scythe: Gives the being an IMPART amulet anyway.
So basically, we captured the godhood of the fallen (and very much out of place) Angry Volcano-War-Spite God, made nice with the mostly-forgotten local god (who really does have a name, we just misplaced it), and all that's left now is to lay the dead villagers to rest and maybe help their families rebuild. Freek will probably offer the occasional prayer of appreciation to the god of the shrine (since IC he would know their name), and Sierra seems interested in trying to re-establish a local base of worshipers. Also, if I ever decide to run a cleric in one of these episodes, I may have them be one of the survivors of the Volcano God's destructive crash, and a proponent of this new worship.
Also: I forgot to add that Meghan concluded that this is an alternate-world version of her own Harvest Maid, and decided to dedicate herself to wandering the world and spreading its word to all.