Thursday, May 4, 2023

Good!Party: The Fall of Septimus

We have arrived in the High Grove to defeat the forces of Septimus, the Priest of Appollyon. Septimus is using his demonic forces and lesser priests to corrupt the elder treants that surround the altar, so we need to stop them and bring the treants back to the side of good. Then we need to destroy all the zombie druids, because any injury to Septimus is currently getting absorbed by them. 

We start by transporting ourselves from the fallen pit fiend to the Horned Devils and their contingent of treant-corrupting priests. The horned devils fight with spiked chains, and are currently attacking the druids who are trying to calm the tree. This is going to be a bit one-sided, as the druids don’t have much in the way of armor. Three of them (out of six) are stunned by the attack. 

Ruin Dimension Doors us over to them, arriving beside the zombie druid and the priests; let the horned devils come to us! Martini immediately steps over and starts stabbing, with a rapier in one hand and her ridiculously magic dagger in the other, and takes out the zombie druid and one of the priests. The elder treant – corrupted and homicidal – attacks the good druids, squashing two of them but failing to kill them. Marshall turns into a giant snake and grapples the elder treant. It is… rather stronger than he is, even when he’s a colossal snake. 

The druids manage to calm the tree, despite the efforts of the two remaining priests. The horned devils move around and attack more druids, killing two of them. Martini continues to attack, but without the element of surprise doesn’t do nearly as much damage. Ruin moves around and attacks the other surviving evil priest. 

The treant is calmed, and Marshall drops Mass Heal, just in time to pull the druids back into the fight. The horned devils immediately try to stun druids again, and knock four of them right back out. Martini kills another priest, and damages the last of them. Ruin finishes the last priest, so this treant is stabilized. Marshall casts Dismissal, but fails to banish any of the devils; he tries Slay Living and damages one of them. Two of the druids shake off the being stunned, but unfortunately the horned devils kill three of them, leaving only two. Marshall slithers down next to Ruin. 

The larger battle proceeds apace, with casualties on both sides, but the druids are definitely holding their own. 

Marshall returns to human form, and Ruin Dimension Doors again, this time taking the two druids with us as well. We pop up at the next tree, the one that Septimus himself is trying to corrupt, right next to two of the evil priests. Marshall becomes a snake again, and Martini immediately begins perforating priests. 

Septimus laughs: “Ha! You think you can defy us?” He walks over next to Martini and casts a quickened Righteous Might and a Divine Favor, making himself considerably more formidable. Ruin moves around and flanks him. He cuts and draws blood, but… not enough. 

Septimus’ giant flail hits the ground, ready for battle. He laughs. Also, he seemed weirdly resistant to the damage Ruin just did – the cut didn't seem to do as much damage as it should, but more importantly Septimus doesn't look like he was damaged at all.

Marshall grapples Septimus, who smites him on the way in for a decent amount of damage. He is not, however, able to avoid being grappled. The other priests reawaken the treant. Martini turns her stabbing prowess on Septimus, taking advantage of the fact that she’s invisible, he’s flanked, and he’s grappled. The injuries don’t seem to affect him, but two of the demon-possessed druids suddenly die elsewhere on the field. 

Septimus: “Go ahead and eat me, you–” He blasphemes, paralyzing weakening and dazing the two druids we brought along. He struggles but fails to escape Marshall's grasp. 

Ruin attacks him, and takes out another demon druid by proxy. The two senior priests cast Freedom of Movement (on Septimus) and Invisibility Purge, respectively. They also start buffing themselves up. The treant attacks Marshall but misses. 

Marshall drops Holy Aura on us, and the lesser Appollyon priests cast Freedom of Movement on the two senior priests. 

Martini starts stabbing, and does a bunch of damage and takes out another zombie druid. Septimus casts quickened Divine Favor, and then says: “And now, serpent, you will pay!” He uses his Domain Powers to enhance his strength and swings at Marshall – and hits twice, doing a fuck-tonne of damage and taking Marshal down. As Marshall falls, he takes a swing at Ruin but misses. 

Ruin switches hands, yanks out a Wand of Cure Light Wounds, and brings Marshall back to consciousness. The two senior priests are beefed up and getting ready to brawl; the elder treant attacks Ruin. He hits twice. Ruin stubbornly refuses to go down. 

Marshall casts Mass Heal without bothering to stand up. He’s back to full health, Ruin is back to full health, and our druids are functional again. He follows it up with a quickened Searing Light on Septimus and hits him hard enough to take down another demon-possessed druid. Martini is still just stabbing with ridiculous precision. Another demon druid goes down, dead of shielding Septimus. 

Septimus, however, attacks Marshall again, aiming carefully and hitting him three times. Marshall goes down again; this time he’s dead. Septimus follows through to attack Ruin, doing some damage. Ruin yells for the druids to reincarnate Marshall. (Reincarnate, you may recall, is different from resurrection. Resurrection brings you back to life; reincarnation brings you back to life in a new body. Marshall's spirit... may have issues with this. For one thing, he is not coming back as an elf.)

One of the senior priests attacks Martini, doing some damage. The other one attacks Ruin but misses. The elder treant attacks Ruin again, and again misses. One of the druids moves over and casts Reincarnate on Marshall. 

He comes back as a lizard-folk. This is as close to the perfect result as he could get without coming back as a human. This is clearly the will of Artem-hiss. (It’s literally a 1/100 chance by the game rules, so actually kind of incredible that our DM rolled this.) 


Also, the elven druid who did this is a devotee of Artem-hiss, so all is more or less well. 

The lesser priests reactivate the treant and one of them buffs himself further. Ruin heals a bit, and Martini attacks again, taking out another demonic druid meat-shield. 

Septimus attacks Marshall again, but Marshall slithers out of the way and Septimus looks at him in astonishment. 

Ruin attacks Septimus, doing enough damage to take out two more zombie druids. One of the senior priests tries to smite Ruin, hitting the first time but missing with the other two. The second one follows suit, also hitting the first time and missing the next two. The elder treant power attacks, but misses Ruin. 

Ruin heals a bit. Martini continues stabbing, and another of the possessed druids dies. 

Septimus has had enough of Martini. He smites, and power attacks. The first attack hits, but the next two miss… but he hits hard. Not hard enough, though: Martini is still standing. 

Ruin attacks again, and takes out the last of the possessed druids. 

Septimus: “I have to end this now.” 

Ruin shrugs: “I’m prepared to accept your surrender.”

The higher-level priests attack Martini and miss, and Ruin and connect once. Ruin is still on his feet. 

Then the elder treant goes after Ruin again, and Ruin dies. Marshall slithers over to Ruin and drops True Resurrection on him, because as funny as it would be to reincarnate him, Ruin as anything other than a True Elf is way weaker than Ruin as he is now. 

Martini, furious, reduces Septimus to paste with her rapier and dagger. 

Ruin cuts down the first of the senior priests, steps forward, and carves into the second one. The Elder Treant then misses Ruin but flattens Martini. Marshall immediately brings her back, and throws a pair of Searing Rays at one of the lesser priests who are keeping the elder treant evil. 

Martini springs to her feet, then springs up the side of the tree to flank the remaining senior priest and stabs him to death. Ruin charges and takes out a priest. The Elder Treant shakes Martini off, nearly killing her. Marshall heals her and then fires off two Searing Rays, and the druids settle the treant; the remaining evil priest casts Heal on himself in a remarkable display of optimism. 

Ruin moves to flank the remaining priest – “M’lady?” – and Martini kicks up to her feet and just fucking murders him. The elder treant attacks again, but fails to kill Martini. Marshall heals her again. 

On the plus side, our battle has weakened Septimus’ forces; on the minus side, it kept us tied down for a while and there are still Horned Devils on the field of battle. It’s not without cost, but we are winning… slowly.

It’s the horned devils that are the problem. They’ve annihilated the druids at the last tree. Ruin transports us over to the threatened tree. Martini starts stabbing priests. One goes down. Another goes down. Then the third one. 

Marshall assumes his full reptilian splendor. The druids move over to the tree and start soothing it. 

The horned devils attack the giant snake, hitting him… a lot, and very hard. He’s stunned. All four try to bite him. 

Martini takes out the last priest. Ruin tears into one of the demons. Marshall is still stunned. The druids move away from the treant; one of them Heals Marshall, and the other casts Freedom of Movement. 

The horned devils attack again. One attacks a druid, and tears into him; he’s badly damaged, and stunned – it’s an infernal wound. The next two attack Marshall, but without as much success as they did last round; still, he takes another infernal wound. The last one bites Ruin; he says: “Kinky.” 

Then he kills it. 

Martini stabs one of the demons, a lot. Marshall casts Banishment again, and one of the demons is just… gone. He fires off a pair of quickened Searing Rays. 

The upright druid heals his compatriot. Ruin heals a bit further. The two remaining horned devils attack Marshall again, but fail to take him down. 

Ruin finishes the wounded one. 

Marshal snaps up the remaining devil and tosses it up into the air, then almost fails to swallow it; he snags an ankle on the way down and awkwardly pulls it into his throat. So basically, Martini has murdered the hell out of things; Ruin has stood there Not Taking Much Damage and dishing out just enough to keep our enemies occupied, and Marshal has kept us all alive (and also now grown scales). 

Finally, with victory in hand, the apparition of Saladhel turns to Ruin and beckons him forward. The druids respond with awe, except for Zoriel who is glaring daggers at Ruin. As he nears the altar, Ruin disappears. 

Ruin is in a new place, a place of green grass dominated by a giant silver tree. Saladhel is standing under it. As Ruin approaches, the other old druids appear. They question Ruin about his choice, and whether he would make the same choice again. They gesture towards the altar, and the gem on the top of it. “Know that you have addressed the balance. Now I can pass to you the remains of my power.” With the Hierophant in Sol Povos dead and the Hierophant in Phanaxia returned to the land (as a great, silver tree), Ruin can claim the Stone of Foresight. It provides instantaneous warning of danger so he is never surprised, never flat-footed; it gives a +2 bonus to AC and Reflex saves, and he can tell what people are going to do before they do it. (Remember to ask the DM.) He’ll need to return it "with interest" – apparently either a new Hierophant, or perhaps himself as a sacrifice. (He’d prefer the Hierophant option.) 


So Ruin's basically a Jedi now.

We also get a ton of treasure out of this. A lot of it will need to go towards new equipment. 


(I am reminded, once again, that the folks who designed D&D were obviously not economists.)

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