*This post will contain spoilers to the Scales of War adventure path*
Last time I talked about going off the tracks on the adventure path a in a much more intentional manner than I had previously dared attempt. And not only that, I split the party. Well, the gnome did put the magical lovely ring of retreat all by herself. She didn’t know it would teleport her away from the party. And the party sure had no clue what was coming their way. They thought she went invisible or something. This gave me a really cool opportunity to do something special with the gnome player since she disappeared right as we ended the session.
I used a series of messages to play through the scenario of what was going on with the gnome apart from the party. Essentially, the gnome was teleported back to the homebase of the Githyanki rebellion and was brought to a very sick Gith’s bed. She was not feeling ill because of the amount of energy she had expended in suppressing the Mark of Justice on the party. She mentioned something about being worried about the party not giving her back her scepter (which they had noticed she wasn’t being completely honest with them in regards to what it was) and as she muttered this, something crazy happened to the gnome that was suggested all the way back in the heroic tier. Something the githyanki have apparently had in their backpocket, but hadn’t really used recently.
Back in the end of the heroic tier, some mercenary armies were being brought to bear against the city of Overlook and in one particular adventure, several githyanki warriors possessed key members of the city bureaucracy in order to ease the invasion. The githyanki can possess people. Wait, what???? Since the end of heroic tier, we haven’t seen this. We just spent an entire tier fighting the githyanki, but they didn’t make this a primary form of dealing with their enemies. So while the gnome is talking to Gith and leaning in to hear what she has to say, suddenly she finds herself possessed by Gith’s lieutenant.
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So I spent all this time crafting a new magic item to tempt the party with, reworked the ending of the story (the scepter was supposed to be without power anymore, but I thought it was more compelling if it still held the authority to command the dragons and gave the party a more dificult moral decision in the end), I even possessed one of the party members in order to get the scepter back and when I brought Gith with her retinue up to the party and the possessed gnome went for the scepter, the party handed over the item and all my planned stuff went out the window. This is the danger of planning your own material, you never know the group is going to go in the directions you expect and spending time planning out cool ideas and individual "carrots" to give them interesting choices and with one simple decision they can ignore hours of preparation.
So paragon tier is over. The party successfully defeated the githyanki emperor and set a new leader on the throne to direct the empire to new greatness and they even got a free ride back to the natural world. I ended our session (knowing that we had a month off in real life) by telling the party that are going to have a month pass in the game and that I want them to tell me how that month passes for them. Setting up the motivation and the actions of the epic tier is going to take some serious time and I felt a little break from such extreme story stuff would help bridge that gap.