**This post contains spoilers from the Scales of War Adventure Path. You have been warned.**
I asked one of my players to write out a narrative for the final battle of our current adventure because of how completely he had neutered the fight by his actions, which I described in my last post. I debated for awhile what to do when he completely busted up my plans and I thought about running the combat encounter but giving the NPC of Bahamut to the party to use against the final boss, but I decided that it would just end up feeling like a grind so handing the reins over to the player as a reward for his creative thinking seemed the logical answer to my problem. Handing over creative control of the story on such a large scale was really hard, but made for a very interesting end. He’s a natural storyteller (he’s a DM too) so I knew this would be a rewarding experience for him, but I had NO IDEA what was coming for me. I thought I would post this so you could see how the narrative summation of a final fight that was just going to be a drag mechanically ended up being really worthwhile and made a very neat story moment in our campaign.
“Time, Kildrak?! Time is a theory of the utmost worthlessness to me. My whole existence has been dictated by time. The time that has passed, the time that will pass and the moments by which we define time that are circling our presence at this instant. We have but to reach out into the ether to dispel all that time can construct around us. My very existence was purposed so that in a single moment, a singular fragment of history, the planes could breath and in that breath consume my life and in the very next exhale an essence more powerful than I could ever hope to be. My life has been spent waiting in and on time, so no Kildrak. I will not rest now upon this spire with you for I am needed. We are all needed as we have always been. The strength that lifts is only supplement to the strength that sustains, and that is what I ask of you now. That is what I ask of all of you. Stay your wounds, and steal your weapons a bit longer from the sheaths for which I know they so hunger for so as to give solace to your aching hands and the burdens that bite tear at your backs. And do not this deed lone for Bahamut, but for all those whom you fight for. For a brother. For a father, mother, and queen. For a soul, for a conscience, and even for glory, Kildrak. For what greater glory is there to be had in this life or the next then to go gnawing and ripping into the dark from which you tire, only to beat it back with less strength than whence it’s entrance gripped you. We all tire. We will always tire. The powerful play goes on and we may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? And how loud will you proclaim it?”
And with that I tore my feet from the ground which they so yearned to rest upon if only for a moment longer. Like weights they tired with the fight that only fear can bring to pull me down. Yet my wings beat on, taking me closer and closer to the clash that was inevitable. Where I would stand by my god’s side and embrace him in life or death which ever might come first, for to deny my god would be death.
I neared the flaming falls and as I burst forth through them I felt the searing pain that I knew awaited me in their fiery grasp and yet as I burst forth from the falls, the fire licking at my scales with a thirst unquenched, a renewed sense overcame me at it’s burning hands met my skin, and I thought to myself, “If I am able to feel this much pain, then in the reverse I must be able to feel this much elation.” And it all came back to me. My past life… my wife standing on the Arkhosian temple steps… my companion and friend Basix as he once was… I had felt happy then. And I would feel happy again someday. I would overcome this pain and in a day that once shined so bright, but was now so dark, so sheltered by the tendrils that reach out from the recesses of lost hope to obscure the eyes of faith, I would rejoice. I would smile again in the presence of my compatriots and in the halls of fellowship and for that I flew on renewed by what once hurt me, but could never hurt me again.
As I reached the fallen form of Bahamut lying below the hideous behemoth form of Namissi, I could view his breast plate of platinum scales still heaving. Though they were scarred and blood birthed from many wounds about his newly risen body he still had breathe in him. It was so clear what I had to do.
“I call now,” I spoke aloud to myself, “upon that words that time has forgotten to be recalled now to my soul. Oh though we all may one day slip into the eons that pass into forsaken corners of space that time destroys and turns to dust I stand HERE! NOW! IN THIS MOMENT! I command all that is in me to exist not only from this moment to the next, but to turn the wheel of time and act upon the levers that will continue to turn forevermore! FOR THAT IS NOT DEAD WHICH CAN ETERNAL LIE! AND WITH STRANGE AEONS EVEN DEATH MAY DIE!!!”
|Kydan, Dragonborn Runepriest, illustrated by Symatt|
I would like to say that I then charged at Namissi with every part of me that would move, but I do not think there was enough within to gather the strength to me. I charged at Namissi with as much strength as a man charges the earth when falling. I was so unaware of all around me that I’m not sure how hard I hit Namissi, all I know is that it was enough for my blow followed true and the ancient runes bound in my body ignited and I turned with my open palm to Bahamut and as the healing light burst forth to drench the Platinum Dragon in radiance, I saw my god rise.
To his full form he rose, but he did not stop there. It seemed he had become more now in his resurgence than he was before in life. His anger was reformed, his rage re-ignited, and his spirit as violent as a Tarrasque!
Forward my god sprang, his powerful wings beating and breaking the air itself. Namissi was bewildered for but a fraction in time, yet that was all it took. That was all I needed. Like my god towering over me, my conscience and fortitude was set ablaze. Bahamut’s head reared back and forth, striking and biting he tore forward at the giant blue exarch of Tiamat. Their claws and teeth clashed again and again. Their blows were like thunder, their moments like water. Ichor seeped forth from the many wounds they exchanged. It was then that I ruptured onwards to aid my Lord in battle. I felt my body grow in stature as my weapon found its mark on the exarch. Together we fought though my body was weak my spirit spurred me onward, begging my muscle for just a moments more energy. Just enough to finish what had begun.
In an instant though the battle rounded on us as Namissi’s strength seemed to double. His ferocity was impossible, his fury unstoppable. He knew he was the final exarch. The final hurdle between us and Tiamat and his queen would have a show of him before his body adorned the ground in defeat. A defeat that had seemed inevitable only seconds ago. My strength was failing me. I was failing me. I begged and pleaded with my body to continue but I was broken. Time had won. Kildrak was right I had to rest.
“Stand little one! Stand as you can. On your knees if you must, crawl if it is all you can rally, save do not cease. He is almost overtaken!”
“My body is breaking within me Bahamut…”
“As it should, as it has, and as it will again before your time is through. But that time is not now.”
“I wish to…”
“Do not wish. Wishes are for those who cannot gather the strength to try! You and your patriots have tried and succeeded a thousand fold. In some ways more than I.”
“My weapon is too heavy; my shield is a weight to the grave.”
“Then cast them off and fight with your body and soul! The fight is ours as long as we never give up.”
“I feel the defeat in the corners of my essence, hiding and waiting for the darkness to come so that they may rise up and drag me down.”
“Defeat is in all of us little one. It always will be. You must learn to not run from it, but set after defeat and burn it! Let defeat be the fuel that spurs you on! You and your compatriots have done the impossible so many times before and I ask it of them and you again! Spit in the face of impossible and take to defeat like a battering ram!!!”
It was over in the next instant. Namissi’s rage was so all-consuming on Bahamut and I that his blindside was turned on his conquerors. As Namissi threw all he had against us, Kildrak, Muffi, Bettledex, Hermy, and Xune came like the fires of all the Nine Hells down upon his form as arrows, magic, swords and hammers falling together in harmony, breaking into the back of the beast. Their aim was true, their swings flawless. The raven’s wings enclosed and snuffed out the light of Namissi blow after blow. Sparks flew as iron and metal clashed upon tooth and scale. The littlest creatures can often pack the hardest hits. Rage as I had never seen before poured out of the dwarf’s maw. His hammer falls rivaled Erek-Hus’ deathly swing. Spells flew hitherto birthing rocks and flame anew in life. Bettledex manipulated the very world surrounding us and bid it to rise up against the final exarch. And from Xune’s crossbow, a single bolt: an ancient and most sacred artifact, The Arrow of Fate. She loaded the arrow of bone and with well timed precision and aim that only falls from those most… cunning, she fired it directly into the beast’s belly and he was cast down upon the ground beneath us. Namissi was fallen.
So that's how our session is starting this week......
I love Epic Tier D&D.