I've already talked about the changes that need made to bring the Scales of War Adventure Path's big finale, The Last Breath of Tiamat, to a truly epic and grand finale. I even detailed the changes I made to three of the guardians already. With over half of the gem eyes recovered and newly level 30, the party ventured into the red dragon maw this week to seek the red gem eye and defeat the red dragon brood mother, Maugh'gaul'lothtor.
|Isn't he just terrifying?|
His initial reaction was to be more conversational. His intent, after all, is to coax the party forward so that he can make better use of the forthcoming trap, THE SHARD OF ANNIHILATION. After coaxing the party into position, he can commence with the attack. And this is a piece I decided to keep from the original. Over the course of the combat, with a mighty roar the tiny kobold priest's form rippled, expanding as he transformed into a mighty adult blue dragon. Fun transformation moment and fun movement when the kobold can jump about through bolts of living lightning.
This encounter took a little to get building. They were already wearing down and were at a pitiable amount of healing surges so I knew this would probably be either the breaking point and they would either run or finish with nothing left. The most devastating component of the encounter was by far the hazard of the shard of annihilation. I reduced the rogue to dust only to have her reformed by her powerful epic destiny effect (which she JUST GOT at the beginning of the session). This was followed by a particularly nasty critical hit on the Paladin. With a tremendous dragon breath (doing 6d20+40 lightning damage to an already bloodied character) she was reduced to negative bloodied. She was saved at the last minute due to an interrupt power from the artificer who was literally trembling as she rolled the attack to see if the paladin would live or die. Talk about save or die! The encounter ran as difficult and complex as I hoped and the party was battered and bruised after trudging through it, but they still had some surges left and decided to shuffle them around and push on to try and steal the red gem eye from the red dragon brood mother herself!
Now this little kobold is merely the guardian of the red dragon brood mother. After besting him, the party enter a heated chamber filled with blistering magma. Platforms rise above the hot lava with Maugh'gaul'lothtor seated upon a large central pillar. She is the most loyal of the brood mothers (draconic name translation: Fiery Loyal Breeder) and her chamber is part of the self-destruct mechanism that Tiamat has triggered so it is in an upheaval at this point. The magma level has risen from what it once was and Maugh is beginning to notice and take concern. Geyesers have begun to erupt throughout the chamber and there are five roaring when the party first enter. A sixth hidden geyser on the opposite side of a central pillar is clogged by the gem eye. The brood mother herself is another hazard, which the party has grown accustomed to at this point. Trying to mitigate the damage the brood mother can dish out and staying out of reach while investigating the room for the eye is becoming more fluid and the party is getting better at it every week.
This part of the combat went swimmingly as the party ruthlessly navigated the room, using the artificer's ability to grant temporary immunity to fire to the dragonborn runepriest who dove into the magma to seek out the stone. The party used some quick thinking and good observation skills to set themselves up well in this tactical situation. The runepriest used his action point to hammer away on the stone and pried it out very quickly. As the pillar crumbled and they all backed off, the red dragon bellowed her rage upon them all and spat her last curses out at the party. With that, the second to last gem eye was recovered and the party only has one more treasure to claim in order to unlock their final path to mother of all dragons!