***This post contains spoilers to the Scales of War Adventure Path. You have been warned.***
There were several dangling threads to the overarching stories of my player characters that I thought could be better tied up and I decided to use them as the appropriate guardians of this section of Tiamat's lair. The drow rogue was split in two before our game's story commenced and was divided into her good and evil halves. Her evil half (with name spelled backwards so you know she's the bad one!) had actively worked against the gnome artificer's little brother when they were young and sealed him inside of a crystal. This crystal was the power source behind a golem-like construct. I used an elite spider priestess for the drow so she could summon a Drider at-will (seemed pretty epic and fit with her trying to exemplify the perfect darkness of the drow).
For the gnome construct, I used a strategy I already detailed from Roving Band of Misfits, using two monsters piled on top of one another to create the dynamic of a monster that changes as you whittle it down. For the construct, I ran with a battle golem and used a leveled up gnome time wizard to represent the effect of the spectral gnome inside that powered the monstrosity. So the creature had two initiative accounts with really different effects and feeling. I also added a non-combat "out" to take this creature down. The gnome robot had two cavities in his chest and one cavity was already occupied by a crystal that looked identical to the crystal that the gnome artificer found on her person when her brother was taken. The only difference was that it glowed with incredible radiance instead of glimmering with the dull shadow with which her own crystal resonates. When the gnome figured this out, she took the crystal from her robotic arm and used it to bring balance to the now fully functional, warforged-former-gnome that is her brother. The crystal was her power source all through paragon, but now that she was a starborn epic tier chracter, she no longer required it to keep her arm functioning.
On top of all that, I included a lich from a previous adventure whose phylactery remained unscathed and had continued in Tiamat's service. To make the combat feel a little different, I made him a bit more flimsy. He had some wicked spells and started with some substantial cover, but he was a two hit minion. One hit rendered him vulnerable (save ends) and if he took another hit that dealt damage while vulnerable he would be destroyed. However since he was a lich empowered by the queen of dragons, I decided that he would immediately respawn at his phylactery. I even put the phylactery elsewhere to try and make it so he could zoom back behind and surprise them. If they had gone to this room first, it would have been a very different story, but they did this room last and had already recovered and destroyed the phylactery. Even though he got some good shots in, he still succumbed to the parties' prowess. This was the guardian chamber of plot resolutions, indeed.
So in my efforts to tweak the final adventure of the Scales of War Adventure Path, it came to the last dragon brood mother. This was something I spent a bit of time on because according to the adventure, this brood mother never wanted the job. So wait. Why are the party even fighting this one?
My PCs navigated this challenge especially well, I think. They entered the room and located the dragon, who they realized was weeping and entering into dialogue with her, she revealed her unhappiness. I had left this encounter as a full combat with draconic skeletons bursting through the ice and they were going to have to melt through the central ice column to recover the gem eye, but through the use of a little brain power and some persuasion, they convinced the dragon to help them out. I made a really fast, impromptu skill challenge while the party rigged the door to be locked quickly behind them and seal the guardians in the room once they had the eye. I also split the parties attention with this one while the other half did surgery on the dragon to remove the unwanted eggs of Tiamat. All the unnecessary bulk from Tiamat's attempted brood were weighing her down and keeping her stuck in position. After a quick cesarean section on an ancient white dragon.......let that sink in for a second......they soared through the challenge, which was quite flavorful and fun. When the party removed the gem eye, skeletal dragon guardians were summoned, the paladin teleported through the door which they sealed with a slam and were ready to move on to the final battle with Tiamat herself.
I decided to grant the party a little boon for their creative thinking and had the white dragon brood mother, Turac'lothtor, create a frosty magical egg that when shattered would grant a portion of her power to the user. Basically this meant that whoever cracked the egg could cast a ritual as a standard action, but only once since the magic would be quickly expended (i.e. consumable). Throughout the battle with Tiamat, they'd be pondering just what effect would be worth using such a powerful bit of magic to create!
And so they gathered the last of the eyes. While we have actually already played through the finale and are enjoying the glorious free time that the campaign's end has brought, I did make some major changes to Tiamat herself and to the combat that I'd love to show off a little so keep an eye out for the final pieces of my adventure through the Scales of War.