Session 22 & 23: The Crystal Pinnacle
These were two relatively encounter heavy session, where the characters enter the lair of the (buffed) hag Arasekha, but sessions, where they sacrifice important things to gain knowledge that will move the plot forward.
Sacrifices for Oracle
We began the session by the well, where Xarzon, whom the paladin identifies as being a celestial, still sits waiting for them to leave, so he can use the oracle himself.
There are seven players present, so when the player of Korrick, the dwarf fighter/bard, asks Xarzon, what you must sacrifice to learn something, not everyone hears. That becomes important.
Korrick decides to sacrifice his new Ring of Protection +1 to the spirit in the well, and the huge spirit emerges from the well and answers Korricks question on the nature of the curse that afflicts his clan (more on that later).
A little later, the gnome rogue, who together with the group’s wizard stole some sort of item from the monastery the wizard grew up in, decides to do the same, but choses to sacrifice 30 silver and some blood. Obviously, 30 silver is far from enough, so the spirit snatches some of the offered life force and the gnome is deducted 5 hit points – permanently.
Both characters got some relevant information that potentially will change the future decisions they might make.
The lair of Arasekha
The group then continues and find the exit to the lair of Arasekha, and when they pass through the portal, they emerge on a platform suspended more than 100 feet above the crystal forest on the side of a huge crystal spire (300 feet high). They are immediately attacked by a group of flying crystalline creatures, and they take some punishment. They dare a short rest, hoping that the witch hasn’t set an alarm, and succeed.
Exploring the pinnacle, which is a maze of hard to navigate crystal halls and corridors with multiple reflections of everything, they first find a garden of crystal plants with an elven caretaker. He is pruning the plants with a mithral dagger. They engage him in conversation, and he stalls until “his” minions arrive. Three groups of crystallized centaurs and hobgoblins charge towards the room. The elf turns out to be some form of simulacra and he shatters when hit, and the minions are engaged with fireballs and other potent magic, and fall before the group.
They push on and enter a large room where a group of crystallized hobgoblins are experimenting with the crystal. And we end session 22, ready to roll initiative.
The following session the group fights the hobgoblin laboratory workers and a crystallized deranged hill giant. They defeat them without too much trouble and find hobgoblins immersed in a solution, which seems to expedite the growth of crystal, and an elven prisoner, who is mostly infected with the crystal, which seems to be spreading like an infection. She begs them to kill her and find her imprisoned brother.
The leader Jarn decides to try and find the prisoner, before they deal with the witch. They succeed and locate him together with two centaurs. After the jailers attack, and are defeated they make for the tip of the pinnacle.
At the top they find Arasekha, who is guarded by a couple of crystalline elves in a small throne room. A battle begins, and she summons simulacra of herself to divert their attention, while casting wall of fire and other spells. The group responds with all they have, using summoned panthers to attack the simulacra, to locate her true self. After a fierce struggle they defeat her, loot her sanctum of spells, her Staff of the Seer and a few other items, including a very finely made mechanical beetle.
The spire begins to collapse, and when they reach the portal, it collapses. The Warlock use his feather fall spell to let them escape, without having to brave the collapsing spire. When the session (and 2016) ends, the group find themselves in a crystal forest 100s of miles from their settlement.
What went well:
- The crystal spire was an evocative setting, and with five major rooms/encounters it also had the right size.
- The final battle with Araskeha was fun and had good features, lair actions and odd surprises in it.
- The use of the oracle helped propel the plot forward based on player actions.
What could I have done differently:
- I should have used Arasekhas ability to speak and act through the crystal even more to make her even more evocative and interesting.
- Her minions at the final battle should have been just a bit tougher to make the encounter a little more challenging.