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Author Topic: Actual Play - D&D - Spirit and Flesh  (Read 1016 times)

Abyssal Maw

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« on: May 11, 2007, 06:44:25 AM »
I've waay lost track of what session we are on. I didn't even finish my last write up. But I'll summarize.

The party killed the fallen angel Asrafel back there in the Egg of Rodnak (demiplane).

Around this time Vork (Saul) came back from vacation so we had him rejoin the party, but the way we worked it out was.. although the PCs were in the egg only 2 days, back on Aedorea, 8 months had passed.

The flood took place, and we sorta fast forwarded to Vork (over a period of months with no contact from the rest of the group) giving up on the group, returning to Roan, then when the flood happens he comes back, figures outs the riddle of the Egg and goes inside.. to find out that the group has only had 2 days pass.

Then they headed back and talked to the giantess Brekke for a while, and managed to weasel some free scrolls in exchnage for their mission of gaining the keystone.

Then they crossed from the small island to the big island. This was meant to be a stealth mission, so they avoided several encounters here whenever they came up.

The big island was mostly desert- a huge vast wasteland of sand littered with bones, and a single road that lead to the Dragon City. I think one of the encounters they basicly invisibled past was an entropic reaper mounted on an advanced nightmare. That would have been cool! But they stealthed past it.

More desert crossing.

They made their way through a Dragonbone Necropolis, which pulled together bones and corpses and chased them. The creature was a Boneyard (Libris Mortis). Once it was on to them, they chose to outrun it, using mass fly and haste.

More desert crossing.

They ended up outside the Dragon City, hoping to find the Carceran keystone and thus free themselves and their new sponsor (Brekke the Eldritch Giant).

Outside the dragon city they encounter a tent city of hundreds of refugees- actually lost souls that have been imprisoned by the egg. Also, they meet the cuty guards for the first time: Blind Guardians (actually grimlocks with several levels of barbarian).

So they do some information agthering, trying to figure out a way in, roleplaying with some of the various petitioners trying to figure out what they are.

You know what? I'm getting too wordy about this, so I'll repost the session recap that one of the players write up. See next post:
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Abyssal Maw

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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2007, 06:45:06 AM »
Session Writeup 4/18 (Owyn's player wrote this)

Cut to the Prime Material Plane of Aedorea on the continent of Eo:
Vork has been waiting more than a month for his companions to emerge
from the Egg of Rodnak. The loyal ranger is puzzled at first and then
begins to worry that his friends are dead and will never return. Vork
wanders the continent in search of the others for several more months,
eventually taking the Intrepid back to Evander when he hears that
Guinevere has been crowned Queen and is also apparently with child.
The Prophecy of Zumaloken seems to be speeding to its conclusion
despite the group's earlier efforts. Despondent about the loss of his
lady love – the new queen – to Vincent's clutches, Vork heads to Rohn
to clear his head. In the eighth month of his companions' absence,
the Flood begins… Rohn is engulfed in surging tidewaters and Vork is
forced to take the Intrepid back towards the higher ground of the
Crone Mountains. He returns to the Egg of Rodnak in Magg Mal's cave,
puzzles out the entry code on the artifact, and enters the prison
dimension in which the others may still be trapped.

Suddenly Vork is falling fast through open sky. Lacking a potion of
fly or any other ability to slow or stop his freefall, the ranger
splashes down near one of the smaller islands with a hideous impact.
Only his inner strength and resolve allow him to survive the fall, but
he desperately surfaces and swims to the small isle. As he pulls
himself up onto the beach Vork notices the same odd statues of
Carceran Granite that the other party members previously saw. Under
the night sky Vork makes his way to Brekke's cavern and discovers
signs of the party's passing. He reunites with his lost friends when
they emerge from Ganex's psychoportive shelter to happily greet him.

Unfortunately the happiness of their reunion is dashed by Vork's
report of eight months' time having passed in the Prime. Owyn, Ganex
and Bernie are well aware of the consequences of the Prophecy of
Zumaloken, and the flood that Vork has reported seems to be a clear
indicator that their efforts to stop Vincent have been for naught.
They resolve to quickly find a way out of this prison dimension, where
a single day apparently sees the passage of four months on the Prime!

The group's discussion is interrupted by the arrival of a huge
construct resembling a six-legged stone cat with four huge hammers for
hands. The construct attacks immediately, demanding that "all
prisoners must return to their cells." Its attacks prove potent and
its armor and spell resistance is thick, so the party escapes via
Ganex's dimension door and returns to Brekke's stronghold nearby.

After a brief strategic discussion with the giantess, the party forms
a plan to recover the Carceran Keystone from Hrolvar's island. Owyn
studies Brekke's maps of the area and pinpoints a good spot for
teleportation. Though `porting into the unknown area – the edge of a
desert on the main isle – is a bit risky, the gnome successfully
transports the group to the spot he designated. The four companions
find themselves on the edge of a desert filled with bones and bone
dust. A dry breeze blows through the macabre landscape, kicking up
bone fragments and dust constantly.

Though it slows their passage by a factor of one half, Owyn hides the
group from the sight of the desert's guardians by creating a major
image (illusion) of dust devils and windswept debris to cover their
movements. This tactic proves its worth when a horrible entropic
reaper mounted on a nightmare appears in the distance. The rider and
his mount seem to notice that something is amiss, but Owyn sends out
an illusion of four skeletal soldiers towards the reaper. This
convinces the dangerous undead to continue on its way, since it saw
what it expected to see. When they are halfway across the desert,
Vork calls a halt to the march and the party rests to regain its strength.

After a brief rest, Vork picks out the fastest path to the city in the
center of the desert. Unfortunately, this path leads right through a
huge crater of bones more than three miles wide at its widest spot.
However, Owyn's mass fly spell will provide just enough time to cross
the crater if everyone flies at full speed. Owyn casts the spell and
the four friends take flight, but they soon attract the notice of the
crater's primary guardian. A roiling mass of bones rises up into the
vague shape of a gargantuan skeletal serpent – a boneyard. Fortune is
on the party's side, though, as the boneyard cannot maintain a flying
pace as fast as theirs. Fleeing the enormous undead beast at full
speed, the four adventurers cross the crater and find themselves only
a few miles outside the high walls of a city on a hill. A series of
makeshift, bedraggled tent towns lies outside the walls, and all
manner of pathetic beings make their homes here. A cadre of blind
grimlock guardians keeps watch over a winding path up to the city proper.

Ganex approaches the blind guardians and manages to talk his way past
them by mentioning that the party is here on behalf of the "mighty
Magg Mal, daughter of Hrolvar." The inner keep is full of spellscale
dragonkin – human sized reptilian creatures skilled in the ways of
magic. The helpful spellscales call the city itself Hrolvar, and
claim it is named for their slumbering master, the great wyrm Hrolvar.
The party browses the well stocked merchant district and gets
directions to a library, which is just past the apothecarium outside
the district. Once inside the library, Ganex charms a spellscale
librarian and discovers that a huge pile of debris and treasure
allegedly lies past the "coils of Hrolvar" deeper in the city. The
sleeping dragon's body is so large that it is a feature of the city's
geography itself!

Heading down into the heart of the city, the party comes upon the
coils of Hrolvar – literally the coils of his mighty tail as he lies
sleeping. Before they can begin to traverse the coils, a patrol of
blind guardians (grimlocks) shows up and demands to see the party's
pass. Owyn reaches into his pocket, muttering "Oh yes, of course. I
have it right here…" and begins casting chain lightning. As he points
at the grimlock leader and the spell goes off, battle begins. Though
the blind guardians are mighty barbarians and employ their rage to
good effect, they are no match for the party's might. Bernie rushes
in and is quickly surrounded, and the goblin falls beneath the
grimlocks' axes, bleeding but not dead. Owyn takes advantage of
Ganex's levitation power to rise into the air away from danger and
blast the grimlocks at a distance. Between Ganex, Vork and Owyn the
guardians quickly fall, six of the eight taken down by a well placed
cone of cold from the levitating gnome. With the patrol defeated and
their valuable gear looted for later sale, the party now seems free to
explore the coils of Hrolvar at their leisure and find the Carceran
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Abyssal Maw

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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2007, 06:46:38 AM »
And here's session writeup for 4/26: (once again, Owyn's player)

The coils of Rodnak spiral downward and Vork scouts ahead, levitating
above the massive reptilian structures. The coils eventually meld
into stone and open into a large cavern filled with brush and the
sounds of jungle birdsong. A demonic guardian with blood red skin and
wicked claws pounces out of the brush to attack Vork, cutting into him
deeply with a pair of claw swipes. Owyn returns fire with a powerful
ray of disintegration, and Bernie cuts into the beast as it tries to
jump up to attack him. Finally, Vork finishes off the lion-like
guardian with a volley of arrows.

The party moves deeper into the coils as birds flutter about the
brush. The center of the adjacent chamber is concave and full of sand
at the center. A 5' wide sphere is partially buried in the sand, and
two red crystalline guardians stand motionless nearby. Another
passage branches off to the right from this main cavern, and the group
heads that way to investigate. They soon come upon an area with
prison-like architecture and encounter three tall, gaunt aberrations
who identify themselves as the rulers of this place. Two of the
beings – ethergaunts – are red, and the "warden" as he calls himself
is black. The warden wants to put the adventurers "back in their
cells," so combat ensues. The warden uses his horrific visage to try
and frighten the party, and also calls upon mass suggestion to make
them cease fighting. Vork succumbs to this suggestion and throws down
his bow, but Owyn and Bernard fight on. The warden unleashes a
prismatic spray at the four friends, but their quick reflexes (thanks
in part to Owyn's haste spell) avoid the worst of the spray's effects.
Unfortunately, Vork is caught in the blast and contracts a form of
paranoid insanity. At last, Owyn stabs the black ethergaunt in the
vitals as Bernie cuts him down with his keen falchion, and the warden
collapses into fizzling, chitinous parts. Vork finds a pinkish
triangular prism on the body – an ioun stone!

Using the Starrior Control Rod, Bernie casts heal upon Vork to cure
his insanity, but a slight paranoia lingers on in the ranger's mind.
Ganex creates a psychoportive shelter and the group rests up after
their encounter with the evil warden.

After resting, they head back to the sand pit. Vork finds some coins
under the sand and Owyn uses Brekke's Floating Disc to retrieve the
sphere – the Carceran Keystone – from the pit as well. Linking hands
with everyone and keeping in contact with the huge floating disc, Owy
n teleports the party back to Brekke's fortress on the nearby smaller
island. The giantess is most pleased to have the keystone in her
possession, and grants each hero a choice of one item from her vault
as agreed.

The adventurers, Brekke, and her ogre consorts form a procession out
of the jungle to the Carceran stones high on the nearby cliff. After
placing the keystone within the primary statue, a rift to the Prime
Material Plane opens and each being steps through in turn. Brekke
thanks the group again for their efforts on her behalf, and they
return the well wishes as they go their separate ways.

The party returns to the Prime at the site where Vork left the
Intrepid in the Crone Mountains. The nearest large city is the
dwarven stronghold of Goldpeak, only a few hours' flight away in the
mountains. The group adjourns there to sell their considerable stash
of treasures. Meanwhile, Vork and Owyn check the Intrepid's calendar
and map overlay to discover that another four months have passed
during their quest in the prison plane, and the floodwaters have
engulfed a number of coastal cities, including Rohn and Evander.
Further, nearby Esterine and Ember are overrun with refugees from the
flooded portions of Karelon. Vincent DeFabro's prophecy seems to be
racing towards its conclusion.
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Abyssal Maw

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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2007, 06:48:00 AM »
And here's May 3rd! Once again Owyn's Player.

"...As they explore Goldpeak, the adventurers realize that the dwarven
city is also filled to overflowing with refugees from the lowlands.
They spend some time plying the locals with drinks and learn a bit
about the changing political landscape during the year they were gone.
The Quadrite Throne's power has been significantly reduced, and there
is even talk among the dwarves of refusing to pay taxes – the tax rate
has risen to uncomfortable levels. Tax collectors sent by Queen
Guinevere are under the protection of Kurghite warriors. It seems
that the power and influence of the Kurghites has grown considerably,
as the Queen has also ordered the construction of government mandated
Kurghite temples throughout the kingdom of Karelon. Worse yet, the
rumors of the Kurghites' walking fortress have been proven true, and
the fortress itself is now active. This has allowed the followers of
Kurgh to project their power strongly throughout the kingdom.

Even Goldpeak has been forced to endure the construction of a new
Kurghite temple. Vork and Ganex learn that the local overseer is a
man named Daross who can be found in the Poison Toad tavern. He has a
reputation as a drunkard, which is proven quite accurate when the
party pays him a visit. Daross apparently has forsaken Kurgh, and
expresses some doubts about the "outsiders" who have been called in to
handle some of the "special modifications" to the new Temple of Kurgh.

Daross leads the group to the construction site and inside the
half-completed chapel. He pulls a hidden lever and opens a ramp down
to an area below the main chapel, where a passageway leads into an
octagonal room with a summoning pentagram in the center. Runes around
the pentagram are identified by Owyn and Ganex as Infernal, but Bernie
also points out that some of the runes have to do with summoning
yugoloths – the traditional servants of Zumaloken.

The drunken Daross stumbles and drops his bottle, spilling some
liquid across the magic summoning circle. The circle activates and
summons a huge baatorian fiend: a malebranche, a black winged figure
with enormous horns armed with a mighty cold iron guisarme. The devil
kills the inept Daross quickly, and Vork's arrows merely bounce off
its thick hide. However, after a tense battle Ganex succeeds in
targeting a vital spot with his disintegration power, which reduces
the fiend to a pile of gray dust.

Searching Daross' body, Bernie finds a sheaf of papers authorizing
him as an agent of the Quadrite Throne and as an independent
contractor connected to the Kurghites. The clever goblin decides to
raise Daross from the dead as well. As life returns to the drunkard's
body, he gasps in relief and tells Bernie that a curse has now been
lifted. He had been cursed in life to always have things go wrong
(like tipping his bottle into the magic circle), but apparently the
curse has lifted with his death! Bernie chuckles with glee and
exhorts Daross to convert to the worship of Zunail.

Owyn begins to grow suspicious of these new temples to "Kurgh,"
knowing what he does of Vincent's plan to spread the worship of the
Scion of Zumaloken. He and the others request for Daross to take them
back to the chapel proper and examine the statuary there, which was
covered by canvas upon their initial foray. Daross reveals the
statuary, and the party's fears are realized: the idol is not of
Kurgh, but instead is an oversized baby with a deformed skull face,
elongated ears, and strangely shaped clawed hands! It appears that
these "Temples of Kurgh" are merely a front for the return of
Zumaloken's cult. Owyn also determines that the independent
consultants hired to assist Daross must be disguised yugoloths in the
service of DeFabro as well.

This revelation is interrupted by the arrival of the consultants
themselves. There are five in all, and they each appear to be normal
humans as they approach the chapel entrance. The party creates a
quick plan of attack – Owyn calls forth a programmed image of a
ranging malebranche devil like the one they just defeated, and Ganex
sets up a barrage of sharp pointy weapons to hurl with telekinetic
thrust. The plan is to lure the consultants down into the summoning
chamber while the party hides in the chapel and attack from higher
ground with surprise.

Owyn's illusion fools the men long enough to lure them down, but the
leader soon discovers the ruse. "Gentlemen, it seems we've been
discovered," he says, and they make their way back towards the chapel.
The party springs its ambush at this point, with Ganex hurling
weapons down the corridor while Owyn casts acid storm into the midst
of the consultants. Unfortunately, their acid immunity prevents any
damage, but the acid does eat away their false skins, revealing an
ultraloth with a longish head and bulbous eyes, as well as four
nycaloths! Battle is joined and Bernie bravely moves to block their
advance up the corridor as the other three companions blast from a
distance with arrows, spells and psionics. After several brutal
rounds of battle, the yugoloths have fallen to Bernie's slashing
falchion, Owyn's elemental blasts, Vork's arrows and Ganex's psionic
prowess. As the ultroloth falls, it promises revenge in the name of
Zumaloken, but this day belongs to the heroes.
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Abyssal Maw

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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2007, 06:58:49 AM »
Ok, long story short : They were in the egg for a period of almost 2 years of Aedorea time (About 4 and a half days). The flood has covered 1/3 of the land in water.

Way up north, an icecap has melted/is melting in accordance with the prophecy. The icecap contained a Tarrasque. This becomes important later...

To the south, Vincents underwater temple has now become a temple on a recently surfaced island continent. (this is also causing some of the flood).

GM notes:

Each one of these sessions is between 3-to-3.5 hours. As you can see, we pack a lot of stuff in.

The refugees surrounding the Dragon City (Hrollvar's City as described by Owyn above) were foreshadowing. Because two sessions later, they ended up in Goldpeak, and I used the exact same image, except surrounding the Dwarf city of Goldpeak. This was originally unintentional, since I didn't know they were deciding to go to Goldpeak until they did it, but once they decided to go there, I made sure they knew they had "seen the future" while they were in the Egg.

Something the players haven't quite figured out:

Kurgh and Zumaloken are not really associated. A group of yugoloth servants of Zumaloken have infiltrated the Lawful evil temple of Kurgh as an institution, and are slowly manipulating a schism. When the Child of Zumaloken is revealed, there will be a sudden crisis. Many of the Kurghites will find they are actually followers of the Child.

This probably sparks a massive war between the Kurghites and the followers of Zumaloken.  

Ok. My for real no-kidding session write up for LAST NIGHT is coming soon.
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Abyssal Maw

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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2007, 10:31:16 AM »
Ok, so last nights recap.

Man, where to start.

After leaving the under-level of the temple (they had killed several yugoloths, as you can see above- an Ultroloth leader and 4 Nycaloths) they decided to trash the place. They started by destroying all the "Evil Baby" statues.

Ganex, Vork and Owyn all had a few points in architecture and engineering, so they determined a structural weak point in the front pediment and collapsed it in full view of the morning work force.

A small crowd gathered, and as the front facade of the partially-constructed temple collapsed, the people cheered. A few less-enthusiastic voices in the crowd slunk off to report to their evil masters, of course.

And then of course, they got arrested. Sort of.

Dwarven guardsmen from Goldpeak appeared as the party was posing on the rubble for an adoring crowd. The guardsmen arrested the group and brought them in for destroying the temple, and the party went along willingly. They knew the dwarves were not going to miss the evil temple either, but they wanted to elevate things.

So off to the dwarven captain of the city guardsmen.

The dwarven captain explians the situation: They knew that the temple was evil, but they were powerless. Two previous guard captains and key members of the Dwarven City Government had been killed. High-level dwarven officials had pressured the city guard to allow the temple to be built, and to safeguard and act as security for a key procession of "relics" which were to be arriving within 4 days.

The requirement for the relic procession was unusual, because the route through the city to the temple had been marked off 60 feet in either direction. On the day of the relics arrival, no living person was to enter that zone.

The dwarves were worried, but powerless. There was a small garrison force of dwarven warriors in the city, but most of the main force was deployed somewhere. They were advised to leave town.

The players elected instead to take up residence in the tent city outside the walls of Goldpeak, and eventually to set up an ambush for the relic-procession, and then root out which of the dwarves were actually disguised yugoloths.

Berni in the meantime, decided to cause some mischief, but the mischief campaign eventually started to take on a life of its own.

(more later)
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Abyssal Maw

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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2007, 08:39:21 PM »
Ok, well, once again I've fallen behind on this (what can I say? a lot of stuff can happen in a 3-hour session).

So there's a massive mischief campaign which eventually turns into Bernards attempts to sway the angry refugee populace into becoming Zunail worshippers. He gains a few followers, and at the end of the 4 days, he throws a massive impromptu festival.

I think he's planning something....

Ok, but at the end, they head off to go stop the "relic procession" - the one where the fake Kurghites (now known to actually be the Cult of Scion of Zumaloken) had requested a 120' wide 'no-living creature-zone' on the way into the city.

They discussed it, and made plans to ambush the procession on the mountain road. Less collateral damage, less danger for the refugees-- and they had a fallback plan to their airship if the encounter went badly.

They scouted out and prepared an ambush zone pinched between a bend in the road and some rock formations.

Bernard and Ganex had set up zoned traps including a warded flame strike area.  

Ok, now here is the GM under the hood section.

With D&D encounters, if the players can 'reset' between encounters they have a significantly easier time. One way to make encounters more interesting is to make the party take their resources seriously and manage accordingly.

The classic way to do this is by using "bleeder" encounters- these are technically lower than average CR encounters whose main (metagame) purpose is to try and get the party to use up ('bleed off') valuable spells and item charges.

Ok, but if you only have one significant encounter of the evening you can't do bleeders. What do you do? You do a cascade.

The cascade encounter is another cool way to challenge the party on a resource management level.

A Cascade encounter is seemingly one encounter, that suddenly turns into another encounter with minimal-to-zero lag time in between. There's no reset time at all, and it's also structured so that it pushes at the edges of short term spell-effects (so that buffs wear off or have to be recast).

Ok, so next post, my cascade.
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2007, 09:18:42 PM »
Ok, so here's my cascade!

The procession was two Juggernauts (see MM2, but this was a reworking of the Basic D&D monster), and in between 8 Drowned (see MM3) carrying an Ark-like structure.

All around them, creatures were dying as they moved along the mountain trail.

So the first 'immediate' encounter was these two huge constructs and 8 powerful undead. The drowned have a 'drowning aura' that causes suffocation, so right off, Owyn used up some spells on setting up water-breathing for the party (negating the drowning aura), as well as a plethora of buffs. Juggernauts were spell-resistant, and had some pretty tough powers (Forcecage at will, no-save!) so Owyn was using up his orbs (which aren't affected by spell resistance). He tends to throw those around pretty heavily during the opening of a battle. Owyn was flying and greater-invisibled. Ganex was using disintegration, Vork was sniping at range, and Bernard was going to tank.

So they start off by waiting until the procession made it's way into the ambush zone. At that point, prepared spells go off, and they start battling.

The second cascade was meant to be inside the Ark. This was an Atropal Scion (see Libris Mortis)- a sort of creature made from necrotic aborted godflesh. It flies, it has a death-gaze, and it has a death aura in a 60' radius. This was meant to be the unliving relic- a piece of Zumaloken himself, recovered from the negative energy plane..  

Ok, well, in the midst of the first battle, Ganex had just suceeded in blasting one of the juggernauts into rubble, and taken out one of the drowned. The rest of the group had locked up most of the other combatants.

So Ganex decides to target the Ark with his disintegration ray, and it is reduced to dust. Thus releasing the second cascade.

Only about half the first cascade was down by this time.

So now theyre fighting a juggernaut, about 4 Drowned, and this flying death-gaze, death-aura critter! As the ark crumbles to dust, everything in a 60' radius under 2 hit dice spontaneously dies.

So that battle goes on for a while, and eventually they kill the last juggernaut, along with a few more of the drowned. At various points I had Ganex and Vork both force-caged and surrounded. Bernard kept pressing the Juggernaut from behind, until eventually turned around and wailed on him with it's six mighty fists.  Owyn was a little too slick with his invisibility and I could never quite target him.

And the Ganex disintegrates the Scion.

And here's the fun part--releasing the last cascade!

Inside the Scion, was an incorporeal Whisper Demon (see MM4). The Spirit and the Flesh! as the flesh is turned to dust by Ganex's last disintegration, the whisper demon emerges.

And by this time, all buffs were down.

This last battle only took 3 rounds or so, because it was the very last thing going on, but they had wasted most of their incorporeal spells. The Whisper Demon also confuses players (it's incoporeal, but not undead) so Vork never used the proper type of bane arrow on it.

But they finally brought it down and completed the ambush.

And thats the triple cascade!
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