They stood peering through the secret passageway that lead to their destination. Beyond the threshold, strange flickering fissures of light beckoned them into the unknown Godless Zone. Roughly five months of weekly D&D sessions lead the players and their characters through the twisting passages of the Underdark, through an ancient underground city, across the misty seas flooding dark caverns beneath the Shadowfell, and, eventually, to the domain of Torog, the King that Crawls himself. A quest to save a friend evolved into a journey to save a soul; save it by assuring its destruction. Behind them lie untold horrors. In front, a passageway to a place untouched by even the gods since the dawn of time.
Thus began the final steps toward the climactic end of my first ever written/run D&D adventure. The heroes would achieve their goal of slaying their friend (and my old PC), the deva Samel, allowing his soul the freedom of oblivion as opposed to an eternity in the tortured service of Torog. Obviously, Torog was not too happy about losing a powerful servant, so he braved the effects of the Godless Zone to pursue the heroes and teach them a lesson. Always a hotheaded god, he failed to consider the weakening effects the zone would have on him, and the heroes were more than a match for him in his weakened state.
Unfortunately for the heroes, for Torog, and for existence as a whole, Samel was not who he said he was. The ancient primordial chaos serpent, Anarchos, trapped by the gods for an eternity in the form of the deva, was finally able to work himself free through his material death in the Godless Zone. Samel, in fact, was a walking, reincarnating prison, a surprisingly secure method for the gods to keep the end of the world in check. Fortunately for the heroes, Anarchos had eyes only for Torog, to whom he delivered a permanently killing blow. Seeing the companions as a tool for spreading word of the impending Ragnarok, Anarchos let them flee to the surface world. Perhaps there they will fine the means to gain power enough to challenge Anarchos. Perhaps the world will end. Who knows? I’m not the DM anymore.
DMing was interesting, difficult, rewarding and taxing. I’m glad I decided to take the plunge and do it, but I’m also looking forward to playing my shelved sorcerer. I definitely hope to DM again someday, but now it is nice to work on one character instead of an army.
I found mixing in published encounters with the flavor of my adventure was key at times, especially on those Mondays when school work took precedent. I fought with the D&D Insider Monster Builder on a weekly basis, but it made my job much easier, nonetheless. That said, many of the encounters were completely of my own creation (a favorite quip of mine when a homemade monster used an ability that raised eyebrows around the table: “I dunno, it says it right here” while gesturing to the monster I lovingly crafted with my own evil hands). I hopefully included enough boring hack and slash encounters mixed with compelling hack and slash encounters to a ratio that allowed things to move along interestingly. You’ll have to ask Ed, Megido and Ryk about that. Though, they might be a bit biased since there’s a witch wandering around the Shadowfell clutching their characters’ happiest memories lovingly to her breasts.
You can download monster builder files for both Anarchos and depowered Torog to use in your own campaign. And if you followed the official Robot Viking Twitter feed, you could have seen photos from this epic night of gaming as it happened.