First Reprisal: Act I Finale
As the sun crests the sky on another fine summer’s afternoon, business in Black Mesa continues as normal. The market is winding down for the day, and the streets are heaving as people return to their homes.
A ubiquitous high-pitched whine pierces the air, bringing the town to a halt as the residents stop to look around. The tone gradually lowers to a deep inaudible drone. Pebbles dance across the ground, and a nearby street vendor is caught unawares when a roof tile falls from above. The serenity is broken as windows shatter, and distant screams fill the air; the residents stampede.
Cracks run down streets and up walls as the vibrations intensify, whilst some of the more delicate buildings start breaking apart at the seams. Hundreds are lost when one of the smaller mesas splinters into pieces and collapses. In the middle of town the guardhouse drops out of sight, and is dashed against the rock 20 metres below.
A golden figure clasping a colossal geode is revealed as the dust settles in depths of the cataclysmic cleft. Hundreds of shale skirmishers assault any guardsman unfortunate enough to have survived the fall.
Half of the main plateau collapses into a cloud of debris, and the surrounding stone buttes topple into the destruction. What’s left of the town continues to shatter, until there’s nothing but a pile of rock interspersed with broken bodies.
Intervention, observation, or circumvention:
When, if, and how much of the above occurs is, of course, entirely up to the GM and players. Perhaps the party will return just in time to witness the catastrophe, or maybe they’ll perish in the midst of it all.
One of many routes:
My lot were greeted by Neddie Blake as they arrived back from Ayuttha; Neddie was a guardsman stationed near the water harvester. Inga has requested that the group meet her this evening at the Butte of Consult, where the Council of Seven will be holding a meeting. This gives everyone a chance to rest and resupply, and Neddie simply met them where they were staying – The Angry Hag.
As Neddie guides the party through the town and approaches the rope bridge, the high-pitched noise echoed out across the town and everything started to go south. Captain Lance Chamberwell came running across the bridge from the Butte of Consult, yelling that it was coming from below – down in the caves. He commands Neddy to get the men, and both made a hasty beeline for the guardhouse.
At this point the buildings were collapsing, and I thought the group was simply going get the hell out of dodge. Thankfully not, and they arrived with Neddie and Lance to discover the yawning hole, and what remained of the guardhouse. Whilst Lance legged it for the water harvester’s stairs, the group shattered the geode with a well-placed arrow. Shale monsters scaled the walls and provided a distraction as the golden figure explodes into a cloud of dust and headed for the surface.
The golden figure is a golem made purely of herlicite – the glittering mineral found in herlic clay. This is the same stuff that was being harvested in the Elemental’s Grotto.
I used a Mask Golem as the template for the creature, replacing masks with balls of herlicite. The material either covers the head, or tries to invade the mind through the eyes and ears. The shale creatures are pretty trivial, but it’s generally a dull fight with a single target. If the town didn’t survive, there’s no reason this fight couldn’t take place at ground zero.
It should be a tough encounter, but the rolls were pretty poor on my side, and decidedly suspicious on theirs. Never mind.
Picking up the pieces:
On the assumption that the town still exists, the Guilds of Thaumaturgy and Engineering will have their work cut out for them. Securing both the structures and the plateau will take months, if not years of hard work. The Council are almost certainly going to want to know who would commit such a grievous act, and why. How fortunate that a reliable group of adventurers are on hand to look into the matter!
If the town crumbled into dust then a couple of outlying mesas might have survived – including the Butte of Consult, where the council’s meeting was underway. Lanahris Aldadel could probably hold the stone pillar together with a high-level Make Whole spell.
It’s less of an issue if everyone dies in the finale of a one-off season…
The Council of Seven will likely send the party in the direction of Goram’s Depths, should the players be willing to investigate the event. While surly and reclusive, the dwarves have much more knowledge of subterranean creatures.