And now we come to it… the showdown with the tarrasque and the demi-deities. Here, I will detail how I planned for Day 2’s events, where I feel things went well, and where I think things went wrong – what I learned.
First of all, only two of my players from Day 1 were able to make it to Day 2, and none of my Day 2 players were present for Day 1. So, in a way, it really was like the Day 2 adventurers went to a completely different location while Day 1 people did their thing. So, that’s cool.
Still, I would have liked more Day 1 people present at Day 2, just so they could see how their actions paid off in the end. But that’s okay, everyone still had fun.
Okay, so just like with Day 1, I need to figure out the following:
- Where this is all starting – I have that already, it’s Safuja
- Who all is involved
- Where they are going
- What’s at this location and what’s it all about
- What will happen once the world-breaker arrives
Recapping the Players
As I said, most of the players that attended Day 2 were not present on Day 1, so I had to kind of “restart” the event with the opening story so that the players knew what was going on.
They started off in Safuja, meeting the Sovereign and Drijalora. They were told about the awakening of the world-breaker and the four demi-deities that are protecting it.
Probably the best part about this was – here on Day 2, I had a lot more experienced D&D players, so they knew exactly what the world-breaker was (because I never once referred to it as a tarrasque, because that makes more sense in-the-world). I loved watching their faces transform from horrified shock to a kind of “we’re probably going to die” acquiescence.
Here is where I needed the additional NPCs to help the player-characters out during the confrontation with the tarrasque. At least, I figured I would. So I made a handful of them.
- Ishivar zon Trakanov, the revenant dragonborn paladin/barbarian of Tosh, the god of justice and order. He is an oath of vengeance paladin, and cannot truly die until he’s exacted his revenge.
- Sappher Biortanian, the human fighter/bard, with an Intimidation bonus of +16 (thus I called this class combo the “warmonger”). He used to be a soldier, and doesn’t trust the gods anymore.
- Sot the Bowfiend, the half-elf artificer/arcane archer (and my favorite creation so far). Sot is an attractive, somewhat bossy man due to his background as a caravan specialist. Because of his special items and skills, his attack bonus with the longbow is +13! He also has a mechanical giant owl companion named Lenore that he can fly around on.
- Tiven Yulgard, the blue dragonborn storm sorcerer/tempest cleric of Borohn, god of (guess what) storms. He’s all about that lightning damage. A younger adventurer for his level of experience, Tiven has a wild mohawk of orange hair atop his blue scales. He grew up on the streets, and learned quickly how to fight for himself (probably my second-favorite class build).
There are the NPC adventurers.
You know who else we’re going to need? The four demi-deities protecting the world-breaker. Oh, and the world-breaker itself, but I figured that was a given.
- Razavar, the weeping woman. Avatar of Qasos, the god of despair and vengeance. A thirteen foot-tall woman with long, graying hair that falls all around her body, which is draped with long, billowing gray robes that are stained from the tears that Razavar constantly weeps. Her “wail” ability has the power to stun creatures into a state of despair. (inspired by la Llorona!)
- Kaltov, the winged demon. Avatar of Osti, goddess of caves and the underground. Kaltov is a ten foot-tall bat-like demon with the eyes and mandibles of a great spider. It has two pairs of winged arms, and its numerous small young cling to its belly, and can break off in swarms to attack nearby creatures. Kaltov’s bite can also drain the life of its prey.
- Nakamal, the three-headed monstrosity. Avatar of Mahluq, goddess of monsters. This giant beast is fifteen feet tall at the shoulders while standing on all four legs. Its lupine body has three heads (and therefore three times the perception skills!): the right head is insectoid and resembles an ankheg, and does extra acid damage with its bite; the center head is like that of a jackal, and its bite can knock a creature prone; the left head is a combination of avian and reptilian, and has long alligator-like jaws that can grapple and swallow smaller creatures. Nakamal’s back can open up to reveal chitin-based wings with which it can fly.
- Borotov, the fury of nature. Avatar of Tabat, goddess of nature. This is a sixteen foot-tall humanoid plant made of tangles of soggy, dripping-wet vines and vegetable material. It is resistant to fire damage because of how soaked-through it is. It has no face, but instead relies on blindsight. It has the power to grow twice its size, and become a near-unstoppable siege monster. It can also awaken nearby plants and call them to its aid.
So there are all the additional characters for this day’s event. The Sovereign, the generals, and Day 1’s characters will all be joining in as well (even if their players are absent).
Where Did He Go, George?
Now it’s time to figure out the location in which this showdown will occur. I knew how the NPCs would suggest taking down the world-breaker – they would lure it into a narrow valley, in which the world-breaker will have limited mobility.
So I need a narrow valley. Luckily, it appeared that my map of Errun contained just such a place:
At the southern end of a mountain range there appeared to be this toothy-looking space that could very well be a valley or canyon. So I searched online for some type of battle map that I could use for this. I did come across the Sighing Valley from the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure, and I really liked the look of it, but I couldn’t find it with a playable grid. So maybe I’ll save the Sighing Valley for something else in Errun.
Instead, I used http://www.inkarnate.com to make my own. Here’s the valley of Idomana:
I’m really happy with how this map turned out. I printed it out for the players to use, and made a gridded copy for myself. It’s not as “sheer-wall canyons” as I had originally pictured, but that’s okay. This works for my purposes.
The ruins at the northern end…I just put there, to be honest. And then my players went looking at them as they got settled into the valley, so I made it the ruins of a temple to Daro, god of lakes and rivers, because of the nearby stream that cut through the valley.
The Rumbling Happened Before They Were Ready to Rumble
I let the players plan out their attack. Sot the Bowfiend, the arcane archer and artificer with the ability to make magical ammunition, spent two days creating magical ballista bolts that they would use to attack and pin down the world-breaker.
The players positioned their ballistae around a point in the valley where a few NPC druids had been conjuring woodland beings and then killing them to create a food pile to lure the world-breaker in. Another player used control weather to make a wind to blow the scent of the animals in the direction of the world-breaker.
Then everyone felt the tremors that signaled the coming of the world-breaker. I had Kaltov the bat demon fly overhead suddenly to scope the area. The players’ plan was to lock the world-breaker down and then focus their fight on the demi-deities, while the undead army attacked and destroyed the world-breaker.
The plan was in place. The stage was set. Everything was ready to go.
Titanswrath Day 2
I explained to the new players how the campaign started, the same way I did for the Day 1 players. Then I told them how the Day 1 characters went off with the five generals through the magic portal to Bran Urko.
Now it was time for them to prepare. NPC Wizards and druids went to Idomana to build a teleportation circle and to start conjuring the food for the world-breaker. Meanwhile, in Safuja, the smithys and weaponers were creating bigger, better versions of the city ballistae for use against the titan creature.
When the teleportation circle was complete, they started transporting the gear and weapons to the valley with the adventurers. The Sovereign Balthias zon Tior even accompanied them there, and promised to fight at their side.
At Idomana, Sot began making the magic ammunition. People began to scout the valley, and put the ballistae in key positions around the food pile. One paladin even performed the “marriage” ceremony for two of the player-characters, in order to give them the proximity boost to AC and saving throws (the funniest part about this is that player is actually a pastor).
Then I had the Day 1 adventurers and the five generals arrive via the magic portal stone they used to get to Bran Urko. The generals were all purple-eye-glowy because of the deal with Kasal, but they didn’t have the endless army with them that was promised. Finally, a cleric requested divine assistance from Hunar, their god of craftsmanship. She requested that three of the ballistae they built could be made indestructible. It worked, and the god blessed the constructs of war with invulnerability.
The plan is to trap the world-breaker and use ranged attacks to keep it down and to keep it from attacking while the generals use the endless army. This will free up the rest of the heroes, and the casters especially, to deal with the demi-deities so that they don’t go after those attacking the world-breaker. Seems like a solid plan!
The heroes all began to feel the earth tremble beneath their feet. It grew stronger and stronger, and they knew that the world-breaker was approaching. They hid, and then watched the gargantuan (literally) world-breaker crest over the mountains surrounding the valley, and descend down to the food pile where it began to eat. The demi-deities were soon to follow, escorting the creature, and seeking to protect it.
The adventurers spring the trap, and fire all ten of the ballistae! They pin down three of the world-breaker’s four limbs. Sot’s magic ammunition not only pierces the monster’s tough armor, but it then explodes outward into several spikes that instantly stretch out and slam down into the ground like pitons attached to great spears.
The demi-deities begin approaching the heroes as they run out to meet them on the battlefield! Geron the minotaur general uses his new power to call forth the army of undead. Thousands of undead creatures begin bursting out of the ground throughout the entire valley of Idomana. They crawl up through the dirt and shamble forth, then race to the world-breaker and swarm all over it, like giant ants devouring a carcass.
The monk uses its Quivering Palm technique on Nakamal just as he’s snatched up in its reptilian jaws. Nakamal fails its saving throw, and instantly dies!
A few of the heroes work together to bring Kaltov to the ground, and entangle it to keep it from flying away. Through their combined efforts, they are able to kill it.
The undead swarming over the world-breaker eventually bring it to its death.
The half-vampire rogue takes on Razavar, and the gnome barbarian goes for Borotov, but neither are able to defeat them before they disappear through portals of shadow, seeing their champion titan has died.
That’s when something interesting happens. The five generals gather around the corpse of the world-breaker and begin chanting together, commanding their undead army to “feed…feed…. FEED… FEED…”
After a collective, “NOPE,” from my players, the divine heroes gather around and use their Channel Divinities to collectively turn undead. This works – completely destroying the present army. The generals begin to flee, but are all eventually taken down by the heroes and their clever use of spells.
And that’s where we ended.
Wow, I learned a lot here. I made some pretty big mistakes, but then I also thought I’d have more time with my group. The biggest mistake I made was I let the players plan for WAAAAY too long. It was probably over an hour of them planning.
I had the outline of the plan in place already – the NPCs came up with it. Pin down the world-breaker, keep it down with ranged fighters, and then focus everyone else on the demi-deities. The only thing that the players needed to worry about was where to place the ballistae, and their own strategies for fighting the demi-deities.
I let this go on for way too long, and it ate a lot into valuable combat time. I had eight players on Day 2, which isn’t as many as Day 1, but the enemies here were MOUNTAINS of hit points – another mistake of mine. I wanted to make it realistic, after all, and demi-deities would not be easy to defeat. They even have Legendary Actions and Legendary Resistance. Nakamal should’ve used a Legendary Resistance to overcome the monk’s Quivering Palm technique, but since time was running so short, and I did want my players to be able to defeat these avatars, I let it happen. Plus it was just too cool to let slide.
For taking down the tarrasque, I ended up having to use exploding d12 for damage dealt by the undead army. The thing has so many hit points, and we were quickly running out of time (game was played on a Sunday night, you know), so – I remember – at one point I picked up all of my d12 dice and just rolled them.
Much like Day 1, I didn’t want to leave anything unresolved from Day 2. The event HAD to end. There HAD to be a resolution for my players. We definitely weren’t going to return to this event another day, so it HAD to finish. I did what I had to do, what any good DM would do. I sped it along.
It’s a real shame that I made the earlier mistake, because this meant that – with so many people – the players didn’t get to take too many turns in combat. Oh! And that reminds me, with all the NPCs in on the fight, too, Initiative order took waaaaay longer than I thought it would! This had a couple of negative effects for me, the DM:
I ended up straight-up ignoring certain powers and abilities that the monsters could do, and stuck simply to average damage of their basic attacks. I did have one or two of them try something special, though. But I gave up on it quickly. Second, I began completely skipping some of the NPC characters’ turns. There were just too many, and I wanted to focus more on my players, not these other people.
I wanted my players to win. I needed my players to win. That’s how the story goes in Errun’s history, after all. The world-breaker is defeated. So I had to get this done. They all did a great job playing, and were all very clever about the things they wanted to do before and during the fight. I even helped some of them create their character sheets beforehand so that they could study their abilities before coming to the game, and already have some ideas for what they could do.
That was another thing…. I realized, like, 3 days before the weekend that running an event with so many high-level characters was going to be really tough because each character has so many abilities and counters and feats and skills that each turn – each round of combat – could take a really long time. Especially since it’s high-level gaming with a lot of new players (or players who have never reached this high a character level).
So I learned a lot. I’m not opposed to trying this again some day – hosting another big D&D event campaign, but I would definitely make some changes. I would really want another DM there to back me up and keep track of certain things, or run certain characters or features of the event.
Day 2 really felt like a hurricane going on around me, and it wasn’t really comfortable – and this is not my players’ fault, this was just because I put too much on my plate and it felt like I was barely holding the seams together behind the DM screen.
Though, I will say, a couple of the coolest things that came out of this…. One, my players began catching on to the names of the demi-deities real fast, and were saying them in and out of character. That warmed my heart that they cared that much to do so. Second, after it was all done, a couple of them were like, “Yeah! I’ve never got to fight a tarrasque before!” And, even though they technically didn’t, I’m still glad they were happy for the experience.
I’ll have one more post about Titanswrath for you tomorrow, featuring a look behind the DM screen at all of my monsters and technical stuff! You’ll get to see how I put together and stat’ed up the demi-deities! Yeah, I learned how to create your own monster stat block! That was fun!
Until then – Well Met!