From Burning Wiki
Highlights from the final two sessions of The Staff and the Hell Gate arc:
The basic set up is that a hell gate has cracked open in the colony. The party has retrieved Shadaim, a war staff with an angel linked to it. They have arrived before the elven army to see their colony under siege, with hellish beasties all over the place and many of the buildings in ruin.
- Cobb and Altair (both PCs) have broken into the soldier barracks by pulling off the main door with magic. They plan to help, but the soldiers are outraged at them for compromising the defenses. Altair has a DoW with the acting leader of the soldiers and loses with a major compromise: they are not locked away, but they must do much of the soldiers exhausting grunt work.
- Back in the reinforced cellar of Maelwys’ ruined house, Mikhael (PC) has a tender moment with Rebecca, the daughter of his old comrade Ector. He gives her a necklace and she ties her favor – a small scarf – around his arm. Karmi (PC) also has a serious discussion with Sereth. She, a half-elf, is trying to be accepted as a full elf. Sereth talks about elven customs and emphasizes that family relationships are extremely important – not to be casually cast away. Karmi has been full of bitterness and bile towards her brother Theron, and she begins to soften a bit.
- After finding the pit that the beasties are coming from, the party realizes that the gate must be in an underground cavern, which there’s easy access to from The Sea Salt tavern. The tavern has been rebuilt since they left (it had been previously consumed by magic and dragon fire) but no one seems to be inside. And then they realize that their stealthy investigation wasn’t as careful or quite as they’d hoped. They see a gathering of demons and gooks slowly surrounding the tavern.
- Karmi successfully binds a strength 6 spirit of spirits to hinder all who enter the tavern. It has the fun and useful effect of bouncing off the rocks and torches that the gooks throw at the windows and slowing their efforts to hack their way in.
- One half-devil in particular stands out as the leader. He has these great curved horns on his head, oiled reddish-brown skin and a thick tail. Brynne (PC) notices that Laith, her lover, has gone pale and the grip on his axe has slackened. He whispers, “that’s my pit lord” and begins to pray. So Laith is one of my favorite NPCs to play. He’s a tielfing (a quarter-devil), born in Hell, and now struggling to be a Faith-saved man. But it has been such a struggle to live a good life – even with artha he has failed all of his Faith rolls (which remains at B3).
Mechanically, he is calling down a simple Ob 3 Blessing. But I added stakes to this – it’s probably the most important struggle he’s had yet. If he failed, the pit lord’s influence would call him back. This would have been a really cool direction in the story, but I really, really wanted him to succeed. He used artha, and got a helping die from Brynne, who was on the verge of earning the Faith trait (yeah, that’s a little generous, but considering their relationship, it seemed important that she should be part of this). The roll is…an amazing success! Both Jule Ann (Brynne’s player) and I cheered. This was personally one of my favorite moments in the arc. Light pours down from heaven and washes Laith in the Blessing, finally giving him (and Brynne) hope that their Faith means something.
- What follows is a gory Fight! with the minions of Hell. The Pit Lord goes down first – everyone targets him, but not before he can raise his horn and send a deep, ugly call for reinforcements. We wanted to give the feel of a larger battle at work, so the elven army finally arrived as well. The plan was to script a Fight! between the party and the main players of the initial demon gathering, and then, between exchanges, have other things happen, like cut to wider-view scenes of the overall battle. This kind of worked, except that the demon group (these weren’t the Grey-shade daemons of the MonBu) was in such sad shape after the first exchange, that we didn’t really need to go back to Fight! The one demon that was in decent shape surrendered. And oh, he tried his hardest to engage them in a bargaining DoW, but the PCs didn’t, in the end, bite.
- The larger scene we cut to involved Brynne wanting Shadaim to aid the fight against the demons. But as we already discussed, Shadaim had very strict standards to meet before allowing himself to be used. Brynne could commit to Selflessness and Forgiveness, but not to a lifetime of Chastity. She’s free, but the overall battle was more costly as a result.
- Once out of the initial danger, the PCs, with their demon captive, make their way through the tavern cellar to the cavern and the Hell gate. Altair kicks the captive in and they bring forth Shadaim to close the gate, as he has agreed to do. Everyone offers something to strengthen the angel and he is able to close the gate without sacrificing himself (although he is still linked to the staff).
- Mikael and Brynne have a DoW over where the staff will now go. He wants to take it back to Greater Alleathea to aid his Prince William. She wants to take it back to the Nephilim who are essentially Shadaim’s children. Mikael loses absolutely.
- Hammering another of Mikael’s beliefs, but giving him a chance to succeed, he sees his old comrade Ector, who has been acting suspiciously, run off. He puts two and two together and realizes that Ector is a traitor to Prince William. Full of frustration and rage, he runs Ector down and ties him under the ship that he prepares to return home in. He also takes Karmi and Theron back with him to return them to their father as promised.
- The Hell gate is closed, the battle peters out. The elves and the Colony have won, but at great cost.