Leylines

Without a Trace IV

"Heartslayer"

After catching up with the woman and child next session the party seemed to want the NPCs to deal with them, and Jeung Shi, whose player was absent, ended up escorting the pair up to the surface while the others continued on. Entering the room beyond, the group was overcome by a sense of unease as they found the rumored Hector. Supposedly the source of the aberrations, the young teenager was huddled in a ball on the floor of a massive, perfectly crafted square antechamber. Random furniture and knick-knacks from the village were scattered around him in large piles, providing elevation, cover and difficult terrain, but he seemed too busy muttering to himself about “Karos”(a religious figure) and “the voice” to pay them much mind.

Unsure if this boy was actually an enemy or not the group closed in cautiously, although a misplaced jump by Eli ended up causing him to fall into one of the debris piles when he failed the DC 10 Acrobatics check he needed to land. Warrik stayed in the rear, hoping to use his NPC Leader abilities to indirectly assist the party while he is too wounded to fill the role of a Defender. As they continued to creep closer to Hector, none of them seemed willing to be the first one to step close, and eventually Hector’s muttering began to include them as well. Saying, “I don’t want them to hurt you, Daddy. . .”, he suddenly stood erect and was overwhelmed by a whirling heat haze, which obscured his features and gave the double-image of both him, and a monstrous, fleshy monstrosity more fearsome than any of the others that had come before.

Hector was a Solo monster, or technically an Elite with a Template, that was based off the Kenku Assassin and fought alone through the early moments of the fight. As the party rapidly knocked him near to his bloodied value with their encounter powers, he changed his tactics, using his “attack and shift 4 squares” ability to hit, retreat and hide behind the piles of rubbish every round. At this point he also summoned a Fell Taint Warpwender to help out, whose daze and “swap places with target on a failed save” effects, combined with Hector’s own “slow” effects, kept the party off-balance through the majority of the fight. Once their tag-team had sufficiently separated the party, Hector himself closed back into direct melee combat, critically wounding Cletus, and bringing the surge-less Mully down to 1 hp. Ray of Enfeeblement saved his ass right there, because he would’ve been down for the count if not for the weakened status.

They Bloodied him, and brought his hp down quite a bit, forcing him to retreat once again, as the Warpwender knocked Cletus unconscious. Warrik heroically took one of Mully’s Healing Potions and charged into the center of the battle to deliver it to the unconscious Bard, who was teleported to the far side of the battle shortly afterward. As Hector did his hit-and-run hide strategy, the party refocused their attacks on the Warpwender, quickly killing it before turning back to the fleeing boy. With Tarm and a slowed Eli in hot pursuit, Eli ended up striking a final blow, going for a kill as he drove his spear through Hector’s chest.

Hector’s final words were, “No, no, Karos! He’s . . . he’s coming!”, and that proved to be a bad thing. Pain immediately blossomed along the base of everyone’s skulls, and as darkness closed in on their vision, they realized what the cause was. The Leyline, the source of strength and power they’d relied upon for their magic and abilities, was gone; they could no longer sense it. And what ramifications this might have on the world at large, the reason it came into being, and what they intend to do about it will have to wait until next time; we broke the session early as the adventure concluded.

I had the players take a vote on whether they’d prefer to jump ahead to a point where they’d have an immediate opportunity to regain their powers, or to continue through the next several sessions without their Talent skill or Class powers, forcing them to use the environment, tactics, stunts and general ingenuity in the place of their usual routine as they watched first-hand what the world would go through as a result of what just happened. Interested in the rp possibilities, they chose the second option, and so things will be quite a bit different next time around. I think we’ll mostly be running into skill challenges, but when fights do come up I’ll have to ensure there’s interesting terrain, roleplaying options such as turning one enemy against the others, and other such things. I’ll probably also skew the hp and damage of enemies, halving the former and doubling the latter, to reaffirm the sense of powerlessness everyone is going through. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes, and I’ll report it as soon as I know.

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ZetaStriker

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