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The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 28: The Return of Vex

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Ruh Roh
When your character gains a phobia

When last we'd left our stalwart band of maniacs they had thoroughly humiliated the DM's (that would be me) chosen champions. Granted, lady luck had quite a bit to do with that, but I can't throttle lady luck. My players though . . . well that's another matter.

And what a coincidence that Dan (most recently of the half fiend Vex) had decided he'd like to rejoin the campaign. Got tired of us having fun without him.

{DM's Note: This actually came up a couple months before. While I could have ruled summarily as DM I decided this was a choice to be made by the group. So I told him he could come back this one time if, and only if, the group was okay with it. But I did make him wait till the group finished their little side quest. Not so much because I wanted to be a dick, but because a maniacal scheme was already forming . . . that involved me being a dick.}

What's that? How do you handle such vengeance? An excellent question. I'm glad you asked. Oh, you know you were going to. . . Yes you were. Uhuh. Look we can argue about this all day or I can get on with disseminating this information . . . that you asked for. It is a delicate recipe.

Step 1: Spice liberally with a false sense of confidence. Being that the group had just helped a band of dwarves reclaim a hold lost to them centuries before, well that wasn't very hard. They had a party. The gnome was the guest of honor. The Kobold got black out drunk. Yes the gnome kept convincing him he could have another; 'for science I swear'! Yes the dwarves were amazed at how much he put away. Yes Zornesk vowed vengeance, and swore off the firewater. Just like every alcoholic come Sunday morning. Step 2: Add a dash of boring horseback ride back to the same city they'd visited, making sure to have them stop to discuss their future the night before arriving. Step 3: Mix liberally: Overcast weather, a deserted city, doors opening and closing on their own accord. Now add an enemy (in this case Vex) that nearly killed the group previously. Sprinkle with Herb of Lich. Oh and said enemy should be aged to 1.5 times the highest level character in the group.

Step 4: Stir vigorously. Bake to frustration level in oven for 4 to 10 rounds depending on the party's temperament. VENGEANCE IS SERVED!

For this particular encounter Vex was a character level 21 Inquisitor/Cleric Lich. This was a monster of Dan's own creation made to my order.

She opened the fight by creating a Roaming Pit that sent the less than dexterous Bob plunging 90ft. All others had some ability to fly, dammit. By some strange twist of fate the Kobold was the first of the party to get to grips with Vex. Though the original plan was to cast Shared Sacrifice on the rogue and let the paladin wail on her, creating a nice little moral dilemma for Zornesk, Vex couldn't see the Rogue for a Flesh Wall she'd created. Waiting for the tricksy rogue to show himself wasn't an option; paladin smite's hurt . . . a lot. So she cast maximized Hellfire Ray on the uppity little bastard. {DM's note: My general rule is that if your character falls unconscious or dies you leave the table. In this instance I told the group that wasn't the case and that the spirit of Zornesk (yes he made the save) could choose to aid one ally, chosen at the beginning of every turn, giving them a +2 to all saves. It did not help.}

As Bob climbed out of the hole he'd fallen into Vex would move the hole, sending him tumbling back down. It was like some demented version of the itsy bitsy spider. And when the rogue did show himself shared sacrifice was waiting.

Finally Quagrim got tired of his cohort's continual failure against the forces of gravity and burned a hero point to cast fly on his vertically challenged super pet. (Yes I totally would have had him flapping his ears) Unfortunately Vex then used a hero point to cast Death Clutch on the gnome. He failed his save and began falling to the ground. Minerva then burned a hero point in an attempt to swoop down and catch the gnome before he died from the fall. Unfortunately, this provoked an AOO from the lich who used the Paralyzing Touch lich ability to cause her to fall in the pit. Boy does Dan know how to get mileage out of a hole in the ground. Quagrim died and his spirit joined the growing choir of caspered cheer leaders.

Next up for the survivors was Slough cast upon Zubat.

{DM's Note: Up till this point the group had started getting quite frustrated, Clint especially. But when I told him to bear with me he listened. His response loosened up the entire room.} In response to his skin peeling off like a ripened orange, Zubat glared at the lich and yelled "THE PANTS GOD SENT YOU DIDN'T HE!?" Which awarded him one charisma point. At the time he needed all he could get considering the fact that he looked like an anatomical dummy of the human musculature system. And yes, its safe to say his balls dropped.

The fight didn't go much longer before Tanic was added to the pile of bodies (ironically he dealt the most damage to himself) at which point the entire party awoke. They were drenched in sweat. Their hearts were pounding as though they'd run ten miles. And they were shaking like a chronic arthritic. They quickly compared notes, realizing they'd all had the same dream. To say they got no more sleep that night would be an understatement.

And when they approached that city from their dream, sky overhead clouded, they could not help but feel a sense of dread. This prompted them to interrogate the poor guard on duty . . . from a distance; a shouting distance actually. Mostly this consisted of 'are you sure your not a zombie?'. Despite his misgivings the guard let them in once they showed him their membership. Apparently it had taken precious little time for The Delicious Cupcakes to make a name for themselves.

Once inside, perception checks revealed that none other than Vex was standing on the other side of the bustling square from the group. But Tanic and Quagrim failed the will check to notice Khelban standing next to her and flew into a rage.

The gnome didn't make it far as Zornesk took one look and immediately tackled the excitable little bastard. Despite the gunslingers best efforts, and repeated pleas that the paladin 'smite her!' he could not extricate himself. After a few seconds of this Zornesk was able to talk sense into the crazed shenaniganist.

Tanic was a bit more difficult (isn't he always?) sprinting ahead of the group with his ridiculous 50ft move speed. Zubat's Eidolon was able to fly ahead and wrap him up for a turn, but he was able to reverse the grapple and escape, continuing towards his imagined tormentor with a single mindedness that Thanos would respect.

Which was where Minerva came in. Not to be outdone, she cast Telekinetic Charge on Zornesk sending him flying right into the small of Tanic's back, mid charge. Then the Kobold grabbed the rogue's arms and rode him like a surf board until he slid to a stop . . . on his face.

Not to be deterred he then stood up, Kobold still on his back, and charged some more.

Khelban couldn't decide whether he should be in awe of such a performance or annoyed, but either way he couldn't allow it to go any further. So he cast hold person on the rogue, and (while still held) explained that this wasn't the Vex they'd killed. He told them that he'd found it hard to believe that the Vex that had been making a name for herself as an inquisitor with a bent on rooting out demons and their worshipers would be one herself, and backtracked their course. He discovered that the Vex they'd killed had been a duplicate placed in the group while they were in Neverwinter, and that the real Vex had been thrown into a particularly nasty prison. It's best not to dwell on the specifics. And she would have perished to the many gangs in the prison if it hadn't been for a slayer that took her under his wing.

After this revelation the group retired for many, many drinks. All except Zornesk, who had some rather unpleasant business to attend to. Turned out that helping evil-doers with their evil schemes was somewhat frowned upon. Who knew, right? This being his first chance to ask for atonement he headed off to the nearest temple. Quagrim followed; I suppose he was planning to be a character witness or something.

But when they got there and the kobold blurted out his sordid little tale the head priest seemed confused. "Are you bragging?" the priest asked, at which point Zornesk said no (quite seriously) and could he please have an atonement. Say Hail Mary's till dawn or some such task.

At which point the priest led them to a small chamber in the back of the temple. A moment later a deep voice resonated from the gold domed ceiling. Again the kobold explained his transgressions.

"So what your saying is that you redeemed an evil-doer without even knowing he was such?" the voice asked. Zornesk nodded. "I can't believe this shit," the god muttered as the thumps of footsteps filled the room. This was followed by the sound of a door being opened, and half slammed. A second later the door opened and the thumps returned, with what sounded like a second pair. "Tell him what you told me," the voice commanded. At which point Zornesk obliged, nervously.

"Do you hear this?" the voice asked whomever he'd retrieved.

"It's certainly a different one," the other voice agreed.

"This is what I'm putting up with," the first voice complained. "Listen you," it continued "I have better things to do than listen to you pat yourself on the back. Do you understand?"

"But I just want an atonement!" the kobold squeeked.

"An atonement?" the voice asked, as the other voice broke into laughter. "For redeeming the wicked?" The dragonling nodded nervously. "Fine," the voice said with finality "give me your sword."

Now despite the fact that he was clearly in the presence of two gods, Zornesk actually hesitated. It was, after all, a +1 holy avenger he'd just purchased. But really, what else could he do? So, trying not to cry (which was hard despite the fact that kobolds don't have tear ducts) he unsheathed the weapon he'd just bought and held it up. An invisible force lifted it into the air where it was struck by some light. After a few seconds the light receded and the sword was lowered back to the kobold. But now it was a +2 holy avenger. "Take this," the voice commanded "and just . . . keep doing what your doing. And the next time you bother me you'd better have a good reason!"

Needless to say, the two pint sized adventurers beat feet. The following day they all set out for Suzail, the closest port city. There they hired a fast cutter for transport to The Plaguewrought Lands.

They also met a fellow passenger, an initiate in The Order of the Blue Flame, a young Tiefling that would not shut up about the glory of said order, or her hope of gaining a Spellscar.

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