Session 8 Planning

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I know this thread is a little late here, but I confess to neglecting things as I get ready for Gen Con. Anyway, I've read through the encounter for the final session of Search for the Diamond Staff and honestly, I think it's a little anti-climactic. I saw somewhere else here on this forum that they were going to bring back Dretchroyaster. I didn't like this at first, but after some thought, I think that is a brilliant idea to tie everything back together from it's beginning on Game Day.

I'm still going to have Phoedele and her gang in there doing their thing. The change will come when the Cultists arrive. At the point that the Cult leader gets line of sight of the staff, he performs a prepared ritual to summon a simulacra of the Draco Lich. This should take 2 turns to cast though, so the initial choosing of sides can still happen without the knowledge of the dracolich. At the end of the second turn, the ritual activates and Dretch will manifest. (DM's descretion here but I'll probably have him airborne for a round or two and then bring him down) Dretch will immediately enter the initiative and begin attacking PCs and Zhents. However, he will not hestiate if cultists happen to be in range of the breath weapon. I will reduce the number of cultists by removing the Berserkers altogether.

When the ritual goes off initially, the staff will begin to glow noticably. Moderate DC to spot. If any PC holds the staff, they realize the ritual can be interrupted by a spellcaster. (requires an action to concentrate and a hard DC with their primary ability plus their spellcasting bonus). If successful, the Dracolich fades immediately. Otherwise, the simulalra will last a total of five rounds. 

The Zhentarim fighting against Dretch will give you some fudge room on his HP if needed. 

I think this gives the finale a little more umph and allowes the memory of this season to be the iconic Dretchroyaster, whos image was so synomynous with this season. 

Should be lots of fun no matter how you go though.  
I'm planning on spreading the session 8 encounter over the 2 weeks as none of our group will be attending GenCon and with them letting one of the Zhents go at the end of this week (with instructions to actually tell Phoedele they were here!) the Zhents will be well prepared to receive them

DM Notes

With the soldier from session 7 this makes the Zhentarim force = Phoedele, 1 Zhent Mage (already invisible), and 4 Zhent soldiers - knowing my players they will no doubt attempt to convince them to hand the staff over, and knowing how their dice normally go it will devolve quickly.

I intend to run the session until the the point where the Cultists appear, closing with the decision before the party and giving them until session 9 to decide how to proceed.

Session 9 will commence as soon as they give me their decision and progress per the adventure notes.

As I will probably have 6 or 7 players at the table, I was planning on adding a couple of Beserkers but I like Spykes's idea and may have the cultists arrive with the leader spending time to "summon" the simulacrum.

"Well that encounter was easy....er, guys, why is the DM grinning?" (party members last words)

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

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