I finished off Garaitha's Anvil this afternoon. Considering the number of encounters, I shouldn't have been surprised to find that in spite of my attempts to abbreviate some of them, the entire tale ended up being the third longest in the entire series so far.
I started with slapstick by having the inattentive githyanki guards fall over each other in panic outside the entrance to the Fane of Chanhiir. Inside, Glory mocked a pair of vengeful ghosts by observing the logical shortcomings of spirits. They were happier when their presence frightened off a couple of githyanki soldiers.
The party tried to get round the fomorians guarding the githyanki rebels by explaining that "ugly" ≠ "evil". The fomorians took the view that "violence" = "pleasure", and there was a fight.
I didn't worry too much about prolonging the fight to rescue the Freeriders in the Portal Hall. On this occasion Megan Swiftblade and her associates have been less antagonistic towards their rivals. I tend to treat the members of that band as less scrupulous than Gunpowder and his company. (No, I still don't have a name for them.) The rebels imparted their information and left.
From a realistic perspective, the whole adventure has to be non-stop. The threat that the githyanki might suddenly start flooding into the temple in vast numbers meant that there was little or no time to rest. There would, I think, be no way for Bejam to imbue a hundred heroes with the whitefire mark without a great deal of aid from Nefelus.
Kingdom pretended to be a government inspector and shooed the githyanki who were waiting in the airport lounge… I mean, er, bivouac out without a fight.
I had to take a dig at the daft level design. The hall of shards was one massive health and safety violation and later, the docks in Garaitha's Anvil were one disastrous design feature after another. Why would the eldritch giants be sitting in the middle of a bridge and not in some control room or pulpit?
I did make the fight against the undead githyanki in the final part of this section deliberately difficult. After all, the githyanki is level 20 and should, I think, be a tough nut to crack. I'm not really sure what to do with monsters which can become incorporeal and walk through walls where the PCs appear to be left to guess what sort of attacks will be most effective.
The Coalition Council fell apart faster than a fossilised cheese sandwich and Gunpowder stepped in as the de facto general in charge of the mercenaries serving the Coalition. Again, I was aware of the time frame. Gunpowder had to organise everything overnight and the heroes had to be off in the morning. I changed things slightly by casting the Freeriders as support. It seemed to make little sense to have the PCs as the sole band going after the key in the possession of Admiral Kadane. Belt and braces, as Gunpowder said to Megan Swiftblade.
At the start of the final section, I reprised the entry into the fane with everyone playing a cat-and-mouse game around the crates. (Reminds me of Doom II again.)
I couldn't be bothered with the tedium of battles against fire giants on the one hand and eldritch giants and fomorians on the other. Kingdom enticed the fire giants out of the forge and had them charge into the goods area where they set everything on fire and caused the roof to collapse.
Gunpowder tried a Kingdom-like trick on the githyanki and fomorians guarding the inner dock, but failed miserably. But the gates were opened, and the mercenaries charged in.
The final encounter on the ground did not overlook the githyanki ability to make telekinetic jumps, but I did exploit the limited amount of space and the constraints placed on the battlefield by the placement of the crates which formed part of the defences.
When the heroes boarded the Iliyoru, I had them gain control of the ship quickly with the watchword being finesse. Since none of the party are mariners, they all kept using the sort of clichéd phrases which might be read in old novels about nautical derring-do. Actually, I should've thrown in some of the phrases from The Navy Lark.
But they captured the admiral, got the key, and threw an almost epic-sized spanner in the githyankis' (and ultimately Tiamat's) plans. It also leave the final paragon tier adventure to go. Never mind the encounters. Feel the width.