Last session we broke the road and the rains came down. This time around we infected Los Angeles International Airport with a serious case of the demons.
The TV networks are filled with stories about the “Severe Storm” which damaged the 405 the previous day. Hundreds are feared dead but there’s not a word about the demons which appeared with the rains and departed just as quickly. There’s a sickly feeling in the air and many folks are planning unscheduled vacations just to get out of town for a while. Last minute flights are booked solid and the terminal buildings are packed to capacity.
Then the fog comes down.
The players have a choice – then can have their existing characters be there amid the heaving throng already, or they can run the session with new characters who experience their own personal Event during the battle with the demons.
My players all decide to keep with their current characters as they’ve lovingly increased them to Level 2 ahead of time, complete with shiny new 2nd level Magic Item (or 2x 1st level Magic Items. Either is good) as per our house rules for High Speed D&D and gaining magic items. Caroline Macaulney came equipped with a Pinning Spiked Chain +1 – that’s one great magical ability for a Spiked Chain to have, and just right for this biker chic too.
The first session was combat-heavy by design, so this time around I wanted to keep the fighting to a minimum. This session would involve calming panicked airline passengers and defusing human threats whilst demons lumbered around outside and tore up a few planes. Yep, it’s Skill Challenge time! Six successes before three fails.
But first, I needed a demonic threat. Looking through the Monster Manuals (particularly II) my eyes fall on this pic of a Runespiral Demon. Perfect!
There’s a trio of Arctide RuneSpiral Demons (sized up to Huge and Level 17) lumbering around the fog-covered airport along with their “babies” – regular small Runespiral Demons – trying to get inside. The big critters are strictly there as a “don’t go near” hazard with arc lightning coursing across them as they carelessly knock over grounded planes and chew on the odd helicopter. I make it clear these 40′ tall megaliths are way out of the PCs’ league and the best thing to do is sit tight and wait it out.
The PCs can see the demons outside, but the rest of the crowds can’t; they just see fog, lightning and exploding planes. They panic, led by loud-mouthed egotistical idiot Jeff Hallowell, a maintenance engineer from Des Moines who firmly believes that He Who Shouts Loudest Gets His Way. There’s always one in every airport, and he is it.
He opens the terminal door, and three Runespiral Demons enter. Not good. These demons are small, tough, fast and can toss lightning around like… well, like a lightning tossing demon. Arcane Arc does damage to anyone adjacent to them, they’ve got a nasty Ranged attack an Area Burst and a Close Burst lightning attack when they are bloodied. And this is in a roomful of normal people (ie, Minions). The PCs need to do something, quick.
For this session we didn’t use a battlemat at all. That gave me considerable leeway when it comes to dramatic license – I wanted this session to feel like a disaster movie in the making rather than a tactical encounter, and I think it worked :D I described the lightning hitting bystanders, coke machines being destroyed and the heroes standing together as Everyone Else panics, oblivious to the demons in their midst – well, apart from the arcing lightning and folks being thrown in the air, that is.
In short, there was a fight. It was over quickly (thankfully) and counted as one success toward the Skill Challenge when the doors were finally closed and barricaded. Other successes were gained through good honest role-playing supplemented with Diplomacy checks to stop the Hysterically Crying Woman from crying hysterically, an Intimidate check to get Jeff to shut the heck up, Heal checks among the wounded and an outrageous Bluff that “we’ll all be allright. There’s nothing to worry about.”
I’ll admit, I’ve forgotten most of what happened except that It Was Good and in the end the heroes saved the day, the fog lifted and all that remained on the demons was an awful lot of broken planes.
Emergency services arrive on the scene and the passengers are ferried back to their homes; there’ll be no flights out of LA any time soon.
All that’s left in the Terminal Building are the heroes and a lone, ancient Vietnamese guy. He looks at the PCs and says; “It has begun again. The Endday is coming!”
Next: Revelation, September 3rd.