Brooks (brooksmoses) wrote,

Gaming: Epic Battle is Epic

Today was a day that, by the end of it, I rather needed to be smashing some fictional undead hordes. Conveniently, today was a day in which our gaming campaign delivered.

Today was a day in which our gaming battle had a Metallica soundtrack. Literally.

Today is a day in which this is long, so I'll put the writeup behind a cut tag.

We're in the climactic final days of this multi-year campaign. We're deep inside the bowels of the Stone Thief, literally, with mythic spears of destruction and a sword that literally has the Stone Thief's eight-syllable (or possibly nine) name on it, and on a mission from ... well, okay, the council on what to do about the Stone Thief didn't really come to any useful agreement, but we are on a mission whether they sent us or not.

We just fought our way into an erupting volcano.

Luckily, the path led to a tunnel with a magically-enhanced doorway that is now keeping the volcano firmly out, so we had a brief moment to catch our breath, but we're now on to the next battle.

The start of this was a wave of what our necromancer will explain to Cal later as time-and-death magic. What Cal knew of it was that he was hit with a wave of remembering the time that the party was pretty much entirely defeated when the Emperor's wedding went horribly wrong in a massive battle of demigods, and he attacked the black void that had replaced the Elf Queen, and her soul stepped into his body and slowly took him over. (The last part did not actually happen in our timeline.)

Mechanically, Ken (the GM) had asked each of us to describe a time, ideally on-screen, when we had nearly died, and then he twisted it so that we actually died. We then had to roll a save to resist the false memory.

I went first, and I rolled a natural 1.

Ken asked me to figure out how I had gotten out of this in the memory.

Everyone else succeeded at theirs. Our warrior-druid remembered the time when he'd perhaps-unwisely lept down onto a platform full of half-orcs wielding pikes, trusting in his ability to sweep the pikes out of the way, and ended up skewered on one of them. At my suggestion, in the false memory he successfully swept the pikes out of the way ... and missed the platform and just kept going down into the darkness. Our wizard remembered the time that he had been lofted on a giant kite to pelt fireballs down at an army of orcs only to find out they had some artillery, which should tell you all you need to know about him. And our necromancer basically remembered "right now", because in-character he is a smartass like that.

So, back to me. How did I get out of this? I looked Ken straight in the eye and said, "I am the Elf Queen."

Sadly, although that did score a successful hit on the GM's sense of humor, I did not back this up with a successful roll-to-save to avoid the mechanical effects of being taken unconscious. And then I backed up being unconscious by rolling another natural 1 on my initiative roll for the battle that was starting around us, which in this case only meant I went dead last.

The first round of this battle, we were swarmed by a horde of undead guards, and the necromancer held them off while my fellow party members tried to revive me, in what amounted to a comedy of "I'm an archaeologist, not a doctor!" fails and flails. The wizard was the third person to try, and being a self-taught wizard he had no idea what he was doing but attempted to set the power of lightning flowing through me to awaken me. Luckily he did not crit-fail on that, and in fact succeeded, and I woke up.

While all this was happening, I'd been paging through various spells I could potentially nab that would be in-character for the Elf Queen (mechanically, Cal has various feats that mean he can use three high-level spells from any class in the book, which seemed appropriate for a spy, though it was bending the rules slightly to swap them out on the fly), and so I waved off Ken's suggestion that the awakening had cleared his head of the false memory. Instead, Cal awoke still in the persona of the Elf Queen, and for his turn gave the elf in the party a serious Divine Power Boost.

And so the second round began. It was at about this time that Ken turned on the Metallica soundtrack.

Now, one of the throwaway lines in Cal's character writeup was that he'd once had an undercover assignment where he worked as a roadie for the band "Bardic Thünder". The band itself was a semi-throwaway encounter from before my time in the gaming group, so it had a bit of backstory there too. The umlaut is important, because they are Very Metal Indeed.

When the music started, Cal failed his perception check to see if anyone from "Bardic Thünder" was among the large pile of undead corpses lying around, but that was pretty much irrelevant because the music was clearly theirs, and about halfway through the round we were attacked by a massive mastodon wearing metal-pyramid-spiked leg-bracers with four black-garbed undead death-metal-playing riders on it that one didn't need a perception check to recognize even though they were now undead.

I give you Ken's description of the band: "In front is Mystaune Elfson is a thin gaunt half-elf wizard wearing a black cloak and crackling with lighting -- he rides the lightning. Next is Forgefang the Undying -- an undead robot (well, twice-undead now) bard/necromancer with a humanoid form and bits of flesh gone revealing a metal skeleton. Black Therion is a half-orc barbarian with a big heavy long black coat, a black top hat with raven feathersm and a Spinal-Tap-style moustache; he is known to wield a mean axe. Last is Opeth Darquesoule, a badly-scarred bone-white human with a bow and arrows made of bone."

And so the battle begins properly, as we begin throwing off the undead guards and going for the undead Thünder. Cal's first proper attack is to wait for the end of the song they're opening with, where he knows there's a crescendo that builds up to space where there should be a chord but they skip it the first time through. He hauls out his axe and plays the chord (mechanically, the spell is called "Soundburst" but we renamed it "Power Chord" long ago) to knock the band off their rhythm and also takes out two guards.

Ken paused the soundtrack until their next turn.

Then our wizard attacked all of them (except the half-orc, who'd lept off to attack our warrior) and the mastodon with a lightning bolt ... which fizzled, since their wizard blocked it.

So, on Cal's next turn, I hauled out the classic bardic "Vicious Mockery", and noted that just because you're a metal band doesn't mean you can get away with annoying bards that know you well, and specifically I made a biting comment about how Mystaune had literally learned that counterspell from a scroll he'd won in the county fair midway some years ago, because he'd never managed to make the proper ones from wizarding school work right.

...and that was the end of the evening.

The warrior-druid's player mentioned to me, on the ride home, that I should come up with a playlist of my own for next week. Especially since I'm planning to go down the list of thematically-appropriate spells, and the next one up is "Song of Thunder".

So, thoughts? I'm pretty sure Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe" is the opener, but then what?

Given the start of the battle, obviously I need some Queen in there, but "We Will Rock You" is a bit too obvious.

Also, I'm thinking this lovely bit of style mashup is going to have to go in there just for completely throwing the Thünder off their game.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.

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