|Aranea (from 4E, I think). Eww.|
4. How can the fight be brought to the enemy, gaining ground for the heroic motivation?
Be the PCs first:
Encounter: infiltration and pursuit
Place: Stefano's Tower, third floor, later
Knowing that angry young Stefano is going to oppose them, the group prepares to rush the third floor, expecting the worst. Sister Ysabel casts Sanctuary on Orsini, and Don Pantaloni creates a Minor Illusion of Guglio leading the party.
Be the GM next:
Story Cube: playing with dolls
The group first sees that the third floor was once the old Stefano's living quarters. Paintings of his family adorn the walls. However, in bizarre contrast to such a cozy sight, there stand amid the comfortable furnishings more hideous aranea. Four of them are in spider-human hybrid form obscenely dressed like some of Stefano's relatives in the paintings! Young Stefano hovers behind them, gleefully directing their motions like an insane puppeteer. He commands the hybrids to attack the heroes while he follows two other aranea up the stairs as they drag webbed captive mimics up with them.
Be the PCs once more:
The attacking aranea use spells and close combat weapons in a fight that is the toughest that Orsini and his friends have ever fought. Thankfully, the illusion of Guglio works, and two of the aranea waste their efforts on it. While another cannot attack Orsini thanks to Sanctuary, the veteran fighter moves in. Tactically, the heroes get the advantage - and they desperately need it! Ysabel is struck by two Magic Missiles, Don Pantaloni gets webbed (again), and Orsini is victim to a Shocking Grasp spell. Liliana helps to cut Don Pantaloni out of the webbing just in time before a closing aranea with a sword finishes him off! As the monster moves to attack her, Orsini intervenes, killing it. Ysabel, pained as much by her physical wounds as she is by Orsini's attention to Liliana, opts to assist Guglio in the fight. When the battle is over, the heroes are victorious, but they are seriously injured and exhausted by the intensity of the combat. [This was, indeed, the toughest fight so far.]
5. How can any heroic gains from the results of Question 4 suddenly be undermined as new information about the true face/scheme/power of the enemy becomes known?
Be the GM first:
Story Cube: dice
Place: Stefano's Tower, third floor, a few minutes later
Young Stefano appears at the base of the stairwell to the fourth floor. He admits that he is surprised that the group is still alive. He tells them that he knows everything that the "real" Stefano knows because they are subtly connected. Young Stefano plainly states that the heroes cannot have the tower, and, if they continue to take their chances opposing him, they will most surely lose this game. He turns his back on the group and goes up the stairs.
Be the PCs next:
[Skill test galore - all successful!] Ysabel senses that young Stefano really wants to kill them and he is confident that he can do so if they proceed. Don Pantaloni believes that there is something almost illusory about young Stefano, but he isn't an illusion - he's...something magical. Guglio suspects that aranea magic is somehow behind this, possibly using the magic that Stefano left behind when he expelled all of the arcane powers out of himself. Orsini admits that they've got a rough fight ahead of them if they keep going, but, to Orsini's battle savvy, young Stefano's threat means that, somewhere up there, the evil version of their friend has something of value he doesn't want to lose. The group decides to move on to the fourth floor.
Be the GM once more:
As they go, Liliana reminds everyone about the mimics being hunted and dragged off. What would the aranea want with mimics?
6. How can the adverse results from Questions 4 and 5 be further intensified, forcing the heroes to commit to a do-or-die course of action in accordance with the heroic motivation?
Be the GM first:
Story Cube: reaching up to get something [this was EXTREMELY inspirational!]
Encounter: intrigue and pursuit
Place: Stefano's Tower, fourth floor, a few minutes later
The fourth floor is a [Story cube: flower] storage area for old Stefano's herbs and exotic plant specimens. The room is terribly messy, but, fortunately, there is only one aranea there. The monstrosity doesn't notice the heroes because it is too busy trying to reach a small object on a high shelf.
Be the PCs next:
Orsini and Guglio dispatch the aranea easily. Guglio goes after what the aranea was trying to get, and he finds it...a very tiny treasure chest that fits in the palm of the dwarf's hand.
Be the GM once more:
The chest suddenly begins to move, change shape, and come to life! It's not a chest - it's a miniature mimic! Liliana realizes that the aranea are summoning mimics into the tower using Stefano's leftover magic and then dragging them into the Perpetual Shrinking Potion Fountain to make them bite-sized. Aranea and mimics are shapechangers; somehow, at least one of the spider monstrosities - probably the one with so much control over Stefano's magic that it IS becoming Stefano - is growing in power by devouring the mimics. If the aranea become so good at changing their shape that they look indistinguishable from humans, they can walk right into Avanti...
|This put it all together for me...|