We’re on the threshold of a climactic battle, and I’m looking for inspiration on how to handle it mechanically.
The players went to great efforts to recruit top notch talent, spending a whole session on running a tournament to select champions from the combined armies of Keroon, Pelark, and the Bloodlands. The fruits of this labour is a cast of ten named NPCs who have travelled with them to Vault, the liche’s mountain fortress, five of whom are fairly important recurring characters the players care about. The skills they bring are diverse, there are horse archers, a spirit binder, heavily armored, a beloved protege, Princess Medel, etc. These people matter.
The penultimate battle is with the liche’s totally indoctrinated, gifted children. These are basically innocents, variously abducted or sold, but collected from all over and indoctrinated at great effort to create a sorcerous royal guard for the liche. They’ve been taught a variant of White Fire.
As session 34 closed, the players had destroyed the liche’s second Tower of Silence. As the dust begins to clear, they see these so-called Lilies of Darpera picking their way toward them across the rubble. The foreshadowing had been fairly oblique to this point, and I had thought to surprise the players with what was to come next, but I got a very bittersweet feeling of satisfaction when Dallin’s player said, “Be careful, these are likely to be powerful sorceresses.” Which is awesome, because that feels like wonderful license to sow horrible chaos.
The Lilies are going to be a brutal enemy, because the players don’t really want them to die - they’ve fought on several occasions to have Keroon end the practice of sending gifted children to the liche (as a sort of protection money). They’re loyal, but inexperienced. Their White Fire will be miscast as often as not, causing all sorts of havoc, and the Lilies will likely be badly hurt from tax in any case. This battle will be a Pyrrhic victory at best.
The players have basically no experience with RNC (melee campaign so far), and it feels tough to pull it out on them now. I want to somehow honor the flavor of the individual NPCs they went to all the trouble of obtaining - helping dice are all the same, you know?