As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m pulling all of this from memory, as I didn’t keep campaign notes of my characters back then. I did sketch a map on this one (it was revealed to us as we adventured) but it’s since lost. We were starting to get to higher levels (for 1st edition AD&D that is) and the campaign was getting late into its second year; plus there were other games on our radar (I think we played Twilight 2000 and WFRP right after this). WFRP was big for us as we played through the Enemy Within campaign with horrific results on our characters.
We had been on the trail of Dragotha for the better part of the year and I seem to recall us “just missing” him time and again. I vaguely remember that Jim’s dwarf was on a mission of revenge for slaying some of his kin and something may have happened where we investigated some additional deaths for his clan. Hence he was highly motivated. The rest of us had various reasons and as I mentioned I was recovering the shield of Arion for the dark elf city my PC was from.
Eventually we tracked Dragotha down to a dungeon he was lairing in and started hacking our way towards him. I remember it being bloody and populated with a number of clerical spell casters that were blocking our way. I don’t recall it being more then one level. To side track for second, I do recall I patterned the clerics of Orion, an evil sect in one of my second edition campaign worlds after them in terms of using clerical power as a thwarting method of the PCs; i.e. evil clerical magic can’t usually be utilized by the PCs. In much the same way I believe Gary created the Drow: a high level challenge with magical items the PCs couldn’t use.
In any event we arrived in a section of the dungeon that had a long hallway. From a wooden reinforced door emerged our quarry, the BBEG Dragotha! Now looking back on this, a doorway in a simple 10x10 wide hallway? In fact it was smart, rather then some wide-open area where we could gang up on him and lob spells. Also it gave us no room to maneuver, the fighters could not all get at him at the same time. The two main spell casters in the party were Daryl’s pyromancer and my fighter/magic user. Even still, at around 8th/9th level we could do some respectable damage with the heavy damage spells (fireball, lightning bolt, etc). By making thing up close and personal we couldn’t “call in the artillery” as it were as we would be striking our companions (later on in 2nd edition games with other groups I’ve actually had a 2e mage drop a fireball in the party’s midst on purpose).
So as it was we had to resort to melee and it quick order Dragotha leaped to the attack and killed the half ogre fighter and the dwarf (with the dwarven axe he was questing after no less) and the shield. He was at least attacking 3/1 and shield did 2d10 per hit (plus presumably strength). From there, Dave’s fighter/thief and my fighter/magic user were next up as the groups backup warriors. Dave engaged in melee and somehow managed to avoid the buzz saw of the spinning blades on the shield and the dwarven axe just long enough. As I recall believe that it was my character that got the killing blow in, not with my spetum, which I was specialized in, but of all things a lightning bolt spell. The half ogre and the dwarf had weakened him enough for it to work. I don’t recall Chris’ illusionist being there at he end nor do I recall the actions of Mike’s ranger/cleric. But I do recall getting the spell off. The clear memory is that I have is the area drawn out on the battle map and the front line fighters down when I cast. And like that, after a short, but intense fight the BBEG went down. From there the campaign wrapped up and we moved onto other adventures.
Looking back on the overall arc of the game what made it memorable is that each PC had a reason to go after Dragotha, but it was more. Looking back at it, using personal “mcguffins” for some of the PCs was brilliant. How does the BBEG use weapons that aren’t ones that the DM custom makes for just him? “Such and such bad-ass evil sword crated by X evil deity, the axe of doom, etc”, in effect it was sort of like the movie Conan where Thulsa Doom takes Connan’s father’s sword. Great, under served idea IMHO. How often does the BBEG use a dwarven axe of a good clan, turn it around and use it against one of the heroes? Not very often I’d say.
Since that time I’ve played in some great games, some not so great. Still others were somewhat in the middle. But since then, THE CAMPAIGN sits in a special place because of a confluence of many events: of it being the right place and right time. The fact that it was an awesome experience pales in comparison to the fact that I made life long friends from the group, we’ve been in each others weddings, seen our kids grow, argued, bickered and generally been pains in each others collective asses. In spite of it all I wouldn’t have traded the experience or my friends for anything.