A couple of weeks ago, The Dudes traveled to New Orleans to celebrate my 50th birthday in grand fashion. We lodged in a house that was the definition of character (see it here on airbnb) and was within walking distance of the French Quarter, although Uber rides were cheap and convenient. For touristy stuff, we did the airboat ride (Airboat Adventures) and visited the National WWII Museum. Thursday night was our big bar-hopping night, where we started off with a great dinner at Cafe Amelie and then hit 3-4 bars to listen to live music and partake of adult beverages. Best venue of the evening had to be The Maison, where we were treated to a rollicking set by Dysfunktional Bone.
We had a slow start to our Friday, but hey, we were on vacation. We decided to get started on our adventure, which involved us traveling to the Astral Plane to seek out and destroy the Lich Queen of the Githyanki. Real ho-hum stuff, right? OK, so let me back up and do some 'splaining. We rolled these characters up back in 2009. Yep, you read that right, 2009 - this party has been rolling for eight years! Of course, we only play a handful of times each year due to the fact four of us live here in Washington and the other two down the coast in California.
Between levels 1 and 20, we managed to end up quite high on the Red Wizards of Thay shit list. Oh, there were others too, but we had a full-blown Hatfields vs McCoys going on with the Thayans. They would stalk us, ambush and harass us, and we would repay the favor with forays into Thay, raid their caravans, and finally end up part of a massive drow raid that descended upon Thaymount and did major damage to the leadership caste. I think they might be holding a grudge for that escapade.
And then strangely enough, an emissary from the Red Wizards reached out to us because they wanted our help. Wait, what? Faster than you can channel your inner Adm. Ackbar (It's a trap!), we learned that Szass Tam, the Grand High Poobah of the Red Wizards, was scheming with the Lich Queen of the Githyanki to launch some sort of coordinated strike against Faerun. The other zulkirs weren't too keen on this solo endeavour by Tam, so they thought enlisting us (and the Red Sword) would put a stop to the plans without betraying themselves to Tam.
So that's how we ended up on the Astral Plane inside the Lich Queen's palace, fighting powerful Githyanki, gith/dragon hybrids, a legless Githyanki warlock, a two-headed red dragon (!), the Lich Queen herself, and some guy named Szass Tam. I'm pleased to report we were able to vanquish our foes in what was some of our best gaming to date. At least it was great, right up until the point where Szass appeared. We failed to destroy him (and yes, we had his phylactery) and my wizard/archmage Garrity was snuffed out by a Sphere of Annihilation. Luckily, our resourceful son of Moradin was able to do some of that cleric shit and bring me back. So Tam escapes and lives to scheme another day, but we did destroy the Lich Queen (permanently) and thwart Tam's plans of conquest.
What next? Well, for all intents and purposes, our high-level campaign is over. Ned reserves the right to continue this campaign down the road, but for now we are already looking ahead to starting over. I've compiled a small stack of character templates so once we determine our ability scores and hash out who plays what this time around, I'll be good to go. And I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to play this time around - a class I've never played before! Should be fun.
I'm sure Ned could write a dissertation on running high/epic level campaigns, but we would all agree that 20th level encounters take much, much longer. Buffs, immunities, SR, dispells, counterspells, the list goes on and on. I'll write my own thesis on the archmage sometime, but his high arcana abilities were very flexible and a lot of fun to use. Huge thanks to Ned for all the time and sweat he expended on the campaign, and for putting up with all the shit and shenanigans we put him through.
Of course the best part of the campaign is simply spending time with my best friends. We've rolled a lot of bones, drank a lot of beers, gave each other copious amounts of shit, and I love them like brothers. Wouldn't have it any other way.
PS - phylactery is apparently a hard word to pronounce for most of my party. And since they know me all too well, even if they wanted to pronounce it correctly, they butchered it just to stick it to me. Dickheads.