Alright, so when we last left off our heroes, they entered a temple, hoping to find the prince Amel-Marduk. Along the way, they got up to some… questionable floors. The recent rooms and trials in particular just rub Zerubabel the wrong way as he and his Sin Dragonborn enter the next trial of the fourth floor:
A chute drops off tons of food. It has a lot of rotting flesh. The two are able to overcome the smell and find a strange, fat demon feasting on the flesh. Zerubabel, with his newfound knowledge of exploring these dungeon like temples, can identify it as a troglodyte. Yes. This is what happens when you do D20, guys.
So combat begins. The troglodyte doesn’t seem to notice the two, especially once Zerubabel plays the new card he got upon levelling up, Hidden Secret. Zerubabel manages to find a hidden trap that will pull down more than just rotting meats, however, to set it off, they’d have to have the troglodyte stand under it.
So he decides to do so by distracting it with a prestidigitation spell.
[Q: Does the troglodyte get distracted? Odds: Very Likely. A: Exceptional Yes]
The troglodyte does indeed get distracted and he triggers the trap. It’s a falling block trap and it crushes the troglodyte easily. With that easily accomplished, they move onto the next trial. In the hall of lit torches, there’s an Auroch standing in the middle. On the ceiling is a riddle telling them to “handle the animal”.
Zerubabel tries to do so, but failed. Dracoiel tries to cause fear into it, see if that works. The animal runs away. They proceed, believing they accomplished the task at hand. Once they got to outside the room, Dracoiel finds something isn’t quite right. That’s when he spots him: Xanadu the Pit Fiend. Xanadu is pretty chill though, since he’s here to tell them that Tiamat finally has something for them to do.
See, she wants to come back after she was killed by Marduk, a God who had thwarted her quest for revenge. However, two things stand in her way: she can’t be brought back without an offering so grand, that any request could be granted. The other is that she must not have anyone who may even be closely related to Marduk be there when she comes back.
This, unfortunately means Amel-Marduk is on her hit list for sharing the same name as him. The kicker? Xanadu has him in the room behind him. He says that in order for the deal to be done, Zerubabel must personally murder Amel-Marduk and ensure the ritual to revive Tiamat goes off without a hitch. Xanadu will help him in making Amel’s death look like an assassination from the assassin.
And if he is to refuse, then Dracoiel must fight him to the death. Hey, I have a plot twist card called “A Rock and a Hard Place.” I will play that and make Zerubabel do something unexpected. Zerubabel says that if he is to change Amel’s name, then he will have no connection to Marduk. Xanadu lightly considers it. He asks him how he can do that, and Zerubabel asks Xanadu to assist him in changing Amel’s name.
However, as they enter, they realize too late that Amel set up a pitfall trap that sends them to the 3rd floor of the temple. The two fall down all the way to the third floor and take some damage. Fortunately, they fell to where the traitor scorpion guard was. Dracoiel explains the situation to Zerubabel. The entire temple was set up to be a death trap for Amel. Inside the temple rests a powerful being whose death can help bring the revival of a God. Tiamat could be such God if they wish it.
Zerubabel realizes just how screwed he is. He’s pressganged into bringing a demonic dragon to the world all because he wanted revenge. Tiamat sympathizes with him though, as she wanted revenge for the death of her lover, Apsu, at the hands of their son, Ea. This is why the star said “We do not forgive, we do not forget”. It was foretelling of Tiamat’s revenge.
Even so, he knows that he’ll commit treason by bringing back Babylon’s sworn enemy. He has to find a way out of it. So the Scorpion Guard escorts them back to where they are (with Zerubabel telling the woman in the room that he is the Mr. Perfect. She’s thrilled and hopes he can survive the encounter with the beast upstairs) and into the room they go. Xanadu was waiting for them since he can pretty much fly.
So they go over the pit trap and hold him down. The Pit Fiend reveals that he has a guy who owes a debt to him. He summons him, he’s a regular old Ren-Hekau (Magician who specializes in names and words), and Xanadu asks him to reveal Amel’s true name. He does so and it’s practically Marduk. Xanadu holds down Amel and preforms a spell that altered his true name, corrupting the soul in the process. Now the true name is Marmaduke. As soon as he releases him, Xanadu teleports Amel (and the hunters) out of the temple.
Now the truly difficult part comes. Xanadu poofs away, telling Zerubabel that he’s done a surprising thing. With the last battle underway, Zerubabel goes back to the woman and asks for her name. She says that her name is Meridiana and that she will love him forever. Dracoiel just laughs at this because he can tell just from his origin that she’s a succubus. With their relation hitting off, they finally head off to the final floor.
The first room they go into is a simple room with a mural showing a fierce battle between Tiamat and Marduk. Zerubabel still has his doubts about it, but Dracoiel says that he has to do this to fulfill the deal. Zerubabel, however, expresses that there has to be a way to stop this. They go investigate the doors. With one of the doors locked tight, they’re forced to use the other door.
They enter a corridor where they pass by a shrine. While it does nothing to Dracoiel, when Zerubabel passed through it, he is attacked and took a massive blow. Zerubabel responds by taking a potion that he took from the hunters and drinks it. As they continue, the random event pops up, saying an ambiguous event occurs relating to a violation of business. I drew from the Plot Twist deck and got Agony of Defeat.
I simply say that the temple begins to collapse and they have to enter the shrine room quickly. As they did, they see a gigantic bull in front of them, ready to confront them. Zerubabel instantly recognizes the bull. It’s Gudanna, the Bull of Heaven. With its death, perhaps Tiamat will be able to be reborn in the world. Well, time to begin the final battle.
You know what’s funny? I decided to pit them against the Bull of Heaven, and this guy’s To Hit bonus is +30. He automatically hits every time, and he’ll deal at least 12 damage. So, with that, Zerubabel does the sane thing and runs the hell out of there. Dracoiel, however, decides to go out in a blaze of glory and try to kill the bull in an attempt to serve Tiamat.
The Bull of Heaven is unable to get out of his room, but he is a little damaged from his battle. Zerubabel, without Dracoiel by his side, simply rushes to the room to get Meridiana. She quickly follows him out without any question (since the temple is collapsing).
By the time they reach the third floor, they’re greeted by Xanadu, who tells him that the deal is still ongoing and that he must kill the bull. However, Zerubabel tries to tell him that the bull will be crushed (he played the twist card Moment of Glory, enabling him to get a +8 to his roll) but he rolled a natural one. Xanadu is upset with his seeming betrayal and he attempts to kill him.
However, Meridiana intervenes and whisks him away. During this, they come across a crack in the wall. They bust it open and they can find their way out of the collapsing temple. They fly out just in the nick of time as the temple collapses.
[Q: Does the temple kill the bull like Zerubabel predicted? Odds: Likely. A: Yes]
As they exit, they see the blood of the bull seep away from the broken temple. Zerubabel knows exactly who to summon to the world instead that could make Tiamat sated. Someone she never thought of before: Apsu, her husband. Night falls as the same star that Zerubabel prayed to, Tiamat’s star, shined in the sky. And once it saw Apsu, it twinkled. The debt is seemingly repaid.
Zerubabel takes a brief moment to mourn the loss of Dracoiel… That is until Xanadu comes back and informs Zerubabel that, since Dracoiel is now a Sin Dragonborn instead of a regular old dragon, he’s able to manifest when he feels like it, just like how Xanadu does. As for the whole “you betrayed Tiamat” thing, he’s cool with it, but from now on, they’ll ignore his pleas, just so he doesn’t get involved in their agendas.
Zerubabel doesn’t care though. He managed to serve both the person he owed a debt to and his kingdom without betraying both. He now can settle down with his succubus wife and live happily ever after.
Well, that was it. Sufficed to say, that was really enjoyable. I think I streamlined a lot of the D20 rules, but just so I can play the game and not get bogged down by mechanics. The Twist Cards really help the game flow a lot and it makes me consider doing more of it for future D20 games. While we didn’t get a lot into the biblical mythos, I did enjoy the mythos that I did get when I was playing the game.
But what I liked most of all was how coherent the game was when playing it out. When Xanadu was summoned by Mythic, I practically left the room and realize how messed up the situation was. I was like “NO WAY!” By the time the game rolled around to the midgame portion (the scorpion guards), the idea for the plot solidified itself.
I practically tried to figure out what I had to do to solve the problem that Zerubabel had. That easily made D20 Testament one of my favorite games I played this year. Well, what else will I tackle?
Well, I guess I’ll have to take care of that Swords and Six-Siders game… As well as finally play Quill.