Our Dungeons & Dragons game had it’s big finale (for now) with the characters at the River Styx, a waterfall dropping into a strangely — one might say “deathly” — still pond. They had just defeated a devil intent on stopping them from getting this far, and only a half mile away, over a hill, a massive battle between the forces of good and evil was unfolding on the beach, where the Archangels Michael and Gabriel were leading their meagre number of angels against a hellish horde of hundreds. (Oooo! nice alliteration!)

They were confronted by the four elemental “Guardians of the Shadow” — the veil separating the various planes of existence: water from the pool, fire from a forest fire that had been set during their fight with the devil, an air elemental they could barely see, and an earth elemental that had plucked himself out of the cliff face. Things were looking grim, as the players had blown a fair bit of their spells, command dice (Marcellus was out of arrows for the Bow of Indignance), and ki points…then Anathema dropped her hood and showed herself to the creatures, which promptly stopped their advance. But why..?

“I live here,” she told them. The pressure was not off, however, for the real foe had arrived — Satan and a few other devils dropped toward the pool and were promptly attacked by the guardians and the party. The air elemental was quickly dissipated by Satan, using weather control. The other devils were attacked by the fire elements, but they were immune to that; the water elemental grabbed one and pulled it under the pond. The rest of the team got involved and the fight was fierce, with Satan and his sidekick knocking the characters around. Icio the monk was several times knocked into negative territory — the first time I had assumed him dead at -10HP, but the 5th edition rules apparently make death even more remote. He would got healed to a few points in the positive and then knocked back down to -11, healed again to 3HP. Carrus went head to head with the sidekick devil and got banged up pretty badly, but with Marcellus’ aid they finally whooped the creature. At that point, in response for the last fight where the devil they’d run off had chopped the horns off of his helmet, he gouged the horns off of the devil as replacements.

While all of this violence was ensuing, Augustinian was desperately trying to finish the banishment spell for Satan — one that, if he was reading his Enochian right, would lock Satan in Tartarus. He was distracted twice, having to restart the spell, and using a syncretic version that called on Jesus and several Roman gods to do the deed. Calvinus the Bard, sensing they weren’t winning the fight, started his own song — the song to destroy the Shadow and open the paths to other planes.

Toward the end, it was apparent that Satan was too much for them. Icio was desperately calling for God’s intercession…but there was nothing. Michael and the other angels were fighting, or dead, on the other side of the ridge. Then his prayer was answered…but not by whom he expected. Through the waterfall strode a man, 20 foot tall if a foot, older but with that wiry-looking musculature. Black armor shot with red highlights. A strange head-hugging helmet that hid most of his features, save the Fu Manchu beard and the bright blue-gray eyes.

Pluto had arrived to defend his kingdom. The characters and the god fought Satan for a few more rounds before Calvinus and Augustinian finished their spells at the same time. As they were well outside of their level of mastery, they both rolled — Wisdom for the cleric, Charisma for the bard. They both rolled 23. Good enough for the spells to happen, but not good enough for their not to be unseen consequences. Satan seemed to smear through the air, right through the waterfall, crying out the whole way. Then everything disappeared in a blaze of multicolored light!

From the beach where the battle had been going against the angels and Christians, they saw the bubble of bright light explode up from over the ridge. Then devils started dropping as lightning blew them apart. Earthquakes started to break the earth and the sea swallowed hundreds of the Goths and nephalhim (tiefling) that were fighting with the demons. Out of the sky, riding a lightning bolt came a huge giant of a man, strong, middle-aged, and armored for battle. With him, a red-haired goddess in shining armor, her shield and spear at the ready. A man similar looking to the first rode horses made from of sea-foam out of the ocean. Arrows rained down from the sky as a man and woman, similar in look rode in on a chariot pulled by fiery horses.

The demons and their army broke and ran for it, leaving the Old Gods triumphant, and a few of the angels alive to take to the skies, and ultimately, Heaven which they had been denied by the Shadow for so long…

We ended there for the night, not knowing if the characters were alive or dead, or what was in store for this version of the 4th Century. Considering I didn’t really have a plan beyond a more gritty and historically based game, this wound up going fairly well: We had a nice combination of imperial politics, battle scenes, bad guys, religious debates, and a denouement that actually went the way I kind of wanted it to.

Afterward, I pitched the idea of the new “volume” in the Hollow Earth Expedition game and was pleased when they seemed amenable. So next week, if all goes well, we may have a new ’30s pulp game to play for a while!

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