The second session of "Modron Madness" picked up exactly where the first had ended. The party was standing around modronoid Balial trying to figure out what to do with him. Do they kill him? Try and find a way to save him? The only thing for certain was that they were going to hunt down who ever did this to him and make them pay. Dearly.
Norbys was the first to come up with a solid plan. He suggested that the party put Balial out of his misery as it was clear that whatever act had been done to him had left him permanently damaged. Nearin and Kale both agreed, and so Norbys drew his misericorde and delivered the coup de grace on Balial. After that he prepared a small ceremony as befiting his god, Nerull.
After the ceremony, the party headed further away from Sylvania in the direction of the tracks. The party traveled under the cover of night until they reached a small cave opening from which light was pouring out. Two men were standing guard rather carelessly. The PCs were able to make out the Bleaker symbol on their clothing.
Unsure what was going on in the cave, the party decided to investigate around the mound to see if there was a way in. At the top of the mound was a small hole for the smoke from within to exit. When spying in, Kale was able to see that there was a group of humans sitting around eating and playing cards. There were no signs of any prisoners or modron parts.
Searching around the mound more, the PCs were able to find a hidden entrance into the cave. Sneaking in, they spied on the relaxing mercenaries. Kale, using his Cloak of Elvenkind, moved further into the cave and into another passage which led to a sleeping chamber. Content that these people were only mercenaries and not the actual culprits, the group moved on.
A little bit from the cave was the ruins of a fallen tower up against a hill. A set of stairs led up to the entrance to the refurbished base of the tower. The entrance to the dome appeared unguarded until the PCs keen senses revealed two hidden guards signaling each other with bird calls. The PCs decided to parlay and try and figure out what was going on.
The two guards were Bleakers and part of the mercenary company the group had already encountered. They were working for a man named Valran whom they didn't care much for but a job is a job. After a bit of back and forth, the PCs were able to gain entrance to Valran's home and were led straight to him in his laboratory.
The sight of Valran's lab was not for the weak of stomach. On two dissecting/operating tables sat the body of a dead human and a series of modron parts. Blood and oil stains abounded on the floor and almost every touchable surface. Valran looked up from his work and regarded the PCs with the face of madness, his smock covered in blood and oil.
The PCs began by talking to Valran to figure out what was going on. Long story short, he was a Sensate trying to figure out what it is like to be a modron. And as such, he was experimenting with combining man and machine. When his work is completed, he will fashion for himself an apparatus so that he can truly bind with the modron and feel what they feel. He also believed that nothing should interfere with his work and that Balial's death was all for the good of his work and offered the PCs a small sum of money.
Unappeased by the money, the group closed the door behind them and attacked Valran. The PCs opened with a series of brutal strikes against Valran, who's major defense was to use disabling spells like hold person and ray of enfeeblement. However, the combat seemed to much for him with out mercenary support, so he cast mistform on himself and escaped out through a chimney in his lab. This left the PCs furious.
At the same time, a loud commotion began in a nearby room. A group of modronoids, half-(demi)human half-modron, had escaped and were rampaging through the fallen tower. The few mercenaries on guard where fighting them in the hall as the players slipped out of the lab.
On the way out the PCs attempted to quickly explore the rooms they had passed on the way in before the modronoids killed the mercenaries. Most of the rooms were rather mundane, but the PCs were able to grab a small selection of sense stones.
Finally, before heading out, the PCs decided to gather all their flammables and light the tower on fire as a final act of retribution. They stood outside the door to make sure no one escaped. However, they weren't counting on their being other prisoners in the tower. The screams and pleadings of the mercenaries and prisoners, along with the insane screams of the modronoids continued for a long time until finally they all ceased. The PCs had accidentally burned a bunch of innocent people to death.
Back in Sylvania, the PCs investigated the sense stones. One of them in particular seemed to call out to all of them. It was Balial's sense stone that Valran had captured from him. All three of the present PCs placed their hands upon the stone and experienced the sensation together.
It was a memory of Balial at the previous modron march, over 1000 years ago. He was much younger then and was partying and having a wonderful time. As the memory faded, the very weak voice of Balial could be heard saying: "You were the best and I thank you for that. Plane-atary Express is now yours." At that, the sense stone fell dormant, never to work again. The PCs now owned the business!
This session was emotionally really rough. The PCs committed some seriously evil actions in their blood rage. Valran escaped and now represented a real villain for the team, which is awesome considering how organically it happened.
Apparently the burnings scarred Nearin's player so much that she spent the next week afraid of doing similar actions in her other RPG games.
All things considered, this two part adventure was amazing from a GMing perspective. Never before have things worked out so organically that the PCs would actually experience rage, heartbreak, and the discovery of a true villain. I'm not one for long running BBEG, but this has given me the opportunity to play with that. The tactic I'm taking is using Valran very rarely so that the PCs keep chomping at the bit to finally track him down and kill him.
Again, this was the adventure "Modron Madness" from The Great Modron March.