A question that one might ask me (a minimalist when it comes to preparation) is how do you prepare entire Brain Lasher city in full knowledge that your players may take one look at it and run very far away? Indeed, it is a question I have been asking myself. My solution (besides answering some broad questions): draw a sketch of what the party might see looking at the city from a distance and hand it to my players. They had freed one of the Mongrel Man slaves who, though unwilling to accompany the party into the city, was perfectly happy to answer any questions the party might have about what they were looking at.
What ensued turned into an hour-long conversation/planning session. Every spell, scroll, potion, wand and one-shot device was put on the table. They brain-stormed attacks, entry routes, escape routes, rallying points, distractions and goals. As the planning proceeded, there was a very dangerous look that I recognized in the eyes of my players — a look that said, “This could work.” By the time they were ready to act, even players who had started the evening trying to convince everybody to retreat were on board with the plan and ready to play their part.
The focal point of the plan was a tower that stood grotesquely at the center of the city. It seemed biological in nature, with four feet that twisted around each other into a support for four vein-laced globes. At its base was the portal that the party was interested in finding. This, in turn, was surrounded my miles of machinery maintained by the mongrel men slaves. The feet of the tower pulsed as the energy produced by the machines and the portal flowed upward toward the globes. This giant biological machine was both where the majority of the Brain Lashers lived and where they refined that energy into pure azoth.
The party figured that if they could take out one or two of the leg supports of the tower, the whole thing could come crashing down. Depending on how the denizens reacted, they had several options on what they could do in the chaos. But first, they created a distraction by getting the resident flailsnails to stampede (as much as flailsnails do stampede). Using a cocktail of spells and potions, they set charges with any and every combustible devise/substance that they owned and fired several spells into the charges to get them to go off.
The flailsnails slowed down the reaction time of the natives which allowed the party to continue guerrilla attacks against a group of Brain Lashers who were pooling their powers to try and prevent the tower from falling. This state of confusion did not last long, however, and the party soon found themselves surrounded by Brain Lashers and some of their demonic minions. The party was in no position to retreat anywhere but through the portal; however, in their final push to escape, the Brain Lashers tasked with keeping up the tower were so decimated that the tower came crashing down just as the last of the party dived through the portal. Surprisingly, despite the desperate situation, only one corpse needed to make the trip — Ahkmed’s henchmen Kavella the Elf. The rest were beaten and bloodied, but alive.
The destruction that followed destroyed an entire section of the city, including a good amount of the machines designed to keep the portal stable. Thus, the party had effectively cut off pursuit. Of course, they were now trapped on the other side, which is where our session ended.
3 hours ago