So, we have recently finished a 2-year long 5e campaign, with a homebrew setting. We started from level 1 (I joined at level 3), going up to level 14 to face the BBEG. The party is a lovely ragtag of people tied by the theme of “getting the most out of my second chance” (I’ll leave a description below for those interested).
Long story short, we fought a very powerful, very angry god who wanted vengeance against all the other gods by destroying the very law that prevents gods from entering the Material Plane. In the setting, he was a major deity of the Sun, Fire, Inventiveness and Evolution, who was patron to all humans and especially held dear a cluster of flying cities (think something like Netheril). The other gods (good and neutral alike) realised somewhat 4000 years previously that many humans could start to take advantage of his good heart sooner or later and he as well was starting to be a bit too lenient with his blessings, possibly damaging Reality in the long run. After all, if everything is perfect, how can Evolution and Inventiveness exist?
A very convoluted plot involved him stepping down his seat and dividing himself into 9 spirits of rage and destruction, 9 enchanted rings and one final ring of power. But the gods knew he would someday come back, and so they started, ever so slightly, to prepare against that day.
And that involved our characters, entering at 14th level in the awakened angry god’s tower and challenging him.
Everything you are…against everything I am. Alas…let’s begin the end of this story.
Phase 1, Human-like avatar) He curses 3 of our characters. We have 3 turns before we’re dead. First turn, first action of the party: the War Cleric leaps at him, shouting “COME AND GET SOME!”. He rolls a 20. He had a Vorpal greatsword. Phase 1 ended, curse ended. It was the only 20 he rolled for an attack since he got that sword.
Phase 2, Destruction incarnate) A huge, amorphous mass of seething darkness who turns to my bard and smiles horrendously. My character had a part of him (one of the aforementioned aspects of rage and destruction) sealed inside her for the majority of the campaign, before it finally got the chance to escape and in that moment…she realised that all its promises to make her suffer, to delight in her demise, all the restless nights when it gleefully whispered into her mind the things she would do to her and her friends once he was freed…were about to come true. Then the Paladin strikes. The whole party springs into action in front of my fear-stricken bard and unleashes a torrent of absolute retribution that destroys Phase 2 in two turns.
Phase 3, the Bard) My bard’s violin, the instrument of her mentor, flies into the very hands of her mentor, who was the human incarnation of the god. The true mastermind behind the campaign, who manipulated everything and everyone, including her. He was her best friend, the person who taught her that she could do magic, she could be whatever she wanted, the person who taught her how to play, dance, act, write, lie, manipulate during 150 years…he was her family. “The show must go on!”, shouts the Bard. The violin was the only remnant of his mortal life, which we used to challenge him with and bring him down to a manageable level. We’re still talking of a level 20 College of Glamour now: if he starts playing, we’re most likely fighting each other in the next turn before dying. We roll initiative again and my bard is first. My bard looks at her mentor and starts what could be her last song, casting silence as her first action.
The Warlock is next: he casts mind prison, the DM chuckles and “He raises his hands at you, before snapping his finger to counterspell” (he was saving his Legendary Resistences for the heavy hitters that were to come immediately after him) and I reply: “I use my reaction to counterspell your counterspell. Level 6th.” Entire table falls silent for a few seconds, my DM checks a couple of things, sighs and chuckles again: “I’ll allow it. The snap falls silent, with no effect and your mentor looks at you with a mix of hatred, pride and admiration”. My character smiles, then writes into the air (she had a magic tattoo that allowed that): “The show must go on…but the stage is mine, now”. Paladin, Rogue and Cleric have the chance to strike and finish Phase 3.
Phase 4, the Avatar) Huge. Think Sauron-like during his battles (yup, recurring theme), clad in armor, mace, absolute terror and resistences to mostly everything…except radiant damage. As we managed to bring down each of the previous phases, we had deserved our real chance to win. But there’s a fuckton of HPs between us and victory. We push on, like all good heroes to the point we’re almost out of spells and decide to give it all in one go: the Eldritch Knight casts slow (thank you, Cutting Words), we then all debuff the shit out of his AC 28. Time for the Paladin to strike. It’s his moment. The entire campaign led to this. If we fail, the world is doomed. He has only a few slots left of Smite and one attack to spend them – and actually harm him if he does. He charges at the enemy, sword in hand and the might of Corellon in his heart…he rolls a 2. “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION NOW!” shouts the War Cleric, giving him his blessing and taking that attack to 18. “WE ALL BELIEVE IN YOU!”, cries my Bard, reminding him of her d10 inspiration dice: 4. The DM recounts all the debuffs…and realises that single, desperate attack now hits. And that the damage is more than enough.
The fight is over.
My bard goes to the now human-like, dying god. She gets on her knees. She has seen the good he could do. Without him, she wouldn’t be there, with the people who are now her best friends. He asks forgiveness for what he did to her, and her only, as she was the happiest accident not even a god could foresee in his plan. The rest of the party knows better and sees this as the last trick in his sleeve, they raise their weapons to finish him…
“I can’t forgive you. There is no forgiveness for what you did or what you wanted to do. But I can only hope, I can only…wish, that one day, in another world…in another life, we will meet again. And this will all be a legend and we will find the chance to learn to love each other, as we won’t have anything to do with it.”
The moved laughter of the angry god wanes quietly, second after second. He dies in her arms, the only gift she could give to repay what he did for her, while the rest of the party watches in silence.
We are now champion of the Gods and have saved the entire Material Plane. The Paladin ascends to goodhood, replacing the angry god as a just, good god of Sun and Freedom. He’s still waiting for his friends to get tired of living, so they can be at his side…in the meantime, we’re living saints.
Our party and some backstory + endings:
The Redemption half-elf Paladin prince who exiled himself after attempting a horrible ritual to become a pureblood wood elf, lost his memory and led a very questionable life until he found out he was his very own cause of misery. He ended up a God.
The changeling Rogue, who never experienced the warmth of friendship and always walked her path in the shadows, until her mentor was killed by the very target they were sent to assassinate and she therefore sought vengeance…finding love and camaraderie instead. She ended up Grand Mistress of an order of reformed assassins dedicated to free the world from slavery.
The aasimar War Cleric of Gorum, who was reborn after a mistake that costed his previous party’s life and his own. He ended up married to a fellow Cleric of Gorum, happily Doomguy-ing their way into countless battles until he retired and had a Paladin daughter.
The Pact of the Talisman tiefling Warlock, led to insanity (think Malkavian or Mad Hatter levels) after jealousy and anger at his father’s successful pupil made him enter a cheat code to power, at the cost of his mind and everything he loved. He ended up finding his Patron was rooting for him all along, reconciled with his father and now roams the Phlogiston with his rakshasi lover. He’s still crazy, but with purpose.
The human Eldritch Knight, princess of a desert tribe, born from the rape of a sacred priestes of her people, at the hands of a soldier under the Empire who exiled them to the desert in the first place. She ended up Queen of her tribe, who now lives peacefully in the desert with a re-awakened tribe of Warforged. She married one of the best warriors (and allies) we had in the game and has a whole squad of badass children and descendants.
And my College of Lore bard, a magically talentless high elf who found her own way of casting magic and a very unlikely and dangerous mentor…the CE College of Glamour Bard who was the enemy of the previous campaign and revealed himself to be the true enemy of this one, after supporting us, cleverly manipulating the party and the world into believing that the enemy was another powerful mage. She ended up happy and successful, which was her goal all along. Became the most renown cartographer of her time, wrote loads of books and now lives in Sigil with her husband (a drow archmage) and had two twins. Once every ten years, she shuts herself into a room and plays a whimsical, but somewhat sad, music that nobody ever heard of.