As their transition to epic, the party I run had to defeat a kobold named Eep. A near-omnipotent, channeling the power of a cthulhu-esque Far Realm god and the Big Bad of the whole campaign (the Patient One), ex-PC kobold. It’s been a long campaign, and it’s nowhere near over yet. For this adventure, I wanted to maximize the feeling that the world around them is falling apart, as reality itself is being ripped to pieces by the waking god. And as that is happening, normal rules cease functioning. Here are a few of the tricks I’ve used.
First, I’ve used Gamefiend’s excellent Horizon idea, with some modifications. Rather than counting the doom up, I counted it down, with delicious doom candy. When the cup empties of candy, Bad Things happen. There were actually 3 stages of Bad Things. To set the initial difficulty and see how far advanced the villainous plan was, I’ve left the cup with 20 M&Ms at the table before the game, with DOOM clearly written around it. By the time we started, it had a single candy left. Ooops. Having replenished it a little bit, we got into the game.
In addition to taking (and eating!) doom candy during rests and when certain events happened, a player could elect to have one in order to gain a bonus: temporary hit points equal to their healing surge value; temptation die (rolled at the start of each player’s turn by the player on their left, to be substituted for any of their rolls, just have one tiny little candy, how much can that hurt); in the final stage, when things really started going down the drain, the PCs gained the ability to teleport between holes in reality (see below) or gain and immediately use an action point (holes in time). This allowed me to throw tougher challenges at them, at the same time as have them explicitly make the decision to use the “help” offered, therefore being directly responsible for their misfortunes. It also reflected the multiple personality schism going on in the head of poor Eep, who really didn’t want to do the things he was doing. Oh, and mentioning The One Who Shall Not Be Named caused a player to eat a candy too, gaining the temporary hit points in the process. I’m told I’ve actually missed a number of times Eep’s name was accidentally mentioned, but that just means he wasn’t paying attention.
As the PCs would run around trying to save people, fighting off aberrations and cultists, and the doom clock would tick down, Eep would apply the Curse of Deicosahedronization to those who’ve especially pissed him off. Or, plainly speaking, I would replace their d20 with a d16 (had to borrow it from a strange-die affectionado), save ends. Statistically speaking, not that different from a blanket -2 penalty to everything, but it sure feels different.
As the last of the doom candy was eaten and the second stage of Bad Things came around, a wave of change rolled over the place. Although everything seemed to be the same, it all looked different, alien, every angle was wrong. With that, I flipped the battle mat to the hex side. Having played this campaign for a couple of years (and others before it) on the square grid, hexes did just what I wanted them to do – they broke everyone’s mind.
Finally, once the doom bowl was refilled and emptied again and the final stage began things got much, much worse. I’ve liberally scattered flat marbles over the battle mat. Every hex with a marble in it didn’t exist anymore. Its sides were all adjacent to each other. This lead to some extremely fancy maneuvering, great headache until we’ve ruled that area effects are not affected by the holes, and momentous oh-shit feeling. In the almost-final encounter the cultists tried to free the Patient One by moving these holes into the walls of its prison… and the PCs that were in the way.
So there you have it. Rising doom and reality breaking apart. Fun times.