THE ELEMENTAL NODES
After clearing out all four levels of the Temple, it is now time to use the dimensional gateways that Hedrack had previously controlled access to. The gateways lead to a part of one of the four elemental planes; Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. Each portion of the elemental plane is watched over by a guardian, a Demon from the Abyss that is somehow representative of the Elemental Node that it resides in. Each Demon guards one of the four Elemental Gems used to empower the Orb of Golden Death. The objective then is to join all four of the Gems to the Orb so as to pursue a final ending.
Water Elemental Node
The guardian here isn’t nearly as dangerous as the Balor you faced, but the creatures that inhabit this plane are more numerous, and often more dangerous than the creatures that inhabited the other nodes.
1. A gateway to the Air Elemental Node.
2. A gateway to the Earth Elemental Node.
3. A gateway to the Fire Elemental Node.
4. Here you’ll run into two Vodyanoi, an aquatic version of the Umber Hulk. They’re more dangerous than Umber Hulks in that instead of using a gaze that confuses one opponent, they cast Confusion as per the 4th level arcane spell. Magic Circle Against Evil certainly helps. Rush them and kill them as fast as you can.
5. Here you fight a large pack of Merrow, aquatic ogres. They’re every bit just like Ogres. It’s just that there’s lots of them. Can anybody say Fireball?
6. Here you’ll have to fight four Eyes of the Deep. An Eye of the Deep is like a Beholder, but with less hit points and less dangerous spell-like powers. Nonetheless, in a prolonged fight, the use of those powers can add up. Area effect spells, coupled with a mopping up enhanced by Haste, should do the trick.
7. Here are two Sea Hags.
8. Here you’ll find a large pack of Lacedons, aquatic ghouls. Again, Fireball them into oblivion.
9. Here is a pack of Kapoacinths, gargoyle creatures that have some pretty tough damage resistance. Here, Fireball combined with persistent melee works as well.
10. Here are two Large Water Elementals.
11. Here you’ll run into a horde of Grank’s Bandits. They combine Evasion with very good Reflex saving throws, so area-effect spells aren’t useful here. My approach here was to stay on the other half of the bridge. Alliria then plants Spike Stones in their camp. Valarian can shoot arrows at any that are in view. If any of them come forward, Sir Tirion and Ferofist can cut them down piecemeal once they’ve crossed the bridge. Incidentally, all the Grank’s Bandits carry Masterwork Rapiers and Masterwork Shortswords.
At the very back of the camp is their leader, Grank, who has quite the story to tell. In any event, he’s pretty intent on dying.
12. Here the party runs into two Ice Lizards. The Lizards start off combat with a breath weapon that resembles Cone of Cold. However, as with any creature that uses a breath weapon, they need a recovery time before they can use the weapon again. My ploy here as to have Valarian step right up to the Ice Lizards. He harmlessly absorbed their breath weapons with his Evasion ability. The rest of the party then moves in for the kill.
13. Here you’ll find a large group of Lizardmen.
14. Now it is time for the guardian. It’s a Hezrou, a large toad-like demon, along with two Large Water Elementals. It starts off combat with Chaos Hammer, which inflicts minor damage on the party and will have a brief disorienting effect on Lawful characters. It exudes a stench that can also reduce the ability of opponents to attack it if a Fortitude saving throw isn’t made. In some ways though, the real danger of the Hezrou is its ungodly number of hit points (about 600 or so). Needless to say, buff up to the max beforehand so that you can absorb the Hezrou’s attacks. This includes Stoneskin on everybody, and Haste. With +2 weapons in hand, the party should be able to go the distance with the Hezrou and win.
The Hezrou leaves behind the Water Elemental Gem, which empowers the Orb of Golden Death to cast Ice Storm once a day, Summon Water Elemental once a day, and Summon Hezrou once a week.
The door behind where the Hezrou had been standing enables the party to return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Level 4.
Now that the Orb of Golden Death has been completely assembled, it is time to make a decision as to what to do about it during the Endgame.