Friday, October 8, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 7

Episode 7: The Road to Hell

Tara: My whole life has been ‘Tara, don’t use your magic.’ ‘Tara, hide your powers.’ ‘Tara you will scare people or hurt an innocent.’ But you are not innocent are you? You tried to hurt and then kill Willow. So maybe it is time I showed everyone just how powerful I am.
- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 7 "The Road to Hell"

March 15, 2003. 

Buffy must make a pact with demons to fight Leviathan. Anya is ordered to kill the Cast. The Knights of Elohim are back, this time with a Tainted Fallen with them, but not before stopping off in LA to fight Faith. A group of demons, the Mormolycia (Mormo), go to the Slayer for aid in fighting him before he ignites the Hellmouth with his Taint. Yoln has discovered the final piece of Pillager. Cast discovers that he is nothing but pure will now, his body having decayed completely away by the mad god’s Taint. D’Hoffryn orders Anya to kill the Cast to prove her loyalty to him. When she doesn’t he strips her of her power and curses Xander. Tara defeats a newly resurected Warren, but she and Willow have a big fight.
The Cast learns that Faith is dying.
Story Arc elements: The Yoln arc is moved up, the Knights are killed finally, Buffy makes a pact with a dangerous group of demons, Anya rejoins the Cast, the Bronze is destroyed, Andrew dies a horrible death screaming and crying like the little b!tch he is. Buffy’s disconnection to others is more pronounced when the Mormo demons seem to have more in common with her and even call her “sister” when they call everyone else “monkeys”. Willow begins to take more of a backseat role as the group’s magic powerhouse. Tony Foster is introduced. Giles discovers the truth about Slayers and the Watchers council.
Game design elements: Taint rules for Cinematic games, new group of demons, more on Fallen Angels, rules for curses.
Soundtrack: Chris Rea “Road to Hell”

Notes and Comments:
This one is huge. The biggest adventure to date actually takes place, game time, in the shortest amount of time. We have Warren coming back, summoned by Andrew. Warren kills Andrew and takes his skin. And believe me fewer things were more enjoyable to write than Andrew dying like a little stuck pig. Warren-in-Andrew's skin now works on getting the Knights of Elohim back into town. They have brought one of their own who is now Tainted; think of the Hulk with greasy black wings. The Knights want the Slayer, but Warren wants Willow. At the same time someone or something (Yoln) has been killing all the supernatural creatures in town looking for the last half of his sword (which Warren has). There is a scene in the begining when the cast goest to the Wharf Bar because they hear the Hellions are back. They are, or were, but when they get there they are all dead including two of the Knights.

Mormo DemonWe also introduced a new race of the demons, the Lilim. One sub-race, the Mormolycia, are a group of warrior demons, normally they all look like stunningly attractive 6ft tall women in green armor. Their true form is so horrifying that other demons fear them. The Mormo make a pact with the Slayer. They will leave each other alone in order to fight the greater threat, the Tainted Fallen and later Leviathan. Stat-wise the Mormo are Slayers. This is on purpose since it is later revealed that the progenitor of the Slayers was Lilith (see: Every Angel is Terrifying). The Mormo keep refering to Buffy as "Sister" and the others as "monkeys". Thier leader H'Cathh was once known to Anya.

The big battle happens at the Bronze. We have Warren in his Andrew suit with Bronze regulars that he has turned into zombies with some tech device. The fallen Angels. The Tainted Fallen (who is crazy) and Yoln who will fight anything not human. On the other side we have the Cast and the Mormo demons. Keeping track of all that combat was a nightmare. In the end the fallen, the tainted fallen and the zombies are killed. Yoln's head it cut off by Buffy but they discover there is nothing under the armor but pure will to live. Yoln gets up gets his sword piece from Warren and leaves. The Mormo keep their word and tell "their sister" that they will be at her side in the final battle. Tara defeats Warren with her "special power" (more on that), but she and Willow have a huge fight. Before that can get heated D'Hoffryn shows up asking Ana why she has not killed the Slayer yet, a job he gave her to do 2-3 episodes back. He strips her of her power and curses Xander to always feel her pain. Game wise this means any damage Anya takes, Xander takes as well. Images from Star Trek I have not gotten out of my head since I was a kid. During the fight the Bronze blows up, well parts of it.

Warren and Tara: this was an interesting problem. We knew he was going to have to come back to deal with the issue of Willow murdering him (we didn’t want to forget that really), but for the balance we wanted Tara to have to defeat him. Our working theory was to have Tara go all uber witch on him and show that you can be powerful but not have to resort to “dark magic” to do it. But I never liked that idea. And we went back and forth on this for a long time. In the end I made an executive choice but a bit of a compromise. Tara was going to show off some power, but only in terms of defense. Bullets melted when coming near her or bounced off and really that is the same spell she used in Episode 5. She did the one thing though that I felt was totally in character and showed that she was more powerful than the others. She forgave him. In that instant Warren lost all his anger and it was replaced by guilt and remorse. I wanted to show that being empowered did not mean having a power-up. Plus there is the other issue at hand, Adam Busch is in reality a nice guy and pretty cool. He hated playing that character and he told Whedon that killing Tara was “the stupidest thing he ever heard of”. So I was willing to cut him a break by not “playing” that character here. Warren, who the cops think is Andrew, goes to jail. Jonathan, who turned himself in at the start of the episode, is released thanks to Tara giving him the phone number of Tatsou from Episode 4. There is a truce between demons and the Slayer thanks to the Mormo (but she still gets to kill vampires). Willow and Tara are still fighting, but it is that silent sort where you are both mad but not talking. Anya and Xander are dealing with their new reality. Giles tells Buffy what he has learned about Slayers (see link above).

The cast then hears that Faith is in the hospital, she had fought Yoln, and she is going to die.

Next up. Dawn goes all Carrie and goes toe to toe with Willow as the magic powerhouse of the cast.

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