Content of the article: "Cultists hide with enchained devil from the PCs, not sure how to proceed"
If you are currently in a party fighting Yelris and Morlen, don't read any further.
In the last session I had, the PC's finally had their showdown with the current storyarcs villain and his subordinate, who are planning a ritual deep below a major city to unseal a devil enchained there. Due to the PC's extremely smart decision to long rest literally in front of the underground temple while almost dead which they only survived due to plot armor, the second they actually entered the temple, they all ate a fireball(they are level 4, so that brought many of them to low health, could have just caused a TPK there by having the other NPC cast shatter to follow up…but I feel like that would have been unfun). So a very tense fight ensued with half the party being unconscious and the other half being under 10 HP with everyone being almost out of spells, but eventually, manage to make the cultists fall back.
Originally, my plan was to have the fight in the entrance hall not even contain the cultists, just some summoned minions but had to punish them for their previous choice in some way. The fight with the cultists was planned to take place right in front of the room where the devil was sealed, so they can basicly only retreat a little bit inside that room to beg for the devils assistance while almost dead who at that point, due to the ritual, was partly unchained, enough to launch basic attacks, but not to actually walk free. And the party to be in a better state, which due to the ambush, they aren't now. But with the distance involved, chances are, the party will now take a short rest…as will the cultists, meaning when they go to the devil, will be almost full health again(I could still keep the previously planned battle in front of the room, but imo that would be too much a repeat of the last fight). Additionally, the devil has a special ability where he basicly can absorb any magical energy near him, making the entire room anti-magic. If the cultists were on death's door, this wouldn't be an issue….but at full health, this would be an extremely annoying fight the party might not even be able to do because the devil's attacks are extremely powerful(intended to be a late game boss should he be freed, so defeating him now is impossible)
So, my question is, how do I best proceed? Have the cultists not take advantage of the short rest so that quickly going in and out to kill them is easier for the party? Try to make the party not take a short rest…which would probably result in the devil's attack taking each of them out with 1 or 2 hits? Alternativly, have a totally not suspicious NPC show up to offer them some kind of help?(said NPC I had planned to have show up shortly after they defeated the boss, revealing how he did order the cultists to do certain things, but not to free the devil itself. Said NPC also absolutely cannot enter the magic due to being a kind of simulacrum, so any kind of help he could give is from outside the anti magic area). One idea for that I have is for him to offer them a ridicilously OP spell scroll to use which would "overload" the devil's magic absorption, taking him out of the fight…but I don't see why that wouldn't also just give he needs to free itself(since the cultists plan involves feeding him tons of magical energy to do so). And would feel kinda lame to just "happen" to have a NPC there to give them a solution. Thanks for any suggestions in advance!
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