I designed the Mordan quest to have multiple possible solutions. Here are the ones I had in mind, and the ones suggested by others, along with my own thoughts on how well they would have worked, and what would have happened.
The players could locate and release Fiore, and use her prison on the orb, then kill Mordan in battle.
This is the best outcome, but it was the most complicated. Pat (Eomer) was convinced that Mordan’s followers were using the Mages Archives as a base, so he made it a priority to get there, which involved freeing Garret. This led them to the best outcome.
If they had not been so set on finding the Archives, then another solution would have presented itself…
Re-set Mordan’s original Prison
It was possible to sneak back into Mordan’s tomb and re-affix the orb to his casket and re-set the chains. Mordan was afraid of going back in there, and didn’t want to mess with the prison until he had the orb back. Without looking at the orb, there was no way for him to know how the trap worked. So, he had simply posted some of his (still human) followers around the site, with plans to come back and destroy the place once he reclaimed the orb.
Once the orb was in place, they players would have needed to put Mordan down. This would have been harder than in solution #1, since the orb wasn’t in a magic-proof box. It was still radiating power, and so Modan would have been more than a match for the players. They would have needed the direct or indirect help of Sagemaster or the Queen to put him down and return him to his prison.
Allow the orb to fall into Mordan’s hands again.
Bury it, trick someone else into taking it, or give it to Mordan in exchange for passage off the island. All of these would have led to the same outcome: Mordan would reclaim the Orb.
They could have dropped it into a deep chasam in the mountain. There was one such chasam in the mines that they didn’t explore. If they had dropped the orb in there, then caused a cave-in to seal it, it would have provided a temporary solution. It wouldn’t have defeated Mordan, but it might have kept him busy long enough for them to escape the island. They could also have done this by dropping the orb in the ocean, although they would have needed to be careful about getting there on a ship. (Remember the birds.)
The same is true for giving it to someone else. If they passed it off to some other sucker and then escaped the island, then Mordan would have tracked it down and killed the new owner.
In either case, they would certainly have gone back to Mar Talos to meet with Sagemaster, who would have given them a clear set of steps to take for solving the problem for good. Mordan would reclaim the orb from wherever they put it, and they would face the Lich King at full strength. He would have killed the queen and reclaimed the Citadel.
I would have needed to write a new campaign at this point, and invent some new way for the players to face him. Perhaps Sagemaster would have given them an artifact that would protect them from scrying and from being turned into gravewalkers. Using Skeeve’s description of the orb (remember that Skeeve had studied it in detail) then Sagemaster would come up with some new thing to add to the orb.
This would have been the classic quest: brave the wastelands, storm the dark tower and kill the Big Bad. It’s been done, but it would have worked.
The island and everyone on it would have been more or less wasted at that point. Ah well. Such is the life of an NPC.
What if they had gotten rid of the Orb without Skeeve studying it? They would have to be pretty irresponsible and apathetic to do that. I knew they wouldn’t. However, if I had a set of players who did chuck the orb without bothering to study it, then I would conclude that they just weren’t into the game. I’d let Mar Tesaro be destroyed, and we’d go play something else.
Destroy the orb.
Several people suggested Skeeve could get in a rowboat, go to the middle of the ocean, and destroy the orb.
There are a few flaws with this plan.
- Dan wasn’t really interested in throwing away his character. Which is understandable.
- Getting a hundred miles out to sea in a rowboat is no small feat. Maybe some magic might have helped.
- A hundred mile wide death spell is going to make a mess. Imagine every living thing in the sea dying. People make a big deal about the Exxon Valdez, but that only killed some wildlife which depended on the surface to live, and did so over a much, much smaller area. This would have been orders of magnitude larger than that, and it would have killed everything above and below the surface. It really would have been an ecological disaster. The ocean would have been filled with decaying fish, which would wash up on shore by the ton for months on end.
- The Orb was made of stone, and nobody had any idea how hard it would be to break. Even if they had a way around all of the previous problems, there was still the question of how to break it. Even if the person sacrificing themselves had access to heavy tools (say, a hammer, anvil, and maybe a vice of some sort) it wasn’t clear just how much strength would be needed to break it. Maybe it could only be broken using magic.
Still, if they managed to destory the orb it would have defeated Mordan.
For my own purposes, I was going to treat the the orb like a sphere of polished granite. Not indestructible, but not easily broken either.
I would have accepted pretty much anything that made sense if they found a way around the various curses. My favorite solutions are the ones I never think of.