** The finished version of this guide will be posted on September 17th. I feel like I shouldn't spoil the entire adventure before it comes out in stores. I'll leave the first 70 pages here so you can get an idea of what's in the book. **
This thing is a work in progress, and it will be ugly until it is done. Right now, this guide is a pile of loose notes that will slowly be organized as I read through the whole book and sort out what you need to know to run this effectively.
In certain cases, I’ve moved information around to keep it all in one spot. For example, I put all the Elfsong info in the same spot when running down the Elfsong Tavern scenario.
For now, this document should serve as a nice way to get a head start on preparing the book or a glimpse to see if it is something you want to run.
Infernal War Machine Rules .pdf
Vehicle Chase Rules .pdf
Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes Zariel .pdf
Dragon+ Issue 26
WebDM discusses Baldur’s Gate: Descent Into Avernus
You can buy Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus here.
You can buy the Descent Into Avernus Dice Set here. I love this thing - it's got a felt interior, comes with a pile of cards that have trinkets, the infernal language, and more. There is also a fold-out map of Avernus.
Descent Into Avernus miniatures
Descent Into Avernus Deluxe Box
- Elturel has been pulled out of the Realms and into Avernus
- Zariel is targeting Baldur’s Gate next
- The heroes are trapped in Baldur’s Gate, as the city is trying to keep out refugees
- Grand Duke Ulder Ravengard has gone missing - was on a diplomatic mission to Elturel
- The Flaming Fist drafts the heroes. They must root out followers of Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul.
- The group learns that the cultists are financed by Thalamra Vanthampur, one of the three dukes of Baldur’s Gate (and secret disciple of Zariel). She’s using money that she stole from Tiamat!
- Thalamra’s plan is to sabotage the Flaming Fist and take over the city, so that it can be pulled into Avernus.
- Thalamra has the Shield of the Hidden Lord, which is corrupting the city.
- Thavius Kreeg, evil former ruler of Elturel, is hiding in the city. If slain, the group will run into him again in devil form (pg 132).
- The heroes might liberate a spy linked to Sylvira Savikas, an expert on the Nine Hells.
- Sylvira lives in Candlekeep. Her spies are trying to find the infernal contract Thavius signed, that doomed Elturel.
- Sylvira can get the group to Avernus. Her friend, Traxigor, can cast plane shift.
- In Avernus, the group gains a guide - a hollyphant named Lulu (who seems to have some kind of connection to Zariel)..
- In elturel, the group can ally with Ulder Ravengard.
- To free Elturel, the group must either destroy “the Companion” or break the chains. Doing either will involve searching Avernus for the means to do so.
- Lulu begins to remember things about the sword of Zariel. The sword can destroy the Companion.
- The adventurers might cut a deal with Bel, former ruler of Avernus. They might also run afoul of Yeenoghu’s pet or meet Arkhan the Cruel.
Level 1: The heroes join the Flaming Fist, find Tarina at the Elfsong Tavern, and defeat the pirates hunting her.
Level 2: The group explores the dungeon under the bath house, meet Mortlock Vanthampur, and runs into some agents of Tiamat.
Level 3: The adventurers go to Low Lantern to kill Amrik Vanthampur.
Level 4: Then it's on to Vanthampur Villa where, hopefully, the adventurers accomplish three things:
- They obtain the infernal puzzle box
- They meet (and keep?) the Shield of the Hidden Lord
- They meet a prisoner, Falaster Fisk, who can explain what is in the puzzle box and why it should be taken to Candlekeep.
Level 5: The heroes arrive in Elturel, which is chained to the Nine Hells. They go to High Hall and learn that Grand Duke Ravengard is in the cemetery.
Level 6: The adventurers make their way through the cemetery, where Baphomet has demonic agents trying to gain a foothold. The group find Ravengard and must enact a ritual to separate him from th ehelm. Once done, he reveals that the sword of Zariel is the key to saving the city. Lulu knows that the trail to finding the sword begins at Fort Knucklebone.
Level 7: At the fort, the group can solve a bunch of problems for Mad MAggie. Then, they go through a psychic ritual to unlock Lulu's memories.
Level 8: After traveling to Haruman's Hill and battling Hellwasps, the heroes must choose one of two paths:
- The Path of Demons:
- The Path of Devils:
The origin of the Hellriders go like this (see pg 44):
- Devils were plaguing Elturel.
- Zariel, an angel, showed up to help.
- She found the infernal gate and led a group of mortals through it to fight the devils on their home turf.
- Zariel rode a golden Mastodon (!!).
- Zariel was defeated and the remnants of her army returned to Elturel.
- The survivors were celebrated and are known as the Hellriders.
Long ago, the angel Zariel led a band of angelic soldiers into Avernus, wading into the Blood War (the eternal war between demons and devils). Some angels fled and went back to Mount Celestia. They are known as the Hellriders.
Zariel lost a hand. She ordered Yael, an ally, to take her sword and hide it. Yael fled with the hollyphant, Lulu.
Zariel and two generals, Olanthius and Haruman, were captured and sent to Nessus, the 9th level of the Nine Hells. Asmodeus welcomed her and gave her control of Avernus, supplanting Bel. Haruman became a narzugon. Olanthius killed himself, and rose up a a death knight.
Zariel felt betrayed by Elturel, and when the city was being threatened by a vampire, she made a contract with Thavius Kreeg. This contract caused a radiant sphere to appear over the city. Inside of it was a trapped planetar. This sphere is known as the Companion. The light of the Companion drove out the vampire.
Thavius knew that the Companion would eventually shift. He fled the city and hid in Baldur’s Gate. The Companion transformed into an orb of negative energy and pulled Elturel into the Nine Hells.
The Nine Hells is Awful: I really get a kick out of the idea that when a character does something selfish in the Nine Hells, they get inspiration (see pg 9). Make sure you’ve got the right players for something like that, though, as that one player will ruin it for everyone else.
Fireballs: In older editions, fireballs would fall from the sky and sometimes track and target mortal intruders. In this book, it is said that pieces of the lost paradise that once was Avernus fall from the sky as burning meteors (pg 9). Finding a relic of the former paradise gives a fleeting feeling of joy.
Travel in Avernus: The DM just decides how long it takes to get from one place to another. The Wandering Emporium (pg 126) can show up almost anywhere, at any time.
Before You Start
Passive Perception: Mark down everyone's passive perception scores (10+ their perception bonus. You'll need it once they get to Wyrm's Crossing (pg 44) and if you ask right before they cross that bridge, the players will know something is up.
Warn the Players: You might want to tell the group that not everything is "scaled" to their level. They might run into some creatures too tough for them to beat. For example, if the group causes problems in Candlekeep, an archmage who casts 9th level spells will come over and mangle them (see "Candlekeep Defenses" on pg 46).
Come Up With Some Hell Quests: On page 78, the book notes that characters who fail a death save in Avernus can cut a deal with an archdevil in exchange for rolling a natural 20 on their next death save. The character will need to do the archdevil a "favor" in return. You might want to cook up some favors in advance.
Lulu the Hollyphant
Lulu is a very important NPC who meets the group just before they travel to the Nine Hells. She sticks with them and slowly recovers her memories and spells.
Regaining Memories: When you feel like it's the right time, roll on the chart on page 51.
Regains light when the heroes arrive in Elturel (page 53)
- Lulu can turn into a golden-furred war mammoth with wings
- She was friends with Zariel for centuries.
- When Zariel was defeated, she gave her sword to Yael to keep it safe.
- Yael and Lulu were chased by Yeenoghu’s pet
- Yael plunged the blade into a stone, Lulu created a fortress atound it that hedged out all evil.
- Lulu wandered Avernus alone and eventually ran into Mahadi of the Wandering Emporium. He splashed her with water from the River Styx.
- He gave Lulu to a group of devils, but Zariel had Lulu sent back to the Realms with her faculties somewhat restored.
The Flaming Fist: An army of mercenaries who work for Grand Duke Ulder Ravengard. Ravengard is an honorable man, but the Flaming Fist have been known to be cruel.
Ten days ago, Grand Duke Ulder Ravengard went to Elturel on a diplomatic mission. While he was there, Elturel was pulled into Avernus.
Thavius Kreeg, refugee from Elturel, is being sheltered by Duke Vanthampur. (pg 11)
Family Motto: "Stone Hearts Never Bleed" (pg 36)
The Vanthampur family is in debt to Zariel. She and her sons are trying to use the Shield of the Hidden Lord to doom Baldur’s Gate, and get it pulled into Avernus as well.
Information on the family can be found on pages 25-26, and pg 32.All of that content is summarized right here.
The family is paying Dead Three cultists to murder people in the city, to prove that the Flaming Fist can't do the job.
Thalamra Vanthampur (stat block on pg 38): Devil-worshiper, late 60's, strong,
- Wants to be the Grand Duke of Baldur's Gate.
- Orchestrated the disappearance of Grand Duke Ulder Ravengard.
- Slobberchops: Her pet tressym (pg 241).
- She is a widow three times over. She had a son with each husband.
- Amrik (stat block on pg 30): Runs a moneylending business out of a tavern called the Low Lantern. Has 2 bodyguards - Kasharra (spined devil MM pg 78) and Vhaltus (thug MM pg 350). Is being groomed to be Thalamra's successor.
- Thurstwell (stat block on pg 34): Uses imps as spies.Sickly, rarely leaves mother's estate.Has spies watching the bathhouse and at Low Tavern. He is jealous of Amrik.
- Mortlock (stat block on pg 26): Amrik is quietly trying to off him. Thalamra doesn't like him and would disown him, but it was her third husband's dying wish that she look after him.
The Shield of the Hidden Lord (pg 225) is apparently linked to an archdevil first described in older editions. Here is what Sylvira has to say about Gargauth (on pg 47):
- Gargauth was a pit fiend sent by Asmodeus to corrupt mortals on the Material Plane.
- Gargauth amassed a following to rival gods and became a sort of demi-god.
In the early days of the Nine Hells, Gargauth lived in Nessus and was one of Asmodeus’s closest advisors. Gargauth realized that a member of the court named Astaroth was actually a demon and a minor deity in disguise. Astaroth had achieved the title Treasurer of Hell, and fled after stealing a number of valuable secrets. The information he stole aids the demons in the Blood War to this day.
Asmodeus ordered Gargauth to hunt down Astaroth. Gargauth did so, defeating Astaroth and consuming his divine spark. Gargauth had acquired godly powers.
Gargauth spent time roaming the planes, utilizing his power to cast plane shift once every 9 days.
Appearance: Gargauth often appears as an 8-foot-tall human with a mustache. He always has a poisonous snake wrapped around his arm.
Weakness: He is vulnerable to silver. It is said that he was once almost killed by a mortal who threw a sack of silver pieces at him.
Current Whereabouts: Prior to Descent Into Avernus, Gargauth was said to be trapped in the Wells of Darkness, an Abyssal prison plane that holds a number of powerful entities.
Knights of the Shield
The Knights of the Shield serve and protect the Shield of the Hidden Lord. Members include:
- Lady Satiir Thione-Hhune (pg 40): Member of the Hhune patriar family, in her 70's.
- Kaddrus (pg 44): A cambion (MM pg 36)
- Falar (pg 44): A veteran (MM pg 350)
- Zaroud al'Ryshal (pg 44): A veteran (MM pg 350)
- Nulra Blacksaddle (pg 44): A veteran (MM pg 350)
The Basilisk Gate pg 12
Flaming Fist: Very bribeable. 10 gp is enough to be allowed through the gate.
Captain Darmin Zodge (veteran MM pg 350): Evil human trying to prove that he is worthy of running the Flaming Fist.
- Accompanied by 6 veterans (MM pg 350): Issio, Minaqua, Nelestree, Oliver, Soltus, and Thalkara.
Meeting Captain Zodge (pg 12): Zodge gives the heroes a badge and asks them to kill any members of the Dead Three that they can find. Pay: 200 gp. He asks the group to seek out Tarina at the Elfsong Tavern.
Badges: You might want to mention to the heroes that the badges give them access to Upper City, a gated-off area where the nobles live. This will come up when the group has to go to Vanthampur Villa later on (pg 31).
Elfsong Tavern (pg 16)
Zodge has spies watching the group. If the heroes don’t go to the Elfsong Tavern within 2 days, he sends 6 veterans (MM pg 350) and a flameskull (MM pg 134) after them.
Don’t Forget the Elfsong: The tavern is haunted by a spirit that sings a song in Elvish every once in a while. On pg 18, there is a section called “Elfsong”. Usually the spirit sings about a lost love, but this time it sings about Elturel.
The group can learn that the Companion is the name of the artificial sun that hovered over Elturel. They can also learn about the Hellriders, the knights of Elturel, and how some of them actually rode into the Nine Hells on horseback to fight devils.
Owner: Alan Alyth (commoner MM pg 345). 75-years old, half-elf. Runs a moneylending business on the side.
- Skrawldar Fane (commoner MM pg 345): No eyebrows.
- Lala Stout (spy MM pg 349): Evil halfling burglar.
- Oloric Witmirth (commoner MM pg 345):Impoverished playwright.
- Whaul Nightley (thug MM pg 350): Jovial half-orc.
- Rahima Sajiressa (acolyte MM pg 342): Astrologer, worships Savras.
- Willow Brownbug (druid MM pg 346): Snooty halfling apothecary.
E1. Taproom: Tables, private booths, 3 padded chairs near a fireplace, chest full of games.
- Foods: Fish cakes, crab cakes, cheese-and-potato soup, loaf pudding soaked in syrup and lightly salted almonds.
- Bartender: Alan Alyth
- Servers: Falten and Yimiur (commoners MM pg 345)
- Bouncers: Klank (animated armor MM pg 19) and Skoona (half-ogre MM pg 238)
- Patrons: Commoners MM pg 345 and thugs MM pg 350.
E3. Private Dining Room: Has a mounted green dragon head.
E6. Kitchen: 3 cooks (commoners MM pg 345)
- Chenna Fatrabbit: Cheery halfling chef.
- Azar Valsheem: testy human sous chef.
- Klav Martilmur: Blind human pastry chef.
Dealing With Tarina (pg 18)
- (Real name: Rhonda Thunderbell) Chaotic Evil human bandit (MM pg 343)
- She is cheating at Baldur’s Bones. The people she is playing with are too dumb to notice.,
- She ripped off her fellow pirates on the Uncivil Serpent and has been spending the loot.
- She sometimes works for Nine-Fingers, the local thieves’ guild.
- She will help the heroes if they agree to protect her if the pirates come looking for her (see “With Friends Like These” on pg 19).
- She doesn’t want to share what she knows until the pirates are taken care of (“What Tarina Knows” pg 19.
E9. Fancy Guest Suite: Canopied bed!
E10. Private Dining Room: Displacer Beast head mounted on the wall.
E11. Large Guest Room: Oshalla (sahuagin priestess MM pg 264) She was exiled from her kingdom and doesn’t really leave the room. Alan Alyth brings her meals.
E13. Alan’s Bedroom: Rug of smothering (MM pg 20) Alan’s got 91 gp, 176 sp and 288 cp in a chest.
With Friends Like These (pg 19): The pirates come to the Elfsong Tavern looking for (“Tarina”) Rhonda Thunderbell.
- Lekard “Dead-Eye” Cadavrus (bandit captain MM pg 344): Tries to kill Tarina on sight. He has a bit of money on him.
- 7 bandits (MM pg 343)
- The Uncivil Serpent: Some wacky groups will probably go check out the pirate ship. 11 bandits (MM pg 343) are on board.
- Sailing Ship (DMG pg 119) AC 15 HP 300 Damage Threshold 15 Crew 20 Cost: 10,000 gp Remember that damage threshold means that you need to do 15 points of damage in one shot to do any damage to the ship at all.
There is a bathhouse nearby that links to a dungeon where the followers of Dead Three are.
Ding, the group hits level 2.
Dungeon of the Dead Three (pg 20)
Cultists of the Dead Three are detailed on pg 231.
The Dead Three are Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul, quasi-divine adventurer entities.
Bane: God of Tyranny
- Seeks to rule the world. Has a jet black right hand.
- His followers are warriors who seek to rule through martial strength.
- Types of agents )pg 232) Fist of Bane, Iron Consul, and Black Gauntlet of Bane.
- Likes to kill those who seem to be beyond the reach of death. Always wears a red handkerchief.
- Agents (pg 233): Night Blade, Reaper of Bhaal, and Death’s Head of Bhaal.
- Can bind souls into wax skulls, which can be used to glean knowledge from the deceased.
- His followers are wizards and necromancers.
- Agents (pg 234): Necromite of Myrkul, Skull Lasher of Myrkul, and Master of Souls.
D1. Courtyard: An imp (MM pg 76) is invisible, watching. It will fly away and alert Thurstwell, Duke Vanthampur’s oldest son, what is happening. Thurstwell is hoping the heroes will kill his brother, Mortlock.
D2. Baths: 1d6 commoners MM pg 345
- Night: 3 night blades (pg 233) guard the place. The necromite (pg 234) from D4 might come to help.
D4. North Massage Room:
- Qurmilah (commoner MM pg 345): Female human masseuse, knows what Jabaz knows.
- Night: Necromite of Myrkul (pg 234)
- Secret Door: Spotted with DC 10 Perception. Beyond it is a staircase that leads down to D5.
- Ceilings: Rooms have wooden beams AC 15 10 HP. Destroy all beams: 25% roof collapse. DEX save DC 15, 22 dmg, half dmg on save. Are becomes difficult terrain.
- Doors: AC 15 HP 5
- Water: Certain areas of the map are flooded - difficult terrain.
D7. Bhaal’s Altar: Just a mask.
D8. Moldy Tapestry: Yellow Mold (DMG pg 105)
D9. The Dead Three Doors: Doors depicting Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul.
D10. Necromites’ Room: 3 Necromites of Myrkul (pg 234). They’re pretending to be dead.
D11. Partially Collapsed Crypt:
- Spellbook 1: Burning Hands (PH pg 220), Detect Magic (PH pg 231), Disguise Self (PH pg 233), fog cloud (PH pg 243), ray of sickness (PH pg 271), silent image (PH pg 276).
- Spellbook 2: Charm person (PH pg 221), find familiar (PH pg 240), identify (PH pg 252), magic missile (PH pg 257), sleep (PH pg 276).
- Spellbook 3: Cloud of daggers (PH pg 222), darkvision (PH pg 230), detect magic (PH pg 231), feather fall (PH pg 239), mage armor (PH pg 256), magic missile (PH pg 257), Tasha’s hideous laughter (PH pg 280).
D12. Bane’s Altar:
- Prisoner: Klim Jhasso (noble MM pg 348) He is claiming his family will pay a reward for his return (they won’t).
- Kazzira: Fist of Bane (pg 232)
- Yignath: Iron Consul (pg 232) Is torturing the prisoner. Has a key on his belt that can be used in D22 and on the 4 chests of Tiamat's treasure in D30.
- Free Klim or touch freestanding suit of platemail: Gauntlets animate and attack as flying swords (MM pg 20)
- Flennis: Master of Souls (pg 234)
- Skeletal Rats: swarm of rats (MM pg 339)
- She has a dusty spellbook. It’s locked (the key to it is in her hair. The first time it is opened, the opener must make a CON sv DC 14. Fail: You are vulnerable to necrotic damage for 24 hours.
D15. Flooded Room: Difficult terrain.
D16. Flooded Crypt: Disturb sarcophagus: Ghostly Battleaxe: +5 to hit, 6 (1d8+2) dmg
- Can’t be hit.
- Can be dispelled.
- Acts in initiative count 20.
- Shuts off when all creatures leave the room.
- Light black candles.
- Words appear on the wall: ”RISE AND BE COUNTED”
- Say the words out loud: 3 skeletons (MM pg 272) rise up and serve the speaker until they are destroyed or their new master dies.
D20. Half-Plundered Crypt: In the secret area in the sarcophagus, there’s a mummy (not a monster, just an inert corpse) with a bag of beans (DMG pg 152) where its heart should be.
D21. Zombie Crypt: 6 zombies (MM pg 316)
D22. Torture Chamber: 2 prisoners chained up.
- (dead) Effinax Zalbor: Worked for a caravan.
- (unconscious) Vendetta Kress (commoner MM pg 345): She told her captors info about the Oathoons. She can give the group a clue about the secret door in D23.
D24. Myrkul’s Rest: Plundered crypt.
D25. Bane’s Rest: 4 sleeping Fists of Bane (pg 232).
D26. Bhaal’s Rest: Sarcophagus full of blood. “Nebra”, a florist captured by the bad guys (is actually a Reaper of Bhaal pg 233). She’ll try to trick the heroes into going to D29.
D27. Echoes of Battle: You can hear the sounds of battle coming from D29.
D28. Old Cellar: Hidden in the water are 4 skeletons (MM pg 272)
D29. Mortlock Vanthampur: Two people are fighting. There are 4 dead cultists in here, killed by Mortlock. Mortlock will actually try to team up with the adventurers and convince them to help him kill his brother, Amrick, at the Low Lantern.
- Mortlock Vanthampur (pg 26): Half his face is scarred.
- Vaaz: Death’s Head of Bhaal (pg 233)
D32. Covenant of the Dead Three:
- Bane Statue: If you stand within 5 feet of this, make a CHA sv DC 12 or kneel - can’t move, take actions or reactions. Repeat the save at the end of each turn, ending the effect on a success.
- Myrkul Statue: If you desecrate this statue, you are cursed - you gain no benefit from magic healing (remove curse ends this).
- Ultiss (cult fanatic MM pg 345)
- 4 cultists (MM pg 345)
Bong, the heroes hit level 3.
Low Lantern (pg 28)
This is a sailing ship that has been turned into a tavern/gambling hall. Serves drinks and snacks, but no meals.
Owner: Laraelra Thundreth, a mage (MM pg 347) with a crab (MM pg 320) familiar.
Bartenders: 2 kenku (MM pg 194)
Bouncers: 6 thugs (MM pg 350)
- Grimboot (duergar MM pg 122) crosseyed legbreaker for the thieves’ guild.
- Hitoshi Jade (commoner MM pg 345): Drunken sailor from a ship called the Golden Gull.
- Jorunn Nighbury (commoner MM pg 345): Horse breeder, has gambling debt.
- Skadric Salakar (veteran MM pg 350): Lazy member of Flaming Fist, was suspended.
- Prynn Derringwhistle (commoner MM pg 345): Halfling, sings sea shanties.
- Aerith and Beldan (drow MM pg 128): Awkward, inseparable twins.
Imps (MM pg 76) disguised as ravens. They are spies of Thurstwell, watching Amrik. If they see Amrik being attacked, they will try to defend him.
L2. Forecastle: Seagull corpses (stung by the imps).
L4. Laraelra’s Cabin:
When anyone other than Laraelra opens the chest: 4 flying swords (MM pg 20)
L5. Taproom and Gambling Hall: 3 bouncers (thugs MM pg 350). Laraelra greets patrons here.
L6. Tavern Lounge: Amrik and his allies sit at a table here. The bartender will dump poison into a drink if Aurik gives a secret hand gesture.
- 3 bouncers (thugs MM pg 350)
- Aurik (pg 30)
- Kasharra (spined devil MM pg 78): bodyguard of Amrik’s.
- Vhaltus (thug MM pg 350): sleepy-eye bodyguard of Amrik’s.
- Torpor (DMG pg 258) CON sv DC 15. Fail = poisoned and incapacitated for 4d6 hours.
Dealing With Amrik (pg 31): He thinks the group wants a loan, and is prepared to loan up to 150 gp. He won’t fight to the death, he will surrender.
Reya Mantlemorn (pg 31): Veteran (MM pg 350). Reya is a hellrider who happened to be outside of Elturel when it was pulled into Avernus. She was able to sneak into Baldur’s Gate, but she had an incident with the Flaming Fist. She wants to join the group.
Important Note About Reya: Reya is a very important NPC in this book. She is meant to accompany the group through the Villa and Candlekeep, all the way to Elturel. In Elturel, she is a guide and can help the group navigate the adventure.
Blam, the group hits level 4.
Getting to the Villa (pg 32)
The villa is in Upper City, which is protected by gates. The group will need to show their Flaming Fist badges and pay a 2 cp toll to get in.
About the Villa (pg 33)
- There are 4 servants (commoners MM pg 345) working in the villa.
- Captured Characters (sidebar pg 40): If any heroes are defeated, their gear is put in V28, and the characters are imprisoned in V29.
- Obtain the infernal puzzle box from V13.
- Interact with and possibly obtain the Shield of the Hidden Lord in V36.
- Meet the prisoner Falaster Fisk in V29. He can tell the heroes that the infernal puzzle box likely contains an infernal contract between Thavius Kreeg and an archdevil, and that Sylvira of Candlekeep wants it.
V2. Stable House: 4 draft horses (MM pg 321). A servant, Sarvinder Pck (commoner MM pg 345) is here. Trapdoor: Drops down to V27.
V3. Foyer: 4 invisible imps will attack intruders.
- Fendrick Gray: The butler (commoner MM pg 345)
- 4 invisible imps (MM pg 76)
- Gabourey D’Vaelan: (commoner MM pg 345) A fussy cook
- Dumbwaiter: Goes down to V17.
- Slobberchops (tressym pg 241):Will befriend any character who feeds it. It hates the imps.
- Hidden Compartment: Perception check DC 12 notices a secret panel in the arm of chair. In it is a silvered dagger.
- 3 invisible imps (MM pg 76)
- One bottle of wine is laced with midnight tears (DMG pg 259) No effect until the stroke of midnight. CON sv DC 17, 31 (9d6) dmg, half dmg on save.
- Ambra Fallwater (commoner MM pg 345): The maid is dusting.
- Paintings: Fakes
- Wax Statue: Of Thalamra holding Slobberchops.
V13. Thurstwell’s Bedroom:
- Thurstwell (pg 34): He will cast sacred flame (PH pg 272) 1 creature must make a DEX sv DC 13. Fail = 1d8 radiant damage. As a bonus action, he casts sanctuary (PH pg 272) Anyone trying to attack him must make a DC 13 WIS sv. Fail = can’t attack him.
- 1 invisible imp (MM pg 76)
- Infernal Puzzle Box (pg 224): It belonged to Thavius Kreeg. Thurstwell has been trying to open it, but has been unsuccessful. To open it, the group will need to travel to Candlekeep.
- Potion of Healing (DMG pg 88): 2d4+2 HP
V17. Master Bedroom: Dumbwaiter goes up to V5. Bed, bath, chest.
- Chest: Locked (DC 17). Trap: Once three items are removed from the chest, poison gas (CON sv DC 13, 11 poison dmg. The cloud remains for one minute!
- Helmed Horror (pg 183): Immune to fire bolt, sacred flame, and shocking grasp. It attacks any non-Vanthampur that enters the room.
- Imps (MM pg 76): If someone tries to free a prisoner, an imp will try to sting the prisoner to death. Both prisoners have 4 hit points each, so if they get hit, they’re dead. Sting: +5 to hit, 5 (1d4+3) dmg and CON sv DC 11. Fail = 10 (3d6) poison dmg, half on save.
- Cages: Pick lock DC 15
- Shaleen Zoraz (commoner MM pg 345): A sewer worker whose expansion plans would have gotten close to the Dead Three dungeon.
- Kaejil Orunmar (commoner (MM pg 345): Tax collector who bothered Thalamra.
- Tunnels: 9 feet high
- Rooms: 10 feet high
- Iron Doors: Pick DC 15, Force Open Athletics Check DC 24
- Cultists (MM pg 345): Pairs of cultists roam the halls with censers.
- Disguised Characters (sidebar pg 39): If the group disguises themselves as cultists (black robes and gold devil masks), they'll have advantage on Deception checks down here.
- 3 Spined Devils (MM pg 78)
2 Cultists (MM pg 345): Burning incense wearing devil masks.
- You could have them be cult fanatics (MM pg 345)
- Or they might be accompanied by an imp (MM pg 76)
- If a corpse is discovered by the bad guys, the barbed devil (MM pg 70) from V26 searches for the interlopers.
- Odious: Barbed devil (MM pg 70)
- 4 Cultists (MM pg 345): Wearing golden devil masks.
- Statue: The head is hollow. If you can, maybe have the statue tip over and break open during the battle. Or maybe a shatter spell blows the head open. It might be tricky for the group to find the hollow head otherwise, depending on how detailed you run your searches.
- Thoss: Bearded devil (MM pg 70)
Falaster Fisk (spy MM pg 349): A sage who is friends with Sylvira Savikas of Candlekeep.
- Falaster found out that the Valthampurs were keeping Thavius Kreeg safe.
- He knows that Sylvira wants to open the infernal puzzle box.
- He memorized the layout of this place.
- The truth is that Lady Satiir was captured as insurance. Her family owned the Shield of the Hidden Lord, which the Valthampurs stole.
- She is one of the Knights of the Shield, an evil order who guard the Shield of the Hidden Lord.
V31. Vestry: Robes and masks, ideal for disguising.
V32. Connecting Tunnel: 2 cult fanatics (MM pg 345)
V33. Cultists’ Quarters: 10 cultists (MM pg 345). Some are asleep.
V34. Ritual Chamber: The cultists cast divination (PH pg 234) in here. When they do, a pillar of smoke appears, which represents a devil, who answers the question asked.
V35. Thavius Kreeg’s Quarters: Holy symbol of Torm
V36. Vanthampur Vault: Door is locked (DEX check DC 15 to pick, Athletics DC 24 to force open). Duke Vanthampur has the key.
- Important Things: Don’t forget two things - Thavius’s shadow does not match his appearance, and the shield telepathically contacts a random character and claims it can help the group rescue Elturel.
- Shield Hanging on the Wall: Shield of the Hidden Lord (pg 225)
- The shield has a deal with Thavius and Vanthampur to spread corruption in the city, but it is happy to go back to the Nine Hells with the heroes instead.
- Lost his faith, still pretends to worship Torm.
- He has been talking to the shield, he thinks he can use it to pull Baldur’s Gate into Avernus.
- He pretends to be sad about what happened to Elturel.
Reporting to Captain Zodge (pg 42): The heroes hand in their badges, and each of them receives a cool 200 gp. As they are talking, Captain Portyr arrives...
Commander Portyr (pgs 42-43): She basically peer pressures the group into going to see Sylvira in Candlekeep to unlock the infernal puzzle box.
Journey to Candlekeep (pg 43-44): Falaster Fisk will bring a book along that will grant the group access to the library of Candlekeep.
Make sure you know the group’s passive perception scores!
Wyrm’s Crossing (pg 44): This is a crowded bridge, full of pickpockets. Ask the group to roll d20’s. Whoever gets the lowest result gets their pocket picked. Bandit (MM pg 343) doesn’t roll, if the character has an 11 passive perception or higher, the bandit fails. If not, the bandit succeeds and escapes.
Knights of the Shield (pg 44): This only happens if the group has the Shield of the Hidden Lord. Hey look, it’s a farmer driving a hay cart. Wait! It’s a cambion with allies hidden in the hay! These people want to snatch the shield and return it to the Hhune family.
- Kaddrus (cambion MM pg 36)
- 3 veterans (MM pg 350)
- 2 draft horses (MM pg 321)
Candlekeep (pg 45)
- A fortress on a spur of rock
- Home to a legendary library where many secrets can be learned.
- The monks here preserve the prophecies of Alaundo the Seer.
3 monks (priest MM pg 348) who worship Deneir request a gift - a book! - as payment for entry.
If the group starts problems an archmage (MM pg 342) and 1d4 mages (MM pg 347) will come on over and mess the group up real bad. Casting time stop, mind blank or wall of force (DC 17) are nice ways to non-lethally stop the group’s shenanigans.
The Hearth (pg 46): A pub.
- Little One: An ogre (MM pg 237) who wears a headband of intellect (DMG pg 173). He is quiet and reads a lot.
- Jezebel: Her quasit (MM pg 63) familiar.
- She easily opens the puzzle box and finds the infernal contract inside. It reveals that Thavius did indeed make a deal with Zariel. Reya is devastated by this news.
- If the group has the Shield of the Hidden Lord, she says it should be locked away in an extradimensional space. Gargauth quietly asks a character to take it to the Nine Hells.
- Map: If the group indicates they want to save Elturel, she gives them a map (unfold that poster map in the back of the book).
- Getting to Avernus (pg 50): Sylvira tells the group that a wizard named Traxigor can cast plane shift to get the group to Elturel.
- Research: Spending a day or two in Candlekeep, the heroes can learn everything about the Nine Hells on pg 64-66 of the DMG and all of the lore in the MM from pages 66-77.
- Travel to the Tower: Sylvira lets them ride griffons (MM pg 174).
- Lulu (hollyphant pg 237)
- Traxigor can’t find his tuning fork. Highest perception check finds the fork, lowest finds a trinket (roll on the chart on PH pg 160).
- She will slowly regain her memories and powers as the adventure progresses. Right now, she cannot cast spells at all.
- She communicates telepathically
- Friendship with the heroes will cause her to slowly regain her memories.
Chapter 2: Elturel Has Fallen
- Tethered 500 feet above the River Styx.
- 8 chains bind the city to jagged posts of iron.
- The Companion still hovers above the city. It is dark and strikes the city with lightning every minute.
- Devils haven’t been able to overrun Elturel yet because demons are attacking on the ground below.
- Lulu regains the light spell.
Unwelcome Party (pg 53): A woman and her kids are looking for food and water, and 3 bearded devils spot them.
- 3 bearded devils (MM pg 70): Blass, Nodd, and Thunn.
- Harkina Hunt, Ezo, and Brask (commoners MM pg 345): If dropped to 0 HP, they are unconscious, not dead.
- If the Group Does Nothing: The woman and her kids are captured and taken away to be sold into slavery.
- Reya and Lulu: Act regardless of what the group does.
- The city has been split in two.
- She was hoping to find safety in the High Hall.
- She thinks Thavius Kreeg is in the High Hall figuring out what to do.
- The posts connected to the chains are slowly sinking, pulling the hovering city down toward the River Styx.
- The demon attack has stopped the devils from completing the task of dragging Elturel all the way down.
- The devil assumes Zariel was the one who did this.
When the group goes to a named location, roll a d20. 11+ means that they have an encounter.
Collapsed Building: 6 ability checks, DC 10. If they fail 3 checks before 6 successes, they fail and the trapped people croak.
- Strovin Ironfist (commoner MM pg 345) LG shield dwarf Laborer
- Kartra Boulderstern (commoner MM pg 345) LG shield dwarf Laborer
- Velkora Ashenwell (acolyte MM pg 342) LG shield dwarf Mason, worships Moradin.
- Orin Ragron: Blacksmith (actually an incubus MM pg 285 in disguise, named Faltrax).
- Shorah Hevrun: Young girl hidden in cupboard.
- Potion of invisiblity (DMG pg 188)
Imp Sales Pitch: Imp offering food in exchange for soul. Find evil clause in contract: Investigation check DC 15.
- Percillux: Imp (MM pg 76)
- Pilster Pebblehuck (commoner MM pg 345): Halfling baker
- Soul Coin (pg 225)
Spouts of Hellfire: Potion of giant strength (frost) (DMG pg 187) Gives the drinker a 23 STR for 1 hour.
Vrock Philosophy: Vrock (MM pg 64)
Zombie Horde: 12 zombies (MM pg 316)
Torm’s Bridges (pg 58): Each bridge is guarded by:
- 2 bearded devils (MM pg 70)
- 4 spined devils (MM pg 78)
- Holy Runes: Religion DC 15 activates them and does 22 radiant dmg to any fiend/undead on the bridge.
The hall is under attack by devils.
Approaching the High Hall (pg 59): The group might be able to sneak past the hounds with a group stealth check DC 15.
- 2 hell hounds (MM pg 182)
Group 1: Abishai & Cultists
- Victuusa (white abishai pg 241).
- 6 cultists (MM pg 345) of Zariel.
- Dreb (barbed devil MM pg 70)
- 8 giant crabs (MM pg 324). They’re HELL CRABS! And they’re loud.
- Spined devil (MM pg 78)
- 3 bandit captains (MM pg 344). They bellow and gibber because they’re crazy.
- Merregon (pg 238)
- 2 hell hounds (MM pg 182) They’re mangy.
- Art: Paintings become hellish, with scenes of dominant devils.
- Doors: Iron. AC 19 HP 27. Lock DC 17 Break open Athletics DC 20.
- Walls: Climbing the outside walls is Athletics DC 15
- Windows: Have defensive shutters latched from within. AC 19 HP 27. DEX DC 15 to open, break with Athletics DC 17.
- Altar: Religion DC 15: Regain all your hit points!
- Secret panel opens a staircase to H15.
H6. Desecrated Altar of Torm
- Altar: Non-worshipers of Zariel within 20 feet of the altar are vulnerable to all damage.
- Restore the Altar: Religion DC 15 and 1 minute of prayer, or splash three flasks of holy water on it.
- Play the Organ: Performance DC 15. Success: allies gain a d8 to be added to a to hit roll, ability check, or save within 24 hours.
- Fail by 5+: Devils have advantage on their first turn vs the heroes.
H10. Recessed Mausoleum: There might be some commoners (MM pg 345) hiding here. 1 in 6 chance for each of the 4 crypts. D4 commoners.
H12. Temple of the Highest
- Mummy (MM pg 228)
- Bracers of defense (DMG pg 156) and elemental gem (DMG pg 167)
H15. Unknown Hero: Non-decayed remains of a woman who may have been an incarnation of Torm.
- Note: She has a greatsword that will likely be used in the ritual on page 71.
- Pherria Jynks (acolyte MM pg 342): Important: If possible, mention that Pherria specilizes in exorcisms and possessions. She will likely be needed to help Ulder Ravengard get the helm off (see page 70).
- The Tome of the Creed Resolute: Lists everyone who took the oath. Remember back on page 47: “All persons bound by oath to defend Elturel are also considered forfeit.” So, this book lists every person whose soul belongs to Zariel under the terms of the infernal contract.
- Holy Water Font: You can fill up 50 vials!
- The group learns that Grand Duke Ravengard went to the cemetery looking for a magic item.
Grand Cemetery (pg 64)
Gideon Lightward (pg 65): A former priest of Lathander corrupted by Zariel.
Demon Portal (pg 65): Baphomet (demon lord of minotaurs) is sending demons through a portal in the crypts under the chapel.
Exploring the Cemetery (pg 66): Dozens of non-hostile skeletons (MM pg 272) and zombies (MM pg 316).
Approaching the Chapel (pg 66)
3 minotaur skeletons (MM pg 273)
G1. Walk of Bravery: Undead entities emerge from the pillars and attack. One specter stays in its pillar.
- 4 shadows (MM pg 269)
- 4 spectres (MM pg 279)
- The heroes can make history checks to remember the names, and then imbue the pillars with the power to damage the undead.
- 4 minotaur skeletons (MM pg 273)
G4. Vestment Chamber: The group walks in on Gideon right when demons attack him! All gideon cares about is fending off the demon attacks.
- 2 mezzoloths (MM pg 313)
- Gideon Lightward (pg 65)
- Giant Scorpion (MM pg 327)
- 5 dretches (MM pg 57)
Gideon hates demons, likes Zariel. Investigation check DC 10 = The reader realizes Gideon is crazy.
Reading for more than 10 minutes: WIS save DC 15. Fail = Cursed with a hatred of demons. Take 5 psychic any turn you’re within 60 feet of a demon and don’t attack.
G6. Undead Pit: Gideon makes undead here. Enter the pit: take 5 necro dmg per round.
1 Undead emerges from the pit as the heroes approach. Roll a d20 and consult the chart.
- Skeleton (MM pg 272)
- Zombie (MM pg 316)
- Shadows (MM pg 269)
- Spectres (MM pg 279)
- Ghoul (MM pg 148)
- Ghast (MM pg 148)
- Wight (MM pg 300)
- Wraith (MM pg 302)
G8. Ossuary of the Faithful: Yikes, the holy symbols are corrupted. Touch: CON sv DC 15, take 18 necrotic dmg, half on save.
G9. Main Ossuary: The quasit here is invisible and loyal to Baphomet.
- Ophurkh: Quasit (MM pg 63)
G12. Vault of Ascendance: Ulder Ravengard is here wearing the Helm of Torm’s Sight. He is locked in a psychic battle with Baphomet and can’t remove the helmet.
- Helm of Torm’s Sight: A non-magical item through which Torm can send visions. The helm won’t come off without the aid of a ritual. The power of the demonic portal here is tied to the helm.
- Ulder Ravengard (pg 70): He is stunned until the helmet is removed.
- 3 minotaurs (MM pg 223)
- Note: You might want to flavor the psychic battle as Ulder being trapped in a psychic labyrinth, hunted by Baphomet. Baphomet, demon lord of minotaurs, specializes in mazes and this would be appropriate.
Ritual of Returning (pg 71): This needs to be done in H6 (pg 61).
- Cleanse the altar as described on pg 61.
- 1 creature must pray to Torm.
- A powerful symbol is needed (the sword of the Unknown Hero pg 63).
- Round 1: CON sv DC 11. Fail = 10 dmg. Also, 2 will o’ wisps (MM pg 301) appear and try to disrupt the ritual.
- Rounds 2-5: CON sv DC 11. Fail = 10 dmg.
Lulu remembers that it is the sword of zariel protected by the fortress, and that it is the key to saving Elturel. She remembers the birdfolk (kenku) - “Chukka” and “Clonk”, and that they took her to a place called Fort Knucklebone. She flies up and spots the fort in the distance.
Uldar and Reya want to stay in elturel while the group looks for the Sword of Zariel.
Leaving Elturel (pg 72)
Climbing Down: The city is 500 feet up. So, if a hero double moves, that’s 60 feet per round. Climbing costs 2 feet per 1 foot of movement, so that’s 30 feet per round. So, it will take around 16 rounds to climb down, or a bit under two minutes.
Every minute the group is on the chains, they must make a CON save DC 10. Fail: 10 necrotic dmg and make a DEX sv DC 10 or fall!
- Fall: Land in the River Styx (pg 76). Each round you are in the river, make an INT sv DC 20 or feeblemind (PH pg 239). Fail = take 4d6 psychic dmg, and you CHA and INT scores become 1. Can’t cast spells, activate magic items, understand language, or communicate. This lasts for 30 days!
Battle of Elturel: The devils are commanded by Lucille, Zariel’s most loyal pit fiend.
- Pit fiend (MM pg 77)
- 12 spined devils (MM pg 78)
- Helm of devil command (pg 223) and battle standard of infernal power (pg 223)
Bagoom, the heroes hit 7th level.
Chapter 3: Avernus
The poster map of Avernus in the book is for the players to refer to. Elturel and Fort Knucklebone are not on it.
What is Avernus?
- Demons use the River Styx to enter Avernus.
- Avernus was once a plane of lush gardens.
- The devils of Avernus seek to exploit pride and wrath.
- Most devils in Avernus serve Zariel.
- Visitors To Avernus: War profiteers, mad wizards, slavers, etc.
- Zariel wants as many mortal souls as possible so they can serve in her army.
- Bel, the former ruler of Avernus, is her advisor. He plots to overthrow her.
- Zariel is focused on fighting demons, just as she was when she was an angel.
River Styx: Each round you are in the river, make an INT sv DC 20 or feeblemind (PH pg 239). Fail = take 4d6 psychic dmg, and you CHA and INT scores become 1. Can’t cast spells, activate magic items, understand language, or communicate. This lasts for 30 days!
Water taken from the River Styx retains its potency for 24 hours. Be real careful with this, I’ve had groups go nuts with this and it can get ugly. Remember that just getting the water out of the river isn’t easy - one drop can erase your memory.
Alterations to Magic
Cosmetic Spell Modification:
- Find Familiar (PH pg 240): It’s always an imp (MM pg 76). Or, if a character spots a spawning tree (see pg 96), they could summon an abyssal chicken (stats pg 97).
- Find Steed (PH pg 240): It’s always a nightmare (MM pg 235), you lucky person.
- Find the Path (PH pg 240): A complaining imp (MM pg 76) guides the caster.
Demon Ichor (pg 78)
- This goo is the remains of slain demons. Sometimes it collects in lakes or pools.
- Come in Contact: CON sv DC 10. Fail = Roll on the FLESH WARPING table on pg 78.
- You can coat your weapon in this stuff. It wears off after you hit with it once.
- A spell that removes a curse ends the warping effect.
Exhaustion (pg 79): This is tough. Every hour that you walk through Avernus, you must make a CON save DC 10 (+1 per hour). Fail means you gain a level of exhaustion (PH pg 291).
Pervasive Evil (pg 79): At the end of a long rest, make a WIS sv DC 10. Fail: You become lawful evil. It becomes permanent if you don’t leave the plane within d4 days. Dispel evil and good gets rid of this effect, as does spending a day on another plane.
Using The Poster Map (pg 79): Distances are random and locations shift.
Charting a Course: So, you roll two dice. If the dice turn up the same number, then the group ends up at a different location than the one they were trying to get to.
- 2d4: Traveling to new locale
- 2d8: Locale they’ve been to before
- 2d10: A native guide is leading them there.
** The finished version of this guide will be posted on September 17th. I feel like I shouldn't spoil the entire adventure before it comes out in stores. I'll leave the first 70 pages here so you can get an idea of what's in the book. **