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Monday, February 15, 2016

Dead Gods - Mysteries of the Stones

Tonight we wrapped up the "side adventure" that is meant to be threaded through the main storyline in Dead Gods. Honestly, they probably should have just published it on its own. It's pretty good but it has nothing to do with the main Orcus storyline.

If I were to run this again, I think I might have changed the side adventure to link it to Orcus. In Dead Gods, we learn that the actual skull on the Wand of Orcus is a guy named Anarchocles. Orcus used to command his skeletal remains to do stuff for him using the golden circlet (which the heroes used last session to destroy the Wand of Orcus).

I think I would change the story of Anarchocles to make it that Anarchocles was a god who fought Orcus long ago and perished. And now, through the stones in his fallen temple, he is reaching out to aid the heroes in defeating Orcus.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Drow Wizard


We picked up right where we left off last time. The group had just defeated Orcus and destroyed the Wand of Orcus. They kept the iron handle of the wand, and Bidam decided to keep the shattered Orcusword.

They were seemingly trapped in the 4th layer of Pandemonium with no way out. Theran used his wand of darkness to summon a nightmare. If you read the 5e monster manual, you'll see that nightmares want food and if they don't get it, they still serve their master but do so resentfully.

The heroes used the nightmare to shift into the ethereal plane. They floated around there and followed their planar compass until they found an ethereal curtain which got them back to Sigil, in the poor and dangerous district known as The Hive. I later realize that you can't get to the Ethereal Plane from Pandemonim (in the 2e cosmology, at least), so I guess there was some weird cosmic conjunction caused by the death of Orcus.

Demonic Madness

The heroes were in Sigil but they were still suffering from demonic madness. Bidam had the urge to make the weak suffer. He viciously berated a poor slovenly strumpet. Theran wanted to experiment on the dead, and Fall From Grace nearly abandoned her faith. She had to be restrained from using her deadly kiss, something she swore never to do.

The adventurers were able to pay a healer 450 gold each to cast Greater Restoration on each of them, curing their madness.

The group met with the leader of the Sensates, Factol Erin Montgomery Darkflame. There, they pieced together what had happened in this campaign:
  • Orcus had killed Primus, lord of the modrons, and replaced him. 
  • Orcus sent the modrons out on a march to search the planes for the Wand of Orcus. 
  • Once he got some lead, he left and another modron transformed into Primus and none was the wiser.
  • Orcus made visages to go hunt down the wand and the two amnesiac drow who had hid it, but the heroes beat him to it.

The heroes were given high faction ranks, as a result of their heroic deeds.. Bidam is now a factotum in the Sensates, and Theran is a.. guy in the Free League. The Free League has no Factol or structure, that's part of their whole gimmick. Both are potentially movers and shakers in the faction world, if they want to be.

The Heart of the Lady of Pain

At last it was time to pull the trigger on this. After a few days of rest, the heroes were accosted by Gonard Flumph. This Donald Trump NPC was angry at the heroes for what happened to his daughter (she had found a cursed gem which Orcus used to summon and kill her.

Flumph had some hired goons and went on a rant which turned into a tirade on the Lady of Pain. I tried to include all the classic Trump quotes, including of course the Megyn Kelly "Blood coming out her.. wherever.." comment.

The Lady of Pain appeared and mazed Flumph for daring to speak her name. Then, she stood there looming over the adventurers. They handed her the Heart of the Lady of Pain. The Lady pressed it into her chest. Things got trippy. Her shadow turned to iron and floated toward the heroes' festhall. The lady vanished.

The heroes followed the Iron Shadow (which is the villain of Tales From the Infinite Staircase, which I may or may not run one day). The Shadow passed through the door that would not open in the festhall.

This triggered an event the Dabuses had been preparing the building for - the building was about to 'give birth' to a new section of the city! The door that would not open swung open and building materials rocketed out. Everyone ran for their lives. When they came to, the group found that they now owned an entire square in the Lower Ward.

The square included relocated Sigil locales, including the Zactar Cathedral (Umbra's temple), The Screaming Tower (home of Zaraga the hag and her 99 gargoyles), Vrischika's Curiosity Shoppe and more.

Additionally, there were many archways in the square, each containing a portal to a plane. A dabus handed the heroes three metal keys. These keys could unlock any door or portal in the square.

The portals led to places the heroes had been, including: Limbo, the Astral Plane, Undermountain (in the Forgotten Realms), the City of Greyhawk, and more. There was one portal that led right to the Infinite Staircase, just in case I decide to run that down the road.

The basic idea here was that since Bidam had given the Lady a gift, she gave the heroes a gift in return. Bidam had attempted to fill the void inside the Lady of Pain, which is more than almost anyone else had ever done for her.

The First Stone

After the group had digested all of that stuff, it was time to kick off the actual adventure. This is the third part of the side-scenario in this book. It is about a temple with mysterious stones that two factions are fighting over. It is all a plot by this guy Argesh Fiord, who is trying to use the temple to force a faction war. Argesh hates both factions and wants them to destroy each other.

This is a really railroad-y adventure. It starts off with flavor text where Argesh walks up to the PCs and uses a geas on them - no saving throw. The heroes must go to the temple and say the word "Badir."

The adventurers went there, snuck past the guards into the temple, and said the word. They were sucked into a stone, into a quasi-realm.

They were adventuring through the memories of a dead god of wind and rain, named Badir. Each time the group completed a memory, one of them had a gem embedded into their forehead. Once they'd completed them all, they could place their gems into the stones.

The group appeared in a temple of Badir, where priests prayed. In a back room, the group found dead clerics and two men struggling. Basically, the other priests burst in and thought the heroes had killed all these people. Badir contacted Theran mentally and Theran spoke the wisdom of Badir to the priests.

This was a really weird one that I couldn't make a lot of sense of, so we just moved on.

The Second Stone

In this memory, we learn that Badir's father, Nol, hated Badir. Nol is a god of the sun and couldn't accept that his child was a lord of wind and rain.

Nol called on a brass dragon to kill his son when he was a child. Our heroes were there to protect him! Theran cast darkness where the dragon was, but the dragon had blindsight. The dragon breathed fire on Theran, but the wizard was protected by his amulet of flowing flame.

Theran summoned the nightmare and tried to escape with Badir to the ethereal plane, but alas these memory scenes are like an "instance." You can't leave their boundaries.

Bidam jumped on the nightmare with the kid and flew into the air. The dragon flew up after them. The group begged the kid to use his powers, which are not defined in the book. I decided to have the kid roll to see if he could pull something off - I rolled a natural 20. The kid created a storm cloud that blasted the dragon with lightning and did piles of damage.

Theran pelted the dragon with magic missiles. Fall From Grace flew up and cut into the dragon, killing it. Memory over.

The Third Stone

In that last memory, all damage the group took was healed. Even if they died, they'd come back to life. In the rest of these, any damage taken "counts."

The group was on a battlefield where the armies of Badir and Nol were at war. The heroes were soldiers of Badir. They rode into combat as archers fired on them. They tore into their foes, defeating enemy soldiers and berserkers. Piece of cake.

The Fourth Stone

The heroes appeared here as ghosts in a crumbling citadel. They looked down on Badir, who was old and dying. His followers were gone, and thus he had no power to continue on.

The group searched the citadel and found a lone weeping handmaiden. They brought her to Badir. She wept over him, and he died.

The Fifth Stone

The adventurers appear in the astral plane. They see Badir's followers, who are taking apart the dead god's stone body. They would use the stone to create the temple in Sigil.

There was nothing to do here but bear witness as Badir spoke in their minds about how what they did wasn't right or wrong, it just was.

The Sixth Stone

Argesh Fiord and his slaad
A sixth stone rose from the ground. This one is really, really weird. The heroes go into some sort of future memory. They're still in the church. Argesh Fiord and a red slaad attack the heroes.

Theran was slashed repeatedly by the slaad, and was infected by a slaad tadpole, which will hatch in three months. It was nice to see that even though I had run the Limbo adventures so long ago, the group remembered exactly what slaads could do.

The group defeated them and placed their gems in the stones. The final flavor text:

"Golden light shines everywhere. The ground shudders as if in a rumbling earthquake, though there's really no "earth" in Sigil. The entire floor of the church glows like an activated portal, and the stones and the ruins begin to tumble downward into what looks like the astral plane. In a sudden shaft of bright illumination, the silhouette of a fine-featured man turns toward you, nods, and walks straight into the portal's light."

The heroes fall back into real Sigil, and they see that the temple is entirely gone. This actually makes the factions happy, as there's nothing there to fight over.

It's an interesting adventure and I think the right DM could make it really awesome.

Next time we'll go through the very last chapter of Dead Gods.

Click here for the final chapter of Dead Gods.


Rynath Wilson said...

Another fantastic session!

By the way, did you know that over on the Planewalker website some fans are creating 5E conversions of a lot of the old Planescape material? For example, the Factions have been written up as 5E Organizations.

Sean said...

Rynath: Thanks! I did not know that, thanks for pointing it out. I used it preparing for the follow-up session.