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Monday, May 30, 2016

Planescape - Enemies of my Enemy

Grazz't & Iggwilv
We just had a big session of D&D. Tonight was the night where one of the heroes was going to die! I asked the player a few weeks ago if he was OK with having a lot of really crazy stuff happen to his character and he gave me the thumbs up. That means that in this session, there was a good chance that Theran was getting whacked unless the group figured out what was going on or made some good rolls.

I normally would never do stuff like this, but I saw what Chris Perkins did with Diath on Dice, Camera, Action and I thought I'd give it a try.

A lot of the Iggwilv section of this session is from material in Dungeon Magazine #149.

Preparation: I'm about to run For Duty & Deity, an adventure where the heroes have to rescue a goddess from the clutches of the demon lord, Grazz't. That adventure book is kind of a mess. There's a lot of pages, but not a whole lot of adventure contained in those pages.

So I dug up a 4e Grazz't adventure (Court of the Dark Prince, Dungeon Magazine #212) and I decided to add in Iggwilv to this thing. I love the whole Iggwilv/Grazz't story and I relish the opportunity to use these iconic NPCs in my campaign.

Raja Khan
The Rakshasa: Really, tonight was about Raja Khan's scheme for revenge. Back in Nemesis, the group attacked his home, stole his stuff, rescued his concubines and killed his boss, a marilith.

Raja fled and ended up working for another marilith who is part of the Blood War (the eternal battle between demons and devils). When Bidam and Fall From Grace were in The Gray Waste last session, they passed right by Raja's new boss and didn't know it. Raja saw Bidam and shape-shifted into a halfling named Karagesh. He pretended to be mute so his voice wouldn't give him away.

The group liked him and "kept" him. They brought him to Sigil, where Raja is now free to get his revenge.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Drow Wizard
* NPCs - Fall From Grace (Succubus Paladin), Selinza ("Litorian" Wizard, level 6)

Downtime in Sigil

Karagesh's Deal: The promoter Harys Hatchis hired Karagesh to spy on those "fat cats" in the Clerk's Ward. He agreed to pay Karagesh in magic potions. Harys knows a guy. Karagesh went out each night, but he wasn't spying. He proceeds to kill Warrin Spellbinder, the clerk who failed him in Nemesis. He kills Thoebe, the other former concubine who now works in a gaming hall. He wants to steal back Midnight (one of the magic swords from Nemesis) from the Doomguard but can't figure out how to do it.

Whispering Motes: Theran made magic healing powder in his wizardly lab building throughout this adventure. It went like this:
  1. Selinza would buff him with spells.
  2. Karagesh would give him a potion of resistance to fire. This was key. He needed the group to get accustomed to drinking things he handed them. That way, when he handed them a vial of deadly poison, they'd drink it!
  3. Theran would try to mix some ingredients and make an arcana check.
  4. If he failed, there was an explosion, but Selinza's spell and arcane ward could protect him.
  5. It takes three days to make a vial of whispering motes, so that's one check per day.
Then there was a knock on the door. Somebody left delicious elven food for Theran. This was the work of Conviva Kettle, one of his employees who has a thing for him.

Ravel Puzzlewell
Hags: The heroes wanted to find a powerful wizard who could explain what was going on with their strange powers. The hags Virinis and Zeraga reluctantly took them to meet the third member of the Sigil coven - Ravel Puzzlewell.

Ravel is a major NPC in Planescape: Torment. The hags have a "portable portal" that they activate with drops of blood from a vial. This portal takes them to Ravel's Maze.

Long ago, Ravel tried to kill everyone in Sigil by bringing in an army of devils. Ravel's plan failed and she was mazed by the Lady of Pain. Ravel knows the location of the portal that leads out of her maze, but she never leaves.

There's a whole bunch of conversation and much is learned:
  • Bidam's Chosen: Bidam and the people he infects with iron hearts are going to help the Lady of Pain manage the void inside her. The Lady is the source of all pain in the multiverse. Bidam's chosen ones will help. Each of them has the power to cut people just by looking at them.
  • Theran's Quest: Theran's job is to take out the Iron Shadow, who is a broken-off piece of the Lady of Pain. The Iron Shadow wants to end suffering, and thus she is pretty much draining existence away. Ravel warns Theran that the devils will oppose him every step of the way. She also tells Theran that he is destined to rule Sigil in the Lady of Pain's name.
  • The Hag Doll: Bidam's little hag doll has three baby dolls. The doll is giving the babies to hags. If fed a live animal, the hag doll can allow the group to converse with one of the hags and they might even be able to cast a spell through the doll.
  • The Strahd Doll: If you let the doll suck your blood, he gives you the ability to assume gaseous form or turn into a bat or wolf for a while.
Day Two

More Motes: Theran got buffed by Selinza. Karagesh handed him a potion of fire resistance. Arcana Roll. After, Convivia Kettle left him another delicious elven meal. I wondered if Theran would tell her to stop, but he didn't.

Aza Dowling: The heroes saw that Aza Dowling, the 'depression councilor' in the festhall, was now seeing Ignus to help him with PTSD. If you remember, Ignus was the guy who was on fire for seven years. Theran gave him an amulet that suppresses the flames.

The heroes don't know it, but Aza is a spy for Shemeska the marauder. Shemeska is in hiding because Ignus has incriminating evidence on her. Now Aza is in a position to find out where the evidence is.

Reave Masseuse: This four-armed lady is one of Bidam's Chosen. The heroes got her off of a murder rap, but she can't find someone who will hire her. The heroes gave her a job as a bartender in the Smoldering Corpse bar.

Adventurers Guild: I am using an 'alternate universe' version of the characters in Dice, Camera, Action. Just like in the show, the heroes think Diath is dead, but he's really inhabiting Paultin's body.

Long ago (in The Fortress of the Fallen Stair) Theran and Bidam stole some trophies of demon lords. The painting of Lamashtu ended up in the possession of Gonard Flumph who lives in the extravagant, golden Flumph Tower in Tradegate. Demons of Lamashtu have been attacking, trying to get it back.

These adventurers questioned Theran and Bidam. Evelyn scolded them. The players really get a kick out of Evelyn's southern accent so I hammed it up. Evelyn's group decided to return the painting to the fortress in the Abyss where it belonged.

The group learned that Gonard Flumph's son has hooked up with his father's wife, Melania. They were grossed out.

This week I had an idea. TRUMP: THE DUNGEON. It's happening! It's going to be huge and you're going to love it. It will be the best dungeon you've ever seen in your life.

Sensory Stone: Bidam's sensory stones are very popular down at the Civic Festhall. Now there's someone else making popular sensory stones: Jiutou (the tiefling from High Rollers). She made one of her riding a gold dragon over Celestia that makes grown men cry.

I just want to make sure that the PCs feel like they're in a living world. Also, I like Jiutou.

Big Choice: Vaimish Crasad (first met in session 3 of the campaign), a paladin lord who owns a fortress in the Outlands, met with the heroes. Two of his knaves had been killed by a mystery creature. The group had an important choice to make:
  • If the group went to the Outlands, they'd battle an Eye of Shadow (a beholder infused with energy from the Shadowfell).
  • If the group didn't, the Eye of Shadow would attack the paladins and blind Vaimish. There's only one person who can stop the beholder - the prisoner of the paladins, the greatest thief in Sigil, Ash Vodiran!
I gave the players a ton of chances to go with Vaimish. They did research on the monster but didn't go. They found out the next day that Vaimish was blind and that Ash Vodiran, the guy they love to hate, is free! The players groaned.

Day 3

I couldn't find a pic of a unicorn man that wasn't completely inappropriate.
Mote Central: Selinza buff, Karagesh potion, Arcana check. This time, Convivia Kettle left Theran a single Aelfengrape - a magic berry that gives you a day's worth of nutrition. Theran tracked her down and thanked her. We also learn that Convivia has a magic dagger to ward off creepy clients.

The Unicorn Guy: In around 2010-2012 (the halcyon days of 4th edition), one of my groups ended up doing a whole series of hilarious things with this race I made up - the unicorn people. They are elf/unicorn hybrids. They live in the magical valley of the unicorns in the Feywild.

Way back then, a unicorn lady named Gelda had a thing for a dark and brooding character in the party. A number of funny and disturbing events unfolded. The sweaty, sublime unicorn lady left such an impact on the group that when they stole the chaos ship of Orcus (in the E1-E3 path) they named it "Gelda's Fancy."

A year or so later, I had a player ask me if she could make a unicorn lady as a character. I said yes, and more hilarity ensued. Her character was named Aurora Brightbolt and she lived by The Unicorn Code:
  1. Unicorns never cheat.
  2. Unicorns always lend a helping hand.
  3. Unicorns don't talk to strangers.
  4. Unicorns respect the Earth.
  5. Unicorns are never late.
  6. Unicorns aren't conceited.
  7. Unicorns don't judge people.
  8. Unicorns always give 100%.
  9. Unicorns graze on peace and love.
  10. Unicorns don't do drugs.
She had an alternate universe counterpart - a nightmare person (black horse with flaming hair and nostrils). This villain's name was Shade FireStrife.

I decided I want a unicorn dude in this campaign. His name is Prince ButtonGleam and he is hunting for an evil nightmare guy named "BloodQuake." Apparently this fiend is in Sigil, up to no good. The unicorn people make me laugh, so I plopped this in and we'll see if we can do something with it. Right now he's living with the clerics in Deadbook Square.

The NPC Paladin Story: There's a paladin destined to have a special baby with an asuras, but he is in a relationship with someone else. The paladin was going to go on an adventure in an unexplored world, but both women stopped him. They're afraid he will die. Then the two women got into it.

Bidam broke it up and told them that Malweis is a grown man and if he wants to go, he can go.

An Audience with Iggwilv

Finally.. we got to Iggwilv.

Landerbold the dandy, an arcanoloth apprentice of Iggwilv, came to visit with the heroes. He told them Iggwilv wanted to meet with them. The group agreed and chatted with Landerbold a bit. Landerbold gave them the basic story of Iggwilv and Grazz't, and I made sure to have Landerbold drop a quote from a great article from Dragon Magazine #414:

"They loved nothing more than hating each other, and hated nothing more than loving each other."

One trip down the River Styx later, the group found themselves in The Gray Waste. As they got off the skip onto Iggwilv's dock, one of her pet linnorms (a linnorm is a norse dragon) attacked the heroes. I used a rain linnorm. It breathes boiling water. It did a ton of damage and the players got real nervous.

Then, suddenly, Bidam's power kicked in. He glared at the linnorm, and it was cut to shreds. Boy, does Jessie love that.

Landerbold the dandy showed the heroes around. The group saw a demon bound in a pentagram. The demon is Hochwier, an undead glabrezu who formerly served Orcus. I decided to put him here because he was a throwaway NPC in an old 4e Ashen Covenant article and he looks really cool:

The group met with Iggwilv and they went to her demiplane (from the 4e adventure). They had dinner with her.

She looked at all of the heroes magic items. She opened Theran's spellbook. She saw a pattern - a maze - forming on a page. The room started to shift. She shut the book and handed it back to Theran. She wouldn't tell them what she saw, but the book was about to send her to a maze!

Iggwilv's Quest: The goddess of love walks the worlds as a mortal! This was done by other gods to teach her a lesson. Grazz't has kindly offered to let her stay with him, you know, for safety's sake. Iggwilv has decided to have the heroes try to steal her away, just to mess with Grazz't.

I consider this their way of flirting. Grazz't was hoping she'd do this.

The group has a cubic gate that was damaged by an abyssal storm. Iggwilv said she could fix it, but it would take a few days. She is going to reconfigure it for their mission.

Iggwilv showed the group piles of her magic items (right out of Dungeon #149). She also mentioned Fiend's Embrace, a cloak that is the subject of an entire adventure in Dungeon Magazine #121.

Fiend's embrace is an incredibly bad-ass item. It is made from the skin of a pit fiend! But.. it's very evil.

Jessie really wanted this thing. I think I am going to modify it so it is usable. I think to start with, I'll have the spirit of the pit fiend speak into Bidam's mind. I can think of a lot of funny things to say.

Iggwilv's New Apprentice: Selinza, Theran's apprentice, was in awe of Iggwilv. Iggwilv offered to let Selinza stay with her for a few days. I thought the heroes wouldn't want this to happen, but they were fine with it.

Iggwilv is going to teach her some spells. Selinza had hit 6th level prior to this session, and I decided to give her Leomund's Tiny Hut. She's using all the spells I never take as a player. It's been fun, so far.

The group goes home. They rest for a bit, and go about their day.

Raja Khan

Theran goes to make some motes. Bidam does Bidam things. There was a commotion in a building. If you remember, drow had moved in to Deadbook Square a few sessions ago. These NPCs were lead by a drow possessed by the evil sword Craggis (who the group fought at the end of The Great Modron March).

These drow had gone through the portal to Crux and kidnapped/enslaved some ratatosks (squirrel people). As soon as the dark elves paraded their slaves through the square, the other citizens went nuts. Bidam rolled initiative.

Theran couldn't hear this, as he was way over in the wizard lab building. It was mote-making time! Selinza was away, studying with Iggwilv, but luckily good old Karagesh was here with a "potion of fire resistance." He handed it to Theran. Theran drank it.

This wasn't a magic potion. It was poison! Torpor, to be exact. It has a DC 15 Con save. Theran failed.

Theran couldn't take actions and was poisoned for eleven hours! He was no match for Raja Khan. The rakshasa tied Theran to a chair and gave a villainous monologue. He told Theran that he'd killed Thoebe and Warrin Spellbinder. Now he was going to get revenge on all of the heroes, one by one.

As he spoke, Convivia Kettle crept up behind him. She had come to bring Theran some food and to tell him about the drow. She quietly held up her magic dagger. All Theran could do was watch.

She had advantage on her attack roll. Raja has an AC of 15. She rolled a natural 18 on one of her attack rolls! Raja spun around and she plunged the knife right into his eye! Raja is vulnerable to piercing from magic weapons wielded by good creatures so he took a nice little chunk of damage.

The rakshasa screamed, swiped her with a claw and sent her hurtling down the stairs. He placed a container full of elemental fire in the room with Theran, lit a fuse, and staggered out of the building.

The wizard lab exploded! Theran was dead! Or was he? We'll find out next week.

It was an awesome session. I kept wondering if the heroes were going to get suspicious of the halfling but he was able to soothe them with a steady stream of potions.

Next week we get to the crazy stuff!

9 comments:

Timothy Brannan said...

Sounds like a blast! Been wanting to introduce Iggwilv to my 5e games now for a bit.

Jason Raabis said...

Oh man, these just get better and better! It's my dream campaign where I could get Iggwilv directly involved like this. The amount of plot elements you bring into this thing is incredible.

Sean said...

Timothy Brannan: I had a hard time running her. Does she have a russian accent? She's evil, but how evil? Was awesome though.

Jason Raabis: Thanks! Sometimes I think I am doing too much and going too fast, but when I watch these D&D streams I see that a lot of them are a little slow and uneventful to my liking.

Rynath Wilson said...

The "crazy stuff" is coming NEXT week? As in, this week's adventure won't seem all that crazy by comparison?

Wow. Is Gonard Flumph going to save the day or something?

Sean said...

Rynath Wilson: I put him through the ringer, now he is going to get his reward! I don't want to say now, apparently george has been checking this blog a bit.

I spent a lot of time yesterday preparing For Duty & Deity.. it's so vague... I ended up using tons of material from Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, which has a huge section in Grazzt's triple realm of azzagrat. It should be fun, but I can't figure out what should be in the "pleasure pits" in Samora...

baticeer said...

Always love reading your session recaps. I think it's really cool how you have parties from other people's streams and games pop in as NPC adventurers, I never would have thought of doing that. Maybe my players should meet Bidam & Theran sometime.

What level are your party? They seem to be doing some crazy, high-level stuff with demon lords and goddesses.

Sean said...

Baticeer: Ha! If you use Bidam and Theran, let me know. The players would get a kick out of that. In one of Chris Perkins DM Experience columns, he said that if you get excited about something you should try to work it into your game right away. So whenever I see something that catches my interest, I write it down and try to work it into my campaign. The group is 8th level. They'll hit 9th soon. I like to use iconic D&D NPCs and most of them are high level. It gets a little awkward sometimes but I like doing it.

Jason Raabis said...

Actually, using Bidam and Theran (and other NPC's you've adapted / developed) makes perfect practical sense. What NPC's could I get that are more developed than your own PC's? And all the work you've done adapting Torment information into living and breathing personalities? Jackpot for us lazy and less creative DM's. Yeah, the more I think about this, the more my own city of Sigil is going to be rich with dynamic persona. Thanks! It's the pirate life for me! :D

Sean said...

Jason Raabis: All I ask is that if you do use them, let me know how it went. Someday I hope to have a "crossover" in a campaign, where one of my player's characters jumps to another group for a session and a player from that group brings their character to mine. I like the idea of a whole pile of DMs running games that exist in the same continuity, and that what happens in one campaign is somehow felt in the others. There's a million things that can go wrong with it but someday I'd like to try it in some fashion.