It also has monster stats, including barghests and cranium rats. The cranium rats are really good. I will try to work them in to a session or two somehow. When I used them in my game, I just gave them a mind blast power that grew stronger as the swarm grew. This guide gives them spells all the way up to ninth level in extreme cases.
This conversion guide is pay what you want. The suggested price was fifty cents. This thing is fifty pages. That's one cent per page! I paid $2.00. The guy did way too much work for a measly fifty cents!
Monster Stats: Bodaks play a big part in this adventure. I found these 5e bodak stats right here and they were perfect!
Sensory Stones: I forgot something about Sensory Stones. When they are taken out of the Civic Festhall (headquarters of the Sensate faction) they don't work and are drained. That kind of messes up my story a few sessions back, where the group recovered sensory stones that held incriminating information about Shemeska the Marauder.
So tonight I explained that those stones are kept in a special box full of the ashes of a dead Sensate Factol. That preserved the magic of the sensory stones and is extremely rare and probably can never happen again. My players were amused by this backpedaling.
I purposely kept the group at level 8 for a long time. Too long! I guess I was a little worried about the heroes becoming too powerful, but I realized that was silly. They'll be heading into the Blood War soon battling demons and devils. They need to be more powerful.
I'm also really interested to see what high level 5e is like. I did it in Tyranny of Dragons, but that was a game with a lot of kids. They didn't use their big powers and spells much.
The NPCs leveled as well. Selinza is catching up. She's now level 7! She is dropping fireballs and buffing the heroes with her abjuration spells.
(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Half-Dabus/Half-Elf Wizard
* NPCs - Fall From Grace (Succubus Paladin), Selinza ("Litorian" Wizard, level 7)
|A Viper Tree|
We missed last week, so we got in a slightly longer-then-normal session this week. I went way overboard in preparing and had far too much material, but it was a pretty awesome session.
The group were in Graz'zt's abyssal realm, making their way toward his palace. They had bought five slaves and freed two sickly unicorns. Anna Greystockings, one of Grazzt's thousands of rebellious children, led the group through the Zrintor forest to the city of Zelatar.
Zelatar, Capital City of Azzagrat: Zelatar exists on three planes at the same time. Our heroes had to navigate the maze-like city by finding portals that linked the different layers together. They needed to go all the way to the Argent Palace, Graz'zt's home.
There's a ton of great material on Azzagrat in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits.
The group crept through the town, keeping the unicorns covered. Anna led them to the Planewalkers Guild, a home of those who wander the Infinite Staircase and explore the planes.
The group paid them off to get the slaves and the unicorns back to Sigil.
Children of Graz'zt
There are other kids of Graz'zt and a different mother called "The Bonesunders." Back in around 2011, I ran a 4e Temple of Elemental Evil game. There was a legendary character in that campaign - Fayte Bonesunder. She was like Conan but three times more badass. She was a parody of that type of hero, but she was also extremely legit.
Fayte ended up hooking up with Grazzt (his avatar was creeping around the temple in disguise in my game). Since romantic skill challenges were a huge thing in my games at that time, Fayte snuck off with him and made some rolls. Every time she messed around with Grazzt, she rolled natural 20's. It was crazy. She eventually vacationed with him, sailing a yacht in the plane of ooze.
Since the end of that campaign, Fayte splits her time between making babies with Grazzt and riding off on her skeletal steed SkullStrider to conquer a different mortal kingdom wielding only her blade and her trusty mancatcher.
400 years have passed in my campaign universe since that mega-adventure. Fayte lengthened her life magically. There's a lot of Bonesunders out there.
The Demon Fighting Pit
Bidam ended up fighting for the NPC against Skole Bonesunder, son of Fayte! He had tattoos on his chest of skulls with skulls in their eyesockets! He was a feared Blood War soldier currently on leave.
The battle commenced. After a round or two of combat, Skole used his cambion powers to command Bidam. Skole commanded Bidam to give him the sword of sharpness. Bidam gave it to him by plunging it into Skole's mighty groin!
Jessie wanted to know exactly where the groin stab landed, so we rolled for it. The roll was low. Bidam was disappointed to find that Skole's member would have a scar on it, and the scar actually looked really cool.
Bidam made his save and activated his ioun stone (it does damage to those who strike Bidam). He pulled his sword out of Skole's junk. Skole tried to use his spiked nunchucks to pound Bidam, but the aura kicked in and dropped him to less than 0 hit points.
When Skole died, he and his steed NekroHoof vanished. Fall From Grace told the group Skole must have had a demon amulet.
That means that instead of dying, Skole reformed wherever his amulet was stashed. Fall From Grace dropped a subtle clue that she had a demon amulet, and Bidam picked up on it right away.
|Lady of Pain|
While making their way through the labyrinthian streets of Zelatar, the group encountered a pillar of severed fortuneteller heads. Normally, it only spoke to Grazzt and his consorts, but when it saw the heroes it turned and made cryptic comments. This shocked all of the demons in the streets into silence.
It told Theran he had mastered the Chains of Carceri (a hint about Theran's new power that debuted later in this session). It hinted at Bidam's other new power, which will debut next session.
As part of the agreement for this mission, Theran was possessed by an incubus ally of Iggwilv. It guided him to the secret tunnel entrance to the Argent Palace. The group bid Anna Greystockings farewell.
The incubus repeatedly dug into Theran's mind for information with opposed Charisma checks. He eventually got what Iggwilv wanted - information that will come into play next session.
The secret tunnel led to Iggwilv's tower.
The Argent Palace
If you die in the Argent Palace, you rise up as a bodak under Grazzt's control. So, your character is done for, basically. The incubus repeatedly warned the heroes about this.
When doing research for this, I was shocked to see that only one game designer has tried to detail any of the towers: James Jacobs in Dragon #360. I used the ones I liked and made up some of my own.
Easy Mode: I should note that Graz'zt has pulled most of his guards out of the palace prior to the arrival of the heroes. The demon lord is hoping Iggwilv will send in agents to abduct the goddess of love. The group is caught in the middle of some dysfunctional flirting between two incredibly powerful entities.
In almost every single piece of official D&D art, Iggwilv wears the same dress. So now Selinza the cat lady is dressed like her friend Iggwilv, who she calls "Wilva."
The incubus told the group to put on cold weather gear. The mirror halls were extremely cold and they'd need protection.
The group found Iggwilv's key, which opened almost every door in the palace. The key also deactivated the finger of death traps on every door as well.
The heroes found lockboxes. There was one for each of Iggwilv's children. Inside were legacy items for them. The incubus told Theran that each child had the key to their box. The group spotted the box for Ash Vodiran - the greatest thief in Sigil. They hate that guy. He robbed them twice, stealing over 20,000 gold and the Wand of Orcus!
After some debate, they took his box. Next session I'm basically going to hand them Ash on a silver platter and see what they do with him.
The group found a pile of clothes and an earring. Apparently some interloper had been in this tower recently. Bidam cast identify on the earring and learned that if you wore it and said the word "gold," 33 gold appeared in your hand. Bidam kept it.
This mystery person arrived in the tower, loudly shutting the door downstairs and walking in. The group were in Iggwilv's bedroom and hid under her bed, which was funny.
The Secret of Rule-of-Three
Selinza alone crawled out and talked to him. The rest of the group huddled under the bed, hidden among boxes full of unmentionables. Selinza made some rolls and did a fantastic job of making up a story as to why she was there, and then extracted information from him. The group learned a few of Rule-of-Three's secrets:
- He is a son of Grazzt. He stays in Iggwilv's tower when he visits.
- He says he's trying to end the Blood War. He wants peace between demons, devils and yugoloths.
Selinza distracted him by trying on Iggwilv's dresses and asking him his opinion. The group hilariously crept right by him, making high stealth checks. Selinza met the group at the tower exit door and together they wandered the Hundredfold Halls.
Exploring the Hundredfold Halls of Silver
In combat, each hero needed to make a perception check to weed out the bodak from the reflections. Failure meant disadvantage on the attack rolls.
The bodak hit Theran with a death gaze, which did 22 points of damage. Theran and Selinza both dropped fireballs on it, incinerating the abomination.
From here, the group had to make their way through a succession of towers and the mirror mazes between each one. Here are the towers:
The Spiral of Storms: This is a James Jacobs creation. Graz'zt collects storms! As in, hurricanes, hailstorms, etc.
The group entered and a lone vrock guard looked at them, eyes wide. The room was circular and held quite a few doors. He uttered a magic word and all of the doors opened.
Vortexes tried to suck each hero into a different room. In each room - a quasi-plane with a storm in it - the individual adventurer had to snatch a key from a bodak lashed to a statue to get back into the tower.
Bidam made his save! He did not get sucked in. The rest of the group was not so fortunate. The doors closed, and Bidam destroyed the scared Vrock with his sword of sharpness.
Theran had serious trouble. He was in a thunderstorm. The bodak inside hit him with a death gaze. One more hit like that and Theran would be deep in negatives! He tried to make his way to the bodak to snatch the key and get out of there, but the storm winds were too strong.
Luckily for him, Bidam opened the door and got Theran out. The NPCs did fine in their rooms and escaped.
I just wanted the group to catch a glimpse of the cool stuff in here to kind of put over the idea that Graz'zt was a big deal. I decided his voice was deep and evil like the bad guy in Legend. They peered in and saw a bunch of things:
- Succubi were painfully encased in amber, singing hideous songs.
- "..lithe, nude dancers" danced for Graz'zt.
- There was a hovering globe crackling with energy (It blocks teleportation).
- Two mariliths guarded him.
- Grazzt sat on a throne on a dais with ruby steps.
After some quiet, nervous debate, the group decided to try to sneak by him. He only has a passive perception of 13. Bidam went first and... failed his stealth check.
The balor turned and roared! Bidam decided to try using his power to cut people. It worked! But he rolled low. He 'only' did 50 points of damage to the balor (who has over 250 hit points total).
Suddenly, Theran's new power kicked in! He was shocked as energy washed over him. Theran focused on the balor and sent it to The Mazes! George loved that.
Now Theran has two Lady of Pain powers. He can create buildings in Sigil and he can Maze people.
I introduced a new rule for these powers. When the heroes use them, they suffer levels of exhaustion. The only way to remove this exhaustion is to spend a certain number of days living by their beliefs. So what that means is:
- Theran has to isolate himself and read.
- Bidam has to be hitting it and quitting it.
On another floor, they found the other agents of the goddess of love. They'd been captured. These are more NPCs from a prior campaign. They were trapped by "unbreakable chains."
After some prodding from Fall From Grace, Bidam realized that his sword of sharpness could cut these chains like butter. The NPCs were freed and joined the group.
|I set this room prior to the slaughter.|
This place is where Grazzt keeps his 'harem' of the most beautiful people in the multiverse. Every single one of them has a charisma of 20 or higher.
There was a guard watching over things. He assumed Selinza and Fall From Grace were new additions to the demon lord's "collection" and went back to chatting up a lady.
The goddess of love was here, secured in a special room guarded by three magic traps.
The group talked with some of the consorts including Grazzt's first wife, Ela Zalag, Queen of the Abat Dolor. She was smoking a long pipe and looking around bitterly. I get a kick out of the idea of an angry demonic ex-wife. Unfortunately the heroes didn't approach her.
A "succubus"(actually a lillitu in disguise) pumped the group for information. The group didn't know it, but she was a spy for Malcanthet. Anything the group told her went right back to the demon queen of succubi. They spilled their guts, to the spy's delight.
Everything was going well until Bidam's 'curse' kicked in. He had to choose someone in this room and "hit it," or else he'd have to quit it (and back in Sigil, a Zactar priestess would die).
When I told Jessie the power was kicking in, I worded it in such a way as to suggest he had the option of 'hitting it' with a member of the party. I want Jessie to start thinking about Fall From Grace and see if anything comes of it.
In that campaign, the group did incredibly foul things with Bugsbear Bunny. The players could sense that we'd finally found the line with the dirty stuff and they could see that it made me cringe in a comedic way. So of course, they kept pushing my buttons with Bugsbear.
Don't get me wrong, it was funny. But there was something about getting Bugs Bunny in Bugbear form to do dirty things that just really repulsed me.
The group did explode with laughter when I read "bugbear" out loud and slowly realized my mistake. Thankfully, Bidam didn't choose the bugbear.
Bidam picked a drow and the seduction rolls commenced.
Three Deadly Traps of Graz'zt
Archway 1: This was carved to look like Graz'zt's head. You had to walk through his open mouth to proceed. Bidam passed through and failed his save. He was frozen in a block of ice. Fire is cold and ice is hot in this plane, so Bidam was scalded but not taking actual damage.
Theran and the NPCs were shocked and unsure of what to do. They finally decided to just slide Icy Bidam through the second arch (with Jessie's approval).
Archway 2: This archway was full of carvings of Graz'zt embracing various consorts. A succubus spirit passed through the ice block and kissed Bidam. He failed his save! He was reduced to 0 hit points.
Theran realized that he could teleport past the arches to the door. He did so. But the other NPCs needed to get through.
Archway 3: Fall From Grace volunteered. I did not expect this! She failed her save. Her gender changed. Fall From Grace is now a man!
I think that a succubus can shift into an incubus form, but this is a special demon lord trap that locks you in to a certain form. Fall From Grace is a guy. I was very shocked, as were the players. This was meant to be a "how will the players react?" kind of thing. There are ways to get it reversed.
Theran used some spells to free Bidam. It was a little confusing. Bidam is stuck in a block of ice that is hot. Ray of frost does fire damage. Does it melt the ice? Or does scorching ray do cold damage and somehow melt the ice? Wasn't sure... didn't matter. One of those spells worked and freed Bidam.
Fall From Grace used her last three points of Lay on Hands to bring Bidam to consciousness.
So the traps are dealt with. The group goes in the room and finds the goddess of love reclining in luxury. Her agents had a way to get her back to her home plane and they use it.
- Fall From Grace got a scroll of Lover's Call. Casting it successfully summons an avatar of Graz'zt for one hour to do your bidding!
- Selinza got a pearl of power.
- Theran got a ring of spell storing.
- Bidam got Fiend's Embrace, the cloak made from the skin of a pit fiend. My version is less evil than the 3e version.The pit fiend can talk to Bidam, and the cloak has a bunch of traits, including bonuses to spell attacks and saving throws as well as a +1 to intelligence.
The Deadbook Square Financial Report
This next graphic has some 'adult' content in the text, so don't click if it's not your thing...
They also own a brothel. I ranked each employee as far as who makes the most money and how much the group makes off of them. The rankings were determined mostly by charisma checks for each employee.
George is really into finance in real life, so he was all over this. The group wants to spend part of next session trying to maximize their profits. I am really interested to see what kind of real world financial tricks George uses.
I had a ton of ideas for rival brothels and ways to make more money, so it should be really fun. I want to have a session where the group is in the driver's seat.
Chris Perkins gave some advice on twitter that got me thinking. Someone asked him what the most important thing for dungeon masters to do is. He said:
"Talk less. Listen more."
I have a lot of thoughts on that, but I'll save it for another time.
Next session, I also want to squeeze in a thing I am making called Trump: The Dungeon. I'll probably write more about this in the next few days. I am guessing that we might have multiple sessions in Sigil before we get to the next chapter of The Infinite Staircase.