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Monday, July 4, 2016

Planescape - The Cage

This image of the Lady of Pain is another creation of Paolo Giandoso, a concept artist.

Tonight we went through another homebrewed scenario that used a ton of material from The Factol's Manifesto. In my opinion, the Manifesto is one of the best Planescape supplements of all. It has tons of great ideas and it is entirely full of artwork by Tony DiTerlizzi.

I Slowed it Down: After watching Chris Perkins run games on Dice Camera Action, I wanted to try pacing things like he does. In his sessions, he runs a big sprawling encounter and a few little things. While I didn't do it exactly like he did, I did "zoom in" on this scenario and give it time to breathe. Honestly, this pace made me uncomfortable. Overall the session went pretty well.

Memorizing Spells: Theran doesn't have his spellbook. He memorized spells, and days have passed. When you sleep, do you lose those spells, or do they stay with you until you cast them? From what I can tell, they stay with you.

Last Time: Theran the wizard has the power to magically create buildings in Sigil. The ruling body of Sigil put laws into place that said Theran needed approval and oversight when using this power. Failure to do so meant he could be arrested.

Being arrested is especially bad, as The Mercykillers (the faction that handles the prison) just changed their sentencing rules to be extremely harsh: Any crime had a minimum sentence of 10 years.

Theran was arrested, but he broke out. Now he's on the lam.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Half-Dabus/Half-Elf Wizard
* NPCs - Fall From Grace (Succubus Paladin), Selinza ("Litorian" Wizard, level 8)

Each character has powers linked to the Lady of Pain
  • Theran can create buildings in Sigil and he can banish people to extra-dimensional mazes.
  • Bidam can look at people and cause cuts to appear on their body and he can create portals in Sigil.
When they use one of these powers, they gain level four exhaustion. The only way to remove the exhaustion is to spend days pursuing their beliefs (belief is a big deal in Planescape).

The heroes own a cluster of buildings known as "Deadbook Square."

The Justiciar

The Mercykillers are awesome. When there is a fugitive, special Mercykillers called Justiciars go on the hunt. They have a magic warrant that allows them to sense the location of the target anywhere in the planes! The warrant also has the power to cast hold person on the target.

I made up a special Justicar, using Mercykiller art (above) that I really like. I think that art is actually of the previous factol. But in my campaign, this is the justiciar Foulgore Grue.

We picked up right where we left off last time. I forgot to mention the cliffhanger in my summary of last session - Bidam discovered he has the power to create portals! Bidam had to decide where this portal went to and how it worked.

After a bit of discussion between players, Bidam created a portal to Iggwilv's demiplane. That definitely threw me for a loop. The key to activate it is Bidam's sword of sharpness. This portal opens right into Bidam's bedroom.

Bidam's portal-making power can only be used in Sigil.

The Mercykillers Are Hunting Theran

Mercykiller guard & Aoskian hounds outside the prison
I had Convivia Kettle give the group three goodberries. She's trying to learn to become a cleric of the goddess of good, but she's having trouble. Her goodberries came out all messed up. As fate would have is, each goodberry actually was very useful for this scenario. Each goodberry had a random power:
  • Speak Infernal for a week
  • Immunity to acid for 1 day
  • Open locks like a knock spell for 2 days
Theran had no idea what to do. Bidam headed to the Civic Festhall met with the factol of the Sensates. Factol Erin Darkflame Montgomery said she would support Theran however they could. Bidam recorded a sensory stone of the trial from last session for historical purposes.

Theran came up with a ballsy plan. He has the power to appear exactly like a dabus. He shifted into dabus form and went right to the prison. Theran wanted to pretend to be a normal dabus, doing repairs on the prison walls in the courtyard ("the yard"). He was hoping he could snoop around and either find his stuff (his spellbook, robe of eyes, and ring of protection had been confiscated when he was arrested.

He went in and went to work. I made a big deal about him spotting a cranium rat in the prison, but he didn't pick up on the clue. The cranium rats are allies of the heroes and could help them in a major way as far as finding out information.

Theran heard a voice in his head. It was Foulgore Grue, declaring that he'd signed the warrant of holding in his own blood and he would could now sense Theran's location anywhere in the planes.

Alarmed, Theran slid right near a dabus portal (special portals only dabuses can see and use). Foulgore Grue was shocked when he used his sensing powers to discover that Theran was inside the prison. He grabbed four goons and two hounds and raced for the yard.

Theran spotted Foulgore and fled through a dabus portal to the secret city of the dabuses. The problem here was that the justiciar could sense where Theran was and would have no trouble finding the sealed entrance in Undersigil. He couldn't get in, but it wasn't a good thing.

The dabuses were already unhappy with Theran, now they we downright surly. This was supposed to be a secret city! Theran was potentially leading the Mercykillers to their front door.

Duke Rowan

Duke Rowan Darkwood, Factol of The Fated
Theran decided that he needed to go to a library. The main library of Sigil is the Hall of Records, which is amazing because that is the home of the Fated. This session draws heavily from Faction War, an adventure I hope to run sometime around the end of this year. Duke Rowan is a massive part of Faction War just like the Mercykillers are.

Theran was trying to read up on the Mercykiller justiciar powers to find a way to shake it. Keep in mind, even in his half-dabus form, he sticks out like a sore thumb. He's got blue skin, horns, and he hovers. Foulgore Grue was on his way and Theran made no effort to hide himself.

It's a little confusing to me what the deal with the library is. I get the impression from some books that this is the location of the main library of Sigil, but in the Manifesto it says the library is only for faction members. The main tower holds thirty floors, all of it a library. So I declared that the first three floors are open to the public.

A librarian nervously told Theran that the Factol of the Fated, Duke Rowan Darkwood, wanted to talk to him.

Again, the Duke is a big deal. Factol Nilesia of the Mercykillers is in love with him. Faction War revolves around this couple!

The Duke schmoozed Theran and told him he could smooth things over with Factol Nilesia. In return, he wanted to know everything about the dabuses. Theran flat-out refused. The Duke offered to set up a secret meeting with Factol Nilesia. Theran agreed!

The poor guy. The Duke was going to hand Theran right over to her. Her guards and the justiciar arrived. She followed them in, and shared some words with Theran. The Duke offered Theran to her. Theran cast misty step, teleported right out of the window and fled the campus!

He appeared in the street and fled into another dabus portal. For the next hour and a half, he slipped in between the secret city and different areas of Sigil.

Prison Break

The Prison of Sigil
Bidam started putting up flyers protesting Theran's treatment. The people rallied and were awed by how Theran was evading the Mercykillers by appearing "everywhere at once."

Soon people were taking to the streets, either in support of Theran or in protest - rules are rules, after all.

Bidam hooked up with the cranium rats. There are a number of different hive minds. The heroes had helped wipe out one hive mind and install another one, called Vermin Supreme as the dominant hive in Sigil.

Bidam used the group's last cranium rat charm to connect to the hive mind. There were rats all throughout the prison. Bidam learned a lot:
  • There were Mercykillers who were extremely unhappy with the Factol. This segment was led by Arwyn Swan's Son, a major NPC in Faction War.
  • A rat eavesdropped on the factol, who told an underling about her crazy dream - she thought that the Lady of Pain herself wanted to be punished! The Factol wanted to dissect Theran and learn everything about the dabuses so she could one day punish the Lady of Pain for her crimes.
  • Another rat waddled past prison cells. Drokkarn, the pit fiend spirit in Bidam's cloak Fiend's Embrace, recognized a prisoner. She was an erinyes named Lygess the Cruel. She served him for years in the Blood War.
The Devil Ally

Lygess the Cruel, Erinyes
The rat spoke with her, and it turned out that Lygess had incriminating evidence that could bury the factol. The devil agreed to give the group that information if they broke her out.

Theran regrouped with Bidam. A riot was set to go off in the prison. The heroes were going to bust in right when the riot got going, free Lygess and get Theran's gear back. The rats knew his gear was in a storage/evidence room in an underground level.

The riot kicked off and it was chaos. The heroes raced in and dashed up the stairs. They came upon four Mercykillers desperately trying to keep the cellblock doors closed. Prisoners were on the other side trying to bust through.

This was the block the group needed to get to. Bidam decided to give a Mercykiller an... atomic wedgie. We rolled for it. The wedgie was executed with aplomb.

This wedgie was enough to cause the prisoners to pour through the doors. They trampled Bidam and beat the guards.

The group went into the cell block. Prisoners were beating guards and each other. They found Lygess. Lygess was a little bewildered when she saw Bidam wearing Fiend's Embrace - it was literally the skin of a pit fiend she knew! Drokkarn fed Bidam some lines in Infernal to smooth it over and assure her that everything was kosher.

The Traps

Pit Fiend
Then the group went down to the storage area. The room was lined with clothes, shoes, and general junk.

There was one set of shelves with magic trinkets on them. The group snatched them all. There was a single chest in here. As Theran went to check it, a trap door opened up beneath Bidam's feet. He fell into a pit containing a gelatinous cube!

At the same time, the chest sprung to life. It was a mimic.

What followed was a fun encounter where Selinza put Theran in an Otiluke's resilient sphere, got the mimic to stick to it, and then tried to roll it to the pit with the cube. Mimics are "adhesive" and, according to the 5e MM, "...adheres to anything touching it."

Meanwhile, Bidam had trouble getting out of the cube. Fall From Grace snatched a spear off of a shelf and dipped it into the cube. Bidam grabbed it and she pulled him out. I made a bit of a display about Fall From Grace's concern for Bidam.

The mimic was plopped into the cube and the trap door was shut. Very clever, I thought.

The group found a secret compartment where all of Theran's stuff was, except his ring.

His ring was on the finger of the Justiciar. In order for the magic of the warrant to work, the justiciar had to have an item of Theran's in his possession.

The group fled the prison as the riot was starting to be quelled. They raced through the streets back to Deadbook Square as the people of Sigil cheered them on.

Once they returned to Deadbook Square, Lygess told them the secret:

Factol Nilesia was imprisoning members of her own faction. If she even suspected a Mercykiller of not agreeing with her, she had them shipped out to Vorkehan, a prison on the plane of Acheron. The heroes realized that if this information came out, her own faction would turn against her.

I asked the players what they wanted to do next time. Their answer: They wanted to go to Vorkehan!

Good session! There's lots of material on Vorkehan in Planes of Law, so we should have a session full of cool stuff. I'm definitely going to try to squeeze a rust dragon into it if I can. Let's also not forget that Foulgore Grue is still on the hunt. Time will be a major factor!


Rynath Wilson said...

This gets better and better!

Foulgore Grue, what a great nemesis! If I ever get to run a Planescape campaign again, I may steal that NPC.

Sean said...

Rynath Wilson: Thank you! I love that Mercykiller picture, I've been waiting a long time to make an NPC based on it. And I really, really like the Mercykiller "warrant of holding."