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Monday, August 22, 2016

Planescape - The Dream Diver

Tonight's session was really great, maybe one of my favorites. We didn't get far but the stuff we did was very cool. I've been able to incorporate a lot of things I've seen other DMs do on all the different streams and I feel like I've really improved as a dungeon master in the past few months.

In particular, running encounters like Chris Perkins has helped. I now run less encounters, but each one that I do run is consequential. Crazy stuff happens!

I've begun planning and tooling around with the Planescape Hellbound boxed set. I want to add more adventures. So I decided to squeeze in material from all sorts of places:

Fires of Dis: I'll use the part where the group goes to Dispater's tower, as it is pretty cool.

Savage Tide: The last three parts have lots of cool stuff including a trip to Malcanthet's palace, an adventure in a prison in Demogorgon's realm, and the final adventure is a massive assault on Demogorgon's realm.

I just looked at the Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous adventure path, and I see that there is an adventure set in Nocticula's realm and another in Baphomet's maze! I just about crapped my pants. I'll be ordering those soon and working them in.

I was looking at the Pathfinder module list hoping to find more stuff set in hell or the Abyss, but I didn't really see anything.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Half-Dabus/Half-Elf Wizard
* NPCs - Fall From Grace (Succubus Paladin)

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."

Last Time: The heroes went on a long jaunt to Acheron, Mechanus and Hell. They've killed the devil controlling the Iron Shadow and now they can return to Sigil. The Iron Shadow had un-made the Infinite Staircase and was moving on to other planes to do the same.

The City of Sigil

The group used their cubic gate to go to Iggwilv's manor, then to the Abyss to visit Bazuuma the demon lord. Bidam decided to take his son, the baby abyssal dragon, along for a while.

Then the group returned to Sigil, where Theran was a fugitive. Their friend the succubus paladin Fall From Grace had smoothed things over in the city. The Mercykiller faction had gone through a change - Factol Nilesia was out, and Arwyl Swan's son was the new leader.

The crazy laws Nilesia had put in place were repealed, and Theran's Law was also shut down. All charges against Theran were dropped.

We burned through a few things so I can remind them of storylines and foreshadow stuff:
  • Unicorn Guy: They saw the goofy unicorn man tending to the sickly unicorns that the group rescued from the Abyss
  • Keister Realm: Fall From Grace asked about what happened to the guy who had the demiplane in his "keister." The group had forgotten all about him! They left his corpse in Mechanus.
  • Lady of Pain: During the night, Theran tranced and had a vision of the Lady of Pain. He learned that every day, her blades rust an fall off. New ones grow out through her skin in what is a very painful process.
  • Warder Devil: Bidam had a dream where he experienced a memory of Feurina, the warder devil he is bonded with. I'm starting to build stuff for the Blood War tuff we're going to do.
  • Ladies: Bidam spent the night with all five of the women he 'infected' with the power to slice people just by looking at them. They live in a dorm in Deadbook Square.
The next day, Theran's book glowed. In it was a map through Limbo to "Navimas." He remembered that Navimas was a special substance that somehow could wipe out the Iron Shadow.

Drokkarn the pit fiend returned from a quick trip to hell. Last session, the group obtained infernal contracts. They now had control of four devils!

I went through some Pathfinder books to find cool new devils. These are "lesser" versions of those devils, much weaker in some cases.
  • Nabkin: Immolation Devil. Drokkarn took him.
  • Barbagg: An Ayperabos devil, a tiny little guy who can burrow into skin. They usually come in a swarm - they're from Fiendish Codex II
  • Sagrata: A handmaiden devil. I ran her like she is an evil maid.
  • Nin: Heresy Devil. A bloated fellow on a floating throne made of iron skulls. He thinks he's really smart and talks about all the stuff he's learned in the "grim libraries of hell."
Sometimes you get an NPC who is a superstar that the group just can't get enough of. That would be Nin. He is a schemer and a greedy little know-it-all, but in a sort of comedic way.


This stuff is right out of chapter 4 of Monte Cook's Tales From the Infinite Staircase.

The group found out that the Iron Shadow was starting to unmake the plane of Limbo. They needed to get in there and find the Navimas before the whole place was no more.

They went through the portal to Limbo in Deadbook Square. They appeared in the githzerai settlement of Zerthadlun and saw the Iron Shadow in the distance. She was massive. Slaad of every color were attacking her.

Theran used the power of mutability to create a river. Then the group used their magic scrimshaw whalebone to summon the magic pirate ship known as Bechard's Cyst. The skeleton Captain Ricketshanks and his undead parrot Mockle were delighted to be summoned. The group brought along Fall From Grace, Bidam's five ladies of pain and their devil servants.

After a bit of sailing, they spotted the Chaos Pinwheel in the distance. That's the thing that causes random effects rolled on a chart. A long time ago, Bidam messed with it, rolled a 100 on the chart and earned a wish which kicked off this entire Lady of Pain storyline. Bidam was tempted to go mess with it again but Theran talked him out of it.

The Dream Diver

The Dream Diver

Soon after that, a golden bubble approached them. It was a vessel known as the Dream Diver. It was driven by Rav, a dao (earth genie) and his friend, an earth elemental.

Rav had had a vision sent to him from the Iron Shadow. He had been chosen as a replacement for Quimath the chain devil. The Iron Shadow wanted Rav to take the Iron Tome from the heroes and use it to guide her in unmaking the universe.

The dao tried to bargain with the heroes. I got to use all sorts of old Al Qadim concepts, like the bond of salt and all that stuff.

In the adventure there's these creatures called "shads." I changed it, and named the earth elemental "Shad." The group thought I said "Chad" and they cracked up, so I kept it.

Chad the earth elemental came aboard bearing a treasure chest. If the group gave him the Iron Tome, they'd get 4,000 gold, gauntlets of ogre power and a ring of evasion. The group wasn't into it. So Chad attacked!

What followed was an epic battle with Rav firing off spell powers like wall of stone from the dream diver while Chad pummeled the group.

Theran got trapped in a dome of stone. He looked down at the wood planks of the ship. He could see to the next floor. He cast misty step, teleported down there and ran up the stairs back to the deck.

Theran sent his little devil to the dream diver. He wanted the devil to take the controls of the Dream Diver and try and mess Rav up, maybe tip him out of the vehicle altogether. The devil flew up to him and tried to plunge into his skin, but the genie's pecs were too mighty.

Then Bidam blew the horn of blasting, which hurt Rav, damaged the diver and destroyed the devil! Bidam forgot he was there.

So since he's a devil, little Barbagg appeared back in hell because devils only truly die when slain in hell. The group would have to go find him in hell at a later date.

The group defeated the earth elemental and began hurting Rav. Rav drove the dream diver under the ship and the makeshift river that Theran created using mutability. Fall From Grace flew after him. The group couldn't see what was happening. Fall From Grace was fighting the genie solo but it wasn't going well. The genie has two attacks that do 20 damage each!

Rav looks like the Al Qadim dao

After a few rounds of readying and worrying, the group looked at Nin. Throughout this battle, I had described Nin as greedily putting on the ring of evasion, the gauntlets of ogre power, and hoarding the gold. The group gawked at his floating throne.

They climbed on the throne and ordered Nin to fly them down beneath the river and the ship. Now they were outside of Theran's mutable river in the chaos of Limbo, where there was fire, gas, lightning, molten gold, everything. It was very dangerous!

Rav dropped Fall From Grace and tried to use her as a hostage. I was rolling each round to see what kind of environmental effect would kick in. I just rolled a d20: High was a beneficial effect, low was a dangerous effect. I rolled really low.

So a massive rock, like an asteroid, came barreling at the heroes and Rav. Bidam tried to jump onto the diver but failed and fell into the chaos of Limbo. Nin flew after him. Theran was holding the back of Nin's throne, but he was clipped by the rock and plastered on to it.

Rav can meld with stone. So he literally dove into the rock. Fall From Grace was hit and she was killed! Being a demon with a demon amulet, she didn't "die." She appeared wherever she had stashed her amulet. The group had learned she had a demon amulet back when they were in Graz'zt's realm.

The dream diver was destroyed, which dismayed the group. They wanted to keep it! I wanted them to keep it too, it's cool.

Theran was plastered on the asteroid/rock hurtling through Limbo at an incredible speed. He saw in the wreckage of the Dream Diver a magic crystal which powered it. He made a DEX check to grab it. He rolled a one. It went spinning into Limbo, gone forever.

So Bidam was safe on Nin's throne. Theran was getting further away by the second. Then he did something I didn't expect. He decided to use the cubic gate to open a portal to send himself, Rav and the giant rock to the astral plane!

So.. yeah. The group is split. George, Theran's player, really wants to kill Rav. It was awesome.

While delivering Rav's dialogue when he was trying to convince the group to hand over the tome, I started blabbering about how the group is invited to his three wonderful homes in The Great Dismal Delve. I decided that if/when Theran kills Rav (Rav has almost no hit points left), Theran will find the deeds to his homes. I love the idea of the group going to the Great Dismal Delve, home of the earth genies, and having an adventure there.


Unknown said...

Another great session! I'll check the Pathfinder Society scenarios for extraplanar content. Sometimes there are some gems in that basket.

Your previous posts on GM prep and organization were super. Being you've refined your sessions based on watching other GMs as of late, are your improvements worth another post in that series?

It will be sad if you wrap this campaign up!

Commander Holly said...

This sounds so awesome!! I'm so glad there are more people doing Planescape stuff out there. And I'm loving your blog, all the recaps of our episodes are amazing. Thanks for doing them!!! ~Holly

Sean said...

Jason Raabis: Cool, where can you get the pathfinder society adventures? I sort of feel like I'm on the verge of repeating myself at this point. As time rolls along and I learn new things maybe I'll have something worth posting. It's tough because everybody is so different when it comes to DMing and that's fine as long as the game is fun. This campaign will be going for a while. We'll probably do 10-15 sessions of Hellbound, and then Faction War, and now I am thinking about possibly using the Vecna Trilogy (Vecna Lives, Vecna Reborn and Die, Vecna, Die heavily modified) and throwing in the Amber Temple from Curse of Strahd as well. That could take us an entire year! They are 10th level right now and they still feel very weak to me. Thank you, I really appreciate your comments.

Sean said...

Commander Holly: Thank you! I love the show and I really enjoy Strix. I get a kick out of all of the Planescape references you throw in there. I hope someday Chris will run a Planescape Dice, Camera, Action so we can see Strix in her native environment.

Unknown said...

I'd love to see you run your group through Vecna material! I've always wanted to use those in a campaign.

The Pathfinder Society Scenarios are on Paizo's website for $4. They have pretty good descriptions of each so you know what you're buying. They are into season 8 I think.

I looked into the Wrath of the Righteous AP after you mentioned it. The World Wound is almost a perfect fit for the Rift Canyon in Greyhawk! I'm totally adapting this AP for that setting! Thanks :)

Sean said...

Jason Raabis: Wrath of Righteous looks really awesome. I bet that will work out well for you! The Vecna stuff, I think I will have to edit them. I really love the idea of "fixing" Die, Vecna, Die, as apparently it breaks a lot of rules and it really rubbed people the wrong way. I'd also remove the whole beginning of Vecna Lives, where the players play Tenser, Bigby and others and die.