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Monday, April 3, 2017

Planescape: Blood War VI. The Taking of Onstrakkar's Nest

I had big plans for this evening. The group was going to fight the avatar of a demon lord!

How do Avatars Work? I have never really understood how avatars and aspects work, exactly. Does the actual demon lord know what they know? When an aspect dies, does it hurt the demon lord? Can an aspect "go rogue"?

Aspects and avatars are a really nice way to throw a weakened version of the god-like bad guy at your group. I based mine on the stats of a young blue dragon and I added lair actions.

I used Lamashtu, a pathfinder demon lord that I think is pretty cool. I found some Pathfinder stats for her here, but it doesn't have much in the way of flavor or anything. She must have some cool powers, right?

New Monsters: Bidam has this place where he's making new types of demons. I was struggling to find creatures to use, and then I remembered that I had the Teratic Tome, a 1e-style book full of demonic, weird monsters! I immediately started raiding it, as it is absolutely perfect for this.

The Party

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

Our heroes had just successfully rescued a spy from the palace of Malcanthet, the succubus queen. They'd also freed Red Shroud, mother of Fall From Grace.

The group did some downtime stuff in Sigil and elsewhere:

Prisoner: They put Red Shroud under the watchful eye of guards while she rested and healed.

Pleasers: They began to set up their link to the Yearning House, the demonic festhall they'd made a business deal with.

Radiant Sisters: The group had taken the magic halo of one of the radiant sisters. When a lillitu dons it, they become one of the 13 radiant sisters, elite agents of the succubus queen. The heroes decided to bring it to Lilith, the devil who also has lilitu servant. They were curious to see what would happen if a devil-leaning incubus donned the demonic halo.

I thought that was an awesome idea. The group is going to visit Lilith next session, so I will have time to mull it over.

New Demon: The group went to Bidam's demon-making farm and saw that the Mother of All had spawned a new creature - an Agonist! She has glowing runes on her, a tail with a spike and her mission in life is to bring down those who are "arrogant and stiff-necked."

I am saying that these demons grow to full size almost immediately after hatching.

Bidam loved the Agonist and "placed an order" for five more.

Trump Shenanigans: Theran went to check out his earthmote, and it turns out my Donald Trump NPC has been trying to destabilize the place via disinformation. I did this whole thing where the populace was getting mysterious notes that were making all sorts of controversial claims.

Ultimately it was all a set-up for a goofy joke. The culprits were a pair of trolls with Russian accents. Russian trolls! Thanks so much, I’ll be here all week.

Then Bidam spent some family time with his demon lord wife and his two dragon wyrmling kids. We did a montage set to this balloon song that used to play in the toy store that I worked in years ago.

Bidam has pretty much chosen to change his lifestyle. He can't figure out his new philosophy, though.

Hurling Death
I did a thing where Bidam learned that he can pee positive energy one time, but I think the less said about it, the better. Jessie is really fired up about it.

The next day, the group rejoined the devil army in Lamashtu's abyssal realm of Onstrakkar's Nest. They marched to the pinnacle of the realm, where the demon army was mustering.

The group rode the Death Hurler, a sort of mini-ziggurat made of damned souls set on massive rollers that squash anyone in their path.

The group reluctantly took Bovina, the cow lady NPC with them. She rolled ridiculously well last time. Tonight, she didn’t roll as well but she was quite useful.

The devil army marched through the Umbilical Forest, where huge amniotic sacs hung from thick branches. The demons made a surprise aerial assault. It went like this:
  1. Zovvuts flew overhead and fired their eye beams down on the devil army.
  2. Vrocks swooped down, unleashing their spores and their stunning screech.
  3. Then, the realm itself attacked. All of the amniotic sacs burst open! Inside were some of lamashtu's children - spider-things each with a giant eye known as ambulators!
Five of the ambulators made their way up the sides of the death hurler. Bidam used his horn of blasting to destroy three of them and they made quick work of the other two.

The devil army destroyed the ambulators and regrouped. They had been worn down a bit, which was the goal of the attack.

They made their way up to the pinnacle, where the sinister fortress of Lamashtu awaited. The group would have to ride the death hurler and crash through the protective wall to give the devils a way inside.

The tricky part here was that the group had to cover a vast open field to get to the wall. The demons would be able to fire off all sorts of ranged attacks at them as the adventurers approached.

The hell knights took flight to divert enemy fire and the death hurler surged forth.

Charging the Wall: The bad guys launched magic chaos hammers at the group, and then started using catapults to launch boulders with dretches tied to them. When the boulders hit, the dretch died and let out a fetid cloud of poisonous gas. The field was enshrouded in this mist, and the group was poisoned.

Vrocks swooped down out of the mist and tried to pluck the heroes off of the death hurler. Bidam drilled a vrock with his forearm, but the other two snatched Theran and Bovina (the cow lady). The vrocks flew up and away, intending to drop them from a great height.

Theran used misty step to teleport out of the grip of one vrock and onto the back of the other vrock who had Bovina.

Theran made some opposed strength checks and actually forced the vrock down towards land. He was able to get it flying just a few feet off the ground.

A hell knight riding a nightmare (flying, evil horse) let Bidam climb on, and they gave chase. Bidam slashed at the vrock, causing it to crashed into the ground. Bovina and Theran went tumbling in different directions.

Bovina was in the poison fog. At this point, demons and devils were fighting all around them. Theran got to Bovina just as a dretch slashed her. She was hurt, but not dead.

The group watched as their fried Feurina, the warder devil, ran up and killed the dretch with one stab. Feurina calls Bidam "brother" because they magically acquired each other's memories.

I got art of a warder devil the other day. As far as I am concerned, this is exactly what Feurina looks like.

Feurina, Hell Hound Whisperer
They went full speed and smashed through the wall, kicking up dust. The force of the impact sent Bidam and Bovina falling off the side.

The group was relieved to see that Bidam's devil slave, Nin, had rescued Bovina. Nin is a heresy devil who sits on a flying throne. I played him up this session because I have plans for him in two weeks. I did this thing where he likes the cow lady and is a real sleazeball about it.

Battle With Lamashtu

The group and the devils burst into the main building of the complex. It was as big as a football stadium. Inside were more amniotic sacs hanging from umbilicals. In the center of this vast, open place was a red teleport circle that pulsed like a heartbeat. Seated around the circle were five demons strapped to thrones.

The group would eventually learn that these demons were the progenitors, male servants who helped Lamashtu make her monster babies.

After a bit of exploring, Lamashtu rose up from the circle in a burst of light. She roared, fired off her fiery breath weapon and tore into poor Bidam.

Her lair actions really messed with Theran, blinding him. He summoned a globe of invulnerability around him and Bovina, as they were both hurt badly.

Bidam fought Lamashtu, but had trouble because she kept to the air. She'd swoop down, claw him three times, then fly back up, provoking one attack. Bidam really has no ranged attacks.

Theran gave Bovina his wand of darkness, an item from Dead Gods that he never uses. She used it to summon a nightmare for Bidam to fly on.

Bidam actually was making death saves and he had an umbilical cord choking him. Bovina dumped goodberries into his mouth. He woke up, got on the nightmare and started slicing into Lamashtu's belly.

I keep waiting for Bidam to roll a 20, but it never happened. This would have been the perfect time. The sword of sharpness does cool things when you roll a natural 20.

Bidam carved up Lamashtu and Theran finished her off with a lightning bolt.

The devil army had won! They'd actually taken an abyssal layer, at least for the moment. They noticed that there was a rift that connected to the first layer of the Abyss. This is something many layers of the Abyss has. That is why the first layer is called The Plain of 1,000 Portals.
They worried that demons could pour through it at any time.

Drokkarn, the pit fiend general, announced that they needed to find a way to close that rift.

As I hoped, Bidam invited the progenitors to his farm. Now we're going to make some demons!

Next session, the group will visit Lilith as Malcanthet asked them to. Then in two weeks, they'll try to deal with the rift.

The devils have taken an abyssal layer and killed an avatar of Lamashtu! This should have lots of ripple effects:
  • Lamashtu now knows who the the heroes are and will obviously be extremely angry.
  • Iggwilv semi-controls Lamashtu, and will be none too happy that the group essentially took a layer away from her. Iggwilv currently is bound to Graz’zt’s palace. She has sent simulacrums of herself after the heroes, though.
  • Graz’zt has been secretly cavorting with Lamashtu. This would make Iggwilv very mad.
  • Graz’zt ultimately wants to unite the devils and demons into one massive army, so he’ll be reaching out to the group soon.
  • The adventurers will be lauded as heroes among the devils. Zariel will give them medals of honor of some sort. They should probably get some sort of devil boon.
  • When the group goes to meet Lilith, I think the devils there will have heard about what they did and the characters will be treated as VIPs.
Very good session! It was epic like I hoped it would be. It continuously confounds me that the heroes seem very weak for 12th level. I almost feel like I need to throw really low-level monsters at them. I don't want them getting dropped all the time, it feels lame.

The group hit 13th level!


UtarefsoN said...

I find these reports extremely entertaining and informative! Do you have a trick for dealing with such a massive array of NPCs? Every time I try to do it ends up being rather shallow. It seems as though you really flesh out every single one of the NPCs.

Sean said...

UtarefsoN: Thank you! I keep a list of NPCs. I made a pdf players guide that I try to keep updated, as it serves as my notes to a large extend. In general, with an NPC I think of a gimmick like "Donald Trump in D&D" or "sexy cow lady" and think up a line or moment worth doing, then I inject it right in there. Chris Perkins wrote a great column on NPCs in his DM Experience days. He likes to give each NPC a few broad traits. He comes up with a secret for each and every NPC, which I think is really awesome.

UtarefsoN said...

That is some great advice, thanks! I'll try to put it in practice right away! :D

naila naz said...
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William Patterson said...

If I am remembering correctly, an aspect of a god, demon lord, etc is created by the entity, given a tiny bit of its power, but doesn't actually control it. The aspect is essentially a free-willed mini-me. An avatar is a manifestation of the entity under its direct control, which is, of course, weaker. I wish I could remember which book I read that in.

Anyway, I enjoy reading about this game. Seems fun.

Sean said...

William Patterson: I didn't know that! That makes sense. Thank you! The group is going to go to Baalzebul's layer of hell, I have some really dumb ideas for it.

SmokeyP87 said...

Have you considered that the group might be "weak" because there's one the two of them despite being 12th level?

Sean said...

Smokey: I scale the encounters for 2 PCs. I go to kobold fight club and check it out, I always go with medium-difficulty encounters. I also don't account for the NPC ally at all, which is usually a healer. They were better this week. Finger of death seems to have kicked it up a notch.