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Monday, April 17, 2017

Planescape: Blood War VIII. The Blood Storm

It’s always cool when things go in a direction that you didn’t expect. In this session, the dice decided that there would be a change of plans and the players also decided that one of the next few sessions needs to be about achieving a goal that is important to them.

The Party

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

We picked up where we left off last time. The group was sailing on the River Styx. They had just messed with Lilith and freed all of her prisoners – clerics and paladins of good gods.

The heroes got as far as Phlegethos (the 4th layer of Hell) when she caught up with them. Malcanthet, Lilith’s succubus rival, was psychically linked to Bidam. Once Lilith understood that, she realized that the group had been charmed.

She dispelled the charm and forced the group to hand over her whip and explained that the chaotic energy of the halo had motivated her again. She realized she was one step away from ruling the 7th layer of Hell. So in a way, the group did her a favor. She made them throw the halo in the Pit of Flame that they happened to be passing by. Then she left.

Sigil


Back in Sigil, we did a whole bunch of downtime stuff with their businesses. There’s a modron and a talking cat in charge of the financials and the day-to-day operations of their festhalls. They went over a bunch of things:

New Employee: Last week Jessie insisted that there needs to be a cow lady who has udders, so this week introduced Mastitia Bovary, a big cow lady who talks like Lunchlady Doris. She’s going to help with the paperwork.

Perks: They decided to give their employees vacation time, and are going to use their two mansions in the plane of elemental earth as a vacation destination. The employees are starting to get competitive offers from other festhalls, so the group wanted to fix things up a bit to make sure they didn’t lose any workers.

Employee Reviews: Then the group did employee reviews, which was hilarious but probably not something fit for print. Theran was thoroughly exhausted and sustained an injury due to an employee rolling a 1 at the worst possible time, but in the end the employees who performed poorly were giving workshops run by the employees who scored the best.

Downtime Playtest: That took a long time in real life. Once done, we took a stab at using the new playtest downtime rules. These rules are slightly more involved than the ones in the DMG, but ultimately they were not nearly detailed enough for me. I guess these rules are made for people to do stuff between sessions so they don’t really work the way I want them to.

Even so, some of the categories have almost nothing to to them. Training just has one tiny little chart detailing things that go wrong. That’s just not enough to go on, you need more than that.

We tried it anyway:

Bidam: He did some carousing in the Lady’s Ward the rich part of town. He paid 500 gp and actually rolled a complication. His result: He promised to go on a quest. I dug out an NPC from Faces of Sigil who is linked to Fell the fallen dabus. While drunk, Bidam actually swore that he would try to get the Lady of Pain to forgive Fell. That should lead to fun stuff.

Theran: We did the craft a magic item thing. Theran was making a rope of climbing. The first thing I noticed is that it takes so long to make a magic item. It just feels like nobody’s ever going to do it. It takes one year just to make a rare item. A year! How many campaigns last a year in game time? Not many.

He needed a hair from an annis hag. They hunted one down (these hags skin babies, not cool) and the hag almost hugged Tibba, their swashbuckler sidekick, to death. But Theran killed the hag with a series of lightning bolts that destroyed the hag and the hut. He got the hair he needed.

I feel the need to completely revamp these rules because they just don’t work for my style. I use downtime in the game, it’s a big part of my campaign and these rules aren’t meant to be used the way I want to use them.

Allagash: Then the group checked in at Bidam’s demon-making farm. This time, they had produced a unique demon named Phenex. He’s from the Teratic Tome, he likes to eat creatures and he attracts ghosts who swirl around him. He’s a cool guy.

Tornbend: Then the group checked out Theran’s earthmote in the Abyss. They had sent some Agonist (new type of demon) spies to Samora, the settlement that my Trump NPC rules. His name is Gonard Flumph. The Agonist reported to Theran, and gave the group some new info. It’s stupid, but here it is:
  • Gonard has a new wife. Her name is Mel Narnia.
  • They have a kid, who was immediately declared to be a Baron. So.. he’s Baron Flumph.
  • The Agonists also learned that Flumph was being propped up by a mysterious demon lord, who has provided resources and ideas to keep Flumph in power.
  • Also, Flumph liked to communicate via magic mouth spells. Throughout the city, mouths would appear on walls and utter dumb proclamations that were no longer than 25 words or 140 characters.
My Trump NPC has been waging a sort of propaganda war against the group. Last week, the group killed his son, Gonard Flumph, jr. and made him Theran’s zombie servant.

Retaliation: This week, Flumph upped the ante. He made a missile strike! A meteor swarm, to be exact. The group doesn’t know this, but Flumph got a simulacrum of Iggwilv to cast the spell. You can cast it from up to a mile away! It does 20d6 fire and 20d6 bludgeoning!

Bidam survived, Theran did not. None of the buildings were destroyed, but they were damaged and the tieflings who lived in Tornbend died.

Bidam revived Theran using his… urine of positive energy.. and a magic mouth appeared on a wall. It proceeded to tweet say: “Tornbend is looking for trouble. If Graz’zt decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without him. Samora!”

The group declared that they wanted to go kill Gonard Flumph for good. We’re going to do that in one of the next few sessions. So I’ll have to come up with the D&D equivalent of Steve Bannon and Breitbart, the biased and failing mainstream media (who I guess would be praising the meteor swarm strike), and we’ll definitely need to work in the pee pee tape somehow.

I kind of don’t want them to kill Flumph because I enjoy working the Trump stories of the week into the campaign, but I don’t want to cheat them out of their revenge. If there’s some way to defeat him without killing him, I will definitely throw that out there. Maybe he can take take the group to the D&D equivalent of Mar a Lago and schmooze them over 18 rounds of golf.

The Plain of Infinite Portals


Then it was time for the actual adventure. The group and the devil army had taken a layer of the Abyss called Onstrakkar’s Nest. It has a portal to the first layer of the Abyss, which has a bunch of names, including Pazunia and the Plain of Infinite Portals.

From that layer, you can get to almost any other abyssal layer, including Thanatos. Thanatos is the layer that the devils want to take. The pit fiend general secretly wants to rule that layer, betray the devils and become a demon lord. The group knows this and is helping him.

March Through the Abyss: So the heroes led thousand of devils – legion devils, shocktroop devils and hell knights – on a march through the first layer of the Abyss. It was a dim, barren plain with red dust and bone powder swirling about. A bloated red sun hung in the sky. The land was dotted with holes in the ground (portals), iron fortresses (homes of powerful demons) and lakes of molten iron (which are used to make the iron fortresses).

They marched for hours. To their right was the Abyssal Rift, a massive chasm that supposedly had no bottom. A weird yellow and red mist swirled in it, preventing them from seeing too far down.

Their luck ran out. A demon army came at them from the side, so that the devils’ backs were to the chasm. This army was led by Pazuzu, the demon lord who rules this layer of the Abyss.
 
Pazuzu

I cooked up his army based on some info from his Demonomicon entry and monster I thought would fit. So he had Abyssal ants, Demon harpies (Harpies and Pazuzu, seems like they go together IMO), demon birds, and demon rocs. I had been thinking of having the group fight a roc, but I looked at their stats and they are way too powerful. I decided to leave that for some other time, possibly never.

The harpies flew forward and began singing, charming a massive portion of the army, who ran to them, swooning. Bovina failed her save and was among the throng.

Bidam tried to use his horn of blasting, but he finally rolled low. It exploded.

Theran launched a fireball into the massive swarm of hundreds of harpies, injuring a great many of them. Other harpies flew at those who weren’t charmed and attacked. The group mopped the floor with their harpies, with Bidam cutting one in half with his word of sharpness and Theran dropping the other two with a lightning bolt.

Then, a wave of abyssal ants charged forward, tearing into the devils and pressing them to the edge of the rift. Again, the group slaughtered the enemies near them.

Codricuhn


Suddenly, both armies were blindsided. Long ago they’d learned of an entity called Codricuhn, a giant demon who was climbing up the abyssal rift. Supposedly, once Codricuhn got to the top, he would destroy all of the abyss and maybe all of creation.

So wouldn’t you know it, Codricuhn made it to the top right at this inconvenient time!. He’s surrounded by a massive storm. Theran got sucked into it and was swirling around, orbiting Codricuhn along with many flailing devils and harpies. He was hurt and tried to eat a goodberry, but it blew out of his hand due to the powerful vortex winds.

Codricuhn grabbed the ground, trying to pull itself fully out of the rift. Doing so caused massive cracks in the ground, earthquake-like rifts that devils began falling into. Codricuhn raised his other hand, grabbed dozens of devil and harpies and flung them into the rift.

The group was panicked. They had no idea where Bovina was, or if she was even still alive. Theran reached into his shirt to try to activate his jar with Lord Stillborn in it. With that jar, he can teleport to his throne room in Tornbend. He had to make a roll to see if it blew out of his hand. He made the roll!

He vanished. He was safe in his throne room.

But Bidam was in big trouble. A massive rift opened up beneath him. He fell in, but was able to grab onto the side after falling about 2 feet.

His wife, the demon lord Bazuuma, had sensed his panic through their ring of joining. She appeared, saw Codricuhn, and fired her 20 eye rays at him. She was joined by the group’s friend, Bechard the demon whale.

Bidam caught a glimpse of them, but there was no way to get their attention. He was unable to climb up due to bad rolls. Then, the rift shook as Codricuhn caused tremors. Bidam failed his save (he rolled a 2) and fell. He rolled again to grab the side of the wall. He rolled a 3. Bidam fell into darkness.

We had to stop there. We were out of time, and also I need to think about what happens now.

First of all, Bidam has the armor of invulnerability. He can activate it and become immune to non-magical damage. So if he falls, activates it and then he hits the ground, does he take damage? It’s non-magical so I think he does now, but how do you explain that? Even if he has a force field around him, he’s still hitting the ground with great force. I don’t know how to flavor it.

Second, we’ve done an adventure where the group goes through the interior of an abyssal layer. It’s like going through the organs of someones body and contains all of the demons who tried to take over the layer and failed. I could have Bidam go through that.

I should note that Bidam also has a jar attuned to Allagash, his demon farm in Azzagrat. I'm not sure if Bidam will use it or not.

I could have Bidam fall out the side and plunge into the abyssal rift. He’s falling and falling, and, like a parachuter who hasn’t released their chute yet, he can sort of glide about in the air. In the side of the Abyssal rift are portals to abyssal lairs. So.. he could be falling, and glide in to a random Abyssal layer.

That last option seems like the most fun to me, but it will mean that the group is split up, at least for a time. I don’t think it will take too long for Theran to use magic to locate Bidam, but there will be some time to do encounters and things.

The other thing is with Bovina, the Cowlady. And Drokkarn, the pit fiend general! What happened to them? Did they fall in the rift? Did they die? Are they captured by Pazuzu?

One other thing I should note. Pazuzu is Bazuuma’s ex-boyfriend. This was actually established in the Blackmoor campaign I ran at the game store years ago. Bazuuma used to live in the Plain of Infinite Portals, she knows this place very well.

It seems to me that the most interesting idea is to have Drokkarn and Bovina be imprisoned by Pazuzu. Then the group can go to Pazuzu’s place and rescue them, which should be a lot of fun. In the end, maybe they can get Bazuuma to convince Pazuzu to let the devils march (although that’s a pretty ridiculous request) through sly flirtation.

I had planned on having Pazuzu get a look at Bazuuma in her fully-realized demon lord form, and it’s like seeing an ex-girlfriend who got her stuff together and she looks really good. He’d want her back. That seems like a funny thing to do, and interesting to see what Bidam’s reaction is to it.

So it was a very fun session. We're on a real nice roll. Even though it's been something like 70 sessions, it still feels like we've barely scratched the surface.

3 comments:

Devcon said...

Wow! Looks like all hell (figuratively, of course) broke loose! Wonder how long it is until Codrichun begins wrecking everything. Wouldn't be long, if he's said to be able to destroy all of creation.

If I may, I have a suggestion for what happened to the Pit Fiend general: the 4e demonomicon says that a demon lady of Ferroliths has taken a portion of the Plain of Infinite Portals for her own, and is actually seeking help from the Nine Hells to assist her and the Ferroliths in taking down Graz'zt. Seeing as Graz'zt is an upcoming threat in your campaign, perhaps she got her claws on the pit fiend and will be attempting to convince Drokkarn to align his devils with her demons in an assault on Azzagrat to take down the Prince of Pleasure in an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" sort of deal?

Sean said...

Devcon: Holy crap, thank you so much for pointing that out. I'm going to look that up! That is beyond perfect!

Devcon said...

Glad to hear you like my idea! I work to please.