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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Acquisitions Incorporated: The Series - Episode 4

You can watch this episode on youtube here.

This week we start to creep around the fortress.

I love the way this show looks - the graphics, the camera quality, everything. They even busted out an initiative graphic this week!

Last Time: The group is trying to bust into a dwarven vault to steal a piece of the rod of seven parts. Jim and Binwin are hidden in a treasure box, being delivered to the vault by Omin and Viari.

The Party

(Jerry) Omin Dran - Half-Elf Cleric
(Mike) Jim Darkmagic - Human Wizard
(Scott) Binwin Bronzebottom - Dwarf Fighter/Barbarian
(Patrick) Viari - Human Rogue 

The code word to pop out of the box is "Whippoorwill." The word was uttered last time, but cooler heads prevail and the heroes remain in the box.

It turns out there's a dwarf guard named Whippoorwill that is causing some code-word malfunctions.

The group needs to get a key off of a drunk guy named Carrington. As soon as they are alone with him, Binwin punches Carrington the drunk dude for 6 points. Binwin is a tavern brawler so he grapples the guy.

Jim casts suggestion and forces the guy to join the team.

The group needs his key. He says he left it in the tavern. Carrington is interested in joining "Apparitions Inebriated."

Viari goes off alone with Carrington and they go to the tavern. Viari spots two human ladies in leather armor, one of which has a winged snake. The other has a wand in a sheath. The group wonders if that is a piece of the rod.

The women are playing cards with two dwarves. Carrington blurts out that they're looking for a key.

Viari learns that they are with the Black Network, part of the Zhentarim. They head to Carrington's room. On the way, they pass three male Zhents.

Viari keeps trying to intimidate Carrington to help find the key and failing on his rolls. Viari decides to switch it up. He attempts to seduce him! He rolls a 23!

Carrington thinks he left the key under a mug in the tavern. Viari realizes that the Zhents stole it.

He creeps up on them in the hallway. The group warns him that this will be his only chance to pilfer the key from these evil guys...


(15:45) Binwin vs. the floor
(29:00) Viari attempts seduction on the drunk guy


Good show! It goes so quick. I can't wait to see what happens from here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 12 - Curse of Strahd

You can watch this episode on youtube here.

They used to have a graphic of a dancing mindflayer going while we waited for the stream to start. Now it is a dancing minotaur. And he's completely naked.

Time for some Strahd!

No Holly this week, as she's flying home from Australia. Mark Hulmes from High Rollers is back as Ezmerelda.

The Party

The Waffle Crew

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard 
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue  
(Mark) Ezmerelda - Vistani NPC

Last Time: The heroes got into a sprawling battle with werewolves and Strahd. Strahd grabbed Ireena and was flying away with her on his nightmare, but Strix used a spell to cause Ireena to fall 40 feet. Strahd let out a cry of anguish....

Strahd calls out, "Tatiana!"

Strix runs so we can sort of write her off the episode. She spends most of the session on a horse trying to get through the gate. Evelyn runs around the building to find Ireena. She doesn't spot her.

Strahd turns invisible. The group is extremely alarmed. Strahd has greater invisibility, meaning he won't become visible when he attacks or cast a spell.

Ezmerelda joins Evelyn and spots Ireena. Evelyn gets to her. She's dead! Ireena is dead! Wow, I did not expect that.

An invisible force grabs Evelyn's throat and drops her to 0 hit points.

Ezmerelda heals Evelyn for 13. Nathan again uses faerie fire to outline an invisible enemy. He is the only person I have ever seen use that spell and it is coming in handy big time. Strahd fails his save!

Diath is on Strix's horse. They are riding toward the gates.

Evelyn climbs on Paultin's horse and heals herself.

Strahd approaches and attacks the horse! The horse's throat is slashed. Then his guts pour out. Walter the horse is dead. Paultin and Evelyn roll poorly and they are trapped underneath the corpse of the horse!

Paultin gets free and pulls Evelyn out, too. Her eyes are little hearts.

Ezmerelda puts her sword at Ireena's throat. She warns Strahd to back off or she'll mutilate Ireena's corpse. Egad. I have no idea what is going to happen here.

Strahd casts a fireball on Ezmerelda and Diath. Ezmerelda takes 38 points. Diath yells, "Uncanny Dodge!" and takes only 9 points of damage. Ireena's corpse is incinerated.

Holy cow. I thought maybe Chris was going to use the pool here but.. yikes. Ireena is not a little dead, she's totally dead.

Ezmerelda has a good idea. She realizes that since Strahd is a vampire, he can't enter a residence unless he's invited. She races into a building and urges the others to join her.

Paultin runs in and hides behind a pig.

Diath thinks this house thing is a terrible idea. He's pretty sure Strahd will just hit the house with a fireball. Diath chucks a dagger at Strahd and hits, but rolls nothing but ones on damage.

Is Evelyn oath of devotion? She'd have sanctuary and she could turn the unholy. She could try to turn Strahd, right? I think she entangled somebody once, so maybe she's the nature oath.

Diath climbs a roof and Strahd follows. Strahd tries to charm him or something but Diath makes his save.

The rest of the group is going to flee.

His name really is Beucephalus, the wonder horse
The nightmare tries to trample Diath. I think Chris is giving Jared a chance to jump on the nightmare. Diath does! They fly up into the air, about 40 feet off the ground.

Evelyn casts find steed. She gets to choose what it looks like. She describes a majestic beast. But Barovia twists it into a hideous undead monstrosity.

It is skeletal and it has bits of tattered flesh clinging to its bones. It is loyal to her and has a tattered saddle. Ezmerelda casts protection from evil on Evelyn and tells her to find Rudolph van Richten.

Diath rolls well as he jumps off the nightmare, slides down a roof and plops to the ground taking no damage whatsoever.

Strahd bites Ezmerelda! She's down. Chris gives Ezmerelda one final, dying action. Ezmerelda utters a vistani curse! What an awesome idea. They are swallowed up in the fog. We don't know what happens to Ezmerelda or Strahd after that.

Paultin is shocked, as Madame Eva had told him that Ezmerelda was important.

The group flees. They leave Krezk and come to a frozen river. Paultin spots a wagon that he's seen before when he was young. It reminds him of his mother.

He hears Ezmerelda's voice say "remember." Hey, sounds like Paultin was a vistani. Yup! He remembers how to cast the vistani curse and use the evil eye.

Strix the NPC seems to know something but won't say. Paultin finds a Blinsky toy - the Strahd puppet! Paultin is instantly terrified of it. He saw it when he was a kid.

Diath asks Paultin if the name Rudolph van Richten means anything to him. It does! He remembers Dr. van Richten murdering his family. Wow. Crazy.

That's where we stop.

  • (55:30) Strahd kills a horse.
  • (1:36:35) Evelyn names her skeletal steed.
  • (2:00:00) Paultin recognizes a wagon.

Strix the Murderer: So... Strix basically killed Ireena, right? Literally! I'd imagine Strahd will want revenge.

Strahd and Evelyn: If you remember, in the very beginning of the campaign, Evelyn was singled out by Strahd. Now that Ireena is dead (presumably), I wonder if Strahd will shift his focus. Here's a quote from my summary in session 3:

Eva says that Evelyn was brought to Barovia by Lathander. Evelyn is the "key" to everything that is happening. "It is a wonder that Strahd hasn't noticed you, yet."

Find Steed: I just read this spell the other day for that arcana check article. Find Steed is supposed to take 10 minutes to cast, but Evelyn cast it in a single round. I have no problem with that whatsoever. This kind of stuff is going to happen when you're trying to keep a game moving. We could just explain it away by saying that since Evelyn had prayed to the Morninglord while hiding in the house, the Morninglord reached out and enhanced the spell.

I think Strahd also can automatically make a certain number of saves. Again, I don't care! As a DM you can always explain these things away and it made for a fun fight. Maybe Strahd simply didn't think the faerie fire was worth using his legendary resistance on. The group clearly was no threat to him.

Strahd: I like how Chris was able to get the seeming invincibility of Strahd over so well. It will make the final victory (?) over him that much more satisfying. The group still has none of the three items they need to defeat him.

Epic Session: This was another awesome episode from start to finish. The last three have been fantastic. Everyone was great, I don't really know what more you could ask for in a D&D show.

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to Tasha

This guide attempts to collect all of the official information on Tasha (also known as Iggwilv) from various D&D sources. Hopefully this will be a useful resource for DMs who want to use this iconic NPC in their games. 

I first wrote this before the release of Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. This guide was originally a "Guide to Iggwilv", but I decided to update it and change the title to reflect the current 5e approach - she is called Tasha.

Stats: This article is my half of a team up with Tim Brannan of The Other Side. He has created Iggwilv stats for his home campaign here. Special thanks to Tim for wading through my incoherent rough drafts!

I am sure I missed some information and made some mistakes in this. Feel free to contact me with corrections or insight and I'll edit this guide.

Long History: The beautiful thing about Tasha/Iggwilv is that many different D&D authors contributed to her history, but every single one of them took the time and care to read up on her history and kept her portrayal consistent. There's a hiccup here and there, but nothing too major.

First, I collected all of the lore right at the top here to give you a somewhat brief look at the essential information. Then I will go product-by product and see what information we can glean.

Major NPC: Iggwilv has many titles: Beloved and hated of Graz'zt, Matriarch of Diabolists, Mother of Iuz, Daughter of Baba Yaga, Apprentice of Zagig, the Witch-Queen of Perrenland and author of the Demonomicon.

She is an iconic D&D villain who has appeared in every edition of D&D. That said, she's never really had a major adventure that actually involved her directly.

Ychbilch: I have seen a number of sites talk about how Iggwilv sometimes goes by the name "Ychbilch," but I can't find an official source on that. Maybe I just missed it. If you know, let me know!

The History of Iggwilv

Natasha the Dark: Her birth name was Natasha. When she was a baby, her parents gave her to the legendary hag Baba Yaga. Natasha grew up in The Dancing Hut. When she was 10, Baba Yaga taught her how to summon demons. Natasha despised her adopted sister, Elena the Fair.

Hura of Greyhawk: She eventually left the hut and lived on the world of Greyhawk, "looting sealed vaults of arcane treasure meant to be kept from ill-intentioned mortals." She took the name "Hura," and lived in a tower near the City of Lopolla, conducting vile experiments. She broke into the Vault of Daoud and stole the Daoud's Wondrous Lathorn and was chased out of the region by the enraged populace.

Tasha of the Company of Seven: She changed her name to Tasha and moved to the City of Greyhawk. Tasha wrote a magic tome called "Lore of Subtle Communication" and invented the spell Tasha's Hideous Laughter, among others.

Tasha joined The Company of Seven. The roster was full of famous names: Keoghtom, Murlynd, Tasha, Zagig, Heward, Quaal and Nolzur. She became Zagig's apprentice and lover. Tasha and the company battled the mirror masters of Pesh. They summoned doubles of the group to fight them. Tasha's double, Ahsat, was of a good alignment. The group imprisoned the doubles in magic stained glass windows deep in Castle Greyhawk.

Tasha in Castle Greyhawk: She obtained the Ichor Lance from demons for Zagig. Together, they summoned Fraz'Urb'luu. They used the Ichor Lance to wound him and they bound him to Castle Greyhawk. Tasha extracted as much demonic and arcane knowledge from Fraz'Urb'luu as she could. Tasha helped Zagig build the god trap at the bottom of Castle Greyhawk.

One night, she stole everything she could from Zagig's library, including the Tome of Zyx, and left. Zagig's Tome of Zyx would be modified and soon became known as the first Demonomicon of Iggwilv.

Graz'zt and Iggwilv: Tasha took the name "Iggwilv" and fled to the Yatil Mountains. She took control of Tsojcanth, a mage and son of Fraz'Urb'Luu. She summoned and bound Graz'zt, the demon lord. Using the Tome of Zyx as a base, Iggwilv extracted information about demons, spells and truenames out of Graz'zt. She took this information and wrote the first Demonomicon.

They had a son, Iuz. Iggwilv, Zuggtmoy, Graz'zt and Lolth all are said to have had a part in making Iuz a demigod.

Iggwilv Terrorizes Perrenland: Iggwilv also had a daughter, a vampire named Drelzna. The father is unknown. I get a kick out of the idea that the father is Zagig, but that has never been alluded to in official products.

Iggwilv moved into the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. She also traveled to the moon, Luna, and built a base/laboratory there. She raised an army and ruled Perrenland for ten years. She accidentally freed Graz'zt and they had a great battle. Neither wanted to kill the other.

Iggwilv actually won the battle. Graz'zt fled.  Iggwilv was wounded badly. Her servants fled and the people of Perrenland revolted. Iggwilv had to flee. Tsojcanth was bound in a hidden chamber. Iggwilv's daughter Drelzna was left behind to guard the Lost Caverns. Drelzna was eventually slain in The Lost Caverns adventure. One later article mentions that Iggwilv might be obsessed with somehow resurrecting her daughter.

Iggwilv and Tuerny: For a time, Iggwilv aided her son Iuz in building an empire on the world of Oerth. She tried to bind Graz'zt again, but he was ready for her this time. He ended up capturing her and bringing her to his realm. She claims to have been his prisoner, but she sat on a throne alongside him and together they made many babies. The pregnancies were unnaturally swift.

Their dysfunctional relationship began to fall apart when Graz'zt used Iggwilv to seduce his enemies, and she used those enemies to make Graz'zt jealous.

The nalfeshnee Tuerny was an enemy of Graz'zt. He freed Iggwilv from her "imprisonment." Tuerny and Iggwilv tried to build an army and invade Oerth, but Tenser and other heroes thwarted her in Return of the Eight. Tenser thwarted her attempt to steal the Crook of Rao in the Isle of the Ape adventure.

At some point during or closely after this time, Graz'zt gave Iggwilv a gift. It was Fiend's Embrace, a cloak made from the skin of a pit fiend named Drokkarn. Iggwilv eventually gave the cloak to one of her many mortal suitors, in an attempt to enrage Graz'zt.

Iggwilv vs. Demogorgon: During the Savage Tide wherein Demogorgon's agents were using shadow pearls to transform the world into pieces of his realm, Iggwilv actually aided heroes in thwarting his scheme. She advised them on how to make an alliance with Orcus, Malcanthet and the Court of Stars. She ended up with the Iron Flask of Tuerny. In it is a portion of Demogorgon's essence. Apparently she can use it to spy on other demon lords.

False Iggwilv: A wizard named Vayne created a simulacrum of Iggwilv. The simulacrum became free when Vayne died. She desperately wanted to have a soul and be a real, living being. She used the god trap in Castle Greyhawk to imprison gods, including Iuz in the hopes of using the device to give herself a soul. Presumably she was thwarted by the heroes in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk.

Iggwilv and the Library of Whispers: Iggwilv helped a band of heroes rescue an angel that was trapped in Graz'zt's palace. The angel had visited Graz'zt's Library of Whispers and became trapped there due to the weird magic of the place.

Iggwilv's Homes

Iggwilv has many different lairs and she probably travels between them. Here are the ones I've found from various products:
  • The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (The classic AD&D adventure of the same name)
  • The Horn of Iggwilv (Dungeon #151 - near/connected to the Lost Caverns)
  • A building on Luna, a moon of Greyhawk (Return of the Eight)
  • A tower in the Argent Palace that Graz'zt has no key for (Dungeon #212 - Court of the Dark Prince)
  • A mansion on the shore of the River Styx in the Grey Wastes (Dungeon #149 - Enemies of my Enemy)
  • A mansion in her own demiplane (Dungeon #212 - Court of the Dark Prince)
  • A laboratory deep in Castle Greyhawk. (Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk page 185)
Prison of Zagig
Iggwilv's Servants

Iggwilv has a lot of servants and pets in various adventures. The very first creature she ever summoned was a quasit in Baba Yaga's hut. She seems to have a fondness for small, impish demon "pets." You can pick through this list and use what you like for your Iggwilv:
  • Slistif: A quasit, invulnerable when Iggwilv is in the same plane. It's never said, but I like the idea that this is the quasit she summoned when she was ten (Dungeon 212 - Court of the Dark Prince).
  • A black clay homunculus carved to look like Iggwilv. It can't speak and it has a telepathic bond with Iggwilv (Dungeon 151 - Iggwilv's Legacy)
  • Black Comet: Quasit (Dungeon 149 - Enemies of my Enemy)
  • Ghavish: An incubus (Dungeon 149 - Enemies of my Enemy)
  • Tsatchti: Lillitu (Mentioned in Iggwilv's stat block in Dungeon #149. You might want to use Livashti from Expedition to the Greyhawk Ruins as a model)
  • Landerbold: Arcanaloth, Iggwilv's "appointments minister" (Dungeon 149 - Enemies of my Enemy)
  • Sembra, Sovashi and Ridder: Jerk arcanaloths who try to kill Iggwilv's visitors (Dungeon 149 - Enemies of my Enemy)
  • 2 Stygian Linnorms: Iggwilv's "guard dogs," they can swim in the River Styx (Dungeon 149 - Enemies of my Enemy)
  • Retriever: Described as Iggwilv's pet, lurks in Iggwilv's Horn (Iggwlv's Legacy)
  • Lab Assistants: Two manes and two dretches (Dragon 83 - Dancing Hut)
  • Tul-oc-Luc: Arcanaloth (Isle of the Ape)
Iggwilv's Items:

This is a list of some of the major items Iggwilv has had in her possession at some point in her life:
  • Iron Flask of Tuerny: Currently contains a portion of Demogorgon's essence (Dungeon #149 pg 69).
  • Fiend's Embrace: An evil artifact cloak made from the skin of a pit fiend named Drokkarn.
  • A magic tattoo that links her to a Lillitu named Tsatchti.
  • A magic chessboard whose pieces shift to represent enemies and allies. 
  • Her stat block in Dungeon #149 lists a ton of items, including: A Belt of Battle, Boots of Swiftness, Cloak of the Witch Queen, Robe of the Abyss and a Ring of Epic Wizardry.
  • Six volumes of the Demonomicon: One was found in Krestible, another is the Tome of Zyx with material added. Each has extensive notes on demons and demon lords. Every tome has the power to bind creatures in its pages. All contain numerous spells, including many demon-binding spells.
  • Lore of Subtle Communication: A magic tome she wrote as Tasha that contains some unique spells.
  • Prison of Zagig: There are five of these in existence. They can suck in and trap a creature. Each requires special command words that only Zagig and Iggwilv know. The command words can be found in various tomes, including at least one Demonomicon.
  • Iggwilv's Nethertome: Loaded with spells.
  • Daoud's Wondrous Lantern: An artifact that is powered by crushed gems. Different types of gems give it the ability to cast different spells, including haste, flame strike, slow, and prismatic spray.
  • Crook of Rao: It can banish demons and devils back to their home planes for 100 years.
  • The Ichor Lance: A mysterious artifact that was used to weaken the demon lord Fraz-Urb'Luu. The demon lord sundered it. It is not clear if the lance can be repaired.
Now let's get into the meaty details. We start with a classic adventure

AD&D 1st Edition

The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

Drelzna's lair, as depicted by Jason
I am using art from the massive Lost Caverns walkthrough map made by Jason Thompson. In my opinion, his maps are a fantastic way to understand an entire adventure in just a glance.

This is a classic adventure created by Gary Gygax set in Greyhawk. We learn that the "...Arch-mage Iggwilv sent her evil minions to conquer..." the Marches of Perrenland. We also learn that Iggwilv has "insatiable demands for treasure."

Iggwilv lived in the Lost Caverns of Tsojacanth and conducted experiments to try to increase her power. She imprisoned "the demon Graz'zt" and then accidentally released him. They fought, and Graz'zt had to flee to the Abyss. Iggwilv was greatly wounded and "her powers and strength were forever lost."

As her power waned, her servants robbed her and fled. Iggwilv stashed the rest of her treasure deep in the caverns. This hoard includes several tomes of great power and Daoud's Wondrous Lantern.

"That Iggwilv is long dead and gone cannot be doubted."

Drelzna: It turns out that the main "treasure" in the caverns is Drelzna, Iggwilv's daughter. She is a sleeping "warrior-maid." She wears golden armor and "..her raven-hued tresses are lustrous." She's a vampire! Once a door is opened a certain amount of times, she snaps out of her coma and it is time to rumble.

Drelzna has a chaotic evil sword that has one purpose: kill lawful good clerics. It paralyzes them for 1-4 rounds when it hits them.! It also has a pile of spell powers, including fly.

She's guarding tons and tons of treasure.  Most of it is weird loot such as 6 folding screens worth 1,000 gold each. There are a few special treasures:

The Prison of Zagig: It's a small brass birdcage. Spellcasters can speak a command word and imprison a creature within the cage. You must know the "personal name" (truename) of the creature to capture it. The creature is reduced to three inches in height and trapped inside the cage. In this adventure, this particular prison contains a xeg-yi.

The Demonomicon of Iggwilv: It's bound and sealed. If the seal is broken, a xeg-ya appears. I have a whole guide to the Demonomicon here.

There's an amusing note about not going easy on your players at the end:

"Poor play does not merit special consideration. Players will not improve if the DM pampers them rather than challenges them. If your players perform badly, do not allow their characters to increase in experience level. Be most judicious in how you handle awards to player characters. Allowing foolish and ignorant players to advance their characters to high level reflects badly upon the game and even moreso on the Dungeon Master who allowed such a travesty occur."

Pregens: The pre-generated characters have wacky Gygax names like Cathartic, Ethelrede, Flemin and Hockerbrecht. Wow. Ethelrede has a quote in the 5e Monster Manual! I am starting to think every single NPC who has a quote in the 5e Monster Manual is from some official D&D product.

Graz'zt: Graz'zt is actually detailed in this book.

"At a crucial moment in a battle against harpies, troglodytes and bar-lgura, Graz'zt was magically taken to the Prime Material Plane and placed in bondage by Iggwilv, a mighty arch-mage. He battled free at the cost of being confined to his own plane for a century."

Deities and Demigods

Louhi: Supposedly Iggwilv is based on a real life deity named Louhi, who is detailed in this book. Louhi is the "old crone of Pohjola." She seems to be the villain of the finnish epic called "the Kalevala."

She can summon four invisible fighters to defend her. She has great skill in making poison and sleep potions which she uses on guests.

That's it! Not a lot of info. I didn't realize that so many Finnish gods were planted in D&D lore, including Forgotten Realms deities like Loviatar and Mielikki.

Dragon Magazine #67

Iuz, demigod and son of Iggwilv
This issue has a few Iggwilv-related things. It lists the gods of Greyhawk, with awesome art by Jim Holloway. This article includes Iuz the Old.

In future products we learn that Iuz is the son of Iggwilv and Graz'zt. Here, it says: "Whether Iuz is a human who has become demon-like through the centuries or whether he is a semi-demon (as some suggest, a by-blow of Orcus), no mortal knows."

Iuz rules a section of Oerth (the World of Greyhawk). He has a demon form - a seven foot tall hefty fellow with red skin and long, steely fingers.

He apparently is dating Zuggtmoy! Wow. He has a "soul object" on her plane. I guess that's like a demon amulet. If he's slain, he reappears next to the soul object.

This issue also contains Tasha's Hideous laughter, a spell that is still around in 5th edition.

Bottle City
From what I remember, in real life a little girl wrote to Gary Gygax and suggested the spell. He put it in the game. Somewhere down the line, it was revealed that Tasha, Natasha the Dark (Baba Yaga's daughter) and Iggwilv are all the same person.

Interestingly, in Robert Kuntz's Bottle City adventure (a dungeon level he used when he co-DMed the original Castle Greyhawk campaign with Gary Gygax), I think he has Tasha flying around in a magic cauldron in a giant room with magic paintings. She's an old, crazy hag - definitely not Iggwilv!

Dragon Magazine #82 - Spells Between the Covers

This article gives guidelines for spellcasters who want to research spells. There's a great section on creating a library. It costs 2,000 gp to stock it with materials that let you research 1st level spells. It would cost 74,000 gp to stock a library with books to research 9th level spells.

We get a list of books! Wow, this is something I can use right away in my campaign. Each book has some spells. Here's some of the titles:
  • "Idioms & Rare Cryptographs" by Elminster.
  • "Legendry of Phantoms and Ghosts" by Evard
  • "Manual Powers Beyond the Life" by Bigby

"Lore of Subtle Communication" by Tasha aka Iggwilv.

The spells in this book: Ventriloquism, message, comprehend languages, legend lore, Tasha's uncontrollable hideous laughter.

This article is utterly fantastic. It is so useful! It lists over 100 tomes, many of which relate to actual D&D NPCs.

Dragon Magazine #83 - The Dancing Hut

Baba Yaga has two adopted daughters - Elena the Fair and Natasha the Dark.

Natasha's Description: A beautiful woman with smoky black hair and alabaster skin, Natasha enjoys manipulating demons and uses them frequently as servants and guardians.

That sounds like Iggwilv all right. She's jealous of Elena but won't cause her harm. She's materialistic and vain. She collects magic items and jewelry.

Natasha's Laboratory: She has two manes and two lemures guarding it as lab assistants.

Natasha Stats: Natasha is a level 7 illusionist and a level 15 wizard! She has two ioun stones (DM chooses what type). 

Isle of the Ape

Speaking of Castle Greyhawk, this adventure was based on a demiplane that Gary Gygax created during the real life Castle Greyhawk campaign. It's a bit like King Kong, but with lots of dungeon crawling.

The adventure begins with three pages of boxed text meant to be read aloud to the players.

Tenser Talks Iggwilv: The heroes are recruited for a major mission. Here's what is said about Iggwilv:

"Know you of Iggwilv? Dead, you thought? Long dead... No, not so! She stirs and is much wroth, for her beloved daughter was laid low. If left to work her will, all of those who seek weal and good will soon be slain or enslaved by her hordes. Daemons will stalk Oerth and blood will drip from black altars. Even with the artifact, the coming confrontation will be no certain thing, but at least Iggwilv will have no demon hordes to serve her."

"Daemons" later became known as yugoloths to avoid confusion. The bottom line: The Circle of Eight needs The Crook of Rao to battle Iggwilv.

The final battle.
On page 43, we learn that Iggwilv found out about this mission to obtain the Crook of Rao. She sets up a trap. She has an arcanadaemon named Tul-oc-luc and 8 mezzodaemons magically disguised as angels. They try to trick the group into thinking they are securing the Crook of Rao in a safe place for Tenser.

If the group hands the Crook of Rao to them, they will be told to go through a door. It leads the party to the sixth gloom of Hades. The heroes have been hoodwinked!

The encounter can go a whole bunch of ways. Most likely, a band of astral devas teams up with the group to slaughter the daemons.

The Temple of Elemental Evil

On page 99, it is revealed that Iuz is looking for help from Zuggtmoy and Iggwilv who is "...believed lost in the great Abyss."

Castle Greyhawk

This is the parody adventure. I hate this thing.

I really don't want to type this out, but here it is.

The heroes come to a room and a magic poem is spoken aloud. The second verse:

"I’ll show you Love, And let you see,
A charming couple; in greatest ecstasy.
In throes of passion, Iggwilv and Graz'zt
Before came Iuz, that pint-sized brat."

Then we get this:

Suddenly, a vision appears of a demoness and a beautiful witch.

“Graz’zt darling,” she coos, and the black-skinned demon nearly melts. “Can I ask you for something?”

“Anything, most loved.” Graz’zt replies.

“I, well, I.. .I’d really like a party of adventurers, darling...”

“Is that all?” Graz’zt waves his fist. Suddenly, a dozen demons appear in the room: two type III, two type IV, a type VI, a nabassu, and six babau.

If a party member is killed in this fight, he will vanish, only to reappear in the vision as a tiny creature in the palm of Iggwilv’s hand. Iggwilv will swallow the party member three rounds after death, causing permanent destruction; a wish or limited wish is required to rescue the character.

If the party members defeat the demons, Iggwilv will give Graz’zt a very angry stare.

It just keeps going and going. The group has a chance to grab their wedding presents, including a bright gold statue with an inscription: "From Orcus With Love." The gift explodes for 20d6 damage.

The poem goes on to say that they both cheated on each other. Graz'zt with a succubus, Iggwilv with a lich. Yes, a lich!

AD&D 2nd Edition

Dragon Magazine #225 - Campaign Classics: Three Greyhawk Grimoires

Iggwilv's Nethertome
This is a very cool article that details three special tomes:
  • Vecna's Ineffable Varorium
  • Acererak's Libram
  • Iggwilv's Nethertome
The cover a perfect square is made of obsidian with a piece of black-scaled demon hide over it. The paper is delicate and nearly transparent.

The Nethertome was stolen from her when her servants fled the Lost Caverns.

We get a long recap of Iggwilv's history. Then we learn that she tried to summon Graz'zt again, but this time Graz'zt used a magic device to repel her binding magic. He captured and imprisoned her in the Abyss "...where she remains to this very day."

Most of the writing in the book deals with the lower planes and demon in particular. There's a long treatise on the Blood War. There are chapters about the chaotic nature of the Abyss, methods of safe travel there and places that should be avoided. There are a few chapters detailing demons and their psychology.

It contains a ton of Player's Handbook spells and two new ones:
  • (Lvl 9) Iggwilv's Lightning Cage: It creates a forcecage with bars of lightning.
  • (Lvl 9) Iggwilv's Timeless Sleep: It permanently puts the victim into temporal stasis. 
Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins

Iggwilv and Graz'zt
This book has a massive section that details the history of Greyhawk. We learn that after the Lost Caverns, Iggwilv saw the city of Greyhawk as a place for her to either take for her own, or to destroy.

Mordenkainen had two groups of adventurers as allies. They took down the Temple of Elemental Evil and "..foiled Iggwilv's conquest of Oerth in the 570's." In this book, the current year is 585 CY, I believe.

Return of the Eight

Tuerny the Merciless
Return of the Eight is a gigantic adventure involving a lot of major NPCs. Iggwilv has teamed up with a nalfeshnee named Tuerny. Tuerny is the one who freed Iggwilv from Graz'zt! Graz'zt is an old foe of Tuerny's. Tuerny thinks that Iggwilv could help him take over Oerth.

Iggwilv wants to bring an army and conquer the Flanaess under the banner of her son, Iuz. Iggwilv has her troops ready in Luna, and she plans to open a magic gate to the world of Oerth. She assembled her army through her many contacts in the planes. 

A clone of Tenser was creeping around in her lab on Luna. Iggwilv captured him and decided that Tenser's castle would make a good staging area.

Tuerny turned Tenser's clone into a dretch marked with a sword tattoo. The heroes end up going to Luna, a moon of Greyhawk. Luna is grey, rainy and grim. There are endless flashes of lightning. The trees are more flexible and taller than normal trees. Compasses don't work here - needles spin.

Iggwilv gets a full entry in the back of the book.  She's a human female archmage of undefined level. She's known as "The Witch of Perrenland." She ruled Perrenland from 481 CY to 491 CY.

Tuerny: We also get a big write-up on Tuerny the Merciless, a "Former wizard-tyrant of Oerth." He was once a human wizard who created the Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless. He captured Graz'zt in it! He forced Graz'zt to destroy his enemies. Graz'zt eventually escaped and imprisoned Tuerny in the flask. Tuerny ended up becoming a demon and over about 800 years ended up leading demon armies in the Blood War.

He was actually first described in the old white box supplement "Eldritch Wizardry."

This book has piles of Tenser magic items. Tenser's belt of brawling, Tenser's Dagger of Frost and flame, etc.

D&D 3rd Edition

Dragon Magazine #336 - Demonomicon of Iggwilv

This article gives piles of information about the Demonomicons and Iggwilv herself. She's known as The Mother of Witches and the Queen of Night. Some think she is a god and worship her as the dark matron of sorcery.

She lived in al-Ket using the name "Hura." She lived in a tower near the City of Lopolla conducting 'vile investigations.'

She plundered the Vault of Daoud and she was chased out of town. When she stole the Tome of Zyx from Zagig, she added to it and renamed it the Demonomicon. She has many guises, all of them female. Her favorite form is that of an alluring vixen.

Dragon Magazine #360 - Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Graz'zt, the Dark Prince

This is a fantastic piece of work. I think it is my favorite of the Demonomicon articles by James Jacobs. We learn that Graz'zt wants to impregnate Iggwilv again so she can give birth to "...another godling to unleash upon a world new to his touch..."

One of the towers in the Argent Palace is called "The Lady's Study." It is where Iggwilv stays when she visits. Supposedly Graz'zt doesn't have a key to this tower. Inside the tower are laboratories, libraries and guest rooms.

Dungeon Magazine #121 - Fiend's Embrace

This adventure is all about a gift that Graz'zt gave to Iggwilv - a cloak made from the skin of a pit fiend named Drokkarn. It is called Fiend's Embrace.

Iggwilv and Graz'zt had a spat, so she gave the cloak to a guy in Greyhawk who had a thing for her. The cloak changed hands numerous times and is currently in the possession of a sea troll "scrag" named Shplizzmak.

There's a band of mercenaries who serve Iuz that are trying to get the cloak as well.

Fiend's Embrace gives a +4 (!) to intelligence and some other powers. It is thoroughly evil and the pit fiend cloak is semi-sentient. It wants to be back with Iggwilv and will try to take control of the wearer to get back to her.

Dungeon Magazine 149 - Enemies of My Enemy

In this adventure, the heroes are getting ready to attack Demogorgon and are recruiting allies. They separately visit with Orcus, Malcanthet and Iggwilv.

The group sails the River Styx and goes to Iggwilv's manor in the Gray Waste. There, she has two pet linnorms and a bunch of arcanaloth apprentices who try to kill the adventurers.

Iggwilv's Manor: It's on a cliff overlooking the River Styx. There's a stone path of faces - Iggwilv turned people to stone, chiseled off their faces and used them as stone tiles.

The Drawing Room: There are walls lined with books, a statue of a vrock cowering and a chair that floats three feet in the air.

Study: There's three windows that show three different landscapes - The River Styx, a gray city of demons and the Isle of Dread!

Chessboard Made of Bone and Obsidian: White pieces look like the heroes, black pieces are foes and possible allies. Someone should flesh this out more. It seems like it could be a really cool magic item.

Lover's Call: A level 9 spell that summons an aspect of Graz'zt! The summoning lasts one hour.

She's loaded with magic items:
  • Ring of epic wizardry
  • Robe of the Abyss: Immunity to electricity and poison, resistance to most everything else.
  • Cloak of the Witch Queen: +8 to intelligence, +6 to charisma, bonus to saving throws and plane shift at will.
Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk

False Iggwilv using the god trap
Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk is a 3e mega-adventure and it is fantastic! I've never run it but I really hope to one day. Iggwilv has a little section in this book that recaps her history. Apparently in official continuity, the Isle of the Ape situation was resolved by the Circle of Eight led by Mordenkainen.

The Story: A wizard named Vayne made a simulacrum of Iggwilv from a lock of her hair. This being is much weaker than Iggwilv and loyal to Vayne.

Fake Iggwilv broke free of Vayne's control (Vayne died) and she mastered Zagig's god trap. The god trap can only imprison those who enter the dungeon. She wanted to trap Iuz - the son of the real Iggwilv.

To test it, she used it on Lord Robilar! Robilar is one of the first real life D&D characters. When Gary Gygax playtested the Temple of Elemental Evil, Robilar went in alone and trashed the place. This annoyed Gary so much he had an army chase Robilar and drive him into hiding.

Fake Iggwilv wanted to use the god trap to create a soul for herself and become a true living being. She trapped Iuz in an obelisk and breaks it into three pieces, sending each into a different plane. The heroes need to retrieve the pieces of the obelisk and destroy the god trap.

Iuz getting trapped
There's a ton of fun things in this adventure:

Deck of Many Things: There's a deck of many things in Castle Greyhawk! Fake Iggwilv drew from it four times and got lousy results. She earned the enmity of an eladrin named Shendra. Iggwilv was able to trap her in a prison of Zagig.

A Good Iggwilv: There is a room in Castle Greyhawk called The Chamber of the Orb (page 172). In it are stained glass portraits of the company of Seven, including Tasha. When Iggwilv's simulacrum sees it, she destroys it. The mirror releases Tasha's double from a parallel world - Ahsat. You're probably going to have to change that name, otherwise your campaign is going to be known as "Ass Hat Adventures."

Ahsat is of a good alignment! Simulacrum Iggwilv killed her and realized the other mirrors had evil double of the Company of Seven. What an awesome idea. Tasha's mirror has been shattered.

The Orb of Opposition: This item created Bilarro, Robilar's double. Bilarro (of Iron Bands of Bilarro fame) eventually merged with Robilar and set off the Greyhawk Wars.

Iggwilv's Laboratory: This was originally Zagig's lab. There are nine closets, one for each school of magic. There's a book in here written by Zagig that has the command words required to create a prison of Zagig. There are also spellbooks once in Zagig's workshop. They have every spell in the Player's Handbook.

When the group gets to the final room, there are five Iggwilvs. Four of them are cataboligne demons in disguise. The group needs to stop her before she becomes a level 30 wizard.

Castle Greyhawk Plane Shifts: If the god trap is destroyed, all of Castle Greyhawk quakes and within a few weeks, Castle Greyhawk vanishes. It appears in .."a distant plane or in some other world  with a name such as Faerun or Eberron or Mystara." Crazy, right?

The Real Iggwilv: After it's all over there is a list of adventure seeds. One involves the real Iggwilv finding out about the simulacrum. She might start hunting down all of her locks of hair out there in Greyhawk to make sure nobody else can make a simulacrum of her.

Livashti, Fake Iggwilv's partner in crime
Livashti the Lillitu: Fake Iggwilv has a loyal sidekick in this adventure named Livashti. She's a lillitu (basically a super-succubus). As far as I can tell, they never explain how false Iggwilv met Livashti, or what entity Livashti worships.

She plays a pretty major role in this adventure and while she teams up with a simulacrum of Iggwilv, there's nothing stopping you from involving her with the real Iggwilv. She worships a 'demonic domain' (a concept from the Fiendish Codex). She's basically a cleric of a demon lord. She does a lot of shapeshifting and impersonating other people.

Once per day she can embrace a creature to give it bonuses to charisma and saving throws. Her name manifests as a tattoo on the recipient's body, though they can't see it. Livashti can communicate telepathically with the target and know their location/status.

Dungeon Magazine #151 - Iggwilv's Legacy: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

Drelzna, Iggwilv's daughter
I forgot this even existed! This is actually a sequel/remake/expansion of the Lost Caverns of Tsojacnth. Author Ari Marmell went to town on this thing and it is awesome. He added new levels.

There are some weird art choices in this. They have a digital painting of a bunch of stirges, but they don't have one of the demon lord in the final encounter!

Iggwilv's horn is a wellspring of evil that taints the surrounding lands. There's rules for how it corrupts you can everything. Legend has it that Tsojcanth was a heroic wizard, but the truth is he was a half-breed child of Fraz'Urb'Luu.

While she was with Zagig, Iggwilv learned Tsojcanth's truename. "For generations, Tsojcanth was the greatest of Iggwilv’s slaves. He became her advisor, her enforcer, her font of lore and demonic secrets. Once she summoned Graz'zt, she lost interest in Tsojcanth and sent him to the Lost Caverns to watch over her minions and experiment."

Iggwilv ended up binding Tsojcanth permanently to the planar fabric of the rift that had formed under the mountain.

The Homunculus: In this version of the adventure, there is a prisoner in the prison of Zagig. It is a homunculus of Iggwilv, carved to look like Iggwilv. It can't speak and has a telepathic link with Iggwilv.

The final room...

Arcane Laboratory: A massive chamber 60 feet by 90 feet. 25 foot diameter circle etched into the ground. Three summoning circles permanently etched into the ground. There's an altar and a lectern with a spot for a book to be placed. Apparently the only way to open a copy of a demonomicon that is sealed with clasps is to put it on this lectern.

Tsojcanth Himself: The summoning circle might activate. You know who is summoned?! Tsojcanth! He's a little old wizard. Remember, legend has it he was a great hero.

The truth is that he is the Demon Prince of Deception! He needs the group to free him. 

Tsojcanth's parents are Fraz-Urb'Luu and a witch named Vilhara. She was he first to even uncover Fraz-Urb'Luu's truename. The demon lord was smitten with her and brought her to the Abyss,

Tsojcanth's Appearance: A 9 foot tall human with leathery grey skin and a serpentine tail with two poison barbs. His eyes are completely black and he has a steaming tongue.

Dragon Magazine #359

Iron Flask of Tuerny
This is the final print issue. There's a section talking about the mysteries of D&D. One mystery is: Who is Tasha? Tasha is Iggwilv. As Tasha, she infiltrated the Company of Seven. It hints that Natasha is Iggwilv's actual real name.

Your Character is Iggwilv's Kid: Later in the issue, she's listed as one of the top villains. We are given a background trait:

Blood of the Witch Queen: You are distantly related to Iggwilv by blood. Demons can sense this link and treat you with grudging respect.

You get +2 to Charisma checks against demons and a bonus when you cast planar binding on demons. You also have a bonus to saving throws versus demon effects.

Later on in this issue, there's a magic item made by her:

Tasha's Grinning Idol: It gives you a bonus to Bluff and Diplomacy checks. It also gives you +2 to the DC of enchantment spells that you cast.

D&D 4th Edition

Manual of the Planes

In Graz'zt's entry, there's a sidebar about Iggwilv:

Dungeon Magazine #196 - Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut

Natasha the Dark aka Iggwilv
This is the 4th edition update of the original 1e adventure. This one fills in all the empty details of the first adventure and it is great.

Another Fake Iggwilv: We learn that Elena the Fair is now Elena the Mad. Elena lost it when Natasha left. Elena unwittingly created a dream version of her "sister" Natasha while in the conjuring hall.

Because she is from Elena's subconscious, "Natasha" can't hurt Elena. She tries to get the heroes to do it, as then she can be free of the hut.

Natasha is statted out as a "dream witch." The text actually outright states that when Natasha left, she became known as "Iggwilv."

Dragon Magazine #414 - The Iggwilv-Grazzt Affair

This is a great article that sums up a lot of Iggwilv's history. Stuff we learn:

Iggwilv and Zagig: Iggwilv had a period in her life of youthful rebellion. She looted vaults of arcane treasure meant to be kept from ill-intentioned mortals. She "ingratiated herself" with Zagig. She became his apprentice and they had a scandalous relationship.

Together they summoned Fraz'Urb'luu and imprisoned him in Castle Greyhawk. Iggwilv spent a lot of time extracting secrets from Fraz'Urb'luu.

Graz'zt vs. Iggwilv: Here's how Graz'zt escaped her clutches: There was an Abyssal rift growing under the Lost Caverns. Graz'zt suggested she use the bound essence of Tsojcanth to seal it. When she went to do it, Tsojcanth attacked her and injured her. Graz'zt then took the opportunity to attack her.

Iuz tried to break up this battle, and he "..was torn asunder into his human and demonic halves."

Graz'zt ended up trapping her in his plane. "Iggwilv would often be seen in public with child, but such states were inhumanly brief..." They had a lot of kids and Graz'zt hid them from enemies.

“Graz’zt and Iggwilv had come to understand that they loved nothing more than hating each other, and they hated nothing more than loving each other"

Graz'zt jealously set out to destroy any fiend that had trafficked with her in the past. He viciously attacked Fraz'Urb'luu. Graz'zt would have Iggwilv seduce demons and find out their secrets. She'd go out of her way to make him jealous.

Many feared that if Iggwilv and Graz'zt really wanted to, they could take over the Abyss. When Tuerny broke her out of Azzagrat, she built a manor in the Astral Sea (Astral Plane).

Drelzna's Soul: Her daughter, Drelzna, may be the only creature she truly loved. The identity of the father is unknown. Iggwilv quests to recover Drelzna's soul.

Dungeon Magazine #208 - Prisoners of the Iron Flask

Iron Flask of Tuerny
This article is all about the Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless. We learn that Iggwilv is said to possess it. It may contain a portion of Demogorgon's might, allowing the Mother of Witches to spy on mighty demon lords without being detected.


The famous "flowing back hair" quote
If you go through this book and read the various quotes from the demonomicon, you can learn little factoids about Iggwilv.

Iggwilv is discussed on page 6. We learn that she wants to dominate all of the Abyss. She knows more of that plane's secrets than ony other being, living or otherwise.

Here's what we learn about Iggwilv:
  • She wrote the first demonomicon while she ruled Perrenland.
  • When she was imprisoned by Graz'zt, she was kept in his palace in Zelatar.
  • Iggwilv possesses a shard of Demogorgon's demonic essence.
  • She has two forms - a beautiful human female, and an old crone.
  • The demonomicon is said to be based on the Tome of Zyx, once owned by Zagig.
  • Baba Yaga taught Tasha to summon demons when she was 10! She summoned a quasit.
  • Iggwilv knows the truenames of twelve or more demon lords and can bend them to her will.
  • Iggwilv possesses the Iron Flask of Tuerny. In it is a portion of Demogorgon's essence.
  • She wants control of The Iron Wastes, home of Kostchchie. It has a lot of portals. She wants Kostchchie dead (note: in the 5e adventure Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus, it is revealed that Kostchchie is trapped on the first layer of the Nine Hells. His Abyssal layer is wide open for the taking).
Dungeon Magazine #212 - Court of the Dark Prince

This is an extremely high level adventure in the Argent Palace, home of Graz'zt. Graz'zt has trapped an angel named Galewing in his Library of Whispers.

The heroes visit Iggwilv's Demiplane. Here's the details:
  • It is an island of stone six miles long and four miles wide.
  • It floats inverted above a swirling vortex of the Elemental Chaos.
  • There's an orchard and a fenced mansion.
  • There are no animals or creatures.
  • She has a quasit named Slistif. He is immune to all attacks as long as he is on the same plane as Iggwilv.
  • You can't enter the mansion unless Iggwilv invites you.
  • Iggwilv can grant the power to assume the form of a chasme.
  • She has an incubus servant named Ghavish. He must possess a hero in this adventure so the group can communicate with Iggwilv while they travel through Azzagrat.

The adventurers can actually "kill" Graz'zt in this (he eventually re-forms if slain). If they do so, his triple layer separates and the 66 towers of the Argent Palace crash into each other and collapse.

The text mentions that demon lords will scramble to take over those layers. Iggwilv will try to install a demon lord under her control in the layers.

You know, I never thought of that. She might secretly control 12 demon lords, each with their own layer! In a way, that makes her more powerful than any demon lord.

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything

Young Tasha

One of the great things about this book is that it has a number of pieces of art depicting Tasha's life.

The Crook of Rao: On page 123, we get 5e stats and information on the Crook of Rao. It discusses how the Crook of rao was used against Iggwilv. "Although she was defeated, Iggwilv managed to damage the crook during the battle, infecting it with an insidious curse..." The crook has since been lost again. 

There is a small chance that, when the Crook's power to banish is used, that the crook will explode and form a gate. Each round, this gate summons a fiend that was banished by the crook of rao in the past. "This process takes 18 years to complete, at the end of which the gate becomes a permanent portal to Pazunia, the first layer of the Abyss."


Gary Gygax's Iggwilv

Generally I try to stick to 'official' D&D material in these things, but Gary Gygax did some stuff with her and I figure I should cover it.

Gord the Rogue: Iggwilv appears in a few of Gary's Greyhawk books. In these, she has blonde hair. I am having trouble finding information on this, but apparently she is quite different from the "official" Iggwilv.

The Ravage of Ghorkai

Gary wrote an adventure in The Slayer's Guide to Dragons. "The Mother of Witches," an evil demigoddess with many names, is mentioned in it. She has a daughter, Rezelna. It is very clear that Rezelna is Drelzna.

Ghorkai is the son of a black dragon and a blue dragon. So he's an indigo dragon. Iggwilv wanted Ghorkai to be a mount for her daughter, Drelzna. Ghorkai was on his own once Rezelna was "entombed alive" (in the Lost Caverns of Tsojacanth). Many of the monsters who fled Iggwilv's lair ended up swearing fealty to him.

Iggwilv's Potion: One item in Ghorkai's hoard is a potion made by Iggwilv. It gives you one point of intelligence, but you lose two points of constitution.

You could drop this right into your game, no problem. Everything matches up.

Check out Tim Brannan's Iggwilv stats right here.


Canonfire Iggwilv wiki
Merric Blackman's review of the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
There's a Nice Iggwilv Article Here
Greyhawkery talks Graz'zt/Iggwilv
Greyhawkery Iggwilv Profile
The Other Side  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Planescape - The Mercykillers

This awesome image of the Lady of Pain is by Paolo Giandoso, a concept artist who has done work for a number of Marvel movies.

The plan for tonight's session was to let the group return to their home in the city of Sigil and go through a few mini-scenarios. Then, I was going to let them cut loose and try to expand their festhall business or whatever else they wanted to do.

But what ended up happening is that they took me completely by surprise and left me scrambling. If I hadn't read though Faction War, an adventure I am planning on running about 15 sessions from now, I think I might have been in big trouble.

The Politics of Sigil: When I was preparing for this session, I had a hard time figuring out how the Sigil government worked. Google kept telling me about the "Sigil Advisory Council." I eventually realized that the Advisory Council doesn't exist until after the events of Faction War.

For now, the ruling body of Sigil is a council made up of the factols (leaders) of each faction. They vote on most things, though certain factions have specific political powers.

The factol of the Sensates has the most power, because other allied factions vote with her. Her biggest political rival is Duke Rowan Darkwood, factol of The Fated.

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 7)

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.
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 Summons

The Hall of Speakers
The group returned from their big adventure in the Argent Palace. They passed out in their rooms. Fall From Grace had been turned into a man by a trapped archway. She went to a temple and had greater restoration cast on her, turning her back to normal.

The next day, the heroes got their freed slaves situated. They saw that the unicorns they rescued were under the care of Prince Buttongleam, the unicorn man who lives by the unicorn code. He told the heroes that "unicorns always lend a helping hand!"

A message was delivered to Theran disguised with an illusory script spell. It was a summons. He was told to attend a hearing at the Hall of Speakers. Failure to appear could lead to imprisonment and seizure of property.

My idea here was that the Council of Speakers had heard about Theran's ability to create buildings and they are worried that he might have the power to warp Sigil or destroy the city's economy. At the very least, this power needs to be regulated. At worst, he might need to be banished from the city.

The group went to the Hall of Speakers and Theran had to sign a bunch of consent forms. A Harmonium mage cast Detect Magic, Detect Thoughts and Know Faction on him. They had to make sure he wasn't dangerous and that he wasn't going to try something when he went before the council.

All of the group's weapons were in a bag of holding held by their NPC buddy Selinza. She had to wait outside the building.

The Hearing

Factol Nilesia of the Mercykillers
The group was ushered into the main hall. The council was flipping out about new punishment rules that the Mercykillers enacted. From this day forward, when someone was found guilty of a crime, there were only three punishment options:
  1. 10 years in prison.
  2. 10 years hard labor in the lower planes.
  3. Death.
This is stuff right out of Faction War. I figured I'd put it in place now just to sort of set the stage for that adventure. I did not realize that this would completely turn the session upside down.

Then Theran went before the council. I described some of the Factols to the players, as some of them are important for Faction War and I wanted to start getting the group familiar with them.
  • (Sensates) Erin Montgomery Darkflame: Fall From Grace, a Factor, was sitting with her
  • (Fated) Duke Rowan Darkwood: Old guy with a white mustache.
  • (Harmonium) Factol Sarin: A lawful good paladin.
  • (Bleak Cabal) Factol Lahr: An unhinged, depressed half-orc.
  • (Mercykillers) Factol Nilesia: A 19 year old woman who was giddy with having established the new punishment laws.
  • (Fraternity of Order) Factol Hashkar: An old dwarf sage who is really into rules and laws.
Theran went before the speaker. He was informed of why he was there. He was asked a number of questions and wow George did not react at all like I thought he would.

Theran's Laws

Factol Hashkar of the Fraternity of Order
Factol Hashkar unfurled a 10 foot long scroll. It was proposed legislation known as "Theran's Laws."
  1. Theran had to apply for approval to create or repair a building.
  2. Theran cannot create a building/make repairs without approval of the Fraternity of Order.
  3. Theran needed to have a Fraternity of Order representative monitor the building process.
Duke Rowan wanted to tack on a provision that his faction get a new building, and the council erupted into chaos as others condemned his greed and/or demanded a building of their own.

Violation of these laws meant a minimum of 10 years in prison. Factol Nilesia pointed out, "Or maybe even death!" Punishments were partly her decision, and she was clearly pretty nuts.

The Council asked Theran a series of questions:
  • How did you get these powers? He refused to answer. The council got upset and warned him. He still refused.
  • Do you have the power to create portals? Theran said he didn't think so.
  • Are these powers the result of a spell you learned, or some sort of innate ability? Again, he refused to answer. Someone murmured "unacceptable!" Factol Nilesia gleefully warned him he may have to go to prison for contempt.
Fall From Grace stood up and used her awesome charisma to give a big speech, pointing out that Theran saved the multiverse from Orcus, saved the city of Heart's Faith from the rogue modron march and he stopped fell the fallen dabus from using the Staff of Aoskar from creating portals to wreak havoc in the city.

Before the council voted on Theran's Laws, they asked him if he had anything to say.

He said, "Go ahead and take me to prison."

I did not expect that! He was doing this in protest. I asked him a few questions to make sure I understood and he wasn't confused about something. He wasn't!

The council and onlookers watched, in shock, as he was cuffed by Harmonium guards. Factol Nilesia gleefully called out "ten years in prison!"

The vote was cast. Theran's Laws were put in place.

Theran Gets Arrested

The Gatehouse of the Bleak Cabal
So then I was scrambling. Thankfully, I'd read some of Faction War and knew there was this major NPC named Gifad. He'd been in the Gatehouse for 500 years, and he made prophetic remarks that were incredibly accurate.

I had the Harmonium take Theran to the Gatehouse (an insane asylum run by the Bleak Cabal) to make sure he wasn't crazy. He'd be there for a few days for a psychiatric evaluation and then he'd be sent to the prison (run by the Mercykillers).

Suddenly, the group was split. Most of the rest of the session involved me jumping from one character to the other.

The Mysterious Gifad

Theran was put right in a cell right next to Gifad, just so I could have them interact. I had actually been quietly debating whether I should let the group meet Gifad for weeks.

By introducing the characters to him, I am taking the risk that the group will do something to Gifad and completely ruin the written plot for Faction War. But I decided that no matter what they do, I can modify Faction War and probably salvage most of it.

Over the course of a few days, Theran talked to Gifad and he tore right through my clues and hints. He realized that Gifad was a time traveler. "Oh crap," I thought. George was in rare form tonight.

Theran spent his days reading and recovering from his exhaustion.

Bidam was back in Deadbook Square going through all of the material that I cooked up.

The Sensates gave Bidam an apartment in the Civic Festhall. This is right out of Planescape: Torment.

Bidam was also asked to teach a class in swordplay. This would help Bidam rise in the ranks and perhaps one day became a Factor like Fall From Grace had done.

I had prepared some goofy NPC students, including a sort of 'internet fan' of Bidam's sensory stones. His name was Mulky.

To recover from exhaustion, Bidam needed to live by his beliefs for four days. That means he had to seduce a number of ladies:
  • A shy woman in a sauna.
  • His dragonborn maid.
  • An editor for the Sigil Scroll.
  • One of his students in his swordplay class.
Bidam bought a floating, rotating bed and put his puma skin on it. The group killed and skinned a spell-casting puma way back during the Great Modron March.

Theran Escapes

Harmonium Soldier
After 4 days or so, the observation period had ended. The Harmonium came to get Theran. They had to march him to the Prison to begin his sentence.

If you remember, Theran has two forms that he can shift between. He normally appears as a half-elf/half-dabus (blue skin, white hair, horns). He can also shift into full dabus form. He can hover in either form.

As a dabus, he can see all of these secret dabus portals through the city. Nobody else can see or use them. They lead to the dabus warrens in Undersigil.

So Theran shifted into dabus form and made an intimidate roll in an attempt to shock the Harmonium into letting go of him. He rolled high! They gasped and released him. Theran was able to hover/speed his way to a dabus portal. From the perspective of the Harmonium, he just flew into a wall and vanished.

In the dabus warrens, the dabus known as "Ffazablur" used the magic sword of the same name to slice Theran's cuffs off.

Theran was free, but he was a fugitive! Again, I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next, which is a pretty fun feeling in D&D.

He ditched his asylum garb and put on dabus robes. Now he looked exactly like every other dabus in Sigil. Pretty good disguise, at least for the moment.

To his dismay, he realized that his robe of eyes, amulet of flowing flame and his special spellbook all had been confiscated by the Harmonium.

Theran reunited with Bidam in Deadbook Square and mulled over their options. They wanted to steal his stuff back, but they didn't know what to do to clear his name. They felt the best option was to "remove" Factol Nilesia from the Doomguard with extreme prejudice.

Nilesia is a huge part of Faction War. Huge!

Greatest Thief in Sigil

Ash Vodiran's Hideout
We shifted gears a bit. The cranium rat allies told the heroes that they'd been spying on their enemy, Ash Vodiran - The Greatest Thief in Sigil. The group used cranium rat charms to link up to the cranium rat hive mind. They saw a sort of video montage of what the rats observed:
  • Selinza (Theran's apprentice) was asking a merchant about Raja Khan, her mortal foe who lurked somewhere in the city.
  • Ash tried to hit on her.
  • He was rejected thoroughly and threatened.
  • Ash left, met some other lady and brought her back to his place.
  • His place was accessed by a special portal. The portal key: A bone. The portal led to a circular room that had shelves lined with skulls.
  • This is Lothar's lair from Planescape: Torment. Four of the skulls on the shelves can talk.
  • The group watched as Ash badmouthed them. Ash wanted to get revenge on the group, but in a way that would make Selinza like him.
I wanted to give the group Ash on a silver platter. Now they knew where he lived, how to get in there, and what his plans were. In Azzagrat, I had a merchant sell them ghost-grinding dust, which would nullify Ash's ability to become insubstantial.

The group disconnected from the hive mind. Ash sent Selinza a note via Kylie, the tout. Ash wanted to meet her at a bar. He said he could help her find and defeat Raja Khan!

I thought this would lead to a fun thing where the group could plan out how to jump Ash in the bar. I had a "twist" in that battle ready, too.

But guess what? The group decided to ignore the note! They had bigger fish to fry.

That's where we had to stop.

Now that I have had some time to think, I have a lot of exciting ideas for next session. The group is going to have to find a way to clear Theran's name. He'll have the support of the Sensates, the Mercykillers, and the Revolutionary League.

But the Mercykillers will be scouring the city looking for him. People saw him turn into a dabus. That means that the Mercykillers will be harassing the dabuses - which could lead to all sorts of fun things.

They'll also be harassing the Free League, Theran's faction.

This was a fun session. I wasn't as sharp as I would have liked. George really threw me for a loop. But I'm really happy that the players did what they wanted to do instead of "following the script."

I'm so glad I read and prepared a portion of Faction War. It really saved my butt tonight.