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Monday, October 17, 2016

Planescape - The Abyssal Undersump

We had a really good session of planescape last night. Once again, we played at Jessie's place.

I'm planning on doing a whole blood war thing in this campaign, using the Hellbound boxed set and other stuff. I ordered the last 3 books of the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path on amazon and when I got them, I ended up reading all three of them that same day.

Usually I have a hard time reading adventures, but these were really cool. I think the fact that many pages are taken up by stat blocks makes the book much easier to breeze through.

I ended up immediately pulling out Wrath of the Righteous stuff to use in last night's session. Here's my quick thoughts on each book:
  • Book 4 - The Midnight Isles: This one is an adventure in the abyssal realm of Nocticula, the demon lord. It's awesome. So many great ideas. You can mine crystallized remains of slain demon lords, known as Nahyndrian crystals. These crystals are very dangerous but also very powerful.
  • Book 5 - Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth: This is an adventure set in the maze of Baphomet, demon lord of minotaurs! How great is that? It's by Wolfgang Baur, who has written some of my favorite D&D stuff of all time.
  • Book 6 - City of Locusts: I didn't like this one at all. This entire path culminates with a battle against Deskari, an insectoid demon lord. Deskari just doesn't do anything for me and the adventure feels like it isn't fleshed out enough. There's a section on the heroes defending a city against a demon invasion. It should be awesome, but it felt really flat.
The good thing about book 6 is that it is full of awesome NPCs, items, and all sorts of stuff. There's even a brothel devoted to Nocticula! I can plop that right in Sigil! And I am.

Tonight I started working that material into this campaign. I wanted to fit in Minagho, who is a daughter of Baphomet (!), but it didn't work out. I had too much stuff planned for this evening. The group really took the ball and ran with it.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Half-Dabus/Half-Elf Wizard
* NPCs: Fall-from-Grace (level 11 Succubus Paladin)

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

Alluvius Ruskin

Last Time: The heroes found out that a devil brothel was profiting off of the likeness of one of their employees. Bidam ended up getting a solidarity band glued on his arm. This band allowed the bad guy devil to do damage to him from afar.

Bidam realized that the solidarity band had been affixed to him with sovereign glue. When I cooked this up, I hadn't realized that it was so rare. It's legendary! I seem to remember it being less rare in other editions.

The heroes asked around and were directed to a shop called Tivvum's Antiquities. This place sells portal keys and magic items.

I wanted to direct the group here so that I could make sure that they got a look at the owner, Alluvius Ruskin. Alluvius plays a very big role in Faction War, and I want to weave this stuff in now so it feels like everything matters.

If I were to run Faction War and the group didn't know who Alluvius was, then she's just some random villain-of-the-week. Laying the groundwork now will make what she does later have more impact.

I did not expect the group to be so sharp! They were all over this. They noticed that Alluvius ("'Lu," for short) wasn't breathing and just took it from there. Here's her deal:
  • Incantifier: She's an Incantifier, a magic-eater. She has " need to breathe, eat, or sleep; instead, she feeds on magic. Lu can absorb the effect of any spell thrown at her or drain every last drop of power from any magical item."
  • Old Faction: The Incantifiers were a powerful faction of wizards who mysteriously disappeared. Alluvius is the only one left.
  • Shadow Demon: Alluvius has this shadow demon named Ly'kritch that is searching for the mind of a specific wizard trapped in a gem. When she gets it in Faction War, it becomes a very big deal.
  • Wizard Souls: So far, the shadow demon is bringing her gems with other wizards trapped in them. They can be used as portal keys. Alluvius loves to give them out, because she thinks that the wizard souls are destroyed when the portal is activated.
  • Her Disguise: Alluvius plays up the fact that she is a little old lady, but the truth is that she is very powerful and extremely dangerous.
  • Megalomaniac: Ultimately, she wants to take over Sigil. She thinks that controlling Sigil means that you control the multiverse.

Universal Solvent: The group finds out that universal solvent can eradicate the glue, but universal solvent is legendary. It costs 50,000 gold or more. The heroes are rich, but they are are not that rich.

Alluvius told them she knew someone who could help, but that he was in the planes conducting a study. She sold them portal keys to where he was. The keys were two gems with swirling energy in them.

The group was really, really suspicious of Alluvius and started grilling her. I didn't think I'd ever hear someone ask the question "Why aren't you breathing!?" in a hostile tone. Alluvius ordered them to get out. Her bone golem got up, anticipating a fight.

The adventurers went out into the street and cast identify on the gems and realized that there were wizard souls in them.

The players are very intent on investigating this. It really threw me because it is possible that they are going to get involved with Faction War stuff that I don't want to use until the end of the campaign. In the end though, even if they figure out her plan, I'm not sure if they can stop her. She doesn't even have the gem that she needs, yet.

The Abyssal Undersump


The heroes needed to find Tripicus, another NPC from Uncaged: Faces of Sigil. Tripicus was in the Abyssal Undersump, a hilarious Pathfinder idea that I wanted to use ASAP. The Undersump is basically a demonic sewer system that runs under abyssal layers and connects them. Juiblex rules the Undersump. It is full of oozes.

Again, the group was really on the ball. They used a scroll of locate creature to find him. As they were wading through the abyssal muck, they spotted this yellow mold spore thing up ahead. The tunnel that they were in was round, so Bidam ran up the side of the wall to avoid the yellow mold spores. Theran cast misty step to bypass the spores.

A minute later, they saw that the gunk up ahead was black. George asked out loud, "Is it a black pudding?" I was shocked. No roll or anything. They started laughing. Yes, there indeed was a black pudding waiting in the muck to jump them as they walked on it.

Each of them ran up the side of the wall to avoid the pudding. The both rolled a DEX check to do so and rolled really high.

They met Tripicus, and he informed them of something I didn't know until I looked in the DMG - sovereign glue can be eradicated with an oil of etherealness.

He had some of that oil with him and sold it to them. In a few minutes, the glue was gone and the band came off. The group returned to Sigil.

Revenge on the Misfortune Devil

Symbol of Ardad Lili

I intended to just let the group have their way with the bad guys. These devils run a brothel where they try to get people to hand over their souls to their master, the "Whore Queen" Ardad Lili.

Last session, the heroes had promised to steal back the soul contract of a member of the Sign of One. The group enlisted the aid of the cranium rat swarm, Vermin Supreme. These rats have a singular hive mind and psychic powers.

The rats crept in to the brothel and gave the group the layout of the place. The contracts were in a chest that had the symbol of Ardad Lili on it.

The group went to the brothel. There was a troll bouncer at the door. Just like last week, Theran blew him up with a fireball. Then the heroes ran around back and busted through the back door.

The people inside:
  • Infirion: The misfortune devil in charge of the operation.
  • Succubus Employees: Cataclysmia, Bar Excellence ("Barrl Ek-say-lanssuh") and Vergania.
Bidam ran up to Infirion and punched him in the face. Theran started trying to bust into the back room where the chest was.

The misfortune devil is a 4e monster that can shift the damage it takes to other people. So I made this power a reaction in 5e terms - it can shift damage once per round. Bidam ran up, punched him, and then watched as Vergania dropped to the ground. The misfortune devil was unharmed.

Infirion ordered the ladies to subdue the heroes and he fearfully teleported outside.

Two of the ladies liked the heroes and didn't like what Infirion had just done. After a little bit of back and forth, all three ladies pretended that the heroes had beat them up and lied on the ground, "unconscious."

Theran got to the chest and once again, he was totally on the ball. He checked it for traps and detected one. He disarmed it with an arcana check. The group looted the contracts inside - there were four. The heroes fled the scene as Infirion watched them run off with the soul contracts, shaking his fist and telling them that they would rue this day.

I forgot to name the NPCs on the other soul contracts. We made up some terrible names on the spot:
  • Pil Pilton
  • Poland Rasper
  • Jape Citrus

The Devils: The heroes want to hire the devil ladies. Infirion has failed in his duties and he's going to be punished. I had planned on having it be revealed that there were serious code violations in the brothel that would cause it to be shut down anyway.

It looks like the group is going to hire some of the devil ladies to work for them.

Bidam also obtained the other solidarity band. I am guessing that the players will either forget they have them or they will do something hilarious with them.

The adventurers rested. The next day, Theran had to go to Iggilv's demiplane to do his apprentice stuff. Bidam had the day to himself in Sigil.

The Trap

Areelu Vorlesh

Enter: Areelu Vorlesh. In Wrath of the Righteous she is a major villain linked to Deskari, the bug demon lord. Since I'm not using that, I changed her so that she is a daughter of Graz'zt.

My plan was for three of Graz'zt's agents to show up over the next three sessions to try and find the portal to Burningwater.

Backstory, Real Quick: Burningwater is the 9th layer of the Abyss, and up until now there was no way to get in. When the heroes rescued Bechard, the ancient obyrith/demon lord whale, he brought the group there. The adventurers moved in their buddy, my homebrewed demon lord Bazuuma (demon lord of pride and positive energy).

Demon lords are always trying annex other abyssal realms. Graz'zt has three layers and he wants this as a fourth. He learned about this entire situation from Iggwilv's incubus who turned on her and sold the info to Graz'zt.

The group actually has two portals to Burningwater:
  1. In Bidam's bedroom. The key is his sword of sharpness
  2. Theran's cubic gate can take you to Burningwater with the press of a button.
Areelu's plan: She pretended to be on a mission from Rhyxali, demon lord of shadows. Areelu said that her job was to find portals in Sigil to every shadow-related place:  like the Shadowfell, the plane of negative energy, and a goofy world I made up: Neverdusk, the World of Eternal Shade. That place probably should have been called "Neverdawn."

Bidam is a ladies man. Jessie got one look at the awesome art of Areelu and decided to help Areelu out. Bidam knew who go to to find the info. Along the journey, they bumped into Ash Vodiran, the greatest thief of Sigil. The players hate this guy so much. He wears a red jacket with no shirt on underneath so he can show off his rippling abs.

A while back, I tried to just hand him over to the group so they can beat him up but it just never happened. I still keep trying, but for whatever reason he's still here.

Ash tried to show off for Areelu. He said: "This guy's barmy. You're not safe with him. He holds a grudge for an eternity." Bidam had some choice words for the rogue.

Bidam spotted an item for sale in the market - a bronze sphere. Suddenly, Bidam heard the mental whispers of Tenebrous (undead/dead Orcus). Bidam had made a dark pact with him a few sessions back. He realized that the bronze sphere would be perfect for a phylactery. Tenebrous had offered Bidam the ability to become a lich (...or something. A swordmage/lich? A wight? A death knight? I don't know yet). Bidam bought the sphere.

Full Time at Iggwilv's


Meanwhile, Theran was doing work for Iggwilv. She has three apprentices. I cooked up what they do all day:
  • Landerbold the Dandy (arcanaloth): He keeps tabs on Iggwilv's spy, Anna Greystockings, who is in Graz'zt's realm. Landerbold also keeps his eye on the demon lord Socothbenoth, who Iggwilv is hoping to take control of one day.
  • Selinza the Cat Lady: Her job is to question summoned demons. Iggwilv has control of 12 demon lords and it is a full time job keeping tabs on all of the schemes against them.
  • Theran: Research another demon lord: Codircuhn.
Theran dug through and translated ancient texts. Codricuhn was a giant demon who climbed up the wall of an infinite rift. There are 6 other wanna-be demon lords that rule mini-realms inside of spheres that hover around him.

One of these wanna-bes is a marilith called The Lady of Sorrows. She collects Codricuhn's tears and yearns for "the perfect love."

Iggwilv decided to have Theran contact her. He used Iggwilv's crystal ball of telepathy, which lets him see her, communicate with her, and even cast suggestion on her once per day.

Theran tried to befriend The Lady of Sorrows but it didn't go well. He couldn't figure out an angle, so I had him roll a charisma check. It was very low. Iggwilv was not happy and she warned him that in the future, he would be punished for failing her.

Back in Sigil, Areele seduced Bidam in his room in Deadbook Square. Then she used her fiendish charm on him (I gave her 5e cambion stats). Bidam failed his save. He was charmed for one day.

Honestly, I didn't expect any of this to happen. I tried to drop clues that something was off with her. The group had been so sharp tonight that I figured that there was no chance that this would happen.

Areelu asked him about the portal to Burningwater. Bidam had no choice. He told her everything. She took his sword of sharpness - the key to the portal. She apologized to him, but did not reveal that she lied about working for Rhyxali.

The Quasit Key: Areelu gave him an item from Wrath of the Righteous: A Quasit Key. It's a jar that has a quasit floating in embalming fluid. This weird item allows you to teleport to a specific abyssal realm.

She told Bidam to use it to come visit her sometime. This was another trick. It would actually take you right to Graz'zt's throne room.

Theran came home. He had a bad day at work. Bidam told him what happened. The group grabbed Fall From Grace and went to confer with Bazuuma. The group decided to use the quasit key to go to "Rhyxali's Realm." Bazuuma figured that her positive energy would destroy the shadows, so there was nothing to fear.

So the group held hands and used the quasit key. They appeared before Graz'zt!

We stopped there. The next session should be epic.

The Stats of Graz'zt: Looking at Graz'zt's stats in Out of the Abyss, he has this madness aura. Each character will need to make a DC 23 WIS save.. so, yeah. I'm sure it doesn't apply to Bazuuma, a demon lord herself. The heroes are definitely surprised, so Graz'zt's mariliths will have a round to grab Bidam to stop him from planeshifting the group back out.

I actually looked over the stats to see if Graz'zt could fight them, not to the death, but in a skirmish of some sort. In my opinion, the heroes wouldn't stand a chance. He is really, really powerful.

Alliance: The thing about this scenario is that Graz'zt doesn't want to kill them - he wants to woo Bazuuma. He wants to annex her realm, so why not just get married? Graz'zt will sell it to her in a way to suggest that her positive energy might make him a better person.

Next session will probably come down to a choice:
  • If Bidam will commit to marrying Bazuuma, then she'll reject Graz'zt's offer.
  • If he doesn't, she'll go ahead and marry Graz'zt.
Mayor Theran: The group will be offered things to help spice up the deal. I'm thinking they'll each be offered a town to run in Azzagrat. Not sure yet, I need to go over my notes. I did tons and tons of preparation back when I ran the heroes through Azzagrat. 

Iggwilv is the X factor: Remember that Iggwilv has at last one spy in Graz'zt's realm. It won't be long before her apprentice Landerbold the Dandy finds out what is going on. Pretty early on, Theran is going to have Iggwilv in his head. She not only wants Burningwater for herself, she is also extremely jealous and won't want Graz'zt marrying Bazuuma. She knows the entire layout of Graz'zt's palace and can be extremely helpful.

I get the feeling that next week will be a classic session. Completely unexpected! We didn't even get to half the stuff I had planned for tonight, but that's D&D.


Jason R said...

Jape Citrus lol. What a fun group!

I've been reading-- much slower than how you did-- the Wrath of the Righteous AP. So far I've really liked the Abyssal NPC's, but I can certainly agree that an insect-type lord would be kind of meh, even though I haven't read through the last book yet. It's the standard treatment: pillage all the gems and leave the rest for the ravens lol.

Sean said...

Jason Raabis: Most of the names came from stuff in the room - fruit, poland spring raspberry seltzer, etc. Pathfinder is really cool, I really like books 4 and 5. 6 has tons of awesome stuff to pillage, too.