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Monday, November 21, 2016

Planescape - Swallowed by the Abyss

We did a big session of Planescape tonight that went really well. Graz'zt is trying to add another abyssal layer to his triple realm. The group is trying to steal all of his abyssal realms from him.

The Party

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

We did a huge pile of little tasks in the city of Sigil.

Factol Rhys
Lifepearls: The group cut a deal with Factol Rhys of the Transcendent Order. She gave them 3 lifepearls to use to disrupt Graz'zt's realms. In exchange, the heroes promised her one of the 3 layers. She put in a clause - if the heroes ended up not succeeding in their coup attempt, they'd need to make it up to her by going on a dangerous mission in Pandemonium. She said they'd be obtaining one third of a key.

The heroes don't know it, but this key opens the Bastion of Unborn Souls, the place where all souls come from.

I tried my best to portray Factol Rhys correctly. She's very cool. She ends up being a big deal at the end of Faction War.

I made sure to have one of Iggwilv's apprentices touch base to hear the latest about the lifepearls. Iggwilv is an ally of the heroes and is working with them to get revenge on Graz'zt, with whom she has a very dysfunctional on/off relationship.

Orcusword: Bidam got the Orcusword. It's fixed. He had a vision of himself as a devourer, an undead creature from Volo's Guide to Monsters. Whenever a new book comes out, I try to use the material I like right away. Otherwise, I tend to forget about it and it never gets utilized.

I had a neogi named Master Vulgid try to "buy" the woman the group rescued from the garden of floating crystals last session. Neogis are in Volo's guide too and I've always liked them. I just decided to throw him in the mix and see what happens. Right now he hates the heroes because they turned down all his offers.

Crux: The group has a portal to Crux in their square. Crux is a town on the world tree. It's from the Dead Gods adventure. I just don't like that place.

Deskari, Pathfinder demon lord

I did a thing where Ztefano, the mysterious ally of Graz'zt, killed everyone in Crux and took their souls. He's going to use those souls to build the new district of the city of Zelatar.

There are not too many details on Ztefano out there. I decided to loot material from Wrath of the Righteous. There's a demon lord in book 6, his name is Deskari. I don't like him and I don't plan on using him. So I took all his cool stuff and gave it to Stefano:
  • He has a poison stinger that injects eggs in people that hatch demon locusts.
  • He's got Riftcarver, an artifact scythe that can cast gate once per day.
  • I also gave him a version of the flail snail aura. When someone casts a spell at him, there's a chance he reflects it or some other effect goes off.
The heroes went to the Plane of Positive Energy, this time with a map. They got their lifepearls and thy found a "safehouse" for Bazuuma, their demon lord ally. It's on the border of the plane of minerals. It's a floating tower made of Iceland Spar.. I called it dwarven spar" for D&D.

The Plan is in Motion: The adventurers were ready to make their wish. They called on the water genie Lymph Dilutius and they wished for the 3 lifepearls to be put in the center of each of Graz'zt's realms.

My idea here is that since the Abyss is alive and sustains itself by swallowing demon princes and princesses who want to be demon lords, the triple realm of Azzagrat itself would react to the scheme of the heroes.

The genie put a lifepearl in the blue sun of Voorz'zt, the third layer. The sun "spit it out" and started emitting solar flares of cold flame. The sun sent the lifepearl hurtling into one of Graz'zt's 66 ivory towers - the tower of Iggwilv, which the group had been in once before.

The genie had technically completed his task and told the heroes what happened. They decided to go to Azzagrat to get the life pearl. They got there using the Abyssal Undersump, the ooze-infested "sewer" of the Abyss.


Graz'zt and Iggwilv

The secret entrance they knew of led right into Iggwilv's tower. The group crept in and grabbed the lifepearl. The whole plane was shaking. The heroes turned to leave and found Graz'zt and Iggwilv standing in the door.

Iggwilv had betrayed the heroes! The truth is, Iggwilv did not want Graz'zt marrying Bazuuma so she let him know what the heroes were up to.

The group tried to use their cubic gate to shift out of the plane, only to find it didn't work. Graz'zt was blocking planar travel magic during the upheaval. I decided Graz'zt could do this based on a note I saw (I think it was in the PH) that said that a demon lord can block people from gating or plane shifting into their plane.

Graz'zt spoke and both heroes had to make Madness checks. They failed and each had a greed-based madness bestowed upon them. These are right out of Out of the Abyss.

Graz'zt asked about Lord Stillborn, the undead baby genie from a few sessions back. The group informed him that it really was Graz'zt's son, and that Verin, Graz'zt's right hand man was the one who killed the air genies, including Graz'zt's pregnant air genie lover.
Graz'zt was enraged at this news and the group was quite intrigued.

Suddenly, tongues shot out of the wall and dragged the heroes... somewhere else.

The Bowels of Azzagrat

I thought it would be fun to have the abyssal plane itself devour the heroes like it devours wanna-be demon lords. The heroes fell through the throat and the innards, encountering partially-digested demon princes and princesses along the way. All of them begged the heroes to help them escape.

I was a little worried about creating these almost-demon lords. It's kind of daunting stuff that feels original enough. Whenever you need creative juice, just go to the Dungeon Dozen, like I did. Here are the goofy demon lords that I made up:

Xanthopsia, Queen of Obscenity: She has four arms and says awful, awful things. She blurted out three weird words. Theran later realized that she had given him her truename. With it, in theory, he could summon her and free her from the gullet of the Abyss.

Forfex the Soul Farmer: He's a "death yak" with displacer beast tendrils. He used to literally grow new demons.

Lady Malisma, the Memory Thief: She steals memories and thoughts - it sustains and powers her. She was so weak that she couldn't steal them any more - the heroes had to consent to it. She tried to steal one of Theran's memorized spells from his mind, but he blocked it. Bidam gave her a memory that he had already recorded in a sensory stone.

Raklivivius the Conquerer: He's a little gnaw demon that controls a demon giant from the inside. Raklivivius is actually in the chest, controlling it sort of like Pacific Rim.

The group ended up fighting him and Bidam figured out his gimmick really quick. Bidam cut into the giant and found Raklivivius. Bidam just sliced him in half.

The Triple Hearts: The heroes were stuck in the "stomach" of Azzagrat. There was a vast lake full of demon princes and princesses reaching out of the water, moaning in pain as they were very slowly being digested.

The group also heard heartbeats beyond the stomach lining. They cut their way through the guts of the plane and came to a cavity that held multiple black beating hearts. There were three - one for each layer of the triple realm.

A fourth heart was half-grown - this represented Bazuuma's layer, which was so far only half-connected to the realm via the planar breach spell.

The group realized they had a lifepearl with them. They thought they might be able to fuse it to a heart and 'corrupt' the heart with positive energy. The plane suddenly freaked out and sucked the group up a tube and ejected them completely.

Verin's Secret


The heroes found themselves at the Bay of Choking Bile, up by the waterfall of salt. Down the cliff below, they could see the alkaline sea and the portal to Bazuuma's realm of Burningwater.

The plane had placed the heroes before Verin, Graz'zt's right hand man. Verin surmised that the plane wanted him to kill them. But Verin didn't want them dead, he wanted their help.

Verin said he wanted Bazuuma's realm. Verin was a demon lord! Graz'zt actually stole his realm from him. Verin bided his time and now he wanted revenge. He wanted the group to help him kill Bazuuma and take over her realm. In exchange, he promised them all sorts of things.

The adventurers saw someone creeping up behind Verin - it was the slayer genie. Last session, the group had sent the genie to kill Gonard Flumph, my Donald Trump NPC who had been put in charge of Samora, which is on the same layer as the Bay of Choking Bile.

The heroes later learned that the slayer genie was stalking Gonard Flumph and closing in on him. A solar flare hit and injured the genie greatly, so Flumph was still alive.

The genie backstabbed Verin. Verin suddenly transformed. His white gooey form slid off his body. Underneath was Ztefano - the black demon lord who wielded Riftcarver!

The group finally learned that Verin and Ztefano were one and the same.

Narrow Escape: A fight broke out and Ztefano did a number on them. Mid-battle, the group heard a whale call. Bechard the demon whale had come through the portal and was in the alkaline sea below. The heroes jumped off the side of the cliff into the sea and swam inside Bechard - in Bechard's gullet is a weird mini-realm full of shipwrecks.

They felt Bechard turn and going toward the portal. They heard a thud from above. Ztefano had jumped onto the whale and was slicing him with Riftcarver.

That's where we stopped!

Next session, they'll have to shake of Ztefano. Ztefano has betrayed Graz'zt and is now going to try to steal Bazuuma's realm for himself. We'll resolve this story next week.


Breashios said...

As soon as I read, "I made sure to have one of Iggwilv's apprentices touch base..." I knew she was going to betray them. Did they give any indication (as players) they knew that was going to happen to them or were they actually surprised? I don't think I could get such an obviously possible twist past my players. They would have fed her some other plausible plan as they moved forward and ensured the timing of the true effort would be a surprise as well.

It was certainly an audacious plan. I don't remember who said, "Go BIG or go home." But your group seems to have taken their advice.?!

Jason R said...

I'm not sure it was that obvious to the players. There are so many twists and personalities at work in the depths of this plot that I'm sure the player's minds were full of analyzing the possibilities. I myself-- even knowing the Graz'zt and Iggwilv relationship-- was thinking along a different possible outcome. I do agree, however, that it was an audacious plan by the heroes; they HAD to expect some sort of double cross, even if they couldn't pin-point exactly from where it would come.

These cliff hangers are excellent and I can't wait to see how these events play out!

Sean said...

Michael English: They were surprised and dismayed. I think because I run bad guys as friends and nice people sometimes, the group is never sure which way I'm going to go.

Jason Raabis: Thanks! I want to finish this thing next week. I am really interested in seeing what they do with Iggwilv. Bidam and Theran hold grudges for a looooonnggg time and it's possible they will do something crazy.

Aaron "Quickleaf" said...

Hey Sean! Really enjoying reading your group's planescape adventures :)

Did you ever stat up the tasked genies they got from the Great Dismal Delve? If you want, I've written up stats for a variety of tasked genies as part of an Al-Qadim project.

Also, did you ever post your "Guide to the Great Dismal Delve"? I've been going off of my copies of Secrets of the Lamp & Inner Planes, but would love to see what you came up with. Cheers!

-Aaron "Quickleaf"

Sean said...

Aaron Infante-Levy: Yeah, definitely send me the stats, that would be awesome. You can send them to: I did post the guide right here: Thank you!