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Monday, April 10, 2017

Planescape: Blood War VII. The Shadow Sanctuary

This one is pretty dirty and stupid so if you don’t like that kind of thing, don’t read this!

I was in a goofy mood when I prepared this, so I came with a lot of really dumb stuff that made me laugh and it made them laugh when I ran. Mission accomplished!

I’m trying to alternate between sessions focusing on actual mass combats and more traditional adventures linked in some way to the conflict.

Tonight was all about downtime, which is something I really love. For whatever reason, it always ends up being the best part of any of my campaigns.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Elf Wizard  
Last time, the group actually destroyed an avatar of Lamashtu, the demon lord who is the main villain leading the demon Blood War armies against the devils. The heroes are on the side of the devils, and have successfully taken an abyssal layer.

One thing I learned long ago was that you have to make sure things have impact. The world should react in some way big or small to what the group does. So, in this instance, since the group defeated an avatar of Lamashtu, the devils respect them and hold them in high esteem.

The group has been traveling with a minotaur/cow lady named Bovina. I dug her old sheet I wrote a year or two ago, Tibba Bovina is her actual name. She’s a member of the Godsmen, a faction that believes anyone can become a god by passing certain cosmic tests.

So I’m saying that Tibba has decided that since she rolled a natural 20 and shot a ballista bolt into the chest of the daughter of Baphomet, demon lord of minotaurs, that she thinks she can become a god of minotaurs and perhaps destroy or supplant Baphomet.

This fit in really well with one of the Wrath of the Righteous adventures which is set entirely in Baphomet’s maze. I can’t wait to run that one.

I gave her a stat block. She’s a swashbuckler from Volo’s page 217. If she survives for a while, I think she’ll become a Master Thief from Volo’s. The group let her keep the wand of darkness, which can summon a nightmare.

Two-Week Downtime Montage

Theran’s Castle: Theran runs Tornbend, a floating castle/settlement that some devils live in. I had the one of my Donald Trump NPC (Gonard Flumph, jr.) show up. He offered to buy a tower of the castle and put a bank of Samora (the settlement Flumph runs) in it. He had two Samoran banker with him (with Russian accents). Obviously, this was going to be some kind of money laundering scheme involving a shady kleptocracy.

George was in a mood tonight. He’s 13th now and has a new spell that he was itching to put into use: Finger of Death. Out of nowhere, he used it on Gonard Flumph, jr.!

His wife, Miss Tradegate (the Flumph family runs “Miss Universe” type events in the Outlands) screamed but realized she just inherited a fortune. Gonard rose up as a zombie under Theran’s control.

The ramification for this should be severe. It actually works with real-life events. Next week, I can have Flumph launch some kind of missile strike against Tornbend. I guess that would be a meteor swarm in D&D, right? Flumph would have to hire a wizard for that, and I think Iggwilv would do it a he is not too thrilled with the group right now.

Then, Graz’zt gave him a visit! Right now, Graz’zt is trying to hunt down his old adviser, Verin, who has sought asylum in another abyssal realm. Graz’zt’s army is mustered there but they can’t make any progress. Graz’zt wants the help of the devils (Graz’zt’s ultimate plan is to unite the demons and devils against the angels, the group knows this).

Allagash: At Bidam’s demon-making farm, his order of five Agonists was completed. A new type of demon was made as well. It is an Ivory Banshee, another creature from the Teratic Tome. It's a woman whose lower half is made of three bladed "creme-colored tentacles."

The Agonists like to bring arrogant people of power down. So, Bidam sent them to Samora to try to take down Gonard Flumph. This seems like a golden opportunity to parody the spy stuff going on.

BurningWater: Over the two weeks, Bidam did a lot of family stuff with his demon lord wife and his two demon/dragon wyrmlings:
  • Make Dinner: Bidam cooked up so demon crustaceans and rolled really well. Delicious!
  • Clean up dragon poop/scold children: Success!
  • Deal with a demon peeping on his wife getting dressed: Beheaded with the Sword of sharpness.
  • Magic Healing: Bidam once again got the power to pee positive energy (Bazuuma is infused with positive energy), which can overheal the target. I’ll spare you the details.
Tibba Bovina: The group rescued Red Shroud, a pretty major D&D NPC from Planescape and Savage Tide. Red Shroud taught Tibba how to fight. So she’s a swashbuckler.

The group was given a choice. Red Shroud wants to stay in Sigil and work as an information broker. She wanted to live in Deadbook Square, which is the heroes’ section of Sigil. The group said no. So he’s living elsewhere. Fall From Grace, daughter of Red Shroud, was disappointed.

Festhall Wars 2: I did a whole thing with the Sigil festhalls. The group now own three brothels: The F**khaus, The Palace and the House of Yearning. The other festhall owners are taking a hit financially. So one of the owners decided to do something about it. His name: Dildo T. Baggins. My group loves this guy.

Long story short, Mr. Baggins had a succubus go charm people to sabotage the various festhalls:
  • The Palace: The torch singer became a comedian who viciously “roasted” the regulars from the stage.
  • The House of Yearning: Got a bad review in the Sigil Scroll.
  • F**khaus: Someone sabotaged the flesh golem lady and it was gross.
The heroes put the pieces together. They resolved the various issues and went to confront Mr. Baggins. Guess what happened? Theran gave him the finger of death right out in the streets of Sigil. Murder!

Did not expect that! I’m going to have to do a whole thing about this. You can’t just kill people in public in the city (unless you’re in the Hive, where there’s no police presence).

I have long wanted to do a session that is all about a trial. Some of my favorite episodes of the Simpsons were about trials and Lionel Hutz, attorney at law. I just had a bunch of ideas that I wrote down, I think I can make this happen. I’ll probably set it up next session and run “The People of Sigil vs. Theran the Wizard” the session after that.

The group nailed a message to the chest of Zombie Baggins. They had it go to each of the other festhalls of Sigil as a warning that basically told them not to mess with Bidam and Theran.

Elemental Earth: The group own two mansions in the Plane of Elemental Earth. They have a bunch of dwarf slaves/employees digging up precious metals for them. They’d found 10,000 gp worth of lapis lazuli for the group.

The architect genie finished building the swimming pool/moat. I did a thing where the dwarves kept saying stuff like: “Sure is hot down here..” and, “Whew! Really working up a sweat.” The group got the hint and let the dwarves go for a swim.

Zariel, Ruler of Avernus

That's an art commission I got done of Zariel. She's supposed burned much more, but  like the way she looks here. Her armor is made of baatorian green steel and she has animated skeletal wings.

The group was asked to visit Zariel, the ruler of the first layer of Hell. There I very, very little information on her in published D&D products, so I mad my own. I had art made for her and everything.

On their way into her burned citadel, the group bumped into a 30-foot tall, two-headed pit fiend. He shapeshifted into a two-headed devil dragon. This is Mordukhavar the Reaver, a spawn of Tiamat and a pit fiend from an old issue of Dragon Magazine. He congratulated the heroes on defeating Lamashtu’s avatar and claiming a layer of the Abyss.

I took a stab at statting out Mordukhavar:

My idea here was that the group would be given medals and they’d have a chance to get a look at the story I made up about Zariel. It’s a whole long thing, but basically she has these 12 severed angel heads she talks to and they talk back. She is making secret plans with them. No devils know about this.

The group, Tibba, the Death Hurler (the damned soul/siege engine), and Drokkarn the pit fiend general went to her scorched throne room only to find it empty. They could inane muttering coming from a corridor. The group decided to sneak around and check it out.

They peeked in a room and there was Zariel talking to her angel heads in Celestial. Theran quietly cast comprehend languages and hear her scheming with them. The angel head she was talking to was trying to talk Zariel out of some crazy plan.

One of the angel heads saw the group and mouthed the words: “Help me.”

I thought that would be it. Cool little thing, there, right? Nope. Theran walked into the room and said, “What are you doing?”

I was in a bind. There’s really nothing to do here but the obvious. After all, they revealed that they were spying on an archdevil!

She turned, her eyes glowed yellow, and Theran was set ablaze! He made his save and took 30 fire damage. Then she closed in on them. Thankfully the group didn’t swing back. I think they knew she was too powerful for them.

My Zariel has skeletal wings that she can use as weapons. She stabbed Theran once and he was near death.

The group talked her down and promised not to tell anyone. The angel heads backed them up. Zariel was impressed that Theran was still standing and decided to let them live on the condition they tell no one.

They went to the throne room. The group were given Asmodean medals of honor. The NPCs got Asmodean medals of valor.

Then, standing right there in front of Zariel, Bidam actually started talking about the heads! Ugh… Bidam was set on fire before he could finish the sentence. The group ran out of the citadel before they all died.

Lilith and the Shadow Sanctuary

I got a commission of what I think a devil lilitu would look like. I don't like the 3rd edition depiction of them and I thought this was more in line with what they would look like.

So we finally got to the adventure part of this adventure. A few sessions back, Malcanthet, the demon queen of succubi, asked the group to go visit Lilith, the devil queen of succubi. She charmed Bidam and has a psychic link to him.

The group busted out their magic pirate ship and sailed up the River Styx. Drokkarn gave them a writ of passage. They sailed through many layers of hell:
  • Avernus: There are styx devil checkpoints every 10 miles where the devils look at your paperwork and subject you to a full body cavity search (this is right out of the Fiendish Codex). The styx devils realized that the group were the people who killed an avatar of Lamashtu, and their mood completely changed. High fives were exchanged and no cavities were probed.
  • Dis: The heroes sailed past the city of Dis. Two erinyes flying by stopped and talked to the group, realizing who they were.
  • Minauros: They sailed back Jangling Hiter, the city of chains. Sagirsa, the ruler, said hi to the group. She has a thing for Drokkarn and asked them to tell him to visit sometime.
  • Phlegathos: The group sailed by the pit of flame, a huge column of fire that devils are thrown into as a punishment for some transgression. The bone devils who run this place and some of the devils who were about to be thrown in saw the group sailing by, realized who they were, and cheered them.
  • Stygia: The group sailed by the Tomb of Levistus. Levistus is trapped in a glacier but he can communicate telepathically. He had a brief conversation with the group.
  • Malbolge: This realm is covered in a layer of living flesh made up of the last ruler of Malbolge – the Hag Countess. The group could see the flesh churning and groaning, obviously suffering. They watched an imp gleefully stab the land with a pitchfork. They felt sorry for it and I’m probably planting seeds for an adventure down the line. I love the idea of the hags of the multiverse getting together to try to restore the Hag Countess to her former form.
  • Maladomini: Finally we’re here.
As the group pulled up to a dock, they saw a red-skinned bard waiting for them. She was talking to an imp in the giant language, certain that the heroes wouldn’t understand her. Theran again quietly cast comprehend languages and basically learned that Antisia is a spy. She’s in Baalzebul’s court, spying for her father Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles and Baalzebul are at war with each other.

Antisia is from an old magazine. I think it was Dungeon 140, I might be wrong. She escorted the group to the Palace of Filth, where the group met Baalzebul and his court.

The story I made up here is that while Baftis is his consort, Baalzebul wants Lilith to accept him and be hi #1 consort. He has a ring of joining, and she has the other. If she puts it on, she will be infernally bound to fully be his consort for at least 100 years.

Malcanthet quietly told Bidam that they needed to get that ring on Lilith's finger.

The heroes headed over to the Shadow Sanctuary, a defiled temple of a good deity. They went in, and saw a lillitu (super-succubus) playing a massive organ. The heroes had a halo taken from a demonic lillitu. They waned to see what it would do on a devil lillitu. Malcanthet wanted to see, too.

The group ended up sneaking by this lillitu. Their rolls were insanely high from this point on.

They snuck their way upstairs. They surprised a lillitu guard and slapped the halo on her. She fell to the ground, twitching. Malcanthet found this to be hilarious.

They bypassed some traps and explored Lilith’s gothic/emo bedroom. They found the ring of joining in a trapped box. They took it and crept down to the dungeon level.

Lilith’s whole thing revolves around torturing paladins of good gods. I only use goofy torture in my games, so Lilith was reading bad fan fiction to a chained-up paladin, who was aghast at the terrible dialogue and gaping plot holes, begging her to stop.

There were a total of 40 imprisoned clerics and paladin who worshiped many different good deities. I was wondering if the group would try to save them. They did.

They rolled ridiculously high on stealth. Theran quietly tried to mage-hand the halo onto Lilith. Lilith suddenly stood and turned. She held up her hand and telekinetically blocked the halo.

We rolled initiative and the group rolled ridiculously high. Bidam grabbed the halo and slapped it on her head. Lilith fell to the ground twitching, shifting between a physical form and a shadow form. They slipped the ring of joining on her finger, freed the prisoners, and got them all on the boat as a massive swarm of devil flies tried to chase them down.

They got away and sailed back down the Styx. The heroes had paid off their debt to Malcanthet and had undoubtedly made a new enemy in Lilith.


It was fun as always. Lilith’s story in some of the official books is that she’s apathetic. When she was a good-aligned angel, she was tricked by Asmodeus into joining his rebellion. She thought she would be his consort, but Asmodeus lied to her. He asked Bensozia to be his consort instead. So she’s brooding, apathetic and bitter.

I am going to say that this halo infused her with chaotic energy, enough to jolt her out of her doldrums and make her more proactive and a bit unpredictable. I think Lilith is cool and I feel like not enough has been done with her.

I really like the idea of the devil succubi and the demon succubi fighting each other, so that’s where we’re at.

I think next week the group is going to go and fortify the portal that links Onstrakkar’s Nest to the Plane of 1,000 Portals. I will need to look up some kind of magic item that creates a barrier that would keep the demons out. I guess you could use a wish spell but I’d like to use some official thing if I can.


Devcon said...

Sounds like it was fun! Interesting lore on Zariel you made; her interactions with the angel heads seems similar to what the Bugbear gods do with the severed heads of their enemies in 5e, makes one wonder if there's a connection. Thanks for the free draconic devil, it seems quite interesting.

Also, I must ask: who do you get your commissions from? Their work seems quite wonderful.

Sean said...

Devcon: The angel heads is from I think the fiendish codex. Bel had them on a belt. I wrote this big story building on it, it's a whole thing. I get the art from You have to really dig, but you can find good artists on there. There was a bit of trial and error, because sometimes the sample art they show you isn't their art! But when I find a good artist, I try to get as much as I can.