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Monday, July 10, 2017

Planescape - Blood War XVII. The Battle of the Abyssal Undersump

I spent some time the other day mulling over the campaign I'm going to run after this. It's going to be a Spelljammer (D&D in space with magic ships, not technology) 5e game that involves a quest for the rod of seven parts. I read up on the Queen of Chaos, who will be the main villain. She is right up my group's alley!

The crew of the ship is going to be really important, as those are the NPCs that the heroes will interact with from beginning to end. I've been keeping a file on my desktop that lists ideas for the crew. Whenever I get an idea that I think is worthy, I add it to the file.

I will be a bit bummed when this campaign is over. I feel like I could run Planescape forever. It never gets boring!

I've always loved Spelljammer, and I really like the idea of showing readers who are new to the game all that awesome Spelljammer stuff. It's not for everybody, but you can do a lot of cool things with it. If nothing else, you will see how the neogi can be used to make first-rate villains!

Demon Lord Convention:This one's really long. Here's the super-short version:
  • Graz'zt is angry that the group won't help him unite the demons and devils.
  • Graz'zt is blowing up the group's homes and destroying a portal that is important to them.
  • Iggwilv is trying to use this situation to please Graz'zt so that he will free her from her imprisonment.
  • Iggwilv has sent some demon lords after the group, including one from an old, epic Chris Perkins adventure that I read yesterday.
There's a ton of NPCs involved. Here's a quick look at the many people involved in this thing:

Graz'zt, Iggwilv and the cloak that became Drokkarn the pit fiend

Bad Guys:
  • Graz'zt, Demon Lord of Azzagrat: He is furious that the group won't help him win over the devils/help him hunt down Verin, his former ally.
  • Iggwilv the Witch Queen: She's trapped in Graz'zt's palace, but she can send out simulacrums (clones made of ice and snow). She wants the group to convince Graz'zt to free her. She's also outraged that Graz'zt is making babies with Lamashtu.
  • Lamashtu, Demon Lord of Monsters: She is the main demon lord supporting the demon armies in the blood war. The group wants to kill her and give her abyssal layer to their friend, a pit fiend.
  • Korramzedah: Lamashtu's 20-foot tall balor general

Good Guys:
  • Pazuzu, Demon Lord of Pazunia: Pazuzu hates Graz'zt and despises Lamashtu who is his ex-girlfriend. He ate her eyes and impaled her on a spike (she got better).
  • Umbralinda, Queen of the Harpies: Pazuzu's current consort. She's tired of Pazuzu (he's very whiny) and keeps asking the group to get her a pile of soul larvae so she can consume them, become a demon lord and get away from Pazuzu.
  • The Ferroliths: Graz'zt threw these succubi into a lake of molten iron long ago. Now they're ferroliths, demons covered in different types of metal. They obviously hate Graz'zt and are allies of the heroes.
  • Bazuuma, Demon Lord of Positive Energy: She is the wife of one of the heroes and she's a good-aligned demon lord.
Wild Card:
  • Juiblex, Demon Prince of Oozes: Juiblex rules the Abyssal Undersump, slime tunnels that act as secret entrances to abyssal layers. The devils have quietly been using them to get to Lamashtu's realm.
The Party

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

Last time, the heroes were at Theran's floating castle in Azzagrat. A chaos ship was flying toward them! A chaos ship is a huge, evil, living demon ship that shoots lightning bolts and force/disintegration rays.

The group spotted someone on the deck: Rule-of-Three, son of Graz'zt. He actually shed his disguise right in front of them. He looks like a spindly old githzerai, but in truth he is a cambion with charcoal-black skin, bat wings and hooves.
  • The ship opened fire on the castle. The heroes rounded up the people who lived there:
  • An old genie (I keep getting mixed up and calling him a giant) who sits in a sauna all the time.
  • 3 alu-fiends who are friends with the giant.
  • A succubus nurse. A few sessions ago, she got turned to stone and the group saved her, so she is loyal to them.
  • 13 babies, all children of Graz'zt that the nurse takes care of. One of these babies is a child of Graz'zt and Lamashtu.
If you look at Rule-of-Three's stats in Faces of Sigil, you'll see that he has two javelins of lightning. Theran makes and sells those in Sigil. Rule-of-Three pull one out and goes to chuck it at the group, and George was none too pleased to see that this javelin was one of his own creation!

Bidam got hit with lightning and the javelin itself doinked off of his armor of invulnerability, plopping to the ground. The group used their cubic gate and their jar of Lord Stillborn to escape.

Refugees of Azzagrat
 The group owns a dorm-style building in Sigil. The refugees were left here. They sent the genie to their mansions in the Elemental Plane of Earth.

The players were really sharp tonight! They realized they'd better go to Allagash, Bidam's demon-making farm in Graz'zt's realm, as it was likely under attack.

Before they did so, a gnoll woman approached the group. She was looking for Eo Kaplan (the gnoll Michael Jackson NPC). George looked at me and asked, "Is her name... Billie...?" Billie Jean! Yes it was.

The group went up to Eo and told them that Billie Jean was looking for him. That gave me the opportunity to have Eo say, in a bad Michael Jackson voice, the lyrics to Billie Jean in a conversational way - but I kept the "hee hees", the "nyuh"'s and the "NOno, nono."

Eo mentioned that the group owned a mansion in Sigil, and how he always wanted to live in a mansion. It would let him have a place to unleash his inner child. Right now, Melnarnia Flumph and her son, "Baron" Gonard Flumph (Trump parody NPCs) live in the mansion. Eo seemed very keen on meeting the young Baron.

I plan on slipping them a Michael Jackson nugget each week if I can. I can do the chimp, naming a child after a blanket or some other household item, Lisa Marie Presley, Latoya (!), you name it.

Allagash: The heroes went to Allagash. In the distance they could see a horde kicking up dust clouds. It was the bloodseep demons, the demons that Theran accidentally dropped a huge chain on, killing dozens of them. Apparently, Graz'zt had sent them here to help them get their revenge.

The group repelled them in "adult" ways involving fluids being projected with the power of a riot police firehose. Then, the PROGENITORS (6 demon dudes that the group liberated from Lamashtu) beat the bejeezus out of them. The Mother of All (Also freed from Lamashtu) launched out monster egg projectiles. The bloodseep demons kept slipping in the fluid and were no match for the surprise counter-assault.

Now the group had more refugees to relocate:
  • The Mother of All
  • Areelu Vorlesh (the administrator)
  • A succubus
  • An ogre who is basically the Hulk
  • 30 abat-dolor (the race Graz'zt may have come from)
The heroes relocated them to the Pathfinder festhall in Malcanthet's realm that I haven't had many ideas for. This worked out very nicely!

A few sessions back, Bazuuma created a new Abyssal realm and ultimately, I hope all of these NPCs end up living there in the Mithral City.

Graz'zt's Revenge

The heroes got a sending spell message from the Queen of the Harpies. She said that Graz'zt was in the abyssal undersump killing devils! The undersump is slime tunnels that connect different abyssal layers, They are sort of the sewers of the Abyss.

The devils were using this section of the undersump to get to Thanatos. Graz'zt is having a temper tantrum and is trying to teach the group a lesson.

Bidam and Theran geared up. Theran's apprentice, Selinza the cat lady, volunteered to come along. She had mentioned ways to overcome Iggwilv's counterspells, and she wanted to come along to back Theran up in case Iggwilv was somehow involved.

Jessie surprised me. She said, "We'd better tell Bazuuma to get everyone to the safe fortress in the Plane of Positive Energy." I did not expect that! The players were really on the ball. This altered the final thing I had planned for tonight!

The group drops into the undersump and is greeted by their hellhound friend, Fireball. Bidam can speak to hellhounds. Fireball informed them that Graz'zt has a big ship in here and that it is "immune to barking" (Fireball barks at bad guys and thinks he's helping).

The heroes started to head through the utterly trashed slime tunnels. Huge chunks of side walls had been obliterated and there was bits of ooze and slime everywhere.

A creature appeared before them - an avatar of Lamashtu! She is Graz'zt's ally and the group's enemy. The heroes were more then a little alarmed as a gooey maw demon plopped out from her undercarriage and hissed at them.

Selinza used buff spells on the group as they attacked the avatar. Allies showed up to aid them - an avatar of Pazuzu and Umbralinda, Queen of the Harpies. I played them as a couple on the verge of a breakup. Pazuzu is a big baby and she's over it.

Pazuzu has these elephant-sized dragon-cats called anzus. One of the anzus really likes Theran (he rolled a 20 when trying to befriend it back when the heroes were in Pazuzu's palace).

Together, the group were able to defeat the avatar.

Pazuzu angrily asked why the anzu liked Theran so much. "It's never that nice to me!" He got mad at Umbralinda when he tried to explain and it got uncomfortable. Ultimately, Pazuzu told Theran to keep it.

I should note that Selinza the cat lady hates cats. She thinks they're really dumb and embarrassing, a less-evolved version of herself. Theran paid her no mind.

Khorramzedah: The team followed the trail of destruction. They came to the big slime lake. Standing in it was the 20-foot-tall balor general, Khorramzedah. He and his zovvuts were fighting a few hell knights.

Rocks were falling from the ceiling... this whole section of the undersump was coming apart. Fireball alerted the group that their friend, the Fulsome Queen (she's a filth elemental - an "excremental"), was buried in the rubble.

Pazuzu and the Queen of the Harpies went after the balor, while the group tried to save the Fulsome Queen. A rock fell from the ceiling and hit Theran, knocking him off of the anzu and into the ooze lake. He took a pile of acid damage, and was barely able to get out of it.

Bidam tried to lift the rocks, but they were too heavy. Theran used levitate to free the Fulsome Queen.

Khorramzedah was destroyed. He has a demon amulet, so he didn't die. He reformed in the Abyss next to his amulet. Any demon worth their salt has this. Pazuzu and Umbralinda were hurt quite badly. Bidam used his positive energy "stream" to heal them (don't ask) and they continued on.

Graz'zt's Chaos Ship: They came to the big area with the conveyor belts loaded with gelatinous cubes. The portal to Thanatos was completely destroyed. The chaos ship was up in the air (this place has a really high ceiling). The group could see that their devil friends were fighting Graz'zt's avatar on the deck of the ship. Graz'zt was teleporting all over the place and slicing them up with his acid-dripping sword, Wave of Sorrow.

Also on the chaos ship were cambion rangers wielding special soul-swords. This was the Razor Legion, Graz'zt's elite soldiers, sort of like navy seals. They're from one of those weird no-man's-land issues of Dragon Magazine from the time between 3rd edition and 4th edition.

30 members of the Razor Legion flew at the group. Bidam, Theran and Selinza were on the back of the cat-dragon. Bidam started slicing into them with the sword of sharpness, and was dismayed to see that they were not mooks (each of them has 82 hit points).

The Iron Maiden: The heroes were relieved to see their friends, the ferroliths, swoop into the room and hack into the legion. They were led by the Iron Maiden, their ruler (I swear that's her name in the 4e Demonomicon book).

This cleared the path for the group to get to Graz'zt before he killed their friends Drokkarn (pit fiend) and Feurina (warder devil/Bidam's "sister").

Battle With Graz'zt: Bidam dropped onto the deck and hacked into Grazzt

Graz'zt has a legendary action that allows him to control your movement. He used it to force Theran off of the anzu. Theran fell to the ground below, severely denting the floor grate. Beneath the floor grate is an ooze river.

This room was also crumbling because the chaos ship had been firing off force blasts like crazy. This crumbling caused a stone to fall from the ceiling right at Theran! He rolled out of the way. The rock punched through the grate and plunged into the ooze river.

Selinza flew the giant cat down and Theran climbed on the anzu. He saw that the chaos ship had portholes in the form of translucent blue blisters. He peered inside, looking for some kind of control room.

He and his apprentice jumped through a blister and found a room with an arcane-locked door. They dispelled it and blew it open with a thunder-related spell. Inside was a closet-like space containing two big demonic hearts. This ship is alive!

He smartly scanned for traps. There's two in here! One stuns you, the other entangles you in vines. Selinza and Theran stepped back and launched off spells, damaging the hearts and causing the ship to shudder.

A big section of the place collapsed, blocking off Pazuzu, Umbralinda and the ferroliths from the group.

Juiblex: Up on the deck, Bidam was taking a lot of damage from Wave of Sorrow. A side wall of the huge room they were in burst open and a huge, black ooze with glowing orange eyes came at the ship like a tidal wave. It was Juiblex, demon lord of ooze! He was none too happy that Graz'zt was destroying his tunnels, and he was also aghast to see devils in here, too.

Juiblex slowly enveloped the chaos ship, angrily chastising Graz'zt. Drokkarn grabbed Bidam and Feurina and flew them to safety.

Theran and Selinza destroyed the hearts and saw Juiblex slowly covering the ship. They were about to get trapped inside the chaos ship and would probably be engulfed by the demon lord! The anzu flew close to the blister/porthole.

Selinza refused to get on it. It was very chaotic and Theran didn't notice. He jumped through the blister, his hands slipped on the oily hide of the anzu and he fell to the floor grate again. The grate almost gave way, but it didn't break. on the anzu.

The chaos ship sealed up. It was completely enveloped inside Juiblex.

Theran realized Selinza was in there and frantically looked for some way to get her out.

When they destroyed the hearts, they caused a decaying effect - the chaos ship would crumble apart in 2d6 rounds without even factoring Juiblex into the equation.

The group watching in horror as Juiblex compressed, getting smaller and smaller, finally ejecting refuse and detritus

Graz'zt's avatar had been destroyed. Juiblex slithered off to assess the damage to his realm.

The Fate of the Apprentice: I had another big thing planned, but I gave them a moment to see if they'd search the wreckage for Selinza. They did! Dodging falling boulders, the group tore through the refuse. Drokkarn and Feurina were hurt very badly, so they stayed in a spot where boulders weren't falling.

They unearthed a sheer black dome. Selinza has Leomund's tiny hut! She had just enough time to cast it before the ship came apart. I thought she was going to die until I looked at her spell list! As soon as I saw it, I thought of Paultin on Dice, Camera, Action and was quite delighted.

The group helped her up and regrouped with Drokkarn and Feurina. Someone came out of the shadows. Iggwilv!
Iggwilv Triumphant: She looked at Drokkarn, who looked down at his feet. The group has been given a number of clues that Drokkarn was going to betray them and side with Iggwilv. For decades, Drokkarn was a sentient pit fiend-skin cloak resting on Iggwilv's shoulders. While in cloak form, he fell in love with her. Iggwilv was now using that to get him on her side.

I had this whole thing written out. The group groaned as I cleared my throat. The heroes were injured really badly! They couldn't possibly defeat Iggwilv in this state!

I read Iggwilv's dialogue. She gloated as she pointed out that Drokkarn was going to give Graz'zt what he wanted (an alliance with the devils) on the condition that he free Iggwilv from her imprisonment.

Drokkarn told the group that they shouldn't have trusted him. He's a devil! Deceit is what they do!

The heroes were extremely dismayed. They tried to talk sense into him. I wanted to give them space to see what they did here. I was wondering if they would attack him. They pretty much were letting this play out, unsure of what the truth was.

Drokkarn said, "I made a choice between the one I yearn for and the ones who brought me back to life and fought at my side against Socothbenoth..."

The group started getting mad now. I was getting heckled!

"...The choice was easy." He turned and tore into Iggwilv with his claws. "I am lawful! I stand by those who honor me!"

Iggwilv reeled, shocked at this turn of events. The group got a surprise round and proceeded to beat the crap out of Iggwilv. Bidam cut her head right off! She was a simulacrum, so the head hit the floor grate and became a melting ball of ice.

Recuperating: Pazuzu and the others finally got into this room. The place was coming apart! I asked them where they want to go, as there was one more thing planned.

The heroes went to Pazuzu's floating palace. Umbralinda whispered to them that she really needed those soul larvae. "You see how he is, right?" The group agreed. Pazuzu was pretty annoying.

There were two guest rooms here. I wondered how they'd split them up. Bidam, Drokkarn and Feurina slept in one room. Feurina is basically Bidam's sister, they've actually slept in the same bed before.

Theran and Selinza were in the other room. Theran has rejected Selinza before, saying something about sullying the master/apprentice relationship. Selinza almost died today! She heroically fought beside them, despite being quite a few levels lower! Would he reject her now?!

Yes. Yes he would. They slept in the same bed. Her knee touched his knee. Theran had no reaction. Her tail started getting animated.. and he rolled over, going to sleep.

Jessie and I were stymied. I think Jessie set up the living arrangement, trying to force this thing. Nope! Theran is a mysterious dude.

They woke up, fully refreshed. They got a sending from Bazuuma. Apparently, there was a problem. They went to her realm, Burningwater, which was evacuated. The inhabitants were all safe in the Positive Material Plane.

The Demon Lord Assassin: Something was in the center of the main island in the abyssal layer of Burningwater. It was a sphere of annihilation. It was growing!

Last night, I read through an old Chris Perkins adventure called Bzallin's Blacksphere. I had always wanted to run it, but it's pretty high level and it never quite fit into my campaigns.

I'm working on my "Emirikol' Guide to Demons" DM Guild product, so I read through this adventure (there's a new demon lord in it). Bzallin's Blacksphere is awesome! The premise: There's a sphere of annihilation slowly growing in the middle of a city. What do you do? That's pretty awesome, right?

The group took a look at it. Theran has a robe of eyes. He can see invisible creatures. Bazuuma has 20 magic eyes! She can also see invisible creatures. Both of them spotted invisible creatures creeping up on them. These foul beings slipped into this layer and set this trap while Bazuuma's demons fled to the Plane of Positive Energy.

Who are these dastardly villains? I've mentioned before that Iggwilv has 12 demon lords under her control (she knows their truenames). Avatars of TWO of them are here:
  • Nocticula: Demon Queen of Assassins
  • J'zzlshraak: A beetle demon lord, a general of the Blood War. The Chris Perkins demon lord!
J'zzlshraak also brought along the powerful wizard Bzallin and his 12 mighty apprentices. They're all from Bzallin's Blacksphere and they're really well-detailed.

Bzallin had set up the sphere. Nocticula kills demon lords - that's her whole deal. Iggwilv thinks that destroying this layer will convince Graz'zt to free her from his palace. 

Graz'zt once tried to take over this layer, but found that because it is infused with positive energy, it is utterly toxic to him. He has no use at all for Burningwater, therefore destroying it might please him.

So next time, we'll deal with that! I've been waiting to use Nocticula for a long time, can't wait to put her into play!


Scotty Hood said...

"An old genie (I keep getting mixed up and calling him a giant) who sits in a sauna all the time.
3 alu-fiends who are friends with the giant.

I don't know if that was intentional or not, but it is still very funny nonetheless.

Sean said...

Was a joke, but that cloud giant castle is so burned into my brain. Plus, imagining a giant old man in a sauna is funny to me.. an old man genie, I don't even know what that would look like.

John ( said...

I can't wait to see what you have for Spelljammer! This made my day. I will def be using your notes as a template to start my own game in the future. Gratitude.

Sean said...

John: I actually wrote a bunch of posts about spelljammer a few years ago. They're in my "table of contents." My plan right now is to do a big quest where the heroes have to fly to different crystal spheres to get the pieces of the rod of seven parts. They'll be harried by the queen of chaos and the githyanki along the way. I think I'm going to stick one piece in Castle Greyhawk, one in the Rock of Bral, and one in Al Qadim. That's what I've got so far. I'll try and work in stuff from the official spelljammer adventures, but a lot of it is really goofy or just not really my style. I love ed greenwood's supplement, though!