Monday, January 2, 2017

Monday Recap: Dungeon of the Demons

I wonder what evil things I can do to my players this time...
This recap is for a different game than my usual weekly group. As a result, the plots might be a bit wild and unusual... as usually happens when campaigns reach the later stages of their lifespans.

And away we go!!

Demon Quest: Return to the Demon Portal


Legolad: perpetuating stereotypes
Cast of Characters:
Jon: Dungeon Master
Quinn: Rank, half-orc totem barbarian, alcoholic and back-flipper who loves his sword, File
Wade: Voronion Fael, Half-elf arcane trickster, looking to avenge his Mentor (eaten by demons)
Shannon: Aethryn, Tiefling Dragon Sorceress, looking to improve her fiery temper
Wes: Legolad, Elf Fighter, deadshot with a bow and really into baked goods and beauty products

These heroes have been fighting against an incursion of demons on the material plane. After revealing the connection between a mysterious cult and a rise in demon activity, they have followed a trail of chaos and blood to a single demon general: a marilith named Drogen.

Having defeated or banished several of Drogen's key lieutenants, a small group was forced to give chase as Drogen fled the city of Garton, hoping to escape back to the abyss. The group traveled to the small town of Breaddington, home to the best baked goods in Garlancia, to stay the night, since they believed Drogen was heading to the location of a sealed cave with a otherworldly portal inside.

Breaddington has got the goods
The characters awoke and met in the lobby of the Obelisk Inn, the only place to stay the night in town. Due to the country's recent declaration of war against the neighboring land of Norstone, the town was quite deserted.

Legolad wanted to try out some magic pancakes he bought at a small bakery called "Risk It for a Biscuit." They were much cheaper than the fine baked goods sold in the rest of the town, but they also had a weird and random magical effect when eaten. To Legolad (and everyone else's) surprise, his head popped off his shoulders and began to float around on its own!

Rank decided that this was absolutely fantastic and went to the shop to buy his own baked goods. After borrowing a few coins off Voronion (who has been known to hoard gold), Rank purchased and ate a biscuit that allowed him to convince other people he could see the future, without actually gaining the ability to see the future.

Rank: belligerent at best
The charming effect didn't work on his elven companions, but he decided to tell Aethryn all sorts of strange portents about her future. At least, until he started saying insensitive things and the elves filled the tiefling in on the magical joke. Aethryn gave Rank a good slap for that.

While traveling through the forest, Legolad told the others of the last time he came to this dungeon. He was with some of their other companions, investigating a treasure map they had gotten from a dwarf. The dungeon contained a strange and otherworldly portal, but fortunately there was a friendly cultist who kept watch outside and kept the cave sealed. They had ventured in anyway, and had sadly lost one of their companions in a battle with a demon.

Rank noticed that the forest was quiet here, it seemed like the animals, monsters, and even insects had abandoned this area.

When they reached the clearing that contained the cave entrance, the friendly cultist was nowhere to be found, and the sealing stone of the cave had been rolled aside. The group briefly paused to discuss what should be done, at least until Rank barged in anyway.

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/6aAmr
Aethryn, ready to cook up some demons!
Legolad remembered some parts of the dungeon from their last encounter, and he knew there was a small room used as a holding pen up ahead. Voronion snuck forward to scope it out.

Inside the holding room, they saw a little office set up with a demon sitting, copying down information onto parchment. He was surrounded by cages, all containing strange creatures known as catbooks. By petting them down the spine, they would flop open and reveal the (fur-lined) pages of a rare tome of material.

The demon was none other than the Glabrezu who Legolad had fought and killed on his previous travel into the dungeon. Aethryn explained that demons don't really die on the material plane, they simply reform in the abyss after some time. The group agreed they didn't want to mess with this demon.

And they're wikhed smaht
Voronion used his mage hand to knock over some of the cat cages, releasing the felines into the area. The demon began to recollect his tomes, while the heroes snuck quietly past. Working together, they made it across the chamber without alerting the demon.

Legolad became less sure about what came next in the dungeon, claiming his companions had distracted him last time. After opening a small door, the group was surprised to see a comfortable little living area with two men in robes sitting and playing cards. One had cat-like pupils, the other sported two miniature horns from his shaven head.

With a series of clever and amazing tales, Voronion spun a fantastic story about Rank being their prisoner, completely charmed and docile, to be taken to Drogen to be sacrificed. The cultists were rightly suspicious, but in the end they had no way to disbelieve the group.

Just a normal Demon Cult here, guys, nothing to be alarmed about
The characters carried forward, completely unharmed by the cultists. Voronion, still being cautious, decided to leave his pet mouse (whose name I won't mention here...) to guard the door. His mouse has a couple of levels in Rogue, and they have a secret method of communicating so the mouse could alert Voronion if needed.

They finally arrived at the small library/den where Legolad had once fought the demon from the previous chamber, and where the unstable portal still resided. After perusing a catbook about spheres of annihilation, they entered and hid behind some bookshelves to observe.

There, they saw the marilith Drogen (MM pg. 61) cursing and spitting in a strange language at the portal, which burned a fiery reddish-purple. They also saw the furnishings of a den, and a door on the other side of the room.

neoartcore.deviantart.com
Open Sesame!
Voronion decided to sneak around and check out the door, using his disguise self spell to appear as the horned cultist from before. Unfortunately, Drogen caught him and slithered over!

He quickly told her there were intruders that had defeated the first demon and were coming this way. Drogen took little pity, telling him to go deal with the "intruders" himself, unless he wanted to face her full wrath.

Voronion stammered for a bit, then Drogen said something to him in abyssal. Voronion didn't know the language, and decided to shout the codeword to attack instead. Drogen responded lightning-quick, drawing six magical swords and slashing Voronion's chest open. Voronion immediately dropped.

Rank, not one to stand on ceremony, immediately rushed forward in a rage and began to attack Drogen. His sword File had been recently enchanted, and it was able to do magical damage to the demon's hide, though the marilith's skill with her swords was fast and deadly.

Legolad began to climb the bookshelves to gain height advantage while Aethryn used her misty step to get to Voronion and feed him a healing potion. His wounds temporarily closed, he struggled back to his feet.

Players just can't resist...
Rank and Voronion began to tag-team Drogen while Aethryn pulled back to fire off some spells. Legolad reached the top of the bookshelf, and realizing his mundane arrows would do little to the creature, began to throw books at the demon.

The books were similar to spell scrolls, containing a "trapped" version a random spell. The first two spells were Web (PHB pg. 278) and Cloud of Daggers (PHB pg. 222), both of which hit Drogen hard. Voronion, seeing an opportunity, pulled out his magic fire dagger, Tinder, and struck the web, triggering a massive burst of flame around Drogen.

This was an amazing attack for Wade. The dagger was 1d4 piercing plus 1d6 fire damage, with his bonus 3d6 from sneak attack and an additional 2d4 from the webbing. Scoring a critical hit,  he got to roll 6d4+8d6+3, dealing 43 damage even after fire resistance. 

Unfortunately, their luck didn't continue. The next book thrown into the fray created an indestructible hut (Leomund's Tiny Hut, PHB pg 255) around Rank, Voronion, and Drogen. Looking for books to disable the force shield only created a inky black portal to the void right in front of the exit to the hut (Hunger of Hadar, PHB pg. 251).
Voronion (fan art by Shannon) being thief-y
While the battle raged on in the hut (which was nicely able to stop the void portal from interfering), Aethryn and Legolad searched the shelves for anything that would dispel the magic effects and allow them to get to and help their allies. Voronion stayed alive thanks to his god-like dodging and illusion skills, while Rank used a Grick-Hide cloak he had crafted up to reduce the amount of slashing damage he took from the demon swords.

Finally, Legolad pulled a counterspell (PHB pg. 228) book from the shelves and threw it at the hut. This freed the fighting trio, but they were all badly bloodied and the void portal was now able to affect them. They were trapped in complete darkness, and Aethryn frantically continued to search for a spell to stop the effect.

I created the "random spell effect" by having players draw a random card from the Arcane Spell Card deck, using only the level 2 and 3 effects. They tended towards the 3rd-level effects, since they knew dispel magic (PHB pg. 234) had to be in there, but this type of random spell mechanic has proved to be a lot of fun and always makes combats really, really interesting... and sometimes deadly.

Legolad leapt down into the darkness, feeling around for anything he could find. He found Rank, unconscious, and immediately administered a health potion. Rank used his ring of jumping and leapt out of the void area before he could fall again.
Close-up on Voronion's mouse friend. No, I'm not saying his name.
While Legolad continued groping through the darkness, Aethryn finally found a copy of dispel magic, which to her great fortune not only cast the spell but imbued her with the knowledge of the spell as well. The void disappeared, and both Voronion and Drogen were gone.

Legolad said a few words in Elvish, Rank took a swig of tequila, and Aethryn silently promised herself to donate her most valuable possession to a cause in Voronion's memory. The only item that had been left was a small scroll of giant bird travel (functions like a Quual's Feather Token of Bird, DMG pg 188).

However, they didn't have much time to mourn, because at that moment Rank was compelled to enter the otherworldly portal. The portal was transparent now, revealing a large circular room with similar portals covering the walls and spiraling upwards.

In the center of the room was the creature who had compelled Rank to enter, a nine-foot tall man with a chiseled-obsidian form and six fingers on each hand. He was surrounded by two more mariliths, a woman who was taking notes in her tome, and a man that looked like a living white lava lamp in a vested suit.

Sorry, but this fight has you just a bit outclassed.
Aethryn and Legolad followed Rank into the portal, and the man (after carelessly tossing aside Rank's affections) spoke directly to Legolad.

He told him about a powerful potion of beauty, the Elixer of Ancient Spices, which allowed anyone to be insanely, epically beautiful. Legolad, obsessed with his image and enhancing it, had been pursuing the Elixer for decades, hoping to finally be attractive enough that the vain elven princess of his homeland would allow him to serve his proper station.

The man, introducing himself as the demon prince Graz'zt, held the elixer in his six-fingered hand.

He asked Legolad for a brief servitude, a small time in the abyss, a mere 100 years (not much for an elf!) in exchange for the elixer. After much indecision, Legolad agreed to the bargain. He turned and wished a small farewell to his allies.
You know you want it...
Rank and Aethryn made motion to exit. Graz'zt seemed disinterested in them, noting that he had always found Drogen annoying and by returning her essence to his control in the Abyss they had done him a small service. As far as he was concerned, they were free to go.

Back in the small den area, they watched as Graz'zt closed the otherworldly portal. Aethryn found a book to heal Rank up, and they retrieved Voronion's pet mouse. The mouse, in a gesture of respect from one rogue to another, took a tiny piece of gold from his pouch and threw it aside.

They began to look for books to help them sneak out, when suddenly the entire cavern shook. They looked at each other, and it began to shake again! They abandoned looking for books and fled the cavern, surprised to see the living quarters and holding pen rooms abandoned.

They stopped to grab some of the catbooks in cages, fleeing just as the tunnel collapsed. Rank, Aethryn, the mouse, and 12 cats in cages looked back at the buried rock forlornly.
As they traveled back to town, Rank commiserated his feelings with the horses and Aethryn read through some of the catbooks.

Speaking to townsfolk in Breaddington, they realized that they hadn't been gone merely a day, but an entire week. Seeing strange clouds forming in the sky over Garton, they quickly used their bird scroll to travel back to the city, hoping to arrive in time to stop whatever was happening at their city.


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Sure. Why Not.
This game is one of the last games for this campaign, and I felt like the death of Voronion and the sacrifice of Legolad were appropriate for a final game like this. Also, the finale of the campaign will feature both session groups teaming up to take on a final challenge, so Wes and Wade will be able to play NPCs for a short time before a new campaign starts.

The other half of the group has a massive game coming up that will set up the other half of this finale, which is scheduled to happen in late January/early February. I'll be posting about that as well in preparation.

Thanks for reading!

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