I like demons, and unfortunately never get much opportunity to use them in my games. At some point it becomes a one-upmanship and the flavor of the campaign gets a bit skewed. However, from way back 2 years ago, I had sketched out the rough plot of the campaign and KNEW that demons would make some appearance in the game. (ie: the author of the 2 grimoires: Necordius and Thakulis).
I was going to make sure that the limits would be put in place and not get a horde of Demons coming up and in to take over the world in a growing swell of the damned. This campaign was Slaver/Mage oriented - and the appearance of the damned would only add to the story, not become it.
So the group met one, and got a slimy feel from him (er..the slimy man!) and then there was some Manes (I think of them as demonic kobolds) who never fight in groups of 6 or 10, but in hordes of 60, 100, or 150, and finally this meeting their first encounter with a Vrock. The weakest of the "Type" demons, I played him true to his skills and abilities and he was VERY cunning - but not "intelligent" - and he gave the party a large and painful time. There was no real TPK threat - but he was dynamic (teleport every round, attempt to gate in another Vrock every round, globe of darkness every round, see invisible (didn't come up), telekinesis 200# every round, AND 5 attacks every round!) and really tested the party's ability.
I am sorry to see the group Byforteville soon but know they want to move on to other places. And other places are waiting for them in the dark shadows under the stone of the earth.
Write up follows:
Both Arnog and Damian came to the front, weapons at the ready, and they opened the door. It was a sizeable chamber, cold and chilly, done up in themes of yellow and grey. A heavy chair of some sort of lumpy stone was near the shadow clad bulk of a stone slab with a partially eviscerated goblin bound on top of it. A moment passed and then a 9’ tall vulture like humanoid stood from behind the slab and squawked at the party. At that the shadows before us took on form and we were assaulted.
The fighters did battle with the shades while Damian tried to charge the vulture demon. Gwyn shot at it but his blow was ineffective. The paladin’s blade fell with the fury of Baldur and smote the foe, tearing through his flesh and drawing black ichorous blood. There was some jockeying in the hall as the group tried to race past the shadows, most of their weapons failing to strike the beasts. Then from the OPPOSITE side of the room, bow fire sung out and the vulture was struck from there!
Zoltan used Gwyn’s crossbow while the dwarf had his own bowstring snap. Arnog tore through the closest shadow, his blade tearing it to shreds. Meanwhile Damian was yanked into the room from the demon’s telekinetic pull and a globe of darkness fell on him. Then the demon portaled into the heart of the group and tore into Coruth’tae, his ensorcelled protection wavering but still holding.
The mystery bowman was trying to jump in to help but his cover (a pair of tower shields) were yanked telekinetically in front of him and sent careening through the air to slam into Damian. Zoltan switched to his silver sickle, Detheron pulled out his enchanted pillow and began beating shadows – actually killing one (the pillow IS ostensibly +5)! The air around the demon wavered as it tried to gate in another one, to no avail.
Damian emerged from the ball of darkness and coated his blade with the vial of Sif’s Tears ready to do battle but a telekinetic pull had his blade torn from his grasp and thrown across the room! The mystery bowman, running towards the group, was yelling for help as a shadow tried to tear into him. Arnog intervened; getting hit himself but badly wounding the shade. The bowman picked up the blade.
The party struck at the demon as well as they could but their blows were turned aside by its thick hide and otherworldly flesh. It pointed at the chair and the heavy furniture slammed into Olthar, pinning the young thief under its considerable weight. The demon portalled away this time into the room and hit the group near Detheron again. Gwyn switched to Elfsplitter while Detheron was able to hit another shadow, shredding it apart.
A globe of darkness fell on Damian again as the demon portalled back into the hall, slamming the chair BACK on Olthar who just managed to shove it off of himself. And the air behind it shimmered and another Vrock appeared in a blast of brimstone and fire. Fuck.
The group redoubled their efforts and took to setting themselves up tactically against walls and in pairs, eventually taking down the 1st one and wounding the 2nd. Arnog tried to grapple with the Vrock but it portalled WITH the fighter and tore into his armor and flesh – but the group was ready and Zoltan, Coruth’tae, Damian, and Gwyn fell on the vulture demon before it could portal one last time and slayed it at long last.
We tended to our wounded and came into the chamber, shutting the trapped door behind us. The mystery bowman was named Soren and was a slave that Olthar had freed about 2 months ago and had been running with him around the 3 baronies until a portal had pulled everyone (it seemed) down here. He fell into a city with Duergar who took him in and helped outfit him. They were working against Kashtir and could use an elf of his bow skills. He kept his ears and eyes open for any sign of Olthar, eventually hearing of it. Purchasing a scrap of a map from one of King Yikzarch’s supporters, he came to this place hoping to find his friend and savior but was turned aside by the deep pool under Bruhndi and was going out to find another way through when the shadows attacked him and drained him to unconsciousness. He awoke to the sounds of battle and joined the party forthwith.
Olthar spoke of Soren and the two of them corroborated each other’s stories. We looked over the chamber and looked at his map, also relying on Zoltan’s remembrance of the Sifian angel’s warning of what was ahead. Supposedly an altar to Orcus was in the next room and we were going to go onward when Zoltan wanted to look around. He discovered a hollow under the slab and the party shoved the stone aside. Inside was a gold plated goblin skull fashioned like a drinking horn, a golden 12” statue of a coy succubus, a book clad in elven skin and a small sack that when opened had almost 300 platinum bars. Platinum. Holy smokes! Some of the party members took a vial or two of the Vrock’s blood (just in case) and we readied ourselves to move on.
The book was evil (according to Damian) and he took hold of it (even though Coruth’tae REALLY wanted to look at it) and Zoltan snagged the bag of money and the mug. We moved on and saw the next room as described by Soren. There was a VERY evil looking altar complete with bowl of rotting maggot covered pits of crud, candles, braziers, oil, goblet of blood, and above it a larger than life-sized depiction of Orcus with huge curling ram’s horns that stuck over the altar. It looked down and had an opened mouth.
Yes, it was evil. No one was allowed to screw with it or touch it (even though Damian pulled out the sledge and was ready to start whacking). There was something about burning tongue, horns and Sifian sword. Hmm. We did note that according to Damian the altar was evil, but the statue head above it was not part of the altar. The mouth was looked at – was hollow and emptyish. The party was expecting it to fire off flames and no one wanted to step in front on it.
Eventually Zoltan decided to climb the wall NEXT to it and climb ONTOP of the statue head, both of his feet on the bald head, his hands braced on the ceiling. He stepped on one horn, it went down 9 inches and then back up. Nothing. He did the other, same thing. Suggestions came out rapid fire. He tried both and nothing happened- but he DID feel something click in the wall against his back! Ah ha! There was something back there...but how?
Then the group went back (at Soren’s suggestion) to pouring something in the statue’s mouth. A flask of oil was used (Gwyn wanted to take the oil from the altar but decided against it) and then set alight. After it was burning Zoltan then hit both horns – click – and the entire 10’ section of wall slid out to the right, pivoting to reveal a 10’ square room. There was a pair of sickly green glowing circles and pentagrams, a bronze broadsword in the center. Both Detheron and Coruth’tae told us they were warding circles – and from the runes were protection from LAW and GOOD.
The group thought about this until Gwyn took out his grapple, sprinkled it with demon’s blood, and dropped it through the circle and over the sword. Then Damian took the rope and pulled the sword free. He took it and Gwyn took his grapple back. As the oil guttered out in the statue’s mouth the wall slid closed and Zoltan jumped down.
We were faced with two ways out, Soren came from the left. The warning said the right was wrong and had walking dead and shouldn’t go there. Ok – we didn’t! Going left we walked some 30’ or so to the door out on the left hand side (Soren verified it), but there was a simple chain and lock on it (which was NOT there before!). Using the key Soren had Zoltan opened the door and then he FELT/HEARD something scrabbling at the wall in the back of the hall. Damn it – the Manes were coming.
We ran into the room, 20’ square, while Damian slammed the door closed and spiked it. There was building equipment down here and in the back, 11’ overhead was a hole that led out to the surface, a metal mining ladder attached to the wall inside. The group reacted fast, half of them using sawhorses and lumber to make a platform and then one on top of it. Zoltan scrambled up and using Gwyn’s grapple and rope, hooked it on the bottom rung and then climbed up and out of the room up the chimney.
Something slammed into the door from outside and we heard clamoring for our souls. Soren was next and the ranger made it his way out. Detheron cast reduce animal on his tiger as Olthar went next. The door was forced open slightly and Coruth’tae shot a lightning bolt down the hall, vaporizing the hording manes. Damian and Gwyn spiked the door again as Detheron was hoisted up and with tiger on shoulders was next out of the room. Arnog helped Gwyn up there and the dwarf was next as the Manes were once more in the hall. There was rock dust falling from the walls and the grey elf went next, scrabbling for safety.
Damian told Arnog to go and the fighter clapped hands on the paladin’s shoulder and climbed up next. The door was shoved in and demonic hands and arms were reaching through. Damian hacked at the limbs with Bruhndi’s sword, the strange blade compelling him briefly to stay and kill more demons. It was his friends calling him and his own will that had him resheathing the sword and making his way out, pulling up the rope and grapple and kicking the stacked sawhorses over.
We made it to the streets and shut the storm drain, sliding both of the pin locks into the grate and thanking our stars for getting out alive. At this time we brought Zoltan up to speed on where we were and what was going on, the highlights of Byfortvile and how we came to be here. We reidentified our goals which were to get with Grix/Yikzarch and arrange to get the way to Dragonhole, make it to the surface, Take out Vanir, take out the rejelling Lycos Suns, Get to Principia and find the unicorn’s head (Detheron’s geas), take down Djohrgahd.
We went to the Raging Horn and rested, awakening later to feeling better and stronger and our equipment cleaned thanks to Coruth’tae’s skills. From here we went to see the Splitskulls and Jarul first since we were very close to them. Our visit went well and Jarul told us that our names have come to Kashtir – and the Duergar Thane might be reacting to them soon. The time to leave the goblin city was coming up. A ship was going to be at the closer western dock that would be “available for the next 12 hours” – this was our chance to get away. We had to take the ship across the Underground Sea westward to the northern tip of the Outsider’s isle where a “slum” was situated – a home to Duergar NOT loyal to Kashtir. From there they would smuggle us across the water again to a gnomish settlement where we would meet someone who would guide us out.
We need the name from Grix/Yikzarch to make this happen and it was next on our list. Before going Jarul was offering to sell us some of the contraband stuff he had – at 2 to 5 times normal price. Zoltan took advantage of it, unfortunately finding some of his ORIGINAL gear up for sale! He had to buy his own stuff again which was a bit disconcerting, but the entire group grabbed food, oil, equipment and we paid for it (most from the diamonds that Zoltan had found on the dead drow he had “stripped” of belongings). And that’s where we ended the meeting, on our way to see Grix and hopefully get out of Byfortvile.