I always have to remind myself to run D&D combats like a movie scene rather than as a dice-rolling exhibition. I wanted to start this one off with a massive battle that would unfold in stages. We're in the Blood War, so I want to make sure we have plenty of mass combats.
The group is with the devil army, who have arrived at Thanatos, the layer of the Abyss that is full of undeath. I decided that a roaming horde of the undead would attack the devils.
Undead Monsters: I busted out Open Grave, a 4e book that is overloaded with great ideas that I have never been able to squeeze into a campaign. I picked out some monsters:
- Putrescent Zombie: These zombie seep necrotic energy and explode in a burst of necrotic energy when slain.
- Zombie Throng: This is a swarm of zombies that pulls you down and does what zombies do.
- Void Lich: I wanted a lich variant. I'll talk about this more in a second.
- Tombstone Golem: A golem made of tombstones! Come on, how awesome is that?
4e Stat Blocks: I wanted to use liches, but I hate looking up all those spells. In 4e, the monsters just had a few spell-like powers, and that's it. It's much easier to prepare! I don't think 5e should stop giving monsters spells that you have to look up, but I love 4e stat blocks. They save so much time.
Monsters I Couldn't Fit: I really wanted to use a brain in a jar, but it just didn't fit. I'll save it for a future session!
Next Campaign: The group is 13th level and we're nearing the end of the campaign. The heroes are now on Thanatos, home of the big villain, Lamashtu. Once she's slain (or whatever happens), we'll jump into my version of the Codex of Infinite Planes adventure and then wrap it up with Faction War.
My plan for the next campaign is to run a Spelljammer campaign where the group will quest for the Rod of Seven Parts. I'll try to run most of the official Spelljammer adventures, although some of them are pretty goofy/craptastic.
I'll work in the bad guys and material from the Rod of Seven Parts boxed set. Throughout the campaign, the group will be plagued by the Queen of Chaos and her spyder-fiends.
Jessie said her new character would probably be a spellcaster. George wasn't sure what he'd make, yet.
I'm going to work their Spelljammer characters into this campaign to get them up and running, and bump them up to 3rd level. I think I'm going to have the group pick one Planescape NPC to be a member of their crew in Spelljammer, to provide a little continuity.
(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Elf Wizard
(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Elf Wizard
The heroes had led the devils through the Abyssal Undersump and they had arrived in Thanatos. In my campaign, Orcus is dead. Lamashtu, the Pathfinder demon lord "mother of monsters" has taken it over.
The army emerged right by Golmin Thur, City of Liches. A lich approached them, spoke with them, and then took the pit fiend general of the devils to meet with the "Lich King".
Vestige: Bidam has a pact with the vestige of Orcus. He can see wispy agents of Orcus called visages. Orcus is expecting Bidam to die and be reborn as a devourer, a powerful undead abomination. Bidam saw a vestige go into the city.
Moments later, a hooded figure emerged from the city of liches. He was big and strode boldly in the direction of the devils.
The group was extremely paranoid! I kept asking them how close they let him get. The answer: "35 feet."
This was Eravamont Glask, a member of the Dustman faction. The Dustmen bring dead bodies to the Mortuary in Sigil and they look forward to "True Death".
Dusshhhhtmen: This guy was an excuse for me to do my terrible Sean Connery impression. Eravamont is gregarious and friendly, a jolly fellow who slaps you on the back. The group liked him.
He's a guide. In the books, it says that the Dustmen guides of Thanatos charge 4,000 gp per person to guide people through Thanatos. He started counting the devils, realizing he'd be rich!
He realized that he was in the presence of Bidam and Theran, the heroes of Sigil who had destroyed the Wand of Orcus and killed the demon lord for good. He warned them to keep that under their hat.
|Void Lich 4e Stat Block|
For the Horde: Then the zombie horde showed up. Hundreds of zombies were accompanied by hovering black blots of darkness (flying void liches with darkness auras).
Dozens of tombstones toward the devils flew in a cluster. The tombstones slowly, harmlessly flew into the midst of the devils and hovered at varying heights.
The group had no idea what to make of this.
The void liches fired off void tendril spells, basically Evard's black tentacles. Many of the devils were ensnared. The group was able to avoid them.
Because of the darkness auras, Theran couldn't target the void liches with a lot of his spells. He started dropping fireballs on them.
Bidam ran forward. A void lich flew down and enveloped him in darkness. For a few rounds, the lich would "life tap" Bidam (10 necrotic damage) and then teleport 10 feet back (bonus action), so that Bidam was still in the darkness but could not figure out where it was.
Bidam was really stymied by this. Eventually, he started swinging blindly and chopped it to pieces.
Phylactery: When slain, the darkness aura vanishes and the lich falls into a heap of bones. Then, the bones become shadowy wisps and fade away. The void lich is reborn by its phylactery d10 days later.
Eravamont Glask tried to impress Theran. He used a turn undead ability to force all zombies within 60 feet to "take a breather" for a minute. Then he tried to turn more. The group was very impressed.
Zombie Throng: While Theran kept backing further and further into the ranks of the devils as he fired off spells, a zombie throng came for Bidam. They grabbed him and pulled him down, but he sliced through them with the sword of sharpness. After a few rounds, they exploded (putrescent zombies).
Theran watched as the hovering tombstones started swirling. They coalesced and formed a 20-foot-tall Tombstone golem! The group crapped their pants. The golem launched three tombstones a ranged attacks, one of which struck Theran.
Theran cast disintegrate, vaporizing a number of tombstones in its abdomen. It held out an arm and launched over a dozen tombstones at him. They crashed into the ground around him, trapping Theran in a cube of tombstones.
Bidam charged, braving a number of pathetic zombie opportunity attacks (+3 to hit, 4 damage - halved due to the armor of invulnerability) and climbed up the body of the golem.
Bidam stood on its shoulders. The "head" of this thing was a stone sphere crackling with necrotic energy. Tombstones orbited it swiftly, making for a sort of protective aura.
Weak Spot: I knew Jessie would look for a weak spot on this thing - that's the head. I put the weak spot in partly so that if the battle was dragging, the group could just hit the head and we could move on.
It wasn't dragging, though. Bidam destroyed some of the orbiting tombstones and tried to move closer to the head, but he was struck by a swirling tombstone and fell all the way to the ground. He rolled a one on his dexterity save! He landed right in the middle of a zombie throng.
Back in the cube, Theran used a spell to blow a hole in the cube so that he could target the golem. A putrescent zombie climbed in and fell. Eravamont Glask appeared in the window and fired off an ice bolt that destroyed it, but also made it explode (putrescent zombie), damaging Theran. Theran was less than thrilled.
Eravamont stayed in the window, blocking Theran's view, and talked to him about spells in a bad Sean Connery voice. He said things like, "Have you ever heard of the shpell, shpirtchual weaponsh?"
Theran politely asked him to get out of the way and hit the golem with a barrage of magic missiles.
Bidam was lying on the ground. Looking up, he could see a ring of zombies looking down at him, and past them he saw the massive tombstone golem towering above all.
Lasers: Because my campaign is stupid, Bidam can shoot laser beams of positive energy out of his weiner twice per session. So, lying there, he whipped it out and opened fire. He rolled a natural 19.
The head exploded! The tombstone golem fell apart and tombstones came falling all around Bidam. He made his Dex save and side-rolled his way to safety while the zombies were crushed and exploded in bursts of necrotic energy.
At that point, the battle was halted. The pit fiend and the Lich king had emerged from the city. The lich ordered the remaining horde to leave. They did.
The Lich King: This lich king is a floating skull with gem eyes and diamond teeth. He is Acererak, the demilich from the Tomb of Horrors adventures!
Acererak is also a servant of Orcus. Like Bidam, he made a pact with the vestige of Orcus/Tenebrous in the Amber Temple of Barovia. Acererak can also see the vestiges.
Acererak spoke telepathically to Bidam, and asked him if he had brought the Orcusword. The group went: "Uh Oh."
The heroes went into the city with the pit fiend, Eravamont and their buddy, Bovina the cow lady (who spent the battle on her nightmare in a sphere of darkness fighting a void lich).
The city is seemingly abandoned. There are tall towers with minarets. This is where the liches live and keep their phylacteries.
The Tomb: I have a goofball campaign. Acererak is famous for his deathtrap dungeon known as the Tomb of Horrors. He may have more tombs like this spread throughout the planes.
His lair in the city of liches is known as.. The Tomb of Minor Inconveniences. Acererak delighted in watching the group deal with his diabolical traps:
- Green Devil Face: Eravamont stuck his hand in a green devil face mounted on a door. It was full of sticky, tar-like goo! It was a pain to clean off and even when he did, you could sort of smell it.
- Misty Archway: Bidam entered an archway full of mist. He failed his Con save. The mist made him sneeze one time!
- Pit Traps: Theran had to traverse a hallway. He flew through it (he has a flying throne now, taken from their traitorous heresy devil minion). Acererak was most impressed! This hallway was pull of one-inch-deep pit traps in which you could very possibly stub your toe! Truly a minor inconvenience!
The heroes met with Acererak and looked at a map of Thanatos. They learned a lot:
These liches were once mortals who failed Orcus. He turned them into liches, collectively known as "The Disgraced". They hated him and are glad to team up with the devils.
Mother of Monsters: Lamashtu rules this layer, but she's having trouble taking over all of the cities of Thanatos. This is a realm of death, and her whole thing is that she brings monsters to life. The entire layer is resisting her. Apparently, she doesn't even have complete control of Everlost, the palace of Orcus with all of these insane mazes.
Baphomet: Lamashtu and Baphomet, demon lord of minotaurs, have an intimate relationship. This is right out of a pathfinder book.
There is a portal to Baphomet's realm in the Valley of the Crypt Things. This is right out of a D&D book! It all fits together, it's awesome.
The group will need to find a way to shut down that portal. If they don't, once Baphomet finds out the devils are here, he'll send his horde of minotaurs through and the army will likely be overwhelmed.
That is how I am going to work Wrath of the Righteous Book 5: The Ivory Labyrinth, into this campaign. The group will actually adventure through Baphomet's realm.
The closest city to Golmin Thur, city of liches, is an abandoned city called Vadrain. It's perfect for the devils to base themselves out of.
To get there, the army will have to march across the Plains of Hunger, a vast area full of massive hordes of zombies and undead like the one they fought.
The next step is to get as many more devil soldiers through the Abyssal Undersump as they can, and then march to Vadrian. Gathering these troops would take days, maybe weeks.
That means the group can go home! Eravamont Glask said, "Sho... can I come, too?" Sure!
Theran busted out his jar of Lord Stillborn, and the heroes, Bovine and the Dustman appeared in Skyshrine, Theran's flying castle.
Then we did a bunch of downtime stuff:
Theran's Castle: Theran found out that a few bloodseep demons had gotten up to the castle and attacked. The residents alu-fiends, a succubus nurse and an old giant who sits in a sauna) have repelled them so far.
Ultimately, Theran decided to move the castle. He'd found a control orb a few sessions ago. He moved the castle to another section of Barogund.
Allagash: The demons had made ten more NEPHROPICS! Demon crustaceans! My favorite.
I have this idea for Blibdolpoolp to try to take the nephropics a her servants, but I don't have it all worked out. Blibdolpoolp amuses me because she's literally a naked lady wit a lobster head (here's her NSFW wiki).
Burningwater, 9th layer of the Abyss: The heroes dropped the Nephropics in the ocean and talked a bit with Korb, the three-headed spider demon who served Cabiri long ago. He again mentioned he wanted to break Cabiri out of the Wells of Darkness.
Deadbook Square: Theran went to Sigil and Selinza, his apprentice, pointed out that his sphere of annihilation could be easily stolen. The heroes still don't have magical protection on their buildings, despite the fact that they have been attacked by a fire demon and a simulacrum of Iggwilv. Theran decided to move the sphere to Skyshrine. You have to make a roll to bring a sphere through a portal - he succeeded.
Now it's in Skyshrine, which actually makes it easier for Iggwilv to obtain it.
|Vordiklot Krapple, Corruption Devil|
Miss Sigil: The next day, it was time for the Miss Sigil contest! Each owner of a Festhall could enter one of their most beautiful and talented workers in a competition. It was mostly an excuse for jokes and fun names like "Areola Muffington" and "Gentle Fae Softhands".
This thing was put together by a corruption devil named Vordiklot Krapple, who is new in town. He owns a festhall and he clearly has it out for the group.
When the group's employee/contestant went on stage, an assassin devil tried to kill her. The heroes were very quick to act and able to stop it.
At that point, the event ended (a drow named Arakna Dis'charj won) in chaos and the group was going to tail Vordiklot, but there was a ruckus. A harmonium guard told the group something had happened at Deadbook Square.
It turns out that while the heroes were at this Miss Sigil thing, three assassin devils had invisibly entered the group's main festhall and killed everyone inside.
The group vowed revenge on Vordiklot! We'll tackle that next week.