First of all, Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you all have a safe and fun holiday, and many happy returns!
So, I ran this little adventure on Sunday for my players in the "Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil" game I've been running. For those who haven't played that colossus of an adventure, near the end the players have a chance to draw from a Deck of Many Things. Almost immediately, two of the party members drew the Donjon and Void cards. I was afraid for a second that it was going to turn into a total party kill. Luckily the cleric and druid had some restraint drawing cards and only got the enmity of a powerful outsider and -1 to all their saves for the rest of their lives. All of it made me think the deck of many things is secretly the most effective trap ever created.
So, in an attempt to let the party re-unite and finish the adventure I whipped this side adventure up. It's a one-session mini-adventure, written for 12th level characters, in which some party members are escaping from hell and some are coming to their rescue. The encounters are planned for a half-size party (2 characters in each encounter). See the footnote for hints on adapting the adventure for higher or lower level parties.
Setting: The adventure takes place in small fortified manor house on the first plane of hell. The manor is one of the domiciles of Vivarea, a powerful succubus, who has seduced, hired, and subjugated these devils to maintain her hidden villa. The surrounding region is a blasted shale landscape filled with pits of fire and twisted woods where condemned souls writhe in anguish.
Adventure Hooks: This adventure can easily be adapted to involve the rescue of an important NPC or a needed item from the dungeons beneath the manor. As a straightforward dungeon delve with a united party it would be an appropriate adventure for a full party of 8th - 10th level adventurers.
To begin the adventure, simply have the characters find a few magically trapped item that have Azeroth's Snare, a spell similar to trap the soul, cast upon them. These items can be anything that the players would want, such as apparently enchanted magic items. The items in question will have been previously prepared by Azeroth, their trapped nature disguised (maybe via nistul's magic aura), and perhaps had an attraction spell cast upon them to lure in the intended victims.
Trap: hell's lure CR 10; magic device; visual trigger (true seeing); single use; triggers when touched; spell effect (Azeroth's Snare, 17th-level wizard, teleported, without their equipment, to a magic trap at location of caster's choosing, DC 30 Will save negates); Search DC 34; Disable Device DC 34.
Background: The outre story of how my players pissed off a succubus while raiding the Temple of All Consumption... will probably not make the pages of Claw / Claw / Bite ! Email me if you're curious.
Running the Adventure: In order that the halves of the split-up party don't get too bored, and also to increase the tension and build to the final encounter, the encounters should be run in this order:
1) The prisoners are captured.
2) The rescuers find out where they are being held, travel to hell, fight the hellcat encounter.
3) The prisoners slip out of their cell and escape the prison area.
4) The rescuers get to the manor and begin fighting the guards.
5) The prisoners fight their way over the bridge, past the hellhound.
6) The rescuers finish their fight against the guards.
7) The prisoners travel through the living areas up to the entrance to the main hall.
8) The rescuers start fighting the succubus; the prisoners join in after d2 rounds.
1) Encounters for the Prisoners
A - The Devil Mocks Their Every Step (CR 23)
This encounter explains the character's capture: the succubus has contracted with a powerful daemon, named Azeroth, to capture the characters for her, and here she gloats over her success.
This grand hall of dark stone soars up with gothically carved pillars and arches to a high ceiling. A grand iron double door stands shut and barred, and several smaller doors and archways lead to smaller antechambers. A wide stone staircase leads down into the darkness.Creatures: The house's entire contingent of devils is here at this encounter, in case the characters get out of hand. In addition to Vivarea and Asteroth, there is a chain devil, a bearded devil, and a dozen lemurian footmen. Asteroth, a 17th level wizard, has been paid be Vivarea to capture the player's characters, and will use whatever spells he must to subdue the party if the resist their parade to the cells below, such as or power word stun or dominate monster.
You stand in a glowing magic circle in the middle of this hall. Your names are written along the border of the circle, along with many runes you cannot understand. Standing at the ready around the circle are dozens of armed devils of various types, wrapped in hooked chains, bearded with cruel-looking axes, their melted bodies pouring out in globs from their chainmail.
There is an incredibly beautiful woman here, dressed in revealing silk robes and adorned with gem-dripping jewelery of all types. A large pair of leathery wings are folded at her back. She turns and thanks a tall, robed figure, who holds a crystal-topped staff, and who's hood hides in shadow a skeletal dog's head with glowing red eyes. She then addresses you, saying: "Your interference in my families affairs in the mortal world are at an end! Now I will pay you back for my daughter's humiliation! Oh the tortures of the damned lie in wait for you, you wretched things."
The robed figure's fanged, skeletal mouth creaks open and issues forth a single magic word that knocks you to the ground, stunning you. A horde of horrid, melted looking humanoids in mail surge forward and clap you in irons, then drag you, in chains, to dungeons below.
B- Escape! (EL 6)
In this encounter, the prisoners must trick or fight their way out of their cell and the underground prison / torture area where they are being held. They must overcome or evade their guards and the magical ward sealing them in.
This small cell's walls and ceiling are made from large blocks of stone. Through an open archway, its stones covered in strange runes, lies a short hallway and more cells. A small window, filled with thick iron bars, looks out into a large cavern. There, in the dull red glow from distant flames, several racks, iron maidens, braziers with hot coals, and other torture implements are being used by a scaly, bearded devil and several horrible, melted-looking guards. The screams of their victims echo back to you.A DC 10 search check will reveal that the other cells in the hallway have only a single rune carved on the outward facing side.
Creatures: One bearded devil and three lemurian footmen work here tormenting a few anguished damned souls. They keep an eye on the characters, but are busy at their work and take 10s on their spot and listen checks. The bearded devil leaves occasionally, providing an opportunity to try to somehow trick the footmen into releasing the prisoners.
Bearded Devil: HP: 45
Lemurian Footmen (see below): HP: 10, 7, 10
Tactics: If taunted or otherwise engaged these torturers may come to the cells and perhaps stab at the prisoners through the arches (which are warded one-way). When the prisoners escape the guards will rush them and attack with their weapons.
Trap: Lightning ward on cell entrance: This ward prevents anyone from exiting the cell. Anyone trying to pass under the arch will cause the infernal runes carved across its face to flash. The creature will suffer 2d6 points of electricity damage and be thrown back. To pass through this trap, it must be dispelled (8th level caster), disabled by covering the runes (DC 29 Disable Device check), or one can push through it with a Strength check (DC 25), which also causes 4d6 points of electricity damage. From the outside, the ward can be suspended by covering the single rune carved on that side of the arch.
CR 5; spell; spell trigger; automatic reset; spell effect (shocking grasp, 8th-level sorcerer, 2d6 electricity, no save); Search DC 29; Disable Device DC 29.
Treasure: 3 suits of chainmail, 3 spears, a glaive and a shortsword from bearded devil. Also, weapons can be improvised from torture implements.
C - The Dogs of Doom (EL 8 + 10% xp bonus)
Here, the escapees must bypass tricky spot with a hell hound guard on a narrow bridge over a pit of lava and fire.
Here, a narrow bridge of stone stretches across a deep chasm, filled with molten rock and towering tongues of flame. On the far side a smaller cavern is empty, save for stone stairs leading upwards.Creatures: 1 nessian hell hound without barding lies in wait here.
Nessian Hell Hound: AC:18 HP: 111
Tactics: The hell hound, with a hide of +17, it will stalk across the bridge and try to attack anyone crossing with surprise. It will probably open up with it's breath weapon if it's opponents are clustered up, otherwise it will bite.
D - The Halls of the Damned
This level of the mansion consists of several underground hallways with small suites and rooms attached. These rooms include the quarters of the chain devil and the bearded devil, as well as the suite Viveria uses when she stays here. If searched, those rooms yield the treasures below, each secured with it's own trap. The majority of the rooms, however, are empty.
Bearded Devil's chambers
Treasure: 57pp 70gp 19cp, and a small masterwork heavy crossbow.
Chain devil's chambers
Treasure: 3 platinum coins, an arcane scroll containing: knock (lvl 2, cast 3), ray of enfeeblement (lvl 1, cast 1), and cat's grace (lvl 2, cast 3), an arcane scroll containing: shocking grasp (lvl 1, cast 1), magic circle against evil (lvl 3, cast 5), and an arcane scroll containing: command undead (lvl 2, cast 3).
Treasure: 4,785gp 4sp 1cp, a gold dragon comb with red garnet eye worth 1.000 gold, a silver chalice with lapis lazuli gems worth 80 gold, a fire opal pendant on a fine gold chain worth 1,100 gold, a black velvet mask with numerous citrines worth 80 gold, and a divine scroll with speak with dead (lvl 3, cast 5).
2) Encounters for the Rescuers
E - Determine Location
The first step of the adventure for the rescuers is to determine where the prisoners are being kept. Options for the rescuers could include the following:
- scying or using divination such as commune or contact other plane
- examining the trapped items via analyse dweomer or identify, combined with a spellcraft check (DC 24) to determine where the trap teleported them to.
F - The Damned
Here the players pass through a small woods, where damed souls, in the form of trees, suffer. These petitioners are helpless, harmless, and horrifying.
The players enter a thicket of uncanny trees. The tree barks have faces etched into them. Upon closer examination, the wood of the trees is squirming with maggots, ants and spiders burrowing in and feasting on their bodies. They stir, and a cacophony of laments soon fills the air as the trees mutter and scream and cry and rant against the crimes that damned them in their mortal lives.
G - Hellcats (EL 9)
Here, a few examples of hell's native fauna attempt to predate the rescuers.
The dessicated landscape is eerily quiet here. Loose shale crunches underfoot. Everything is gray: the sky, the ground, the few skeletal trees that occupy the landscape--all sucked dry of color. A faint smell of rotten flesh permeates the air.Creatures: 2 hellcats HP: 54, 69
Tactics: Listen checks against the hellcat's move silently +20 may be the party's only warning before they are attacked. Invisible, these hellcats will pounce upon the rescuers and fight until brought to less than 20 hit points, at which time they will flee.
H - Legions of Hellions (EL 10)
Here the rescuers must fight waves of guards to enter the manor.
Glistening walls of dark grey stone rise to protect the villa. Near the top, the crenelated walls slope inward slightly, perhaps to provide some cover from aerial attacks. Directly ahead of the players stands the black ironwood gates. Lemurian footmen stalk among the battlements. Though these Lemurians have a modicum of intellect, they still behave with nervous tics and gibber to themselves about their fiendish thoughts.Creatures: There are several groups of footmen through the compound, and as the party fights their way in they should encounter several waves of the footmen, and then finally the chain devil, in the locations listed below. All the lemurian footmen have HP:9.
6 lemurian footmen guarding the gate
2 lemurian footmen reinforce right away from the gate towers
4 lemurian footmen from the circular tower as the players pass it
4 lemurian footmen are stationed in the courtyard
4 lemurian footmen reinforce from the kennels
4 lemurian footmen wait at the house entrance with the chain devil (HP: 55)
Tactics: The footmen are quite stupid, and will simply charge the players with their spears. If the end up surrounding a player or two, they may try to grapple them and bear them down under their numbers. If the footmen are slowing the rescuers, the chain devil may try to disarm them, otherwise he simply attacks. All fight to the death.
3) Encounter for the Party Reunited (EL 14)
In this encounter the characters all confront the Succubus Boss in the middle of the lair - in the main hall of the manor. The encounter should start with the rescuers coming into the hall, and the escapees should join the encounter after a round or two from the stairs below.
This grand hall of dark stone soars up with gothically carved pillars and arches to a high ceiling. A grand iron double door gives access to the courtyard beyond, and several smaller doors and archways lead to smaller antechambers. A wide stone staircase leads down into the darkness.Creatures: Here Vivarea will make a final stand against the party. Every round or two a pair of lemurian footmen will join the fray, for a total of six.
Vivirith succubus sorcerer 8 (see below)
6 lemurian footmen: HP 9 each
Tactics: The succubus will begin by casting a hot fire shield, and then retreating from the party, using her greater teleport if necessary, and hurling fireballs and lightning bolts while the Lemurian Footmen harass the party. If she is somehow cornered, she will cast shield and vympyric touch. If seriously hurt she will attempt to teleport to safety, to plot against the party for another day.
Lemurian footman (CR 1)
Lawful Evil Medium Outsider (Evil, Extraplanar, Lawful)
Environment: A lawful evil-aligned plane
Organization: Solitary, pair, gang (3-5), swarm (6-15), or mob (10-40)
Armor Class: 19 (+5 armor, +4 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 19
Hit Dice: 2d8 (9 hp)
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3
Speed: 15 ft. (3 squares)
Attack: Claw +2 (1d4) or spear +2 (1d8)
Full Attack: 2 claws +2 (1d4) or spear +2 (1d8)
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/+2
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/good or silver, darkvision 60 ft., immunity to fire and poison, mindless, resistance to acid 10 and cold 10, see in darkness
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 5, Wis 11, Cha 5
Possessions: chain mail, spear
A lemure is about 5 feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds.
Lemures are typically mindless, but these souls have clawed their way up through the ranks of devils a half-rung, and have gained simple minds.
Lemurian footmen are simple combatants, lurching forward and attacking with their claws or whatever weapons they may have been given.
A lemure’s natural weapons, as well as any weapons it wields, are treated as evil-aligned and lawful-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Vivarea, Succubus Sorcerer (CR 14)
Chaotic Evil Medium Outsider (Chaotic, Extraplanar, Evil), Sorcerer 8
Armor Class: 24 * (+1 Dex, +9 natural, +4 armor), touch 11, flat-footed 19
Hit Dice: 6d8 + 8d4 + 14 (65 hp)
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +13
* includes Mage Armor
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares), fly 50 ft. (average)
Attack: Claw +11 melee (1d6+1)
Full Attack: 2 claws +11 melee (1d6+1)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Base Attack/Grapple: +10/+11
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Persuasive, Still Spell, Spell Focus (Enchantment)
Special Attacks: Energy drain, spell-like abilities, summon demon
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 10/cold iron or good, darkvision 60 ft., immunity to electricity and poison, resistance to acid 10, cold 10, and fire 10, spell resistance 18, telepathy 100 ft., tongues
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 28
Skills: Bluff +28, Concentration +18, Craft (jewelery) +7, Craft (traps) +7, Diplomacy +13, Disguise +17* (+19 acting), Escape Artist +10, Hide +10, Intimidate +20, Knowledge (arcana) +12, (the planes) +11, Listen +19, Move Silently +10, Search +12, Spellcraft +11, Spot +19, Survival +2 (+4 following tracks), Use Rope +1 (+3 with bindings)
Spells Available: (DC 19 + spell level, +1 for enchantment)
1st (9): mage armor, shield, magic missile,
2nd (8): scorching ray, invisibility, mirror image,
3rd (7): fireball, lightning bolt, vampyric touch
4th (5): fire shield
Adapting the Adventure
To adapt this adventure for parties of higher or lower level, not much needs to be changed. Add or subtract levels of sorcerer from the succubus so that she is 2 CR higher then the average party level.
All area descriptions copyright 2007 Unicorn Rampant Publishing