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Vanguard of Insanity
Author: Erin Willow
System: D&D Planescape
Requirements: 7-8 PCs between levels 11-14.
A New Cult, an Ancient Abomination, and sacrifices in Sigil…all ingredients for a Quest across the Planes to stop a Mad Power from escaping its Eternal Prison. An Adventure Campaign for Planescape/D&D 3rd Edition.
This Campaign was a long time in finishing-kept getting interrupted by different things so I could only go about it a few pages at a time. One can only hope that benefited the final product in the Imagination Department. I’ve tried my best here to combine the elements of Planescape with the new 3rd Edition format; though I was writing it with the traditional mindset of the Factions in Mind, it could also work for anyone wanting to run a Post Faction War Campaign, with the Vanguard being but one of the new Elements that emerges in a changed Sigil.
I apologize for not having any Maps at the present time to go along with the adventure; though most of what is presented is fairly straight forward if a little weird at times in layout of the adventure. At any rate it would have taken heaven knows how many to lay out everything if I wanted exacting detail; My guess is that anyone who latches on to this idea will probably change/remove/add their own little sparks of creativity to fit their preferences so making a few Maps won’t be a major pain.
Vanguard of Insanity = Sect numbering between 2000 and 4000 members in and outside Sigil, most members being “Hidden Renegades” of 3 factions-Bleakers, Sinkers, and the Anarchists. It owes its Origins to an Ex-Factol of the Bleak Cabal, Aranali (Pl/ Male Drow/ Wizard-Priest/ V.I. /CN), who decades ago entered into the Grim Retreat and then, in a bizarre manner, embraced it and managed to function with his Insanity, to the point he was able to escape from the Mad Bleaker Wing, screaming that he “Had seen it! I’ve seen it!” while running through the streets.
What Aranali had claimed to see was the mysterious being scholars of Ancient Arcane knowledge refer to as ‘The Elder Elemental God”. Since that day Aranali has carefully and secretly grown his sect, with a number of core ideas:
Insanity is the actual state of existence-it was the Prime Source from which the first ‘Foulers’ (early Gods) struggled into existence, and it is the End Goal of the Multiverse. The Insane transcend simple beliefs that are always incapable of explaining the functioning of the Planes-only the irrational mind can be one with this existence.
“The Elder” was the most original and purest creation of the Prime Source, before being banished by the Creator Gods; yet even they could not truly curb its Power. It is the Primal Destructive Force of Change, sweeping away the Old for the New. It is the sects Ultimate Goal to raise its Power in Sigil (or elsewhere if necessary), to “Blast through the Doors of the City, and then smother the Laws of Order and Perception across the Planes.” Destruction and Rebirth are central to understanding existence; stasis is unnatural and Law impossible to maintain in any fashion over the long run, except in the form of an Eye for an Eye. Anything around long enough to be seen as the “Established Order” usually deserves to die.
The Elder is the “True Chaos”-on Limbo elements might change in a moment from one to the other as they mix in the soup; but under the influence of the Elder the very NATURE of the Elements changes. Water explodes or swirls around like a gentle breeze; the Earth drips and swirls in ‘pools’, or bleeds; Fire wets the face or forms unbreakable walls; Air burns the skin or thick as hardened dirt stalls all-As it was in the Beginning. As erratic as the Base elements act, matter made from their components can only be more unpredictable, as are the Minds existing under such an influence. Paradoxically, though a force of Chaos, the Elder’s “True Chaos” allows for a randomness of behavior that occasionally must incorporate Law and even fraternity, if only within the Cult itself-thus its ability to maintain secrecy and loyalty amongst the thoughts of such unstable personalitys.
The Elder goes by many names-The Elder Elemental God, Primal Chaos; on some worlds the being Ghaunadar is seen as one of his aspects; on others the grotesque God of Slaughter Erythnul is seen as an aspect, or it is an aspect of Erythnul. It is rumored that Juiblex the Slime Lord and Blibdoolpoolp the Sea Mother (among others) are its Children by the foulest of Creations. Some members of the Cult believe all of this, others that the being is not even a God but a force of existence without a name, or at least not a Pronounceable one. The Elder does nothing to clear up this confusion, and one would believe it is Its nature to actually revel in it.
IT is among other things a God of Outcasts, Rogues and Rebels, as it has itself been an outcast, rogue and rebelled. Those that fall under its SweetSong of Madness are those already alienated, particularly from their own Gods or Society-Yuanti or Trogs who are turned away by the slumber of their Gods; Orcs and Half-Orcs who see the flaws in their One-Eyed Lord; Drow (particularly males) who weary at the often unrewarding nature of their culture and religion; Derro embarassed by the haplessness of their Insane God, and seeking a Mad Lord of Greater Possibilities. On and on the list of Outsiders grows, and it is joined to other beings, most ancient and foul, who were with the Elder at the beginning (or near at any rate). Members of the Vanguard of Insanity are but a small portion of the Elder’s followers, but are a Key central focus for breaking through the DemiPlane of Confusion that haunts and taunts Its form and freeing its force upon the Multiverse again.
For many Bleakers (‘specially those of a Nasty bent) the New Sect spoke to their belief in a Meaningless existence. Members of the Doomguard (especially Fast Sinkers) were immediately drawn by the reverence for Destruction and Decay, and its promise of wreaking havoc across the Planes. A few Anarchists saw the Cult as a chance to truly strike at the Heart of the Factions, crippling their hold over Sigil. Members of other Factions occasionally were brought in, but only after it was certain that they could have their old allegiances erased to serve the Greater Cause; it is said allegiance is further strengthened through powerful Magic and Rites that further plunge a Member’s mind into Oneness with its God.
Those in the Vanguard quickly learn to reject their Past Faction allegiances. Former Bleakers, instead of having to come to grips with a world that makes no sense, now rejoice in the Insanity and instability that are destined to rule for eternity. Former Doomguard members reject the Nihilism of worshiping only Decay-Decay is but one Part of Change and Destruction goes hand in hand with the Birth of the New and the Contrary. Former Anarchists now reject the simplicity of freedom for the individual-individuals must be mutable themselves, free from the bounds of whatever rationality drives their actions and constantly altering their ideas, as was the intent of the Elder-Thought as varying as the Elements themselves.
Those in the Vanguard gain certain Sect abilities according to their level. 2nd Level Vanguard members gain the ability to Know Madness/Disillusionment-in essence allowing them to know from a look those who share the Sect’s key traits of instability and/or dissatisfaction with their lot, group, beliefs, etc. This ability accounts for how the Sect is able to recruit with so much success yet so little noise about it. At 6th Level members of the Vanguard gain an ability known as Blood Endurance-this is a mental state achievable once per day, in which the Vanguard member embraces the pain and damage of a particular wound inflicted upon it and fights through as if the damage had not been done with no loss of hit points-until after a break in conflict when the Vanguard has time to acknowledge the wound. At 10th Level, those Sect members with the ability to cast spells may attempt to Transmit Insanity as per the 7th Level Sorcerer/Wizard spell.
The Sect keeps a low profile in Sigil, most of its members still maintaining earlier faction allegiances, as long as they can keep their secret life hidden. Mostly Rogues and Fighters stay in the City of Doors; the Rogues are always looking to steal something, whether from the Armory or the Hall of Records or (for certain Black Rites) the Mortuary. The Warriors are usually among the more active members of the Sinkers and Anarchists, the kind that like to plan ambushes of MercyKillers and Hardheads (Who are also the unfortunate sacrifices in many Secret Rites).
Aranali himself and most of the intellectuals (Wizards and Priests) dwell in a Pandemonium stronghold that is Dark even to most members of the Cult. Occassionally one of the Priests makes his way back to Sigil to lead in ‘Ceremonies’. The official meeting place changes from time to time-it is rumored that the Priests know how to create Portals themselves when they need to, or at least know the Dark about Hidden Doors.
Aranali is nominal leader of the sect, but the balance of Power is quite complex, especially considering some of the basic philosophy of the vanguard. Aranali is a general Elemental Priest as well as a Wizard, and focuses on general worship of Destruction and Confusion. Specialty Priests on the Elemental Planes tend to run their own affairs, however, as they believe the Elder would want them. In addition the Fighters, Rogues and Barbarians of the outfit often act out their “Own Forms” of worship, in the form of slaughtering forces of Order or Looting some Sacred Monument on a whim. Aranali generally takes this lack of centralization in stride, so long as it does not compromise the forces of the Vanguard as a whole.
No matter their particular vantage within the Vanguard, all members are encouraged to learn the History of their Elder, to better understand its purpose. This is a tricky proposition, since many of the Religions that worshiped the Elder in the most ancient of times had their Light snuffed out when he was completely imprisoned by Illusions on his Demiplane, and their History is often recorded by the forces that defeated these groups. Careful editing is a must:
Revelations of the Rock by Sarog of Axana-written between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago by Sarog, the most noted (and one of the few known) Pech scholars. Sarog was a Gifted Worker of the Earth who is still revered as something approaching a Demigod by many Pech communities, who tell legends of the wondrous structures and Art he created from the Rock (The most talented Sculptors and Inventors of a Pech community to this day are often referred to by the titular “The Sarogian so-and-so” as a recognition of their talents). Sarog is believed to have battled Evil Elemental Priests of Earth serving an Insane god of Destruction:
“All Creation was once a Chaos of diverse seeds, mingling and detaching in disorder. It was at once a Roaring Fire of Infinite Heat, a Whirlpool of exhausting length, Gale Winds of uncountable speeds, and clashing bodies of a Force echoing through all known existence. All rushed together in a confused chorus, not yet distinguishable form one another, in Manners poorly understood by Mortal thoughts. There was but One Mind, and it reveled in Never-Ending Destruction. But soon other minds emerged from the raging forces, giving order to the primeval seeds, sorting the elements into specific spheres, and guiding each towards the development of organic forms..and the Elder raged at them in their efforts, and only their United Front could yet imprison his Mind, for Prime Destruction itself can never be destroyed.….”
The Emanation of Typhoeus by Hesiod-Hesiod was an Ancient Greek scribe who recorded an even more Ancient tale several 1000 years ago. One of the Titans, in sordid ways not understood managed to merge with the Plane of Carceri itself and gave birth to a monstrosity of unequaled size and horror, said to be infused with the very Insanity of the Elder, a rage of immolation and hatred unchecked that roared into Arborea:
“It is said to have risen to a size rivaling Mount Olympus itself, and bent with a rage brought forth by the momentarily unfurled voice of the Elder, attacked all with equal cruelty. The Ancients called it the Dragon, though unlike any of those kind in so many ways. From its shoulders a hundred snake heads grew, flickering dark tongues; fire blazed from its eyes under the brows of those dread heads. Its terrible voices emitted a cacophony of amazing sounds, at times calling out like a bellowing bull, or an echoing hiss, or the roar of the savage lion, or a booming human voice that shook the foundations of Arborea. As it rose up the Planes groaned and tremors rocked that were felt even in distant Hades and Carceri. Mighty Zeus lifted up the Weapons of his Rule, and with Thunder and Lightning blasted the marvelous heads of the Beast. When sufficiently flogged with blows, the Gods hurled the maimed abomination deep into the Layer, and a vast conflagration burned wood and melted tin and iron through much of Arborea. Some say it fell back to father Carceri, others that its body rests under the Sands of Pelion. It is said that the beast’s breath creates the most Chaotic Winds of the Outer Planes, arising from nothing to create havoc and death in the Skies and Oceans of the Ring.”
Alliances of the Vanguard-It is known that the Vanguard has many unusual relations across the Planes. From the Slime Pits in the Abyss to Underground Oceans of Pandemonium, many Ancient and Loathsome beings, some not even recorded in Any Previous History, join the Vanguard in worship of the Elder and aid in Its attempted Restoration. Woe to the Intrepid Souls who fall into their Sickening clutches….
The Vision-A Death in Sigil
The Party is called to Sigil by a Vision one of the PC’s has of the death of a relative, a young Harmonium patrolman named Brostal. In the Vision the PC views a horrifying scene of flesh being torn asunder in a dark room, amidst screaming and the same recurring image-a Blood Red inverted Y inside a Black, Metallic Triangle. The Party agrees to go with their friend to see if the Vision is a True One.
They arrive in the City during Anti-Peak hours; the Portal they have taken places them in the Lower Ward streets. They are passing through the Alley just in time to see the “dumping” of a body in the streets by a large, brutish looking individual-in a cloak with symbolic inscription like that observed in the Vision.
Osh Urgo (Ogre, 12th Level Barbarian) performs much of the shady dumping for the cult. Hiding out in Sigil from the Powers that be in the Glooms, this work is whats available for the jink being paid-and most won’t question the likes of him if they see a body tossed to the curb at a Dark and Misty hour.
Osh will fight to the Death if challenged or even questioned by the party; he knows enough now about the Nature of the Cult to never consider turning IT against him. If the characters kill Osh, a search of his person will provide a few coins, bloody mementos from the preening of past dead bodies, and an old parchment concerning Osh’s associates:
“All things are One in the end. Motion and Change are unreal, phantasms and spectres of our untrustworthy senses. The Freed mind sees beyond Order and Chaos, Good and Evil-they are but aspects of the indivisible, Indissoluble Unity, the TRUTH of the Multiverse, THE GOD of this existence. Those that came to follow tired to exile its Memory; but though he struggles against the bounds of his Prison of Illusions, this Creation is still the Elder’s, and subject to the eventual destruction that is its nature. All that is now shall fade and be replaced in time.”
If the Party wishes to know, they an go to the Hall of Records to find out about Zephen for a few jink-they will learn that he lived about 3000 years ago, and that his sentiments were an odd mishmash of what today would be considered Dustmen and Guvner ideals-though Zephen believed one must rid their person of passion and Hope, he also felt one must understand the Nature of this world before transcending it and becoming one with the True Dead. In this manner, the Vanguard has taken his words out of context.
By the end of the battle with Osh Urgo, a Harmonium Patrol will have arrived on the scene. They will know Osh as a troublemaker and not mind witnessing his demise, but will still want to know what precipitated the encounter. If the Party explains why they have come,the patrol will escort the Party to Blood Curdle, a rundown alehouse in the midst of the Hive in Sigil where the investigation is proceeding under the direction of Harmonium Factotum Relisan. There the Party member will be able to confirm the death of his relative is Real.
PC’s will witness most residents of the area acting tight-lipped towards the Harmonium, not saying anything although three bodies were found not 30 feet away during peak hours. Relisan will fill the Party in on what he knows-there is a New Cult growing in the City, supposedly with ties to the Lower Planes and venerating an Ancient Being. Up to this point, most Harmonium efforts to ferret out further information have met with failure.
As the party is leaving, a tiefling woman will slip a note into one of the Party member’s hands. The note will be directions to a modest apartment in the Disbeliever’s Hostel, not far from the Shattered Temple; and it will expressly state NOT to involve the Harmonium in the matter.
If the PC’s choose to travel to the place, they are hurried into the room by an obviously nervous individual, who introduces himself as Jeula. He is two weeks removed from having fled the Cult, which he states goes by the name the Vanguard of Insanity. He will give the Party a short history of his involvement-what he knows of its Origin, its beliefs, and what he knows of its Plans (being a fighter grunt, Jeula will explain that he and his friends were mostly left “Out of the ring” about the Vanguard’s headquarters or its plans) He will report that he has helped in certain Rites when a “priest” arrives in the City. And he knows where and when the next Rite is to occur-a special, hidden underground complex beneath Blood Curdle. He insists on the Party not involving the Harmonium-their movements would surely alert the Cult and allow for members to escape.
At Blood Curdle, the Party receives stares when it enters following Jeula-he Owner makes a half-hearted attempt to stop them when they go behind the Bar to a door in the back-a Hidden Trap Door in the floor of the next room allows the Party to travel into a musty, foul-smelling tunnel. About 200 feet away they reach a chamber-and witness the beginning of another sacrifice.
There are two small and 6 normal sized individuals standing in the room dressed in dark robes. The normal sized individuals are 6th-Level fighters, 3 Human and 3 Half-Orc.
The two smaller are Derro Savants (Sorcerers)-One 10th level and his 7th Level assistant (In the Elder’s religion either a Sorcerer or a Cleric may perform Rites-as there are fewer practicioners of Divine Magic amongst the still young cult, Sorcerer/Wizards take up many of their functions). A chained MercyKiller is atop the Altar ready to be cut into, and the PC’s can hear the conversation of the Derro and his captive as they approach:
“How shall we serve you up tonight?”
“(weak and timid) wha’ do you mean?”
How shall your body be offered up? For where you start is the aspect you must celebrate. If we offer up your hands, which work the earth for so many bloods, then the Earth we celebrate; if the Heart then we celebrate Fire, for it burns when lit by passion---you’re a ‘Killer so I guess you have a passion for some things,eh?
(Another Voice)”Yeah, fer beatin’ mutts in the street and Xaositects in the Lady’s Ward!,” and laughter erupts through the room
“I don’t wanna serve up any part.”
“What you wish, what any of us WISH is besides the point. The elements, the spirits and all their facets residing in us-they are whats doin’ the wishin’. And now they wish to rejoin their Elder.”
By this time the Cultists will have noticed the party (if the party hasn’t acted already)and immediately attack, the Fighters advancing while the Derro cast spells. Behind them and against the wall is a Portal, glimmering a Horrid Red. The Vanguard will fight to the Death.
Should the Party win, they will find the MercyKiller to be to be too drugged and near catatonic to provide useful information. Jeula will have limited information on the Portal-only that it leads to an Evil place, and that the Party should dress in the robes of the Vanguard-those that passed through without them had a habit of not returning.
The Slime Pits
Upon passing through the Portal the Party will find itself atop a mountain-sort of. This is OozeMount, an earthy peak rising out of the Vast Sea of Slime that is this portion of Juiblex’ Layer. Individual Oozes and Slimes will be upon the mountain and slide up to “sniff out” the characters, but something about the smell of the Robes will send them on their way (assuming the party took Jeula’s advice). The slime and sludge of the layer is of varying sentience and often caustic, though residents seem to adapt-a school of Aboleth can be seen swimming off in the distance. The putrid and Steamy skyline contains flapping horrors dripping in filth, aberrations of the abyssal bats with horrid, bleeding infections-they are often in battle with the Nalfeshnee over the choking skies. They are on a small path upon the Mount and can immediately see where it leads-even if they don’t know what the Hell it IS that its leading too.
What it leads to is Pneumuglug, which is both a place and a Being. It is an Enormous Gelatinous sphere, some 2 miles in Diameter that oozes and floats along the Sea of Sludge. Its top half is floating above the sealine and is anchored to the Mount, and the characters can clearly see the trafficking of beings into and out of its numerous membranes as they approach-including the one which the path reaches.
Characters approaching Pneumuglug will not be harassed; they are familiar with the Robes and many know the “Legend” of Juiblex creation from the sickly touch of the Elder; whether they believe it or not, there is obviously some relationship between the Tanar’ri Lord and whatever Ancient Being the Cult was serving, and orders were to let it conduct its business. Approaching characters will see a variety of Slimes, Jellies, Gelatinous Cubes, Aboleth and other foul beings coming and going through the Membrane on their errands. But the Oozes generally keep a safe distance if they can-they are the unfortunate prey of Pneumuglug, and all it really digests.
Entrance into Pneumuglug is a generally safe if somewhat traumatic experience for Humanoids; Its inner fluids are breathable as in an airy water spell, though their flow into the lungs and sickly sweet taste can cause some momentary retching for most first timers. After a few minutes their bodies will adjust to the light liquid and movement will be close to normal-and characters will also find they can direct their thoughts through the liquid towards other Party members, since sound doesn’t travel well. There is a fairly large “lobby” at each of Pneumuglug’s membranes-these are places where certain Abyssians come to chitchat telepathically and engage in social/commercial ventures. Sentient Slimes and Puddings will often engage in Ooze-Meld to form direct intellectual sharing; members of the Diseased, a subsect of the Vanguard that revels in the infectious aspects of destruction (and usually have some sort of infection themselves) sell putrified potions of rare bacterias as well as burning acid strains for tough_too_dissolve materials. Pneumuglug contains numerous passageways and smaller rooms though only large Central Chamber. Passing through the “halls” of Pneumuglug PC’s will see Nucleolus, Mitochondria and Vacuoles through the Opaque walls, as well as the free-floating remains of those beings foolish enough to attack the usually placid Pneumuglug.
After a few rounds characters will run into an intelligent jelly which telepathically states “Please come this way gentleman, you are expected.” They will be led down a corridor to the central room of Pneumuglug. It has a diameter of about 400 feet, with seating/relaxing areas set up in a stadium fashion, though it is now practically empty. At the central stage however there are beings taking in a meeting of sorts. In the very center of the Stage there is a Large, Open Portal of Brownish coloration. Among those present:
1 Aboleth with 8 Skum servants
1 Intelligent Black Pudding
1 Intelligent Jelly
1 Giant (Double HD) Intelligent Gelatinous Cube
3 6th Level members of the Vanguard
The members of the Vanguard are actually 2, a Cleric and a Rogue-the 3rd is a Phasm shape changed into the form of a Fighter, quietly gathering information about the cult for its own interests but also acting loyal all the while. Of the three forms of Ooze, all have limited Clerical ability in One domain-The Ochre Jelly can cast the first 3 spells of the Chaos Domain at 6th Level(Protection from Law, Shatter, Magic Circle against Law); The Cube can cast the first 4 spells of the Trickery Domain at 8th Level (Change Self, Invisibility, Non-Detection, Confusion); and the Pudding can cast the first 5 spells of the Anti-Healing Domain at 10th Level (Cause Light-Moderate-Serious-Critical Wounds, Harming Circle). The Party is gestured to by one of the Vanguard to come over and join the general group.
The Aboleth will immediately begin telepathic discussion of a threat to the Elder’s return:
“It was written by the Dragon Zylicon some dozen millenia ago, that in the beginning there was but Chronepsis, the Grand Dragon of Time, Fate, Death and Judgement-and few if any others. There were no Gods as we now know them; even the great Io of the Dragons themselves was but a figment of a notion. The Small Black Dragon created from the void Necessity, and from them were born our Elder Chaos, Night and Golden Eros-glorious Elder was the supreme creation, the vital force of the material, unbounded by law and the limited mind of those who followed. Our glorious Elder tried with his might to rage forth and control all that was his truly his creation, but Eros bore the first of the lineages of Gods, who slowly ordered Creation and through their petty Illusions and Spectres imprisoned him in the Demiplane of Confusion, whose exits are fleeting and taunt our God. And yet even through this Plane we feel our Elder, in every day of our lives we feel the freedom of his thoughts, ahh yes in the Killings we feel his essence run through us as children of the Beginning. If we shall free our Elder, only Chronepsis has the Seal by which to imprison him again, through his Ancient Magics. This we shall not allow to happen.”
After this speech there is much chatter amongst the members, discussing plans for “Our Lords arrival in Sigil”, there beliefs about how the Elder will cause a physical Meltdown of the Outer Planes, and other fun topics. Mixed in will be general banter-Vanguard/Diseased members will try to offer sludge grubs for consumption by the PC’s (The Aboleth and Pudding are already woofing them down). Finally at one point the Cube will turn toward the Party and state simply “We will discuss the timetable documents now” Forming a strange Eye from its Gelatinous surface it will peer at them and state again “Where are they?”
At this point the gig is probably up. The documents were supposed to be brought by the Derro Savant, but were not on there person at the time of the fight-they are still somewhere in Sigil. The Party does have several choices-it can try to stall the Elder’s followers, it can choose to fight now or it can try to make its way to the Portal (trying to escape through the way they came, with a mad chase through a large populated area, is ill-advised). The paranoia of the followers makes stalling dangerous, plus there is the possibility of others arriving during the stall. A fight can be dangerous, the Portal might lead them to who knows where.
If the PCs choose to fight, they will not be interrupted by any other Pits residents until the fight is over, by which time the commotion will have brought much of the populace to the stadium and force the Party to take the Portal or be overwhelmed. If they flee here they will be unscathed, but count it as an extra encounter with Vanguard members each time the Party returns to Sigil (Since the Brain Trust here will still be alive to coordinate efforts at stopping them).
The Grand Mausoleum
The steps of the Grand Mausoleum of Chronepsis is where the Party finds itself. The building is an impressive jewel of the Outlands-a long Incline leads to an enormous building, its face 5 miles long and at a height of another 3 miles(this is actually just the tip of the iceberg-it extends for dozens of miles beneath the surface as well). Its central entrance is a 200 foot tall chiseled Dragon’s Head, flanked on either side by rows of columns of tited dragon bodies and two large circular sculptures of long, wiry dragons biting their tails, a symbol of the Circle of Time.
Inside the building one notices several things-first the uncountable number of Hourglasses, of various shapes and sizes ranging from a few inches tall to 100s of feet, filled with sands in Reds and Yellows, Silvers and Golds, every spectrum of DragonKind). These Hourglasses count out the lives of all the Dragons and members of Dragonkind that live and have ever lived, since the beginning of time. There are great statues of Dragons, including the Enormous One that extends from the front of the building to the back-this depicts Io, lord of all DragonKind, who seems like a sentinel peering over all the Hourglasses. Throughout the Mausoleum there are epic sculptures and paintings depicting Dragons fighting Giants, Baatezu, Tanar’ri, Aasimon, even Gods. The opponent is of little importance-this is after all a place celebrating Dragon Civilization in all its incarnations.
Polished Mirrors with Ornate fringes decorate the Mausoleum; every now and then the surface of a mirror will glisten and turn into a viewscreen of the Prime Material Plane, where either the Birth or Death of a Dragon at that exact moment can be seen by those peering in.
Many different DragonKin wander the Halls of the Mausoleum, many are petitioners from other Planes on a mission to the Outlands of one sort or another, here to pay homage to the Draconic Deity of Death. Many of the truly great Wyrms remember meeting him at the time of their death, his spirit flying with them on their journey to their Plane of choice. Though not worshiped, Chronepsis is respected by all.
After a short time of wandering, the party will be greeted from a mysterious voice:
“You have done well to come this far..but do you really desire the burden that awaits you? You might very well join the DeadBook if you persist.”
If the Party says they are up for whatever awaits, the Voice answers “How would I know that you are the ones to be entrusted with the Urn of the Elements? Will you be willing to fight the madness that awaits to the very end, berks, or will you be broken by the Madness itself? You see I can’t simply trust you without Proof, that you will battle the Elder to the very brink of your own Lives!”
A Doorway in a nearby Wall Opens, and an Adult Red Dragon charges at the party. This is a part of the Test-the Red will not fight to the Death but only until ¼ of its Hitpoint Total is left before disappearing. Likewise it will not try to kill the characters-any successful attack can never reduce the PC’s hp total to lower than 0 (Loss of Consciousness). This is simply a test of the Party’s determination to see things through.
Upon completion of the test, a small, spritely looking figure in garments of Red and Gold will walk out of the doorway as the Red Dragon disappears. In his hands he holds an Urn colored in White, Red, Brown and Blue Spiral Stripes along its body. He states:
“The Planes of the Elements are Immune to the Elder in these times-their material purity is anathema to IT, and it cannot persist in such states of Elemental Uniformity. That is why it seeks Sigil-by escaping Confusion and conquering the City of Doors, it can launch across the Great Ring-and then slowly corrupt the Inner Planes from the outside. We cannot turn the Great Ring into the Elemental Planes, but we can use a special part of the Planes as a Seal which he cannot breach.”
“I give you the Urn-in trust that you will give your blood to the completion of this errand, in the name of Balance. Follow the Urns lead-it has performed this Duty before in the Ancient Times-it knows of its Purpose. I, Zulnod, Servant of the Dragon of Time, implore you to make haste-already forces are conspiring against you.”
With that the figure walks away-as it walks off it slowly grows and metamorphoses, its body growing longer and longer in the huge hall-until it is a scaly, Red and Gold Dragon of Grandeur and Immense (200 feet) size.
The Urn urgently begins to tug on the Player holding it-towards a Portal leading back to Sigil.
Sigil’s Beast of Blood
Once back in Sigil the Urn will continue to direct the Party-pulling it towards a Tavern in the Hive known as the Bottle and Jug. The “tug” on the player holding it is strong but not overwhelming-if the characters wish to take care of further business in Sigil before heeding its pull they may, but this will increase the chances of a Vanguard encounter, and the longer they delay, the more trying the encounter will become. Once they make their way to the Bottle and Jug they will feel the Urn pulling them towards the back-an area that is generally restricted for privileged customers and those the Owner, Hoxun, knows. The Party is likely to meet some resistance from the Ysgardian Trolls that work as Hoxun’s hired help/bouncers as well as some of the loyal regulars (which include a number of nasty Lower Planes denizens, in attendance). The Party must decide whether to try to muscle through or bargain/talk their way in the direction the Urn desires.
The Urn is pulling the Party towards a back room in the Bottle and Jug that holds a Portal Chamber-a Great Arch Cluster that can take the Party to any of the Four Elemental Planes. To reach the room, the Party must first travel through the Tavern’s ‘Boxing Arena’, a large chamber with circular pit, 50 feet wide and twenty feet deep in the middle. As the Party passes through the room, the Bottom of the Pit has spurts of Red liquid that suddenly burst forth, shooting like geysers in 4 or 5 different locations in the pit, and quickly filling it with the substance-Blood, so hot as to burn those unprotected if touched. From this pool 3 Large Hydra heads and 3 tentacles shoot forth to attack all in the back room.
This is a manifestation of the growing power of the Cults influence and rites-and it is but the first. The characters may choose to fight the Thing in the Pit, but every three rounds another head and another tentacle will burst forth from the BloodSoup, to a maximum of 12 each at any time, regardless of how many the Party and other tavern-goers slay. And all the while they will be feeling the persistent pull of the Urn, urging them towards the back room, through a Portal to the Elemental Plane of Air
Priests of the Elements
Though the Elder cannot enter through the Inner Planes himself, his Cult is at work on the Four Major Planes, foully corrupting their nature through corrupted representatives of the Planes themselves. These small parties of saboteurs are lead by representative Priests of the Elements. These Priests, though of varying forms have some things in Common. They may all cast spells of the first 5 Levels in 5 Cleric Domains-Chaos, Death, Destruction, Evil, and their chosen Element (Air, Earth, Fire, or Water). They Cast these spells as 12th Level Clerics. In addition, each may have memorized 1 Sorcerer/Wizard Spell of 6th Level or Lower that relates to their element (Ex. Flesh to Stone for Earth). It should be noted that none of these beings is an Elemental, nor does the Cult have many friends among the Elementals, even those of like Alignments-The Elder Elemental Gods History and Goals are completely in contrast with Elemental purity, and most Elementals would fight to defeat them. The followers of Elder on the Elemental Planes work secretly to pollute the nature of the Plane they are on-only now, with the direct threat the Party represents, are they willing to wage a direct offensive.
The Party may wish to ask for assistance from Elementals they encounter, either in materials, or weapons or healing. Elementals may offer a badly injured player a Cure wounds spell or replace a damaged weapon, but the Party should not be made to feel welcome for a Long stay. Elementals are always uncomfortable with the Non-Natives, and will see interaction as a necessary alliance, lasting only to accomplish what is needed. They will do their part and then want to show the Party the doorway.
Between a ‘Hawk and a Hard Place
The Party arrives in a section of the Elemental Plane of Air that in numerous ways seems to be breaking down. The air has a rotting death smell to it, winds blow with an ungodly shrieking sound, and members of the Party need to cough every few moments due to something blowing on the gales. At times, for a moment it will seem like a portion of the air is solidifying in space in front of them-at other times the wind feels like Heavy Rain beating on their faces, or a rush of Heat from the furnace. There are far more Elemental Pockets than normal, and the weather can go from clear to a strange amalgam of snow, lightning and dust at a moments notice. And then, the Maelstrom forms near them.
It is at this point that the Arrowhawks will appear, 5 in all-an Elder and 4 Adults. The Elder is the “Priest” of this Plane and has been responsible for the rites that have fouled what was once a placid region-the local Elementals are on the lookout for the culprit and would kill it immediately. The Arrowhawks will attack, the Elder casting spells while the adults use their electricity rays and try to use their maneuvrability to an advantage amongst all the obstacles. If possible, they will try to knock the party into either a dangerous pocket or the nearby maelstrom. The adults are conditioned to fight to the death-if they are finished off, the Elder ArrowHawk will way its options and flee if the situation is untenable.
The Party will again feel the pull of the Urn after the battle, towards more balmy conditions of the Plane-reaching a Large cloudbank surrounding an Island of solid Air, with a beautiful garden of wispy shapes mimicking blowing flowers and trees, if in an abstract manner, in the Open Court. Friendly Air Mephits will be floating down the paths, and a Silver Dragon lazily sleeps in a relatively small, slow turning funnel. The Party will suddenly realize it is being accompanied by Elemental servants towards the Center of the Island, where a Powerful Whirlwind blows. They will be led to a certain distance before one of the Elementals takes on a Humanoid-form, and signals the Party Member holding the Urn to open it, and Hold it towards the blowing wind.
The Whirlwind is Nici-Icin, a fairly Powerful Archomental of Lawful persuasion, and an Old one at that. It will recognize the Urn from tales it has heard of the Origin of the Planes, and will blow a puff of Pure Air directly inside of the object. The humanoid formed Elemental will then beckon for the Party to follow-if they do, it will lead them to a warmed, somewhat smoky region of Air, next to a Portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire.
Flames of Discontent
The Urn will direct the Party through to a portion of another Plane that is being slowly ravaged. Through the Protection and Powers of the Urn, the Party will be immune to the Normal Heat and Flames of the Plane, if they are not already protected. They will find, however, that the flames themselves are not behaving normally. Many have segregated themselves into solid, intense balls of matter, others seem to rush past and ‘splash’ against surfaces like running water. Steam, Smoke and Crusted magma are far more prevalent than usual-many Party members will think they are seeing Skulls and Death Heads in the Flames that are present. At times, it almost seems like the flames have a Chill Touch, if only for a moment.
This is the work of Shalazan, a Rogue Noble Salamander and Priest to the Elder on this Plane. Shalazan is typical of Salamanders and of other Elder worshippers-resentful of being a second class citizen to the Fire Elementals and others on the Plane, it seeks to destroy the Old order by any means necessary-without much thought as to the consequences of its Insane actions. Shalazan is aided by 4 Regular Salamanders; they will attempt to engage the Party with Spear attacks and constriction while Shalazan works his Magic. Shalazan will fight until his followers are defeated and he is near death before fleeing behind a curtain of roaring flames.
After the confrontation the Party will be led by the Urn to a Large Castle of Flowing Lava. In the court they will spy studious Azer busily working Iron and other metals into useful machines, while Magmins scurry underfoot, usually getting in the way. Two large pillars of Flame acknowledge the Party and direct it towards the center of the Keep, towards a Ball burning with White Heat, almost blinding in its radiance as it is searing in its presence. This is Czoorrr, a Local Lord of the Elementals. As the Players open the Urn, Czoorrr will spit forth a Pure Ball of Fire straight into it, and then radiate forth a wave of Heat, as if to acknowledge the Party’s service.
Not Far from the Castle, near a pool of Hardened Lava, sits the Portal to the Plane of Earth…
From the Rock Itself
The Party will arrive at an Open Cavern in the Rock, and notice that the stones seem to be dripping down, or even swirling in place. The Earth is loose in some places, in others it seems to part for the traveler, and then willfully block his path from returning back. Mudpools bubble throughout the complex, and individual Gems seem to alter shape and substance on a whim.
Borsh, the Elder Xorn responsible for the mess, is watching the party from the beginning, along with his helpers-- two regular Xorn and two Umber Hulks. The ‘Hulks have carefully constructed camouflaged pits and wait for the Party to make a misstep before attacking (using their Tremorsense to be alert to the position). They will try to Confuse those who first fall in with their gaze, and then grapple with others. The Xorn will materialize from the Walls/Floors to attack those closest-Borsh will use his Flesh to Stone first before going to his Priest knowledge, while the others engage in biting/claw attacks.
Should the encounter go favorably for the Party, the Urn will lead them to an Enormous Nearby cavern in the Rock. Earth Mephits and Stone Giants go about their business in the Ring-like Burg that circles the edges of the Cavern. Pech Artisans and Quarry-masters work the rock, employing young-trained Delvers and other Stone-Eaters to work the Earth. Further in towards the Center of the Cavern lies a huge Pillar, stretching miles from the floor of the Cavern to the ceiling and almost 3 miles in diameter. The Pillar is Holy Ground for the Elementals-inside it is a Rare and Ancient Stone type known only from this region in all the Multiverse; it is said that touching it while in a trance-like state allows one a chance to Commune with Grumbar, the ruler of the Plane. The dozen Elementals at the Gate to the Pillar will not allow the Party inside, but will rather gesture for them to sit and open the Urn. Suddenly, a large face will appear in the Pillar of Rock-Orobog, the Archomental “Priest” of this Holy Site. From its Gaping Maw a torrent of stones will fall downwards into the Urn, and then the face will disappear as suddenly as it appeared.
One of the Huge Earth Elementals will direct the Party to a small lake of muddy water-over it runs a bridge from one end to the other-in the Center is a Portal leading to their final stop on the Inner Planes-the Elemental Plane of Water.
Through The Murky Depths
The region of the Plane of Water they arrive in is in some ways reminiscent of the Party’s time in Pneumuglug-the Water is often Airy and seems to rush past visitors-at least when it isn’t settling in hard, wet clumps. Other areas are almost close to a boil-the adventurers must be careful, for the Urn can only offer assistance against the Natural conditions of the Elemental Planes (Fire Resistance in Fire, Water Breathing in Water, etc…)-there is nothing natural about the boiling, or the renegade Ice Flows a few meters away, or the muckiness. Most of the Fish and other lifeforms are not around this localized pollution anymore.
The Aboleth Priest Tu’Liman-Aat is here though, along with 2 of its adult children and 6 5HD Skum Warriors. Like many renegade Aboleth, Tu’Liman-Aat came to the Elder’s Cult through the Slime Lord Juiblex, whom many of the less Orderly Aboleth worship rather than the Blood Queen goddess of their more traditional fellows. The Aboleth will be swimming on the outer edges of the disturbance they have created, and using their Psionics disciplines to create the illusion that they are ordinary marine life (Orcas) and that the Skum are Mermen before launching an attack. The younger Aboleth will attempt to transform Party members with their tentacles and possibly enslave them, while the Aboleth Priest casts Spells and the Skum attack with conventional Tridents.
A few miles from the disturbance, the party will be led to a strange underwater habitation of rotating coral rings, habitations for Tritons, Mermen, Locathah, Water Mephits and perhaps a dozen other beings, engaging in commercial traffic and alliances against the Planes more deadly opponents, ranging from Sharks to Dragon Turtles, from Kraken to Kuo-Toan raiders. The Coral Rings rotate around a great Water Vortex near which free ranging Water Elementals enjoy the strong currents. The Vortex is Quishia, an Archomental Queen-her Water Elemental servants will direct the Party to open the Urn once more, for a jet of pure water from their Queen to rush inside. The Party will then notice the Queen rotate an open end of the Vortex towards them. Inside they will see a Glowing Portal, which in this case leads to a path back to Sigil….
Evacuation-And a New Strategy
The Party will arrive back in Sigil at the Public Baths in the Lady’s Ward…emerging into the street they will find that there is some commotion going on. Members of the Harmonium who are trying to keep a watch out for trouble will immediately approach the Party, recognizing the description of the individuals who passed through the Portal at Blood Curdle. If the character’s ask, they will hear a wide array of stories-that members of a Cult fled the city to avoid the Lady’s wrath, that the dabus are acting strangely, and that numerous ghastly occurences have taken place throughout the City since their departure, which only ended a few hours ago. They will be brought to Factotum Relisan again-and find out that not all the Cultists escaped. Those who were captured and questioned talked of the bizarre plans of a God of Madness, to breach its Plane into Sigil and burst through all the Doors of the city at once-the Harmonium and briefed Speakers consider these the ravings of the ignorant. Yet Relisan did say that the Cult members who did flee in time were said to be converging at some main Base-though their interrogations have been fruitless in finding out where, for it seems even those captured hadn’t been told yet. If they ask about Jeula, they will find that he is dead-found with hundreds of poisononous stings in his body, though from what noone can say.
The Urn, meanwhile, is once again tugging at its holder, with seemingly greater urgency than before. Something, it seems, is calling it to go back to the Hive-to the GateHouse. Once arriving they will witness a scene of complete chaos; the more rational members of the Bleak Cabal are trying to maintain control against the rioting, committed individuals, who are suddenly in the grips of a Bloodlust to take control of the building. The Party may try to join the fray, but the Urn remains urgent, to the point where the member holding it is almost being dragged forward, through doorways and Processing stations, to a Portal room along the side of the building, its Magenta coloration harboring a certain wickedness and despair….
The Plane of Paranoia
The Party will find itself in Pandemonium, on the Layer of Phlegethon-they are perhaps a mile or two outside the “city limits” of Windglum and can see the Light of the town radiating outward, even in the warm darkness of the Layer. Warm darkness?! The Party will immediately recognize this anomaly (assuming one can guess where they are), for even the least read of ‘em knows they should be freezing their toes off at that moment, especially with the Heat-sapping walls of this Layer. Only the Darkness and Noise of the wind passes them; the chill simply isn’t there, at least not at that moment. They needn’t worry; it will return again within the hour, even as the wind dies down.
What else isn’t there? Well that persistent tug from the Urn for one thing. Up to this point the Urn has known its immediate tasks as ordained for this duty by Chronepsis-go to the Elemental Planes, get the Pure Elements, return to Sigil, seek out where the Elder is-but now that its on Pandemonium it senses the effect of the Elder in different directions, like a faulty compass needle. It doesn’t KNOW where to go now. Its still ready to do its task, but the Party will have to find ol’ Chaos by itself. Also, if the Party is still disguised in the Robes of the Cult they will find that they suddenly dissolve from their bodies and form a sludge at their feet-the robes will only maintain form for the True believers of the Cult in Phlegethon.
The Party will probably want to head over to Windglum to get a sense of where they are; the natives will not be particularly welcoming. Suspicious of outsiders at any rate, they are even more on edge about recent events--the spying of Orc troop movements, large packs of Wolves and Howlers spotted near the town, and the voices of the long dead on the wind (not to mention the weird “weather” conditions). They will be met by a rather large contingent of guards at the city gate, who’ll want to know their business, and have none-to-friendly sneers in their faces if you’re not forthcoming. If they ask (several times) they might hear stories and rumors of strange events, most seeming to be originating from an area in the caves some 80 miles NW, known as the Graveyard. Characters inquiring about strangers in the city will find hear about strange, barmy looking folks , a few of whom have been seen to travel out to that strange region and not return back. There is a river, Winding Bleeder, that runs to the Graveyard and it is rumored beyond to the mythical Splashing Rainbow, a lake whose legend is more ominous than its name. The Party will be advised to take the River Route if they do any traveling that way. They will also be advised to take sturdy lanterns or some other visual aid-when things are behaving normally, it gets awfully dark and windy out that way
The River of the Route
The River will run the course for the rest of the Party’s adventure. It will twist and bend, and occasionally run beneath the PC’s tunnel before rising up into it again, but the River in one form or another will be present the rest of the way. It will be one of the few constants. The pathway of the caves will see both darkness and occasional light, freezing temperatures and fire, Illusions of Cultists, the Elder or others, and strange happenings in general. The elements of the cave can be expected to behave in odd manners-Cavern walls will ripple like waves while the Water is still (even stable enough to walk over); the Floor and and River might suddenly start racing against the character’s movements, sending them tumbling for a few seconds, while the wind grows silent. Voices heard on the air or talking to them from Stalactites and stalagmites. Sudden flashes of Fire and Light spreading illumination for miles around. Strange vegetation growing where it shouldn’t, and temperatures varying by 100 degrees over a few hundred feet of cave. A Random table of strange occurrences might aid to the mood of the trip through the Caves of Phlegethon.
Into the Graveyard
When characters arrive at the region it is easy to see where it gets its name. The cavern is riddled with relics and a few monuments from a bygone era, perhaps millenia ago from the rock formations that have covered some of them. There are bones sticking out of the ground and skulls resting atop one another in small cutouts in the CaveWall. Long-worn and rusted armor and weapons lie half-buried. Even after so much time, the chill of death remains imminent. Seeing the scene through lantern light
And then they will hear the noises. Around a mile into the Graveyard they will spy their first accursed oddity-a campfire somehow blazing in the freezing gales, and the sight of skeletons, ghasts and shadows, perhaps 30-40 in all, dancing around it and singing/grunting a chant:
“Winds shall Splash, Waters will Burn,
Fires shall Clash, the Earth will Churn,
Mounts and Pits, Wings feather and leather,
Shall all be razed ‘til one, Together
When the Mad One comes home,
When the Elder comes home.
“Manacles of the mind are undone,
Flames like Ice, Snow as the Sun,
Beliefs as Hands, once played discarded,
And Sanity is not well-regarded,
When the Mad One comes home,
When the Elder comes home.
They will continue to sing and dance even if the PCs approach. If the Party decides to attack, the Undead will respond but at -2 on AC and to hit, since they will still be trying to dance and sing while grappling/clawing at the Party. Should the Party successfully defeat all the Undead, they will hear the same maddening song on the echoes of the wind, coming from a source a mile away. The singing and dancing will go on, regardless of the Party actions, for the next 2 hours before the ghasts and company vanish.
Other sights in the Graveyard include a Death Knight that seems to be building something-if the characters approach they will see that it is trying to put the skeleton of a long dead warrior back together again with natural glues and magic. Once together, the Death Knight will begin hacking it to pieces again, and then start the process anew. It will ignore the Party unless they for some reason interfere with its attack on its “fighting companion”. If asked questions it will give barmy responses about a war long ago, fought for reasons it can’t even recall.
The Crypt: Friends through Death
The Caverns of the Graveyard will narrow on the river route over the next few miles until it forms a tight passageway against the left side of the River, 5 to 10 feet across and 15 feet high. The passage will eventually run smack into a stoneface wall while the river runs under it. Embedded in the wall in front of the Party is a 10 foot high Iron Door-it is locked, though its foundation in the wall has been compromised over time and a combined strength of 50 from the Party can unlodge it. If characters check the river next to them carefully with a light source, they will notice that there is a rail sticking out from the hole in the wall where the river runs, about 3 feet above the currents-the hand/foot rails run the length of the short underground passage (100 feet) and are the means by which the areas denizens avoid the crypt it runs under.
Inside the Crypt, the smell of death and decay fills the air. Lanterns in the corners suddenly flicker on once the PCs enter and they can see the rooms full contents. Old Paintings hang on the walls, valuables are scattered about the room; worms and grubs crawl over some old tomes on a desk in the corner. Old Blood stains are still visible on the floor, and small statues of posed warriors are on several shelves against the wall. On opposite sides of the room two coffins stand against the Wall; on the far side, near the door, a rather lovely Harp stands, as if asking to be played.
A round later the Harp gets its wish; a Shadow appears through the wall and begins to play the strange instrument, offering up a lovely melody. As the Shadow continues, the two coffins will open and from them will emerge a Vampire, Ollos (11th Lvl Wizard) and a large Mohrg (22d12), his murderous Ogre friend from a past life of wicked deeds. They are bound now as they were then-at times when disturbed by one of the Shadows at the Harp they will simply arise and talk, Play Cards, or argue like old times. Upon seeing the intrusion of the Party however, they will attack immediately, though Ollos will assume gaseous form and try to retreat if in imminent danger.
Abomination from another Age
Opening the door from the Crypt, the Party will again find itself in a cavernous tunnel following the river. About a mile ahead of them they will begin to see what appears to be a fountain of flame erupting from the cave floor. As they approach the Party will notice there is not just one, but rather 5 founts-one a fountain of water, one of flame, one of gems, one of air-and one of Pure Darkness, lying directly in the center of the other four. The fountains explode upwards through the cavern roof, and debris is spilling downward in an 80 foot radius around the Dark Fount. The characters will notice something-something LARGE-flying around the perimeter of the Founts, as if reveling in their force.
If they approach within 50 feet of the circle of debris the “something” will swoop down to hover before them in the shadows. It is immense-some 30 feet tall with great wings like a Ray of the Air, beating quickly. 4 tail-like appendages drag along the ground beneath it. In some ways it seems to resemble a huge cloaker or ixitxachitl, and with good reason.
The being is a Iagh’Taul, a great horror of Ancient Origins-before the Elder was bound in its Demiplane the Iagh’Taul glided, swam and burrowed in the time of Chaos-Sages say they were the ancestors of the Cloakers, Ixitxachitl, Varrangoin and other modern day aberrations; the Elder’s imprisonment meant banishment, destruction or hiding in the Shadows and Seas in the Ancient times, to the point where the Iagh’Taul were forgotten by most. As it towers over the Party it studies them; it will use its innate telepathy to query the Party as to what it is doing here as well as on its motives, seeing if they have anything to do with the Vanguard. Its Sense Motive skill will probably give it an idea on this matter already. If the Party tries to bluff it, it will ask them to go back and return with a recently killed body to offer up to Vilp-akf’cho (a name for the Elder from another time) at the Founts. If the Party refuses, the Iagh’Taul will mentally signal 2 Cloakers hiding in the shadows to attack the Party members in the rear, while it launches against the others with its four tentacle weapons.
If the characters should for some reason bring back a recently killed body to the fount, the Iagh’Taul will observe their sacrifice and want it done right-though seeing how it considers most humans and humanoids to be hopelessly clueless anyways will guide them through the ritual if they do it ineptly, and then let them pass. Obviously, and Paladins or Clerics of Good Alignment in the group can expect to be courting disaster if they were to be participating in such an event. (Description of Iagh’Taul at End)
The Lady of the Inn
Continuing onwards down the River, the Party will come to a region where their lantern-light will show unusual plant life-twisted, gnarled and mostly petrified trees, some reaching up to touch the cavern ceiling, appear on both sides of the river. 2 or 3 are “Dreants”, short for Dread Treants, what sylvan and tree folk refer to as malicious Treants with no love for life or the beauty of nature around them, who come here as a punishment for their wickedness.
Right net to the river lies an enormous Treetrunk, some 80 feet in diameter and 20 feet high, rotted and hollowed out and seemingly turned into a makeshift Inn, by the looks of the Doors on opposite sides and a few benches scattered around the base. If they walk inside the unlocked door, Party members will feel the welcoming warmth of heat radiating out of the room from a brick fireplace inside. In the room itself the party will find a beautiful woman reclining on a sofa while two small girls are at play nearby. Upon the PC’s entrance the two small girls will run to their mother, who will ask in a feqarful tone if they are members of the Vanguard “come to take us away”. If the Party answers no, she will be a little relieved, but will still ask them there business. If asked about herself, she will say that she and her children were punished by a Wicked Sorcerer on her Prime world and transported to this place. The woman goes by Larin, and she will be rather affectionate towards the party, offering them a meal of bread and small eel, white crab caught from the River. She will especially latch on to the one she senses is the “leader” and attempt to give him several kisses.
This is all a ruse of course. The woman Larin is a Succubus (12HD) shape-changed into human form, and her two children are female Quicklings (Description at End) who are under a Veil spell to hide their true nature. Larin and the Quicklings were once agents under the control of the Queen of the UnSeelie Court-but the disturbance of the Elder in the Layer freed them from her control. These three aren’t alone-two male Quicklings have been invisible since the beginning-each will attempt to pick pocket a magic item from the PC’s midway through the meal. If caught they will attempt to escape while the “woman and children” again act horrified. If the ruse is ever discovered, Larin and the Quicklings will defend themselves with spells before trying to flee. If the ruse holds up they will ask to travel with the Party to “the nearest town up ahead”-in reality they will attack the Party at its next encounter if they do come along.
A few miles up the River Route, the River begins to expand in width until it suddenly takes a left hand turn in front of the Path. At this point there is a long wooden bridge (about 200 feet) over the River-as well as an established guard, a checkpoint as it were for the small ‘town’ across the bridge. A dozen Ettin are on the bridge, 6 at each end; 2 on the PC’s side of the bridge will have partial concealment in a small guardstation from which to attack with spears. There is also a Large Stone building on the Right with an ominously High door.
The 6 Ettins on this side of the bridge will attack the party immediately; their fellows at the other end will arrive during the 2 rounds later. At the end of the 3rd round the large Door to the Stone Building will suddenly fly open and the Huge Athach (28HD) inside will come running out and start screaming at the Ettins, “Lil ones! Get off the bridge lil ones! Get Away lil ones!” while he swings at them with his club. The Ettins will quickly scatter and the Athach will turn to the Party with one hand out and say “20 gp toll for bridge-crossing, please!”
The Athach, Krunblun, has suffered from a certain psychotic disorder related to his worship of the Elder. It manifests itself as alignment instability-at one moment it sees the Ettins as a ragtag bunch of highwaymen it should knock off the bridge, and at the next it realizes it should just take what it wants from the Party. If the Party refuses to pay, Krunblun will attack and the Ettins (those living) will return as well. If they pay exactly 20gp, Krunblun will allow them to cross exactly halfway across the bridge before chasing after them screaming “Hey, come back ‘ere lil ones!” If the PCs give Krunblun a tip (no matter how small), the Athach will be so overjoyed he will personally escort the Party to the other side of the bridge, and even wave as they continue onwards towards the town…
Organica is a small settlement of perhaps a little over 200 individuals, though these comprise about two dozen different races, none of which accounts for more than 15% of the populace. It was founded ages ago by a barmy Decaton during a Modron March through Pandemonium. Suddenly overcome by innate suspicions and hostility towards Modron society, it began an unhesitating questioning of the endless pursuit of a Lawful and Ordered Multiverse-ultimately the task seemed as pointless as it was endless. And thus it engaged in the rarest of actions for a Modron-Introspection. Something in its mind was innately in sync with the suspicious nature of the Plane, and through this suspicion Omegus made a profound proclamation-the Multiverse is an entity as alive as you or I; and its nature encompasses all alignment beliefs. Were not all Modrons and other beings that clung obsessively to one ethos diseased and imperfect? Was their One-dimensional outlook not to be pitied and scorned? At this moment of truth the Decaton rechristened itself Omegus, and began to worship in earnest a Being which it called Organus, the “Multiverse” itself; it believed that Organus had been speaking to its mind that very day. Seeing unilateral alignment belief as but a shadow existance, Omegus embraced the random practice of all alignment beliefs; after a time of worshiping its “God” it found one day while journeying the caves a strange Orb, which it believed to be a gift from the Multiverse itself-the Orb of Alignment. Touching it, the Orb suddenly glowed red and Omegus found his innate being filled with thoughts of the Infernal-later it glowed a brilliant white and Omegus felt the need to commit a charitable act. Sensing the Orbs Power, Omegus started building a shrine to it-today that Shrine is a great Black Pyramid housing the Orb, towering over the small huts and buildings around it. All who choose to settle permanently in Organica must submit ALWAYS to but one law-communing with the Orb and surrendering of their innate biases to its ever-changing glow.
Omegus (Pl/”Anti-Modron”/Cleric 13/Varying Alignment) is still one of the ruling figures of Organica, though he now shares power with at least two other influential berks-Syramila Ling (Pl/fem Tiefling/Rogue 16/Varying Alignment) and Raufinsel of the Mood (Pl/Glabrezu/Varying Alignment). The three are the loose heads of the ragtag collection of town dwellers, including Vanguard members passing through, those banished or in hiding from various planes, and the strange and barmy who actually seek out the place. The overall attitude and atmosphere of the town depends on the whimsy of the Orb-sometimes it will pick an Alignment for a day, sometimes a month, sometimes a minute. On the occasions when it is constant for a long spell the followers of Organus have actually committed some great acts of kindness/deviltry for which individuals are wanted, whether for an honorary medal or a public execution.
Omegus, Syramila and Raufinsel usually dine together regardless of the days particular beliefs, and the PCs will likely be directed to their Dining Chamber off to the side of the Front Parlor in the Pyramid. How townsfolk will greet the PCs depends-they are unlikely to attack even if their hearts are black, though they could scowl menacingly, or they could smile. The Vanguard and others who follow the Elder keep a truce of sorts with the town-they’ll argue semantics with Omegus when passing through but aren’t entirely sure the “God” behind the Orb isn’t their God, up to its strange ways; nonetheless they see their Divine Madness as being more “Inspired” than Omegus’ randomness, while Omegus feels just the opposite.
The PC’s will be invited to dine by Omegus and Company; this will be an affair of politics and beliefs, and the locals have a way of being quite sarcastic and caustic, even downright belligerent towards others. Omegus and his friends won’t start a fight directly, but they might make offending remarks directed at provoking one-if the PCs are wise they won’t bite-not only are their guests powerful, but other inhabitants of the town include seasoned NPCs, Githzerai and Slaadi, and minor abyssal and infernal characters; things might not go well. If the Party keeps its peace, they might learn information about the Patrols that lie ahead, as well as the sudden recent appearance of a strange Jungle…
Gnoll Patrols will usually consist of 4-6 Gnolls, a 9th Level Fighter leader with 3-5 5th Level troops. Half the time the leaders will be riding Large Dire Wolves (10HD). Gnolls worship the Elder as Erthynul (or at least their conception of Erythnul).
The Dark Jungle
Some 10 miles past Organica, the Party will suddenly encounter something one does not expect in the tunnels of Phlegethon-vegetation, and plenty of it. They have arrived at a region along the River Route known as the Dark Jungle. Scattered throughout the Cavern ceiling of this region are numerous glowing rocks of various colors-the light absorption typical of the tunnel walls on Phlegethon isn’t quite as strong here. Unusual tropical plants growth in the tough earth, requiring a minimal level of light compared to their Prime counterparts-the twisted flora is not natural in a sense the Party is familiar with, and Druids or Rangers casting spells involving nature will find the effects vary, if they work at all. The wind of the tunnels creates constant rustling of leaves and occasional snapping of branches; the plants in general have stronger roots to stay rooted through the stronger breezes. Though the usual gravity of Phlegethon prevails, the sturdiness of the root systems allows for trees and foliage to climb up the walls and even onto the ceiling; how seeds managed to get planted in the ceiling is anyone’s guess, though the chant is the Jungle grew out of the Elder’s whim. The diameter of the cavern is about 1 mile and the Jungle runs for about 25 miles down the river route-but in actuality the Jungle is much larger than this, for once one enters the thick of the plants they will find that they can walk, jump and swing along the branches for many miles from left to right without reaching the side of the cave-another bizarre effect of the Elder’s influence..
Den of Serpents
In the midst of twisted branches, purple flowers and glowing fungi the Party will see a small temple built of wood and constructed on the large, sturdy branches of several trees. The building is circular, with long totems spaced every few feet depicting uglu, malevolent faces and snake heads. It is an open air structure that invites in the Jungle itself-Plants grow upon its floor, centipedes and ants crawl the walls, and numerous snakes slither throughout, including 3 or 4 Vipers. Painted on the floor there is a large black triangle, and in Animal blood an inverted Y inside of it. At the opposite side of the Temple lies what at first looks to be an enormous snake-before it raises its terrible human head.
This is a Temple for Yuan-ti worshippers of the Elder; the Abomination Yuan-ti at the back is Clevercall, a huge 7th Level Cleric leader. The 4 Vipers are Purebloods/Halfbloods using their innate alternate form ability; there are 4 other Yuanti Pureblood/Halfbloods outside the Temple that were using Chameleon Power to watch the party while remaining unnoticed in the twilight. The Yuan-ti will try to use their Aversion Compulsion first on Party members, getting a few to feel sickened and need to distance themselves from the Temple, before attacking the remainder for desecrating their temple.
The Spider Pool
About 2/3 of the way through the Jungle the river suddenly widens to form a small lake underneath the overhanging jungle growth. Looming over the small lake are an intricate series of Spider Webs, large and interconnected to allow their creators quick travel over the water. In the middle of one web, PCs will spy two humans appearing to be cocooned save for their heads, urgently trying to break free from their wrappings and shaking the web. They will call out to the Party for help.
These are actually two Aranea shape-changed into humanoid form, pretending to be trapped on the web. 3 more Aranea and 3 Driders are hidden near the web waiting for the Party’s action. If PCs decide to go out onto the web, the Aranea and Driders will attack-they will first destroy branches holding up portions of the web, plunging any PCs into the lake below while the Aranea on the web quickly web up to the nearest branch above them for safety. The Aranea are 6th level Sorcerers (3HD and natural spell abilities plus 3 character levels) and the Driders are 6th level Clerics.
In the Lake below there are numerous harmless fish species, invertebrates, and one Chuul lurking below the surface, hoping to prey on some hapless humanoids that fall into its lake.
Some miles past the Lake the Jungle begins to thin along the river route, until the Tunnel reaches a 50 foot waterwall at its edge. The footpath next to the river spirals down and around this waterfall-characters will see steam rising from below along this lantern-lit spiral-if they look closely the steam contains the ghastly faces of wracked spirits for a moment, before they fade away.
At the bottom of the waterfall there is a pool of water, dank and covered with algae and other growth. Numerous Toads hop about around the pool, and every so often the frogs bloat up their cheeks and croak forth a small blast of fire that dances around the Lake surface-about half of the surface is alight with these flames, though the frogs jump in the water and seem to swim without ill effect. Many gather around the base of a statue in the center of the pool, some 12 feet tall and in the form of a hideous demon of feminine persuasion.
The River and most of the tunnel seem to disappear in this pool; in fact the river again just runs underground for several hundred feet before popping back up on the opposite side of the small cave entrance, which stands about 40 feet from the pool and is the only way forward.
On each side of the Cave entrance the walls are smooth and show signs of being worked on. On the right side is a mural, featuring various beings gathered around in a circle and bowing before a great, hovering Golden Eye. Should and player look directly into the Golden Eye they must make a saving throw, or else they will suddenly be cast into an illusion, making the surrounding environs look different a la a teleport spell, and their fellow PCs will look to them like Minotaurs for the next three rounds before snapping free of the madness.
On the left side of the Cave entrance a White Crow sits, surveying the Party with a sense of bemusement, if a Crow can be said to have that look. As they approach, it will begin to speak to them:
“If one wishes for aid against perils so dire,
one shall answer my query to gain what one desires.
I shall riddle for a small meal.”
If the party tosses some meal or breadcrumbs to the crow, it will snack for a few seconds before lifting its head and asking its question:
“My Life can be Measured in Hours,
I Serve by being devoured,
Thin I am Quick,
Fat, I am Slow,
And Wind is my Principal Foe.
What Am I?”
The correct answer to the Riddle is A Candle; if one of the Party members has the answer, the Crow will fly up to a little hole high up along the wall and drop down to the Party a few dozen Petals of the rare flower known as Lar’s Firebloom; it will then advice the Party to rub the Petals against their Armor or clothing before flying away-the Firebloom’s composition wreaks havoc on the metabolism of many quickly regenerative creatures, such as Trolls, causing sudden growth of random limbs even without injury and sometimes internally, killing the creature. Trolls will run upon catching a whiff of the stuff within 10 feet of them.
Inside the cave itself leads on for about 100 feet before opening into a large room. Central to the room is a large Altar, covered in blood from recent usage-surrounding the Altar are 4 boiling kettles of foul composition and smell. Dead Rats litter the floor to the point where it is difficult NOT to step on one. On the walls of the roughly circular cave are many painted symbols and more murals-the pictures depict female figures dancing with all sorts of infernal beasts, while the symbols have a heavy Anti Druidic/Life nature-runes and pictograms denouncing nature Deities such as Obad-Hai, Pan and others, as well as the protectors of the Natural World. Against one wall are the dead bodies of former Windglum residents, who apparently took a misstep while lost in the tunnels. Other walls contain shelves with potions and strange instruments.
In the midst of the caves are 3 NightHags, which will either be checking the pots or preparing strange concoctions at an alchemist station towards the back of the room. They will prepare spells while 4 Trolls rush from hidden stations near the door to attack the Party. If coated in the Firebloom they will catch the scent and immediately retreat in a random direction away from the party; if touched by a coated PC they will begin writhing in spasms and pain as a randomly determined limb pops out.
The Night Hags will first try to use one or more of the Spell-like Powers of the Covey (detailed under Hags in Monster Manual) before using general powers or attempting to bite and spread Demon Fever. One will be standing next to a lever controling a portion of sliding floor as well; if a character moves to the right of the cauldron they will be standing over the vented sliding door and Cat Pit, which contains One Large Black Panther (roughly equivalent to a Dire Lion). Kitty will be hungry.
The Hags worship Arad Lilith, a feminine aspect of the Elder (as they see it) that in many legends is considered the Mother of Succubi. They perform sacrifices to this Goddess aspect, and against the forces of Nature-the Eldest of the three Hags, Eltyria, actually believes herself to be compelled by the spirit of Arad Lilith to twist all that is natural or of the world of Men-she has a strong hatred/phobia of natural plant-life and is partly responsible for maintaining the twisted, unnatural aspect of the Dark Jungle. Part of the reason they have chosen Trolls for guards is the Old myth that the Ancient Evil Gods created Trolls to mock the Treants of the natural world.
Once out of the Covey’s abode, the Caves begins to slowly widen again and the river one again bursts from the floor. This area is somewhat open, desolate country in the Caves, inhabited by Large Albino Wolves and other beasts. Chief amongst the ugly abominations in this wind-torn territory is the Murska, which in this portion of the Caves can grow rather large. The most frightening encounter over this territory is with this Huge Beast (HD 14+42) and its local “fan club” . The top predator in this realm, it became something of a ‘Mad’ Murska a few months back after devouring a Vanguard member-in a disoriented state, it killed and ate the two ‘natural’ members of its Murska pack in its state of confusion. The Big Bug has three companions with it now, but they are all Vanguard members in disguise-with Howler and Worg skins draped over themselves, they follow the Murska around on its journeys. Much like the Anarchist Faction, Vanguard members impart upon the Murska an almost Holy mystique-the insects ever-changing form and consciousness is seen as a higher form of existence, in accord with the True Nature of the Elder. Though the Murska long ago lost the memory of the Vanguard it devoured, it still accepts the company of these strange humanoids-for reasons known only to itself.
At present the Murska is in the form of an Albino Wolf of largest size, its skin just beginning to peel off at the limbs and also allowing multi-faceted eyes and mandibles to show through-it is quite bloated looking under the fur. Its 3 companions include a 9th Level Barbarian Orc and 2 6th Level Human Fighters. They are crouched by its side, baying on a prominent hill beside the River. As a Party approaches they will circle down and around the Hill, and attempt to encircle the Party as well, forming a perimeter around them with the river. They are in the mindset of a Hunting Pack, so they will simply allow the Murska to try and grab a Party Member to drag off for feeding. If the fight goes against them and the Murska loses 2/3 or more of its hitpoints, they will break off the attack and all attempt to flee into the darkness…
The Good Ship of “Howler” Prillut
About 20 miles from the Covey’s Abode, the Party will find themselves on the shore of what appears to be a Grand Undersea Lake; footholds in the cave stop at the Sea as the cavern opens up to enormous size. Lanterns are embedded along the walls and ceiling of this shoreline, strong enough to resist the winds that occasionally blow across the waters.
PCs will notice two things. Number one, the Lanterns themselves aren’t providing most of the Light-this seems to come from lights that are in the Ocean itself, bright reds and fluorescent pinks, oranges and light blues-though their sources are mysterious there seem to be hundreds of them.
The second thing they notice is a Sailing Ship along the Western shore and the strange crew engaged in activities around it. This is the Ship and Crew of Captain “Howler” Prillut, and though he is not a member of the Vanguard or follower of the Elder, his eccentricities can be just as bizarre. He and his crew are Kuo-Toans, who ended up hiding out in Pandemonium after some misguided dealings with ‘Loth merchants. They have managed to make a decent life for themselves on Splashing Rainbow, usually traveling the shoreline around the Lake in Prillut’s Ship, the Pincer’s Peril, and stopping at some of the 20 small settlements of different types around the Sea, to take on cargo or passengers for a profitable fee. Prillut is an odd lookin’ fishface; He has rather prominent piscine bumps on his forehead, and is rather tall and bloated looking, even for a Kuo-Toan. He carries a Quarterstaff in his hand, and a broad belt around his waist holds about half a Punching Daggers. He received the nickname Howler from his crew in part for his practice of sticking Howler quills through his Nose and Chin in ornamental fashion, and in part because his love of singing (especially Sea tunes in his native language) is said to have a similar maddening effect as the Howler cry.
Assuming the Party approaches the ship, they will see the Captain in a rather agitated state, blowing his cheeks out like a pufferfish and glowing red in agitation. This was supposed to be a short stop along the route to walk-about and check on the cargo, and now a large Brine Brute (a Shrimp about 15 feet long, with a nasty temper and a Big left claw that can punch like a GreatHammer) has escaped from its pen and is raising havoc along the ship. As Prillut talks to the PCs, crew members will be wrestling with and being knocked on their ‘Toan tails by the Brute for a few rounds, while “Howler” yells at them in agitation every few seconds.
If the Party asks, the Captain will offer them passage aboard the ship, though he’ll want to know a destination-if they mention something about the location of the Vanguard, “Howler” will roll his eyes-hes had run ins with the loons before, and its going to cost extra if they want direct passage. The cost will be 500gp apiece or something equivalent in trade-something the Captain can use. For this they will get passage and also a small vial each-enough Potion of Water Breathing for 3hrs, in case an emergency arises, and to be given back upon successful crossover-if they break or use any vials, its an extra 500gps each.
Once the Party is aboard and the ship sets sail, they will find the Kuo-Toans are a talkative lot. They will hear stories especially about the Captain-stories designed to intimidate as much as to entertain. They’ll tell of the time a few of the Cultists tried to rip off a Golden Stauette in the Captain’s Quarters. Prillut first cut off their fingers, then their nose, ears and lips, and had the cook fry them up and ‘feed them to the Octopi.’ The Captain also gutted another passenger for catching a Quipper Fish from the sea, an Omen of Bad Luck.
The Crew is fond of different activities-below deck there is a game known as Abyssania. It is a five-layered board representing Layers of the Abyss and some of their Rulers/Residents, which are pieces with limits on who they move like in Chess. Depending on the turn and luck of the Dice, certain beings can be killed on certain Layers by other beings, some beings can move between Layers and others can’t, etc-with part of the object being to get an Abyssal Lord in control of a neighboring Plane…The game represents an old myth that Abyssal Rulers must after a few millenia switch or take over new Layers as the inherent Chaos the Plane turns each Layer itself against a Ruler that stays in Power too long. Party members will be invited to play; if they refuse the Kuo-Toans will mutter in their native tongue about the ‘hair-heads’ who are too good to play a friendly game of Abyssania
The Crew also has another (potentially dangerous) game it plays with passengers called Smokeout. It involves one of the Kuo-Toans and a Party member being shut in a small room below deck with 2 pots of brimstone and other flammables, lighting them afire and seeing who can last the longest (One method of playing would have the Kuo-Toan and Player subtract their Wisdom score from the Constitution and then rolling 1d10 for the winner).
Prillut himself will spend much of his time in the Captain’s Quarters. He might strike up a conversation with any Wizards and Sorcerers among the Party and invite them into his Quarters for a meal. Those who join him will find out, surprisingly enough, that Prillut is a brother in the Arcane Arts. He is a 13th Level Wizard/Loremaster (last 7 levels in the 2nd ) with a number of strange tomes ranging from Lore of Carceri to medicinal cures. Prillut likes being Captain well enough but is often lonely for intellectual conversation-it was part of the reason that started him wandering as a Kuo-Toan, and only a few folks here and there on his trips around Splashing Rainbow have much of an education. He’ll cozy up to those in the Party with scholarly backgrounds. Also those who visit can’t help but notice the glass tank against the wall with the Bright Green and Silver Eel resting inside-this is Verilic, Prillut’s familiar. Verilic might be let into the Sea for a few minutes early in the voyage to communicate with local fish and report back to Prillut about any strange goings on.
Attack at Sea
By the midpoint of the voyage of the Pincer’s Peril, the Party and Prillut’s crew will be in for a rude awakening. A Kraken reaches its long arms over the sides of the ship and crushes the deck, breaking the ship in two within 2 rounds. The Kraken and a Dire Shark will attack the Kuo-Toa in the water; the Party, meanwhile, will be face to face with what was causing the lights in the water earlier on. Over 20 strange beings, reminiscent of glowing jellyfish of varying size and four angry eyes on each side of their perimeter will begin to attack the Party. These temporarily Bright Red beings are the LOO PLEBE (Description at end) also known as Scyphions to those familiar with the environs of Splahing Rainbow-these particular Loo Plebe are of an evil bent, and number 2 12HD, 4 9HD and 16 6HD representatives. Those members who have taken their vials will be able to fight back but at a penalty in the watery depths. The Loo Plebe will fight to make all the Party Members unconscious (any roll taking a PC below 0Hp should be treated as 0hp and unconscious); these Loo Plebe wish to carry off and interrogate the Party.
Luckily for the Party in this conflict in which they are likely overmatched, the cavalry will arrive right as the last PCs are knocked out; they will see light of bright gold and white floatiing towards their enemies-these are the Loo Plebe of good alignment who live in Splashing Rainbow, coming in numbers sufficient to vanquish their Elder-worshiping brothers. They will take the Party members in their tentacles and swim them down to their Underwater City.
The Party will awaken to find themselves in a lavish Oxygen-filled glass room surrounded by the Sea overhead. Vents in the floor recycle the air to keep it habitable for Air-breathers. There are fresh meals of Sea Cucumber and Tiger Lobster (striped) being served at a central table by three Asrai (saved from evil fisherfolk who caught them in Arborea to sell to the Hydroloths, before these Loo Plebe capsized their plans). From their Glass Chamber the Party will be able to see an entire Undersea City of Rock, Coral and Crystal all around them. This is the City of Burbleblest, home of the Good Loo Plebe. In the Chamber are four pools-3 small 12 foot diameter pools and a larger 20-foot Pool at the center of the room next to the table. The pools are decorated with roses, wildflowers and brightly colored seaweed on the edges, and in each pool there is one Loo Plebe floating at the surface-3 9HD variety in the smaller pools, and a 15HD Paladial Loo Plebe, Nauhydri, in the center one. Nauhydri will converse telepathically with the Party about their reasons for being in Splashing Rainbow. As an infrequent force of honor operating in Pandemonium, Nauhydri can come across as stern in trying to find out whether he is dealing with typical evil-doers; if the party relates the events and their quest against the strange cult Nauhydri will understand-his scouts have reported on the strange robed humanoids meeting with evil Loo Plebe on the surface. Most non-chaotic neutral/evil Loo Plebe consider the Elder among the most hated of entities, for reasons of personal history-its relation to their Creator Goddess and Abandoner, Blibdoolpoolp. These Loo Plebe are a quality crew of bloods, and can offer services in healing to a certain extent, healing half the parties damage with spells and special balm. It is up to the players to decide if they want to recuperate further by staying in Burbleblest-for each day they wait, there should be a chance the Evil Loo Plebe will send something nasty to sneak into the air chambers and attack them.
Grinrot the Non-Gray
The Party will be guided from their undersea chamber in Burbleblest down a long, air-filled tunnel through the bottom of the sea, finally arriving at an ancient staircase, slime-covered and slippery, winding back up towards the shoreline where the Loo Plebe had seen activity by the Robed Ones. A river re-forms from the sea in these caves, and about two miles in the Party will detect a foul reptilian stench emanating from ahead.
The Party will come to a structure with thick-walls that insulate those inside from the winds of the tunnels. There is one door, unlocked and unguarded, and the stench is stronger here. They will notice a floor littered with bone, iron and steel (most likely taken from Orcs, Bugbears or former Windglum residents). Algae-filled and magically heated immersion pools, ranging from 5 to 10 feet in diameter, appear in 5 or 6 places inside. The most prominent feature of the place is a throne embedded in the very stone of the cave and surrounded by a semicircle of melted bronze. This is GrinRot’s throne, where he is presently holding Court.
Grinrot the Slaadi resides here with Shalash (9th Level Troglodyte Shaman) and 8 other Troglodytes (Fighters of 4-5 level). To say they are devout Elder-watchers is an understatement-they talk incessantly about Father Chaos and debate over when he will arrive in the Plane and what will happen next. When the Party arrives Grinrot will be in the middle of a sermon with the others seated around him. They will notice the Party but make no moves to attack, continuing to listen while Grinrot beckons the Party forward to sit and listen.
Grinrot was born off the Plane of Limbo long ago; he is therefore free from the influences of the Slaadi Lords in restraining his Ultra-Chaotic (and unstable) nature. Many deformities are present in him-An unusually large head, eyes and mouth, four well-muscled Arms, a ring of horns atop his head, extremely thick scales, and what appears to be a hunchback under the ornamental robes he wears (See Monster Manual Pg. 169 for effects of deformities save hunchback). Grinrot has never seen himself as a Slaadi, but rather a “Creative Artist of the Multiverse”. Exotic FacePaint and Tattoos cover the entirety of what would otherwise be drab skin. His followers often refer to him as “the Pantomime”, as he will go into strange silences at times where his only reactions to others will be odd gesticulations and shaking. Shalash isn’t much better in the Sanity department than Grinrot; he has no worries about seeing this little enclave descend into madness as witness to the rebirth of the Elder.
If the Party attacks, then Grinrot and his followers will fight back. If they simply listen, then they will hear a speech regarding Grinrot’s ideas about the Origins of the Multiverse and the “shameful” betrayal of the Elder:
“In the beginning there was the Great Darkness, when all was a dark and formless, an Infinite Abyss. From this came the Source, unknown and unknowable, and energies and magic were unleashed to play upon each other. From this the earliest of realms was created, the Supreme state of Chaos as the elements battled each other; the Elements were infinite and number and infinite in their capacity for diversity, and from their grand gnashing came our Elder, their force of existence. But then those of jealousies and lesser imaginations began ordering the elements and drew their number small-the Chaos Father fought back but was overwhelmed by their great numbers, and yet still would not be vanquished. It is said that the Dragons first created his Prison of Confusion, and they are to be eternally damned and hated for their interference. But even they could not imprison him forever-nature knows its natural state and wishes to spill forth again my children (gesticulating wildly now) and it will my children it will!!!…”
Around this time, Shalash will lean over to a Party Member and whisper in his language, “He can be so long-winded sometimes...you go sneak up and spear him in the back where hes vulnerable, and I’ll make sure my own do nothing,” as he gestures towards the other Trogs. If a player takes Shalash up on his offer he will be in for a Nasty Surprise…one of Grinrot’s many mutations is a Large, Jawed mouth on his back, between his upper and lower shoulder blades. It can reach out 5 feet to bite at a Party member, and it is partially concealed by the tattered vestment of the Vanguard Grinrot wears upon his figure. The other Trogs will take this as a signal to begin fighting (including Shalash). Grinrot has the normal compliment of Spells for a Grey Slaadi, as well as the Transmutation spells Gaseous Form, Transmute Rock to Mud, and Flesh to Stone.
About 3 miles further along the River Route the Party will come along a skirmish. They are likely to hear the clanging of Axes and Swords from miles away carried on the noisy wind. On the one side there will be Bugbear troops fighting under the MorningStar symbol of their God Hruggek-50 regulars plus 5 4th Level Lieutenants and a 6th Level Fighter captain, BoarTusk. On the other side are troops of the Elder fighting under the Red Y in Black Triangle Banner-about 50 Drow and 50 Orc “regulars”, 10 Trolls, 10 5th Level Orc Fighters, 5 6th Level Drow Fighters, and an 8th/8th Level Male Drow Fighter/Wizard.
The Bugbear Lord Hruggek resents the incursion of these new upstarts on “His” Plane (even if on another layer) and has his forces skirmishing with the cultists fairly regularly. In this case they seem to be outnumbered, especially in the Upper Ranks, and a few moments observation of the battle will show the Bugbears at a disadvantage.
If the Party walks into the fray unaligned they will be attacked by both sides. The forces of the Elder will recognize them as outsiders and attack in any case. If they should side with the Bugbears in the battle, however, they will be recognized as “Allies of Hruggek” and even aided towards the end of the battle with individual foes (In this situation, assume that the Drow leader, his 5 immediate Drow underlings and the Trolls turn to fight the Party, while the rest fight the Bugbears). The Bugbears will scatter the regular Elder troops easily (2-3 rounds) and then 2 will come to the aid of any pinned down Party Member. After the battle, BoarTusk will ask the Party its business and then offer to send a Lieutenant of his-Blutog-along with the party. In Part this is to help in the effort to stamp out the Cult, though it also allows the Bugbears a spy to look after the party and make sure they aren’t up to any troublesome business themselves. The Party can either refuse (tactfully one hopes) or accept-should they accept the DM has control of BluTog as an independent agent and should have him act like a Bugbear-aggressive, argumentative, rude etc… That said, Blutog is devout towards his God, and will fight to the end against any opposition the party encounters.
The approach to the Fort known simply as OrcTown leads to a Gate with 3 4th Level Howler handlers-they will call out a question in code form to the Party, expecting a particular answer in return. If it is not forthcoming they will release the Howlers, one for each member of the Party. While the Pc’s deal with the beasts, 2 Orcs will throw spears while the other runs to the Quarters of his Blackguard General.
About 20 Orcs and Half-Orcs of between 4th-6th Level will be present under this large tent just inside the fort, watching some of their mates take on Worgs, Howlers and Winter Wolves, depending on their experience. Alternately, members of the audience will be initiated into the Vanguard through a ritual known as the “Mouth of the Howler”-the initiate is placed within 3 feet of the Howler while other attendees insert their crude earplugs. The Howler lets loose with one of its Bays while the Orc tries to endure its maddening sound and the others hoot with glee. “Mouth of the Howler” is a common ritual among the ‘Muscle’ members of the Cult.
The Party will probably not be noticed if they stay in the shadows of the tent for a few rounds, but once they are, the Orcs will come out of the stands and attack the Party.
About twenty Worgs, Winter Wolves and Howlers are penned here, watched over by a th Level Barbarian and 4 5th Level Fighters. They will release a number of beasts equal to the number of PCs if the Party enters the stables, and then attack the Party themselves.
2 Large Barracks against the Right and Left Walls-will have 2 7th Level and10 4-6th Level Orcs present. The Barracks will consist of simple bedding and the personal affects owned by the individual Orcs.
Outside the door to the Headquarters, a contingent consisting of a 9th Level Lieutenant, a 7th Level Captain and 4 5th Level Troops will have gathered to guard the door. The HeadQuarters is also the residence of the Ruler of Orc-Town, Koschna the Fang. Koschna is a 16th Level Blackguard Fighter (last 8 levels Blackguard). He is known as the Howling Lord by some for the unusual Lycanthropy that has overtaken him-unusual in that he has never been bitten, unusual in that the affliction is rare among Orcs-and unusual in that he is permanently in the form of a Bipedal Hybrid, his strange mixture of Orc and Wolfish features creating a rather intimidating sight. The transformation is seen as the touch of the Elder, , the transformation aspect being Holy to the Vanguard and gaining Koschna great respect and loyalty.
Koschna’s familiar is a Type I Lesser Varrangoin that is a useful aid in the Campaigns he has staged.
Wheel of Chaos
This room is the home of the religious leaders of the Orc community-an 8th Level Priest will be present with 4 5th Level Acolytes, all seated halfway around a large wheel as the Party enters the room. The Priest will ask “Who is the Leader Amongst You,” and the one that answers will be asked to spin the Wheel of Five Faces, representing the 5 Planes of distinct Chaos.
Once the Wheel is spun the Priest will state “It is done, you may leave now”. The Priest and Acolytes will only fight if attacked, and will not answer any questions about the Wheel. Nor will they spin it themselves or force a member of the Party to spin it.
The Wheel of Five faces is a Summoning Wheel-The Player whose PC spins the wheel should role a 10 sided die, and the following will be encountered between the Party leaving Orc Town and their next encounter:
1 or 2-Lillend
3 or 4-Bariaur
5 or 6-Green Slaad
7 or 8-Greater Varrangoin
9 or 0-Bebilith
The Varrangoin and Bebilith are likely to attack the Party once they meet; the Lillend and Bariaur, if the Party explains how they came to arrive here, are likely to join the Party in hopes of finding a way to getting back home. The Slaad is a wild card; it is somewhat likely to attack unless the Party offers a chance for it to get back at the force that brought it here-depending on how persuasive the Party is, the Slaad might grudgingly go forward with them.
As soon as the next encounter is over, any summoned being still alive will automatically be transported back to its Original Plane.
Cave of the Ghauroper
A few miles down along the River route, the cavernous tunnel will begin to constrict again, until the river again dives underground as the Cavern closes in to a small, 7 foot diameter hole in the wallface. Climbing through the characters will be in a separate cave, roughly circular with a height of about 20 feet and some 50 feet across. A strange purple glow emanates from the walls, and here and there bones, minerals and metals cover the floor. In the center of the cave is an odd rock formation-an odd looking stalagmite with four rocky projections shooting out from it in different diections. Upon closer inspection, the characters will find this is know stalagmite at all, but a petrified Roper body-its eye turned to mineral and its strands hard as rock. It is at this point that the characters will begin to notice fact moving objects whipping around them from above in attack. Those who look up will also be disheartened to see a Huge, Menacing Maw gaping open in Hunger.
The Party has stumbled into the Cave of the Ghauroper (Description at End)-or perhaps better put Ghauroper Cave, since the Ghauroper is the Cave in its entirety-floor, ceiling, walls, everything from entrance to exit, which is about 25 feet away from PCs in the center of the room and being blocked by a tentacle. The Ghauroper is a follower of the Ghaunadar aspect of the Elder, and has been magically transformed from its former husk to this entire cave, which is considered Hallowed Ground by the Vanguard. Members of the Cult sometimes bring enemies to be tossed to the being and torn into pieces in a gruesome visual display. The Ghauroper’s 6 tentacles will attempt to constrict around and PCs they hit and bring them up to the Ceiling Maw. The Ghauroper also has spell-like abilities. If destroyed, the glow will cease in the walls and the tentacles (or whats left of them) will petrify instantly.
Past the exit from the Cave the River once again returns, leading adventurers towards the Final Quest in their journey.
The Gate to Ach’Kreis
2 miles past the Ghauroper the Party will come to a great gateway, perhaps some 15 feet tall and made of arching Iron-the now familiar symbol of the Elder glistening in any lamplight at the top of the arch. In front of the Gate stands another hulking figure of Iron-an Iron Golem, guardian of the gateway. As PCs approach they will notice he is joined by 4 Trolls who are somewhat distracted at the moment, attempting to shoo something away in the distance with a hue and cry, while carrying spears made of bone.
Whats off in the distance happens to be a healthy and hungry Rust Monster, which is trying to wait out the Trolls in an effort to sneak up on the Golem for a Sumptuous Rust Monster Buffet. The Party adds a new factor to the equation-the Trolls can’t run up and attack the Party, or Rusty will come down and do in the GateKeeper. The Party itself must be wary of the Rust Monsters intentions before getting too close lest one of its valuables turns to food. The Golem will try to do its job to the best of its ability fighting off trespassers, but if a non-metal bearing wizard should pick up the Rust Monster and make a rush at it, It will need the Trolls’ help. The Party should have to display ingenuity (and perhaps a bribe in a few tossed coins) to get the Rust Monster to understand and go along with what they’re trying to accomplish.
Ach’Kreis-the Cavern of Rings
Past the Gate, the Party will find itself in an enormous Open Cavern-at least 30 miles in diameter and rising upwards into…well, exactly what is anyone’s guess. The darkness would make it difficult to see a ceiling at any rate, but the Party will be instantly aware that there is no ceiling above them by the strange shimmering, unfolding darkness above them; bright lights blinking on in the dark sky to show twisting shadowstuff and what would almost appear to be huge, hideous laughing faces? At one moment the sky is a reflective mirror of the ground before them and then suddenly it offers up a twisted vision of blood and torture beyond the worst of mortal Nightmares. What the Party is seeing is a large rift in the DemiPlane of Confusion, ancient prison of the Elder that is slowly beginning to swing open. If the Party looks hard enough they will see small objects darting back and forth between the light and darkness; these are dozens of Cloakers, Shadows, and Vargouilles flying high above, welcoming the reemergence of an ancient horror to the Outer Planes….
Things are just as strange on the ground. The perimeter of this cavern the PCs are now walking into has small settlements scattered all around it, some housing Vanguard members and others closely allied followers of the Horrid Chaos that awaits above. Gravity has suddenly altered in the Cavern-it is as easy to walk and build upon the rising walls of the cavern as on its floor, and the circular perimeter of the Cave in some ways brings to mind a Cult Mockery of Sigil itself, albeit far less populated. Orcs, Drow soldiers, Derro, Ogres, Trolls, Trogs and numerous other species are settled around the central spectacle of Ach’Kreis, the Cavern of Rings…
For a few miles inwards the party will see perhaps the strangest site-the beginning of a series of strange ringed complexes rising out of the ground and escalating upwards. There are 8 rings in all-rings of Air, Smoke, Fire, Magma, Earth, Ooze, Water and Ice-each one about a mile thick and hundreds of feet high. The Party will be able to see the tops of all these rings as the ground level slowly rises on a steady 20 degree incline at the beginning of the outside ring. The rings of the elements are a manifestation of the growing control over natural forces felt in the Cult and the Power of the Elder. The Rings themselves are not solid element-there are passages, almost mazelike through all eight rings. Those walking through these passages will have the unusual experience of traveling through tunnels composed of walls of constant breezes, or bubbling magma, or blowing smoke, or churning ooze. Only the floors through these passages will remain the normal stuff of Pandemonium, no matter how high up the Party marches. Likewise the Party is safe from the effects of the Elements so long as they stay squarely on the natural path; they may feel heat when passing through the halls of magma of fire, or a chill or two passing through Ice tunnels, but no harm done. However should they jump or be ‘pushed’ into the Elemental Rings walls, all bets are off and they will take typical damage.
From the Edge of the Cavern, the Party will see that past the Ring of Ice there seems to be a glistening, almost metallic promontory...and rising from this a Blood Red Tower, shooting straight upwards almost two hundred feet. Near the top of the Tower, the Party will see that the “Shimmering Blackness” of the DemiPlane of Confusion seems to be crawling slowly downwards from the sky in an attempt to touch the vile construction. Time is running out…
While approaching the Eight Rings, there is a chance the Party will encounter Vanguard troops out for a stroll from their shantytowns. From a 2d10:
5-6=Gnoll Patrol (as above)
7-8=Orc Patrol (8th level Barbarian and 3-12 4th level underlings)
9-10=Drow Patrol (6th/6th level Fighter/Wizard with 1-4 3th/3th level followers)
11-12=Ogre Band (5-8 4th or 5th level fighters)
13-14=Derro Squad (9th Level Savant and 1-6 5th Level Fighters)
15-16=Human Patrol (8th Level Fighter and 1-4 6th Level Fighters)
For those who would consider trying to fly over the Rings to the Tower-the Sky of this cavern has already fallen under the partial domain of the Elder. Those attempting the flight can expect strange meteorological phenomenon from lightning to 10 foot hailstones to suddenly rain down on them, or perhaps a wave of about a dozen cloakers and a dozen shadows of maximum advancement, led by a Iagh’Taul General..they should get the picture.
The Eight Rings
Ring of Air
The approach to this ring will be eerie in itself-the Party will hear the swirling of the fast winds in the Walls of Air, so fast as to actually give a visual presence-a few particles on the floor “underneath” the air wall will be picked up now and then to give visual clues as to where the air is still and where it is moving. The PC’s opponent while moving through this Ring will be a Huge Invisible Stalker (16HD) with stats adjusted accordingly for its greater size.
Ring of Smoke
The Ring of Smoke has walls ranging from a dull light gray to pitch black-members who chance to run their fingers through these walls will feel heat and the see the occasional crackling ember. They will also be inviting an attack from one of the Four Belkers that live in the walls-a Huge 12HD leader and its 3 companions, who will use the cover of the walls for quick sneak attacks so as to better gain the initiative for their Smoke Claws.
Ring of Fire
The Ring of Fire, while tolerable on the pathways is still uncomfortable on the eyes and breathing due to the intense heat. Characters walking through after a few minutes will swear that they see ravenous faces staring back at them from the flames. They’ll be right; 4 large Rasts (8HD) call this Ring home and are constantly craving the blood they occasionally find passing through these halls. They will attempt to grab and pull Party members into the flames, to better feast on their lifeforce undisturbed.
Ring of Magma
Characters will again feel the heat radiating from the flowing lava of this Ring, and for the first time the floor will not be completely safe-here and there miniature volcanoes no more than 3 feet high will pop up out of the ground and spew forth lava every ten to fifteen minutes, which quickly seeps back into the walls and floor. PCs will have to be on their toes to avoid burns, as well as to avoid the 6 Magmin (4HD) that scamper in and out of the flowing walls to play their favorite game, ignite the humans. They will be quite mischievous, scurrying underfoot and dashing about while smirking and giggling in their wild manner.
Ring of Earth
About as normal as the Eight Rings get, the walls and ceiling simply give the by now familiar feeling of traveling underground. The Ring of Earth is relatively tranquil compared to the other rings, save for the one encounter right before a body makes it way through-with a malicious and deranged Galeb Duhr, Bortius. Bortius is enormous, some 20 feet high (20HD), and possessed of the strange idea that Earth was robbed of its true majesty as the “Great Element” by the Natural Laws placed on the Multiverse by early Lawful Gods. He will be gruff and temperamental, hurling curses out of the rock itself as the party approaches and full of rapprochement towards their attempts to stall this wondrous occasion. He will thunder with as much fury as a rock can muster.
Ring of Ooze
Ooze in all its gross and putrid forms will flow through the corridors-its sickening smell will remind the Party of an earlier leg in their grand mission and the retching it entailed. The Party can’t afford to retch too long; a Gargantuan Black Pudding (20HD) awaits near the border of Ooze and Water, camouflaged in the walls and set to slam and dissolve anything that stumbles into its realm.
Ring of Water
PCs will again have a sense of déjà vu-the walls of water aren’t unlike the view traveling through the undersea tunnels from BurbleBlest. Only this time there is no barrier between themselves and the water. These tunnels are far less benign, though they might appear to be far friendlier-players will see illusions of marble fountains on the pathway and friendly porpoises swimming by their position, all in an attempt to draw them off guard. A Great Aboleth (17d8+119) circumnavigates these waters, which are much darker than they will appear to the Party; it will try to enslave and transform any who are taken in by the ruse, and will have greater powers at its disposal than a normal follower of its kind.
Ring of Ice
The final Elemental Ring, its chill will shiver even the hardiest PCs. The trembling of their bodies will soon by replaced by the trembling of the Ice around them, to the ground-shaking movements of something burrowing at high speeds. This is a FrostWorm, one of the favored ‘Pets’ of the Vanguard that is usually supplied with Winter Wolves and other stray beasts to keep full; it will be hungry again by the time the Party arrives.
Once through the passages of the Ring of Ice, the Party will be traveling over the metallic ground leading to the Tower. Guarding the door will be Ibn Dul, a Cyclops (below), with a pair of 7th Level Ogre Fighters.
The Tower of Ach’Kreis
First Floor-Discord’s First Born
The first floor is rather sparse in appearance, the dull interior bricks giving the room a drab look. In the center of the room is a staircase leading up to the 2nd Floor; similar staircases on other levels lead all the way up to the Upper Balcony of Aranali. Also of notice are the numerous along the floor of the Tower.
As soon as the last player is inside the door will slam shut of its own accord and lock tightly; from the vents, something will begin to ooze into the room. This is a Chaos Beast, and the slithering and oozing parts of it will come together to form a Large Beast of some 2000 pounds and varying dimension (16HD+48). It will attempt to inflict each PC with Corporeal Instability, and is quick enough to move to the Staircase before any can climb to escape before fighting.
Second Floor-The Sound of Madness
The Second Floor contrasts greatly with the first-the Walls here are a shiny black and literally alive with activity. Characters looking into them will see the howling faces of the Mad and the suffering-individuals in Pandemonium who either killed themselves or were driven to death by their insanity and laments. The Walls have the effect of the Muttering and Babble of an Allip (Members of the Vanguard and Bleakers are completely Immune), and touching the walls leads to a similar Wisdom Drain as the touch of an Allip.
There are 3 individuals in the room, a Drow and 2 Tieflings. The Drow is Aquial Namion, a Fighter/Arcane Archer of 14th Level (8 Levels of the latter) and she will be prepared with Seeker, Phase and Imbued Arrows, and has ¾ Coverage from her position behind a barricade. The Tieflings are each 7th Level Fighters and will melee while Aquial fires away.
Third Floor-Servant of Darkness
The room is pitch black but for what lamplight the Party has brought with it-like the other rooms its ceiling is high (25 feet) but for more necessary reasons. This is the room of one of the Vanguard’s most powerful Dark Allies-a NightWalker. It guards this final floor before Aranali’s Balcony in silence until the Party is well inside the room. It will likely begin with a Finger of Death attempt on the PC it deems the greatest threat, before physically attacking the others with slam attacks. It will have discovered the most dangerous magic items the Party possesses before they have settled in the room and will attempt to crush any that pose a threat to it.
Fourth Floor-Aranali’s Balcony
The Fourth Floor opens up to the “Sky” and hear the Party will at last find Aranali-or what seems to be Aranali. The transformation of the 12th/12th Level Drow Cleric/Wizard has already begun, the Elder is using part of the Elf’s Physical life force along with powerful magic to try and manifest itself fully in this Plane. Aranali is standing on the Altar of Changes as the Shimmering Shadows fully reach down to surround It, and he has already begun something of a transformation-limbs will turn into a slimy tentacle or a serpent and then back again, his eyes bulging with an inhumanoid golden glow. Aranali has his full magical powers and awareness to attack the Party, along with the enhancement from his partial integration of the Elder-this will be in the form of an extra attack of varying form (tentacle with stinger, hand like a Flame Sword, Breath Weaopn, etc…DM should determine with a random chart). Damage from these attacks could likely include disease or energy drain.
While in this possessed state attacks by the Party on Aranali’s person will be impotent; damage will seem to heal within seconds of infliction, spells that seem to be working will suddenly fizzle, etc…There is only one thing that can stop the Elder from manifesting now-the Urn. Whoever is holding it will feel it actively rattling in their possession now, stronger than ever. If opened, the pure elements obtained from the Inner Planes will burst forward from the Urn to the figure of Aranali-Elder. The full effects of the Pure Elements will take three rounds to loosen the Elder’s possession of Aranali; the PCs will have to do everything they can to survive, but the weakening of the Evil before them will be apparent with every passing round as the Elder is forced out of the Body of Aranali. With Aranali too weak to keep up the magic at his end and the Elder weakened by the Purity of the Urn’s Elements, the breach in the DemiPlane of Confusion is sealed.
At this point the shimmering darkness in the sky will disappear, along with the magic that maintained Ach'Kreis--everything will start to crumble around the Players. The Urn, having fulfilled its function, has but one thing left to do-return to its place in the Mausoleum. A Portal will open up to the Mausoleum to allow the Party to escape before the entire cavern caves in on them.
Appendix: A Few Monsters and NPCs
Hit Dice: 14d+70
Initiative: +9 (+5 Dexterity, +4 Improved Initiative)
Speed: 20 ft, fly 40 ft (average)
Attacks: 4 Tail +16 melee, Bite +14 melee
Damage: Tail 1=Constrictor 1d8+9/round
Tail 2=Blade 1d12+9
Tail 3=Flame 2d8+9
Tail 4=Poison Stinger 1d6+9/SR
Face/Reach: 5 ft by 5 ft/10ft
Special Attacks: Shout
Special Qualities: Burrow/Immunities(Fire,Cold,Gas)/Damage Reduction 20/+2
Saves: Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +8
Abilities: St:29 Dex:20 Con:21 Int:14 Wis:15 Ch:15
Skills: Hide +15, Listen +15, Move Silently +15, Spot +15, Knowledge (arcana) +15, Search +10, Sense Motive +10
Feats: Alertness, Improved Initiative, Multiattack
Challenge Rating: 11
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral (with Evil tendencies)
Advancement: 15-21 HD (Huge); 22-42 HD (Gargantuan)
Iagh’Taul were one of the great horrors of Original Creation; it is thought that they were the precursors to the Cloakers, Ixitxachtyl, Sinisters and others, the Protorace that was all but wiped out by the Early gods with the banishment of the Elder. Its remnants were scattered to Shade and Sea to develop into many separate strains; only in the DemiPlane of Confusion do these beings still exist in Numbers.
Huge Beasts, standing 25 feet tall with wingspans twice as great, they are not unlike their Cloaker descendants in shape, but are of Earty stuff rather than Shadow. An Iron Spine and Skeleton makes up the long, thin body and its unfurled wings are tough and leathery, and alternately wet or burning. The being has a face on both sides of its body, and can its joint/body/wings to immediately face the opposite direction-it is for all intents and purposes impossible to surprise.
Iagh’Taul attack with a bite from one mouth and their four tails, which branch from an original root into four different forms-a tough constrictor tentacle, an Iron Blade, a Burning Firetail, and a Poison Stinger. It will usually glide in from a hiding place and attack from above after observing a Party; though it could equally attack by burrowing from beneath ground with its Iron Claws which it uses for tunneling. It is equally at home in watery environs.
Iagh’Taul are generally devout towards the Elder, their fellow in the DemiPlane of Confusion for so long. An ancient race, they have fairly vast reservoirs of knowledge (Historical and Arcane) and can be conversant with Outsiders, trying to gauge their intentions.
Hit Dice: 1d6+1
Speed: 240 ft
AC: 25 (+7 Dex, +7 natural, +1 size)
Attacks: +8 melee
Damage: Quickling Dagger 1d3-2, crit x3
Face/Reach: 5 feet/5 feet by 5 feet
Special Attacks: Spells
Special Qualities: Invisibility, Spells, Speediness, Low-Light vision
Saves: Reflex +13, Fort +1, Will +2
Abilities: St 6, Dex 25, Con 13, Int 15, Wis 8, Cha 11
Skills: Hide +17, Spot +12, Listen +12, Tracking +6, Knowledge (Lower Planes) +6
Feats: Weapon Finesse (dagger), Dodge, Mobility, Scent, Rapid Shot
Challenge Rating: 6
Alignment: Always Chaotic Evil
Advancement: By Class
Small evil Faerie Folk whose origins are founded in the misguided use of Dark Magic by the Fey, Quicklings get their name from the astounding speed at which they can move. They are capable of moving quickly around a room, leaving guests with nothing more than a feeling that they are seeing something out of the corner of their eye that just doesn’t register. They can attack multiple times per round but are not noted for their bravery-they prefer to use misdirection and illusion to get what they want without anyone being much the wiser. They are tricksters and the spirit of Chaos in all its malicious intent, and prime candidates for recruitment by the Elder.
Quicklings are small and slender, like Elves in miniature. Their eyes are cold and cruel with a tiny spark of yellow light. Their skin is a pale blue and their hair is often silver or snowy white.
Quicklings dress in fine clothes and bright colors, including silver. They speak a tongue like that of Brownies though at a greatly accelerated pace-it can sound almost like a high pitched chirp of meaningless noise to those unfamiliar with it.
Combat: In combat, Quicklings employ sleek, needle-like daggers, occasionally with poisoned tips.
Keen senses: Quicklings have amazing senses of hearing, smell and sight
Invisibility: Like most Fey, Quicklings can’t be seen if they don’t wish to be seen. They will appear if anything like a quick glimmer out of the corner of one’s eye. Even if the invisibility is dispelled, they can become invisible again one round later.
Spell-Like Abilities: Quicklings have certain inherent magical powers they can employ at will, once per day: Ghost Sound, Command, Levitate, Shatter, Control Plants, and Fire Trap.
Galeb Duhr-Bortius *
Hit Dice: 20d8+120 (210 hp)
Speed: 20 ft
AC: 24(-2 size, +16 natural)
Attacks: Slam +23/+18 melee; or rock +6/+1
Damage: 2d8+8; or rock 4d6
Face/Reach: 5 ft by 5 ft/ 10 ft
Special Attacks: Animate Rocks, Spell-Like abilities
Special Qualities: Cold Vulnerability, DarkVision, Electrical Immunity, Elemental, Fire Resistance 10
Saves: Fort+15, Reflex +6, Will+8
Abilities: St 27, Dex 10, Con 23, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 11
Skills: Hide+20, Listen+20, Spot+20
Feats: Alertness, Cleave, Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot
Challenge Rating: 11
Animate Rocks: Bortius can Animate Rocks within 180 feet at will, controlling two rocks at a time. Can Hurl rocks weighing 100 pounds each up to 5 range increments
Spell-Like Abilities: At will, Stone Shape; Once Per Day-Move Earth, Passwall, Transmute Rock to Mud, and Wall of Stone-abilities as Spells cast by a 20th Level Sorcerer. Save DC 10 + Spell Level
Elemental: Immune to Poison, Sleep, Paralysis, and Stunning. Not Subject to Critical Hits.
Cold Vulnerability: Suffers Double Damage from all Cold-Based effects
Electrical immunity: Immune to All Electrical Effects.
Loo Plebe (Scyphion)
Small to Large Outsider (Statistics Below for the 5 stages of development)
Hit Dice: 1. 3d8+6/ 2. 6d8+12/ 3. 9d8+27/ 4. 12d8+48/ 5. 15d8+75
Initiative: 1. +1/ 2. +2/ 3. +7/ 4. +8/ 5. +9
Speed: Swim 30 ft
Bite +2 melee, 10 tentacles melee
Bite +6 melee, 10 tentacles +4 melee
Bite +10 melee, 10 tentacles +8 melee
Bite +15 melee, 10 tentacles +13 melee
Bite +20 melee, 10 tentacles +18 melee
Bite 1d4-1, tentacle 1d2
Bite 1d6, tentacle 1d3
Bite 1d8+1, tentacle 1d3
Bite 1d10+3, tentacle 1d4+1
Bite 1d12+5, tentacle 1d4+2
Face/Reach: 5 feet by 5 feet/5 feet to 10 feet by 10 feet/10 feet
Special Attacks: Spell-Like Abilities
Special Qualities: All-Around Vision, Damage Reduction:
Saves: Fort +3/+5/+7/+9/+11 Ref +3/+5/+7/+9/+11 Will +3/+5/+7/+9/+11
St 8 Dex 12 Con 14 Int 12 Wis 10 Cha 10
St 10 Dex 14 Con 15 Int 14 Wis 12 Cha 12
St 12 Dex 16 Con 16 Int 16 Wis 14 Cha 14
St 16 Dex 18 Con 18 Int 18 Wis 16 Cha 16
St 20 Dex 20 Con 20 Int 20 Wis 18 Cha 18
Skills: Bluff 0/+4/+8/+12/+16, Concentration 0/+5/+10/+15/+20, Diplomacy 0/+4/+8/+12/+16, Hide +10, Knowledge (Arcana, Local) +5/+10/+15/+20/+25, Listen +10, Search 0/+10/+10/+20/+20, Spellcraft 0/+5/+10/+15/+20
Feats: (cumulative) 1. Alertness, Multiattack, 2. Dodge, 3. Improved initiative, 4. Spell Focus or Mobility 5. Spell Mastery or Leadership
Climate: Splashing Rainbow (Sea)
Down in the Heart of Phlegethon, where the Rivers run deep and a cutter can lose himself in the ever-twisting tunnels, there are tales of a strange waterworld. It’s a place from which few berks barmy enough to risk their hides have returned, but what little dark has been gleamed is enough to whet the jowls of many an explorer. Those hardy souls who have returned even have a name for this UnderSea-Splashing Rainbow. The name was derived from the discovery of a beach in the tunnels several miles long, looking out over an Ocean of Lights-seemingly hundreds if not thousands of individual sources, ranging from fluorescent pinks to yellows and blues, illumination so strong it shines even in the light absorbing walls of Phlegethon. To the unwary traveler the pretty lights are a respite from the unrelenting chill and darkness; many go in for a closer look, wading into the water towards the sources. That’s where the “Splashing” in Splashing Rainbow comes in, though it could just as easily have been named “Screaming Rainbow” or “Sinking Rainbow”, because those are the things that usually happen to a foolish blood who stumbles onto things he knows little about.
What these unfortunate souls discover the hard way is that the lights belong to a race of beings long forgotten by most mortals, and even many of the Gods. Long ago the Sea Mother, Blibdoolpoolp, created in the Oceans of the Prime her first children, long before the cannibalistic ichthyoids known as the Kuo-Toa were snaring cutters in nets and turning them into fishfood. These originals were known as the Loo Plebe (though scholarly types into arcana might toss out the term Scyphion), and they were a much stranger breed-looked a lot like something many primes call a jellyfish. Their bodies are gelatinous semi-spheres with a tough opaque membrane, ranging in size from a few feet in diameter for the little ones, to giants over 15 feet wide or more. Ten eyes peer out from across the radius of the body, and ten tentacles attached towards the bottom of the semi-sphere radiate outwards, each one tipped with three manipulating phalanges for grasping objects; one ‘finger’ on each tentacle is also equipped with a repleneshign nematocyst, a small stinging organ that can causes damage from the chemical toxin it releases on a hit. Protruding out underneath the creature is the mouth, which varies in size with the Scyphion-large Loo Plebe are capable of swallowing small sized prey whole in some cases.
In Ancient times the Loo Plebe were the most colorful, creative and chaotic denizens of many a Prime Sea. An early nickname-“Mood Jelly”-describes how the fluorescent light that glows from a Scyphion in the darkest seas often reflects the emotions of the individual at that time-pink for joy, red for anger, gold for benevolence, blue for curiosity, yellow for fear, purple for hatred. Red and Purple are common colors. The intelligence of the species in the early Epoch was as renowned as the coloration. Elder Loo Plebe combined great knowledge with Wisdom, some even approaching the intellectual capacity of Sea Mother herself. Perhaps this is where Blibdoolpoolp’s cold resentment of her children first began to emerge. It was not unknown then (or now) for a Scyphion to learn wizardry or divine spells at 15th level or higher, and some were rumored to know magics beyond their Goddess.
Perhaps worse, the children were ungrateful in their worship. Relatively few of the Scyphions chose Priestly devotion to the Sea Mother-others professed to understand the world on their own terms, free from the faith of Blibdoolpoolp. Loo Plebe then and now are known for their unstable bent (even more common amongst them than their sibling spawn the Kuo-Toa), and their desire to be Independent to believe what they please. Some Scyphions expressed this through worship of other deities besides Sea Mother. Others turned to strange practices and Alignments; while nominally Chaotic Neutral as a group, it is not unusual to find the occasional Loo Plebe with a Paladin’s zeal for the Cause of Righteuosness, or a Modron’s obsession with ordering the Multiverse. There are Scyphions of such Saintly character that they take vows never to harm another being, often becoming Druids of the Dark Water. There are others of such Xenophobic hatred as to desire the annihilation of all that is Other, even opposing Loo plebe. Perhaps only Humanity has greater variation in the character of the mind and soul than the Loo plebe; but then all of man never faced the wrath of an angry and jealous Blibdoolpoolp.
Sea Mother grew to hate her ungrateful spawn, but not enough to destroy them utterly; rather she transported them in whole to Phlegethon, its walls as dark as the Scyphion'’ eyes and its waters cold and unloving--orever removed from the Deep Blues of the Prime and tying their physical essences to the place. The effect of this punishment was to increase the insanity and evil within the species as a whole; the behavior of an occasional rogue Kuo-Toan has nothing on a Loo Plebe that senses the entire Multiverse is plotted against it. Those of Noble countenance still exist and stay organized, but in smaller numbers than their darker brothers. Might makes Right in the Dark Cold Waters of Splashing Rainbow, and the most powerful Scyphions are always on the lookout for a challenger in the wings.
Those of a more sociable nature have fashioned large burgs in the deep waters, carved out of the seafloor and containing laboratories, concert halls filled with unusual instruments, art galleries with bizarre sculptures of coral, lichen and rock, and other evidence of a Civilization so out of place on this Plane. Some of the cities include temples dedicated to an Unknown Greater Power (not unlike the ideas of the Godsmen) that will free them from this existence in time; elsewhere Evil Temples have sprouted up under the waves, many devoted to an Odious Primordial Chaos of even greater madness than the most manic Scyphion. There are even rumors of Gargantuan Loo Plebe that have transcended the Ancient Binding to Phlegethon and swim freelt in some far off Prime Ocean; surely a vision to be found in the dreams of many a Mood Jelly.
Classes: Loo Plebe train as Bards, Clerics, Druids, Monks, Sorcerers or Paladins; in many cases they have their own variant form and name for these Classes. Level is determined by the 5 stages of (known) development for the Loo Plebe lifecycle-3HD individuals are from 1st-3rd in their chosen class, 6HD are from 4th-6th, 9HD from 7th-9th, 12HD from 10th-12th, and 15HD from 13th-15th.
Bards: Called TonTaphri, Bardic Loo Plebe employ an Underwater Instrument, the Hydrophonic Organ, to produce Songs not unlike those of Whales that produce similar effects as a Humanoid Bard’s Performance
Clerics and Sorcerers: No major changes
Druids: Known as Peixami (‘Fish-friends’), these Druids of Dark Water are similar to terrestrial brethren, except that abilities generally related to the Woods are with the Peixami related to their Watery Environ. Nature Sense becomes Sea Sense with knowledge of all Fish and Sea Life; their Animal Companions are typically Quippers or other Fish; Woodland Stride becomes double movement through the currents, Trackless Step becomes Scentless Swim, and they gain bonus on magic cast by Amphibious Enemies. At Higher Levels, Shape Change Abilities and Great Health come into play. Many of the Spells of Peixami will similarly be altered forms of Druid Spells
Monks: Known as PhaGeist (‘Spirit from Within’), Loo Plebe Monks, like their land counterparts, learn to channel their ki and seek an inner perfection. The difference is that while most Monks achieve this through arduous physical training to perform skills such as Unarmed Strike, with PhaGeists the process is a perfection of the release of Electrochemical Energy within the Scyphion, whether in producing Stun attacks or in heightening the movement, dexterity or Purity of the body.
Paladins: Known as Luchimmel (Righteous Defenders), these Loo Plebe is similar in most ways to other Paladins with a few differences-Their ability to Smite Evil is extra Strong due to their number of attacks, but they have no powers against Undead (which they rarely encounter). Luchimmel at Higher levels will often have either Large Fish or Brine Brutes (Giant Brine Shrimp) as Mounts.
Osh Urgo (12th Level Barbarian Ogre)
Speed: 30 ft
Attacks: Greatclub (+1) +22/+17/+12 melee
Face/Reach: 5 ft by 5 ft/10 ft
Saves: Fort +16 Ref +6 Will +6
Abilities: Str 26 Dex 13 Con 18 Int 6 Wis 12 Cha 5
Skills: Climb +11 Jump +7 Listen +10 Intimidate +8
Feats: Weapon Focus (Greatclub), Track, Improved Critical, Dodge, Mobility, Power Attack
Ollos (11th Level Vampire Cleric)
Speed: 30 feet
AC: 30 (+1 Dex, +9 Full Plate (+1), +3 Large Shield (+1), +6 Natural, +1 Ring)
Attacks: Mace or Slam Attack
Damage: Slam 1d6+4 and energy drain, or by weapon
Face/ Reach: 5 by 5 feet/ 5 ft
Special Attacks: As Vampire
Special Qualities: As Vampire
Saves: Fort +10 Ref +3 W +12
Abilities: Str 19 Dex 13 Con - Int 12 Wis 23 Cha 16
Skills: As Vampire, and Spells +14, Con +16
Feats: As Vampire, and Scribe Scroll, Brew Potion, Combat Casting, Forge Wand, Heighten Spell
Speed: 40 ft
Attacks: 4 Claws +17 melee, 2 Bites +15 melee, Gore +15 melee
Damage: Claw 2d6+5, Bite 4d6+2, Gore 2d8+2
Face/Reach: 5 by 5/5ft
Special Attacks: Spelllike Abilities
Special Qualities: Fast Healing 5, Damage Reduction 10/+1, Resistances, Alternate Form
Saves: Fort +12 Ref +10 Will +11
Abilities: Str 21 Dex 15 Con 19 Int 18 Wis 14 Cha 14
Skills: Knowledge (arcana) +20
Feats: Multiattack, Item Creation (Staff of Healing)
Ibn Dul (Cyclops) *
Speed: 40 ft
Attacks: Gargantuan Greatsword +22/+17 melee
Damage: Gargantuan Greatsword 4d6+19
Face/Reach: 10 ft by 10 ft/15 ft
Special Qualites: DarkVision 60 ft
Saves: Fort+14 Ref +5 Will +5
Abilities: Str 37 Dex 13 Con 23 Int 7 Wis 12 Cha 11
Skills: Climb +7 Listen +6 Spot +6
Feats: Cleave, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Sunder
Challenge Rating: 11
Koschna the Fang (Orc 16th Level Blackguard)
Speed: 40 ft
Armor Class: 35
Attacks: GreatAxe (+3)
Damage: By Weapon Type
Face/Reach: 5 by 5/ 10 ft
Special Attacks: Trip, but no Lycanthropy, Spells
Special Qualities: Werewolf hybrid and Blackguard Qualities
Saves: Fort +24 Ref +11 Will +7
Abilities: Str 25 Dex 18 Con 18 Int 8 Wis 14 Cha 14
Skills: Climb +15 Jump +15 Hide +8 Listen +6 Move Silently +4 Search +8 Spot +16 Knowledge (Religion) +20
Feats: Weapon Focus (Greataxe), Alertness, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Weapon Specialization (Greataxe), Cleave, Sunder, Point-Blank Shot, Improved Critical (GreatAxe), Great Cleave, Dodge, Precise Shot, Blind Fight, Far Shot, Combat Reflexes
Magic Gear: Greataxe +3, Cloak of Resistance +2, Ring of Protection +2, Boots of Speed, Amulet of Natural Armor +2, Eyes of the Eagle, Potion of Cure Serious Wounds
Spells (Blackguard): Doom, Inflict Light Wounds, Inflict Moderate Wounds, Contagion, Inflict Serious Wounds, Freedom of Movement, Inflict Critical Wounds
Aranali (12th Lvl Wizard/12th Lvl Cleric) (Possessed Drow)
Speed: 30 ft
Attacks: Mace of Terror melee
Damage: By Weapon Type
Face/Reach: 5 by 5/10 ft
Special Attacks: Special* (Random through Elder)
Special Qualities: Special
Saves: Fort +17 Ref +12 Will +25
Abilities: Str 16 Dex 14 Con 16 Int 21 Wis 21 Cha 16
Skills: Spellcraft +20, Concentration +30, Alchemy +20
Feats: Scribe Scroll, Combat Casting, Heighten Spell, Brew Potion, Forge Wand, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Quicken Spell
Scrolls: Raise Dead, Resurrection, Teleport, Acid Fog
Magic Gear: Cloak of Resistance +2, Ring of Protection +2, Pearl of Wisdom +2, Headband of Intellect +2, Bracers of Armor +5, Wand of Stoneskin (9th Level caster)
Aranali as Cleric: Can cast any of the first 6 spells in 5 Domains-Chaos, Death, Destruction, Evil and War. Also may cast any of the first 4 spells in the Elemental Domains (Air, Earth, Fire, Water)
Aranali as Wizard: Intelligence and Divine Enhancements have allowed Aranali to specialize in 3 schools to the exclusion of all others: Evocation, Necromancy, and Transmutation:
Evoker: Magic Missile, Tenser’s Floating Disk, Darkness, Flaming Sphere, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Shout, Wall of Ice, Wall of Force, Bigby’s Forceful Hand, Chain Lightning
Necromancer: Chill Touch, Ray of Enfeeblement, Ghoul Touch, Spectral Hand, Halt Undead, Vampiric Touch, Enervation, Fear, Magic Jar, Circle of Death
Transmuter: Reduce, Shocking Grasp, Endurance, Blindness, Haste, Slow, Bestow Curse, Polymorph Other, Animal Growth, Transmute Rock to Mud, Flesh to Stone, Disintegrate
* With help from Eric Noah’s Page of 3rd Edition Conversions