Rog Con 2009

Retrieving The Sapling

A blog for your campaign

Day 1

[Li] We must be careful, very careful, how and if we proceed. I have expertise in many areas, but not with devils or the planes of hell or their inhabitants. If we accept the challenge, we will surely invoke the long-term enmity of powerful beings beyond those we happen to interact with. Clearly this creature is operating under a different set of standards regarding property and ownership from those on our plane. Or he would like us to think he is. Who are these “thieves”? Are they equally as dangerous as he? Why not recover the item himself? Can we trust him in the bargain? Does the wording of this bargain mean what we think it means or will he twist the words to deny us? Perhaps we should allow the unexplained deadline for the “bargain” to pass and merely seek to regain the sapling directly from him on our own schedule. Perhaps we should seek allies from holy realms or shared foes in the lower realms.

[Redir] Too bad Glo is having difficulty…he would really come in handy against Evil creatures. I am ready to go test my axemanship against other-planar creatures! If this creature truly was a Devil, we probably can trust him to keep his end of the bargain. I mean, it’s not like he is a Demon – can’t trust anything they say. I wonder what kind of ‘hell’ this fourth plane is? Is it ice, fire, something else? And how do we get there? Since Glo is magically ‘out of it’ and can’t do any divining for us, who can we ask?

[Keldor, grimacing] Devils?! I know little of them, though I wouldn’t trust one to keep a bargain at any rate. Especially since we didn’t get this “deal” in writing.

What’s this Crown of Largoth? Maybe we should do a little research and figure out what it is. As well as this Mount Fourglan on the fourth plane of Hell, and Sharlowe while we’re at it. Maybe this brooch could give us a clue?

Keldor will examine the brooch, without touching it

Once we know some facts, then we can act. I can do a little asking at the…err…Guild in town. I don’t think I’ll find much though. I think it’ll be up to you Li and maybe Glo, if we can find him.

The three of you (Keldor, Li, Redir) go down to the ‘tree room’ to have a look at the brooch. The brooch is about the size of Glorbath’s hand and is in the shape of a beetle. Li examines it for a while then says: “I think it is Scarabaeus sacer, also known as the Sacred Beetle in some ancient cultures. I cannot recall anything else about it.”

[Redir] Hrmph…..just looks like a burnt beetle to me.

Keldor looks a little closer at the beetle and begins to get a feeling that he should know something about it. After five minutes, Keldor stands up, walks over to a corner, then sits down on the floor. As the others watch him, they notice that his eyes have glazed over and he does not seem to be aware that they are in the room at all. Keldor begins to speak in a voice that is similar to his, but deeper and with a very odd accent: “Oh, yes, Sharlowe, I remember you. Always trying, and failing, to earn your father’s approval by causing pain and bloodshed in this world. When will you learn that the 20th son will never be noticed. So you still carry around this token from our great adventure, I see. I cannot say that I blame you. It was a most rewarding undertaking. You kept your bargain with me, even though you had ample opportunity to renege. Perhaps one day we will travel together again….”

At this point, Keldor closes his eyes, slumps over and begins to snore.

(Keldor, after waking up). Why are you guys staring at me? Anyway, is it time to go to town to do some research? I need to restock some my supplies as well.

[Li] Yes, we must research this. I do not like to be rushed in my research. Let us do the following: First, without touching it, we scoop up the brooch into a small box, including surrounding soil. Then, you two (Keldor and Redir), and I will dimensional fold to the city for some research. Once there, we can meet each day to assess our knew knowledge. If at the end of a week we feel more confident, we may find a spot and do as this devil has instructed. I, for one, doubt that a week is sufficient time for me to study the matter.

[Keldor] I’ll find out what I can at the rogue’s Guild. Probably won’t be much though.

As you scoop up the brooch, you succeed in getting in into the box without touching it. However, as soon as you get it into the box, you hear a voice: “I am glad you have decided to accept my contract. Remember, you have one month to complete it.”

[ DM ] Give me some specifics on what you want to find out.

[Li, emitting a rare explitive] !@#$. Li will do some research on the plane of hell, with focus on 4th and 6th levels and their inhabitants. He will also put out a request for a consultation with a high level summoner familiar with hell, its denizens, and the nature of contracts and inter-level politics. He will certainly pay (gold or possibly spell castings) for such a consult.

Since Keldor knows little, consciously, about the subject, he’ll ask around at Guild about Sharlowe, Mount Fourglan, and the Crown of Largoth. He’ll also scout out a few bars in town to listen for any rumors/stories that may be of interest.

[Keldor] Let’s meet at our favorite watering hole this evening and compare notes.

[Redir] I will see if the anyone at the fighters’ guild can give me any information on denizens of either of the planes. Perhaps someone has traveled there. Hmmmm….I wonder how we will get there? See y’all at the Inn this evening.

[Li] hmmmm…good point. I had assumed our touching the brooch would open a portal or transport us. But perhaps not. I wonder if a dimensional fold would work if I could get an image of Mount Fourglan. Possibly not. I will add that to the list of things I research.

You all arrive at the tavern around midnight, each feeling exhausted from frantically trying to gather information. In total, you spent 20,000 gp, three quarters of which was spent on the consultant – who happened to be available You have learned the following:

  • The fourth plane, Phlegethos, is ruled by Belial, an Arch-Devil of Hell. He retained his rule after the Reckoning (civil war) of Hell though he now shares this responsibility with his daughter Fierna who serves as his mouthpiece (and possible lover). He has designs on the Fifth and Sixth levels of Hell.
  • Phlegethos is a fiery wasteland filled with active volcanoes, hills of ash, gouting fires, streams of magma, pits of smoking excrement, and burning sand beneath a screaming rain of magical fire flakes. Few can exist here for long without suitable protection from the extreme heat. The fortress capital city of Abriymoch is built on the lip of a volcano and composed of hardened magma in the caldera of a volcano and is somewhat more bearable than the rest of Phlegethos. It has little tolerance for outsiders, but important allies of Belial have their places in its society. The pit fiend Gazra, commander of the hamatulas, dwells here in a palace of crystal. Belial resides in a palace of pure obsidian high up on one side of the city.

    The ground of Phlegethos is always uncomfortably hot. This, as well as patrols of barbed devils, keep most intruders constantly on the move. Tremors are common, and it is not unusual for the ground to violently erupt or fissures to open without notice. The sky of Phlegethos is a dark, starless void, but constantly leaping flames provide weird illumination to the harsh landscape. p. Rivers of liquid fire feed and emerge from at least two massive lakes where the flames burn brightest. This fiery “water” is inhabited by numerous wandering salamanders that were brought to the layer in days long past, to be bound in servitude to the master of the plane. Given that salamanders are not prone to taking orders, this didn’t work out, and most were slain by Belial’s servants and vassals. Those few who escaped remain bound to Phlegethos by Belial’s magic, and continue to survive by avoiding large groups of baatezu and snatching lone individuals who venture too close to one of the fiery rivers. p. The Pit of Flame is a boiling, fiery sea of refuse empowered by the primal energy of Baator. It is a place of both promotion and punishment for baatezu across the nine circles. Thousands of osyluths watch it to ensure that it is not abused. p. Most of Phlegethos is inhabited by barbed devils, though other baatezu live there as well. In the fiery plains beyond Abriymoch, the Sumerian goddess Inanna lives in a realm called the Jealous Heart.

  • The sixth plane, Malbolge, is ruled by Glasya – Asmodeus’ daughter.
  • Malbolge was originally an endless rocky slope where rockslides and avalanches of boulders were common. Numerous copper fortresses provided some refuge from the avalanches. Once ruled by Moloch, he was deposed during the Reckoning of Hell and replaced by The Hag Countess Malagard. Malagard has since been disposed of, and Glasya, daughter of Asmodeus, currently rules Malboge. Now, the realm is alive, being formed from the flesh and bones of the Hag Countess. Malbolge, the Crushing Lands, is a place of craggy, black stone and ash filled with stinking vapors, smoke, fire pits, and huge caves and caverns in which ancient Baatorians still lurk. The air is hot and choking, and the whole layer exists at a steep tilt so that no flat terrain exists. Falling is a constant danger here, as are rockslides and avalanches. p. Malbolge is a noisy place populated by tormented lemures, cornugons, and the occasional spinagon. Large numbers of lesser devils on this layer are missing all or part of at least one limb, or have some other sort of disfigurement or infirmity—a testament to the days when Baalzebul and Moloch ruled here, both of whom delighted in the torture of their subjects. p. The nobles of this layer dwell in copper fortresses, whose metal plating helps ward off the worst of the falling stones. The Hag Countess once traveled between these fortresses in disguise, testing the gentility of her subjects; she despised mindless brutality, and destroyed those who committed it.
  • The Crown of Largoth has been stolen many times by adventurers and devils alike. Its true properties have been lost – or were never known. It is reputed to have the ability to allow it’s wearer to transport between any planes. It is supposedly made of the jawbones of a small salamander with a black opal affixed on the front.
  • Sharlowe is, in fact, the son of Glasya. He is thoroughly evil, but is reported to be true to his word.
  • Mount Fourglan is the tallest mountain on the plane and can be seen from any point on the plane.
  • There is an entry to Phlegethos in a volcano lying north west of Iron Rocks. To access the plane, one must jump into the lava of the volcano.

[Keldor, looking bemused] hmmm… Sounds like a prime vacation spot! When do we leave? ;) Seriously though, how can we survive such a place? I liked the little tree and all, but damn! Can we really do this?

[Redir] An old-timer at the fighters’ guild mentioned he and his fellow adventurers used some type of medallion provided by a cleric that protected them from most of the effects of Phlegethos when they travelled there 60 or so years ago. The cleric is long dead and he cannot remember which diety he served. He also cannot remember what happened to the medallions.

[Li] Ok. So we know a bit about the denizens and the environs. Redir’s info suggests we need enhanced protection from the elements. The notion that we jump into a volcano to get there is a bit disturbing as well. I’ll spend some time seeing what spells or scrolls or potions might allow us to survive a brief walk into a volcano, but should we go door to door at some temples and seek a “sponsor” for this endeavor to see what kind of protection they could offer for a lengthier exposure?

[Redir] I will go talk to the old-timer a little more – he fell asleep, but they said he usually wakes up around 2 am. I think we do need to check with some priests – maybe even with Glorbath. He has been talking about how Vofos has grown in strength since Glo has erected the two temples.

[ DM ] Remember that there is a 30 day (720 hour) time limit on this agreement. It is now about 1 am, so 13 hours have passed. Let me know if what actions you want to take before y’all sleep – if you sleep. Also keep in mind that this group has relied on being able to ‘hole up’ for a couple days to rest since Li is limited in the healing spells he can cast and Redir cannot use potions.

{George} Did we fly/ride to town, or D – fold? If we travelled normally, Li can fold us to the volcano (more accurate if he can find a painting or drawing).

Li is stewing up a strategy to charm a devil or two once down there and use them for guides to help avoid a protracted stay.

I want to see what spells Li has that might help with the volcano.

I thought Glo was kinda out of commission, having been zapped and de-spellified, or whatever. But if he can commune or such and get us a better idea about avoiding environmental hazards…

Any ideas from Keldor?

[ DM ] Y’all D – folded to town. Who knows what condition Glo is in now, you will have to get back to the keep to find out, unless you have a way to communicate otherwise.

[Keldor] hmmmm…I don’t know much about protection from heat or flame, other than standard potions or rings etc., but I think extra cold based spells would be in order. As would protections vs evil, considering where we are thinking about going.

Too bad we don’t have one of those flasks that can produce water on command. Water will probably be tough to come by there.

Li, can you cast one of those Plane shift spells? That might come in handy too. Do we have any spells or items that can take us to the ethereal or astral planes?

[Li] I am not proficient at planar travel. It has not been an area of study for me. Perhaps if you allow me a couple of months more of research, I can have more information. I would really like to get some good tomes on the subject before we ultimately go to collect specimens. Otherwise, we run the risk of missing something very important and collectible while there!

[Li] Actually, cold offensive spells may not be any more effective than fire. Perhaps electrical or mental will be best. I have been thinking that Flame Walk, one of my priest spells, will allow us to traverse the volcanic Lava. And Drawmij’s flying feat will come in handy getting there and travelling once there. Regarding a return trip or emergency exit, Dimensional Folding might even work. I just can’t cast it now because I haven’t got a good target. Water….hmmm….Creation spells are not my strength either. I can easily purify water. I can also cast a spell to locate water. I may have to use a higher level spell like Laerel’s aqueous column to create water. Keldor, perhaps you can use your skills to purchase some items for me? I need the following:

Several bronze brooches of any shape Potions of healing Scrolls of healing Vials of holy water A very large piece of tough leather, large enough for 4 people to sit on

Can you go shopping for those while I read up some more about magic resistance of these devils?

[Keldor] So you think cold spells may not work that well due to magic resistance? I’ll go by Glo’s temple to pick up the healing items. Then drop by the market to pickup the brooches and leather.

[Li] Not precisely. I believe devils are resistant to both cold and heat. After a little more thinking, I have determined that Dimensional Folding can’t function between planes. We may be able to use the crown to return to this plane, THEN place the brooch inside it to seal the deal. We have reason for concern here. Also, the water created by Laereal’s column completely vanishes when the spell expires. This might not satisfy our thirst. I believe I can cast Wall of Ice and we could use that, but it would be an expensive way to get a drink.

[ DM ] A couple hours later, Redir and Keldor return to the inn. The find Li in their suite with books and papers and models scattered all about in a seemingly disorganized manner. He looks up at them wearily with a frustrated look on his face: ‘I just don’t have enough time! While I am making progress and understanding more about what we may face, I need more time!”

[Keldor] I thought you were a master of time and could make it stand still? Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, the temple of Vofos has some ‘healing’ scrolls and potions as well as some holy water we can buy. The bad news is, Glo was there and will be here shortly to give us some information. We are going to have to pay big I think. I checked at a couple other temples, but they seemed to be uncooperative since I was not a member. I was able to get some brooches (12 in the design of a sunflower) as well as the leather you asked for.

[Redir] I have some more information too. The old-timer was awake and very ‘with-it’. He told me more about their adventure to Phlegethos. He said they lost one member of their group to the elements. When they were above-ground, the air was filled with ash and they had to keep a moist cloth over their nose and mouth so they could breathe. He said the heat was the most oppressive issue underground, but they had their medallions to offset most of the trouble with that. While they did encounter several minor to mid level devils, he said the majority of the creatures there were non-devils – many were fire dwelling or using creatures. He told me the medallions allowed them to travers the doorway through the volcano and to return the same way, in addition to providing substantial protection from the elements. Unfortunately, he has no idea what happened to the medallions.

[ DM ] A short while later, Glorbath comes in and sits down at a table and starts to eat an apple. He looks up at everyone looking back at him and begins to speak.

[Glo] Oh, sorry for the way I have been acting since this began. That devil really affected me in a bad way. I am still not able to cast any spells – priestly or wizardly, but I have been able to commune with Vofos. He told me when to be at the temple to meet Keldor, and instructed me to give you the following information and make you an offer. First, the medallions you are seeking, or have been thinking about seeking, are part of the treasure held by the fire giants that guard the volcanic entrance. Unless you have discovered another method of safeguarding yourselves and entering Phlegethos, you will need to find these.

I have been instructed to only sell you any holy supplies is you agree to this offer. Vofos will give you 21 healing potions of varying strength, three scrolls with healing spells on them, 10 vials of holy water, and three rings of Protection from Evil in return for you making a gift of 1% of your total treasure value brought back from Phlegethos and for each of you wearing a Brooch of Vofos for two years. The Brooch will mark you as a servant (not necessarily a worshipper) of Vofos and will help increase his strength as he grows into a true god of power.

[Li] hmmmmm…..hmmmm…..welllll….hmmmmm… That info about the giants is worth 1% right from the start, but wearing a brooch indicating I am a servant of Vofos….I have some reservations. Not that I have anything against Vofos, mind you, and he seems an extremely helpful diety, but there may be times, and this adventure might be one, where wearing a symbol of a good diety would be a distinct disadvantage. Please don’t think I am haggling with you Glorbath, but merely airing out our options. I think it possible we could aquire holy water elsewhere for mere gold. With creativity, we may be able to survive there without excessive healing potions and scrolls, and the rings could be helpful, but perhaps not essential. Redir, Keldor?

[Keldor] Well, as much as I hate to admit this, I have to agree with Li. I like Vofos and all, but having to wear such a symbol all the time may prove…detrimental… to my (our) adventuring. However, if we could take it off whenever the need arises, I wouldn’t be as opposed to the idea.

I’m sure there will be times/situations that you and Vofos will be glad that I’m not wearing it. ;)

Anyway, you say there are Fire Giant dudes to fight? I bet Ol’ Flint would kill (literally) to go on this one.

[Redir] Well, I don’t really care one way or the other, but if y’all aren’t going to wear them, then I’m not either. Surely we can find the supplies we need elsewhere.

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