The Damned II (Session I) - The Shelves of Despond
by, 12-19-2008 at 04:16 AM (2541 Views)
Session Date: November 22nd, 2008
This is the first session of a new D&D 4th edition campaign. I recommend you read the introduction to the campaign here: http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/blog.php?b=5.
The players are:
- Aidan (Playing Red, a Dragonborn Warlord)
- Alucinor (Playing the here-forth unnamed 'elven' Rogue)
- SpiffyBananaFoot (Some call me, Tim? Playing the Eladrin wizard.)
- Corii (Playing Snow the elven Ranger)
- JonDOT (Playing Mason, a human fighter)
They are all third level, and they are all in Hell. Should be interesting...
The Shelves of Despond
After pulling themselves out of the fetid and memory-sapping waters of the River Styx, the characters gather together on the rocky shore. None of them have or admit to any knowledge of how or why they may be here, nor can they recall even who they are. The wizard, who lacking any remembrance of his former name decides to go by Tim, quickly surmises from the flaming balls of pitch flying through the sky and the oily, crimson waters of the Styx, that the lot of them have somehow ended up on the first layer of hell, Avernus.
Amongst them, there are two elves, a dragonborn, a half elf, and a human. They all share signs of being bound, ill-treated, and all are ravenously hungry and dehydrated. Even more curious, they each have skin (or scales in the case of the Dragonborn) that are an identical and drab shade of olive-gold.
Deciding that they are in a rather precarious position standing unarmed and unprotected in one of the most dangerous places in the cosmos, the party looks for a way to get away from the Styx and perhaps find some cover. A bed of razor sharp scree and a treacherous, if not impossible climb without gear, precludes any possibility of ascending from the canyon floor. Lacking options, the party travels along the river as it continues to descend until they find a safe path cut into the canyon wall that leads up and out of the gorge.
An ancient battlefield greets them at the top. Here, they find the bones of strange creatures now long dead. Now away from the rushing waters of Styx, the party can hear battle cries and sounds of warfare from the direction they came and on the other side of a punishing range of low and jagged mountains. They decide to investigate the battle, but not before they search the area for anything that might be useful.
This ancient battlefield has not been too badly scavenged, but most of the gear lies in ruin after long exposure to the harsh environment of Hell. Still, they manage to hobble together some gear for themselves including:
- Pitted Plate Armor (-1 ac, 7 AC) – 25gp
- Rusted Longswords x3 (-1 dmg) – 5gp each (15 gold)
- Worn Leather (-1 ac, 1 AC) – 5gp
- Damaged Chain Mail (-1 ac, 5 AC) – 20gp
- A broken short sword which can be used as a dagger – 1gp
- A Glaive in pretty good condition – 25gp
- An unidentifiable bone of sort, maybe a femur from something large, that can be used as a greatclub – 1gp
So armed, the group heads along a winding pass that leads back up and around the low mountain. By the time they arrive, the battle has already come to its bloody conclusion. The rogue, still undecided as to what to call himself, and the ranger who calls herself Snow scout ahead close to the battle. In the pass, away from the battle, they find a gruesome scene.
A winged devil covered with think spines, known as as a spinagon, directs a group of three hulking, grotesquely fat humanoids in cleaning up the battlefield of those who may still be living. These creatures, known as "The Gorged," were once human. In life, they were those who gorged themselves with rich meals and wallowed in luxury while others around them starved. They are those who would not even spare the crumbs from their plate to save the life of the most needy. In the afterlife, their bodies are stuffed with corruption and they are made to eat all manner of unwholesomeness far beyond the point of being sated.
Perched atop a jagged boulder, the spinagon watches with sadistic glee as the Gorged find a mortally wounded, but very much alive angelic humanoid. His screams echo through the pass as the Gorged begin feasting on his body.
Scattered along the rocky pass, are several more bodies, some of them perhaps still alive. Their fate promises to be similarly gruesome.
Snow and the rogue sprint back to the group, alerting them of what they have seen. Unwilling to allow anyone to share such a horrific end and hoping to better arm themselves with equipment and information, the party heads quickly to the scene and fights a difficult battle. The spinagon initially rains down quite a bit of pain, but is quickly put down by the mage and ranger -- an important accomplishment since spinagons are known to be cowardly and apt to run and get reinforcements. The Gorged also prove to be very tough and demonstrate a nasty tendency to vomit forth streams of corruption on their attacker when they are hit too hard.
Following the battle, the party finds one of the angelic beings still alive, but far beyond help. In his last breath, he whispers, "You must reach ... redemption."
Amongst the dead, the party finds a virtual treasure trove of usable gear, including:
- One of the angelic beings had:
- A sturdy and well crafted longbow (+1) -- Snow actually found this during the battle and picked it up along with the quiver to help put down the Spinagon.
- A quiver with 12 arrows remaining
- And a suitable set of leather armor.
- The rogue manages to recover several daggers.
- The one who died whispering of redemption had:
- A Sunblade (Falchion)
- And a set of Fortification Armor +1 (Scale)
- From the body of a Dragonborn Cleric of Bahamut, the party recovers:
- A set of Exalted Armor +1
- An Angelsteel Shield with the symbol of Bahumut emblazoned on the front
- A +1 Mace
- Alchemical Regents (600gp), Sanctified Insense (500gp), Rare Herbs (700gp).
- A ritual book (see attached).
- And most importantly, he is the only one amongst the dead who has any provisions - Journeybread (7 days left) and a waterskin (3 days left).
While the group loots the dead, a group of legionnaires stumble upon the scene. One of them points toward Red, the Dragonborn, and shouts, "That's the one we're looking for! You there, halt!" The party manages to dispatch the legionnaires and prevents one of them from escaping to inform the army proper.
When it rains...
After equipping themselves with their looted gear, the party heads hastily away from the site of the battle, where clearly the devils have won the day. A short time later, perhaps an hour or so, it begins to rain. In this hostile, volcanic environment, the rain is highly acidic. The slick, oily residue it leaves behind itches and stings. The party does its best to cover any exposed skin. The mage is the worst off since he is still clothed in not much more than a tattered loin cloth. Snow is able to quickly find refuge for them in a nearby cave.
Unfortunately, the cavern has other occupants. Four fire bats call this particular cave home, and they do not take kindly to being disturbed. These bats are nearly as large as a man and have bodies of flame. They prove an almost overwhelming challenge as everything they touch is set aflame. Within the first few seconds of combat, the entire party is on fire. (And you know things are bad when the ranger has to stop in the middle of combat and look for the arrows she's fired so she can fire them again.)
The bats aren't willing to fight to the death, however their attempt to flee is thwarted by the acidic rain. One of the bats is able to escape down a tunnel in the back of the cave. It is badly injured, so while the rest of the party recuperates, the rogue sneaks down the tunnel and dispatches the last fire bat. The rogue feels a little bold, so he sneaks further down the tunnel.
At the end of the tunnel, he discovers a stone door with straight and formal runes etched into it that he does not understand. Smeared unceremoniously in blood on top of the etched runes is a warning written in crude Dragconic that Red will later reveal to say, "Cinderfoot Clan," and "Stay Out or we kills you." But, for now, the group is still recovering from the recent ordeals and must rest.
The next morning--if there were such things here in Hell, the group awakens to the sounds of a large group in the pass some distance outside of the cave. Again Snow and the rogue go and investigate. From their hidden perch in mountain pass, they see a contingent of devils, perhaps a hundred strong, methodically searching the area -- forming grids, and leaving nothing unturned. The cave they are in was difficult to spot and is fairly well obscured, but using such a thorough technique it seems pretty sure that they will eventually find this entrance.
A large winged devil flies down while they are watching and is obviously agitated. After speaking to one of the legionnaire commanders, the winged fiend merely flicks its wrist and the commander goes flying into a group of his men and summarily explodes.
When the party receives news about the search, they decide to investigate the tunnel and door to see if they can find another exit to escape unnoticed. Red surmises that the writing in blood on the door was probably left by kobolds, who are well known for leaving snares. And from the other side of the door, they can now hear some kind of deep moaning.
Unfortunately, the rogue (still unsure of what to call himself) does not find any traps, and Red is doused in acid from a pail positioned above the door on the other side, rigged to fall and splash whoever opens it. The burns are thankfully minor.
The door opens into a small and roughly rectangular cavern. There are two massive stone pillars some twenty feet in length and ten feet in width which run perpendicular to eachother with a fifteen foot gap between them. Extending all the way to the ceiling twenty feet above, these pillars dominate the cavern. On the outside of each pillar are massive wheels, and between the pillars are iron loops which are a little larger than a mans fist. These loops are secured to the cavern floor and look like they can be used to tie something down. At the base of the pillars there is a gap about four fingers wide that runs along the inside end of the pillar that descends into darkness. On the other side of the room is a great circular door. The moaning sounds like it is coming from everywhere in this room. With the echo, it is impossible to pinpoint the source.
Being the adventurous sort, the party decides to turn the wheels, which causes steam to spray out of the pillars in the area between them from nozzles that had previously gone unnoticed. The nozzles are pointed at a downward slope towards the cavern floor to allow them to effectively direct the steam towards whatever is secured there. That's when the horrible screaming starts, and for a moment the rogue's heart sinks when he thinks that there might be some helpless captives being steamed alive beneath the pillars. Alas he missed his guess.
Through the obscuring spray of steam, the party sees figures thrashing about, which were not there before. When they turn the steam off again, the figures are revealed to be some kind of spirits. These wraiths, freed from their agony look malevolently towards their "tormentors." The rogue turns the steam back on and the wraiths begin thrashing again.
The mage known only as Tim feels deeply that this outrage against Kelemvor, the god of the Dead, cannot stand. The party readies themselves and sets upon the wraiths as soon as the steam is turned off.
After destroying the wraiths, the party prepares to venture further. Before them lies a great circular door made of stone which perplexes them greatly...
That's all of this session. Don't worry. We'll find out what happens next all too soon...