Demons in the dark

Starting where it's very very dark
Slaves

Starting BEING slaves is boring. This adventure takes place as the adventurers have been left for dead in the Labyrinth, thus named because of the originality of the builder and because it’s confusing as hell to get around.

That doesn’t mean you can’t learn your way around, though, as a large number of Underdark-type inhabitants are aware.

The Neogi are well aware that they are unliked by the freedom-loving topworlders, and they hate that whole ethnic cleansing thing that’s going on against them. Worse, it clearly places them in a position of weakness. This is made up for with the slave trade that they have booming, and use the Labyrinth to get around in.

GM Only 1 neogi plus some slaves. Easy pickings. Perception 30 to see the stealthy neogi hiding back a ways. Insight 25 to see that the slaves are aberrant in some way.

10 neogi of equal level. Beat’m down. Take the adventurers captive, use the slaves (who will help if ordered) because they are worth more than a bunch of minions.

Lock break checks, theivery checks, however it gets done—they then have to beat down 1-2 neogi who were holding them captive. Have those neogi use weapons from the group.

Sneak around camp, free other slaves, run away, etc. Final confrontation on the way out unless they are obviously not up to it.

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Adventure Log
A blog for your campaign

GM only— The two groups meet. The older group, already having dealt with the obvious trap of the neogi once, sees another crew falling for it. The younger crowd can deal with the slaves, and the older one can cope with the neogis. Setup is like a donut, with the newbies being the creamy filling in the middle.

Lots of extra to lay into around right now—it’s dangerous, but should begin to bog down some around 7-8 rounds

This massive fight, in the 10th round, will be interrupted by a purple worm ,drawn by the potential food sources. It will pause for one round to scoop up some neogi snax, and then pursue EVERYONE down the tunnel.

Race Challenge! Acrobatics/Athletics/Stealth/perception on easy mode. I placed the worm on one spot, and moved people closer or further based on either acrobatics or athletic checks and their speed. The worm averaged at 6 squares/round, but loses a few squares every time it eats something. An average roll at the same speed would keep them a constant distance, but any neogi critters nearby always lost time because they stopped to try and eat the PCs. If hit, PCs lost speed too. Powers that gave a shift one or whatever permissable.

Purple worm will eat whoever’s last.

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Neogi cold call

Grandfather offers a deal. He’ll help them get further on toward the Navel if the crew forks over Malava.

GM only—-If they give her up, they are all stricken blind. If they tell him to bite himself, she will use some of her ritual magic to give them a team tattoo. If they ignore him or consider the idea for longer than comfortable, nothing happens.

Grandfather’s reaction is: Muhahaha, Malava dies horribly, or I’ll get you my pretties, and your little dog too, then a bullette curse, or he’ll swear at them and sick another neogi hunter crew. This one will be headed by a new NPC neogi, with character levels (solo elite).

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Fast as a bullette

Yet another encounter. Hatter Johnson has been lost in the dark for the last 16 years. He has learned how to live here and developed some special abilities, including a burrow speed, and can speak with bullettes.

GM’s stuff:
Protected by a small herd of these bullettes, because he makes sure they get their food. They dont’ really recognize him as a snack, and take his direction as a minor action.

He will demand the biggest character sacrifice themselves to the bullette herd.
I imagine they will fight—this will be a tough fight, with sharks cruising around. There should be at least 4 (baby swarm?) and Hatter’s ride, Gigantaur, will have a couple of magic bits on him. Hatter himself will have great strength, and casually be throwing boulders at the group if far, and be using the bullette to pin folks if near.

If Hatter gets bloodied, he will attempt to move away from the action, trying to keep the group between him and the bullettes. A bullette has a 50% of biting him (don’t record the damage unless the group catches wise).
Rewards:
Mount barding, Paragon level
Mount stomping boot (magical! it just add’s 1W to any attack made by the mount)
Hatter has 4 Bullette armor (scale, grants burrowing at 1/2 speed), Gloves of the Bullette (2 to burrowing speed), Boots of the Bullette (Can spur your bullette mount, 1 to any forced move effect), and Belt of the Bullette (+2 Fortitude, +10 HP, +1 Heal Surge). Wearing all of these items allows full speed burrowing, allows second wind as minor action (free if dwarf), and +10 HP. Also gives a great hunger for meat. {ed.-made the movement an encounter power, it’s already demonstrated insane utility value]

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The Lava River

Villages can be anywhere there is life and willingness to work together. Down in the Labyrinth, sometimes the craziest things get together, like some primoridials with a penchant for imitation. Fortunately, there’s a few folks with a slightly more “normal” take on the world. Unfortunately, being attacked is par for the course.

It’s very, very hot down here.

GM’s stuff:
Most citizens: Lava elementals, fire, earth. Large number of tieflings, couple of demonic types. There are several adventurers.
Notable: Shop selling items that grant fire resistance. Without it, characters begin suffering effects of overheating (endurance challenge, succeed 4/5 times, hard DC at 25(?). On failure, lose a heal surge and -1 all defenses, -2 to hit until rested. Success = +3 fire resistance, naturally, stacks with any resist they have that is power or innately based.

Key players: Shop seller, Brick. Tiefling, actually very nice but comes across badly. Mayor: Kaleth, a drow. She will welcome them and caution them about making waves. Literally—indicating the river of lava nearby, chars will see it shift unnaturally toward them. Anyone speaking Primordial can communicate with the massive elemental, Krackadoom, that lives in the river. It’s basically placid, and refers to the village as its pets. New pets are welcome as long as they get along.

NEOGI ATTACK! Big attack, start surrounded

Krackadoom will wake up in 1d8+6 rounds. Kaleth will begin herding the adventurers to a boat as soon as she sees what’s happening. The villagers retreat and lock off their homes (if they need to) which will makes a series of islands in the lava. Series of jump checks needed to get to the boat (which is made of stone). The neogi, of course, get eaten by lava along the way, except for several which, suprise, have wings. Introduce the Neogi Flyer: High AC/Reflex, moderate Will and Fort. They are fairly agile flyers, but can’t hover (though they can land on the ceiling). They have a Capture ability (restrains, and cuts their speed to 1/2 as they take their victim away) and do light to moderate damage. Greater risk is getting dragged off the boat, which should be x2 the size of the group, and basically square. (Giant rock barrel?) They will fight to the death, which suprises Malava.

We wound up doing it a little differently; even at 7 rounds it was taking too long. In the second round Krackadoom started moving in, a a few neogi got burned. I included Cadavre, the badass from Grandfather’s clan as a boss type. The lava continued moving in until only houses and a few pedestals were available, so the adventurers had to start leaping their way to the boat (made of stone, no moving it or rowing it easily). Also: Turns out that if you put stuff at the edge of the map, the players cover it with their papers and then forget about it. Lawls. Anyway, Krackadoom started lifting up on the far end of the map, away from teh boat, after it had covered it all (1d4 rows every round). Then, a tidal wave of lava. They surfed it in the boat, needing balance checks, then saves, to stay in said boat. they were nearly vertical before it began dropping them, and the boat then raced away with the PCs no-so-safely ensconced inside. I played up a huge swarm of flying neogi, which the tidal wave nailed (the real goal) the majority of…as things slowed down, the next encounter is on the boat, with all my melee folks facing off against remaining flyers, who are capable of dragging them into lava. From a distance. With webs.
Ow.

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The Island of Doctor Morose

Going boating without guidance is a little like a box of chocolates. You never know when you could get dropped off in a hideous death trap.

...come to think of it, that’s not much like chocolates at all.

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Draggin' it out

In the Labyrinth, there are always bigger fish. You can only hope that they decide you aren’t krill. Though, when faced with an army of krill coming at them, our doughty adventurers may have to choose discretion over valor. Sad that the Navel is right around the corner…

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The Drop

When floating helplessly down a river, it is one of the universe’s favorite running gag to insert a waterfall in.
When floating helplessly down a lava river, it’s that sort of sense of humor that make you want to punch God in the nose.


Skill challenge:
Real Time: 1 minute to figure out what to do. This can be extended by at least two PCs paddling, or somehow keeping the boat from moving 6 squares/turn.
Applicable skills: Strength check, 1 square per 5, endurance each round, athletics. Dungeoneering to get them deliberately snagged on a rock (perception can add a +1 bonus).

The Lava Falls! One of the great Wonders! A drop that goes down hundreds of thousands of feet, to drop you directly into the Underdark. The drop goes on for so long that it has its own ecosystems. This, of course, means that the party is attacked by fire mephits on the way down. If mephits are too weak, some other demon-y primordial kind of critter. And fire. Lots of fire.

More important to note is that everything appears to slow down during the drop. That’s because gravity weakens toward the middle, until it’s a complete free fall at that point. Only a very high Nature check will catch this. The immediate advantage is the ability to collect some rare specimens of floating plants, (worth thousands to the right folks), and reagents (for fire spells, flight/TK, shadow, primal) for rituals and powers.

Toward the bottom of the fall (takes a week, do they have food?) speed begins to pick up. There’s a giant lava pool waiting for them. How do they survive? A huge Athletic jump from the boat will only mean probably lethal damage, on the hard, hard ground. The boat will get crushed and destroyed by the lava pool. The unknown part of all this is that the passage away from theunderdark is through that pool. Before any of this, see the Primal Fire chapter

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Feeling a Bit Hot

As they drift down the Falls, arcana checks will show the small gates upening and closing around them. These gates lead to the plane of Fire.

Not a problem, none of them are big enough to swallow up the boat….

Except that one.

A living maw, this particular gate will pursue the boat in hopes of fulfillment. The boat and all aboard go to the plane of Fire.

Fire elementals, look up: They seem similar in shape to huge dogs, with bright glowing burning centers. They of course attack immediately. (Fire elemental stats?) Their destruction means that a larger elemental comes over. Hopefully someone speaks Primordial, because this farmer is mad! He will appear very threatening, but (Insight 30) is actually somewhat frightened by the solids in his land. If attempts are made at communication, he will seek to send them elsewhere. Diplomacy 30 will have him create a firestone, which when swallowed allows conversation with anything that has “Fire” as a subtype.
He had always heard that the mixed planes were terrifying places with monsters running chaotically rampant. Faced with peace, he will offer directions, but cannot help them get back to regular reality.
Arcana check of 30+ lets someone still see the gate-Maw, 35 feet up in the air, rising. Insight 35+ lets you see it’s smug about ingesting the party, and is trying to move along, but is tethered psychically to the boat. This “tether” is slowly fraying, giving the party maybe a day or two before it will be freed. The Maw will not eat anything from this side of the gate. For help, the farmer will direct them to the city. If they’ve done well by him, he will give them a ride and a name: Peerhodeemus, chancellor to the king of this domain.
If party has to deal with it themselves, it is a skill challenge, using up time. It will be very hard.
The party’s unique nature here gets them an entrance into the Inferno, where they find that all resistances to fire are removed. However, if they are behaving, none of the guards have more than curiousity about them. A couple will offer to trade items (blazing armor, fiery weapons, consumables: fire bombs (an elemental snack?), reagents that add fire damage. Rituals can be found if decent diplomacy checks are made.
Peerhodemus explains to the group that the Maw, like others of its ilk, dump things out of one plane onto another, trying to satisfy their need for chaos. Sadly, Peerhodemus cannot help the group directly, but…
A huge water elemental has recently invaded. It is possible to trick the maw by presenting it with the elemental, thus taking it, and our party, back to their plane. The elemental is of course creating all sorts of havoc, but has been contained—just not destroyed. If they take care of it….?
(Insight: Peerhodemus is hiding [History] that killing it offends the Waterkin, and they would wage war for the crime). He offers a bottle that can contain the body of the behemoth.
PCs are led down into the bowels of Inferno, to find the giant water elemental, do battle, and collect its body for the Maw. The bottle is now an endless bottle of water.
The maw drops greedily down, siphoning up the corpse, boat, and hopefully the PC’s, shooting them back into the regular plane.
A final reward for survival through the plane of Fire: the fire resistance that any given member may have is now removed from their item, and internalized.

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The Classics Never Get Old

What goes squish, squish, squish, squish, slurrrp, and screams? An illithid with a brain freeze.

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